...are to be found on the parish calendar.
Sixteen of our younger parishioners received a very special gift when they made their first Holy Communion in St Mary's Parish Church on 22 June. The Mass, celebrated by our parish priest, Father David, could not be held in our church as it would not have been large enough to accommodate so many families and friends. So we "borrowed" the town's Anglican church as we have done in previous years.
Over the previous months the children had been instructed by Trish Cobby and her assistants to ensure they appreciated the importance of receiving Our Lord's body and blood in communion.
Pentecost Sunday (9 June) saw eleven youngsters taking the important step of being confirmed in their faith. This came after they had completed an eight month course led by Trish Cobby.
Their monthly sessions lasted an hour and a half. In March went on an outing to Wembley and on a weekend retreat held at Walsingham House on Canvey Island. In May they made a trip to Brentwood Cathedral for the Rite of Acceptance.
Fr. David explained to the confirmandi that confirmation was a unique, not to be repeated, "rite of passage" in their personal journey of faith.
The young people played an active part in the Mass which included taking it in turn to lead the bidding prayers and by bringing the Offertory gifts to the altar. At the conclusion of the Mass but before the final hymn Father David presented the young people with their confirmation certificates and also a Bible. The congregation was then invited to the church hall for refreshments.
Recently members of Saffron Walden's S.V.P. conference assisted the staff of Hatherley House residential home in taking a group of residents out for the afternoon to the beautiful Essex village of Finchingfield. The village is only 20 minutes south east of Saffron Walden, however its pristine and extensive Georgian architecture makes it feel far further. We headed for a new restaurant that recently opened adjacent to the village pub called 'Wildes'. Places had been reserved for our party of around 20. The staff were extremely helpful in assisting folk to their tables, it also helped that Wildes is wheel chair friendly. Soon sandwiches very generously and variously filled, hinged by soft uneven slices of homemade bread were being eagerly consumed. The cakes were similarly impressive if not unusually tall. Later we 'took a turn' round the common next to the duck pond. The sun arrived as did the ducklings perfectly on cue. For those of my dear readers whose hardened hearts are causing them more than a little nausea reading of this idyllic scene, I have held in reserve a pithy snippet of a conversation between two of the group, whose ages cumulatively are nearly 200 and should provide a welcome restorative. As already mentioned a group of ducklings were swimming around the pond overseen by two drakes, "I wonder where the mother duck has gone?" said one lady with a degree of concern, to which came the very contemporary reply, "why do you think there is a mother duck, perhaps they are just in one of those new modern relationships?".
Every year, SVP members take our elderly and housebound parishioners out for a Cream Tea. It is always a much anticipated outing and this year the 30th April was a real success. Our conference membership has recently grown, so we had a perfect balance of members and visitors. There were 25 of us in total. This year we visited Audley End House. We arrived on a quiet Tuesday afternoon at 14:30 and didn't sit down in the restaurant until 15:30. This gave us plenty of time to wander around the grounds before tea, some on foot and a few in wheelchairs, to look at the formal gardens in colourful Spring bloom. The parterre looked stunning with it's amazing array of tulip varieties. The weather couldn't have been better with only a gentle breeze and the sound of birds. We also took our visitors into the house to marvel at the Great Hall, the formal Adams dining room and the stunning little drawing room. Tea was served and the size of the scones mirrored the beautiful house we were in. They were enormous, delicious and the best scones I've had for a long time. I am already looking forward to next year's SVP outing.
The parish demonstrated the exciting range of talent that it can draw on resulting in a very successful Cabaret Evening staged at Newport Village Hall. The show, which raised over £200 for church funds, was entertainingly compered by Patrick Draper and included and eclectic mix of comedy sketches, singing, dancing, a rock band, classical piano, electric guitar, and poetry, clarinet, guitar and bagpipes recitals. All the acts were very well received by the 80-strong enthusiastic and supportive audience.
The talented Father David ably supported by his wonderful team of helpers produced a stunning meal for the fifth incarnation of 'Father David's Supper' on 9th November.
The diners were welcomed into the church hall by a selection of delicious nibbles with Italian sparkling wine - canapés and chilled Prosecco. Once everyone was seated, we were treated to Amuse Bouches of salmon, avocado and cucumber. This was followed by Bouchée à la Reine of mushroom vols-au-vent served with a dressed green salad. The main course was Pollo Milanese served with tagliatelle in a sugo pomodoro sauce.
More was to come as the meal continued with Berries in Prosecco Jelly served with vanilla cream and a raspberry coulis. Throughout the supper the white and red wines flowed freely and finally coffee was served with chocolates and a choice of limoncello and port.
The gastronomic tour provided the perfect foil for sparkling conversation and repartee of both the diners and helpers. We are already looking forward to next November and the next supper.
The Annual Parish Retreat which was held on Saturday 29th September was again held, this year at St Mark’s College, Audley End Village. The Retreat was attended by over twenty parishioners and the day began with the celebration of Mass by Fr. David in the College’s Chapel. The theme of the day was “The Eucharist” with Fr David giving two talks on aspects of this subject. The day concluded with a prayer and blessing. As you can also see there was also time for a chat and relaxation.