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Cardinal and comedian guests of honour at actors dinner

 Cardinal with Chaplins Fr  Pat Maloney, Fr Chris Vipers, actors Frank Finlay, Richard O' Callaghan (chairman), Michael Slater

Cardinal with Chaplins Fr Pat Maloney, Fr Chris Vipers, actors Frank Finlay, Richard O' Callaghan (chairman), Michael Slater

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and comedian Frank Carson,  were guests of honour at the Catholic Association of Performing Arts, (formerly the Catholic Stage Guild) Christmas dinner at Allen Hall on Saturday.

Before dinner a special Mass was concelebrated  by the Cardinal with CaAPA's chaplains Fr Chris  Vipers, Mgr Vlad Feltzman, Fr Pat Maloney, and Fr Denis Tuow, chaplain for the Westminster National Lourdes Pilgrimage.

At the end of Mass, actor and MC  Michael Slater was presented with the Pro Ecclesia Pontificio Medal by the Cardinal,  who spoke of his great  service to the diocese of Westminster and to the Catholic Stage Guild. Mgr Feltzman and Fr Vipers  also praised Michael for years of service with the  Lourdes Pilgrimages and of “his great capacity for friendship and making people feel connected ..always working behind the scenes.  ” Fr Vipers said: “Michael was the original  old stager”.

Sitting next to the Cardinal, CaAPA's patron, Frank Carson made numerous jokes throughout the meal  causing great hilarity amongst the diners who included chairman Richard O' Callaghan and veteran actor Frank Finlay. The Irish comedian,whose catchphrase is: “It's the way I tell 'em” generously said that instead of receiving a fee, he would donate £1,000 to CaAPA which supports the spiritual needs of members working in the Performing Arts and arranges social and artistic events  to raise funds for charity   Its chaplains advise on religious aspects of theatre and film productions.

“What's the difference between Frank Carson and the M1- you can turn off the M1!”, quipped the Cardinal in a thank you speech upon being presented with a bottle of Chateau Neuf Du Pape. 

The Cardinal recalled being at  the Albert Hall recently and  sitting next to Dame Vera Lynne saying that they held hands, joining in with the audience, whilst Katherine Jenkins sang We'll Meet Again.  “luckily there wasn't a photographer about” -he laughed, and proceeded to lead CaAPA members in singing  a hearty rendition of the song to great applause.