Monday Dec 1

Today I was up at 4.30 am for a flight to Virginia Beach. The purpose was to visit Fr Stephen Powers, my good friend there, & to catch up with Mike, Mary & Lacey Wilson. The Wilsons moved there from All Saints’ during the summer. The flight was via Chicago, which was experiencing heavy snow. Fortunately my flights were not affected. Arrived at 5.30 pm & Fr Stephen met me at the airport. Later I took him out for dinner.  

Tuesday Dec 2

Fr Stephen drove us to the Mariners Museum, Newport News. I wanted to visit it because it has a display concerning the Titanic. I have a gr8 interest in the Titanic & referred to it in a recent sermon. Subsequently a parishioner, Prof Stephen Cox, gave me a book he wrote on the subject. Most of the pics in it were from the Mariners Museum, & I resolved to visit it!

Today was Mary Wilson’s birthday, so in the evening I met them for dinner at the very luxurious Hilton Hotel on the seafront. A lovely evening…..I was amazed at how Lacey had grown up in the 5 months since they left SD. Along the seafront there is a wonderful display of Christmas lights for about a mile. It is quite an attraction, displaying the “12 days of Christmas”.

Wednesday Dec 3 – St Francis Xavier

The flights back were all on time. It is wonderful flying in to SD airport, with the city right on the beautiful harbor. Tonight the lights sparkled – no doubt extra lights for Christmas. 

Friday Dec 5

Tonight I went to the SD Symphony. Mahler’s Tragic symphony – which was magnificent – & Bach’s St Anne Prelude & Fugue. I really enjoyed this as in 2 sermons in Nov I quoted from the hymn “O God Our Help In Ages Past”, which is sung to the tune, St Anne.

Saturday Dec 6 – St Nicholas

At Mass I remembered St Nicolas’ church, Ethelton, a part of my childhood & now closed. In the a/noon I heard a confession & met with Sam & Bernadette to plan the Mass for their 25th wedding anniversary. I felt a cold coming on :-(

Sunday Dec 7 – Advent 2

The cold has developed, so I sniffled my way through Mass! Managed to sing the High Mass with my usual gusto. Hard to have my usual spark, but I still preached a lively sermon on the subject of repentance. One of the good things about this parish is that many people will make their confession for Christmas.

In the evening I am having my neighbor in # 3, Arlen, for dinner. His unit was flooded out on Wednesday night, so I thought he would appreciate a dinner invitation.

Monday Dec 8 – Immaculate Conception of BVM

Woke up feeling lousy! Stayed inside all morning. Tunred on the TV news at lunch-time, to discover that a FA-18 jet had crashed near Mirramar. Immediately phoned Ruby, who lives in the area. The crash was not near her. Decided to go shopping & see how I feel. Traffic was crazy – you would think the jet had crashed in Hillcrest! When I got back home there was a phone call from my cousin, Noelene, in Adelaide. The crash had made the morning news in Australia. 

After lunch I felt like going out. Went to see the movie Australia. Really enjoyed it – the story, the scenery, the music. Made me realise I have probably seen more of America than Australia!

Tuesday Dec 9

A real sadness about the jet crash yesterday & the family killed. In the evening we had Vestry & discussed the 2009 budget. This year we have lost 13 people/families who pledged.

Wednesday Dec 10

In the afternoon I visited a parishioner in North County. Fr Krulak usually visits her, but I wanted to take Holy Communion to her for Christmas. The drive was quite smooth, thanks to new lanes open on the freeway. I had decided to stay overnight in Solano Beach, because of a clergy quiet day tomorrow in Carlsbad. Did not fancy driving up in the traffic next morning. This gave me the opportunity to catch up with Bill Appleton. Bill is a former parishioner of All Saints’, who appears at weekday Mass from time to time, & his been supportive to me. We had a gr8 talk about the state of the church over drinks & something to eat.

Thursday Dec 11

Had a nice drive along the coast road to Carlsbad. A fascinating drive thru various coast towns, reminding me of growing up in Semaphore. Sunny morning & the surfers were out! The quiet day was led by Bishop Ed Little of Northern indiana. I know Fr Ed & his wife – her mother lives in Hillcrest & I enjoy visiting her. He gave excellent addresses on Philippians. This gave me inspiration for Sunday’s sermon, which I had been thinking about from several angles.

Friday Dec 12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe

A busy day! After Mass we had the traditional bible study Advent party at Michelle’s. In the evening we had dinner for the staff of our Pre-school at my favourite restaurant, Medgrill.

Saturday Dec 13 – St Lucy

Societies of Mary today. 11 am Rosary, 11.30 am Mass, then lunch. At 3.30 pm I celebrated the wedding of Rick & Linda. Rick has been a wonderful friend & parishioner since the day I arrived at All Saints’. He has a gr8 sense of humour – hence our good friendship – & has been an integral part of the growth of All Saints’ under my leadership. They wanted a quiet wedding, & it was in the Lady Chapel – a delightful place for a wedding. The ceremony was very nice – despite being a  rainy day.

Sunday Dec 14 – Advent 3

Good attendances – & wonderful music at 10 am. The choir sang “Creator of the Stars” for the offertory anthem & Bach’s “Prepare Thyself, Zion” (with a marvellous alto solo) during Communion. But it was the Communion Hymn which really stirred me, ” Wake, O Wake“. At the end of Mass I blessed Rick & Linda, & presented them with their wedding certificate (to much applause). Afterwards 20 of us went to lunch with them at my favourite restaurant, Medgrill. In the evening I attended the SD Symphony & Chorale’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah“. I think it is 25 years since I attended a performance of this!

Monday Dec 15

It rained all day in SD. Very unusual. I stayed inoors, except for shopping, gym & calling in to the office to meet the man who is going to termite the church & offices after Christmas. That is going to be an event!

Tuesday Dec 16

The sun returned today! The canyon looks lovely & green, & the streets have debris from the rain. A busy day in the office. Terry was busy with Sunday bulletins up to Jan 4….& there’s a few of them! At 2.30 pm the Bishop came to see me. It was a pastoral visit he instigated, & it was a pleasant 50 mins, punctuated with good humour & mutual respect. He wanted to know how I was, how the parish was, & did I have any problems/issues? I spoke about my problem with the national church, & the feelings of many of the parishioners. I re-affirmed our desire to be a distinct catholic parish in the diocese. We spoke of other things, & then he mentioned 4 diocesan plans he had in mind for the future. Said he wanted my thoughts because I was a senior priest in the diocese. I felt honored, & told him so. At the end I suggested we go into the church to pray, & we both prayed for each other.

Wednesday Dec 17

Today marks the beginning of the Advent “O” antiphons, leading up to Christmas. Each day has its own, & they are set as the Alleluia verse for Mass & the Magnificat Antiphon at Vespers. The well known hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is based on these. I will update it on my homepage each day.

Another rainy day – so unusual for San Diego & California. The gloomy day was cheered up by the mail……amongst all the Christmas cards was a Christmas cake from Melbourne – the gift of Lindsay Bull, who makes them for St Mark’s. I also received my membership pack for the Port Adelaide Magpies football club. This is not the AFL club, but the local South Australian club. I have been a member since 1965 :-)

Thursday Dec 18

The sun is back……so I was able to wash a pile of black shirts! 2 important Christmas Communion visits today. In the morning I visited a blind woman who hadn’t been visited by a priest for years. I was asked to visit her last week, & she explained that she was Episcopal (High Church) but had no contact with the church since she moved here years ago. Suffered cerebal palsey as a child & had many operations during her life. So I took her the sacrament today – her 1st communion in years. In the a/noon I visited a group of 5 ladies at a seniors facility. This started by taking the sacrament to a parishioner & it kept growing! They are a lovely group – & as a piece of trivia, their names all end in the phonetic ee. Tonight after Mass we have the Pre-school Christmas celebration. At the start I bless all the crib figures that the kids hold……then the fun begins 🙂 

Friday Dec 19.

After Mass the poinsettia’s arrived & 3 parishioners came in to start putting them in the church, & a new idea – 2 juniper branches in the sanctuary, like palms. Haircut at 12 noon, then home to prepare my Christmas sermons. There is no sermon on Sunday, as the children are presenting a nativity play. So just a short homily at 8 am. HOA meeting at 4 pm to consider rain damage to 2 units. My cold has returned, so shall stay indoors tonight.

Saturday Dec 20

A busy morning. It started with news via email that a friend of 30 years had died. This is often the unexpected news in response to a Christmas card. I met Coral in 1979 when I was newly ordained. We have remained friends over the years, tho I had not seen her since I left Adelaide in 1985. After 9 am Mass there were Confessions, a wedding rehearsal & various jobs around the church. Flower guild ladies were in to continue their work. Another sermon & some visiting in the a/noon, then an early night.

Sunday Dec 21 – Advent 4

At High Mass the children will present a Nativity Play – so only a brief homily from the Rector at 8 am. The music at High Mass was excellent – an anthem on the carol, “People Look East“. The nativity play was fun!

Monday Dec 22

More rain! Still trying to shake off my cold. Terry put a new pic on my website – taken at Rick & Linda’s wedding on Dec 13th.

Wednesday Dec 24 – Christmas Eve

This morning, like yesterday, was busy in the office. Confessions at 10.30 am – not as many as last year. The cold weather is still here…….I am not used to this!!! The a/noon spent in quiet preparation. It is already Christmas day in Australia.

6pm Vigil Mass. Wet & cool…. I haven’t had a Christmas like this since London, 1974. 12 children attended with parents, so we had fun setting up the creche. I led them up the aisle, saying “bah” to imitate lambs. I love this – it ushers in the magic of Christmas. In my previous parishes we never had a Vigil Mass, tho I did manage to act like a sheep with kids on Christmas day at St Mark’s!

Midnight Mass was a triumph – perhaps the best ever. Rain kept some people away, but the church was still full. Lots of young people, as usual. The choir were superb. During the Mass they sang 2 wonderful anthems by Rutter & Holst. After Communion, when we sang “Once in Royal David’s City“, I was overcome with joy & emotion. I was also delighted that I had celebrated & preached well, despite my cold. My sermon (as at 6 pm) referred to the hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” & was well received. When Americans compliment a sermon, you know you have done well! I regard the sermon at Midnight as one of the most important ones of the year. A lot of people stayed for the party afterwards. It went to 2 am :-)

Thursday Dec 25 – Christmas Day

One of the few days I need to set the alarm to get up! The 8 am Mass is a tradition that began by mistake. I inherited a 6pm Vigil Mass, Midnight Mass & 9 am Mass of the Day. In 2005 Christmas day was a Sunday, so I scheduled the usual 8 am & 10 am Masses. The following year, without thinking, I kept the same schedule. 20 people turned up at 8 am, & were very grateful that I had scheduled it. Now we always have it – Fr Krulak thinks I am crazy!

The 8 am Mass was the only Mass that had increased attendance this year. Fr K celebrated & I preached, both of us rather tired. The 10 am High Mass was lovely, but I was quite exhausted afterwards. Lunch was an Aussie get-together. My friend from Port Adelaide, David (he of Easter Day 2003 in the story of my call to All SS) was at Midnight Mass & treated me to lunch at a local hotel. Then it was home for a 5 hour sleep!  

Friday Dec 26 – St Stephen

The sun is back – but it is cold. 9.30 am Mass – strange to see people rugged up. A few things to do in the office, & a Christmas Communion in the a/noon. I still feel exhausted. Usually I would be off for a few days break – but that wil be next week, when the church & offices are closed for termite work.

Saturday Dec 27 – St John

9 am Mass followed by a quiet morning. At 4 pm we have a special Mass to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Sam & Bernadette Dreyer. It was a splendid celebration. Sam & Bernadette looked as if they were getting married for the 1st time! Afterwards there was a very nice reception on a boat at a luxury resort. Being Saturday night, I left before the boat sailed at 8.30 pm!

Sunday Dec 28th

Whilst the rest of the Catholic Church celebrates this as the feast of the Holy Family, ECUSA keeps the Sunday after Christmas. I quite like this, as the gospel is John 1 – the wondertful prologue read on Christmas day – but missed by most, as they attend Midnight Mass. I love the Sunday after Christmas (like the Sunday after Easter) as we can reflect on the mystery & continue the celebrations, with more hymns.

After Mass the church & offices have to be prepared for the termite work. Whilst this work is being done, I am off on my Christmas break. I am flying to London for New Year’s Eve. Last year I fulfilled a dream & went to Berlin for NYE. Ever since the wall came down I had wanted to stand at the Brandenburg Gate, but Christmas schedules prevented it. For my 60th birthday in 2007 the parish presented me with a generous gift of money, & I decided I would use it to fulfill my dream. So I went, & it was a wonderful experience. With NYE being a Wed this year, I wondered what other city I would like to be in for NYE. I remembered the fun of standing in Trafalgar Squ in 1974 when I lived in London – so there I will be this week!