As Father Peter McGrath’s road trip across England and Wales continues, Yana Kennedy, Chair of the Parish Council, reports on the success of last weekend’s Family Group launch at St Philip Evans parish, Llanedeyrn, Cardiff:
“I have heard it said that Angels appear in the most unlikely places and the Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways. Who knew an Angel could be cunningly disguised as a 72 year old ‘mad as a bucket of frogs’ Australian Passionist priest called Fr Peter McGrath. Who would believe that in a small corner of Cardiff, in the middle of a council estate, in our parish church, the Holy Spirit would have such an effect on so many of us.
I’ll be honest. I had no idea! The small bunch of people who made up the ‘Way Forward’ group hoped that we could help the parish take the next step and hoped that someone would turn up on that cold Saturday morning. It was a given that the group would turn up but we suspected it might just be us and we were prepared to make the best of it. There were probably more than a few ‘silent prayers’ being said as we set up the hall and laid out the tea and coffee. We didn’t have long to wait before our prayers were more than answered! People came in, tentatively at first, then as more arrived the atmosphere relaxed and ‘the Angel Peter’ went round the room speaking to everyone and putting them at their ease.
We began with an outline of the future of our parish presented by Des Robertson (another of the aforementioned Angels in disguise!) I think everyone was surprised to learn just how far we had come and by the end of the presentation we were all ready for a cup of tea and a chance to discuss what we had heard. After tea it was Fr Peter’s turn. I am not sure I can adequately put into words what happened next but it involved some heartfelt words and actions, a few tears and lots and lots of laughter. Some of us were moved beyond words and I believe that all of us knew that we had been in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I will never forget it and I left there that day wanting to shout out loud about what I had experienced. This was happening in my church, it’s what I always believed my faith was meant to be – people coming together, being family to each other, loving one another and belonging.
Fr Peter remained with us over the weekend, speaking at all of the Masses and bringing his own unique brand of charismatic chaos with him. He invited those who were interested in forming family groups to meet on the Monday evening and discuss it further. The Way Forward Group came to the church hall early to set up the teas and coffees again and the silent prayers of hope were replaced with grateful prayers of thanks for the blessings of the weekend. The doors opened and even more people came, different ones from the Saturday, word had got around and people wanted to come together and do this Family Group thing!
Very much in evidence again was the Holy Spirit, inspiring us all as we moved from being strangers to friends and by the end of the evening we were put into our groups and became ‘family’. I have mentioned two unlikely Angels so far and as the saying goes, ‘good things happen in threes’ and so it is with us. Our third Angel came from Merthyr (I know, you couldn’t make it up!) and made all of this possible, he had this vision for our parish and has worked tirelessly to make it happen. All of this is ultimately down to you, Fr Tony. Thank you!!!
And so our journey begins, all of us with an eagerness to make it happen because we can see the potential unfurling before us. We have a ‘way forward’ and we have some very ‘unlikely’ Angels to guide us on our way!”
Four new Family Groups were formed at St Philip Evans Parish last weekend, including one Welsh speaking group. The deaf community in the parish also plans to form a Family Group in the near future. Father Peter will be in the Diocese of Plymouth this weekend.