Bishop Terence Patrick’s visit to St Hilda’s

Sunday 3rd September 2023

By Harry Baker

The weather was kind to all those attending church last Sunday the 3rd of September. The warm & mellow autumnal sunlight painted a perfect setting to welcome our Diocesan Bishop, Terence Patrick Drainey on his second day of visiting the parish to conduct Mass at St.Hilda’s.

The fine weather helped ensure that there was a good turn out to greet the Bishops arrival and Bishop Terry wasted no time in organising his papers & readings at the lectern in the Church and Mass began promptly at 10.30 led by Bishop Terry accompanied by Fr. Pat Keogh & Fr. Michael Weitl of Madonna House.

Fr Pat announced to the congregation that we were to “only say nice things about him in front of the Bishop” but he needn’t have worried because the Bishop, in good humour and smiling, affirmed that he knew Fr Pat was a good Priest because on his visits to parishioners the day before everyone he met had told him what a great Priest Fr. Pat was. Bishop Terry said, again smiling, that he always felt that Fr Pat had acquired the power of Bi-Location as he seemed to appear unexpectedly in many places at once.

Bishop Terry mentioned that he was obliged in his duties as Bishop to visit every parish at least once every five years. He said that he had been to St Hilda’s at least twice before in the last fifteen years so believed that with this visit he had complied with that rule although not necessarily strictly every five years.

After Mass the Bishop paid a glowing tribute to Fr. Pat & thanked him for his many (50) years service to the church, especially as Fr Pat has reached retirement age. He confirmed that due to difficulties within the church in terms of placement & availability of Priests he had asked Fr Pat to remain for the time being, while as he put it “he kept a few plates spinning” regarding the appointment & distribution of available priests. Fr. Pat confirmed that he was happy to continue for as long as he was needed and that he would also continue to be the diocesian chaplain for Lourdes.

Bishop Terry thanked everyone for “stepping up” when called to do so and said this parish responds well when a call for help is put out. He also thanked  everyone for continuing to attend church regularly, keeping the church alive, the message and music of the services & singing influences those outside as does the light shining through. He thanked us all for taking the Church and Christ out into the world and that people notice this church for it’s warmth & community.

The Bishop asked that people speak about vocations in normal conversations within their families and share spiritual and religious values in their day-to-day life with friends and acquaintances and encourage those who show an interest to search within if they feel a calling to be involved in a deeper spiritual relationship with Jesus & the Church. He asked us to continue to pray for priests. He asked that sometimes maybe even a prayer for a Bishop would be welcome. He thanked all those doing service in the community, the SVP and those who are visiting the sick & elderly, the Eucharistic ministers and others lay persons involved in the service of others.

He mentioned that the social event taking place at The Chapel on the Hill on the 23rd of September with music by Kate Doherty and The Navigators, would be in aid of the Lourdes Sick Fund. The tickets costing £10 are now available from Mark Taylor (07776115160) or from the Chapel on the Hill.

Finally Bishop Terry mentioned about “The Red Box scheme”,

whereby small change can be deposited & offered to those in need through the Missio charity and suggested that we all obtain a red box, as he joked “that in our family, when I was growing up it was known as “The Swear Box” and it was always full in our household. He said that every penny raised would be put to good use within the charity. Red boxes are available at the back of the church on request. Mark Taylor is in charge of the scheme in our parish.

Afterwards the Bishop joined us in the parish hall for tea & visited every table exchanging conversation & kind words with everyone.

It was a pleasure welcoming Bishop Terry to our parish on both Saturday when he accompanied Fr Pat visiting the sick and elderly in the homes and spent time with the Asylum seekers in the parish hall who were here for their second visit this year and Sunday mass at St Hilda’s church. 

Photos by Harry Baker & Winnie Moran