During the school holidays I aim to get to daily Mass, and that includes Saturdays. This morning I walked round to my local church, expecting to find the usual 30-40 people there who usually come to the Saturday morning Mass but the car park was full. As I walked into the porch I was handed an order of service which told me this Mass would be for the Fr Jim MaGuire who had been parish priest in Caterham from 1994 – 2007. The church was almost full, but I found a seat at the very back and joined this community in their commemoration.
The parish priest, Fr Seán, presided and he was joined by his predecessor (Fr Jim’s successor) Fr Kieran. As the bell rang we stood and joined together singing, rather softly but unitedly Here I Am Lord, there were even some people at the back who added harmonies to this.
Fr Seán had chosen the readings. The first was Tobit 5; 9-22, recounting the story of Tobias going on his mission, we sang The Lord’s My Shepherd and Fr Kieran read the Gospel, Mark 6: 6-13 “go out, take no spare tunic…”.
Fr Seán preached, he told us of the Irish Missions, mentioning especially St Aidan, St Columbanus and St Columba and likened Fr Jim’s journey of faith bought him on a similar mission.
We sang I watched the Sunrise at the offertory and Sweet Sacrament Divine at Communion. After Communion Biddy stood up and told us about Fr Jim, what an excellent, kind, pastor he had been to the parish. A man who had no false airs and graces about him and how amused he was to have been mistaken for the caretaker on one occasion.
Fr Seán invited everyone into the hall for tea and coffee “but at midday the bar will be open”. Our recessional hymn was Be Thou My Vision. I did not stay as I did not know Fr Jim, but I left the church feeling I had missed out on knowing such a gentleman as he. I telephoned home to say I was only just leaving church (when I should have been arriving home) and as I finished the call I bumped into someone i know. Having chatted about half term I told him about the Mass. He is not a Catholic of regular practice but said he must rush at once to perhaps see people as ‘Fr Jim was so loved, I miss him, I bet there’s a huge crowd there”
He was right