The day finally arrived! The church is still radiant with the glow of our celebration of the First Holy Communion of 28 of our young people at the 11:15 Mass on 7th June. The children had been preparing for months, along with the catechetical team and the parent-volunteers — not only in their Sunday morning classes, but in the Masses where we focused especially on them.

An occasion such as this is significant on a number of levels: the children being further initiated into the life, the communion, of the Church; parents guiding their children in the ways of faith and church life; the parish community both supporting our catechetical efforts, and in turn being encouraged by witnessing each new generation of children being immersed more deeply in the Church; and last, but not least, the witness that is given to family and friends who come along, some perhaps not having much church contact themselves, but seeing a vibrant, believing community in worship and in social celebration.

The scale of organisation, administration and general involvement in a process and celebration of this kind is enormous: this dawned on me as I was filing FHC emails, and counted over 400 of them (mainly, of course, group emails into which we were all copied). But each single message represents someone working and spending time on this vital part of our Catholic community life. There are so many people to thank: some we thanked by name on the day, and many others we included and include in a general, huge, ‘Thank You’.

The sun smiled down on us: after the beautiful sunny weather the previous Sunday for our Confirmation Mass, we hardly dared hope for sunshine the following week, and had contingency plans for the crémant reception afterwards. As it turned out, the weather couldn’t have been better. The photographers were able to do their work, and the rest of us were able to enjoy the sun and the shade in the garden of St Alphonse.

We can see from the photos below, once glance at the inside of the church showed a church en fête, and we have had many comments from visitors remarking on the doves, the banner, the eucharistic decorations and the childrens’ posters. Our joy showed itself in how the church was decorated, and this in turn was picked up by so many outside our community. There was one wry question from someone who came to an earlier Mass on 7th June that I chose to take as a compliment on our behalf. A man said to his wife, ‘What are the English doing this week?’ Apart from grouping all our nationalities into one, he was noting that we are not standing still, we’re not afraid to innovate, make our mark and to express our faith, the same faith we all share.

And speaking of not standing still, we will shortly be announcing the date of our First Holy Communion celebration next year, along with the dates of the Preparation classes, so that parents will have plenty of time to make any necessary schedule arrangements.

Thank you once again to all. And thanks be to God!

Fr Ed

And now a gallery of some of the official photos of the day. I lost track of who’s included, so if you’re not, let me know and I’ll add you

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