Friday, May 27, 2011


Archbishop celebrates centenary Mass for Catholic Association of Performing Arts

L-R Michael Slater, Archbishop Nichols

A Thanksgiving Mass of St Genesius, was celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Corpus Christi church, Maiden Lane to mark the centenary of the Catholic Stage Guild (now the Catholic Association of Performing Arts).

The church, in London's Covent Garden, known as the Catholic Actors church has a statue of the actors’ patron saint, Genesius - a early Christian slave actor who was martyred for his faith.

Parish priest, Fr Alan Robinson, CaAPA's new national chaplain, has given the statue prominence by placing it on a side altar to the right of the sanctuary.

Archbishop Nichols said that his red vestments were those worn at the Papal Mass at Westminster Cathedral last September. He drew parallels between life and death and the performing arts. “Faith gives to life a clarity of its drama ,” he said. “Those who professionally explore drama and imagination cannot be far from Catholic truth. Catholic life in its richness both explores and is expressed in drama.”

He commented on the Greek origins of theatre - a place where things are seen in their wholeness - and theory, “an unfolding of inner meaning in contemplation, unfolding in love, penetrating to the inner truth.”

He mentioned the Tyburn martyrs and their “awareness of the drama of life ending in victory and the presence of God.”

Afterwards a reception was held at the Garrick Club for 75 members and guests.

Actor John Warnaby, a member of the Garrick Club, formally welcomed the Archbishop, proposing a toast to him as their President. Master of Ceremonies, Michael Slater mentioned that the Archbishop celebrated the anniversary of his inauguration at Westminster on 21st May 2009. Replying, the Archbishop joked that it wasn't a hundred years - although sometimes felt like it !

He congratulated the former Catholic Stage Guild on their centenary and chatted informally to members over refreshments. During the course of the evening the Archbishop was entertained by some members reading theatrical poetry. He also met former winners of the Alec Guinness student award sponsored by CaAPA each year, actors Asif Khan and Kirsty McDuff. The Archbishop was interested to learn how both had progressed since winning the award. Asif is appearing in a new episode of Spooks in October, and the Archbishop told him that he was a fan of the spy series about MI5. Kirsty is playing Lady Macduff and a Witch in Macbeth at Glasgow's Arches theatre in July. She said that the Archbishop remarked how exciting and authentic it was for a Scot to be performing The Scottish Play with an all Scottish cast !

Amongst those present were Vice President, actor Frank Finlay CBE, Fr Pat Maloney, National Theatre Chaplain, and trustee Monsignor Vlad Felzmann. Fr Vlad, as he is popularly known, was responsible for the Guild’s change of name. “CaAPA ,” he said, “could also stand for Christ applauds personal attention....young people need support and CaAPA can give that ”.

Chairman Richard O'Callaghan was unable to be present as he is opening in Alan Ayckbourn's play, Haunting Julia at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, on 25th May.

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