Saturday, June 01, 2013

The feast of the Visitation...

...in Sussex, on a perfect May evening in the church of Our Lady Queen of Peace in the Adur Valley, an ordination, and  a packed church singing "Veni, veni Sancte Spiritus..."

It was all a bonus for me, as I had arranged to be with friends who organise the Catholic History Walks: we meet from time to time at their home in Sussex, to plan the next set of walks, check on how the whole venture is going, etc. We generally start with evening Mass in their local church, then enjoy a family supper and talk. But this time Jayne telephoned to say there was an ordination in their parish and asked if I'd like to go...

It was glorious. AS the long stream of clergy processed in, to the sound of our singing, bells were pealing out across the village, as the local Anglican church was also having an ordination that evening (and, pleasingly, mutual prayers were offered amid general goodwill: a nice gesture), and evening sunshine streamed in through the church windows.  The new deacon, Stephen Sharpe,  was ordained by the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton...it is always so moving when the ordinand prostrates himself before the altar and the saints are invoked in chanted  prayer. Here in this corner of Sussex, St Cuthman ("The boy with the cart")was invoked along with the other saints - including Blessed John Paul,  which gave a sense of the great sweep of time and history...

The Bishop was wearing new vestments - very beautiful, richly embroidered - and the new deacon was invested with a new dalmatic of the same design, the stiff material being unfolded as the garment was put over his head.  The prayers of ordination are magnificent, and there was a sense of a new surge of strength coming to the Church.

This is a good parish: lots of  families -  children's names on a notice-board announcing First Communion, each child's name inscribed on a pictured candle, inviting parishioners to pray. Fr Sean Finegan, the parish priest, spoke at the end of the Mass and invited everyone into the parish hall, where there was the most magnificent spread...the chocolate truffles were so especially delicious that we were invited to take some home with us, and Auntie did so, and they are waiting in the fridge to be enjoyed during the week ahead.

It was all so very beautiful and happy that we lingered, and it was late when Bryan and Jayne finally took me back to their house and over mugs of tea, we finally tackled the History Walks...more info shortly on these, but be assured that there is a full programme for the months ahead, and we're starting a new initiative for London Catholic schools

3 comments:

Malcolm said...

Yes, ordinations are on the up. Also, the quality seems to be very high, largely able, highly committed men.

It's what economists call a leading indicator.

Pastor in Valle said...

Thanks Dame Joanna, for a lovely account. It was great that you were able to share our celebration, and we look forward to welcoming you into the Valle Adurni again soon.

Pastor in Valle said...

Photos now up on our website: www.olqp.net