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.