So the journey has started! After the final services at Christ Church last Sunday, the group moves to attending the Roman Catholic church and looks towards reception into the Church during Holy Week.
Fr Neil started Mass on Sunday by reading his resignation statement. This wasn’t wholly unexpected, and the PCC had been forewarned that it was going to happen; but there was still a surprised expression on a few faces around the congregation. It’s a great pity that it wasn’t possible in the Diocese of Chichester (among others) to soften the blow on the congregation of their Vicar’s departure. The churchwardens were required by law to give two months’ notice — the parish priest can only say, “This is the last time I will be able to celebrate the Mass with you all.”
Mass on the first Sunday of the month is an all-age service which caters more specifically for children, and in the sermon Fr Neil talked about moving and the new house he’d need, saying that — just like our faith — it needs to be founded on rock rather than sand. At the end of the service the churchwardens were presented with gifts as tokens of appreciation for their service, and after the final hymn O Christ the same there was time to chat over coffee before decamping to the church hall for lunch with pancakes. The final act of worship shared together was a short Service of the Word. Fr Neil doesn’t formally relinquish the office of Vicar until Palm Sunday, and everyone’s been invited to a lunch after their respective Masses then to catch up with news and say a final farewell.
And now Lent has started. Those who could attend during the day were among the congregation at S Agnes’ Church for Mass, and others will join the celebration at Our Lady of Ransom Church later on. During the morning Mass, Fr Raglan explained that Lent is a time of repentance, of preparation, of fasting, always looking forward to the joy of the Easter feast. The word “Lent” is of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning “Spring,” the lengthening of the day; and this is the springtime of our faith.
In common with John Henry Newman, under whose patronage the Ordinariate has been placed, we ask the Light to lead us on step by step till we reach our new spiritual home.