I cannot say a big enough thank you to you and everyone who helped make Holy Week and Easter a very special time for our community. The services and Masses of the Easter Triduum were very moving occasions. Although we are unable to talk to each other after Mass in the way we would like, the warm welcome given by the stewards seems to have a big impact on our gatherings. The stewards work extremely hard to make coming to Mass a safe and welcoming experience for everyone. The musicians have been working hard under difficult limitations to help bring warmth to our liturgies with uplifting and meaningful music. Our readers this year put on a phenomenal display of fortitude and dedication. Many of them read a number of times over Holy Week and read very well. The sacristans have worked hard behind the scenes preparing everything for each service. Before Holy Week began a team of parishioners came in to clean the church for us all. I would also like to thank those who prepared flowers for the side altars under Pascal candle. Laura and those who contribute to our social media have worked really hard this Easter too. A massive thank you goes to the most hidden group who have been beavering away this Lent, the Welfare Group; they packaged and delivered over seventy Palm Crosses and Easter Cards to our vulnerable and housebound parishioners. It was an amazing and greatly appreciated feat. The gardening team continue to do an amazing job too. Along with these thanks I also want to say how wonderful it was to see so many people returning to St Bon’s after time in isolation; it’s great to see you back!
The pandemic has been very difficult for so many of us, and we may not be out of the woods yet, but let’s hope that we are! If things go according to plan the second half of this year should be a very exciting one for us as a community. Despite the difficulties and struggles the last year has brought, we have been strengthened as a community, we have come together in adversity. It has been an amazing journey from the first lockdown where Mass went on to Instagram and our social groups moved onto Zoom. That was a very formative time for our parish. Connections and friendships were made and deepened in those months off the first lockdown. Once the church reopened many people came forward to give of themselves in serving. Some people have taken on three jobs others two and others have stepped up who weren’t involved before. I think one of our challenges moving forward this year will be to work out how to preserve the sense of community we have developed at the same time as the restrictions lift. I am sure for some time many of us are going to want to go and do the things we have been unable to do for over a year, like take holiday or visit loved ones, but when we come back working on how to develop what we have gained will be essential.
For me as a Priest it is a privilege to serve in this community. The generosity of our community is an inspiration to me. it is something special and I believe we have many wonderful years ahead of us as we continue to grow in friendships and our faith together. I would like to say a very big thank you to all of you for your generosity in the Easter collection both in church and online and for your lovely cards and gifts, I wish I could say a personal thank you to all of you! It has been a financially challenging year for so many people and that you were able to give so generously is very touching. I expect the next few months to be difficult because we are so close to the end and as we can remember from Christmas nothing in this pandemic is certain, hopefully the end of June will be the end of the restrictions we all hope for. We are going to be busy in the coming months as we celebrate last years postponed First Holy Communion programme, the postponed baptisms, and the postponed weddings. We will do our best to fit everyone in! I would like to wish you again a very happy Easter and hopefully some peace and some rest at this time of year.