Letter to the Parish from Deacon Paul
Greetings from Belgium, where I am on a two-week study period for my masters in Canon Law at Leuven University. As I said after the 5pm mass on Saturday, I remember the experience of emerging from the back room in Church after the Maunday Thursday service earlier this year. Instinctively, you were all quietly waiting with the Lord at prayer. I felt then a strong presence of the Holy Spirit. During mass on Saturday I felt it again. It was a sense of reassurance that we are all holding Fr. Peter in prayer. We know also Fr. Peter does the same for us and he will be continuing to say his private mass for our intentions during the week.
Our mission continues. Fr. Peter discerned that the first priority for our parish was the building up of the parish community as intentional disciples and, to this end, in Wednesday evening sessions we have been following, among others, resources promoted by Bishop Philip – namely from Called and Gifted (see https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/called-and-gifted ) and then from Pope Francis’ Book Let us Dream.
In this book, Pope Francis urges us:
“To enter into discernment is to resist the urge to seek the apparent relief of an immediate decision, and instead be willing to hold different options before the Lord, waiting on that overflow. You consider reasons for and against, knowing Jesus is with you and for you. You feel inside yourself the gentle pull of the Spirit, and its opposite. And over time, in prayer and patience, in dialogue with others, you reach a solution, which is not a compromise but something else altogether.”
So this is the path on which we have been faithfully travelling. It is not about launching out in our own strength or expecting “Father” to map everything out for us or designing programmes. We will be the parish we pray for and the more engagement we have with each other in prayer, the more we can see how the Lord is speaking to us through each one of us and the easier, I am sure, we will sense that “gentle pull of the Spirit”. This requires of all who attend an open mind, not a fixed agenda; a willingness to be moved by the Holy Spirit as we reflect on scripture and church texts together.
So, in early November we will be continuing this process discerned for us by our pastor, Fr. Peter. I do encourage you yet again to participate in it. It is open to all, particularly from those segment of our parish community who have yet to participate – or young adults and parent with young families. I appreciate, as a family man myself, the particular dynamic of family life! Do get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would have any suggestions. In the meantime, I will be planning for a mix of meetings and formats for early November to better suite divergent agendas.
Those who have met have discerned a number of initiatives and the latest of these are in the newsletter. Longer term we are also planning for a healing mass again this December, a Day with St. Joseph and Advent Prayer Groups. Watch this space. The Parish All Saints party on 31st October will include fun and games, shared meal (please bring food and/or drink) and ALL are welcome. It will be followed at 1pm by a hour of prayer for COP26 as Bishop Philips encourages us to do.
Returning to the words of Pope Francis, I sense that “something else” for us in this Parish, will in part be a sense of ownership by all and expectation in the wonders the Lord can work for us and through our varied charisms. I am sure this will lead, as we move forward out of the recent challenges, to a parish community, which caters better for the needs of all its people and which is a more vibrant witness to the power of Christ’s love in North Camp.
Deacon Paul Page-Tickell
Our Lady Help of Christians Community, Farnborough
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