The Portal April 2018 - Page 12

THE P RTAL April 2018 Page 12 The Shrine of St Augustine and the Ordinariate Jackie Ottaway and Ronald Crane visit Ramsgate W e first came to Ramsgate, and to St Augustine’s, when Mgr Keith Newton blessed the statue and the shrine here. When we heard that Ordinariate priest Fr Simon Heans had been appointed visitor centre manager, we were, of course, anxious to come and see for ourselves how things were progressing.  It was a blustery and rainy day on the Kent coast but the welcome was warm, Volunteers were waiting in the entrance hall to put visitors, be they pilgrims or tourists, at their ease. In no time at all we were shown to Fr Simon’s office at the top of the tower.  He told us, “I came to be here because I know Fr Marcus from the Confraternity of the Catholic Clergy. My background is teaching history and I was asked to apply for the job as visitor centre manager.” The work of the shrine is expanding.  “The first phase has been the re-building of the shrine and its restoration. This was achieved with the aid of heritage lottery fund money.  “I am the point of contact for visitors whether tourist or pilgrim and, in addition, I have the priestly role. We have a team of volunteers who help to keep the shrine open and it wouldn’t be possible to run the shrine without their collaboration.  “There is a Clerk of Works. He is essential to the operation and totally dedicated to his work here. He is vital and without him the place would not stay open. It is a big project run on a shoe string.  “The Shrine is the personal church of Augustus Pugin. It is the church he built for himself. It is his ideal” and he called it ‘my model church’. He just about lived to see it completed. He died at the early age of forty in 1852.  Fr Simon Heans “He built it in honour of St Augustine of Canterbury, his patron Saint; and close to the spot where St Augustine landed to convert the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent. We have relics in the shrine of Augustine himself, of Gregory the Great who sent him on the mission and St Lawrence of Canterbury who was his companion.   “We have devotions to St Augustine, including veneration of the relic, on a Sunday afternoon. The church contains the Pugin Chantry Chapel. He is buried within the church. There are two other altars within the church: the High Altar which sadly was destroyed when the church was re-ordered. This is just about to be replaced. Money is being raised to put the altar back.” Jackie was interested to know if it was being replaced as the original was. Fr Simon reassured her, “We have a stone mason and money is being set aside for that. Its an integral vision he had, of church with proper high altar, rood screen, a Lady altar, chantry chapel, stained glass, and statues. It was intended to be a place where mass was offered.  “Pugin had a large household, but he wanted the