Bishop Alan came to celebrate our regular Saturday 5pm Mass with us and Canon John Minh. He was able to receive two of our parents, Nicola Walshe and Kim Giraud into the Catholic church. A wonderful time for their families as Kim's daughter Maryam, a student in year 7 at St Mary's Cambridge was baptised in our church only a few weeks before and Nicola's daughter Emma has received her First Holy Communion with our group only the previous Saturday.
Very apt, as Bishop Alan encouraged us with the words of St Matthew that, although there would be those who would judge us for being Christians: "if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, Iwill declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven" and not to be discouraged or to turn away from our faith but to be living witnesses and "preach it from the housetops".
He presented gifts of books from our community to Nicola, Kim and Anastasia Ward who received the Sacrament of Confirmation at OLEM the previous Sunday and, as always, took a great deal of time to speak personally with each candidate and as many of us as possible.
He thanked Fr John for his service to us and we are very aware of the courage and sheer hard work needed to face the challenges of a "new' and extensive parish which will spread over 50 villages around Cambridge. We are blessed that Our Lady of Lourdes, Sawston, is such a grounded, prayerful, practical, pastoraland family orientated community which we can learn a great deal from as our young church grows and flourishes.
We not only had one of our famously international Bring and Share's after Mass (our Keralan community is treasured not only for its deep spirituality, but its catering), but also the annual Thanksgiving Tea for our First Holy Communion Group which had been planned for that date.
We have a very large group of enthusiastic and dedicated servers, some of whom were delighted to have a photo with Bishop Alan, a happy moment then shared by many other members of the congregation.
Helping our youth to serve God and the church in practical ways within the community is very important to us and our vibrant music group and children's liturgy, youth readers and many other activities are a real testament to their faith which Bishop Alan recognised.
As one young person replied when he commented upon her obvious excitement about their faith '"It is about Jesus – what's not to get excited about?!' He delighted our "Senior Lady' and Centenarian, Beryl Webber with conversation and she was so pleased to be able to thank him personally for the kind letter he sent to congratulate her on her 100th birthday earlier this year which is framed and in pride of place in her flat.
We eagerly look forward to next year when Bishop Alan has promised to return to us and Fr John to confirm the first group of our youth who will be prepared in Cambourne – we are recruiting now, as with our First Holy Communion group to start in September.
His presence among us helped us yet again in our modern and relatively wealthy Mass Centre a dozen miles from Cambridge, not only of our communion with the wider church of which we are a precious part, but that, as John Hall (a presbyterian pastor) said "Culture is good, genius is brilliant, civilization is a blessing, education is a privilege: but we may be educated villains. The thing that we want most of all is the precious gift of the Holy Spirit'.
Picture above is the Cambourne congregation with Bishop Alan and the group of young servers.