PARISH LIFE AND ACTIVITIES
CHURCH FLOWERS & CLEANING
Caring for God's House - urgently needed!
Please ring Eileen: 01963 364079
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A big thank you to everyone who has worked so hard recently to make the liturgy of the Paschal Triduum such a wonderful experience of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Cleaners, flower arrangers, decorators, fetchers and carriers, organists, cantors and choir, altar servers and Deacons, ‘volunteers’ for the Washing of the Feet and all who have joined in our prayer and worship: you have all been integral to the spiritual wellbeing of the people of this parish. May God bless you abundantly for your work, your commitment and your presence.
One of the highlights, spiritually and emotionally, was the procession to the Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday. This experience of walking with the Lord into the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch with Him as he prayed was deepened by setting up a temporary altar in the cemetery next to St. Benedict’s (with the kind approval of the Mayor’s Executive Assistant). The experience was made even better by the lovely spring evening and the birds singing their hearts out. Below are a few photographs, to bring back happy memories:
SYNOD - update
The listening phase of our diocesan Synodal Journey has now drawn to a close and we have prepared a synthesis which has been sent through to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) for the next phase of discernment and listening. We would like to thank all those who have participated in or facilitated meetings or sent through individual feedback. The final diocesan synthesis, a foreword by Bishop Mark and appendices are now on the Diocese of Plymouth website https://www.plymouth-diocese.org.uk/synod We will send some printed copies to parishes in May. The wealth of contributions sent through will continue to be reviewed and shared in the coming months as we reflect in more detail on all the themes raised. Thank you for all your support! Canon John Deeny and Deborah Fisher, Diocesan Co-contacts
The March Newsletter of the coordinators of the Synodal Process in the Diocese is now available as an attachment to all who receive the parish newsletter by email. Please ask Fr. Francis if you would like a copy. Or download it here. Over 700 different contributions have been received and the co-contacts describe the emerging themes in this way:
“A whole host of issues have been discussed – people’s views on the structures of the Church, how we walk together as a People of God; how we encounter others and reach out; how we communicate; how we practice our faith; the role of Priests and Laity; the importance of the youth; inclusion and diversity; tradition and modernity; gender issues; LGBTQ+; safeguarding and abuse; leadership and Mission. The listening journey has highlighted many different points of view on all these issues but there has been an almost universal welcome for the process of Synodality and a hope that we can continue to walk together, listening to each other and the Holy Spirit and engaging in dialogue to strengthen the Mission of the Church.
Tony and Mary Moore, together with Deacons Mike and James, represented our parish at the meeting organised by the Diocese in Poole on Saturday 26th February. Tony has kindly written an account of the day. This is attached to the newsletter email and is available on the Parish website. Find the account here.
More information about what has happened so far is available on our Synodal Update which is attached to the newsletter email. There is also a link Here.
Synod Meeting 12th February
It was gratifying to see about twenty people attend the Parish meeting to prepare our response to the Synod process on Saturday 12th February. We began by thinking about St. Luke’s Gospel Chapter 8 verses 11 – 18 and then said the synod prayer. Fr. Francis asked us to think for a few minutes about what we do well in the parish and what we would like to do even better.
Very much appreciation was voiced for the efforts of everyone to be a united, friendly, welcoming community with beautiful, well-kept churches and a notable enthusiasm for learning more about our faith and sharing it with others. We also came up with many ideas of things we’d like to do even better. In no particular order, they were:
• Drawing in the people on the margins. One way of encouraging this would be to restrict attendance at parish events to those who bring a ‘stranger’ with them.
• Attending funerals of parishioners we don’t know, as well as baptisms and other sacramental initiation
• Being ready to talk to people, just a friendly word, and ready to ‘give a reason for the hope we have’
• Create opportunities for people to come into church when they are upset
• Taking more seriously Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel; accept that it’s not an optional extra to our Christian life.
• Building on our neighbourliness
• Develop St. Vincent de Paul links, reaching out to those who are alone, in care homes, in prison
• Provide facilities in Gillingham for meetings and social events
• Encourage more people to stay for coffee after the 0930 Sunday Mass in Marnhull
• Drawing all the parishioners more into a sense of being a community
•Involving the young people, perhaps by having a young peoples’ choir in Gillingham
• “To live is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often.” We must guard against complacency.
• Help for young Mums while their children are being prepared for the sacraments
• Help newcomers to have a sense of belonging in our church.
Engage in life-long formation
It was a real delight to see about 20 parishioners answer the call to gather for a live broadcast of a conversation between Bishop Robert Barron, Father James Mallon and Rev. Nicky Gumble which addressed the question: What is God saying to the Church right now? Sadly, Tony Moore, who had been due to deal with the IT, had been ‘pinged’ so was unable to be with us. This meant a few frantic moments as I battled with wires and laptops and TV screens, but the gremlins were subdued in good time so that we only missed a minute or two of introductions. I have transcribed the main points of what was said and these are circulated with the newsletter email and available on the parish website here. At the end we agreed that the webcast had inspired us, given us some ideas of what could be done and that we intend to take action on evangelisation and respond in faith to the current situation. So watch this space! As it was Shrove Tuesday, we continued our lively conversation over some wonderful food and drink. We had a great time, building our friendship and finding unity and support, rejuvenated in our faith and our commitment to share our Good News. Fr. Francis
If you would like to watch a recording of the Divine Renovation webcast which we watched together on Shrove Tuesday, here’s a link to it on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7ddd_o7ZDM
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Celebration in Gillingham.
Our church has been invited to nominate two representatives to take part in a Civic Parade and Civic Service on Friday 3rd June 2022. The parade will leave School Road at 11 a.m. and proceed along the High Street to the Anglican church. The Service will conclude at noon and the parade will reform and return to the Town Hall.
I’m very grateful to Rogie for volunteering to represent us; I’d be most grateful if someone would come forward to join her. Fr. Francis