Kendal Buddhist Group Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Bishop Francis Slattery

A BUDDHIST organization in Kendal has celebrated the twentieth birthday of one of its most dedicated members.

A celebration was held at Milnthorpe Rectory on August 8 to mark the 20th anniversary of Bishop Francis Slattery’s involvement in interfaith for Kendal.

He became involved in interfaith work in Cumbria in 2002; when the then Bishop of Lancaster, the Most Reverend Patrick O’Donoghue, invited the BGKT Buddhist group of Kendal (Theravada) to hold a day in Kendal for him to meet people of various faiths and organizations in Kendal .

The celebration included a discussion on Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality: Making Room for God, by Tim Stead.

At 93, Mr. Slattery is perhaps the oldest person to host events during WIHW’s Global Interfaith Harmony Week and Interfaith Week.

Born in 1929, Bishop Francis Slattery was ordained in 1954 and after his ordination he studied history at Downing College, University of Cambridge from 1954 to 1957.

From 1975 to 1987 he was a trustee of Lancaster Cathedral before becoming parish priest of Our Lady of Windermere and St Herbert, and the Sacred Heart of Staveley, from 1990 to 2013.

The Kendal Buddhist group said: “Today he is a retired priest.

“Bishop Slattery believes that the role of a Roman Catholic priest is to serve everyone, with particular reference to the pastoral care of Roman Catholics. It is concerned with the universal Catholic message of the Roman Catholic Church for all. He believes that everyone is created by God as equal. This is reflected in his attitude and behavior towards everyone. He is interested in people, regardless of their religions and beliefs.

“His main concern is the pastoral care of people of all faiths or none. Bishop Francis Slattery is widely respected by people of all faiths, or none, as an exemplary priest, gentle in his words and someone who never criticizes anyone.

“He is aware of the changes in the world since 1945 through travel and globalization. He also believes that the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965 brought about great changes and developments in the Church’s engagement with the world. These included ecumenical attempts to engage in dialogue with other religions.

“Father Slattery looks at the 1986 Assisi Conference (United Nations International Year of Peace), when Pope John Paul II brought together 90 religious leaders from different faiths in recognition of the vital role of all religions of the world in promoting a spirit of mutual understanding and tolerance as prerequisites for a peaceful world.

“Father Slattery respects the view developed at the Assisi Conference that, because of the value of religious prayer, people of different faiths should come together to pray (and not pray together), thus respecting the integrity of different faiths. Father Slattery takes an interest in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ 2002 book The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations.

“He respects the view that different religions come to divinity in different ways. He is also interested in the work of Bede Griffiths and Thomas Merton on understanding Hinduism and Buddhism. While at St Herbert in Windermere, he led a weekly meditation group attended by people from other Christian denominations as well as other denominations.

“He spoke at the Buddhist Vesak celebrations of the Buddhist group BGKT from Kendal (Theravada). His contribution to local interfaith and multifaith work was recognized with the presentation of a framed map of Jerusalem at his home in Windermere, by the Reverend John Hetherington, secretary of the SLIF South Lakeland Interfaith Forum, on September 24, 2008.

“Monsignor Slattery and Jacquetta Gomes (SLEDP South Lakeland Equality and Diversity Partnership Manager on Interfaith and Multifaith) were invited to sit front row at the KEG Kendal Meeting Ecumenical Group event God in Friend and Stranger, a teaching document from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales]at the Castle Street Community Centre, Kendal, 21 May 2011.

“This was led by the lead author, the Most Reverend Kevin McDonald, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark.”