The last few days have been full of many great experiences. Firstly the celebration of the silver anniversary of my Ordination, then, starting my course in Clinical Counselling in Chester.
The first event was a chance to look back and remember the many people and experiences that have been a part of my journey over those years. I was so grateful to the incredible effort put in by so many of you to make the feast a great success. For me it was a success not because of the 25 years that have been, but that we have a community that gathers around the Eucharist today that values the presence of a priest and his task of making Christ present in the heart of the community. The guests that came, my community and family were in awe of the great atmosphere we create together at St Vincent’s. So the feast for me was not just about memory, but about mission.
The second part of the week was about the challenge we face as a Church and I do as a priest – what do the next 25 yeas look like. It has been a challenging but fun reality going “back to school”. I have the feeling that I am the oldest… I have to continue, as we all do, to ask the question of how we can be and build Church in the changing wold in which we live….
If the next 25 years are as adventurous as the last – we are in for a ride…
Last week saw the resignation of the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. One of the astonishing thing for me was the general consensus – he resigned for breaching social distancing rules. Where I accept that this is true, I still find it difficult.
How focused are we on the rule of man and how much do we integrate the rule of God in our lives, our Church and our society.
Social distancing aside, we were seeing 2 marriages, including 6 children, being broken.
Of course there can be many things in the story that I am not aware of and this is not about judging anyone – just the perspective with which we look at these things as a society.
There has been certain “laws” of the Church put to one side for the time of the pandemic. The Bishops removed the obligation to attend mass on a Sunday.
When are lives now get busier and things open up – what dose it mean to us to be “obliged” to be a part of the Eucharistic community of the Chruch.
Dose the Church and my community come in 1st or last place – perhaps in between.
Going to be important how we look at things as we move forward.
Every year is different – none as different as this one…
Wanted to write a few words of thanks and of hope at the outset of our celebration of Christmas. In one sense everything is different – but so much is the same in different clothing. Our focus at this time of year is the presence of the new life of Christ born again in our midst. If you think about it – that is the focus of the whole life as a Church all of the time – keeping Christ present in our lives, our homes, our Church and our world. On the journey of the past year we have been asked to learn a lot.
What does it mean to be community. We have never been so separated “physically” from one another – and yet community has been ever more important. Not just our Sunday community – but our whole life of Caritas, receiving people into the Church, first Holy Communion of our children, our social life…. and so much more. I believe we have grown stronger as a community.
How do we communicate with one another. We are so used to meeting together physically and sorting things out in passing. There was so much to learn about keeping people up to date – more than that – the challenge of involving people when they are separated from us physically. We were in a good position as we were already up and running with live streaming – but a lot of work was done to improve and develop that side of our parish life and not enough can be said about each individual phone call that passed from one to another. It was amazing to see how many people took the plunge and became involved in social media for the first time… This also brought with it a virtual parish community – an additional group of people who had no access to their own Churches and found a home in ours…. We are one Church…
Not everyone is online. How do we keep those who do not have these tech possibilities in the loop. A new beginning for a parish SVP (that’s my understanding) was a great answer and response – lets see where that exciting development takes us.
There has been a great sense of perseverance. The world has changed and we are still there for one another and God is there for us all. So much of what was taken away has only emphasised the great gift that our faith and our Church is – but also challenged us to be open of the Spirit of Change – God’s Spirit….
What is the meaning of Eucharist for me and for you. We have grown in so many ways… Our Online presence and possibilities have taken on a new life. These once peripheral tools have become integral parts of our life and open up great new exciting opportunities…. We are a different community now – but one made up of the same people (with a few added and a few sadly who are no longer with us on our earthly journey). This external event has forced us, but freed us up to find and embrace new ways of doing things – an attitude and skill that will be of great help going forward. A crucial theme for me is how Eucharist and community belong together… This is a powerful truth that motivates me moving forward.
I enter this Christmas celebration with a great sense of gratitude for the new life in us and with great hope as we move forward as God’s family….
Apart from that I am shattered….
Have a blessed Christmas and may God continue to guide us in the New Year.
It was certainly a shock to me – as I imagine it was to many of you – when we were forced to close our doors for common worship again in this second national lockdown. We had worked hard to make our Church COVID – Secure – and I think we had done a great job. Those of you who know me, know that I do tend to compliance. This time it was hard.
The key for me was the solidarity with many other organisations whose closure and whose sacrifice, to bring down the number of infections and consequent deaths, was really necessary. I certainly had no wish to be moving to the “celebration” of Christmas with a death toll higher than it normally would be at this time of year… For us life is sacred. This is not a political post, or a rant. There is a definite need for dialogue within society about the role of Churches. On the other hand there is need for dialogue amongst ourselves about what role faith plays in our daily lives. For me two major focuses on what is “essential” for us – and what makes us essential to society at large – are Eucharist and community. Of course we know the Mass going population has been decreasing over the last years – but Eucharist is “essential”. The same can be said of our social life and social action – but community is “essential.”
There is a great opportunity as we move toward the greatest festival of the year to share with one another and to learn the lessons of an incredibly different year. With that we too may experience a “new birth” of our faith in the love of the Eucharist and the joy of belonging to a community.
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