Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Wednesday pastoralia

Midweek Mass at St German's again this morning, and a Spanish conversation with the most recent member of the congregation to become a regular worshipper. Enrique from El Salvador is indeed an asylum seeker escaping from the criminal gangs that dominate his homeland. Exactly what the reason for him needing to escape from there I couldn't gather, as my Spanish is still limited, but I think it may be to do with extortion rackets. His wife is dead and pequeño Enrique, his only child is with him. What a story he has to tell. So much for me to learn and pass on to the congregation, so little time. At the Communion, I remembered to give him communion in Spanish - Cuerpo de Crist, Sangre de Crist. To me, there is no more important moment to reach out to someone in their mother tongue. It's a way of voicing the essentially hospitable nature of the Lord's Sacrament.

I learned that Angela, the church administrator had recently fallen and been admitted to hospital with a possible fracture. So far so good. No broken bones identified, but she's still in pain, and the reason for this has yet to be established. Hopefully, she'll be discharged fairly soon. She's not to sort of person to enjoy hospital attention or inactivity for long.

Our local Ignatian meditation group meets today over lunchtime at Ruth's new Vicarage in Tonyrefail. So, Clare and I together with Diana, went together by car, for an hour of prayer and an hour of eating and talking together with others. It's usually a small group, but rich in wisdom and insight nevertheless, and I'm always glad of an opportunity to participate, although on this occasion I was asked to lead, the second time this year. Given the time I spend abroad these days, times of spiritual fellowship of this kind take on an added significance on my journey. Another cause for gratitude in my life.

After our return, I went to Chapter Arts Centre to collect our weekly delivery of organic veg from the Riverside Market Garden, then called in on Fr Phelim on the way back, to return his church keys and catch up with him. Earlier today he asked if I'd cover a funeral on his day off the week after next, just as Fr Mark arrives home from holidays. Glad naturally to be able to help in this way while I'm here in the Benefice.

Unfortunately, Church in Wales parishes are not yet at the stage where they can offer traditionally expected ministries to a wider community without regular help from retired clerics. Others, like me are happy to be useful and fill in the gaps, but it would be far better if there were lay people trained in bereavement ministry, also taking and arranging Anglican funeral services, to support their parish priests and share the burden of pastoral care in the community.

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