A Mass led by Archbishop Peter Smith in Worth Abbey Church, which sits beside Worth School, on 2nd February 2015 brought together men and women from 40 Religious Orders within the diocese of Arundel and Brighton to mark the Year of Consecrated Life.
With over 200 consecrated men and women accepting the Abbey’s invitation to attend the Mass, Fr Stephen Ortiger, monk of Worth and Vicar for Religious in the diocese said: “It was a particular privilege to have the Archbishop of Southwark as Principal Celebrant for the Mass. We were delighted that our Abbey Church could be the epi-centre for this celebration of consecrated life and it was a pleasure to welcome so many who attended.” The Mass began with hand-held candles being lit during the singing of the Entrance Chant.
Said Fr Stephen: “Consecrated life is a precious gift from God to his Church for which, especially during this dedicated Year, we are able to give high-profile thanks in solidarity with our fellow Christians whose vocations are different and complementary – from teaching to missionary work, and from working in hospitals to having a vocation in their parish – making up the Body of Christ.”
Worth School has a team of Chaplains from Worth Abbey who play an important role in daily life as part of its Benedictine ethos. A particular highlight for the School year is a 24-hour visit by eight of the School’s Year 13 girls to the Sisters at the Convent of Poor Clares at Arundel which going by previous years is a joyous and enriching experience.
Pope Francis inaugurated the Year of Consecrated Life in November 2014, on the first Sunday of Advent, asking that it should be a time when the whole Church could celebrate with those who had accepted the call to consecrated life in its diverse dimensions. He called on consecrated men and women to “wake up the world” with a testimony of faith, holiness and hope, urging those in religious life to let their light shine and to celebrate consecrated life with their wider community.
Worth Abbey was designed by the noted Catholic architect Francis Pollen and the exterior completed in 2001. In 2009 a design scheme by Heatherwick Studios was implemented for the interior: a modern version of traditional monastic furniture was installed, together with a new stone ambo and congregational seating. The result of all these works is a stunning interior which unites and enfolds all who use the Church in a spirit of prayer and peace.