Reflections

My Dad passing away last week came as a shock even though I knew he was going downhill quite rapidly. When I saw him last week, he had only been discharged from hospital two days previously, I felt he had weeks to go but little did we all know how much pain he was in. When I visited, I had to call an ambulance and he sadly died in hospital two hours later. I think I am still in shock.

The realisation that I am leaving my role, moving home, and leaving a city I have come to love very much is starting to sink in. They are all big things but the excitement of moving on is keeping me energised and focussed. What I am most excited about is having time and space to process the many things that have come up over this last year. I know God will lead me to where I am supposed to be, the exciting and scary thing is that I haven’t a clue what or where that is!

I want to say is a massive thank you to all of you. My time here at St Bonaventure’s has been immense because you have taken me to your heart. From the moment I stepped through the front door on my first visit to the parish in July 2015 I felt comfortable. We have all worked well over the years and I have grown a lot over the six years I have been here. I feel I have grown up and I am very grateful for that!

I am so proud of all we have accomplished over the years – which has been a lot. I am still amazed by your response to the building and funding of the Business Centre. It has been an amazing community project that will hopefully, I pray, help put the parish on a sound financial footing in the years to come. I was moved by the generosity of those who worked on it from the initial idea, the fundraising and the building of the Centre.  We have a great Managing agent too: Bristol Space Works who are a not-for-profit organisation who were originally established in Easton to help small businesses get started. From the beginning their ethos and ours matched, I am very proud of our relationship. To me the Business Centre is a truly remarkable project, a true community endeavour, we should all be very proud of our selves. But that said I have always valued the spiritual development of our community more than our financial growth. What is the point of a great looking church if there is no one to pray in it?

I think I am most proud of the renewal that has begun to take place here. As you may know I am very influenced by Evangelical Churches, I admire their commitment and passion and above all the organisational structure that allows individual churches to thrive. Many of you have been very patient as I banged on about doing things a different way. But because you embraced it, it worked. Or I should say, it is beginning to work. Our tremendous work with Social Media has borne great fruit in attracting people to our Church. The Parish Feast day has been a high point of the year and our Christmas Carol service was becoming a seasonal focus too.

The initiative I was most proud of was one I felt uncomfortable about introducing but which I believe turned out to be a game changer for our community – that was the prayer partners initiative. Prayer partners was, if you remember, the moment where we found someone to share a prayer intention with during Mass and pray for them during that week.  I felt it broke the community open in a way I could never have foreseen. It was recommended by Fr James Mallon, the founder of Divine Renovation. We gave it a little St Bon’s twist and it became an amazing opportunity to connect with each other on a spiritual and personal level.

I am going to have to stop there for this week, I have run out of time and space to write. There is so much to celebrate from the last few years, next week I will continue this reflection on all the amazing things we have done in God’s grace!

Fr Tom

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