A BUDDHIST organisation in Kendal have celebrated the twentieth anniversary of one of their most devoted members.

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

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

The celebration included discussion of Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality: Making Space for God, by Tim Stead.

At 93, Mr Slattery may be the oldest person to run events in WIHW World Interfaith Harmony Week and Inter Faith Week.

Born in 1929, Monsignor Francis Slattery was ordained in 1954, and following ordination he studied history at Downing College of The University of Cambridge from 1954- 1957.

From 1975 to 1987 he was the Administrator at Lancaster Cathedral before going to become Parish Priest at Our Lady of Windermere and St Herbert’s, and Sacred Heart, Staveley, from 1990 to 2013.

Kendal’s Buddhist Group said: “Today he is a retired Priest.

“Monsignor Slattery feels that the role of a Roman Catholic Priest is to serve all people, with special reference to the pastoral care of Roman Catholics. He is interested in the catholic universal message of the Roman Catholic Church for all people. He believes that everyone is created by God as equal. This is reflected in his attitude and behaviour to all people. He is interested in people irrespective of their faiths and beliefs.

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

“He is aware of the changes in the world since 1945 through travel and globalisation. He also feels that the Second Vatican Council from 1962-1965 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 is interested in the Assisi Conference of 1986 (the United Nations International Year of Peace), when Pope John Paul II brought together 90 religious’ leaders of different faiths in recognition of the vital role of all the world’s religions in promoting a spirit of mutual understanding and tolerance as prerequisites to 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 (not pray together), thus respecting the integrity of different faiths. Father Slattery is interested in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 2002 book The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations.

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

“He has spoken at the Buddhist Vesak celebrations of BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada). His contribution to local interfaith and multifaith work was recognized by the presentation of a framed map of Jerusalem to him at his home in Windermere, by Rev John Hetherington, Secretary of SLIF South Lakeland Interfaith Forum, on 24th September 2008.

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

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