MERCY IN MARPLE BRIDGE AND NEW MILLS
It all began with a small group attending the diocesan Year of Mercy Mass in Nottingham. Led by Father John Cairns, our Parish Priest, all were enthused by Pope Francis’ words, and determined to make a difference in our small Parish in the High Peak. We immediately placed the Year of Mercy banners prominently at both of our churches There followed a Christingle service, at which the church of the Annunciation in New Mills was filled with families and the excitement of young children, holding lighted Christingles; we collected for the Society of St Vincent de Paul and enjoyed a shared table. In early January we met to discuss how we, as a Parish, might continue to celebrate the Year of Mercy.
Our Spirituality group, in the Parish of Marple Bridge and New Mills meets monthly throughout the year and more frequently during Lent; it was agreed that events in 2016 would focus on different aspects of God’s mercy. In Lent, we studied, discussed and prayed the parables of mercy, using the diocesan resources. A few parishioners decorated the Holy Doors, although this is a work in progress and has developed throughout the year; Father John led services at both churches and blessed these doors. We also held a reflective session based on the Stations of the Cross, at which each person nailed anything they wanted to give to Jesus to a wooden cross; this was combined with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and some reflective music.
Another session was held to discuss pilgrimage and after the Easter Triduum, one parishioner walked from Canterbury to Rome, along the Via Francigena. A small group of parishioners went on the diocesan Lourdes pilgrimage, where one of them served at Masses, one as a nurse and Father John was the chaplain for the sick and infirm. Closer to home, we’ve just held a pilgrimage walk, from one church to the other, with a liturgy at Mellor Cross and Saturday evening Mass at Marple Bridge.
In the month of May, another parishioner prepared and led a Rosary Meditation with music. During June, we met to reflect on, discuss and pray for the refugee crisis; as a result of that meeting, several parishioners now volunteer at the Stockport Refugee Centre. Earlier in the year, we’d had to cancel our 24 hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (as recommended by Pope Francis) due to snow. We decided to do this in both churches during a weekend in July, using Bishop Patrick’s Adoration service; it was very moving to pray in such close proximity to the Blessed Sacrament; the readings, prayers and silence were very spiritual.
I think we’ve been very blessed during this year and the focus on God’s mercy has been both prayerful and fruitful. These events have been well-supported and involved a wide range of parishioners, young and old. We’re currently preparing a family afternoon called “Discovering Mary” which will consist of workshops, a torchlight procession and a shared supper. We hope we have taken full advantage of the Year of Mercy; many of us have increased our consciousness of God’s mercy, in the scriptures and in the Blessed Sacrament; additionally, we have been re-enthused in our Parish community to be ‘Merciful like the Heavenly Father’.