Ampleforth Renewal Day Team

From about 1985 we formed a team which r an the day of Renwal – there would be some 25 jobs to do duirng the day and in Spemeber whoever felt called to join the team gathered on a Sunday to  commit themselves for a year and elect a core group and chair person.  This group met every 4 moths and co-ordainted the year adn the days.  The sytem of election involved tdreating couples as inidivuals whre suitable (ie. btoh persons being memebrs of the day – this was to reflecst the Cathlci vision of marriage rather than the individualistic approach which is reflected in 1 Corinthians..  The Chairperson could only be elected for 3 years.  The first couple were Marie and Arthur Kane from Middlesbrough (Marie was the sister of Dr. Bernadette Mullligan and Ann – they were a prominent Irish family living in the Crescent.  Marie and Arthur were prominent in Holy Name Parish and ran prayer group and had a developed ministry.  They later moved to manchester and out of the Catholic Church, their children were involved with YWAM and other Christian communities in the South. Arthur died in 1993 and Marie continued to live in the South.  Bernadette never became involved int eh Renewal but was interested an involved in the Caring Professions – she was a doctor of Nursing. After leave her little house robin Hood’s Bay, she settled near Oxford in 1995). The second couple was Keith and irish Whitehead.  They came from Pontefract and Keith retired from his lecturing job and they both became involved in a Catholic missionary way.  They linked with a parish in Florida and a Catholic evangelist called Tom       … They ran courses on different spiritual subjects from their home.  Later they took on the Ushaw conference and ran it in Trinity and All Saints. Keith was a poet and had some success publishing his poetry.  Marie Collingwood whose mother Alice had been an early supporter from Scarborough ran it for 3 years and she then retired to York where she was involved in her parish and in the Minster healing group.

  Merle Sutcliffe followed her.  She lives in Bradford and has been well involved in her parish of St. Matthews which Fr. Michael Killeen had been pp of before Tom Kenny.  (Michael Kileen was the priest whom Peter O’Toole had served Mass for when he was newly ordained.- I met Peter in 1994 when he was visiting Don Wilson at the St. Alban Centre and had an evening with him and Mark Burns). The advent of Merle occurred with the end of my time at Ampleforth, and though I was not destined to take my bed elsewhere for two years, my sabbatical in 1994-5 and being a spare wheel for the Abbot on the parishes in much of 1996 meant that the moment of change had come.  At the same time John and Sally Reid (regular since 1979)  Bob and Edie Hegerty, Marie Collingwood, Pat        and Jean Quinn (her beloved husband Ted had died some 5 years before and both  had been 1980s supporters) Other early supporters were Sister   a mercy nun from Middlesbrough who was an excellent music leader, Sister Kevin who came from Ireland for a time and again was based in Middlesbrough. Sister  Dymphna with Sr. Matthew were the Ladies of Mary who used to run the secondary school in Scarborough and who remained behind when it closed with a convent they had built especially in the poor parish of Eastfield.  Ladies int this parish for years would recycle the monastery Christmas cards under the guidance of Heidi Foxton.  The parish pries t for much of this time was Tom O’Connell who had one foot in the Renewal and came to several priests conferences.

            I was in charge of the speakers at the Days and kept an open mind for suggestions.  The ideal speaker was a Catholic who was a gifted communicator  of the works of the Holy Spirit in the Church. he or she would find us how we were at Ampleforth – deeply part of the Catholic tradition, but encourage us with teaching and stories.   Some of the more memorable were the Australian Fr. Jack

who had a unique style of question and answer, Fr.              from North Italy who was firmly on the Full Gospel Businessman’s International circuit (he came to speak in York and to the Ryedale chapter – an Italian priest who had been  baptised int he Spirit through the prayers of a lady on a cruise ship to the US on which he was chaplain, had returned to Italy and began a house of prayer and healing combined with trips to speak.   He look unremarkable when he began to speak, but after ten minutes his holiness and the content of his talk was deeply penetrating.   Fr. Deadman from Mount Saint Bernards.   Fr. Peter Dolan the Preston parish priest who was both lively and powerfully on target.  He enlivened us with his words and deeds and no one could mistake the fusion of man and message. He was the chair of the committee for the priests conference for years, and handled texts and minutes   though he was a born author.   He was the first person who prayed over the telephone with me when I rang him up, and I gradually became aware of this remarkable way of communicating faith, and encouragement.  Fr. Sean Conaty came every year for serval years.  A powerful Newcastle parish priest who had been in Brazil and his experience peppered his talks   He came to the youth conference and when I was in St. Dunstans he came and gave the final talk at the first retreat I organised for the house.  A man transparent in his devotion to his Lord, who had a great ministry of healing and also of deliverance.  Paul Jinadu was a black evangelist in York, his wife Kate went South with their churches.  Paul was a very entertaining speaker.  .


            The Renewal dy community began to need some time together so the Grange was booked on a regular basis for some 8 years on the second weekend in January.   We invited couples to joins and to share with us their insights and suggestions.  Dr. Jan Knight, Alan and Betty Guile, Charles &  Whitehead  (he and ex Stonyhurst boy who became involved int eh Renewal and then was elected President of hte International Council for Catholic Charismatic Renewal  (1990s).  His firm gave him half time status so that he could do his international work.  A remarkable,honest straight dedicated and sound personality).  We always spent Sunday working at the Day of Renewal and raising improvements.

            Very early on the team felt that there was a need for a retreat for Prayer group leaders in the North, so we began one and chose Burn Hall (MHM retreat centre just outside Durham)  this was a small group of about 20 people and the normal input was home based plus a visitor.  We had Jim Clarke the Catholic New Zealander who worked for Youth with a Mission (YWAM), Frs. Ian, Cyril, Robert from Ampleforth.   Sometimes branched into evangelisation. In 1990 we thought about street evangelisation and then found ourselves in Durham market place on the August Bank Holiday.   I was part of this group which was the strangest experience in my Christian life – it was very difficult to come to terms with and all the time we were there led by Jim Clarke who told the tories and lead the singing I realised that this was a gang plank situation where the Lord is very close, but at the time seemed crucifying.  Burn Hall closed down for us in 1992 and we found Middleton Lodge Ilkley to take its place. This Leeds Diocesan Pastoral centre was founded on an old Catholic home. It was well developed with an atmospheric small chapel.  it uited us very well and was close to Leeds for some old friends to join.