📽️ Hi folks. We are super excited to let you know that the 2nd instalment of our Lockdown Diaries is now available on YouTube. This week we have invited Simon, Rory, Maeve, Margaret, Claire, Brett and Canon John to give you some idea about what they have been up to over the past few months. We do hope you take as much enjoyment from watching it as we did in making it.
Please feel free to comment or like it either on YouTube or below. AND make sure you Subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you can find out about our latest videos.
On Monday evening Father John presented the first instalment of our Lockdown Diaries. Dawn, Nick, Sandra, Johanna and Kieron gave us some insight into how life has been for the last two months. Dawn’s story is particularly powerful.
We do hope you enjoy and we plan to do these every week. We have got a few people lined up for the coming weeks but if you’d like to take part, let us know by messaging us on Facebook or emailing: email@example.com.
Mass will start shortly. If you don’t see the Live Stream, just refresh the page. And don’t forget we have our live Virtual Coffee Morning afterwards. If you want to join, just leave a comment below with email address and we’ll send an invite.
This article was written this month by Canon Kelly and will appear in the new edition of Catholic People. It recounts life in our Parish over the past few months.
Committee meetings! The burden of the parish priest, but his cover also. Like a roof.
Last autumn rooves and committees combined: leaks in the church meant happy hours with the Finance and Building Committee trying to get a view of the great air-craft hanger of the church roof to the side where the ground falls away. Even with a ladder, we could hardly see over the low pitch, and climbing on to it would only break more of the large 60 year old concrete tiles – not that health and safety would allow it. Should we get a cherry-picker? – wouldn’t extend far enough; a drone maybe? A Consultant would want proper scaffold access. Thank goodness Christmas came to distract us. And then that terrible weather, endless rain, and the winds.
On Sunday 9th February, not long after the Church has been full of families celebrating in a ‘School Mass’, the wind blew two large holes in the roof: concrete tiles scattered over the roof and roadway, and the felting billowing out like a sail.
The next morning I rang the Diocesan Finance office, the Diocesan insurers who told me to get the hole covered, and Len, who had been up a few weeks before to replace some lead ‘investigated’ by naughty boys rescuing a football from the flat roof. Then I blocked off the roadway round the church.
On Tuesday Len’s roofers came, but soon came off the roof saying the wind was too dangerous, and the damage too extensive to do anything temporary, especially with continuing gusts and another storm due at the end of the week. They took photos to show the insurers, and a scaffolder came to measure up. In the church I removed the keyboard, electrical equipment, and benches from beneath the hole, and cordoned off that side of the church.
On Wednesday the loss-adjuster came, a pleasant local man. He told us, vaguely, to get on with it.
On Thursday skips appeared, scaffold was thrown up round that side of the church, and before the scaffolders finished on Friday, the roofers were up clearing the debris, throwing broken tiles into a skip like kids skimming stones, and beginning to replace the felting.
On the weekend we celebrated Mass with traffic jams as half the carpark was cut off, water streaming down one wall and the carpets soaked, the musicians and singing group squeezed into a corner, and lots of parishioners having to move to new pews and meet new people. Nothing will stop us coming together to pray (we thought!)
The next ten day the roofers worked flat out to strip the whole roof, replace the felting, and re-roof it: a dozen lads from Ebbw Vale who carried on through wind and rain, laughing, joking, slinging and catching tiles from one to another like a chain gang. Cruelly, the morning they finished, the wind dropped, the rain stopped, and the sun came out as I watched them lay the last ridge tiles.
A week later the scaffold was gone, Len had sent his painters to repaint the rain- damaged ceiling (and invisibly mend the hole where a tile had been dropped), and the insurers promised to pay up (and they did). Apart from some damp carpet tiles, we were back as if nothing had happened, and ready for an uninterrupted Lent.
When the lockdown came.
Weekday Mass without a congregation is more than odd, it is hard. It is more than missing other voices to support the prayer, Thomas to prepare the altar, Louisa to change the liturgical colours: it feels like part of the Body has been amputated. And yet the faces of Parishioners keep popping up in the bench where they should be, asking to be included in the prayer they are missing.
And no first Communion children, no Confirmandi. No Baptisms or weddings. And these awful funerals with no requiem, hurried prayers by the graveside, and only a few mourners.
Then Sundays: Unsure of the rules, on the first Sunday Alun set up a webcam posted via YouTube, and Debbie and Simon were recruited to read the Scripture. But the sound was poor, and the live stream juddery and continually cutting out.
By the next Sunday it was clear that no one but the priest should be in the church. With remote instruction from Alun, I managed to set up my phone and celebrate a Facebook Mass. Better quality transmission and sound, but the singing left much to be desired.
So Brett started organising the singers and musicians. By the time we got to Holy Week, we had psalms, hymns, and Mass parts recorded onto the laptop, and all I had to do was press the button at the right time.
The Vigil, hard and strange enough without congregation, fire, Baptism, or Tom the MC to keep me on cue, was a disaster – after the Gloria I forgot the New Testament reading; the sermon was mumbled because instead of preparing I had been busy painting Saint Helen’s paschal candle and fetching Saint Peter’s candle from Bargoed; and after the offertory I had to go back for the Renewal of Baptismal Vows which had been left out. And yet Christ is risen, Alleluia!
Live-streaming helps – many parishioners testify to that and are most generous in their appreciation – but it is not enough. Luigi tells me he is sure he won’t get his appetite back properly or start putting back the weight he lost while ill until he has the Bread of Life. For all the endless phoning, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Zooming, we are not the Church assembled, the Body of Christ celebrating and sharing the Body of Christ, to become the Body of Christ sent out to bring New Life to our community.
But fewer committee meetings at least! Will the roof fall in? How will our churches survive all this? And the Church herself?
This has been a very difficult and different Easter to any other we have encountered. With all church activity temporarily (and understandably) halted, the principle way that the church can communicate with its parishioners is through its online activities. Father John has done a wonderful job of making sure that all the Sunday and Easter masses are broadcast via Facebook and this activity has led to us almost doubling the number of followers on that channel and it has had a knock-on effect on this website.
In the past we have shared the stats from this website to let people know where visitors have come from, the amount of traffic we have per month and some of the top pages that people are looking at. With that in mind I thought I’d share with you some of the stats from the past month.
Let us receive the special grace of this moment. We pause in reverent silence before this empty tomb in order to rediscover the grandeur of our Christian vocation: we are men and women of the resurrection, not of death. From this place we learn how to live our lives, the trials of our churches and of the whole world, in the light of Easter morning. Every injury, every one of our pains and sorrows, has been borne on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd who offered himself in sacrifice and thereby opened the way to eternal life. His open wounds are like the cleft through which the torrent of his mercy is poured out upon the world. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the basis of our hope, which is this: Christos anesti! Let us not deprive the world of the joyful message of the resurrection! And let us not be deaf to the powerful summons to unity that rings out from this very place, in the words of the One who, risen from the dead, calls all of us
“My brothers” (Pope Francis, The Gospel of Matthew—a Spiritual and Pastoral Reading p 239).
Become silent, aware of the awesome presence of God who never ceases to be with us.
We celebrate the Paschal Mysteryof the saving Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and our own Sacramental Initiationwith the marks of Baptism into his new lifeand Confirmation in the Communion of his Body the Church.
Sadly this year we have a very limited, virtual celebration.
We remember with sympathyEvie, who was due to be baptised tomorrow, and her family, the 21 children who hoped to celebrate Communion this Easter-tide,and the 9 young adults who hoped to be Confirmed in the Communion.
Despite disappointment and distance, we are invited to be renewed individually and as a communityby all these gifts and graces of our original and annually repeated initiation into Christ’s Paschal Mystery.
🎥 Don’t forget that Mass will be broadcast live this evening at 8.30pm. You can either watch it live on this site (just turn up a little before 8.30 pm) or you can head over to our Facebook Page.
✝️ If you would like to download tonight’s liturgy, please click on the link below. You will be able to follow the services on your tablet, smartphone or computer. Alternatively, you might want to print it off and have it by your side (that’s what I’ll be doing!).
As we won’t be able to celebrate Mass together this evening, we thought that we would upload today’s liturgy so that you might follow. You can view it by either clicking on the image above or the link below. Having done this you can either follow online or print off a copy.
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