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Early morning - the field is prepared
At 8 a.m. the School's playing field is almost deserted - Fr Kieron and a volunteer make a start, followed by the Social Committee who mark out the seating plan, and with showers possible, set up gazebos to shelter or shade the worshippers. St Richard's school, celebrating their Jubilee year, have kindly made their facilities available every year for the family outdoor Mass.
The annual jigsaw puzzle of the giant gazebo kit is solved under the eye of Michael Oliver, later to provide the barbecue. Will the gazebo be a canvas 'temple' or a jumble of odd legs?
Sally notes that the' temple' is completed inside ten minutes!
The central feature - the stage and altar table - is tested and trimmed. Other tasks are deftly completed - the bouncy castle is set but left deflated till after Mass; the capricious PA is wired up and the barbecue is installed.
Sharp at 0915 the Social Committee reports 'set up complete', and bows out - till after Mass
Close on four hundred parishioners celebrated the Mass where our first holy communicants and other children had a special place and an active role.
Children sang, discreetly conducted by Hazel working below eye level!
Father Kieron's homily described the dilemma of winning popularity for the church, whilst maintaining firm integrity on significant issues.
During Mass the Red arrows roared past, heading for Goodwood's speed festival, trailing smoke, but giving, perhaps, an unconscious salute to the greater Event taking place at Cawley Road!
The bidding prayers were clearly read by a succession of our young people.
The Consecration and the Communicants set the seal on a successful day. Our First Holy Communicants received certificates (There are 37 of them but not everyone was present). This was a high level of pastoral achievement, complemented by an encouraging number of young people confirmed this year.
The Mass intention was for Ray and Jan Webb, who received a special blessing, marking their 40th wedding anniversary. They make a valued contribution to parish life through support of the KSC events.
After Mass, the group who organised the successful Year of St Paul's course, came together, hopefully with another series in mind! Their evening meetings, held in each of our three churches, attracted more than a hundred parishioners, inspired by the work of St Paul.
In the cool of the School hall, this year's First Holy Comunicants tucked in to a special lunch, provided by parents of those from last year
Back at the picnic, Michael's barbecue fare went fast - and free! Families enjoyed their food in warm sunshine and could go home to the Tennis Final on tv.
And one young parishioner, with dad, gave us a farewell smile -" come back next year"!