Today saw St Ann's first parish Youth Art Exhibition.
Children of the parish were invited to present a piece of their own art work with a religious theme.
Entries were divided by age group; and certificates, and even prizes, were awarded to those judged to have produced the best art work in their category.
Although entries were open to all children with a connection to the parish, a large proportion of the entries came from pupils at our parish school of St Anne's.
We are very grateful to Mr Donovan and the staff at St Anne's for encouraging the children in this venture and even to devoting some time in the busy school day for the children to produce their 'masterpieces'.
This is not to say that there weren't also some excellent entries from children in other schools and from children who have moved on to secondary school.
Here is just a selection of the very many entries. If you'd like to see even more, please have a look at our parish Flickr stream.
We were delighted today to welcome Sister Natalia to St Ann's. Sister Natalia is a Sister of Mercy attached to the Russian Orthodox Monastery of St Elisabeth in Minsk. The convent currently counts just under 100 nuns and around 300 Sisters of Mercy.
Since its establishment the convent has been caring for 200 orphanage children with psychophysical deficiencies for almost 15 years.
The beautiful craft-work and religious artefacts the Sisters brought with them today are made by recovering addicts in the monastery workshop. This not only enables the Sisters to raise much-needed funds to support their work with the poor and needy but also provides very beneficial therapy for those whom they seek to help.
Sister Natalia with some of her 'wares'.
Hand-crafted toys and other items in the local style.
Some of the many beautiful icons available.
Gosh, which do I choose . . . ?
Yet more beautiful icons.
You can learn more about this congregation of Nuns and the valuable work they do by visiting their website here.
Thanks to the generosity of one of the families in our parish we are now the proud owners of a simply splendid baldacchino. The family have very kindly presented it to the parish in memory of a much-loved family member who sadly died earlier this year.
I couldn't resist having a good look at the canopy today. It has been laid out in readiness for tomorrow's procession after our 10am Mass which is also a Mass of Thanksgiving for all our First Holy Communion children, their families and catechists.
A side view showing the beautiful embroidery.
And a close up showing the detail of the centre-piece.
The shorter side of the canopy.
And the detail of the Agnus Dei motif.
The all-important final details. Note the white gloves almost out of the picture!
This morning saw the conclusion of our Forty Hours Devotion. Thank God for such a wonderful time. Thank you to all who supported the Forty Hours; those who adored for several hours or just a few minutes; those who got up an extra hour early to come before work and school; those made the sacrifice to adore through the night hours.
Some people in conversation with me afterwards referred to 'a pull' to be present. Others spoke of a 'glimpse of heaven'. It has certainly been a truly blessed time for our parish.
Here is a brief summary in photos of the whole of the Forty Hours.
Beginning with the Mass of Exposition beautifully celebrated by Fr Seán Finnegan.
After Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, as Adoration began, the sanctuary was wreathed in smoke from the incense.
People came and went throughout the day and night; so many wonderful people, especially those who made the extra effort to come out during the night-time hours.
By Wednesday evening the number of candles on and around the altar had gradually increased and the atmosphere was one of reverent prayer and adoration.
Finally this morning, this was the sight that greeted people as they entered the church . . .
Our 40 Hours Devotion begins this evening. Opening Mass at 7.30pm. We look forward to welcoming Fr Seán Finnegan who will preside at the Mass of Exposition and preach.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar will continue uninterrupted until Thursday morning. Our 40 Hours Devotion concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 9.10am. Weekday Mass follows at 9.30am.
Come and go as you wish; pop in on your way to work or to the shops; before or after the school run. Stay for however long you can - just a few minutes or even a few hours. Our Lord will be waiting for you.
All are very welcome of course. Do please try and come and spend some time with Our Lord during this special time.
This is a photo taken at a previous 40 Hours Devotion here at St Ann's - just to whet your appetite!
For anyone who may not be familiar with the Forty Hours Devotion, here is a very brief extract about the history of the devotion . .
The precise origin of the Forty Hours' Devotion is obscure. St. Charles Borromeo speaks as if this practice of praying for forty hours was very ancient; and he refers it to the forty hours that Christ's Body remained in the tomb. The number 40 is also associated with the rain at the time of the flood of Noah lasting 40 days and nights, the Hebrews wandering in the desert for 40 years on the way to the Promised Land, and Jesus fasting for 40 days before beginning his public ministry.
If you would like to read more on the subject, you will find more information here and here
We have just completed our Divine Mercy Devotions in the parish with a very good attendance. It's very encouraging to see so many people praising Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
It was wonderful to hear people praying with fervour and trust in the Divine Mercy. I'm sure there will be many graces for those who participated and for our parish.
I was kept busy the whole time hearing Confessions - Thanks be to God. In fact I had to schedule a brief interlude out of the Confessional to confer Benediction. I have a feeling that if we didn't have an evening Mass to prepare for, I would have been hearing Confessions for even longer.
Jesus, we trust in you.
And, didn't you sing and pray beautifully!
It's time to think ahead a little now to our 40 Hours Devotion which will take place from Tuesday 19th May to Thursday 21st May. All are welcome of course.
Do come and spend a little time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar if you can. Be it just a few minutes or a few hours, I assure you it will be a grace-filled experience.
To whet your appetite here are a few photos from last year's 40 Hours Devotion . . .
After the very prayerful Office of Readings this morning, containing such beautiful readings, in a bare and 'empty' church, our flower arrangers bustled into action.
What a transformation! I have said it before but it needs to be said often; we are blessed to have such gifted parishioners who are willing to give their time and use their talents for the glory of God in this way. I am very grateful to you all.
Flowers for Our Lady . . .
Just look at the Paschal Candle stand! A really fitting receptacle for such an important part of this evening's liturgy
One of two magnificent pedestals either side of the altar
Two of our talented flower arrangers who happened to be available for a photo call this morning. Well done ladies!