I saw him in our church for the first time on Wednesday. He was in his mid-70′s, with thinning silver hair and a neat brown suit. Many times in the past I had invited him to come to church. Several other friends had talked to him about God and the Sacraments and had tried to share our faith with him. He was a well-respected, honest man with so many characteristics a Catholic should have, but he had never accepted Christ, nor entered the doors of the church. “Have you ever been to Mass in your life?” I had asked him a few years ago. We had just finished a pleasant day of visiting and talking. He hesitated. Then with a bitter smile he told me of his childhood experience some sixty years ago. He was one of many children in a large impoverished family. His parents had struggled to provide food, with little left for housing and clothing. When he was about ten, some neighbours invited him to come to Mass. He had never heard such songs and stories before! He had never heard anyone read from the Bible! After Mass was over, one of the parishioners took him aside and said, “Son, please don’t come again dressed as you are now. We want to look our best when we come into God’s house.” He stood in his ragged, unpatched overalls. Then looking at his worn-out shoes, he answered softly, “No, missus, I won’t-ever.” “And I never did,” he said, abruptly ending our conversation. There must have been other factors to have hardened him so, but this experience formed a significant part of the bitterness in his heart. I ‘m sure that parishioner meant well. But did she really understand the love of Christ? What if she had put her arms around the dirty, ragged little boy and said, “Son, I am so glad you are here, and I hope you will come back every chance you get to hear more about Jesus and pray with us.” I reflected on the awesome responsibility a parishioner, a teacher, a priest or a parent has to welcome little ones in His name. How far-reaching her influence was! I prayed that I might be ever open to the tenderness of a child’s heart, and that I might never fail to see beyond the appearance and behaviour of a child to the eternal possibilities within. However, I did see him in the church for the first time on Wednesday last. As I looked at that immaculately dressed old gentleman lying in his coffin before the altar, I thought of the little boy of long ago. I could almost hear him say, “No, missus, I won’t-ever.” And I wept for him and for me also.
St Ethelbert’s Parish, Deane Bolton are going to Schoenstatt in Germany at the end of May this year. There are places available for anyone who would like to join. The trip is from Saturday 25th May until Thursday 30th May 2013.
The group will be staying at the beautiful Marienau Retreat House just a few minutes walk from the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt. The five day pilgrimage includes sight-seeing in Schoenstatt with a visit to the Adoration Church and Father Kentenich Visitor’s Centre and Holy Mass in the Original Shrine. There will be a full day excursion on a boat to Boppart on the Rhine, a coach trip to Coblence for sight-seeing and shopping and a wine-tasting afternoon with an exclusive visit to the vineyards.
Costs: Prices include return flights from Manchester to Frankfurt, full-board accommodation in a double room with en-suite facilities, all coach trips, wine-tasting and visit to the vineyards, boat trip to Boppart, airport transfers by coach in Germany and all airport taxes.
Price per person £595.00
Supplement for a single room: £50.00.
We would ask you to pay a deposit of £280 per person to secure the flight reservations by 22nd February 2013.
Contact: Fr. Duncan McVicar
St Ethelbert’s Presbytery
Wigan Road, Deane
Bolton BL3 5QJ.
Where: at the Shrine, St John Fisher’s Kearsley BL4 8QQ
Time: Holy Mass at 3.30pm followed by a shared meal. We finish at 6.30pm
Welcome to our Taste and See Mass in February. All are welcome. In the Year of Faith we celebrate at the Shrine a Year of the Mission. In faith we say: Each of us has the grace of being called to help build God’s Kingdom, where we are. Each carries a personal mission like seed sown in our hearts. The year of Faith provides us with a renewed opportunity to consider what is our personal mission in life and how can we go about realising our part in helping to strengthen the faith of our family and friends, our workmates and those who we care for. How does faith impact on my life and how can we develop our faith so that we become evangelisers helping many to find faith in Christ our one true Saviour. (To download the poster click here)