Break with Tradition
The year before last, we broke with tradition, and instead of having our annual outdoor Mass and picnic at Trintange, we accepted the generous invitation of the archbishop and celebrated in his garden. Last year, we moved to the garden of St Alphonse. Again, we had a great celebration. Like the people of Israel in the Old Testament, and never standing still, this year we increased our ambition: having lost part of the garden of St Alphonse (sold off earlier this year) we decided to use the same venue but to have a BBQ after the Mass. Never was a risk better taken! Two weeks before the Mass, only 12 people were subscribed. In the event, over 300 signed up for the BBQ, and over 400 were served: even more came for the Mass, but couldn’t stay for the feast afterwards. This doubled our 2014 record; more importantly, we had a wonderful joyful and reverent celebration of Mass: the music group were on great form, and we suspect (and secretly hope) that the singing at Mass woke up many of our neighbours. Nine altar servers, two readers and four ministers of the Eucharist augmented the team, and many of the First Holy Communion group made their Second Holy Communion (as one of them observed to me).
Illula Orphanage Project
The music group played on after the liturgy and provided entertainment for the rest of the afternoon, raising (between the shop and the collection) €660 towards the building and provisioning of a primary school in Tanzania. Congratulations to Helen and team for this — constantly giving time and energy to help those less financially fortunate than ourselves.
Food and drink a-plenty
Thanks to John, Sonya, Carl, Brian, Buzz, Denise, Calum — and all who worked for the catering department: they were magnificent. The ordering, cooking, serving, re-serving and clearing up were superbly organised and executed. And a word of thanks (and a plug) to Vincent Clarke of Éirelux who donated generously of the delicious produce of Ireland. Éirelux is being formally opened next Saturday, 20 June at 14:00 — all welcome! 40 Rue de Bruyères, Howald, L-1274.
Chapeau to Robert who organised skittles, chalk, duck-fishing, tug-of-war, football, bubbles, badminton, hockey and so much more for the children — parents who brought their children were both surprised and delighted that they hardly saw them from the end of Mass until home-time several hours later. In a departure from tradition, due (thankfully) to the absence of water-guns, I did not get absolutely soaked by the children; my social baptism in Luxembourg happened after our Mass and feast in the archbishop’s garden in 2013 when I had to walk home through the city dripping wet (secretly delighted, as the preceding water-fight involving children, parents and myself had been brilliant!).
We decided to rely on a freewill donation system to cover costs, so as not to put pressure on individuals and families — and our feelings on this were more than rewarded. The collecting bin contained more than enough to cover all costs. We had already decided that the value of this event in social and spiritual terms would more than compensate for any shortfall, but in the event all our goals were surpassed.
A hot, sunny day (which had defied earlier forecasts); a beautiful liturgy, enhanced by the environment and the sense of occasion; a superb BBQ, well organised, cooked and served; flowing crémant, beer, wine, soft drinks and water; a richesse of activities for children (of all ages); seeing a community working, worshipping and relaxing together; conversations between people who see each other every Sunday, but have never managed to chat before.
I didn’t get soaked!
After Mass, a man introduced himself as the bishop of a diocese in the West of Ireland; he had been in France to celebrate the wedding of his nephew, and happened upon our Mass (and was very congratulatory). As we were speaking, a second man introduced himself — he was a priest from Florida, equally pleased to have been present. If I’d known my fellow priests had been there, I might have been a little more self-conscious at homily time (and not forgotten what I’d intended to say!).
A second surprise: Calum Heffernan revealed himself as a rock star, with his first public solo performance. In years to come, we will be able to say that we were there!
Photos of the Mass and BBQ below. Send more in if you have them!
Á la prochaine, Fr Ed
And more pics!