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St Richard's Jubilee Mass

The waiting was almost over. Fifty years since Mass was first celebrated in the new church, the parishioners and welcomers awaited the arrival of the celebrants and clergy, including guests from other churches, and priests who had served at St Richard's.

The flowers, arranged by Pat Ware, were predominantly orange.

Our cross bearer led the party into the church.

The choir, drawn from our three churches, sang the gathering song, rehearsed with other music for several weeks.

The evening sun blazed through the window dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, over the west door of St Richard's as the Jubilee procession moved up the nave.

For the congregation and a score or more of our visiting clergy who had previously served at St Richardís, the Mass was a celebration of an achievement by completing this new church in 1958 after using a small gothic church donated by Countess Newburgh a hundred and fifty years ago. This became far too small for the growing congregation after World War I, until a twenty- five-year fund- raising drive, yielded money to build this new church and three more in the parish.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy OíConnor was accompanied by the papal nuncio Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz. Cardinal Cormac knows the church and priests well from his time as Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. Fr Kieron O'Brien, our Parish Priest for eight years, is discussing plans to enlarge the church as congregations increase with immigrants from eastern Europe and Asia.

The Mass was an ecumenical occasion. We welcomed The Mayor and Mayoress of Chichester, together with the Dean of Chichester Cathedral , the Very Rev. Nicholas Frayling, who every year invites our parish to celebrate St Richardís Patronal Feast day Mass in the Cathedral, which Bishop Richard helped to enlarge. Clergy from other denominations joined us, underlining Fr Kieronís interest in Churches Together in Chichester.

The Duke of Richmond and Gordon was present, a steadfast supporter of church life in Sussex.

The Loire stained glass window, depicting St Richard, was complemented by a large banner embroidered with St Richardís famous prayer. This had been made by parishioners and their families. Two hundred panels sewn into two sections were hung on either side of the glass. This was an artefact of praise with its reminder of our patron saintís humility, charisma and steely discipline in all matters religious.

The choir, drawn from our three churches and conducted by Neil Sands, sang a setting of St Richard's Prayer composed by Victoria Larley.

The readings came firstly from Isaiah 56: 1 and 607; 1 Peter2:4-9, with Becky Sleven singing

Bishop Kieran delivered the homily, picking up the theme of the Gospel and commending the work of parishioners and priests on the ďlong journeyĒ over fifty years, urging that everyone should ensure that their faith is evident to others in their daily lives.

The gifts were carried by Mr and Mrs.Thomas, active members of our Asian community

Then it was time for thanks to everyone who helped prepare for the Jubilee Celebration. And Fr Kieron joked about the cardinal's nostalgic journey past Arundel Castle by train, and his time as Bishop, to which Cardinal Cormac responded.

Our modern church was given listed Grade II status last year, recognising the quality of the Loire Glass windows which, tonight, enhanced the sunlight throughout the Mass . Members of the Loire family came especially for the Jubilee celebration.

The celebration was rounded off with the informal Reception afterwards, and launching a book on the history of the Parish, making a day which we will remember with pride. Photos of this event by Karen Grantham-Smith are on St Richard's Jubilee reception

Alan Ware's video will be shown shortly.