Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ starts off the Year of Faith Study Day series

The first in the series of Ecumenical Study Days for the upcoming Year of Faith about the Second Vatican Council was a resounding success!  On 9 June 2012, Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ spoke at the 13th Ecumenical Study Day for Essex and East London Christians.  Her subject was The Achievement of Vatican II.

Gemma Simmonds, a sister of the  Congregation of Jesus and a lecturer in theology at Heythrop College, started by giving everyone the historical framework and context of the opening of the Council, pointing out that the modern Church was not invented by Vatican II, but rather that Vatican II drew together many strands of thinking from the centuries that preceded it. She reminded us that the Council invited us all, through our Baptism, to be prophets, priests and kings! Her talk was an  affirmation of the role of the laity within the Church and it was an invitation to discover or rediscover the many significant documents which came out of those meetings held nearly a half century ago. The day, however, was not a history lesson: Sr Gemma was very clear that Vatican II is alive and well in the Church now when she spoke of the many gifts and challenges which the Council offered and still offers today.

The audience included the Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon, visitors  from different faiths, different dioceses and even overseas.  Their comments told us the day was  “enlightening,” “very informative” and quite simply “superb!”  And of course, this is only the first in a whole series of study days for the upcoming Year of Faith which will explore many facets of the Second Vatican Council. The next will be held on Saturday the 13 October 2012 and be led by Professor Paul Murray. It is entitled The Ecumenical Vision of Vatican II.

If you are interested, you are very welcome to attend.  CEF’s study days run from 10.30 am – 3.00 pm and take place at Brentwood Cathedral Hall, Ingrave Road, Brentwood CM15 8AT. Admission is free and lunch is provided. Booking is essential however, so please email cef [at] dioceseofbrentwood [dot] org or telephone 01277 265289. Early booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

Future speakers

Following Prof Paul Murray’s talk on 13 October, Rev Dr Adrian Graffy addresses the subject of Vatican II and the Bible on 9 March 2013, tracing the journey from Dei Verbum to the Synod Document Verbum Domini, then in Vatican II and the Church, on 8 June 2013, Rev Dr Peter Phillips will reflect on the vision of the Church which guides us now.

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