Weekend of celebrations in London parish

 A weekend of celebrations took place at Holy Apostles in Pimlico in central London, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Church. There was standing-room only on Friday evening for the special anniversary Mass led by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. The Archbishop of Abuja in Nigeria, Archbishop John Onayakim who was visiting London for the weekend, together with parish priest Canon Pat Browne, Canon Robert Plourde, the former Parish Priest and Canon Michael Brockie, the Provost of the Westminster Cathedral Chapter, were among the 24 concelebrants. Clergy from the other local churches also attended. The choir was led by Giovanni Marseglia, with organist Nick Lane. The Deputy Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Harvey Marshall sat in the front seat, next to Bernard Kaukas, the architect of Holy Apostles. The church was his first major project and took two years to complete. His young son was the model for the boy Jesus who walks hand in hand with St Joseph in the side chapel. During his homily Cardinal Cormac spoke about the history of the parish and its people. The original Holy Apostles was destroyed in 1941 during the Blitz, and the site had been eventually requisitioned by the council to build new homes. The Cardinal recalled how the parish had coped for years in temporary accommodation while Fr Edmund Hadfield, the parish priest cycled through the bomb damaged streets each evening, looking for a new home for his parish. On each bomb site he would leave a miraculous medal and say a prayer. Eventually his prayers were answered and the community all rallied together to raise the funds to build their new church. The parish is much more cosmopolitan than it was 50 years ago, but, the Cardinal said, had kept a strong sense of identity and above all was a joyful place, warm and welcoming to all. Cardinal Cormac reminded the congregation that the true parish is one that is faithful to the teaching, the brotherhood, the Breaking of Bread and the Prayer mentioned by St Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. On Saturday night, parishioners of all ages turned out in Fifties gear for a dinner-dance in the church hall. Late next morning, the Children's Mass was followed by a Barbecue in the parish garden attended by several hundred people. The story of Holy Apostles is told in a new book: The Story of a Parish, by John Wilkins, former editor of the Tablet. A DVD by Kathleen Griffin and Paul Geraghty, with interviews with parishioners who can remember Pimlico long before the present church was built, was also released at the weekend. For more information see: www.holyapostlespimlico.org/home.shtml

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