Changing Places

Rev Fr Patrick Sherry, District Superior, July 2024

More than twenty-five years ago, a young man from Stockholm, a recent convert, spending a year abroad as a student in Paris, assisted at Mass in St Nicholas de Chardonnet, the beautiful 17th century church a stone’s throw from Notre Dame, which the priests of the Society of St Pius X serve. On his return to his homeland, he and a group of Catholic friends wrote to Bishop Bernard Fellay, the then Superior General of the SSPX, saying that they requested a priest of the Society to come to Sweden to bring the preaching of the unchanging Catholic Faith and the Mass of All Time. The good bishop put him in touch with the Superior of the District of Great Britain, Fr Edward Black and one blustery weekend in March 1998, the Scottish priest said Mass in an apartment in the Swedish capital for about twenty souls, mostly young men. In the April 2002 edition of this newsletter, Fr Brendan King related that Fr Black had laboriously prepared a talk about the crisis in the Church, the New Mass, and the Council, only to find when he gave the talk that the Swedes already knew all about it. They had tasted the watered-down version of Catholicism being proffered by the Conciliar Church. Now, they wanted Tradition. 

Over the next few years, occasional visits were made by Fr Black and Fr King to Stockholm, to a group of about twenty-five people. There were some baptisms, a marriage or two and the reception of some converts from Lutheranism, one of them a young man called Håkan Lindström. In September of 2001, Fr Franz Schmidberger, the then First Assistant to the Superior General, visited and encouraged Fr King to visit other cities. So, over time Masses were also offered for groups in Gothenburg and in the University city of Lund (near Malmö). An Englishman in Denmark, Dr Peter Wimberley, arranged for the Mass to be offered in Jutland and later the itinerary included a trip to Oslo. Fr King was aided and succeeded by various priests, among whom Fr Steven Webber, who took over responsibility for some time.

Mr Lindström became Fr Lindström in 2009 and has been serving the apostolate in his homeland from his base in leafy southwest London since then. In 2010, a former Lutheran Pastor was ordained a priest at the Society’s seminary at Zaitzkofen in Germany. Fr Sten Sandmark spent some time at St Saviour’s House in Bristol before moving to his hometown of Oskarshamn on the Baltic coast of Sweden, where he now lives and offers Mass for a small group. Fr Lindström, for his part, regularly offers Masses for groups in Denmark, Lund, Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden and in Oslo, Norway for a combined group of about 100 souls. 

Now, our Superior General has decided to transfer responsibility for the apostolate in Scandinavia from the District of Great Britain to the District of Eastern Europe, which already takes care of the apostolate in the Baltic countries. This will allow other priests who speak the Nordic languages to visit more regularly, and to minister more easily to the Poles, who congregate as numerously in Oslo as elsewhere. And so, after fifteen years of dedicated service to souls in England and in Scandinavia, Fr Lindström will leave England to continue to serve Scandinavia from a new base in Warsaw. We wish Father Farewell and Godspeed, or as they say in Sweden, Farväl och lycka till

We do not yet know who Fr Lindstrom’s replacement will be in the District of Great Britain and Ireland. We pray and hope that he will not be too long in coming.

There are a few other transfers to announce. Fr Francois Laisney, a veteran of many apostolates in different continents – not least as District Superior of the United States in the 1980s and as General Bursar in the 1990s — will join Fr Vianney, Fr Wingerden and Br Boniface in Preston. Fr Holden will travel north of the border to labour in the Scottish vineyard. The English however should not miss Father too much, as he will pay frequent visits to Gateshead. Finally, Fr Hennick will travel to Wimbledon where he will join Fr Clifton and me.

The Chesterton Conference at the Royal College of Nursing on Saturday, 1 June went very well. I would like to thank Peter Newman and Peter Bevan in particular for their excellent planning, preparation and talks. Fr Lindström, Blaise Compton, Stuart McCullough, Dr Wojciek Golonka and Kennedy Hall also gave excellent talks which are available on the internet.

Please pray for all your priests for their fidelity and perseverance. They, in turn, remember you at their Divine Office and at the Altar.


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