Dear friends,

And, just like that, a whole year has (almost!) passed since you and I first began walking this pilgrim way together, and you welcomed me as your new parish priest, during a stunning service twelve months ago this weekend. And, truly, what a year it has been since!

I warmly invite you to join me this weekend as we celebrate our Patronal Festival, in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham. The guest preacher at Mass on Sunday will be Fr William Davage, who first met me some Septembers previous – 17 years ago, to be exact! – when I went up to university as an undergraduate. After Mass there will be a party in the Hall, to which all are welcome: thank you to those who have kindly offered to bring something to share – any further donations of finger food would be gratefully appreciated! If, for whatever reason, you are unable to come to St Mary’s on Sunday morning, do instead join us at the Saturday evening 6pm Vigil Mass – after which we will also share light refreshments and a glass of something sparkling!

Be it unto me according to thy Word‘: such is the expression of humble trust in God and willing service for which all generations have called Our Lady blessed – and, as we prepare to enter a second year in God’s service together, this should be our common mantra too. We have much for which to be thankful: new faces besides my own, and those returning to regular worship, have swelled our congregational numbers by more than 30% in comparison with the same time last year – indeed, just last Sunday, attendance was almost 50% higher than in October 2022! Likewise our average weekly attendance across the full schedule of services has steadily increased, again by up to 50%. And, at the same time as numbers in church have increased, so has our financial support for St Mary’s – again, by a solid third.

Of course, and speaking frankly, it has not always been easy – and there remains so much more still to do. But I can say with confidence that I humbly believe I am where the Lord wants me to be, here in Kenton – and so, with Our Lady of Walsingham, my prayer for the future is, ‘Be it unto me according to thy Word.’

Please note that next week there will be no evening services on Tuesday, 26 September – and no Morning Prayer on Thursday 28. On Sunday, 1 October we will keep our Harvest Festival: please contribute your donations of food and household essentials for the Harrow FoodBank next Saturday or Sunday, according to the list of items required here. There will also be a planning meeting after Mass on 1 October to look at future parish social events: please support this short meeting, and note also that the Caribbean Evening has been postponed from 21 October until next year. A parish calendar for the remainder of this year is attached to this message: please note in particular the forthcoming Macmillan Coffee Morning (30 September) and the visit from the Willan Singers on Sunday, 15 October to accompany a sung Mass of Requiem at 6pm, with the well-known and beautiful setting by Fauré.

Also attached is a newsletter from Forward in Faith (London).

Lord, for that word, the word of life which fires us,
speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,
teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:
Lord of the word, receive Your people’s praise

With my prayers and best wishes, as your father and your friend,

Fr Richard