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St Richard’s family Mass and picnic 2005

St Richard’s with Our Lady of the Assumption

Thanks to the Social Committee’s early morning efforts, St Richard’s school playing field became a church for the day with more than 400 people celebrating Mass and enjoying good company. A cloudless sunny day drew the families and friends in good time.

The theme for the Mass gave an opportunity for everyone to think afresh about the depth of their commitment to our faith.

Father Kieron O’Brien gave a scene set at the vigil Mass on Saturday. The gospel recounts one of the most famous of all parables – the sower who has mixed success with his seeds: - many lost to well known hazards, but some, falling on rich soil, yielding a hundredfold. (Read the full version.)

Jesus has offered us an explanation of what it all means, but how do we make it relevant to our modern lives? After a week of emotions in the national psyche – success in winning the Olympic bid, so cruelly followed the day after by the shock, sadness and outrage caused by the bombs in London. How does the word of God touch us? If, as Christians, we are to have a voice in the hopes and joys and the pains and sorrows of our land – then it must be a single voice and it must be the voice of Christ – the Word of God. We need to tune in to that word so that it touches us at more than a superficial level – so that we realise that we only have one life and that life is spiritual because every part of it is touched by God’s word.

The combined choir’s players included children proudly wearing their first holy communion clothes. They and almost sixty of their colleagues were there to greet our special guest – Bishop Kieran Conry.

Bishop Kieran is no stranger to St Richard’s, but this was his first visit since his consecration as the 4th Bishop of Arundel and Brighton Diocese in 2001.

The sprinkling rite had seasonal overtones! The hymn – And let all who toil, let them come to the water.

Molly Morgan gave the first reading: The rain makes the earth give growth (Isaiah 55) the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty.

Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.

The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons – Romans 8.

Fr Thomas continued the theme with St Matthew’s account of the sower’s failures and eventual success - 2000 years ago.

Bishop Kieran commended the bonds between family and church.

Mike Beal read the bidding prayers in a week of horror in London – and in many places around the world.

Thanks to your goodness this bread we offer
Fruit of the earth, work of our hands,
It will become the bread of life.

One bread, one body, one Lord of all,
One cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth,
We are one body in this one Lord.


This year a record number of children received their first Holy Communion at St Richard’s or Our Lady of the Assumption. Now they came together again, as part of our act of witness to our faith, and sang Share the Light of Jesus Christ. They received their certificates from Bishop Kieran.

The catechists came together, too. They, with Father Thomas, had prepared the children for ten months.

The children presented thank-you gifts and the catechists took a bow.

Fr Kieron thanked everyone for their support in producing this memorable day’s activities – with special thanks to our Bishop.

The mass was ended and the procession left the families to enjoy reunions, meet Bishop Kieran, catch up with friends (digital cameras everywhere) and relax before enjoying the barbecue, picnic or children’s entertainments. Our Bishop sent us this message: 'Thank you for a delightful day at St Richard's; a prayerful celebration and a friendly picnic on the grass. It was good to see so many children after their First Holy Communion. Bishop Kieran'

Children bee-lined for the bouncy castle, or to meet Mr Bungle again.

Last of all – the raffle. A hardy annual - lots of prizes, some tailored to our wide-ranging audience.

And for the organising Social Committee, one more photo before the chairs, tables, tapes, tents, gazebos, PA kit - and litter, were taken away and the school grass left to recover in the fertile soil at Cawley Road.