As we have previously announced, September sees the 50th anniversary of the opening of the present St Brigid’s Church. Today’s 3 Churches Mass reminds me that September also marks another, if shorter, anniversary – the tenth year of the 3 Churches working together. Yes, it will be ten years since Archbishop Peter Smith asked me to move from St Cadoc’s to be parish priest of St Brigid’s with St Paul’s, and Christ the King.
I remember him telling me that they were to remain two parishes – Christ the King on the one hand, and St Brigid’s/St Paul’s on the other. However, I quickly realised that perils lay ahead if such distinctions were allowed to dominate things. If this was to work it would have to be three churches, rather than two parishes, hence our website motto: “three churches, two parishes, one family”. Parishes are like individuals and families, they have their own “story”, and stories here had been quite different, in terms of traditions, leadership styles and so on.
I also quickly realised that it would be good to have a project to get people working together in a practical way. 2005 was to be the Year of the Eucharist, and so our 3 Churches Mass was born. The aim was, of course, principally to mark that special Year, but also to put people in touch with each other, to collaborate and cooperate in the planning and celebration of the Mass. This still remains the case. I am enormously grateful to all those many, many folks who help and have helped in the past to mark this annual occasion. I am especially grateful to those from all three churches who have worked with me over these ten years in the Working Group that plans and organises the day.
So let’s all enjoy our special Mass and celebration today – our tenth, including a few on Maundy Thursdays. Let’s continue to work ever more closely together, because that is what being Catholic means – not my church or my parish, but we, us, all together, one family in Christ, bound together by our shared faith, our bonds through the bishops of the world – and, as we mark in a particular way this year, the journey of the Sacraments that starts with Baptism.