Dear friends,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”, on account of the set Gospel reading, from John 10. Presented with this image of Christ’s care for us, Good Shepherd Sunday is also an occasion to pray for vocations to the sacred priesthood, and for those in discernment or formation, especially those preparing to be ordained this year. Let us pray that the Lord will send labourers into his harvest, and bless all those who answer God’s call to ordination. You may find it helpful to use this prayer of the Additional Curates Society:

Almighty God, give us priests: to establish the honour of your holy name; to offer the holy sacrifice of the altar; to give us Jesus in the holy sacrament; to proclaim the faith of Jesus; to baptise and to teach the young; to tend your sheep; to seek the lost; to give pardon to the penitent sinner; to bless our homes; to pray for the afflicted; to comfort mourners; to strengthen us in our last hour; to commend our souls. Almighty God, give us priests!

Holy Father, you gave us Christ as the shepherd of our souls; may your people always have priests who care for them with his great love.’

The love of Christ the Good Shepherd has always been a hallmark of the Church: thank you for your pastoral concern for others, manifested in your support for our recent Lent Appeal, which has raised an amazing £1,080.99 (+ Gift Aid) for WaterAid.

Please note that this month we are receiving donations for the work of the Friends of the Holy Land, to secure a resilient and enduring community for Christians in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan. Cash donations may be placed into the basket at the back of church; online donations may be made into the parish bank account, with the reference “Holy Land”. Thank you for donations of £380 (+ Gift Aid) so far.

Next month, we will be supporting the Additional Curates Society, paying and praying for priests, and in particular supporting ministry in poor and populous parishes. Donations boxes will be handed out this weekend at Mass.

So far this year in our parish, more than £6,000 has been raised in support of external charities and other good causes, including St Luke’s Hospice, the Bishop of Willesden’s Mission Fund and the Al-Ahli (Anglican) Hospital in Gaza. I think it is no coincidence that we have also so far this year secured £6,500 in grant funding for our own special projects: God surely blesses those who become a blessing to others, and whose hearts and hands are open to their neighbours in need.

A reminder that on Saturday, 18 May we will be taking part in a May Devotion jointly with our friends at All Saints’ RC Church, Kenton. I am pleased to announce that our guest preacher will be Fr Simon Morris, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Winchmore Hill and Chaplain-General to the Society of Mary. The May Devotion will begin with prayers at All Saints’ at 2.30pm, before a procession to St Mary’s: if you cannot manage the walk, please gather at St Mary’s from 3pm, to welcome the procession as it arrives. There will then be a world foods Pentecost party in the Hall, celebrating the rich diversity of our congregations and local community: please see Pat to pledge to bring a dish, to share “a taste of home”.

Please also now sign up in church for the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage (11-18 year olds) this summer: a fun-filled week of prayer and praise, fresh air and outdoor activities in the beautiful north Norfolk countryside.

Finally, please note that I will be on annual leave next week, returning to the parish on Tuesday, 30 April: please see Fr Mike if you require a priest; please speak to the churchwardens about other matters concerning St Mary’s. Please note that there will be no public Morning Prayer on Tuesday or Thursday next week, and no Morning Prayer, Adoration or Mass on Saturday – but all other services will be as usual.

May the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work to do His will,

Fr Richard