‘The Round Church’ is the popular name for the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Hampton Court Way, Thames Ditton, west London, and it will be 50 years old in 2015. So parishioners are undertaking a vast effort to raise £250,000 for the repair and renewal of their church buildings.
With a target like that to aim at, it’s ‘all hands to the pump’. Events range from the recent Parish Ball run by the Women’s Group to a Car-Wash organised by teenagers in the parish.
Now Father Rob Esdaile, the Parish Priest, is making his own contribution, publishing a volume of poetry (his second), with its title drawn from the theme of the parish’s Jubilee Year: 'Renew, Refresh, Rejoice'.
"Of course, I’m shamelessly aiming for the Christmas market,” he says, “and hoping that lots of parishioners are going to give copies to their nearest and dearest as stocking-fillers! But people tell me that they find my poems moving, too. Some are drawn directly from my experience of ministry – being alongside people at the highest and lowest points in their lives, and those moments of crisis when people typically turn to the Church. But others are provoked by chance encounters in the everyday round – meeting an unemployed youngster at a bus-stop, seeing a field of bluebells, finding a lost cat. Others again are responses to news items – like the 2011 riots, the sinking of the Costa Concordia, the death of Ghadaffi. The 41 poems really are a varied crop.”
The first poem, ‘The Radio Interview’ is itself a reflection on the poet’s task: “that breathing in, that gathering of the moment, atmosphere or vista, the discipline of saying just enough ... so that others can encounter this here-and-now when it’s become just another there-and-then.”
Copies can be obtained for £5 (+ £1.50 postage) from Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church, Hampton Court Way, Thames Ditton KT7 0LP. Contact Fr Rob Esdaile on 020 8398 6127 / firstname.lastname@example.org