Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Holy Family Failsworth and Fr Leonard Young's 1st Mass.

The altar Party, Fr Leonard in the centre, Fr Bryan on the left under the candles.

In the foreground, the secretary of the Additional Curates Society, Fr. Stephen Leach.

Fr Leonard at the buffet following the Mass.

Last night, after an uneventful but hysteria-filled weekend in Hoddlesden, Hertfordshire, I went to the more accessible (from my house at least) and calmer environs of Failsworth. Why hysteria-filled, I hear you say? Well, my journey, by necessity, took me through London before travelling to Hertfordshire, and a combination of three unseen factors, the Diana concert, Gay Pride and the Glasgow bomb, had brought London mainline stations to their knees and the already disrupted tube services were further disrupted by bomb scares. Indeed, on three occasions in ten minutes, the tube was stopped, the guard came into my compartment and looked for packages, apparantly tipped off to their presence right where I was sitting. I understand the need for vigilence, but I also wonder if the Government is not attempting to whip the hysteria up (red alerts, etc, as if the colour code of paranoia is going to be of any help at all) to keep us in a permanent state of fear, in which any draconian law can be passed by all parties 'to combat terror'. All this and a smoking ban as well. Even though I am not really a smoker, I smoked merrily on Saturday night in my hotel bar, to savour the memory of it, more than anything else.

By happy coincidence, the sermon at Fr Leonard's first Mass on Monday evening was about smoking, albeit of the incense and thurible kind, likening Fr Leonard to a charcoal tablet, which is heated up by the Holy Spirit and then the incense (the parishoners), when joined in union with him, make him sparkle and glow (and, of course, belt out noxious fumes to drive the protestants away). It was a pleasant concelebrated High Mass, in this peculiar, but generally pleasing church, what it may lack in architectural finesse is certainly made up for in having clean, dry meeting rooms, a hall, functioning lavatories, a bar, air conditioning and comfy pews! Part of the lot of a Priest in our Church is generally spent conserving ancient buildings and pointing at leaky roofs in a condemnatory fashion, whilst being rather unsure, really, of what to do about it, so it must be a joy to minister in a building so modern and water-tight.

We should pray for Fr Leonard, as well as his Parish Priest, Fr Peter and the people of Holy Family Parish, that the Holy Family may be their inspiration, in living together in love, sharing the very different talents each has. Even though two members of the Holy Family were taken body and soul into Heaven, poor St Joseph had to go in the more traditional way, but he was not to be found complaining at the relative humility (and shame, if the truth be told), of his office, but His great love for his wife and son overcame all, and his yes to Mary's predicament helped the Son of Man to grow and develop, eventually to redeem the world by the blood which His Father on earth did not even share. St Joseph is always a model of humility, but he is also a model of Faith, Hope and Love and it is the love which gave life to the other two.

There are two other people to take note of at this juncture, as there will be posts about them in the near future, Fr Stephen Leach, Secretary of the Additional Curates Society, a saintly man with a saintly wife whose natural habitat would, one presumes, be Harvey Nichols rather than Failsworth, immaculately turned out as she always is. I will have the great pleasure of both of thir company at the ACS Annual Vocations Conference at All Saints, Birmingham, which I will be blogging, particularly for the fascinating interior and most successful re-ordering.

Also look out on the top photo for Fr Bryan Hackett, Parish Priest of St Marys Church Prestwich, a church and community of whom I am inordinately keen. I am hoping for an invitation to go and preach there again soon, so I shall post something about that fine church (which some of you may know from Coronation Street) at a later date.