Each year I look forward to the month of November filled as it is of reminders of our faith and the challenges we face in our daily lives.
My prayers of late have been focussed on the Palestinian and Israeli people whose continual conflict has escalated to such a level where so many lives are lost each and every day through mass attacks by missiles or aircraft strikes, or from subversive action on the ground, all with devastating consequences. It’s hard to see where all of this might end and if it is possible for people to sit around a table and find a common, and mutually beneficial solution. Yet, other wars still rage and people suffer and so our prayers are still needed as the conflict between Russian and Ukrainian troops continues.
Many politicians exchange words of hope and yet have incessant arguments about the right way forward, but arms are still supplied with the sole purpose of making one side stronger than the other. I find it hard to take sides, rather I prefer to commit all such matters to our Lord and pray that his calming self, might encourage discussion rather than dissention, positivity instead of procrastination, and love instead of loathing. God’s people, whether we call him Almighty God, or Allah or Elohim or any other name, do not seek war but long for peace, and peace is what we should pray for as we live each day as a pilgrim people, and as God’s children.
As each year passes, I cannot ignore, as none of us can, that age changes us. We ache that little bit more than we did last week or last year, we forget people’s names or what we went into a room to do, or what it was that we meant to do this morning. Things that were once very familiar are no longer so. At the beginning of this month I shall be 93 years of age and I thank God that I have been able to serve as a priest in the church for the majority of my life; I thank him for the people that I have met on my journey of faith and for the parishes in which I have served; I thank him for the friends I have made for the joys brought by kindness and for the privilege of living. Age, they say, is nothing more than a number and I hope to serve this parish and the people of St Hilda’s for many more years to come.
The 1st November is the feast of All Saints, a day when the church gives thanks for the lives of the many saints who have gone before us and share in that great Communion of all who live in God’s presence. The 2ndis the feast of All souls, a time to pray for loved ones whose lives on earth have ended and who have begun their journey in Paradise. As always, we shall pray for individuals at our mass on that day so do come to St Hilda’s, or pass the names of those who have died in your family to me or to the PCC Secretary, Mrs Carole East.
Time may well be passing and wars continue to rage, but God is with us and his love will sustain us through any trial.
The Reverend Fr Ronald Croft
Since I last wrote to you, we have said goodbye to three of our church stalwarts. Firstly, Alex Walker who left St Hilda’s to follow his vocation of ordination to the priesthood. Alex will be resident at The College of the Resurrection at Mirfield for the next two years. Alex was a great asset to St Hilda’s serving as a sacristan, thurifer, PCC member and on Deanery Synod. On the 17th September at Alex’s last Holy Mass with us, we presented him with a beautiful sick communion set. We wish him every blessing as he follows this new path.
Then on Sunday 1st October we said goodbye to Canon Paul Denby and his wife Julie, they are relocating to be nearer their daughter down south. Both Father Paul and Julie have worked tirelessly for St Hilda’s for the past 16 years. Both being members of the PCC and various committees. Far too many to list here. Their time and talents have shown no bounds.
We had a collection for them as well, to show how much we much we care for them. We presented them with a monetary gift, so when they are settled, they can buy something to remind themselves of their time here at St Hilda’s.
Alex, Fr Paul and Julie will be greatly missed, so we have now appealed to our congregation to help fill some of the gaps that we are now facing.
We are recruiting new Servers in the sanctuary, both male and female; we are looking for new members of the PCC, those to serve on the Croft and Maintenance Committees as we look to bring in new members but above all we are a team, a group of committed individuals that make up the body of Christ in the place.
Next year I shall celebrate my diamond anniversary as a priest, 60 years of faithful service with over 25 of those years spent served in this parish of St Hilda’s. Over that time there have been many changes, some good and others that cannot be rejoiced, but I truly believe we are on the threshold of becoming a team that will change the face of this church where young and old can coexist and all flourish as we serve of Lord in the best possibly way that we can.
No one is too old to take up a new role and neither is anyone to new to our church to take on a leadership role. It is time to think about ourselves and to take up the challenge of serving God in a way that is unfamiliar. Our aim must surely be to prepare for the next generation of worshippers for our church, to ensure that the fabric is strong and in good condition, perhaps to encourage one another to think about leading our worship from the choir pews. There are so many roles that you can do, why not have a go.
To help us we have the saints around us offering prayer for God’s people.
1st St Thérèse of Lisieux, born in 1873 in a small French town of Alencon. At 15 years of age she became a Carmelite nun and she had a vision of the baby Jesus, which she believed was a sign from God. She was a faithful young woman until her death in 1897. 4th St Francis of Assisi asked his followers to praise God in his Creation in every being, animals, and insects. 9th St John Henry Newman was a respected Anglican priest who became a Catholic in 1845. He was made a cardinal for his major contribution in spiritual writing. 15th Teresa of Ávila, born in 1515 and considered to be an intelligent woman. She joined a convent at 16 and became a nun 5 years later. She died in 1582 at the age of 67 and made a saint in 1622. Named a Doctor of the church because of her writing was an immense honour especially for women of her time; 18th St Luke the Evangelist was most probably what we would call a Vet but is considered to be the Patron Saint of Doctors and he was the writer of the third gospel and met our Lord.
The Reverend Fr Ronald Croft