The year 2011 – the 75th anniversary of the consecration of St Mary’s – began with bitterly cold weather with snow and ice covering the church.
The Bishop of London put St Mary’s and other Fulham Jurisdiction parishes in the care of the Bishop of Edmonton, Bishop PeterWheatley.
The interregnum proved that the people of St Mary’s can come together and keep the Parish alive for the greater glory of God. Interregnums can also be times of opportunity and growth and this we saw. St Mary’s had benefitted from having two honorary retired Priests to care for us during the interregnum. Fr John Metivier and Fr Malcolm Gray gave so graciously of their time and energy that it was easy to forget we were in an interregnum.
On the 11 January 2011 Bishop Peter Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Northolt, and Richard Bartlett, Area Dean, joined the PCC for the Section 12 meeting. The section 12 meeting was held to exchange views on the parish profile and also to confirm with the PCC the requirements of the parish with regards to recruiting the new Incumbent and to confirm the passing of Resolutions A,B,& C at the Section 11 meeting held on Sunday 12 December 2010. It was stated that we would like the new vicar to guide us to establish a Mission Action Plan. Ken Elliott and Trish Royle, Churchwardens were elected to be the Parish Representatives.
The PCC agreed that the vacancy should be advertised in New Directions and that interviews should take place at the end of March 2011. We prayed that our new Parish Priest will uphold the Catholic tradition we believe in at St Mary’s.
Prospective candidates were welcomed to visit the church and vicarage prior to the interviews. On the day of the interviews, 22 March, six members of the congregation were invited to join the interview party for lunch prepared by the catering team.
Bishop Peter Wheatley Bishop of Edmonton and acting Bishop of Fulham and Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Northolt joined the Parish Representatives for the interviews. After lunch the prospective candidates left and more discussions followed. The Parish Representatives were unanimous in their decision and Bishop Peter Wheatley offered the Incumbency to Fr Edward John Lewis, Chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen.
On 20 May, Father Edward Lewis became the Seventh Vicar of St Mary’s. Fr Edward was an experienced priest who had spent much of his ministry in the world of Hospital Chaplaincy. He was also a Chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen.
The Induction was in the context of Mass celebrated by Bishop Peter Wheatley, acting bishop of Fulham. Fr Edward came in like a breath of fresh air and gave us a new zest for life on our spiritual journey. Long may it continue! The church was full with many people coming from St John’s Watford to support Fr Edward. Much work was done in preparing the Church for the Induction, as well as a magnificent banquet afterwards. Within a couple of weeks of the Induction, Katherine, Fr Edward’s wife had joined the choir.
There was hardly time to catch breath from the Induction before we were celebrating Fr John Metivier’s Golden Jubilee of Priesthood. Over 400 people packed St Mary’s on Saturday 25th June. The memories of that happy day will linger for a long time. The love and esteem in which Fr John was held not only in the parish but far beyond, was clear for all to see. After this celebration, Fr John, his wife Elizabeth and his daughter Ruth flew to Trinidad to continue the celebrations in the Cathedral where he was ordained.
The PCC agreed unanimously that the church was in need of redecoration. A team of decorators began work in the summer and apart from a break over the Christmas period worked continuously. Most people were excited at the prospect of seeing a clean church but a few were apprehensive and a few even suggested that it would be wrong to take away the years of grime. But as the weeks went by, everyone was won over. Daniel and his team worked wonders and in all the mess of paint and scaffolding the Mass was said daily.
The 75th Anniversary season started in September and ran through to December. We took as our challenge, words of Our Lady recorded in John Chapter 2 v 5, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
A PCC Away Day was led by Fr Alan Brown Ob CR. This was to discuss the vision for the next year under a new incumbent. Fr Alan followed this day up by preaching the next day. A range of visiting preachers helped us to celebrate 75 years of witness to the true and living God.
Canon Fr Jonathan Goodall, Fr David Clues, Fr Harri Williams and the Archdeacon of Chichester were happy to help us celebrate. Fr David Clues preached on St Leonard’s Day, Fr Harri Williams preached for Christ the King and the Archdeacon of Chichester preached on the first Sunday in Advent.
The Lord Bishop of London celebrated the 75th Patronal Festival with us in September. That was preceded by an open day during which over 100 people came into the church. A new history of the Church was compiled by Trish Royle. A number of postcards and other memorabilia were produced to help celebrate this happy time. The season concluded with our Bishop Peter celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Consecration on December 3rd. We welcomed Bishop Lindsay Urwin OGS as preacher – Bishop Lindsay making a welcome return after his much remembered mission to the parish some years ago.
Bishop Robert Ladds (assistant bishop in the Diocese) also joined us, as did Fr David Sherwood (fifth vicar). Former curates, local clergy and visitors were all thrilled to be invited. Former Curates Fr Christopher Hardy, Fr Michael Moorhead, Fr David Parker (curate when Fr Shearing was Vicar), Fr Desmond Proberts (curate when Fr Johnson was Vicar) and Fr Peter Vannozzi concelebrated at the Mass. Fr David Bone left St Mary’s as an eighteen year-old back in Fr Johnson’s time and was delighted to be back in St Mary’s as a Priest. Fr Richard Andrew and Fr Mark Elliott Smith, both now Roman Catholics, were also at the Mass, as was Fr Michael Bedford who had helped out during the interregnum after Fr David Sherwood retired. Shelagh Smith had been at the Consecration 75 years before: her father-in-law was the organist Fr Johnson referred to as ‘Doc’. Anita Brown (widow of Fr Richard Brown) was also pleased to join in the celebrations. Many people who had once worshipped at St Mary’s but moved away, made the journey back. Others, including former curates who could not come on the day, wrote lovingly of their time at St Mary’s. Thus ended a very happy period of celebration.
The PCC unanimously agreed to the installation of inner glass doors at the west end of the church, and to install automatic ringing bells. The Angelus chimes three times every day. The new glass inner doors at the west end have brought light to that part of the church and let people see in. They remind us as a congregation to look out as well. In January 2011 the Quinquennial Inspection of the church and hall took place. Ms Beate Neumarkel, our architect presented the report. Recommendations were that the flat roofs over the Link and hall needed replacing and repairs to the roof valleys over the St Leonard’s Chapel were needed. Instead of lead a new product called Ubiflex was used in the valleys and a team of roofers carried out the work during the summer.
Christmas at St Mary’s began with Lessons and Carols, the crib service and Midnight Mass. Many visitors joined us for the Midnight Mass and Mass of the Day. Fr Phillip Corbett preached on the Sunday of the Epiphany.