Brentwood Diocese is twinned with the Diocese of Dundee in South Africa. Bishop Michael (now retired) of Dundee was born in Grays, Essex. He became a Franciscan priest and has spent much of his working life in South Africa. He came to visit Bishop Thomas when he was newly ordained a Bishop and they forged the twinning at that time. The twinning was originally envisaged to be one of spiritual support and friendship but over the years it has taken on many different forms, including the twinning of parishes, schools etc.
Our Lady of Compassion is twinned with the Parish of Christ The King, Evander in South Africa (map). Fr. Gerald (seen left with some of his parishioners), Evander's Parish Priest, hails from Brentwood diocese and his work in South Africa is itself part of the twinning exchange. Two parishes in Brentwood Diocese are supporting students studying for the priesthood in South Africa.
Twin parishes are joined together in three key ways:
Prayer comes first, so please keep our friends in Evander in your prayers. This spiritual foundation gives our communication strength and meaning. Most of our communication is via post (both written and photographs); phone calls being very costly. However, one can see a time not too far in the future where electronic communications will prove to be invaluable. Our twin parishioners are in need, so we try to help them materially - we look to treat them well as a twin would treat his or her twin sibling.
Our parish has been working with Father Gerald, for the last four years. The parish covers a huge poverty- and AIDS-stricken area. The people of Evander struggle with the basics of food, clothing, health-care (especially AIDS) and education.
The Wednesday Group are very active in material support of Evander, with the making of woollen blankets, toddlers tee shirts and hats. Postage is paid for by fundraising activities and the "Pennies for Evander" collection at the back of the church (Fr. Gerald is using the pennies to buy sewing machines to help his parishioners earn some money). More detail about Evanda and our twinning activities can be found in this leaflet.