Dear friends,

🍕 🍷 Greetings, and the assurance of my prayers for you from Rome – where I am enjoying my post-Easter break on pilgrimage. (Please note that, in my absence, there will be no public Morning Prayer in church on Thursday, 2 May; nor will there be public Morning Prayer and Adoration, or the morning Mass, on Saturday 4: however, Evening Prayer and the Vigil Mass on Saturday (and all other regular services) will proceed as usual, with grateful thanks to Fr Mike.)

In a week’s time, our country goes to the polls, in London to elect a Mayor and members of the London Assembly. Far be it from me to seek to influence your vote, nevertheless I was amused to listen to a public information advertisement about the elections which described the mark we make on the ballot paper as “no ordinary cross”. Indeed it is not – and the exercise of our democratic responsibilities is an important duty; however, there is an even more extra-ordinary Cross which should stand at the heart of our lives. Just like our vote in an election, the presence of the Cross of Christ in our lives is a free choice, but one which then determines so much of our future. Where we place the cross matters – not simply the box in which we cast our vote for our elected representatives, but also, and more importantly still, whether the Cross of Jesus occupies a central position in all that we are and do. Our values, as Christians, should inform our votes – just as they should inform all that we undertake and choose. In this coming Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus says that he is the vine, and we are the branches, and that ‘[w]hoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty‘: by keeping the Cross central to our words and thoughts and actions, it can become in us a fruitful tree, yielding a harvest of faith and good works.

As I spoke about in my homily last Sunday, I am delighted to confirm that we will welcome a pastoral assistant – Ryan Davey – to serve in our parish for a year, from September: Ryan is discerning a vocation to ordination via the national Ministry Experience Scheme, and is currently completing his first year on placement, in the parish of St George, Southall. From September, he will play a full part in the life of our parish, gaining experience and insight into a variety of dimensions of Christian ministry. Please pray for him, as he continues to respond to God’s call. Ryan’s placement will – we hope – be part-funded by the Additional Curates Society (ACS), which seeks to resource priestly ministry, particularly in poor and populous parishes. The ACS will be the focus of our monthly charitable giving appeal in May: please collect a donations box in church, and please give generously! This coming Sunday is the final opportunity to donate to April’s appeal, for the Friends of the Holy Land.

A reminder that our May Devotion (jointly with All Saints’ Church, Kenton) will be on Saturday, 18 May: please see Pat if you can bring a dish to the world foods party afterwards, and please spread the word!

Those of our young people who would like to attend the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage in August are asked to sign up in church as soon as possible, and at the latest by Sunday, 5 May. There will also be a “get to know you” afternoon for all the London parishes taking part, likely on Saturday, 20 July at St Alban, Holborn – further information to follow. Please do not let financial concerns put you off attending: although we are requesting each family to make a payment towards costs, this can very much take into account personal financial circumstances, with generous bursaries available as required.

New in this week’s notices is an invitation to Choral Evensong and Benediction at the beautiful Grade I-listed church of All Saints, Margaret Street (off Oxford Street) on Sunday, 9 June. Please sign up in church – further details to follow. The Vicar, Fr Peter Anthony, has kindly agreed to give a short talk at the end of Benediction, about the history of the church and parish – and we are then invited to visit the parish bar!

May the holy apostles Peter and Paul, patrons of the Eternal City, intercede for us before the Lord, and may the grace and joy of the risen Christ be always with us all,

Fr Richard