...of St Anselm at Pembury in Kent tomorrow., I have a particular affection for this parish. The priest in charge is Fr Ed Tomlinson, who I first met when, as vicar of St Barnabas church in Tunbridge Wells, he was considering joining the Ordinariate. I became good friends with him and with his wife Hayley, and when in due course they came into full communion with the Catholic Church, was sponsor for the latter when she was confirmed. It was Holy Week, and a warm, sticky Spring evening. In some ways the future still seemed uncertain, but going ahead in faith, they prersevered in prayer and in due course Fr Ed was given charge of the small outpost of Pembury, where a somewhat bleak hall was attended on Sundays by a smallish congregation.
And now it is a thriving parish: the old hall has been turned into a a charming church, and a new hall - the Hine Room, named for Bishop Hine who grew up in the village - has been added for the Sunday School, social events, and other activities. It's where I will be speaking tomorrow. There is a fine outdoor Calvary shrine, and a lovely garden. Local people know "the church on the green" and it plays a major role in village life, and in the life of the surrounding area. The parish holds processions and celebrates the feasts and seasons of the Church's year in style.There are lots and lots of young families.
It will be a pleasure and deliught to be part of the Year of Mercy events at Pembury, and I am thrilled to have been invited.