06 June 2023, The Tablet

Centenary Mass for HCPT’s Brother Michael Strode

Centenary Mass for HCPT’s Brother Michael Strode

The HCPT centenary Mass for Brother Michael Strode.
All pics by Elaine Furmage

Several hundred people attended a special Mass in Westminster Cathedral last Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Brother Michael Strode, founder of the HCPT, the Hosanna House and Children’s Pilgrimage Trust. 

More than 400 also attended virtually through the live streaming facility. Archbishop Mark O’Toole of Cardiff, pictured below, was the main celebrant and he opened by thanking God for Brother Michael’s “life and witness”.

Brother Michael – an advocate for disabled people, a retired doctor and later a member of the Cistercian community at Caldey Island – died on 27 December 2019, aged 96.

Fr Jan Rossey, superior of the Cistercian community at Caldey Abbey, preached the homily, describing Brother Michael as “a holy man”.  He highlighted Brother Michael’s humility, saying “he was a man of prayer” and that “prayer ran through his veins”.

Choirs from schools with HCPT links, including Coloma Convent in Shirley, Croydon, and St Bernadette’s Primary School in Kenton, Harrow, sang Brother Michael’s favourite hymns, including “Be still for the presence of the Lord” and the Lourdes hymn, “Holy Virgin by God’s decree”.

The committee for Brother Michael’s cause is gathering evidence over the next 19 months by way of testimonials, ready for the formal launch of the cause at the beginning of 2025 after the fifth anniversary of Brother Michael’s death. At the end of Mass, Archbishop Mark said he would be involved since Brother Michael died in his diocese.

For 69 years HCPT has taken young people to Lourdes, inspired by the example of Michael Strode.  Its chief executive, Phil Sparke, told The Tablet: “The time since Brother Michael’s death in 2019 has allowed us the opportunity to reflect on Michael’s extraordinary life of faith and example of service.  His vision for how those with disabilities should be welcomed on pilgrimage fundamentally changed the way pilgrimages to Lourdes were conducted nearly seven decades ago and remains a defining principle to this day.  This centenary celebration has been a very important step in our collective appreciation of the charism of a truly great man.”

Displayed at the celebration was a new portrait of Brother Michael by artist Colin Bentley. And a new biography was launched afterwards, Who are you looking for? An Introduction to the life and spirituality of Brother Michael Strode by John Wolff. He is a trustee of HCPT and was a friend of Brother Michael's for 60 years. Profits from book sales will be distributed to causes connected with Brother Michael.


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