Monday, April 15, 2013

St John's, Gravesend

The beautiful St Mary's Church, Denton

This weekend I had the pleasure of preaching in the parish of St John's, Gravesend. To my surprise, it included a short trip to the Church of St Mary's, Denton, a pre-Reformation Church which fell into disuse at the time of the Reformation and was acquired and restored for Catholic worship at the beginning of the twentieth Century. It is most likely that St John Fisher would have celebrated Mass here.

Three of us from the Vocations Centre went to Gravesend for the parish Masses. I preached the homily and found that the readings were ideally suited to preaching about vocations. At the end of the Mass one of the residents here gave a short testimony about the effects of our work here at the Centre. He spoke simply and eloquently and earned a spontaneous applause for his efforts! After the Masses we stood at the back of the Church to greet the parishioners as they left.

These parish visits are a great way to let people know about our work and to encourage them to pray for us. It also, hopefully, makes people aware of the shortage of vocations in the diocese and the need to foster them pro-actively. I'm grateful to Fr Casmir, the parish priest, for arranging a second collection to support us financially as well.

Fr Casmir and Fr Julius couldn't have been more welcoming. We were even treated to lunch at a nearby restaurant. They are both members of the Missionary Society of St Paul, a Congregation founded several decades ago in Nigeria that now sends priests from Africa to work as missionaries in these lands. I was lucky enough to have one of their priests, Fr Augustus Umanah, with me for four years in Balham.

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