A Simple Message of Love at Sacred Heart Southwold

19 March 2012
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Category: Diocesan, Family Groups
19 March 2012, Comments: 0

Project Office staff were able to be personally present at Sacred Heart Parish Church in Southwold, Suffolk on Sunday 4th March, when Mass was celebrated by the

PFGM’s founder Fr Peter McGrath. Although Fr Peter’s style inspired a mixed reaction a number of parishioners indicated interest in Family Groups by accepting his invitation to come forward.

Fr Peter was present in the diocese at the invitation of Edwina Griffin, diocesan coordinator of family ministry, to test potential interest in the Family Groups Movement in the diocese. Here is Edwina’s own account of his visit.

We were blessed to have Father Peter in the Diocese of East Anglia on the 3rd and 4th March.  What a weekend it was!  Straight after he arrived Father Peter was whisked into a meeting at St Marys Ipswich.  As a large number of the ‘shakers and movers’ of the parish were away on a Diocesan trip to Cambodia the possibility of cancelling the meeting had been discussed.  How thankful we were that we didn’t.  A group of 8 came together and were able to hear first-hand about Family Groups.  It was a lovely relaxing gathering where people were able to listen and talk freely.  It was decided that they would go away, talk to others and pray about the way forward.  I’m hoping and praying that an e-mail saying they are keen to get started will appear in my in box soon!  

A quick run up the coast and onto another meeting over dinner with Father James, from the Cathedral.  Mary Clark, my predecessor and her husband Andrew opened up their home to us and with their relaxed hospitality the meeting couldn’t help but be a lot of fun! Father James promised to raise the idea of Family Groups at their next meeting.  It would be a terrible shame if they didn’t start in the Cathedral…..after all we already have two great leaders – Mary and Andrew!

On Sunday, Father Peter concelebrated mass at Halesworth with the parish priest, Father Roger and later that morning celebrated the mass at Southwold.  

Andrew and Mary Clark who attended the mass at Southwold said ‘We both felt that Father Peter brought a breath of fresh air to the whole service on Sunday, and that his way of demonstrating the simple message that we should show our love for one another in community was a true reflection of Christ’s teaching. His approach may not suit everybody, but if it helps to make our parishes richer and more Christian, that is a risk worth taking.’

One of the parishioners from Halesworth, Jennifer Horton, captured why Family Groups are so important when she said, “After moving to England from Chicago a year and half ago with my British husband I felt rather lost after leaving my family behind. Of course I have my husband’s family and our friends for moral support but as the only Roman Catholic out of the bunch I sometimes find it awkward to discuss things about my faith.  So when Father Peter came in to discuss Family Groups it was like he was answering my call.  He had my attention from the get go and the examples he shared with us about other Family Groups around the world made me want to be a part of that family.”

I was so impressed by Father Peters energy, enthusiasm and love for others.  He has the ability to chat to someone for just a few minutes and identify a strength in that person.  

As a fellow Antipodean I relate to and enjoy Father Peter’s approach and humour however I do understand, as Mary and Andrew said, that this is not necessarily for everyone.  But when you receive feedback such as Jennifer’s it reinforces how important these groups are.  

At both masses we distributed interest sheets.  These did not commit anyone but enabled us to gauge the interest.  Thankfully we received a good number of these back.  Now, more meetings will follow with the parish priests, Southwold, Ipswich and Norwich and hopefully we will have a launch to report about soon!  

 Edwina Griffin

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