The parish, which has been run for the last three years by the Carmelites, held a three-day festival to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patron of the Carmelite order, from July 15-17. This was the first time since the Carmelites arrived in Ipswich in September 2019 that the feast could be celebrated in the more normal way.
Friday saw a flag raising and prayers in the priory garden followed by concelebrated Mass with Fr Peter Raj and Deacon Clive Brooks. Saturday morning was one of great excitement and celebration as the children of the parish were able to gather together with their families and friends to receive their First Holy Communion at a concelebrated Mass with Fr Tijo Xavier OCD from Kensington in London.
The culmination of the festival was on Sunday with the parish Mass being followed by devotions to Our Lady and refreshments. It was a wonderful parish weekend, and all agreed that our priest, Fr Bineesh Elanjikkal OCD, was going to be greatly missed when he moves back to India in September.
Fr Bineesh arrived from Kerala in September 2019 to join Fr Paul Vincent at the newly established Carmelite Priory in Ipswich. It was his first trip to England, and he admits that he found it very cold and very strange. As well as being assistant priest in the parish and using English regularly, which he had never done before as he was a missionary in a rural community in north India, he was also going to become RC chaplain to Ipswich Hospital. This was to prove extremely demanding as the pandemic hit in early 2020. The parish and hospital staff soon discovered that his calm and gentle personality could transcend all language barriers in the face of extreme difficulties.
The parish also realised that Fr Bineesh was a person of many talents – not only is he extremely diligent in his ministry but he has an eye for flower arranging and decoration and the parish has been treated to his creations on a number of occasions. There have been amazing displays using flowers and natural elements such as wood and stone but lighting and candles have also been employed. The garden has been transformed and looked particularly wonderful for the feast day celebrations.
Unfortunately, reorganisation of the Carmelite Order has meant that both the Carmelite priests who arrived in 2019 will not be able to continue to minister in England. Fr Paul Vincent has decided to leave the order and move to continue his ministry nearer to his family in America and Fr Bineesh will return to India to continue his studies in Bangalore.
Pictured above is Fr Bineesh. You can see a Flickr gallery of the celebrations by clicking on the link or the picture below.