Dear friends,

Although today the church is in use as a polling station for the General Election, yet the round of daily worship continues unchanged – with Morning Prayer at 9.45am; Evening Prayer at 5.45pm, and Mass at 6pm. As our temporary welcome display – which gives a snapshot of our life and worship as a parish – explains, while the cross we place on our ballot papers is important, there is another Cross which is more important still. We pray for those standing for election to Parliament, and for all who occupy high office; we also acknowledge that Christ is in truth our King, and it is to him – especially in the Eucharist – that we offer our first allegiance. (Even if St Mary’s is not your own polling station, do pop in either to attend one of today’s services, and/or to view our welcome display – a modest but important part of our outreach to our neighbours in this local community.)

At the halfway point in the calendar year, it is also an apposite moment to review our achievements under God thus far: as I wrote to you last week, it is a cause of great joy that we have been able to reach out in support of other charities via external giving so far this year totalling nearly £8,400 (including £450 for the West London Kidney Patients Association last month) – at the same time as we have secured grant funding for our own projects and activities of more than £23,500. We look forward to the arrival of a pastoral assistant in September; to further work with our local schools – and to our participation in this year’s Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage: please bring to church any donations of biscuits (not chocolate), individual cereal boxes and individual cakes/cake bars, for our young people. Mass attendance has increased on 2023: however, Usual Sunday Attendance so far of 59 is below our target of 61 (which would represent a 10% increase on the previous year, against an actual achievement of 7%) – and only you, the faithful, can alter that figure moving forward. Please then make the Mass a priority, each and every week. (Average Sunday Attendance Jan – Jul was 66, and overall Average Weekly Attendance 79).

Another opportunity to visit Our Lady’s Shrine at Walsingham comes in the form of the Pilgrimage for Healing and Renewal, on Bank Holiday Monday, 26 August. As last year, we will be sharing a coach with our friends from St Andrew, Kingsbury and elsewhere: the cost is £20pp (£5 under-18) – please sign up in church, and pay for your ticket, as places are limited to just 20. This Pilgrimage proved very popular last year, and we hope will be so again: as well as a Mass in the Shrine grounds, the day includes the ministries of healing, including sprinkling with Walsingham water, the laying-on of hands and anointing.

The forecast for our forthcoming Parish Barbecue this Saturday is fair: please see Pat ASAP to purchase any final tickets. We require volunteers to help set up the Hall on Friday evening from 7pm (and to marinate the chicken!); we likewise require volunteers to help set up the barbecues on Saturday, from 12 noon – at which time you can also bring to the Hall your kind donations of sides, salads and desserts to share. Remember also to bring your own drinks (although a glass of rum punch or fruit punch will be included with your ticket, on arrival) – as well as some more spare cash for the raffle.

This Sunday at Mass, we will welcome our friends Fr Bernard and Jenny Dagnall: Fr Bernard will celebrate his eightieth birthday this summer, and there will be a card for you to sign in church. All are also welcome to Fr Bernard’s birthday celebrations in Oxford, on Saturday, 17 August at St John’s, New Hinksey – see the invitation on the board in church for further information.

The late Peter Coe will be received into church on Thursday next week, 11 July at 4.30pm – and Mass will then be celebrated as usual at 6pm. Mass will be celebrated as usual on Friday, 12 July at 9.30am – and Peter’s own Funeral Requiem will be in church at 11am (followed by the committal at Breakspear Crematorium at 12.30pm, and then a reception at St Andrew, Roxbourne – to which all are welcome). Donations in memory of Peter, and in aid of Diabetes UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, can be made online here – or otherwise in person in church, using the dedicated envelopes on either Thursday or Friday next week.

Please note that there will be no public Morning Prayer next week on Tuesday, 9 August. Throughout July we will be receiving donations in support of the work of Harrow Street Pastors. Please find attached to this mailing details of a celebration for Jamaican Independence Day on Saturday, 3 August (in the Westminster Chapel) – and a Mass for the Assumption at St Luke, Uxbridge Road on Sunday, 18 August at 5pm. Please note that our own celebration of the Assumption of Our Lady will be on Thursday, 15 August at the usual time of 6pm – and followed by light refreshments.

May Christ the cornerstone, elect and precious, be forever the firm foundation of your lives,

Fr Richard