Friday, June 20, 2008

A Festive Day

We had a great day in the parish today. On Fridays the usual 6.45am Mass is replaced by one at 8.30am to enable the children and their families to attend before school. There were loads of families at Mass this morning which is always a joy to see. I particularly like the fact that, when they can, some fathers go into work later on a Friday in order to attend this Mass with their wives and children. Numbers at the 9.30am Mass were good too and as usual we had a number of confessions afterwards. Making confessions available during the week helps take pressure off us on Sundays when there are always lots of people who want to go.

After the two Masses some Spanish nuns came to see me. I help out when their chaplain is away and they were asking about the possibility of finding accommodation for some Spanish seminarians during the summer.

Bishop Patrick Lynch turned up just before 1pm. He had been at St Bernadette's school in a neighbouring parish to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and was coming to us to bless and open a new building at our own parish school. Thanks to the generosity of parents we were able to raise an enormous sum of money to replace a dilapidated pre-fab classroom with a state of the art 'centre for the creative curriculum'. It was opened in an appropriately creative style with the whole school involved in a colourful musical and dramatic presentation. The Bishop was then invited to bless the building and cut the ribbon before blessing an icon and hanging it on one of the walls. The celebration was centred on the meaning of the school coat of arms and its motto 'Civitas firma' - from the Book of Proverbs: "The brother whi is helped by a brother is like a strong city".

Afterwards the Bishop mingled with parents, governors and parishioners as they enjoyed complimentary Pimms along with strawberries and cream. It is really amazing to see how far our school has come over the years. It is also a special delight to meet my parishioners who have so much appreciation for what we do for them. Having the school right next to the parish creates a tangible sense of a community filled with faith and joy.

The rain, thank God, held off until the Bishop left for a meeting in central London. After catching up on some prayers I went out to do some shopping for tonight's Seekers Meeting, calling in on a priest whose mother is quite unwell at the moment. Please keep her in your prayers.

The Seekers Meeting began a bit late because of some traffic problems but we were particularly pleased to have Bishop Patrick join us. He had left his car in the Square and so came back for the meeting and was able to stay for the meal. We had a good number tonight and everyone was in good spirits - even when I chucked them out at 10.30pm!

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