Dear friends,

Last week was undeniably a dramatic Sunday, over which, nonetheless, Mass attendance again surpassed 60 – congratulations! As our 2023 Stewardship Campaign – “With Gratitude and Hope” – concluded, I asked all members of our parish family prayerfully to reflect upon their financial contribution to St Mary’s, and then to complete and return a Pledge Form (and Gift Aid Declaration, as appropriate): thank you to those who have already done so. Thank you likewise very much to those who have made one-off donations in support of our parish, and/or who have reviewed and amended their regular giving.

This weekend is Mothering Sunday, and – as I suggested last week – thus an ideal occasion to come to church as a family: especially to those who may be being celebrated and treated by relatives this weekend, I encourage you to remind them that the greatest gift would be for them to accompany you to church. There will be the customary Mothering Sunday gifts for distribution at Mass on Sunday, as well as a beautiful exploration of the maternal figure of Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, with interactive reference to the healing ministries offered at her Shrine. On that note, we are still waiting for more pilgrims to add their names to the list in church for our upcoming joint parish pilgrimage to Walsingham, 6-9 June: please sign up as soon as possible.

Included below is a flier for the principal liturgies of Holy Week 2023: there will also be a sign-up sheet, for various volunteer ministries, at the back of church. Please note times and dates now, and make every effort to share in the prayer and worship offered at St Mary’s and elsewhere during the most sacred week of the Christian year. As doubtless you would appreciate, the worthy celebration of Holy Week requires enormous effort “behind the scenes”: in particular, please come along for an hour or two on Holy Saturday morning, 8 April, from 9am, for the church’s big Spring Clean.

There are various names applied to the Fourth Sunday of Lent – Mothering Sunday perhaps the best-known of them. But, along with Lætare (Rejoicing) Sunday, another name for this Sunday is Refreshment Sunday, marking more or less the halfway point on our journey towards Easter. Sundays, of course, are exempt from Lenten penitential disciplines – but this Sunday in particular is an opportunity to catch our breath, to relax and to take stock – a theme beautifully reflected in the twenty-third psalm, which we will use as our responsorial psalm this weekend: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. / Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. / Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.’ I invite you to join us this weekend at Mass, when – in a manner most appropriate to Mothering Sunday – we will pause with the Lord beside restful waters, and receive from His sacramental Self graces in abundance to revive and restore.

May His goodness and kindness accompany you now and always,

Fr Richard