Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Decorating pt 2

So the decorating of St B's has reached its last week. I think that the plan to have four shades of green has produced something very special and interesting. The last and deepest of the four shades was put on today, to the main wall behind the altar.  Earlier in the week, after years of thought and uncertainty, I decided to remove the altar rails - and I think that it's going to be a great success. It has created a great feeling of space, and we intend to have a new lectern made to take up a position further forward in the sanctuary than the present one has been.
There has been some fall-out. Some are not keen on the colours, others object to the removal of the rails. It has not been an easy decision for me, and I decided not to do a whole parish taking of opinion. I would like to think that I am hardly the most authoritarian of parish priests, and so when some have accused me of steam rollering, it hurts a bit. However, when people see how much prominence the altar now gets at the top of its sweep of steps, and thrown into relief by the wall behind it, I hope they will be won over.

Meanwhile I gave the first of my projected monthly talks for the Year of Faith entitled "Meeting the Master".  I think it went well...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Decorating St Brigid's

Several years ago, St Brigid's and St Paul's Parish submitted a plan for the upkeep and development of its buildings.  St Paul's Church had already been decorated in 2005, and following the acceptance by the Finance Committee and Trustees of the Archdiocese of the plan, work commenced. In the Presbytery the central heating system and the utility room were replaced, and the the interior of the house decorated. Next the exterior of both the Church and the Presbytery was tackled. That left the interior of the Church - and at last we have received permission to go ahead with that. In fact we are now two weeks into the job.
From the parish point of view, general support for the job was given by the Parish Council, while members of the Finance and Maintenance Group have been involved in a more hands-on way. First we had to put out to tender, then receive agreement from the diocese to spend the money.
Then comes the exciting - and potentially challenging - part, choosing colours and what other adjustments to make in the light of the condition of furnishings and developments in liturgy since the church was built almost 50 years ago. We decided to consult two architects living in the parish....    

Monday, 5 November 2012

A quiet night in Llandough

Several people commented on this piece that I wrote for our newsletter, so I thought I'd post it here too.
It’s exactly twenty years since my father died. He’d had an infection in his heart valve earlier in the year, but struggled on in his weakened state to celebrate with my mum their Golden Wedding in October. Then, quietly in his sleep one night in Llandough Hospital, he let go.
We’d been in to see him the previous afternoon. I remember turning to wave at him from the ward door, Somehow it felt what it turned out to be - the last goodbye. And so my family entered that dream-world that envelopes you when you are bereaved, especially in that gap, surely too long in Britain, between a death and the funeral.
Dad had become Catholic after 32 years of marriage back in the 70s, and so they enjoyed sharing religion as they shared everything else for his last 20 years. I came over to St Paul’s to celebrate his Requiem, as I did nine years later for Mum. Some priests ask the parish priest to carry out this role, but I felt that, well a priest is what I am, and it’s as priest and son that I can do this for him. Somehow the order of the Requiem Mass handles all we want to say, and as a priest it carried me along on that difficult day in 1992.
Nowadays, some people who remember my dad tell me that I am becoming more and more like him. I take that as a great compliment. Our loved ones live on in different ways, not least in us, whether as a family member or friend, or just somebody we met.
This month, I ask God to hold my parents in the palm of his hands, and enfold them in his love. I’m sure you will be doing something similar. As the second reading on All Saints reminded us: “what we are to be in the future is unknown; all we know is, that we shall be like Him and we shall see Him as he really is”.
November – month of the Holy Souls.
Eternal rest grant to them, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.