On Sunday, I had the pleasure of taking my niece Mary and her fiancé, Bobby out for lunch. They are a great couple and I am really looking forward to solemnising their marriage in the summer. An added bonus is that it means a trip out to France for the weekend. This will be the first weekend I have taken away from the parish for a couple of years but I think it is justified!
My brother, Gerry, died in 1979, aged 23. A few years later, his wife, Frances, married again and moved to France. So Mary is fluently bilingual. After passing her Baccalaureat, she did her degree in New Zealand in computing and accountancy. As a sideline she studied Spanish and surprised her kiwi tutor by speaking Spanish with a French accent!
The wedding is to be at the Eglise St Martin in Les Allues, Mary's home for much of her youth. Les Allues is in the Trois Vallées skiing area. I spent a wonderful week there a few years ago, skiing in Méribel, just up the valley. I remember a glorious lunchtime, sipping white wine on the ridge between Méribel and Courchevel with Mont Blanc behind us and paragliders floating down in front of us.
The elderly French priest in the parish is a thoroughly pastoral Curé of the old school - by which I do not mean that he is "traditional" in liturgy etc. but that his life is entirely lived for the people in his care. He has a great interest in English which he uses to make announcements to the sizeable number of English visitors that come to his Church in the skiing season.
The picture of Mary and Bobby was taken at another family wedding - that of my niece Rebekah to James in August 2004. Rebekah told me that her dress would be a surprise. I thought "Look, I'm a bloke, what do I know about wedding dresses. Sure, I suppose it will be very nice." But it was indeed a surprise...