Dear friends,

Thank you so much to all whose hard work, good humour and generosity made our Patronal Festival celebrations (and my first anniversary as your Parish Priest) last weekend such a success! It was a joy to see so many at Mass; and a personal thank you from me for your prayers, gifts and best wishes.

This coming weekend there will be two opportunities to support the parish’s social and charitable outreach: on Saturday, 30 September, in the Hall 10.30am-3pm we will be hosting our annual Macmillan Coffee Morning. Do come along (and bring family and friends), to enjoy hot coffee and tea, and delicious homemade cakes, all in support of Macmillan Cancer Care. Cash donations are preferred, but there is also the ability to donate digitally, via QR code.

Then, on Sunday, we will celebrate our Harvest Festival, and gratefully receive your donations for distribution by the Harrow Food Bank. The soaring cost of living means that more and more local people are being pushed to crisis point and need to use the Food Bank: never before has the Harrow Food Bank had a stock shortfall, but it does so this year – and so your donations of long-life food, and household essentials, are more necessary than ever. You can consult the list of required items here.

After Mass this Sunday, there will also be a short meeting to plan the remaining parish social events for this year, which include the parish party after the Confirmation on Sunday 5 November (at 5pm), and our pre-Christmas Fair, the morning of Saturday 25 November. These events, while highly enjoyable, also require a lot of hard work – but this hard work is made a little easier when everyone plays their part. Please stop behind after Mass to help us put in motion the necessary plans for these exciting times together!

This Sunday is also the first of five Sundays on which the Church of England requires us to collect Mass attendance statistics: as I’ve highlighted recently, we believe we’ve grown our Sunday attendance by more than 30% over the past year – but we now need the numbers to prove it! We’ve had a great turnout over the two most recent Sundays (68 and 79 worshippers respectively – rising to more than 80 when additional weekday attendance is included as well): please now keep up the hard work and faithfulness.

Many of you will by now also have received a stewardship update from me by post: I attach the text of this letter for those who haven’t. As you will read, the generous uptick of more than 30% in congregational giving mirrors our increasing Mass attendance – and, crucially, makes possible so much of our parish mission, the aim of which is to draw more people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church. Despite no shortage of future challenges, nevertheless there is much about which to be optimistic: our careful stewardship of our energy usage, for example, means a likely reduction of our gas and electricity charges next year of more than £4,000; and, just today, I have received the pledge of an amazing donation to pay for the illumination of our church tower, a beacon on Kenton’s skyline. Be a part of the blessings which God is presently showering upon us – and, if you feel able, please now make a Harvest thank-offering for the work and witness of St Mary’s, and/or review or establish a regular gift. You can donate online (one-off or regular giving) here.

The Stanmore Choral Society invite us to their next concert at St Mary’s, on Saturday, 4 November at 7pm. Tickets (£15/free) are available online here, and a poster is attached.

Our life together as a parish family is a precious gift to be cherished: as St Paul says in this Sunday’s second reading, from his letter to the Philippians, we must ‘be united in [our] convictions and united in [our] love, with a common purpose and a common mind.’ So let us celebrate our faith with a renewed commitment to worship; and let us celebrate our love through acts of service – to God, to our neighbours in this community, and to one another in the household of faith.

With gratitude for your generosity and faithfulness, and rejoicing in our faithful and generous God:

Fr Richard