Over the past few days people have been reliving their Papal Visit memories, recalling how they marked the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI coming to the United Kingdom.

Now other than attending a Mass celebrated by His Grace Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, at the shrine of Blessed Dominic Barberi – the Passionist Priest who received Blessed John Henry Newman into the Roman Catholic Church – I have not really participated in the reflection up on the first anniversary of the Papal Visit. However, I would like to reflect back to this day last year.

20th September 2010 was one of the most important days for English Catholics. It was the day when the Pope had been and gone. It was the day that there was no more listening to do – it was time for reflective action! On this day last year I moved in to my new house at University, on my way down in the car I had a telephone interview with the local newspaper about how I had enjoyed Hyde Park. In the article I was quoted as saying: “There was a lot of excitement in Hyde Park. The Pope has a remarkable presence. You could feel his presence, even though from where I was stood, he was a speck in the distance.”

For anyone discerning Priesthood, the office of Pope and the incumbent of the Seat of Peter are a great example – purely due to the special ministry that the Pope performs. However, Pope Benedict XVI, as an individual – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger – is just a wonderful example of what it is to be a Priest. To come to a country that threatens to arrest you and where the majority of its media proclaim to dislike – if not, hate – you. And not only come, but come in such a humble and loving way is remarkable.

We, as English Catholics, have had the most wonderful year since the end of the Papal Visit. From the “Benedict Bounce” to the beginning of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. As we start the second year since the Papal Visit, let us continue to be inspired by the loving courage of Pope Benedict XVI as he continues to share the Gospel message with the world. Let us also draw strength from taking part, once again, in the Friday Penance of abstaining from eating Meat.

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