Dear Parishioners and friends,
On this my first Christmas with you as your Parish Priest, I wish first of all to thank you most sincerely for the welcome extended to me when I arrived at the beginning of February. I was just beginning to find my feet when public Masses ceased on 19th March and we entered lockdown a few days later. For a number of months all I could do to be in touch with you was to stream daily Mass. Since public Masses resumed I have begun to feel a little more at home but with the constrictions involved re. social distancing …. I still feel I have a long way to go before feeling fully at home. By that I mean, putting names to faces, visiting the sick in their homes, visiting the school on a regular basis and generally throwing myself fully into the day to day life of a parish priest. Consequently, I don’t feel that I have properly ‘arrived’. Let us hope and pray that such a day will not be far off. The great news of a vaccine and hopeful signs which this brings, please God, will mean that I should feel fully integrated into the life of this wonderful parish within the next few months.
Nevertheless, in spite of the constrictions placed upon us all, I am very conscious of the support, cooperation and friendship which I have experienced over the last eleven months. If I may say so, all looks good for a continued good working relationship with you all for the years to come.
One of the very few ‘good’ things to emerge from the present pandemic is to witness the generosity of so many people with their time as stewards for our Masses. I am truly grateful for all they do and I am confident that I speak on behalf of everyone in placing on record our appreciation. I was also delighted that so many people participated in the streamed Masses during the period of lockdown. It was truly inspiring to know that so many shared in our online Masses. St Francis Xavier’s Parish and Carfin Lourdes Grotto became so much better known—throughout the world as people from every continent joined in our Masses and rosaries. As a priest I felt so heartened and uplifted, knowing that daily Mass meant so much to people.
So, as I prepare to lead you in the wonderful and emotional liturgies of this Christmas season, I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for anything and everything you have done, both up front and behind the scenes, preparing the church, the crib, the music, altar linens ……….. indeed, every aspect of the preparation for Christmas. Whilst preferring not to single out anyone by name, be most assured that nothing of what and of you have done has gone unnoticed. I am truly in your debt as are the parishioners of St Francis Xavier’s and the many ‘visitors’ we regularly welcome to our parish celebrations. WELL DONE EVERYONE and MAY GOD REWARD EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU.
I close now by wishing you all every blessing and best wish for this Christmas and the new year about to begin. May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph be with you and all your families over the Christmas season, and in this year of St. Joseph, may the foster-father of Jesus guide you, and protect you as he guided and protected the child Jesus.
Fr Jim, Parish Priest.
P.S. Christopher wishes all of you a very happy Christmas and profound thanks for the welcome he has received.