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Showing posts from July, 2009

School Orchestra - Last Night Of The Proms concerts at SFX

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One of the things I will most miss about leaving our Liverpool school is conducting the school Orchestra. They are a great bunch of young musicians, about 28 of them in total, mainly wind instruments (woodwind + brass) with a violin, 2 'cellos and a double bass. Over the years I've been conducting them and doing arrangements of music for them they've developed into a tight unit, adept at swing as well as straight rhythms, playing a mixture of classical, jazz and military band pieces. Whilst I did push them quite hard at times, we were always able to have a good laugh together, their natural Scouse humour always to the fore.
Here's a photo taken with a few of them after the second of our two end of year Last Night Of The Proms concerts with the school Choir, Jazz Band and soloists. I'll hopefully have more photos to post in the next few days.

From Sept. I'll be facing the challenge of restarting the school Orchestra at our Southampton school. I have heard that the…

Moving to Southampton - a new chapter begins (part 2)

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Back to last October.... well, it was during a visit over to my parents in Ireland (they retired back there in 1991). Mum had been in a local nursing home in my Dad's home town of Kilmallock, Co. Limerick for 2 years already and was basically bed-bound, but reasonably alert mentally (for a time she did seem to lose the will to live and started wasting away, but then made a rather miraculous recovery). During this time Dad had been stubbornly living on his own in their bungalow about 8 miles away, going in most days to see Mum, but his own health was gradually failing. He was diagnosed as having the beginnings of Parkinson's disease which was affecting his mobility. He started to have the occasional fall. A home help would come in and see him most days, help with the housework, etc... but we (the children, none of whom live in Ireland) were getting more and more worried about him.
Kilmallock parish church, Co. Limerick
By October, Dad was barely able to walk at all and something …

Moving to Southampton - a new chapter begins (part 1)

My long residency here in Liverpool is coming to an end. I've started the slow process of deciding what to take+box/leave/bin in readiness for my move (in 19 days time) back to my home town of Southampton and the school I attended from the age of 12 to 18. It's official: my nose does NOT like dust!!
I arrived here in Liverpool as a fresh-faced university student in 1987, the songs of a (coincidentally) Liverpool band The Icicle Works to sustain me (especially "Hollow Horse"), wishing to try out life as a De La Mennais Brother whilst studying for my Music degree. Since then I've had 5 years of formation/theology + philosophy study in France, but for the remaining 17 years since then this community house and this room I am currently sitting in has been has been my home.
If you'd asked me 9 months ago if I wanted to return back to Southampton, I would have said that I had no personal yearning to return and nor did I feel that God wanted me to, at least not just ye…

Papal encyclical - Caritas in Veritate

Pope Benedict's long-awaited encyclical on the Church's social teaching was released yesterday. See here for further details. It's good to see that Archbishop Vin Nichols decided to actually lead a press conference himself to announce its publication. Such open support of Pope Benedict has been thin on the ground amongst our Church hierarchy in this country in recent times and the blogosphere has not been slow to notice the change. See here.

European De La Mennais Brothers gathering - Bilbao, May '09

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A couple of months ago, I was invited to a weekend meeting in Bilbao for "younger" Brothers from Spain, France and England. The aims = - to get to know each other better with a view to increased international collaboration in organising/participating in youth events with pupils from our respective schools - to start planning/sharing ideas about future youth events in 2010 + 2011, 2010 being the 150th anniversary of the death of our co-Founder, Father Jean-Marie De La Mennais and 2011 being the year of the next World Youth Day to be held this time in Madrid.



It was great to get to know my Spanish brethren in particular. I already knew the French ones involved very well. Our Spanish Province is very dynamic and full of life, like the Spanish Brothers themselves, as we had seen at the youth gathering we'd held in Liverpool for groups from Spain + France just before last Christmas.
The future events which we discussed included: - March 27th-29th, 2010 = a youth gathering/trainin…

Donations for Zoë's Place babies hospice - sponsored triathlon

Having told you about my triathlon exploits that bear witness to the hours of (swim) training I put in to prepare for it, I'm now going to try and shame you all in to making a donation (if you haven't already) to Zoë's Place babies hospice, Liverpool, a centre that relies totally on donations to survive.
You can do so through my JustGiving.com page (http://www.justgiving.com/brojames/). It's VERY easy and you can even get Gift Aid rebate on any donation just by putting an extra little tick in a box. I've got quite a few cash donations in, but only £195 on the JustGiving page. I'd like to try and get to over £1,000 in total and I'm nearly halfway there. With your help I will get there.
Find out more about Zoë's Place here: http://www.zoesplaceliverpool.org/