Pentecost colour, flags and culture across East Anglia

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Pentecost colour, flags and culture across East Anglia

Parishes across East Anglia have been marking Pentecost with a blaze of colour, flags and cultural celebrations.

St Michael the Archangel parish in Huntingdon celebrated the great diversity of the parish on Pentecost Sunday, May 19 with international Masses and a shared international lunch, reports Fr Philip Shryane.

All Masses over the weekend had an international flavour to reflect the diversity of the parish with readings in Polish, Portuguese, Malayalam, and Tagalog. We enjoyed music from our African, Filipino and Indian communities.

Every nationality in the parish had its own flag – a total of 36 (pictured above outside St Michael’s. The flags were carried in procession at the beginning of Masses and placed near the altar, symbolising the diversity of our parish coming together in unity to celebrate the Mass. There was a great sense of the oneness of our community and the unity of the Body of Christ, the universal Church; although we are different, we are not separate, and we come together in prayer and celebration.

After the final morning Mass, we shared a wonderful lunch with food from many different parts of the world, laid out in the Good Shepherd Room. Fortunately the weather was very kind to us, and we were able to eat outside in the garden, the only space we have big enough for our community to gather.

It was a very joyful event and a wonderful celebration of Pentecost, showing our unity in diversity.

St Edmund’s Church in Bury St Edmund’s was a blaze of colour on the Feast of Pentecost on May 19 (pictured right and below) as Mass was celebrated in true international style, reports John Saunders.

Always a packed church, the congregation swelled to over 250 as many dressed in national costumes for the occasion and families from countries around the world carried in flags representing their origins.

The parish choir, directed by Patricia Mason, quadrupled in size as it joined the parish music group led by Mick Truman, and was boosted with singers from the Polish, Nigerian, Malayalam, and Filipino communities. Hymns were sung with gusto in a variety of languages and everyone tried their best to join in.

“Parish priest, Fr Sean Connolly, noted at the end of Mass that he’d never heard such joyful singing in a parish. The prayers of intercession were also said in a variety of languages, with English translations given.

In his homily, Fr Sean jokingly compared Pentecost to the musical, the Wizard of Oz, where the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion sought the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, love, and courage, only to discover that on their pilgrimage along the Yellow Brick Road, they already possessed these gifts and only had to use them.

The same, Fr Sean suggested, was true of us: as baptised and confirmed Christians, we already possess the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit and are called to be alert on our journey through life to the opportunities to use them for others.

The celebrations continued after Mass with a gathering in the crypt where parishioners shared national food dishes with one another and a wonderful sense of international friendship and unity was on display. As one parishioner commented about the celebration: “I think we have experienced a bit of heaven today. We need to do our best to make it happen more regularly.”