Today was a very special day for my parish we had a whole parish celebration. Our morning Masses were cancelled and a midday Mass in the grounds of the local primary school was planned. The scouts and guides volunteered to do undertake all sorts of jobs, the guide groups were most keen as they are celebrating 80 years in our parish. A special Children’s Liturgy was planned, the choirs combined as they do for big events, the primary school rehearsed a gathering hymn and post Communion hymn… there was so much going on.
I arrived at church just after 10am this morning, I was deputed, along with the magnificent Geraldine to make sure everything arrived from church to the school. Geraldine had been very busy making little pouches to transport the chalices safely and was counting out hosts when I arrived. We were expecting approx 600 to Mass, this meant the safe transportation of lots of silverware.
The parish minibus had passengers on board by 10.30, we were also using the school minibus to ferry people to and fro and the orders of service were, with the newsletters, all packed and ready to go.
But then came the news; the ground was too slippy after all the rain. It was a health and safety hazard. The plug would have to be pulled on being outside. A Mass for 12.30 in the church was now being worked towards. Disappointedly I started putting out chairs in the hall to accommodate the extra people. We had chosen to have Holy Communion under one kind at the school, a la Vatican. In Church we could now also have the Precious Blood, so six extraordinary ministers were found and told where their position was in a matter of seconds.
The word of the change of venue soon spread, a few people rang the parish office to check, but it was amazing how well the news was communicated in just two hours. With about 10 minutes to go the hall was about a quarter full, we decided we might take away one ciborium when it came to the offertory, we clergy went to the back of the church to process in as the gathering hymns (one by the school and one for all) were sung.
At 12.30 sharp the congregation stood and we processed in with everyone singing Here I Am Lord, and my word the singing was spectacular, truly truly spectacular. Getting to the sanctuary and looking into the hall we found it was by now, completely full with people standing. The whole church was alive with singing, happy, united people.
In the homily the congregation were encouraged to take this day and remember it is their church, their community and to offer themselves to the stewardship such a parish requires. They were reminded that as prophets in the Old Testament foretold the coming of the messiah, we are the prophets of today, foretelling of the Parousia, it’s our job by dint of Baptism.
After Communion a presentation was made to Bob who has run the 400 Club for 29 years, helping to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the parish. I have to confess I cannot remember what the recessional hymn was, but I know I was lifted out of church by the magnificent singing.
The plan at the school was to have a parish picnic after Mass. Well the change of venue did not stop that from happening. However, the more intimate venue meant that food was put on one long table for all to share and there was so much of it! I could have eaten my bodyweight in rice dishes alone.
In the meantime, in the back garden of the glorious archdiocese of Southwark, the diocese of Arundel and Brighton were celebrating 50 years of being a diocese. Newly installed bishop and friend of our parish, Richard Moth was the chief celebrant at Mass. Social media was alive with Catholics enjoying their day at the Amex Stadium, each tweet and blog post was a joy to behold.
Today has been a good day to be a Catholic down south.