Dear friends,

‘[The] Lord is at my side, a mighty hero‘: so sings the prophet Jeremiah in our first reading this Sunday, voicing a note of resolute hope and confidence in the face of the challenges of life. With similar resolute hope and confidence I am also pleased to write to you this week, and to share with you first two pieces of enormously encouraging news as we continue to pray God’s blessings upon our parish. Mass attendance last weekend was a mighty 76, the highest figure for an ordinary Sunday in many weeks at St Mary’s! It was a delight to welcome new and returning worshippers: let us thank God, and let us keep up the good work. If you have not been to Mass in a while, please know that you are a cherished part of our parish family, and we would love to see you again.

Earlier this year, we embarked upon a somewhat dramatic financial stewardship campaign, to consolidate our resources for mission and ministry. It is my pleasure to report that income from voluntary giving in the first six months of this year was double that received in the same period last year: in just six months this year, we have exceeded our whole-year income for 2022 from weekly and Gift Aid envelopes, and contactless donations; income from Standing Orders is up over 50%. A heartfelt thank you to all who have reviewed their offerings in support of our parish – and an encouragement to those who have yet to do the same! I will be writing to the congregation in the autumn to reflect on our stewardship campaign – but congratulations, and praise God, for the wonderful results so far! ‘In your great love, answer me, O God, with your help that never fails.

There will be a PCC meeting immediately after Mass this Sunday; this Sunday is also the final opportunity to sign up to come to the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace on Sunday, 9 July. Please also purchase your tickets for our forthcoming Parish Barbecue on Saturday, 15 July – and do share your offers of food and drink for this and the meeting of Harrow Deanery Synod on Tuesday, 4 July.

You can continue to sign up in church for our parish outing to St Alban’s on Saturday, 5 August: we are able to offer subsidised return coach travel for this outing, at just £10/£5 (under-18s). There will also be a list in church if you wish to come on a day trip to Walsingham on Bank Holiday Monday, 28 August – for the Pilgrimage for Healing and Renewal. The cost of travel by coach will be £20/£10 (under-16s): please sign up before 13 August.

Sunday, 9 July is also “Sea Sunday”, when we pray in particular for those engaged in maritime activities. There will be a special collection for the important work of the Mission to Seafarers – and envelopes will be available for this next weekend.

Let the heavens and the earth give [God] praise, the sea and all its living creatures.‘ And let us live our lives as hymns of praise to our loving, heavenly Father – rejoicing in His blessings, and participating in His mission, this week and throughout the future.

Fr Richard