The last days of the year will follow our Christmas celebrations and soon 2022 will begin. It’s impossible to say farewell to 2021 without first saying a strong word of thanks to all who have given time, energy and support to the parish during this very trying year. We have been carrying on the life and ministry of the Church every single day, but few of those days were usual, normal or familiar. We had a legion of challenges with lockdowns, limited numbers, meetings restricted to Zoom and little or none of the simple, ordinary ways of getting together and sharing time in each other’s company.

Parish life is complex. If you were asked why do we have this particular way of being church together your answer would begin to unpack this complexity. We have always known that the family is the domestic church, the first school of love, the natural place to come to know and respond to God’s presence. We are very aware of the universal church, with Pope Francis presiding over the Vatican and all the laws which we follow because we are Church.

But what about the parish then? Surely this is in fact the ‘family of families” the sharing in the community in our common life. Hence, we have a parish church for worship and praise of God, clergy and staff to prepare and offer the sacraments. The parish centre adds another dimension to this life putting a roof over so many parish activities. Schools too, give more depth as the Catholic education of our children is a priority, and such good work is done on their behalf. A myriad of ministries gives parishioners with their variety of gifts an outlet to be active and alive in service of others.

Gathering together, sharing prayer and praise and being busy with looking after the poor and the vulnerable, demands the dedication, time and generosity of parishioners and endless cooperation of many people.

The hardest part of living through the pandemic has been maintaining the energy in the parish, giving people the chance to participate in a broad variety of activity. We struggle to find and train new volunteers, to support the existing members of all the groups and have farewell events to mark retirements and farewells.

Yet here we are as the year comes to a close happy and proud of all that we have done together. We couldn’t have kept it all going without the prayers, support and actions of so many people. So, a huge thank you, may God bless you and your families and all you love. We pray together for the year ahead and ask God to free us and the whole world from this pandemic and to bring us to a better place. Never give up!