Saturday, 24 April 2010

Placement: Week Two

It was a very different week last week. Not as much 'impact' as I settled into parish life and the routine in Belvedere. Sunday was a great day mixing and socialising with the parish, as well as sampling some of the various dishes provided by people from different nationalities for the 'bring and share' lunch.

Monday's funeral visit was very different from the one a week before. Little had been prepared by the deceased family so the conversation was a test of Fr Clive's abilities to tease out snippets of information from the family. He did this particularly well and with sympathy. I'll be attending the funeral service at the crematorium this coming week. With the different dynamics of these visits, Fr Clive is particularly sensitive to each 'occasion' and seems very natural at his pastoral care. I guess that comes with years of practice, but he does seemed skilled at it. I have much to learn.

The visit to the local Church Secondary School was a particular highlight of the week. Taken on by the church after two schools were failing miserably and put into special measures, there was a merger and today, a number of years later there is a thriving, friendly school that produces good results and children. I think it was the first time I'd been in a secondary school since leaving mine (which at the time I was pleased to see the back of). Here was a school with its own chaplain, chapel and Christianity at the heart of the daily life. Why do we, as a society, seem to run away from 'public' Christianity and faith rather than embracing it? I don't have any answers here and now but the church must be doing something right when they can rescue a school from a dire state and develop it into one that people fight to get into. As many will know, I'm not a natural academic, but the gut feel I got from the school was one that was very proud of itself and achievements and that so much was driven by it being a church school. Good luck to them.

The biggest challenge of the week was the youth group. A new initiative. We had prepared for a game that looked very interesting and would help the children understand the importance of fair trade and ethical trade. However, we didn't have enough people - just 6 teenage lads who were full of energy and being typical teenagers! We took them for a runaround outside, but even so there didn't seem to be a diminishing of energy and I felt particularly sorry for Fr Clive as he tried to have a sensible conversation with them in church about the future of the youth group. Whether the group has a future, only time will tell.

Finally, this morning I learnt of the death of a friend of mine who was in Taize at the same time as me, many years ago - late 1980's. Mariusz, a Polish Permanant. I can't say that I've had any/much contact with Mariusz since we last saw each other in Taize, but I remember with great fondness of our time together, his wonderful humour, warm smile and warmth of friendship. Those were tough times for those from Eastern Europe, but there was a great communion of spirit and friendship. They had little material to to share, but this was not important in the sharing of themselves.

Whilst I can't, in 2010, claim to have known Mariusz. I have my memories and the commonality of our time together and therein lies my mourning for his passing. If, in the last 20 years, he was anything like he was in the time I knew him, he would have brought a great deal of joy, love, humour and friendship to those he knew.

I've posted this link on Facebook, but someone with a much better way with words and someone who knew Mariusz better than me has written the following........

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