Tuesday, 23 September 2014
My latest "stock photo" for the Church: the stained glass window on the (liturgical) North of the sanctuary, showing our two principal patrons at Margate, St Austin and St Gregory. Since Robert Dalby Reeve is recorded as dedicating the window in memory of his wife Iesse who died in 1905, I should ask you to say a prayer for her.
Moving to more mundane matters, I have discovered Aldi. I did visit a Lidl at Foots Cray once, but it was a bit rubbish. The massive Aldi on Northdown Road, however, it another thing all together. On getting home, I looked up the website and saw the funny adverts that they have been running. I was particularly pleased because I had been looking for a cheap laminator and had got fed up with one of the large stationery stores who ran the old con of having a cheap one on display but then not having it in stock. Aldi supplied me with an A3 machine for £18.99. I also managed to find a good office stationery store which, like another one I saw a few days ago, does a line in cheap printing. These things all help to save money: an important concern in a small parish where not everyone is flush with cash by any means.
In fact, we have a long-running scheme whereby parish volunteers collect funds, go shopping, and then staff the door for several hours to give out about fifty food parcels each week to the needy, containing a variety of basic essentials. Parishioners also support this work by fundraising and direct donations of food and it has been going for decades - long before the recent "Food Bank" thing. It is great to inherit such a going concern putting into practice the corporal works of mercy.
Another feature of the parish is illustrated by this photo I took while I was exploring Northdown Road:
I have already met many Eastern Europeans, some of whom have little English, and tried an excellent Lithuanian restaurant, Rickus, which overlooks the Main Sands. So as well as a few more words of Polish I'm going to need to try and learn some simple expressions in several other languages. With all these different languages being spoken in the parish, it would be nice if the Church had some universal language that was the same for everyone. Oh wait ...
Sunday, 21 September 2014
Minster is highly significant for English Catholicism since St Augustine landed in the parish, and monastic life began there in the late seventh century. The first Abbess of the associated nunnery was St Mildred, and the remains of the Saxon Abbey are still part of what is now the Benedictine Abbey of Minster, making it the oldest inhabited house in England.
I was taken to Minster for Sunday lunch today ("The Corner House" if you are interested - excellent family-run restaurant) and had a chance to see the Norman Church (above), and the Abbey, and to walk around the village. The Abbey is a place that I shall be visiting often: as well as their lovely chapel, the nuns have a conference centre called "Parkminster" which is a venue for many things organised in the Deanery. I understand that Vespers is at 6pm each day and that my brother clergy are often to be found there, so I am glad to have learnt the route.
Speaking of routes, I decided that it would save me a bit of time in a new place if I finally bought myself a satnav. So I got the cheapest TomTom the other day. Once I have discovered all the built-in options and used it for a few months, I'll probably hack it just for fun :-) This evening I used it to get over to Ramsgate without having to study a map for the best route.
I'm getting to know more parishioners, the children from the school did the readings beautifully at the early Mass, the servers were great, it was another glorious day in Thanet, and I am still tempted to pinch myself to check that I am not dreaming.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
The beautiful Lady Chapel at St Austin and St Gregory Margate is certainly one of the highlights of our Church. I posted the above picture after my first visit to see the parish back in June. You can see something of the altar, but not much detail of the stained glass windows above it. One of the parishioners took some photos a while back and let me have copies of them. I put together the two windows so that you can see them side by side (click to enlarge):
I think these are absolutely gorgeous examples of Victorian glass.
There is a rich devotional life in the parish as part of the normal weekly schedule, with Lauds before Mass on Tuesday, Rosary on Wednesday, and adoration on Thursday. On Saturday after Mass, there is the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. It is great to come to a parish and find all these things already in place. The Novena is said at the Lady Chapel, and I have started saying the Monday evening Mass there. Notice also the fine votive candle stands which are in regular use - and are kept spotless.
The devotional life of the parish is matched by real practical work for the poor. More about that soon.
Monday, 8 September 2014
Each parish has its own local acronyms. Here in Margate, everyone knows "QEQM": Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital ("part of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust") One of my standing-start tasks is to get to grips with all the procedures for visiting, being on call, managing other visitors and managing incoming information about who needs to be visited. I think I'm getting there and managed a full pastoral visit today (I hope) seeing everyone on the list that we have. There is also a hospice next to the hospital and I visited there today as well.
First impressions are of a very friendly place. Before I came to Margate, several people said to me in a slightly mystical way that Kent people are different from South London people. One thing does seem to be that everyone is a bit more peaceful. When I was looking at the hospital maps to try to learn by heart where the various wards are, several staff members of different ranks asked me if they could help.
By way of getting to know the area, I thought it would be a good idea to find my way to Broadstairs once I had finished at QEQM. The photo above is of Viking Bay this afternoon where I got something to eat. After evening Mass, I took a walk down to the sea front back in Margate, hoping to get a photo of the sunset, but I left it just a little too late. Nevertheless, my new camera got its first outing and caught the "fast departing light" over the Main Sands.
The walk back through the old town and up Hawley Street involves a moderate hill and I am already feeling a little fitter and more physically energetic with the sea air and a bit more exercise. Maybe I will get that bicycle people were talking about! Not yet, though.
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Last night I was as physically tired as I have been for some time. Although I had some generous help moving my stuff down to Margate, I had just finished several days of increasingly urgent packing, taking boxes of books downstairs, and taking other boxes of things to the skip behind the Club in Blackfen. My first day in Margate was wonderful in respect of the lovely people here, the beautiful Church and getting to know the presbytery, the warren of rooms next to the Church, and taking a long walk all around the town centre, the Harbour Arm, the Turner Contemporary and round the old town a couple of times.
After checking through various papers kindly left by my predecessor and getting to know where everything is, I finally set up my own computer temporarily in the parish office, hence the opportunity to post something this evening with just a few photos from my mobile. I now have a new Big Camera, so there should be more Margate sunsets and photos of the Church from different angles before too long. Above you can see the seafront from the Harbour Arm, and here is the Clock Tower:
I went shopping at Morrisons early this evening and decided to take a short drive afterwards to Palm Bay - because I can now! This is my first attempt at capturing the Margate sunset:
Here is the view over the sea from the Turner with a minimalist work by Edmund de Waal with vessels displayed to capture the changing light. There are mats to borrow so that you can lie on the floor to view them from underneath (I didn't):
I find myself thanking God heartily for so many things here, not least the welcome that I have been given, and the wonderful state in which Canon Smith has left the parish. This morning started with the regular holy hour from 8-9am before Mass, part of a rich devotional life that has built up over the years.
I'm not quite so tired this evening, but expect to sleep soundly and well thanks to the healthy sea air.