Parish report: International celebration in Enfield

This summer,  the parish of Our Lady of Mt Carmel and St George in Enfield, north London, has been staging  a programme of events to celebrate their patronal feast on 16 July. The programme, called ‘A Church of All Nations’ reflected the many different backgrounds, nationalities, culture and traditions that make up the parish in Enfield in the north of the diocese of Westminster.

Planning for the programme began in February and more than 30 parishioners were involved at various stages. A final programme of events was agreed during June.

As part of the celebrations the church was decorated with 11 Marian shrines made up of flower displays, posters, pictures and statues reflecting Our Lady as honoured in the many different nationalities that make up our church – A Church of All Nations. Shrines honoured Our Lady of Mount Carmel; Our Lady of Walsingham, the chapel of ease of the parish; Our Lady of Czestechowa which was decorated by the Polish sisters of Holy Family Convent; Our Lady of Velanakanni, decorated by members of the Syro-Malabar community of South India; Our Lady of Manaoag, decorated by members of the Filipino community; and Our Lady of Guadalupe, decorated by members of the Mauritian community. Additionally shrines to Our Lady of Lourdes, Vladimir, Sorrows, Perpetual Succour and the Immaculate Conception were decorated by other members of the parish. A number of parishioners sponsored the displays in memory and thanksgiving of loved ones. Altogether more than 18 parishioners worked together, some late into the night, to prepare displays and clean the church.

On Saturday afternoon Sibida George, CAFOD’s Programme Officer from Sierra Leone,  came and spoke to the Justice and Peace group and other parishioners about her work, primarily with the young people affected by the wars in Sierra Leone & Liberia. It was happy coincidence that Sibida had also been a parishioner of a former Enfield parish priest, Canon Herbert Veale, in Sierra Leone when he went to work there after leaving   Enfield parish.

In the evening,  nearly 150 people came to an International Evening of ‘bring and share’ food & drink. Communities laid out national displays of toys, maps, books, posters, statues, ornaments pictures & photographs on tables around the perimeter of the Parish Centre, whilst tables were laid out for food & drink from Holland, UK, Mauritius, Nigeria, Philippines, Malaysia, Kerala and Goa. Young people from Indian & Filipino communities provided wonderful entertainment and parishioners were treated to a monologue detailing the life & times of Our Lady of Velanakanni. A TWIN (Third World in Need) display was also available – this project having been operating in the parish for more than 30years.

The young people of the parish also took part in the celebrations as the youth group, ACE, held an end-of-term disco on Friday evening; and on Sunday afternoon a closing service of Benediction and a tea party for the First Communion programme was held.

On Tuesday evening Fr Damian Cassidy, O.Carm led a Carmelite-themed retreat evening called ‘Open to God’. During the evening Fr. Damian spoke about the icons of Carmel, Elijah and Mary, with periods of prayer and for silent reflection.

On Thursday evening, as part of the celebrations, Bishop Alan Hopes came to the parish to bless a newly-built catechetical meeting room, known as the Bishop Richard Challoner Room – Bishop Challoner gave high priority to the religious instruction of the young. A statue of Our Lady, donated by his family in memory of Tony Butler (our former parish archivist), was also blessed. The builders, architect, diocesan surveyor, catechist representatives and other involved parishioners assembled in the new meeting room for the Bishop’s blessing whilst a large crowd of parishioners gathered in the outside courtyard – fortunately the rain held off!

A Procession of Our Lady, following a banner of the Immaculate Conception, moved through the grounds singing ‘Immaculate Mary’ into the church where Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes; Frs Richard Andrew, PP; Jim Byrne, Assistant Priest; Paul Luong from Vietnam; Fred de L’Orme – Chase Farm and Barnet Hospital Chaplaincy; Thomas Parayadyil and John Parokaram – Syro Malabar; Vincent Nsumba – visiting from Uganda.

Parishioners read the Intercessions in French, Igbo (Nigeria), Dutch,  Spanish, German, Filipino, Italian and English. The Filipino community brought forward the offertory procession. but not only did it consist of bread, water and wine, but also candles, flowers, fruit and many children!

After Mass the Mt Carmel Ladies Group hosted a buffet supper including well-earned, fairly traded red and white wine!

‘Many nations will join the Lord, on that day; they will become his people.’ (Zechariah 2: 15 – from the First Reading for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.)

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