1. Name: “The Advent Group”, chosen because the first meeting took place in the Advent season. Changed to “Advent Group” because of alphabetical advantage in list of organisations. Advent currently has three groupings: North, Midlands, London and south.
Chair: Maire & Basil Potter 14 Lawrence Way Burnham Slough SL1 6HQ
Secretary: Angie Crawford-Leighton
Scutts Almshouse Chariton Fitzpaine Crediton Devon EX17 4JG
Treasurer: Mike O’Kane
Mullions Laurel Drive Uphill Weston-Super Mare Somerset BS23 4SM
4. Website: www.adventgroup.org.uk
5. Birthdate: Started by Conrad Charles & Michael Crook. They met in the Summer of 1969 and arranged to make a retreat at Spode House with the help of Fr. Conrad Pepler O.P. Ten couples met 12-14 Dec 1969. This was the origin of “Advent Group”.
6. Context: A group of married priests in the Birmingham Diocese wished to find a place where they could meet and share in prayer. They were warmly received by Conrad Pepler and, thereafter, hosted for years by the warden of Spode House, a Dominican retreat centre in the midlands.
7. No legal status. Advent is well known to the hierarchy, to religious superiors and many journalists.
8. The original group evolved into an ongoing support group, which met twice a year. Through time this original group became less active in the north of the country. There has always been a certain tension as some in the group wanted more activity in the direction of ‘pressure for change’. In the early 90s the London group decided to be very open about the fact that they were priests who had married and had nothing to hide.
of persons involved:
- In recent years this has declined to less than twenty active members
- Mailing list for bulletin…approx. 250 recipients.
- In principal the group is open to anyone who supports the aims of the group, but in practice it is married priests and their families.
- Extremely varied: teachers, social workers, lecturers, journalists, managers etc.
10. The three groupings, North, Midlands, London and the south (mentioned above), function as one group and each grouping supplies a national chair for three years on a rota basis. The chair is currently held by London and the south.
11. There is a common bulletin and web site and an annual general meeting of all the groupings once a year.
12. Statutes: we have tentative statutes which are currently being reviewed because of possible application for charitable status.
13. Once annually all together. The London based group meets about once a month. The latter is a social gathering but also an occasion for handling any business that has come up, e.g. clergy and religious asylum seekers, TV and radio involvement, contacts with press and hierarchy etc.
14. There is usually a speaker at the annual meeting followed by discussion, lunch and the Eucharist.
15. “ADVENT” published 1-3 times a year (see website for details of this publication).
16. Raising consciousness – 1/12 of people in the UK are Catholic (officially!) – very different from Spain, France, Italy… The Advent name is ‘out there’ and journalists writing on religious affairs regularly contact members for comment on issues that have reached the public domain.
17. Various TV and Radio programmes – e.g. Panorama, Heart of the Matter, Breakfast with Frost, BBC Radio programmes etc. Open letters to Bishops on Anglican Vicars becoming Catholic Priests, various life stories on radio and TV, discussion programs etc.
18. Charitable status – we are currently considering (again!) applying for charitable status. This would increase our financial clout, which would lead to more publicity and the ability to contact more people and support priests and religious asylum seekers and refugees.
19. Informal contacts with various groups, national and international, but no formal networking. We have contacts with CCC, We are Church, MMAC, Seven-Eleven, Sonflowers, Cara Network etc. (We are not overly keen on the North Atlantic Federation!!!!!)
20. Impact over past 20 years has been enormous e.g. attending NCP (has even been paid for by the Catholic Church - £300!), various TV, Radio programmes and newspaper interviews and articles have brought the discussion on ministry in the Church out into the open. Very few people, even in the Catholic community, now see celibacy as an issue. The vast majority believe that it should be optional and that it is contrary to human rights to impose it. 20 years ago or more it was generally unacceptable to speak publicly about your life as a married priest and this position was not just encouraged but in fact imposed by the Church hierarchy. Today, most priests who have married are quite happy to speak about previous ‘employment’.
21. Perspectives? The realisation that the current crisis will
be solved, not by the readmission of married priests, but by the radical
“revisionning” of Church structures. To quote from a discussion with Bishop
Guazzelli in London many years ago: ‘if having married priests or readmitting
priests who are married means having the same old authoritarian regime then
nothing will have changed within the Christian community’.
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