Friday, November 03, 2006

Nicole Syed & James Parker

Over the years the parish Marriage Preparation Course has become very popular. We often get enquiries from engaged couples in other parishes who have heard about our course and would like to attend.

One of our keynote speakers is Nicole Syed. She deals with the sensitive area of the Church's teaching on contraception by explaining what Natural Family Planning is and how it works. Nicole is a specialist in the whole area of fertility and has helped many couples in different ways. Some of her clients are keen to learn to understand and harness the power of their own fertility avoiding the contamination of chemicals, hormones and other contraceptive contraptions. Sometimes her clients have experienced difficulty conceiving. These she can often help by teaching them to learn and interpret the signs of their own fertility. Sometimes she can help them identify real problems that need medical solutions.
Most movingly, Nicole has helped couples learn to interpret the signs of abnormality that may lead to a miscarriage in pregnancy. I've known some mothers to suffer multiple miscarriages before their doctor has begun to investigate the problem seriously. I've also known Nicole to help couples spot the warning signs and take the necessary remedial medication to enable the pregnancy to carry to full term.
Nicole has helped and inspired many, many couples in our parish over the years and we owe her a debt of gratitude. One of our parishioners, Joanne Connolly, was so impressed by Nicole that she gave up her job to train to become a Fertility Care Practitioner herself and has now qualified.
Last month Nicole Syed married James Parker in a wonderful, faith-filled celebration of love and vocation. Fortunately for us, she will continue to work at the London Fertilitycare Centre and help us with our marriage classes.
To find out more about how Natural Family Planning can help you and enrich your marriage contact Joanne or Nicole and make an appointment for an initial meeting. You can also visit the Fertility Care website.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More on the Saints!

Every Wednesday and Thursday we have 'Faith and Life' classes in the parish for children in years 4, 5 and 6. This week each class celebrated an 'All Saints Party'. The children had to choose a saint, research about their life, find a costume and make a presentation to the class. Much fun was had and the performances showed a depth of imagination and a great interest in the lives of the saints. Here are some of the photos from the classes.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints Day

There are three Masses in the parish today for the Feast of All Saints which is a Holy Day of Obligation.The 6.45am Mass was well attended and, as usual the 9.30am Mass was packed. Tonight there will be a sung Mass at 8.00pm with Jeremy de Satge and the parish choir providing the music.
In his sermon this morning Fr Marcus reminded the children present that they are all called to be saints and that they can live out this call to holiness in very simple and practical ways.

The readings and music for the Mass were prepared by the children of our parish school and, as always there were lots of comments afterwards about how well our children read and sing. This is not something that comes naturally! It is due to the hard work and commitment of Miss Lawless and her staff. In our parish we also have a number of private schools. Today we were able to welcome children from Hornsby House, Northcote Lodge and Broomwood Hall. Oliver House, the independent Catholic school in the parish, is still on half term.

Hallowe'en's Saints & Angels Party

This evening saw our first ever 'Saints and Angels Party'. This was an opportunity to celebrate the All Hallows/Saints Eve (Halloween) in an appropriate and exciting way. It allowed our children to enjoy the traditional games and customs like 'apple dunking' without the all too common and unnecessary reference to devils and witches.

The party was a great sucess with over 35 children participating. Each participant (aged from 8-12) dressed as a saint or angel and had an interview with St Don Bosco (Fr Marcus) and St Theresa of the Child Jesus (Marie Jones - Youth Officer). They were asked 'how did you get to heaven?'. There were prizes for the best costumes and the best perfomances.

After the three judges had awarded their marks we all had traditional Halloween treats and games (which included a quiz about the lives of the saints). The evening was very enjoyable and we hope to host it again next year.

Fr Benedict's Visit

We've had a number of people asking for more details of Fr Benedict Groeschel's visit to the parish. Fr Benedict will be here next Thursday evening (9th November) and will lead us in an evening of prayer and reflection. The timetable is as follows:

7.00pm Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
Reflection on "The Spirituality of Pope Benedict XVI"
Period of quiet prayer during which Confessions will be heard
8.45pm Benediction
9.00pm Refreshments until 9.30pm

We look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Finance Committee

This evening the parish Finance Committee met to scrutinise the income and expenditure for the last quarter. The Committee is Chaired by Denis Cross who keeps us in good order. Each year it approves our budget which is prepared in draft form by Denis and Fr Stephen working from the previous year's income and expenditure.

The Committee meets every quarter to monitor the budget and also to consider any suggestions from the Diocesan Finance Office. Part of its remit is to see that the annual accounts are checked by an independent examiner before being signed off and sent to the diocese.

The Committee also considers any legislative changes or diocesan regulations that might affect us as a parish. For example, the diocesan insurers now require us to have electrical safety checks each year. A change to the law effective from 1st October means that we also have to carry out annual fire risk assessments. This is to identify risks or hazards in case of fire and to put appropriate management strategies in place. On a practical level it will affect things like pushchairs blocking aisles in the Church as well as ensuring that fire safety signs are in place and everyone knows where the fire exits are.

Congratulations Isabella

On Sunday we were able to welcome Isabella Squires into the Church through the sacrament of Baptism. In the picture she is pictured with her parents Christopher and Cristina, and also with both her maternal grandmother and great-grandmother. I always like meeting great-grandmothers at baptisms. It brings home how the faith is passed on through the generations. But I was particularly pleased on this occasion because Isabella's great-grandmother told me that she was married in this Church in November 1942!

Saturday's Hike

On Saturday 28th October Fr Stephen drove down to Glastonbury as part of his work as Diocesan Vocations Director. Each year there is a big Youth Retreat hosted by the Catholic parish in Glastonbury, attracting young people from all over the country including a number of Holy Ghost parishioners. The photo was taken at the top of Glastonbury Tor which we walked up and where we read an account of the cruel execution of the Glastonbury Martyrs. For a fuller account (including a short video clip) visit the Southwark Vocations Blog.

Why a Parish Blog?

Most parishioners of the Holy Ghost know that we're a really busy parish. You only have to come to a Sunday Mass to see that we have an enormous congregation with lots of things going on during the week. But at the same time it is hard to have a real idea of all the different activities in the parish unless we get the chance to experience them first hand.

We are also naturally quite shy. Sometimes we can hear of a course or a talk that's being advertised and be quite interested but are put off because we aren't sure about exactly what's going to happen. We wonder what sort of person will be there and will we be the odd one out.

It is also true that, although parishioners sometimes comment to the priests of the parish that "Sunday is your busy day", we are kept busy all the time and there is a lot happening that doesn't get mentioned in the newsletter. For example, I wonder how many of you were aware of the big concelebrated Masses at New Year (see photo). For all these reasons we've decided to stat a parish Blog - an online account of life at the Holy Ghost.

We hope you will enjoy reading it.