Dear friends,

Somewhat to our surprise, but much to our delight, this parish ended 2023 with a modest budget surplus. Your parish officers and PCC have worked hard to turn around the previous year’s (effective) deficit – and you in turn contributed most generously in response to our parish stewardship campaign. It is always appropriate to respond to God’s blessings by blessing others in turn: in consequence, I am pleased to share with you the PCC’s decision to donate one third of this surplus to the Bishop of Willesden’s Mission Fund, and a second third to the Al-Ahli (Anglican) Hospital in Gaza. At last week’s PCC meeting, we also ratified the decision to choose a number of external charities to support throughout the coming year, as follows:

February (St Luke’s Hospice)
March (Lent Appeal – WaterAid)
April (“Pro Terra Sancta” – for the Holy Land)
May (the Additional Curates Society)
June (the West London Kidney Patients Association)
July (Harrow Street Pastors)
August (Caritas Bakhita House)
September (Harrow Food Bank)
October (Freedom from Torture)
November (Alzheimers Society)
December (Crisis)

In addition to a donation from parish funds, each month we will invite members of the congregation to contribute to these external appeals. This month, we will be collecting for St Luke’s Hospice, serving the people of Harrow and Brent through the provision of specialist end-of-life and palliative care. There will be a basket in church for your donations, and a supply of Gift Aid envelopes from St Luke’s – which (if completed) increase the value of donations by UK taxpayers by 25%. It is particularly appropriate for us to support St Luke’s this month, given that Pope Francis has named his prayer intention for February “for the terminally ill” – that those at the end of their earthly lives, and their families, would always receive the necessary medical and human care and assistance. You can discover more about this prayer intention here – and we thank you in advance for your generosity.

Please note also that our Lent Appeal this year will be in support of WaterAid, providing clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene around the world. Resources for this appeal will be available in church soon.

Since the reintroduction of the chalice at Mass, we have also recently agreed that – to expedite the administration of Holy Communion at Sunday Mass – there should henceforward be two chalices. If you would like to volunteer occasionally as a chalice assistant, and as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, please speak to me. These appointments will in due course also be endorsed by the Bishop.

Attached to this message is a flier for a forthcoming special Mass on Sunday 3 March at 6pm, when the Willan Singers (who sang so beautifully for us in October last year) will visit us again, to sing Casciolini’s Missa Brevis in A Minor. Light refreshments will be served after this Mass, and we invite and encourage everyone to support it.

Please note that on Saturday next week (10 March) there will be no public Morning Prayer or morning Mass, as we will be attending the Forward in Faith (London) Pre-Lent Quiet Afternoon at St Pancras Old Church. There is still time to sign up for this lovely way to prepare our hearts for the season of Lent: the day will run from 12pm-3.30pm, and will include a light lunch – there is no charge, but donations are invited on the day. Those who would like to travel together from Kenton should gather at Harrow-on-the-Hill station at 10.50am.

In this Sunday’s second reading, St Paul reminds us (and the Corinthians) that we have received the priceless gifts of faith and salvation totally free of charge: the only adequate response on our part therefore can be generosity of spirit and thankfulness: may the Lord grant us open hearts and open hands…

Fr Richard