A touch of divine tenderness – at the One Parish Mass


No words of mine can ever adequately express my deep gratitude to the wonderful community of SS Joseph & Swithun for the human/divine celebration that was the One Parish Mass. Nothing could have been more appropriate to celebrate our shared pilgrimage of faith over the past 13 years.

Different images come to mind as I seek to express my experience of the day. One is that of a great orchestra making divine music with every section, note and instrument coming in with perfect timing adding to the beauty and splendour of the whole.

A second image is that of ‘engraving’, the role of a priest ministering in a parish and being ministered to by the people he is called to love. It is a sacred call. It is a privileged place to be, sharing the special moments in the lives of people, joy and sorrows, times of celebration, birth and death, arrivals and departures. On Sunday, I looked out on a sea of faces rich in diversity and attire all acting in their appointed role, singing in harmony with music, song and dance, all praising and thanking God.

Underneath all of that, I was conscious of how much and how deep their lives, their joys and sorrows, successes and stumblings were engraved in my heart and soul. These are the people I love and I know, love me. Thank you for gathering together the fragments of our lives into one beautiful reality, of One Body, One Spirit, praising and thanking God.

All this finds its splendid expression in all of your thoughtful and much appreciated gifts from the parish, school and a range of other groups. However, I think you will agree that the genius of the artistic and beautiful expression of the Dove, the Holy Spirit on the serving dish claims our attention and appreciation beyond all else. This was presented on behalf of the children and staff of our school by Anne-Marie Strachan, our wonderful Head Teacher. I will treasure it as I will treasure you, all the days of my life.

Every child in the school represented by their fingerprint through a little coloured dot, that by divine action in us becomes a Dove of hope, peace and service.

Yes, a touch of Divine Tenderness that is us caring for our world, our shared home.

Below is a selection of photos from a truly memorable One Parish Mass on Sunday 30 June 2019. Photos courtesy of Hamish Purdey.