Visit of Bishop Philip Egan

26th February 2023

With thanks to Audrey Curnock, Anne Burnham, Roland Quinney, and Fr. Claro for photos and videos

Bishop Philip writes…

Last Sunday, I paid a brief Pastoral Visitation to the parish of Blessed Hugh Faringdon in Buckland and Faringdon, right up in the far north-west of the Diocese on the borders of Clifton Diocese and the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The parish is in the care of Fr. Claro Conde, who is also the chaplain to the Filipino and Chinese communities in the Diocese. The church was packed for the Mass at 10 o’clock with a number of children and young families and it was striking how ethnically mixed the parish community is. There was a presentation at the end of the Mass from a Ukrainian family that had recently moved into the parish. After the Mass, the whole congregation joined in a short procession outside the church and around the town centre in order that the Bishop could bless the town and its inhabitants and also that the Catholic community could give a witness to everyone of their Christian faith. We were joined for this by members of the Churches Together group, which is strong in the area. We then piled into the parish hall for a communal meal that had been provided by various parishioners and groups. It was a blessed visitation and pleasing to see many people so committed to their faith.
(from Portsmouth Diocese eNews)

Fr. Claro writes…

Many thanks for your presence last Sunday. The church was overflowing and very much alive in Liturgy. Thanks for those who prepared and served the food, the drinks and the hall. Delicious!  Food Glorious food. Many of you were disappointed including myself that the Bishop did not sit at the table prepared for him. He does this in every visit, he does not sit at table and eat so he can have more time to walk around, meet, listen and talk with the people. He did give a lot of time for us at the hall. He also wanted to have a private meeting with me at a pub.

The bishop insisted that he stopped at the procession and blessed the town of Faringdon. He also met local folks on the way and wee chat with some.

We visited the church in Buckland. We were not able to get a table at the Lamb as I had no booking. He was surprised that the local people in the street and the pub know me. He had a meeting at Snooty with Indian/Bangladesh cuisine.

He was grateful for all we do in the parish and the Diocese. Many big churches he visited did not have many people as we had. He was glad of my well-being and the support and care of the parishioners. He was amazed at the different ministries we have which he did not find in other big churches. I told him that the church is the people of God, not so much the building. Usually, the bishop lectures us what to do. In our case, he learned a lot from us from our Court of the Gentile lectures, Ethnic ministries, music ministries, youth ministries etc. He also thanks us for our financial contributions to the parish and Diocese.

He will tell these experiences to other parishes. Many parishes have big programs but nobody or few or same people to implement them. We don’t great programs as such but we rely on our people sharing their time, talents and treasure with great flexibility. We are people oriented, not programme oriented.

The Bishop will keep us in his prayers. Let us also keep him in our prayers too.

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