The Harvest Service in our church is an annual event for which pupils from St Thomas More Academy bring food parcels which are then distributed among our elderly and housebound parishioners and some items also go to the town's food bank
1. Some of the many food parcels provided by the school.
2. Pupils begin distributing the food parcels.
3. Older pupils from the school played a leading part on the service.
4. After the service all who attended were invited into the church hall for refreshments.
Three people took an important step towards being admitted to the Catholic faith on the first Advent Sunday on November 29.
Johanna Purser from Saffron Walden, Shawn Martin from Radwinter and Zoe Harrington from Newport gathered in the cloister of our church to mark the beginning of their candidature to the faith which will reach its conclusion next Easter.
They were warmly greeted at the entrance to the church by Father David, who asked them their names and also what they asked of God's church. They said they sought faith and the eternal life that faith offers.They also accepted the Gospels and were signed with the cross by Father David before processing into the church preceded by the altar servers and Father David. The candidates were each presented with a Bible and intercession prayers were said for them.
Father David finally stretched his hands over the candidates asking God to receive them with love. "Lead our candidates to the baptism of new birth, so that living a fruitful life in the company of your faithful, they may receive the eternal reward that You promise."
1. The three candidates, left to right, Johanna and Shawn, and front row, Zoe with her son, and one of the sponsors next to Pastoral Assistant, Trish Cobby, who has been instructing the candidates since September.
2. After the Rite of Acceptance and the Advent Mass the three candidates with their instructor, Trish Cobby, and Father David.
3. Father David and one of the altar servers shortly before leading the candidates into the church.
The annual Parish Quiz attracted a full house at Newport Village Hall on November 13 which proved to be a lucky number for the winning team.
Right up to and beyond the halfway point of the quiz Father David's team, who called themselves Fine Vintage, held the lead but in Round 8 dropped to second place when they were overtaken by The Choir. They failed to regain the lead in the final round and The Choir were victorious with 79 and a half points. One member of The Choir, Ben Gill, also won the £20 prize in the heads and tails fun contest.
The evening included a ploughman's supper and the brain teasing questions were fired at the teams by Patrick Draper.
1.Patrick Draper poses the questions.
2.Figuring out the answers.
3.Father David's team reckon they've got the right answers.
4.The winning team, The Choir. Centre left is Ben Gill who also won the heads and tails competition.
5.Pastoral Assistant Trish Cobby (right) given a helping hand folding up the raffle tickets.
A group of parishioners have over a number of years been walking the route pilgrimage from London to Our Lady's shrine in Walsingham. The route has been walked regularly since 1952. The pilgims give themselves a week to complete the 128 miles walk.
Our parish hall has been a regular venue for the second evening of the Walk and once again the pilgrims were entertained to an excellent evening meal by Jill, Sue and Karon with Father David providing one of the dishes.
Father David took Benediction for the pilgrims in the evening and brought forward morning Mass to 08:00 the following morning so to allow a prompt start to the day - next stop Newmarket and evening meal with Bishop Alan.
1. The chefs and Father David share a meal with the walkers who spent the night in our church hall before continuing their walk the next morning.
2. That's the way we will be going. Father David sees the walkers off on the next stage of their long trek to Walsingham.
Wow! What a fantastic evening was provided at Father David's Supper for 30 guests in our church hall on October 9.
We are lucky to have a parish priest who is also a first class chef and he and his helpers gave the diners a three-course Mediterranean meal to remember. The starter was grilled Halloumi with a tomato salsa and fresh dressed rocket. Then came the main course of chicken saltimbocca glazed with Madeira wine and served with roasted vegetables accompanied by potatoes with rosemary and garlic. Finally came the dessert, an Italian dish of fruit, baked with port and honey, and sponge fingers created in the shape of a dome and served with marscapone cream. Throughout the meal the wine flowed freely and after the dessert Limoncello was served as a digestive. On arrival the diners had been greeted with chilled Prosecco and a choice of canapes.
Such was the success of the event that it created a wonderful and very happy atmosphere in the hall where it was obvious that everyone present was thoroughly enjoying themselves. Much was owed to the chefs, Father David, Noberto and Michelle Fusi, Theresa Zammit Lupi and Andreas Claase and Rebecca Richards. Also helping to ensure that everything ran smoothly were the waiters, Patrick Draper, Tim Chase, Hazel Phipps, Rebecca Richards and Trish Cobby. The hall had been set up by Katie Nell, Patrick and Tim. It was an ideal event for Matthew Buckley who that day celebrated his 44th birthday.
1. Serving up the main course.
2. Patrick Draper ready to offer red or white wine to the diners.
3. Tucking into a delicious meal...
7. Dessert ready for serving.
8. Tim Chase serves as another waiter.
9. Trish Cobby serving the dessert.
10. Phew! The diners must by now have had enough wine...
11. ...but Patrick Draper tops up the glass of another guest.
12. Someone has to do –– the chore of washing up after the meal.
13. Happy birthday for Matthew Buckley.
A total of over 70 parishioners trooped into our church hall for the annual Bacon Brunch after the two Sunday Masses on September 27 which saved them all the bother of cooking their own breakfast.
The meal of bacon butties, croissants and a choice of drinks went down a treat, judging from the many happy faces at the event after the 08.30 Mass which replaced the Bacon Brunch held in the past on Palm Sunday. It was decided to switch the date to the autumn as that was deemed to be a more appropriate time bearing in mind that the earlier date was the run-up to Our Lord's Passion.
A team of helpers ensured the brunch was a successful event which raised £206 for our church funds. The bacon was cooked by Ben Gill and Marcus Richards while the servers were Patrick Draper and Louise Barnes. The food was bought by Rebecca Richards and Gosia Atter and the hall was set up by Rebecca Richards, Stephanie Gill, Katie Nell and Trish Cobby. The chore of washing up was taken on by Florence Nell, Charlotte Jones and Phil and Katie Nell while that of cleaning up the hall was carried out by Trish, Louise, Stephanie, Aoife Grindle and Chris Cobby.
Father David came to the rescue when it proved impossible to find an outside speaker for our annual Parish Retreat Day at St Mark's College on September 26th. He stepped into the breach at the 11th hour and gave a thought provoking talk on the place of prayer in our lives.
About 30 parishioners attended the retreat which began with Mass in the college's chapel and it then progressed to the first part of Fr David's talk entitled 'What prayer is: misperceptions and misunderstandings.'
Prayer was, he said, "talking to God" and was our relationship with God so there was no right or wrong way to do it. It can also change from day to day, depending upon our emotions at the time. St Teresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church and a mystic, was very down to earth and when asked how she prayed simply answered "I just talk to God."
Sometimes prayer ends in silence and that can be more eloquent than words. "Silence," said Fr David, "is the apotheosis and fulfilment of talking to God."
Prayer can be both public and personal and often it can be difficult and we are reluctant to pray so it requires an effort and whether easy or difficult deepens our relationship with God.
After lunch Fr David spoke about the problem of distractions when praying. "There is nothing we can do about them for they belong to human nature," he said. But, once aware of the distraction we have to pull ourselves back and return to the prayer.
Fr David, on the subject of prayers of intercession, said that when asked to pray for someone he would do it faithfully. He would make an adoration to God and bring up the name of the person and commend them to God. "I would hold them in the love of my heart and lift them up to the light of God's love," he said.
The talks allowed time for questions and there was also the opportunity during the lunch break for confessions.
1. Fr David said non-malicious humour was fine particularly as the devil has no sense of humour.
2. Parishioner Gerard Clinton puzzles over a point made by Fr David.
Parishioners Terry and Mary Wheatley celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary on September 4th and now have a very special reminder of that happy day.
They were presented with a sampler depicting the couple on their wedding day which had been made for them by our parish secretary, Lynn Ingamells, who, with Mary, leads our Wednesday Group which, through handicrafts, supports our twin parish in Evander, South Africa.
Lynn warned the couple that she was making the sampler for them months ago and predicted they would forget she was doing so. She proved to be right but Terry and Mary were delighted with the gift when it was given to them.
They came to Great Chesterford from Croydon where they first met at an old time dancing club. Terry was then a 16 year old still at school while Mary (19) was working as a nursery nurse. In their spare time the couple remained enthusiastic members of the Old Time Dance Club and took part in competitions for which Mary had to make her own dresses. Terry, who dressed in tails for the competitions, trained in commercial accountancy when he left school and worked for Sainsbury.
Four years after they met the couple were married in St Mary's Catholic Church in West Croydon, Surrey. Years later they moved to Great Chesterford and both became very involved in our church. They played in and organised our Folk Group for 26 years until their retirement in 2006. Mary was a Minister of the Eucharist and provided instruction for new candidates. She is also well known to lots of parents and children in the town having been head teacher at Saffron Walden Nursery School for many years.
The couple, who have two children, Susan and Mark, celebrated their anniversary at a family meal and also with a holiday in the Lake District.
Afternoon tea went down a treat for over 20 of our senior parishioners at the Clavering Lakes Cafe in September.
The annual outing was organised by our St Vincent de Paul Society whose members also provided transport to Clavering's popular attraction. Apart from hot drinks the tea also included cakes and scones with cream and jam. After tea there was time before returning home for the more able bodied and energetic to take a stroll around the lake.
Years of dedicated service to our church by Dave Powell and Tim Chase won Papal recognition on July 19 when they were presented with medals of the Order of Benemerenti. The presentation was made by Father David towards the end of the 10.30am Mass who said the award honoured not only Dave and Tim but also the whole parish.
The medal features a gold cross which includes a depiction of Christ with his hand raised in blessing and on the reverse are the Latin words Benemerenti meaning "Well Deserved." It ranks among the highest honours awarded to laity but was first established in the 18th century for soldiers in the Papal Army. In 1925 it was extended to members of the clergy and laity to recognise long and exceptional service to the church.
Both Dave and Tim became closely involved with our church in the late 1970s. Dave, a retired horticulturist, headed the small building committee which took on the marathon task of drawing up plans for the restoration of our church and supervising the various stages of the work which was completed in 2005 when the church was reopened on Maundy Thursday of that year. Dave is still chairman of the building committee and is a pastoral parish councillor and a Eucharistic Minister.
Tim is also a Eucharistic Minister and was appointed at the time when candidates had to go to Brentwood to be trained. Over the years he has been involved in many projects which entail finance as he is our church's treasurer and in that capacity is an ex-officio member of the Pastoral Parish Council. He was also for nine years a member of the Parents Association of St Thomas More School where his three sons received their primary education. Other work for our church included running a youth club for 12 years, and being a driver for members of St Vincent de Paul Society. Tim has for many years drawn up all the questions for our fund-raising quizzes.
When told that he had been awarded the Benemerenti honour, Tim said, "I was quite shocked and could not believe it."
The rain failed to put a damper on the fun and games at our summer picnic held in June at St Mark's College.
There was something to keep all the children amused, the activities including face painting, apple bobbing, football skills, limbo expertise chess and many more. Parents were kept busy providing family picnics and volunteers arrived with a variety of desserts.
By mid–afternoon the rain eased off and the event raised a profit of just over £158. This came from the proceeds of a raffle which also covered the £70 cost of hiring the college hall.
1&2. Dragged along by his ankles but, as is obvious from photograph below, there were no hard feelings!
3&4. Success! Removing the apple from the bucket of water where in the end fingers were more useful than teeth.
5&6. Going up and under the bar limbo style.
7. But as one young lad demonstrated, there is an easier way of getting under the bar.
8&9. Patrick Draper and David Cetin ended their game of chess in a draw while below one little girl makes her first move.
10. A six year old has her face painted up as a dalmatian.
Bishop Alan Williams paid his first official visit to Saffron Walden since being appointed Bishop of Brentwood when he presided at the Solemn Pontifical Mass for the confirmation of 10 of our parish's teenagers on Wednesday 3rd June.
This was the highest number of confirmation candidates in recent years and in his homily Bishop Alan explained the importance of the event and how much it could and should change their lives. He reminded the candidates of the first Pentecost Sunday when our Lord's disciples received the Holy Spirit. Prior to that day the disciples were still fearful and had been in a locked room. But all that changed when they received the Spirit and had the faith and confidence to go public and preach to the people in Jerusalem about Jesus Christ.
Bishop Alan told the candidates that confirmation would change their lives in a meaningful way and he asked them to reflect on how the change would affect them individually.
The candidates had been prepared for confirmation by our Pastoral Assistant and catechist, Trish Cobby, who was helped by Jill Gunsell, also a catechist. After the Mass Trish was presented with a bouquet and the following Sunday both Trish and Jill were given pendants as a token of appreciation by the teenagers.
1. Bishop Alan, together with the confirmation candidates, Father David, and MC Tony Grossfield and seven servers make their way down the aisle to the altar.
2. Bishop Alan anoints one of the candidates, seen here with her sponsor, with holy oil.
3. All the candidates are presented with a Bible and their certificate of confirmation.
4. The confirmandi pictured here with Bishop Alan and Father David after the Mass.
5. Pastoral Assistant, Trish Cobby, is presented with a bouquet.
6. Five of the confirmandi pictured after Mass on June 7 after gifts of appreciation had been presented to Trish and Jill.
Twenty two first communicants made their First Communion on 16 May. Their special Mass was celebrated in St Mary's Parish Church which, unlike our own church, is large enough to accommodate all the family and friends of the youngsters. The Mass was celebrated by our parish priest, Father David Clemens, who was assisted by the parish priest of Lucan in Dublin, Father Peter O'Reilly one of whose relatives was among first communicants.
The Mass marked the culmination of months of preparation provided by our Pastoral Assistant, Trish Cobby, and her helpers. Prior to the Mass the children had gathered in the church hall and this year, owing to the closure of the footpath between Castle Street and the parish church, took a different route which took them down the High Street and across the Memorial Garden. Accompanied by family and friends they returned later to the church hall for refreshments.
Stansted's team from St Therese's Church emerged as the victors in a closely fought contest in the North Essex Deanery quiz held in Catholic Church hall in Great Dunmow on May 8th. Saffron Walden fielded two teams with that headed by Trish Cobby coming third while other Walden team, led by Patrick Draper, came a close second separated by only a couple of points from Stansted's team.
The quiz, an annual event, raised £292 for the Deanery's Pastoral Council, the money being spent on a variety of projects including those involving young people.
Our church was packed on April 4 for the Solemn Easter Vigil which was superbly organised and lasted for nearly two hours. Parishioners gathered outside the church for the blessing of the new fire and the Pascal Candle.
Pictured below Father David prepares the Pascal Candle with markings and the insertion of five grains of incense in the form of a cross before lighting it and then entering the darkened church followed by parishioners. They too had candles which were lit and with the Pascal Candle symbolised Christ as the Light of the world.
The Liturgy for the remainder of the service includes three other parts, namely the Liturgy of the Word which featured readings from the Old and New Testaments.These started with the story of creation and ran through Jewish history and the writings of some of the prophets before progressing to readings from St Paul's Epistle to the Romans and Mark's Gospel.
Father David returns to the church with the Pascal Candle and for the Liturgy of the Word which is followed by the Liturgy of Baptism when the Easter Water is blessed. Parishioners are blessed with water and renew their baptismal vows. The fourth part of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
This very moving and beautiful Mass included chants and hymns led by our choir and musicians.
Christians from most of Saffron Walden's churches took part in the local Council of Churches' Walk of Witness on Good Friday.
Leading the walk and carrying a large wooden cross was Arthur Coote from the Baptist Church. Scores of people, including several from our parish church, took part in the Walk which started off from the Baptist Church and this year followed a slightly shorter and more direct route down the High Street and through the town centre before finishing at St Mary's Parish Church for a service of readings and hymns. After the service most went to the Parish Rooms for a hot drink and hot cross bun.
1. Arthur Coote lead the walkers along Cross Street.
2 - 5. Christians of all faiths took part in the Walk of Witness. Young and old were among the walkers. And even pets were welcome to take part.
6. The walkers arrive at the parish church where Arthur Coote was at last able to lay down his heavy load.
The stars came out at our OLC's Cabaret Night staged at Newport Village Hall on January 17th.
"We were thoroughly entertained by a whole host of talented parishioners with songs, dance, theatre, comedy and music," writes producer Louise Barnes. "There was something for everyone and the audience was continually impressed with the skill and professionalism of the performers.There were rapturous applauses from a full house and endless compliments. It was a special opportunity to see our community come together and share our talents and enthusiasm."
Louise said she wished to thank many people but especially the performers who dedicated many hours to rehearsals and showed great courage getting up on stage. Those Louise singled out for praise were our confirmandi who organised a wonderful raffle, Hazel for her colourful decorations, Patrick and Tim's organisational skills, Barney's shepherding of all the acts, Trevor the sound man, and all the other kind people who gave their time and good will to make the evening such a success.
Over 120 parishioners attended the event which raised £665. The raffle featured many excellent prizes which included two bottles of Moet champagne, babysitting vouchers and chocolates. Thanks to all the effort by the confirmandi the raffle raised £207.50.
1. Pascal accompanied herself on the guitar for her opening song.
2. Altar servers for the night, Patrick and (right) Ken, set words to music.
3. Catherine entranced the audience with her talented playing on the harp.
4. Young Nell entertains the audience playing the piano.
The prints are either framed (which can be different to the examples) or mounted. An example is available in the church. Cost will be £95 framed and £60 unframed. £10 from every framed print and £5 of every mount only one goes to the Church Restoration Fund. Please contact Mike Rogacs for further details (07890151523).
T'was the time to be merry for members of our Wednesday Group at their annual Christmas lunch on December 3rd.
Over 20 members were at the buffet lunch which was held in our church hall and also attended by Father David. One couple, Ron and Dolores Clew, pictured at the far end of the table, had an additional reason for looking very happy as later in December they renewed their wedding vows after being married for 60 years.
The Wednesday Group meets weekly in the church hall to make knitted items and provide other support for our twin town in South Africa.
This was when the centenary baton, which is travelling around the country, arrived in Saffron Walden. It was launched last January and its final destination will be the Royal Albert Hall in London in June.
After a thanksgiving service in St Mary's Church, Liz, a member of the Saffron Walden Afternoon WI, was chosen to carry the baton part of the way to the market place.
Soon after leaving the church she helped to plant nearby a WI rose. The baton was placed alongside a display outside the town's Tourist Information Centre while inside the town hall there were other attractions celebrating the centenary.
Others may have been racking their brains but not Karen Grossfield, a member of Father David's team at the QLC Quiz Night held in November at Sewards End Village Hall.
Karen obviously knew the answer to the question but her team had to be satisfied with second place in the quiz which was organised by our Social Committee. It attracted a full house and the price of the ticket included a yummy Ploughman's Supper. The hard work paid off as, after all expenses had been paid, the committee was able to donate a fantastic sum of £939.14 towards renovating our church hall.
A wonderful and colourful array of food parcels adorned our church at the Harvest Festival Service in October thanks to staff, pupils and their parents from St Thomas More Primary School.
The children, many of them at the service, had not only filled the parcels with lots of goodies but had also decorated them and many had enclosed a note for the recipients –– the elderly, housebound and the needy. The importance of their gifts was explained to the children by Andy Taylor, secretary of our local branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society, which was founded in 1833 by a law student and his friends to help the destitute in Paris. Since then the SVP has spread worldwide.
After the service the children helped SVP members and volunteers to load up the parcels in cars parked nearby from where they were delivered to dozens of homes in Saffron Walden to provide treats for the recipients.
1. Some of the piles of food parcels provided by St Thomas More pupils.
2. Secretary of St Vincent de Paul Society, Andy Taylor, tells children and other parishioners at the Harvest Service about the history of the SVP and the role it plays in Saffron Walden.
3. Pupils begin to collect up the parcels for distribution.
4. The pupils, seen here with their head teacher, Mary Jo Hall, had something to sing about after all their hard work.
5. Before setting off to deliver the food parcels a welcome cup of tea and biscuits was served to pupils and parishioners in the church hall.
6. Pupils begin to collect up the parcels for distribution.
The Requiem Mass was held in our church on August 27 for Sarah Jane Evans, a young mother and wife, who tragically lost her battle against a very aggressive form of cancer on August 12.
Sarah was born in the London borough of Croydon and was only two years old when her parents emigrated to the United States of America and eventually settled in Denver, Colorado. On leaving school she went to the University of Colorado where she read Micro-Biology. University gave her the opportunity to throw herself wholeheartedly into one of her great passions — rugby. She played in the position of hooker in the rugby squad and she trained with the Eagles which was the US's national Womens' Squad. Sarah also trained to become a rugby coach.
After graduation Sarah worked as a scientist but at the age of 26 decided to return to England, arriving home on Christmas Eve, She eventually obtained a research job with the British Sugar Company in Norfolk and It was there that she met her husband to be, Barry, who was studying radiotherapy and oncology at the University of Suffolk, dividing his time between the university and Addenbrooke's Hospital. The couple literally bumped into each other in a research laboratory.
They married in October 2009 in a church in Croydon where Sarah's parents, Charles and Sue Grasso, were married. They had a wedding photo taken on the identical spot where Charles and Sue had been photographed. They had a belated honeymoon cruising in the Mediterranean and another holiday was a stay in Malta where Sarah's father was born — it was Sarah's first visit to the island which she loved.
The couple moved to Saffron Walden in 2010 which was nearer to Barry's job as a radiographer at Addenbrooke's Hospital. Their son was born in 2012 and was baptised in our church on May 10 of this year. Charles and Sue were unable to come to the service but they saw the whole proceedings via a WiFi link.
It was in 2013 that Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent radical treatment at Addenbrooke's Hospital under the care of her consultant oncologist, Simon Russell. "He was wonderful and I cannot speak too highly of him," said Barry, who added that Dr Russell had vowed that he would get Sarah to her son's Baptism. And it has to be said that Sarah looked as fit as a fiddle at the Baptism as can been seen by the photograph of her.
Earlier sessions of chemotherapy had been unsuccessful but in May she appeared to be in remission as a scan found no trace of the cancer which by then had spread to her liver and and finally to her brain. Weeks before her death she was in serious pain and was admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital where she died.
The Requiem Mass was celebrated by Father Tim Dean, a friend of Father David who was away on his annual break when Sarah died.
"God has taken her from this world for reasons that are inexplicable to us," said Father Tim.
"Sarah was greatly loved by many people, both at work and where she lived, but she has left a special gift to the world — her little boy. He will grow up with the the love of others and that of a mother who looks after him from above. We ask that God gives a life to him that reflects that love of his mother."
2014 marked the fourth in a new series of London to Walsingham pilgrimage walks supported by the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom who formerly ran the previous Walsingham Walk for many years. Starting on the first Saturday in October and finishing the following weekend the small group of men who this year hailed from Exeter, Norwich, Reading, Saffron Walden, Swansea and London forged their way along busy roads, countryside footpaths and river banks on a route that follows much of the old pilgrimage trail. Each day is anchored by a common spiritual purpose with two silent hours of prayer as the Walk proceeds, two decades of the Rosary plus Mass and Benediction. The walkers also carry petitions that, on arrival at the Catholic Shrine at Walsingham, are deposited in the petitions box on the Altar of the Slipper Chapel. (Website: www.walsinghamwalkers.co.uk).
Parish secretary Lynn Ingamells and parishioner Berry Wareham are pictured above with the Rev Dr Richard Finn OP who led our annual retreat in September.
The retreat was held at St Mark's College at Audley End and began with Mass in the chapel which was celebrated by Father Finn, a Dominican, who afterwards gave two talks, the first on decisions in the Christian life, teaching, conscience and the virtues of prudence. In the afternoon he discussed hope amidst the structure of sin. The retreat, attended by over 20 parishioners, ended with prayer and a blessing.
Fine weather blessed the day for members and the committee of our branch of St Vincent de Paul Society at the annual outing on September 2nd. The committee (first picture) organised a trip to Clavering Lakes where a group of over 20 parishioners were able to enjoy from the balcony picturesque views of the lake and surrounding countryside. They were also treated to refreshments and selection of cakes and scones with cream and jam.
The SVP visits housebound and disabled parishioners in their homes to provide companionship and to help out if they can. Anyone wishing to be involved in this activity should contact the President, Mrs Jean Perkins.
A brilliant day was had by all who attended the North Essex Deanery's Fun Day at St Mark's College, Audley End, on July 13.
Entry to the event was free and families were invited to bring a picnic and relax in the sun, which shone most of day with rain only making an appearance when everything was being set up and then again while being taken down at the finish. Parents and their children came from the majority of parishes in the Deanery with the biggest turnout coming from our parish which, perhaps, was not surprising at St Mark's College is on Saffron Walden's doorstep.
There was loads to entertain the youngsters which included five a side football matches, sack races, welly wanging, face painting, assault courses and archery. Staff from the College were on hand to keep an eye on the assault course activities. A running commentary on events was given by one of the Saffron Walden organisers, Patrick Draper, who had a PA system. And when a break was needed there was a large selection of cakes and drinks in the barn.
A Requiem Mass for Charles William Homan Goldie, conducted by the Rt Rev Thomas McMahon, Emeritus Bishop of Brentwood, was celebrated before a packed congregation on July 25 in our church.
Charles, whose health had been failing for many years, died at his home in Saffron Walden on July 10. His was a record of years of unstinting and extraordinary service to the Catholic Church and it was one which followed a family tradition dating back to the latter part of the 18th century. Several of his ancestors entered religious life as either priests or nuns.
Charles, the eldest of four children, was born in El Salvador where his father was British Charge D'Affaires and from where this diplomatic career took the family to many other countries, particularly in Europe. On leaving school and completing his National Service, Charles went up to Cambridge where he met his wife-to-be, Beatrice, also a Cambridge undergraduate. The couple, who have three children, two sons, Robert and Paul, and a daughter, Caroline, as well as several grandchildren, celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in July, 2009.
After a spell teaching English in Rome, Charles and Beatrice returned to England where he was called to the Bar and became a pupil in the chambers of John McMahon, the twin brother of Bishop Thomas. He later was employed by managers of ship owners mutual insurance associations, a job that was to take him to the City and also many parts of the world.
He and Beatrice moved to Saffron Walden over 30 years ago and Charles soon became involved in the affairs of our church. Bishop Thomas paid tribute to that contribution to both the parish church and deanery while our former parish priest, Father John, recalled how Charles had helped him so much when he first took over the parish.
"He built up my confidence," said Father John who added that whenever there was a new project or job to deal with Charles' simple phrase to him was "How can I help you?" When he asked Charles to form a pastoral parish council he agreed to do so and "did a wonderful job."
Father David read the Gospel while Father John read out a eulogy written by Charles' three children. They wrote that their father was a total stranger to the destructive emotion of anger and he possessed an abundance of humanity's finest qualities, these including selflessness, tolerance, perceptiveness, wisdom, sensitivity and humility.
Anyone who knew Charles would surely agree that he was also a gentleman in the truest sense of the word –– he was a gentle, caring person who was impeccably courteous to all –– and there are many who will miss him.
His work in the parish included being a Minister of the Eucharist, a Reader, chairman of the Pastoral Parish Council, parish representative on the deanery and diocesan councils and a trustee of the Apostleship of the Sea, a worldwide Catholic charity which provides practical and pastoral care to mariners of every nationality.
Charles spent two years researching and writing his excellent history of the first hundred years of our church in Saffron Walden. The book was published in 2008.
Trish Cobby's voluntary work in our parish was all brought under one umbrella when she was commissioned as a Pastoral Assistant by our new bishop on July 15.
Trish was one of three new pastoral assistants commissioned at a service in Brentwood Cathedral presided over by Bishop Alan Williams who also recommissioned for a further three years a dozen other assistants from various parishes in the Diocese.
The list of duties carried out by Trish is considerable –– she is a pastoral councillor and is responsible for instructing our first communicants, confirmation candidates and those wishing to convert to Catholicism. She is also a member of the North Essex Deanery Council and one of our church's team of fire wardens. And as if that wasn't enough she has a full-time job at Addenbrooke's Hospital.
In order to become a pastoral assistant Trish had to attend a twice a week course in Brentwood. She and the other assistants were told by Bishop Alan that if they wanted to know what their ministry would be like they should read what St Paul had written about serving Christ. St Paul had warned that it would sometimes be very hard. But one word should always be remembered that that key word was Christ. He said the secret of a successful ministry was how close disciples could get to Christ.
Trish was first asked to train to become a pastoral assistant a few years ago by our former parish priest, Father John, but she was unable to do so then because of her work. She was later encouraged to reconsider by Father David who felt the appointment would raise her profile in our parish and encompass all her existing voluntary work.
Although many demands are made on her time she said her husband, Chris, was very supportive. "He is very much in love but he goes off playing golf so it balances out."
Father Alan, a former Marist superior, was appointed the seventh Bishop of Brentwood by Pope Francis in April. At that time he was Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham. His Episcopal Ordination was carried out in Brentwood Cathedral on July 1 by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, in the presence of the Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and numerous other members of the clergy as well as leaders of other faiths.
Bishop Alan, who replaced Bishop Thomas McMahon, is pictured above with Trish and Father David.
Five young people were confirmed in their faith in our church at Pentecost by Father David who described the event as a "rite of passage."
1. The five confirmation candidates with Father David and Trish Cobby.
2. A candidate lights the Pascal Candle.
3-7. The candidates took it in turn to be confirmed by Father David. Each candidate was accompanied by their sponsor when they approached the altar to be confirmed.
A total of 23 children made their first communion at St Mary's Parish Church on May 24. This special Mass was held at the Saffron Walden's parish church because our Catholic church is too small for that number of First Communicants and all their family and friends.
Parish priest, Father David, said the Mass reminded him of his own First Communion. He had scarlet fever at the time and so had to have it on his own to avoid infecting any of the other children.
"I had to walk down the aisle on my own and I didn't like it and was upset," he said. He also had to have the communion breakfast by himself.
He told our First Communicants that each time they received Jesus Christ in the Eucharist they would be meeting Him once again. "Each time you receive Communion it will be like the first time," he added.
1. Children leaving a side chapel for the start of the First Communicant's Mass.
2. Families and friends with the first communicants in the main part of the parish church viewed from the pulpit.
3. Leading the Lord's Prayer.
4. Children forming a queue to receive their first communion.
5. Children being presented with their First Communion certificate called up by their instructor, Trish Cobby (far left).
6. Father David with the two instructors gather with the First Communicants for a group photograph after the Mass.
On 23rd April 2014, Andy Taylor, Tony Grossfield, Lawrence Bonavia and Tim Chase began a walking pilgrimage from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago in Spain, a distance of 787.1 km. They did this in memory of friends, relations and members of the parish who are no longer with us. They are raising funds on behalf of EACH (East Anglia’s Children's Hospices) and would appreciate any promises of donations by e-mail, direct to Andy, Tony or Tim or on the list in the Church Porch.
Our church was packed for the Solemn Easter Vigil in April which lasted for over two hours. Father David, accompanied by his servers, led the procession into the church garden where he blessed the holy fire, water and Pascal candle. On returning to the church he enacted the lengthy and moving liturgy of the vigil. Not only was it solemn but it was also a memorable night for all who attended.
The life and times of an extraordinary woman mystic formed the subject matter of the North Essex Deanery Day of Recollection conducted by Sister Angela Morris, a canoness of the Holy Sepulchre based at Colchester.
Held at St Theresa' s Parish Centre in Stansted on March 15, Sister Angela gave a very interesting account of the English anchoress, Sister Julian of Norwich, who was born circa 1342 and had her cell built onto the wall of St Julian's Church in Norwich. She was drawn to be an anchorite following a very serious illness while still at home and a series of visions of the sufferings of Jesus which ended when she recovered from her illness. She wrote about these visions immediately after they had happened which were later incorporated in a book entitled Revelations of Divine Love.
She certainly lived in turbulent times, which included the Black Death, the Peasants' Rebellion, and the Great Schism in the Western Church which generally were seen as God's punishment of sin. Julian's theology, however, was optimistic and spoke of God's love in terms of joy and compassion. Her theology was not challenged by the church even though it was unique in several aspects, namely her belief that God loved everyone and did not resort to anger, and that Christ was a mother as well as a father figure.
She penned one of the most famous lines in Catholic theological writings : "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."
Sister Angela's talk was followed by a discussion and after lunch there was the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction to end the day.
Several of our parishioners attended the Day of Recollection and had the opportunity to meet up with Fr John, our former parish priest for over 14 years until he was transferred to Upminster and later to Stansted.
Several of our parishioners played a prominent role in the Women's World Day of Prayer which was hosted on March 7 at Our Lady of Compassion Church.
The WWDP is an annual event staged in over 170 countries and involves most Christian denominations. This year a dramatically enacted service of worship was provided by women in Egypt who chose as their theme "Streams in the Desert." The worldwide prayer for peace started at sunrise in Samoa before sweeping across every continent before ending in Samoa about 36 hours later.
The service in our church was organised by the local WWDP group with the back stage arrangements being headed by parishioner Elizabeth Tindsley while the service itself was led by another parishioner, Sophia Corpas.
A collection was held during the service which will be given to the work of the WWDP and to projects run by Christian charities worldwide.
1. Sophia Corpas leading the service.
2. Two women take round the offertory baskets during the service.
There was a sweet gesture made at our Wednesday Group's annual Christmas lunch on December 4.
The popular buffet lunch, attended by over 20 members and guests, was held in the church hall and after the meal Father David went round to everyone offering them sweets from a large jar. Before the celebration had ended every sweet had been devoured!
The group, which meets every week, supports our twin parish in South Africa by making blankets and other items which are sent to Father Gerald Gostling who is well known in our parish as several years ago he stood in for Father John while he was in the United States of America. Father John, who was our parish priest for 15 years, is now priest in charge at Stansted Mountfitchet.
1. Jean Perkins slices up the Christmas cake.
2. Father David offers sweets to everyone at the lunch.
The highlight nowadays of Derek Shepheard's week is the regular meetings of our Wednesday Group's get-togethers in the church hall and it was doubly so at the beginning of October when members helped him to celebrate his 90th birthday.
On account of his age Derek can no longer pursue his former interests which included dancing, fishing, singing and going for long walks. "The Wednesday Group meetings are the highlight of my week," said Derek who admitted that life would be very lonely without them.
The group helps our twin parish of Evander in South Africa by providing various items, which include knitted blankets. Derek became a member largely by chance about 12 years ago.
"I was going for a walk and was coming down the hill when I noticed that the door to the hall was open and I could hear the sound of chatter," he said.
Curious to know what was going on he popped his head round the door and was offered a cup of tea and a piece of cake. "The die was cast," he said.
To celebrate his birthday members provided his favourite cake –– a battenberg and decorated the festive table with balloons.
Now that he can no longer go fishing Derek is offering his 12ft carbon fibre fishing rod to anyone who wants it. Just leave your name and telephone number on the church notice board and Derek will get in touch with you.
The gift of giving was celebrated when pupils from St Thomas More school joined parishioners at Our Lady of Compassion church in Saffron Walden for a Harvest Festival in October.
The altar was festooned with brightly wrapped gifts of food provided by the school’s children. It was,said Father David, a practical example of our Christian faith, the fulfilment of Christ’s wish that we share our bounty with others.
It had been facilitated by the close bond that existed between the Catholic school and the church, and which would continue to support the pupils as they continued on the next stage of their life’s journey.
Some of the gifts were given to parishioners by pupils during the service.Others were later distributed by local members of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) to elderly and sick in local care homes and to struggling young families in Saffron Walden.
Jean Perkins president of the SVP conference at Our Lady of Compassion, thanked the pupils and staff at St Thomas More "for the love and effort they contributed in preparing harvest festival gifts. All of those who received gifts wish me thank you for your generosity".
"In particular the liked they personal letters from the children that accompanied the gift boxes. These notes made them feel valued and loved, just as important for them as the physical gifts they received. The school made a remarkable effort which is much appreciated by the whole community."
1. Andy Taylor, a member of the SVP explains to parishioners and St Thomas More pupils the history of SVP giving gifts to the needy and housebound elderly people in the town.
2. A pupil from St Thomas More School gives a box of goodies to one of our parishioners.
3. Pupils from St Thomas More School with their head teacher, Mary-Jo Hall (far right) and, centre back, Father David with Andy Taylor.
1. Saffron Walden team with rest of the Walsingham walkers pictured outside the presbytery ––third from left - Brian Ray with, from right – Tony Grossfield, Andy Taylor and Peter Walters.
Now in its third year, the revived Walsingham Walk this time boasted four parishioners from Our Lady of Compassion Church among its walkers.
Moving it from last year's sweltering August to the more temperate climate of October proved to be a wise move that is likely to be a permanent feature for the future.
"We walked 120 miles over seven and a half days and while a typical day of around 16 miles distance is not in itself massive, the cumulative effects over a number of days, all the time keeping to a strict timetable, can be quite taxing on all of us. For 2013 we had a couple of route changes to master, mainly to avoid roads that, recently, have become dangerous and also two new evening stopover locations, including the Salvation Army at Fakenham who seemed entirely unfazed at the prospect of entertaining a cluster of Papists!
Closer to home we were grateful to Father David for allowing us to use the Parish Hall once again for our overnight stay on the first Sunday of the Walk. There, Jill, Sue and Karon provided the men with an excellent dinner and the wherewithal for our next breakfast. Father David not only joined us all for dinner but also provided one of the dishes. He said Benediction and moved the Monday 9am Mass to 8am. Having this level of commitment to the Walk from a parish priest gave great encouragement to the men.
Thus fed, both physically and spiritually, we bade a sad farewell to all at OLC and continued on our way into several days of fine weather until the rains came down and the wind battered our motley crew during the Norfolk end of the Walk, finally arriving in Walsingham a little wet, but in good spirits, the following Saturday." - Peter Walters.
Father Paul Keane, chaplain to the University of Essex, made a return visit to Saffron Walden on September 28 for the Annual Retreat for our Eucharistic Ministers and Readers.
He last came to head the retreat, held at St Mark's College, in 2007 and this time based his talk on Pope Francis's "A poor church for the poor."
Father Paul referred back to Saint Francis of Assisi who devoted his life to the poor and had been instructed by Our Lord in a vision to "rebuild my church." The saint did this by stripping himself of possessions and accepting the invitation that Jesus gave to a rich young man who, however, was unable to give up his wealth and follow Jesus.
In the quest for perfection Father Paul said, "That young man had to be free of his possessions. He had to be able to walk away from them and thereby prove his attachment to Christ without being distracted by possessions. In so doing the young man would be able to follow Christ fully and so find perfection."
"We think that possessions make up secure and safe but it is a false sense of security. If we follow Christ, however, we are free," he added.
Not everyone would be expected to give up everything to follow Christ but it would be necessary to be detached from possessions and also to be humble and not egotistical. This detachment would enable us better to see what those around us need. Our hearts have to be transformed by Christ's work and thereby help us to keep our eyes on the Kingdom of Heaven.
Father Paul said we were poor because of our thoughts, feelings and weaknesses. He stressed that this was one reason why Confession was so important. "We are all poor and so must be aware of our weakness. Part of poverty is letting go of ourselves instead of making the mistake of acting out how we feel," he added.
Father Paul made himself available to hear confessions and earlier had celebrated Mass in St Mark's chapel. He continued his talk in the afternoon, allowing time for questions and answers, and ended the retreat with a prayer and blessing.
A warm welcome awaited Father Gerald Gostling when he attended a meeting of our Wednesday Group on September 25 to talk about his work in the Dundee Diocese in South Africa.
Father Gostling was back in the Brentwood Diocese for a holiday before returning to South Africa and moving to a new parish next month in Kriel which is about 37km from Secunda, his first posting in South Africa during 2004 and our twin parish. About 18 months ago he became a parish priest in Newcastle, the largest town in the Diocese of Dundee.
He became well known in Saffron Walden some years ago when he worked in our parish while Father John was in the USA. Members of the Wednesday Group, pictured above with Father Gostling (centre), have for a long time helped his missionary work by providing blankets, knitted wear and other items as well as funds.
Father Gostling told the group that he loved Saffron Walden, especially because of the wonderful people in the community. He brought greetings to them from the community of Dundee which is largely a rural diocese about the size of Ireland.
An important part of his work in conjunction with missionary nuns and other agencies has been the care of orphans whose parents have all too often died of AIDS. Houses were built for the children and they were also given education and much improved health facilities.
He said the authorities were so impressed with this work that they wanted to see it extended into other areas and this happened in an area known as Amsterdam where buildings were taken over for the benefit of the community. Negotiations are underway to provide a mobile clinic and bore holes are being sunk to provide clean water which can be stored to enable people to grow their own vegetables.
About four years ago the Dundee Diocese discussed splitting the organisation of HIV/AIDS projects into the two main areas of the Diocese. One was in the Mpumalanga Province where the first meeting, chaired by Father Gostling, agreed the project should be named M-CARE and registered as a non-profit organisation.
Those interested in knowing more about M-CARE's work should go to the website: www.M-CARE.org.ZA
Over 40 parishioners took part in the in the SVP national pilgrimage to Walsingham in July for a very special anniversary.
The trip for our parishioners was organised by the local branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society to enable them to take part in the 200th birthday anniversary of the founder of the SVP, Blessed Frederic Ozanam. It was while he was at the Sorbonne University in Paris that he and a group of friends established a charity to help the poor. Initially known as the Conference of Charity, the group later became the SVP and now ranks as a global organisation with many thousands of volunteers.
The pilgrimage, which attracted groups from all over the country and from abroad, was blessed with fine weather. This enabled everyone to tour the Slipper Chapel and grounds, dedicated to Our Lady, before settling down to a picnic lunch.
Mass was celebrated in the Chapel of Reconciliation by the Right Reverend Peter Doyle who annointed many of the sick pilgrims. Later in the afternoon Benediction was held. The pilgrimage was also attended by the SVP's national president, Adrian Abel, and the international president, Dr Michael Thio.
1 & 2. Above left and left – some of our parishioners at Walsingham.
3. Above right - one of our parishioners is annointed by Bishop Peter
It was hot work for Andy Taylor and Chris Cobby at our annual barbeque on June 30th.
It was a gloriously warm and sunny day for the event at St Mark's College but for Andy and Chris there was no escaping the heat while they were busy cooking the burgers and sausages. The barbeque was a gift to Andy from his mother on his 60th birthday and it was the ideal size for our church event.
1. Feeling the heat: Chris Cobby and Andy Taylor cooking the sausages and burgers.
2. Whoops! Gerard Clinton loses his egg in the egg and spoon race.
3. Right move? I think I'll play this one.
A variety of salads, other tasty goodies and desserts were provided by many parishioners and a raffle prize of strawberries and champagne, organised by Sue and Brian Ray, boosted the overall amount raised to £288 to help church funds. Fun for the children was a wide range of activities arranged by Patrick Draper and Trish Cobby.
A young couple, both born and bred in Saffron Walden, were married in our parish church on June 29th.
They were Ryan Liversage, a quantity surveyor, and Kirsty Sharp, a purchase manager, who have known each other for nine years. Kirsty's mother, Maria, ran a hairdressing salon in the town's High Street for 30 years until her retirement 18 months ago.
After the marriage service, conducted by Father David, the couple were driven to the Coach and Horses Inn in Newport for their reception with family and friends. They spent their honeymoon in the United States of America where the trip included visits to New York, San Francisco and the Grand Canyon.
Elizabeth Tindley with her husband, Denis, and another of our parishioners, Berry Wareham.
A coffee morning and bring-and-buy sale was held on June 19th in the lovely garden at the Saffron Walden home of one of our parishioners, Elizabeth Tindley.
The event raised £114, most of which will help finance the cost of staging the the Women's World Day of Prayer in our church March 7th next year. The Day of Prayer is a worldwide event which involves virtually every country which take it in turn to organise the event and raise funds for charitable causes involving women in the host country. In Saffron Walden the churches take it in turn to host the event.
A donation from the money raised at the coffee morning and sale will also be made to the Bible Society.
St. Mary's Parish Church was packed for the First Holy Communion Mass on June 15th celebrated by Father David Clemens for 27 of our young parishioners.
"It was the most we have had in a very long time," said their Catechist instructor, Trish Cobby. The Mass, as in previous years, was held at the town's parish church because our church is not large enough for so many people.
Father David, explaining the meaning of the Eucharist, said it was the real presence of Our Lord in the bread and wine. "We pray that all Communion days to come will be as special as this one," he added.
The big day for the youngsters began with a procession from our church hall to the parish church where at various stages the children played a pivotal part in the Mass, such as reading the bidding prayers, and bringing the candles, flowers, books, and hosts and wine to present to Father David.
A priest from Ireland, Father Peter O'Reilly, who is parish priest at St Mary's Church in Lucan, travelled specially to Saffron Walden for the Mass because he is godfather and great uncle of one of the first communicants.
After the Mass he, together with Father David, joined all the First Catechists on the church steps for a group photograph before going off to celebrate the day with their families and friends.
The Mass to celebrate Pentecost on 19 May was extra special this year when six teenagers were confirmed in their faith. The six were Lawrence, Kate, Kathleen, Thomas and sisters Rosalia and Gabriella.
Confirmation is usually carried out by the diocesan bishop but as Bishop Thomas, now retired, was and not due to make a pastoral visit to our parish, Father David was authorised to confirm the candidates. One of seven sacraments, Father David said confirmation was a rite of passage crossing from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood.
The candidates affirmed their faith by renewing the vows made on their behalf when they were baptised as infants. Having done so the candidates, accompanied by their sponsors, approached the altar in turns to be annointed with Chrism on their foreheads.
The Mass then continued as normal and the prayers of intercession were led by the newly confirmed who were later presented with confirmation certificates and a prayer book. After the Mass all were invited to the church hall for refreshments.
Father and son, Paul and 13 year old Lee Watts from the Salvation Army, took it in turns to carry the cross during the Walk of Witness on Good Friday.
About 200 walkers, including many of our parishioners, gathered outside Saffron Walden's Baptist Church for readings and prayers before setting off on the walk. Led by Paul and Lee they all processed down the High Street and stopped at the town's Common for more readings, prayers and hymns before continuing the walk which ended at St Mary's Parish Church.
The walk is an annual event which commemorates Our Lord's Passion. It is usually well supported by parishioners from all the town's churches and this year was no exception even though the weather was biting cold. The walkers had a chance to warm up afterwards by trooping from the church to the parish rooms for hot drinks and hot cross buns.
1. Leading the way –– Paul and Lee Watts.
2. Father David with Jean Perkins and Trish Cobby on the last lap of the walk.
3. Some of our parishioners and those from other denominations arriving at St Mary's Parish Church.
Parishioners gathered outside our church on Palm Sunday for the Blessing of the Palms which recalls Our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem before His Last Supper and Passion. It was a brief ceremony and many might have thought that was just as well as it was freezing cold and sleeting. After the blessing everyone processed back into the church for the celebration of the Mass.
After all three Masses over the Palm Sunday weekend parishioners had the chance to enjoy a meal in our church hall. In all 110 tickets were sold for the Vigil Mass supper and the Sunday morning brunches. It was the first time that food had been offered after the Vigil Mass –– slow roasted pork rolls and apple sauce –– while on Sunday parishioners tucked into bacon rolls, croissants and jam. As there was a Confirmation class running in the presbytery on Sunday the six youngsters were treated to a bacon roll to keep them focused on their course.
Ben Gill, for the sixth year running, kindly gave up his time to cook while Elizabeth Gill joined members of the Social Group to help prepare the hall and serve the food and afterwards clear everything away. Pictured above are some of the servers: Peter and Jill Walters, Tim Chase, and Susan and Brian Ray.
There were a few absentees on account of the snow over the weekend but a convivial atmosphere pervaded all three sittings which raised £168.50 for church funds.
Our Social Committee had a wide range of talent to draw on for its very successful Cabaret show staged in the theatre at Dame Bradbury School in November.
The show, which raised over £400 for church funds, was compered by Andy Pryer and included comedy sketches, singing, classic guitar playing and poetry recitals.
1. Solo performance by guitarist Roland Hidalgo.
2. Singing trio: Amy, Blaize and Katherine.
3. Waiting to see the doctor: from left to right, Patrick Draper, Kate Naul, Maureen O'Keefe, Sue Ray, Tony Grosssfield and Ken Lowe.
4. Stone of the Crown band featuring Tom, Rachel and Edward.
5. Soloist Martha delights with a song.
6. Young talent: guitarists Joseph and Tom.
7. Lots of cat calls from Ann Clinton and Pascale Fowell singing Rossini's famously funny Cat's Duet, accompanied by Araceli Valdez-Ramirez.
8. Dressed for the part: Andy Taylor reciting one of two humorous poems.
Our church was packed out at both the Vigil Mass for families and children and at the First Mass of Christmas.
There were so many people at the 6pm Vigil Mass that after a while there was no sitting room left in the church so those who came later crowded down the aisles and also in the cloister.
Most who attended the 10pm Mass fared better but even so some had to make do with standing room at the back of the church. This Mass was preceded by carols and on Christmas morning at the 9pm Mass religious music was provided by organist John Evans.
1. Our choir was reduced to a handful of members at the 10pm Christmas Eve Mass owing in part to the dreaded norovirus bug but that didn't prevent those who were there from singing in fine voice.
2. Father David reads from the Gospel flanked by servers on either side of the lectern.
3. The altar is incensed, the smoke symbolising the rising to prayer to God.
The Wednesday Group hit on a winner for the annual Christmas lunch in December.
This year it was held in our church hall with a buffet feast provided by Waitrose and a superb Christmas cake baked by our star cake-baker, Maureen Hanson. The change of venue proved to be very popular as did the change of menu.
Three catechumens were welcomed into our faith by Father David during the 10.30am Mass on December 2.
The trio were Rebecca Denning, Gary Stevens and Hazel Phipps, who were made welcome at the church door and during this special ceremony filed to the front of the church with their sponsors for the Liturgy of the Word and later a blessing and presentation to each of a Bible. This was the first step towards being received into the Catholic faith and it came after a course of instruction, given by Trish Cobby, which started in April. The instruction will continue until the Easter Vigil in 2013 when they will will be given full participation in the faith and be able to partake of the Holy Eucharist.
1. Father David welcomes the three catechumens at the door of our church.
2. Father David and Trish Cobby with Gary Stevens, Rebecca Denning and Hazel Phipps.
Over 20 parishioners took part in our parish retreat at St Mark's College, Audley End, on September 29.
The retreat was led by Monsignor Christopher Brooks, parish priest of Our Lady of Grace and St Teresa of Avila Church in Chingford, whose subject was Creation, Fall and Redemption.
After tea and coffee he gave his first talk and, after allowing time for a quiet period, celebrated Mass in the College chapel. He gave his second talk after lunch and this was followed by a discussion session.
Former parishioner, Ann Nutty, made her Solemn Profession as a Cistercian nun at St Mary's Abbey in Glencairn, Ireland, on August 30.
She made her first Profession of Vows as Sister Fiachra in 2009 after completing instruction in theology, early church history and learning how to make altar breads and also to play the organ. Because of her expertise in horticulture Sister Fiachra was mainly responsible for the abbey orchard and gardens and this was the reason why she chose the name Fiachra.
Fiachra, a seventh century Irish saint, is the patron saint of gardeners and his feast day is celebrated on August 30. He created a large garden to provide vegetables, fruit and herbs for pilgrims and also the sick who came to a hospice he had built near the garden.
Family and friends came to the abbey to help Sister Fiachra celebrate her Solemn Profession which made the event doubly special for her.
"It didn't do any harm that Saint Fiachra came up trumps with a beautiful warm sunny day –– a minor miracle in itself considering the non-summer of 2012," she said.
1. Sister Fiachra slices into a cake specially made for her Solemn Profession of vows.
2. St Mary's Abbey in Glencairn, Ireland.
Our Church Hall became an Italian restaurant on the evening of September 8 where a superb supper was served that could match any rival and even outshine many of them.
The four course Italian meal for 28 guests, who had no idea what was on the menu, was organised by Father David and our Social Committee. The chefs were Theresa Zambit Lupi and Andreas Claas who were as good as any professional. Others in the team were the waiting staff of Maureen, Patrick, Tim,Tricia, Catherine and Fr David. The red or white wine flowed freely though it didn't need alcohol to ensure that everyone enjoyed the event as it was obvious that all were having a great time. Glasses, china etc were organised by Con and the decoration of the hall, which included soft coloured lights and Venetian masks, was headed by Meg.
The team did a magnificent job and in the process raised £470, once expenses had been dealt with, from the proceeds of ticket sales which will go to the Church Repair Fund.
1&2. Guests above enjoy a cup of coffee after their meal while others toast the organisers with something a little stronger.
3. Chefs and waiters rightly enjoy congratulations for their role in ensuring that the supper was so successful.
4. After all the fun it's time to do the washing up.
5. One of the masks used to decorate the hall.
6. In appreciation for their hard work Theresa is presented with a bouquet and Andreas with a bottle of wine by Stephanie Gill.
1. The seven confirmation candidates with lighted candles at the beginning of the Mass.
2. Bishop Thomas (centre) with the confirmation candidates and Fr David and Fr Pawel.
3. Bishop Thomas confirms the seven candidates.
Seven young parishioners were confirmed in their faith at a Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Brentwood, the Right Reverend Thomas McMahon, assisted by our parish priest, Father David, and also Father Pawel from Poland who is looking after our parish while Father David is away.
Father David interrupted his holiday for the special Mass on July 15 which was attended by family and friends and other parishioners.
The seven teenagers, who had been prepared for confirmation by Mrs Trish Cobby, were urged by Bishop Thomas in his homily to accept the challenge in today's society of being a Catholic Christian. Referring to the many mass protests in several countries, particularly the Middle East, he said it took courage to take to the streets in this way and stand up for what people thought was right.
He reminded them of the Holy Father's visit to the UK in 2010 when he had said the faithful should never ignore their Christian roots. Before his visit there had been many strident voices against religion, including that of the atheist, Richard Dawkins, who had described religion as a 'spent force.'
"I think not," said Bishop Thomas, "because I detect a new confidence among Christians in their belief. There is a God and I know Him through Christ Jesus who walked this earth and He alone answers our deepest needs and yearnings."
He said that when looking for meaning in life it was to be found in Jesus Christ who is both truth and life. Much, however, remains a mystery and that is where faith comes in. He asked the seven if there was something massive in their lives which would lead them to take to the streets. "So take to the streets and don't be ashamed of being called a Christian but rather rejoice in it," he concluded.
After the Mass all parishioners were invited to the church hall for refreshments.
The Parish Barbeque at St Mark's College on June 26 proved to be a great success although the weather threatened a wash-out earlier in the day.
Thanks to a deluge, when the heavens opened and sent rain pouring down, water even managed to find a weak spot in our church roof during the 10.30am Mass. Fortunately the weather cleared in time for the barbeque which was just as well as it meant our three chefs, Chris Cobby, Ramiro Ramirez and Cornelius Shanahan, were able to forge ahead with their cooking.
The children had a great time taking part in a variety of games organised by Trish Cobby and supervised by Patrick Draper and Pauline Shanahan while Julian Hales kept many adults happy with his 'Hop and Soul' brew. Desserts and salads were provided by several parishioners while Trevor Wells and Andy Taylor were invaluable in transporting equipment and helping to tidy up when the barbecue came to an end. A raffle prize of strawberries, cream and champagne was donated by Sue and Brian Ray which was won by Ann Clinton and presented by Father David.
The event was organised by our Social Committee whose members sold 140 tickets. It raised about £375 which will go towards repairs to our church.
1. Taking the heat – Chris Cobby, Ramiro Ramirez and Cornelius Shanahan.
2. Father David and prize winner, Ann Clinton, sampling the strawberries.
3. Blowing bubbles.
4. Older children enjoy a game of football.
5. Taking aim to land the bead bag into a bucket.
Twenty children, seen here at the beginning of the Mass, made their first communion at St Mary's Parish Church on May 19. This very special Mass could not be held in our own church because it is not large enough to accommodate so many communicants and their families and friends.
Two of our parishioners, Elizabeth Tindley and Berri Wareham, created a wonderful floral arrangement for the Festival of Flowers and Music at St Mary's Parish Church. The Festival ran for a week from June 2 to June 10 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It featured 40 floral arrangements as well as lunchtime concerts, a gospel choir concert and evening concerts.
Our church was packed for the very beautiful Solemn Easter Vigil on Saturday (April 7th) which lasted for two hours.
1. Father David blesses the new fire and Paschal Candle.
2. The choir and some of the instrumentalists.
3. Father David blesses the baptismal water.
Parishioners first gathered outside for the Blessing of the New Fire and the Paschal Candle, the latter having carved in it a cross, the Alpha and Omega signs and five grains of incense symbolising the five wounds of Christ. Father David, holding the lighted Paschal Candle, then led the way into the darkened church which soon afterwards was illuminated by candles held by parishioners. These candles were lit from the Paschal Candle.
The Vigil featured four long lessons from Old Testament prophecies which included the Creation account and the flight out of Egypt. Also blessed was the Baptismal water into which the Paschal Candle was dipped three times to represent the risen Christ. Parishioners then renewed their Baptismal promises.
The choir, accompanied by several instrumentalists, was magnificent and added greatly to the solemnity of the Vigil.
Over 70 parishioners bought tickets for the two brunch sessions on Palm Sunday and by so doing raised £165 towards church funds.
The annual event in our church hall came after the 8.30am and 10.30am Masses and was organised by our Social Group.
1. Balancing act – clutching two cuppas and taking care not to spill any of the contents.
2. Tucking in – one family enjoying breakfast in the church hall after Mass on Palm Sunday.
The brunch consisted of bacon rolls, croissants and tea, coffee or soft drinks. After the first session volunteers help Social Group members with the washing-up and preparing the tables for the second session.
As usual the Social Group did a grand job and gave parishioners a chance to meet up with each other and have an enjoyable time.
A group of our parishioners attended the North Essex Deanery Day of Recollection held on March 10 at St Theresa's Parish Church Centre in Stansted.
It was to have been led by Fr Stewart Foster, a diocesan priest currently at Custom House in London, but he was taken ill and replaced the day before by Monsignor Bill Nix from Braintree. He spoke about Lent as a season of repentance in which we stop and ask ourselves where we are going and if we are going in the right direction.
He said hopefully we were all going in the right direction but it was possible to end up in a cul-de-sac and find ourselves going in the wrong direction during our journey through life. "The more we read the Gospels the more we see that Jesus Christ was always aware of the Father's presence," he added.
He said the Gospels were experiences of the disciples who gave an image of Christ and why He came. "So when we see Jesus Christ we see the Father," said Monsignor Nix.
On the subject of prayer, he said God was everywhere and that Jesus speaks about God being within each one of us. Prayer is when we turn in on ourselves but all too often when we pray every distracting thought comes into our heads and we tend to think of what we have done or will be doing.
God, however, is never passive but always active. He is calling to us and does not make impossible demands. In prayer we enter into conversation with Him and He with us and this means that He is always present in our lives and in the lives of our fellow men.
Before the talk Mass was celebrated by Father Joe and the day also included Exposition and Benediction. Both Father Joe and Monsignor Nix were available to hear confessions.
Father John was obviously pleased with the gift of a cheque which was presented to him by Pastoral Council chairman, Ken Lowe, at his farewell party in September.
The party was held at St Mark's College, Audley End, and attended by family and friends who gathered to express their best wishes to Father John who, having been our parish priest for nearly15 years, left Walden at the end of the month. He is now parish priest at St Joseph's Church in Upminster which was his first parish as a curate 49 years ago.
Pupils at St Thomas More Primary School, helped by their parents, donated 100 boxes of food as part of their harvest festival celebrations in October. The boxes were brought to our church and laid out in front of the altar.
After a short service and address by St Vincent de Paul Society member, Andy Taylor, the boxes were distributed among our elderly and housebound parishioners.
Saturday 1 October - annual retreat for Ministers, Readers and Servers will be held on at St Mark's, Audley End. Our speaker for the day will be the Right Reverend Bishop John Crowley. We will be gathering at 10:00 for a 10:30 start with Mass at 12:00 (Detailed programme) - please remember to bring a packed lunch. Please confirm attendance with Mary Wheatley.
Five young parishioners were confirmed in their faith on Pentecost Sunday. Their confirmation was made in the presence of family and friends during the 10.30am Mass celebrated by Father John. Pictured with the five is Trish Cobby, far left, who instructed the young people. (Click on picture for larger version).
One point denied our seven strong team victory in the Deanery's annual quiz at Great Dunmow on June 10. Competing against seven other teams from various parishes in the deanery, our team won the first round and repeated their achievement in most of the other rounds. When the quiz reached its close Saffron Walden tied as winners with a team from Braintree. Both scored 80 points and then had to compete in a tie-breaker which Braintree won by one point.
The winners were generous in victory and shared their prize of boxes of chocolates with the Saffron Walden team whose members were Rosemary Taylor, Derek Shepherd, Vivian Barbour, Tony Stuteley, Jean Perkins (pictured) and Lynn Ingamells and Di Pohlmann.
The quiz raised about £400 for Deanery funds. (Click on picture for larger version).
A total of 17 young parishioners made their first communion on May 21 in St Mary's Parish Church. Our own church is too small for this event and permission for the special Mass to be held in the Anglican church was given by the Rev David Tomlinson.
The Mass was celebrated by Father John who was assisted by Father Peter O'Reilly from Ireland who is related to one of the first communicants. The children were instructed by Trish Cobby and Pauline Shannahan. (Click on pictures for larger version).
The translation of the Mass is about to change for the first time since the 1970s. These changes will be implemented in September 2011 - click here for more detail.
Our Wednesday Group had a special tea party in April to fete Father Gerald, parish priest of our twin parish in Evander, South Africa, while he was home on leave.
The group, which sends regular parcels of blankets and clothing as well as money to Evander, provided buns and superb cakes to over 25 guests and members.
Before tea was served Father Gerald spoke about his work in Evander and the many challenges facing his parishioners. (Click on picture for larger version).
Five young people, aged between 15 and 16, will be confirmed in their faith on June 12, the Feast of Pentecost, in our church. They are being instructed by Trish Cobby and Clea Harman.
Please pray for them. (Click on picture for larger version).
Seventeen of our younger parishioners will be making their first communion next May - they are pictured with Father John in the presbytery garden.
Please pray for them. (Click on picture for larger version).
Bargains galore were on offer at a table top sale held in our church hall after Mass on November 21.
All the items on sale were handmade by members of the Wednesday Group and included knitted baby clothes, scarves, aprons, Christmas cards and even a wild bird's nesting box. The proceeds will be used to help Father Gerald's work in Evander, our twin parish in South Africa. (Click on picture for larger version).
The Social Group Players' production of Who Dumpted Humpty Dumpty, staged at Sewards End Village Hall, proved a resounding success.
It attracted an audience of about 70 adults and youngsters who enjoyed an evening of fun figuring out who had shoved poor Humpty Dumpty off his wall. Only one team proved they had detection skills but they unfortunately couldn't prove it as they had inadvertently thrown away their answer paper! (Click on pictures for larger version).
The cast was Ken Lowe (Humpty Dumpty), Brian Ray (Old King Cole), Susan Ray (Queen of Hearts), Margaret Baker (Magic Mirror), Stephanie Gill (Grand Old Duke of York), Patrick Draper (Baker), Philippa Whalley (Bo Peep), Rebecca Richards (Little Boy Blue), and Victoria Stevenson (Jack Horner). The bar providing liquid refreshment was manned by Ben Gill and Lynn Ingamells.
1. - A battered and bruised Humpty Dumpty played by Ken Lowe.
2. - Stephanie Gill as the Grand Old Duke of York.
3. - Humpty describes his injuries to King Cole (Brian Ray) and Magic Mirror (Margaret Baker).
4. - Patrick Draper, as Lionel the Baker, begs forgiveness from Humpty Dumpty for pushing him off the wall.
Phew! Hot work for our chefs, Cornelius Shanahan and Chris Cobby.
Many of our parishioners avoid sunstroke by taking refuge under the umbrellas.
Raffle winner, Dave Powell, receiving his prize of strawberries and champagne from Father John.
Although it was baking hot and there was competition from England's match against Germany in the FIFA world cup, our annual barbecue was a great success.
Held at Audley End College, the cuisine, as ever, was excellent and there were plenty of activities for the youngsters. Although mainly a social event for the parish, the barbecue raised £250 for church funds.(Click on pictures for larger version).
A few of the many photographs taken by Di Pohlmann (who will be making them available to parents), telling the story of the service:
Two Masses for our First Communicants were celebrated by Father John –– the first in our church and the second in St Mary's Parish Church. This was because a change in dates created problems for relatives of two of the boys who had already made long distance travel arrangements for May 15. Father John decided to go ahead with a Mass in our church on that day to avoid disappointment for the two families.
The following weekend all 14 of the First Communicants gathered in the church hall before processing with their instructor, Patricia Cobby, along Castle Street to the town's parish church.
Please pray to The Lord asking Him to bless them and keep them faithful throughout their lives. (Click on pictures for larger version).
Tony and Karon Grossfield renewed their wedding vows in our church on May 7 but before then Karon was received into the Church and was baptised and confirmed by Father John.
The couple, who live in Saffron Walden, were married 2005. (Click on picture for larger version).
Three parishioners, Maresi Bennion, Phillipa Whalley and Dolores Clew raised over £150 Christian Aid from selling cakes outside Boots the Chemists on May 1st.
Maresi, co-ordinator for the sale, said the final sum came to £168.41 thanks to two later donations. "We sold all the cakes and could have done with many more. We will do it again next year and have a bigger appeal beforehand," she added. (Click on picture for larger version).
Over 100 people took part in the annual Walk of Witness on Good Friday which was organised by the Saffron Walden Salvation Army headed by Major Carol Evans.
There was a short service at the town's Baptist Church before the walk, which attracted people from all denominations, including our church, got underway. The walkers progressed down the High Street following the cross which this year was carried by Paul Watts from the Salvation Army. They made their way to the Common for Gospel readings and hymns before continuing to St Mary's Parish Church for more hymns and readings, one of which was given by Mary Wheatley from the Catholic Church. (Click on pictures for larger version).
Our church was packed for the Maundy Thursday Mass which celebrates the Last Supper and solemnly commemorates the institution of the Eucharist. Father John, who is unable to kneel to wash the feet of people in imitation of Christ's action at the Last Supper, had instead to wash the hands of several of our parishioners. (Click on pictures for larger version).
Infants at St Thomas More Primary School treated fellow pupils and parents to a performance on March 31 of Eddie the Penguin Saves the World. (Click on pictures for larger version).
The story, enacted in words and songs, told the story of how Eddie, accompanied by his wife, children and grandparents, travelled the world to encourage people to prevent global warming by recycling waste. The infants put on a great show which was performed for the school in the morning and for parents and friends in the evening.
One hundred tickets were sold for the annual Palm Sunday Brunch which, although largely a social event, raised just over £130 for church funds.
The event, held after the 8.30am and 10.30am Masses, was organised by our Social Group whose members were helped by volunteers with the washing up and setting of tables. Among those who did their stint with the washing up were Ken and his seven year old son, pictured above. (Click on picture for larger version).
Over 30 members and guests of our Wednesday Group attended a special party on February 3 in the church hall.
They were there to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the group which since its formation as a social organisation has raised hundreds of pounds for church funds and for our twin mission in Evander, South Africa. The money was raised by members putting to good use their skills in making articles for sale. Parcels for essential items have, in addition to cash, been sent to Evander.
A feast of food was laid out for those at the party at which Father John cut into the specially baked birthday cake. (Click on picture for larger version).
Father Adrian Graffy gave an illustrated talk on St Mark's Gospel at the annual retreat for parishioners at St Mark's College, Audley End, on September 26.
Father Graffy, who has written a book on this Gospel, is director of the Brentwood Religious Education Service and was formerly professor of Scripture at St John's Seminary in Wonersh. His talk was entitled 'A Journey through the Earliest Gospel.'
The retreat began with Mass being celebrated in the chapel at St Mark's College and, after coffee, the talk was given in the College's new River Barn which overlooks a meadow. Also pictured are some of the parishioners who took part in the retreat.
Downpours and frequent showers failed to put too much of a damper on the annual Deanery Fun Day.
Held on July 19 at St Mark's College, Audley End, youngsters braved the rain and enjoyed all the activities on offer which included football, jumping up and down on the trampoline and playing outdoor chess.
The fun day is open to adults and children from parishes in the deanery.
The Parish Pastoral Council has agreed, as part of our commitment to mark the Year of the Priest, that the following prayer for vocations will be said at the end of each Sunday Mass.
PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS God Our Father, You sent your Son Jesus into the world And he in turn, Through the Holy Spirit, Sent the apostles and their successors To continue your work As teacher, Priest and Shepherd. We ask you To choose from among us In our diocese Priests, Deacons, Brothers and Sisters Who will willingly give their lives In your service And seek to make you better known and loved. We make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Who says prayers are not answered? At Sunday's first Mass on June 21 Lynn Ingamells (parish secretary), reminded fellow parishioners that the annual barbeque at St Mark's College would start at 12 noon. Lynn concluded by urging everyone to pray that the sun would break through and disperse the grey clouds and, lo and behold, shortly after 12 noon the sun did break through and it turned out to be a lovely summer's afternoon.
Over 100 people bought tickets for the barbeque at which there was a fine choice of food and drinks for everyone. The event coincided with Father's Day and Andy Taylor is pictured receiving presents from his family.
There was plenty of fun and games for youngsters and two are pictured playing with the giant chess pieces. There was also a raffle prize of champagne and strawberries and cream which was won by Araceli and Ramiro Valdez-Ramirez.
Nearly 20 parishioners completed a sponsored five mile walk around the perimeter of Saffron Walden on June 6 to raise funds for the Brentwood Children's Society which helps disadvantaged families.
It was the first time that the annual walk had been organised by diocesan parishes and our walkers have raised at least £800 for the Society. One 6 year old pupil from St Thomas More Primary School was sponsored to the tune of £110 by fellow pupils.
The walk started outside our church, where Father John led prayers, and two hours later the walkers returned to the starting point. They all trooped into the church hall where volunteers were waiting to provide them with a well earned meal which included a choice of three delicious home-made soups, fruit and a variety of cakes, plus hot and cold drinks.
1. First group of walkers arrive at the church hall.
2. Minutes later a second group winds it way along Castle Street.
3. Tommy, a 12 year old cross collie Jack Russell, enjoys a biscuit after the walk. Tommy shares his home with a rabbit, called Harry, who was found in the garden of his owner, David Smith, a couple of years ago. The two are great friends and often play together.
4. Some of the walkers enjoying their lunch.
The relief shows on the faces of some members of the instruction / support team following a wonderfully successful and moving service, when twenty-one of our young people celebrated their First Holy Communion in the presence of their families and friends.
Thanks are due to Fr. John, the instruction team of Patricia Cobby, Rachel Williams, Veronica Shiels and Pauline Mullins, ably supported by musicians and many others from the parish community.
We also thank David Tomlinson, Rector of St Mary's, for the use once again of St Mary's Parish Church; and to the bellringers of St Mary's who rang the bells following the service.
A few of the many photographs taken by Di Pohlmann (who will be making them available to parents in the near future), telling the story of the service:
1. Patricia Cobby leading the way along Castle Street to the church;
2. First communicants arrive somewhat windswept at St Mary's Parish Church;
3 & 4. Children receiving their First Communion;
5. Group picture of first communicants with Father John and instructors Rachel Williams, Veronica Shiels, Patricia Cobby and Pauline Mullins;
6. A group of girls dancing for joy outside the church after making their first communion.
Please pray to The Lord asking Him to bless them and keep them faithful throughout their lives.
Four teenagers were confirmed on March 25 in our church at a Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Right Rev. Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood, who was assisted by Father John.
The four were Christian Eady, Della Helwig, Candela Marquez and Andrei Ramirez-Valdez who were instructed over the past few months by Mary Wheatley. Family and friends attended the Mass to support the confirmation candidates who were presented by Bishop Thomas with a certificate designed by Mary's husband, Terry.
Bishop Thomas, who retires in two years time, made his last Visitation to Saffron Walden on March 25.
After lunch he and Father John spent a couple of hours at St Thomas More Primary School where he was greeted by two pupils (pictured below) before meeting all the children and staff in the main hall. Bishop Thomas, who celebrates his golden jubilee as a priest this year, brought with him his mitre and crozier and explained the significance of both as well as that of his ring and the meaning of the word cathedral. After his talk the children took the opportunity to as him questions and he ended his visit to the school by meeting staff and the school's governors.
Twenty-one children will be making their First Communion on May 16 at St Mary's Parish Church.
The Mass is being celebrated at the Church of England's parish church because our church is too small for so many first communicants who will be accompanied by their family and friends.
The children, aged between seven and eight years, have been instructed since last October by Patricia Cobby, Rachel Williams and Veronica Shiels.