London: Palm Sunday in Finsbury Park


By: Jo Siedlecka

A record crowd gathered under blue skies on Palm Sunday, for the annual Ecumenical Procession and Blessing of the Palms at the Manor House gates of Finsbury Park, north London.

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem was re-enacted with hymns and readings by parishioners from Brownswood Park Anglican Church, St Thomas More's Catholic Church, St Olave's, Woodbury Down, and St John the Evangelist, the United Reform Church and Finsbury Park Methodist Church.

Fr Clive Lee welcomed participants. Fr Justin Gau introduced the service with a reflection and blessed the palms. Fr Tunde Roberts led a prayer. Deacon Kassa Tsegaye proclaimed the Gospel and Fr Tunde Roberts gave the homily.

After the service, police stopped traffic while parishioners, singing hymns and waving palm branches and crosses, processed from the park gates through the streets to each of their different churches, for their Palm Sunday celebrations.

A highlight of the day was William - the donkey from Bury St Edmunds - a regular at this event. Children took turns riding him on their way back to St Thomas More's for Mass.

Many young families took part. Mikolaj and his sister Nikolina, who were born in Poland, brought special branches decorated with dried flowers.

One of the parents said: "This is a beautiful way to begin Holy Week. Bringing the donkey really attracts so much attention from passer-by who might not know about Palm Sunday before. And its lovely to pray together with the neighbouring churches."

The churches around Finsbury Park have a long history of collaborating together. One of the next events will be their annual ecumenical pilgrimage. Destinations have included Bath, Canterbury, Norwich, Salisbury, Cambridge, Ely and Lincoln.

More photos of the day will be posted soon on the ICN Facebook page.

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