Monday 20th June 2016 the Feast of the Martyrs Julius, Aaron and Alban, gave witness to a moment of history for the Catholic Church in Wales. Archbishop George Stack was joined by the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, H.E. Antonio Mennini, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and 19 Bishops of England and Wales to concelebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Centenary of the founding of the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the Province of Wales. Among the Bishops were Bishops Thomas Matthew Burns of Menevia and Bishop Peter Brignall of Menevia completing the compliment of Bishops from the Province.
The celebration took place in a filled St David’s Cathedral, Cardiff with the congregation made up by representatives from the various parishes throughout the Diocese. The historical significance of the event was drawn out with images of the previous six Archbishops of Cardiff decorating the cathedral; Archbishop Stack also celebrated the Mass using various Pontificalia from the previous Archbishops and stretching back into the former Diocese of Newport and beyond. The cathedral choir excelled in their musical arrangements, and the congregation sang with heart the hymns of celebration and faith.
In his homily, Archbishop reflected upon the founding of the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the significance of the religious presence within the Diocese. He also reflected upon the often-tumultuous history of Christianity within the Welsh Province. In doing so he invited those present to reflect upon the invitation of Pope Francis to “Look at the past with gratitude”; “Live the present with passion” and “Embrace the future with hope”. Looking forward from this point in the history of the Diocese and the Province, Archbishop Stack expressed the desire to engage the world in the New Evangelization; the starting blocks for which within the Diocese is the ‘Cornerstone’ project. In words of encouragement for the future, the Archbishop called upon the words of the prophet Ezekiel:
“As a shepherd looks after his flock when they have scattered, I will find my sheep. I will rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on dark, stormy days” (Ezk 34:12)
The Mass concluded with the Diocese looking towards the future with hope. Archbishop Stack was presented with a specially commissioned ‘Centenary Crozier’ to mark not only the centenary celebrations but also the fifth anniversary, to the day, of the Archbishop’s installation as the 7th Archbishop of Cardiff. The head of the crozier incorporates the design of the Archdiocesan Centenary logo. Archbishop Stack started the Mass carrying the history of the diocese and left with the future of the Diocese in his hands.
Following the celebration, those present attended a reception to continue the celebration of this milestone for Cardiff and for Wales. A joyous time was had by all and comments of ‘amazing’ and ‘unifying’ went around the marquee.
“Look at the past with gratitude”; “Live the present with passion” and “Embrace the future with hope”. The Archdiocese of Cardiff looks forward to the future and the next milestone in the history of the Diocese and the Province.