London: Palm Sunday procession in Finsbury Park

  • Jo Siedlecka

Traffic came to a standstill for a few minutes in north London on Palm Sunday, as parishioners from five churches held their annual Ecumenical Procession with a donkey and Blessing of the Palms, at the Manor House gates of Finsbury Park.

There were hymns, prayers, and readings from members of St Thomas More's Catholic Church, St Olave's, Woodbury Down, and St John the Evangelist, Brownswood Park Anglican Churches, the United Reform Church and Finsbury Park Methodist Church.

In her homily, Rev Alice Whalley, Vicar of St John the Evangelist's church, spoke of the importance of bearing witness to our faith. Recalling one year in which a Passion Play was staged in a street in Oxford, she said at first there was just a small crowd, but by the time they reached the steps of a health centre it had grown to more than 300. When they passed a building site, Rev Alice said, all the workmen stood still and took off their hard hats.

"We can never underestimate the power that it has on those people in the park and the people in their cars and the people in the buses, because even if they just notice us and think 'look at those weirdos' - that's done something. Its made them think. Its made them stop.

"We have such a precious opportunity this week. Its one of the few times in our church year when we actually witness and worship outside of our buildings and it gives us a golden opportunity to speak about this event and the way we know it will change this world again.

"Any opportunity you have this week to witness - even if its just you knock on a neighbour's door and say 'hey I'm going to church do you want to come.' Do not waste any opportunity to witness to the drama that is unfolding throughout this Holy Week... We've started and we're going to have to follow it through all the way to the end. And what a glorious end that we know it is. As we follow this story - witness - witness - witness. Show your faith on you sleeve and invite others to join in, because today we are the crowds in Jerusalem. Today we see the Messiah as He enters. We enter that story and we know it will change our lives. and the lives of those around us. So let us go joyfully worshipping and witnessing and joining once more with Our Lord in all the glories that are to come."

After the service at the park gates, parishioners accompanied by an accordion player sang hymns as they walked through the streets to each of their different churches, for their Palm Sunday celebrations.

Children took turns to ride William, the donkey from Bury St Edmunds - a regular at this event - on their way back to St Thomas More's for Mass. William is now 18 and has been on the walk every year since it started.

Tags: Finsbury Park, Palm Sunday, William, Donkey

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