Indonesia + Japan - chilling out

Listening to this wonderfully chilled out track by Rivers & Robots from their great album "The Eternal Son", relaxing after a busy day of English language work with adult learning groups and badminton in Larantuka, Indonesia...

.... and this lovely track from Loud Harp. Sets up a calm, meditative groove and then this spine-tingley beautiful mid-8 comes in.

Indonesia + Japan - Easter Monday

Easter Monday saw us having morning fun + games with 80+ children from the local parish in Larantuka.
While we led the indoor activities (songs + dances inc. I am The Music Man, Macarena, Lord I Lift Your Name On High and arts + crafts), Bro. Andreas and a few of the 8 aspirants organised a football match outdoors with 30+ participants.

This was followed by the return leg of the Aspirants FC vs. FIC/Team Win!, the latter made up of us 4 white-skinned, now sunburned English guys and the 5 local Brothers (French, Spanish + Indonesian). After a glorious victory for FIC/Team Win! 8-6 yesterday in the first leg, the Aspirants came out on top this afternoon 7-6, FIC/Team Win! winning on aggregate 14-13. See yesterday for a post first leg photo.

“Our need for friendly giants”

I saw Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's "The BFG" a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it very much, despite it taking a little while to really get going as a story. Mark Rylance does a tremendous job with the giant. Not only is he friendly, he is warm, funny and touching and is well matched by young Ruby Barnhill.Jeffrey Overstreet has written a lovely appreciation of the film from the point of view of humanity's deep-seated dreams of "a benevolent presence in the cosmos".
"In a world of absent fathers, disappointing leaders, and churches betrayed by corrupt leadership, it’s no wonder that even adults get teary-eyed when they watch these childlike ideals of faithfulness and consolation. We want someone who transcends human limitations but who is also capable of intimacy. We are inclined to look for someone who will catch us when we fall—but who can also catch a falling sky... Never underestimate the power of a story about someone who watches over…

Indonesia + Japan - Good Friday

Photos from our first full day in Larantuka, Indonesia, including the walk to the local coastal shrine for their Good Friday morning liturgy involving the Stations of the Cross, a procession with a 500 yr. old statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, followed by a sea procession involving a flotilla of heavily laden boats of all shapes and sizes, the boat containing the statue leading the way. Catholic pilgrims come from all over the different Indonesian islands (and beyond) to take part in this and other subsequent Easter Triduum celebrations.
Our guides were two young Indonesian Brothers whom the Brothers in Liverpool know well thanks to their stay for a few months in England about 5 years ago to improve their English: Bros. Andreas and Frengky.

Bro. Blass who has recently finished his Scholsaticate (further studies after our initial year of training to be a Brother = the Noviciate).
Bro. Andreas.
The stage in the Pusat community centre.
Our primary school which was opened 2 years ago.
The c…

Educational Project 2017 - Indonesia + Japan

Following on from previous trips to Africa and the 2015 project working with pupils of our Brothers' schools in Haiti, this Easter (leaving on Friday) I will be taking two current Yr. 12 students and a former student now in his mid-twenties (Andrew Rowan) on a De La Mennais Brothers Educational Project trip to Indonesia (9 days) and Japan (4 days).
Our objectives are to:
• learn about the lives of people from another culture and learn more about ourselves through shared activities e.g. workshops, dialogue, recreation, sport, music, etc... many summer camp-style activities from primary school children lead by our young people themselves
• open our hearts to respond to the human, spiritual and material needs of others
• change our vision of the world
• develop skills and help others to develop theirs
• learn to look back over our experiences and be able to share them with others.
We will be visiting Brothers' schools, working with their primary school children and others from local…

Explorations in classical music

One of the joys of having access to services such as YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, etc… is that you can listen to and compare multiple recordings of the same classical pieces in an inexpensive way. I spent some time doing this during the Christmas holidays and have carried on since: some Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Mahler Symphonies, a particular organ piece by Bach - the Adagio from the Toccata, Adagio + Fugue K.564, and plenty of Vaughan-Williams - Tallis Fantasia, Symphony No. 3, etc… It’s all been great fun, and there’s so much more out there to listen to and compare!

When visiting one of our communities in Finistère, Brittany (as I try to do at least a couple of times a year) I always spend a few hours listening to and discussing classical music with a Brother now in his 80s who has been a mentor of mine for many years and who used to be one of our head Brothers in Rome. He’s not one for social media or the internet, so he loves it when I come along and suggest that we listen to a…

40 acts for Lent

Just finished my annual retreat, this year with 25 other De La Mennais Brothers at the Benedictine monastery of Landévennec in Finistère, Brittany. A time to recharge the batteries, to read, to pray, to reflect, to write, to enjoy the beautiful coastal countryside... to take stock of the past year and to look forward to the future with hope.
Today and tomorrow I've 2 days of meetings with our Provincial Council, after which it's back to Liverpool just in time to get ready for Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.
Here's a Facebook message from the people at "40 acts" to help us live this Lent in a way that takes the focus away from what we can do for ourselves and towards responding better to the needs of others. "Lent starts this Wednesday! How are you doing it?

We're giving up giving up and giving generously instead.

Like & Share if you're joining us and tag in some friends to join the #40acts generosity movement. (Sign up at to …

Jack Dowding (1996-2016)

On Jan. 8th I heard of the death of a recent former pupil of mine from our school in Southampton, St. Mary’s College, where I taught for 4 years (2009-13): Jack Dowding. Jack had spent most of his life dealing with type 1 diabetes and it seems that complications related to this are what took him. Here’s what I posted on Facebook at the time, followed by some subsequent posts:

Jan. 8th
Tragic news today about the death of a former pupil of mine at St. Mary’s College, Southampton: Jack Dowding who passed away yesterday at the age of 20. Jack was one of life’s good guys, an effervescent little bundle of energy and enthusiasm whose infectious good humour always left you with a smile on your face.
Jack and his family are in our prayers, our thoughts, our hearts...

God love him + grant him eternal rest.


An article in the Liverpool Evening Echo.


Jan. 11th God love you Jack Dowding!!! Your applause started 30 secs early :-) Bet you enjoyed that goal!!

(Southampton scored in the 20th mi…

Being successful + serving God, or being successful vs. serving God - pt. 1

I've often wondered how it must feel to be a successful Christian recording and touring artist whilst having to deal with the worldly aspects of that life such as marketing, profit margins, contracts, image, media communications, etc... It must be a really delicate balancing act to not let success go to your head when it comes, to keep the focus on the Lord and yet do your best to get your material out there because you believe that God wants you to touch people's hearts and souls through your songs and performances/recordings.

I know that one of my all-time favourite bands, Switchfoot, constantly struggle with this tension. Just listen to their last 3 or 4 albums for numerous examples. Jon Foreman's - and the other band members' - lyrics seem to be a way of working through for themselves the tensions inherent in their career/ministry, calling on themselves to keep the focus on what is right and true, above all on love... love of God, love of their fellow human beings.…

What makes you come alive?

Here's the first of a selection of devotions from those lovely people at DVO that I have found spiritually nourishing in recent weeks. This first one takes the same approach to vocation as I do when taking to pupils in school, using as a starting point that which fires us up, about which we are passionate.

January 5, 2017

Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.

Jer 1:5 (MSG)


What makes you come alive?

What do you find yourself dreaming about? Or gravitating to whenever you have spare time? What brings you joy? What makes your blood boil? What would get you out of bed in the middle of the night?

Before you or I had any material form, somehow we existed in the heart and imagination of God.

He said to Jeremiah,

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that's what I had in mind for you." Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)

The things that naturally…