The secret lives of Westminster religious

By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service

LONDON — To mark the Year for Priests, the Archdiocese of Westminster, which covers most of London north of the River Thames, is selling a 2010 calendar featuring photos of an archbishop, a sister and 10 diocesan priests relaxing “off-duty” — one for each of the 12 months.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster

The picture of Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster sees him behind his desk — perhaps he never relaxes — but the other shots show priests sitting in the theater or at a movie or playing a guitar.

Father Michael Hayes, the private secretary to the archbishop, is shown clenching a pint of beer at the bar of  The Cardinal pub, a popular clerical drinking hole behind Westminster Cathedral. Ironically, the sign hanging outside bears the portrait of Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, the doughty 19th-century campaigner for social justice who, incidentally, never touched a drop of alcohol.

The archdiocese said the calendar aims to show clerics “involved in projects or pastimes outside their day-to-day life in the cathedral.” It also includes a few words explaining why they decided to enter religious life, what they might be doing if they had not, and a quote or scriptural passage that inspires them.

Father Michael Dunne in the Royal Albert Hall

Archbishop Nichols, for example, reveals if he had not become a priest he would either be a truck driver or a French horn player.

The calendar, priced at 5 pounds, is also designed to remind people to keep their priests in their prayers during the Year for Priests. Proceeds from the sales will be used to help maintain the Byzantine-style cathedral.

The calendar can be purchased from Westminster Cathedral Gift Shop or online.

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