A message from Fr Bill: The Christmas Tree in the presbytery – this is it’s fourth year growing in the parish garden. Caroline and I bring it in each year for its Christmas treat – to show off its beautiful branches and celebrate the coming of Jesus. We wish you a holy and happy Christmas and we thank you in the parish for your generous and gracious support during the past year. May God bless you all. Special arrangements for Christmas and the New Year! There will be no Saturday vigil mass on Saturday 28December  There will be on 4th Jan. On  29 December and 5 January there will be just the 11am mass.  On Christmas Day Mass will be at 10am and on New year’s Eve mass will be at 11.30pm

Fr Bill writes: 43 meters underneath the Thames and about three minutes’ walk along the narrow gantry that runs beside the narrow gauge railway built to take the tunnellers to work the tunnel makes a right. From the shaft that goes down sheer for 90 feet the tunnel has been making its way out from the north bank of the Thames towards the centre of the river, now it takes this right hand curve at the start of what Ivor Thomas, the head of the tunneling operation at Tideway West calls “The Barrel”. He calls it that because the view from that point is as straight as the inside of a gun barrel, the longest gun barrel you have ever seen, travelling straight and true over two kilometers towards Putney railway bridge.
The inside of the tunnel wider than a London Tube and lined with concrete has the grey colour of a gun barrel. The tunnellers are on target to complete the whole 7K to Acton by the summer. Then they will spray another coat of concrete on the walls of the tunnel and take out the railway line to give the barrel a smooth surface along which will flow, in two years’ time, the sewage of London. The tunnel has a shelf life of 125 years but Eoin who was acting as my server on Thursday reckons that it could last 100 years after that. It’s even proofed against the inevitable tidal surges that will overwhelm London in the coming decades as global warming raises sea levels and overwhelms the Thames Barrier.
For we were there for a unique Carol service, eighty or so construction workers and myself. Dressed in bright orange and green working gear, wearing massive boots you could drop a weight on and do yourself no damage, gloved, hard-hatted and wearing protective glasses we were down at Pit Bottom at the base of the shaft, gathered to sing God’s praises before the work-force went home for their hugely deserved two week Christmas break.
One tunneller, Maeve Kelly from Mayo sang ‘O Holy Night’ with the voice of an angel. Her perfect voice filled the huge space of this modern cathedral with its soaring grey tower reaching up from the depths to the surface. Duncan, who was at the top of the shaft standing by to lead a rescue team should anything have gone wrong was moved by the ethereal beauty of that voice. We were standing in awe and silence as we listened to those haunting words of hope sung in such a totally manufactured, artificial environment- “A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices, Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born.”
We prayed for that workforce, for their children and a baby to be born in January, for their younger siblings and for the forthcoming joy of families reunited, we prayed for those who were not well, One had been hit by a bus, others were in hospice or having bone marrow transplants from their own family; we prayed for those who had died. Then we sang carols, not so well though we tried hard but the scaffolder choir who we had expected to reinforce our efforts had been called to another site.
I reflected on Christmas: “In a field above Bethlehem there is a cave where the shepherds were sheltering when they heard the angels singing in the sky above them, ‘peace on earth, goodwill to all humankind’. The reason the angels were singing was that a baby had been born in Bethlehem that night and he was to be called Jesus and he was to bring peace to a troubled world. Two thousand years later we still hear the angels singing and we still pray for peace, peace in our hearts, peace in our lives and peace amongst families, peoples and nations. For that is what Christmas is about, spreading peace and goodwill around us.”
Then Eoin who had been standing beside me and giving me strength read the opening words of John’s Gospel about the darkness not being able to overcome the light. Then I blessed everyone and we sang “God rest you merry gentlemen” and then thanked everyone and presented a bouquet of flowers to Maeve and we all had our photo taken.
The tunnel stretches out straight and true, like the barrel of a gun. It will take all the bilge and bile, the dirty water and excreta that we produce and take it way and it will be processed. Faith in Christ at Christmas is about this tunnel of his love that will take all our sin and sadness away from us and process it through the cleansing power of God’s love. It is that which gives us peace at Christmas time. The little baby of Bethlehem will save us from our sin and folly and set us again on the right path. Happy Christmas!

He came to save us all. Happy Christmas one and all!

 

 

 

 

 

Adoration of the Blessed sacrament

This is an excellent cup of coffee! Enjoying Sunday’s BBQ

Nina at the BBQ on Sunday welcoming the police as part of our community

Bride and Maureen at the BBQ

 

 

With Our Lord of Pardon Catholic Charismatic Group on Sunday afternoon

 

Blessing of St Barbara Patron Saint of Tunnellers before tunneling starts from Carnwath Road to Acton

 

We will be blessing the statue of St Barbara on
Tuesday at the mouth of the 7k tunnel to be driven through to Acton

 

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Holy Saturday morning and the team of flower arrangers have been busy making the church look lovely for Easter

 

Palm Sunday Procession

procession on Palm Sunday

Our pilgrimage sets off to enter the Holy City! (Actually not, this is a picture outside the Armenian church and convent in Jerusalem in 1894 taken from the book The Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galillee and the journey of His Apostles, by Bishop John Vincent, the Rev James Lee and photographer R E M Bain. However, 11 of us did go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in February 2019.

 

Domenico our organist. After nearly two years, in November 2019, Domenico went to further his studies and his career in Rome and his very able assistant Eric Chan is now playing for us. Eric, I will get you picture onto the website ASAP!

 

 

 

Mudbug: The Nativity seen from the point of view of a lobster. Performances on 15th and 16th December 2018 after mass. Performed by the parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. A short play set in 1st century Cornwall and Palestine.  Above: The birth of Jesus. Below: 1. Joseph of Arimethaea and Burt the Tin (Grania’s husband)  barter dried fish from Galilee for tin from Cornwall. 2. the fish gather around the lobster pot to say farewell to Mudbug. 3. the cast take a bow (left to right) : Joseph of Bethlehem/Nazareth; Mary;  The Angel (and the robber); the stall holder in Jerusalem and the Inn Keeper:  Melchior (the Wise Men) , Jonah, (Simon Peter’s father and Joseph of Arimethaea’s brother); Burt the Tin; Mudbug (the Great Cornish Lobster); Caspar (The Wise Men); Joseph of Arimethaea; Balthazar (the Wise Men); Simon Peter; Grania (Burt the Tin’s wife and The Star from the East).4. Holding onto the scripts!  Music by Caroline Bowder, Set (Lobster Pot by Sylvester Baptiste), lighting and sound effects by Terence O’Connor). Play written and directed by Bill Bowder

 

 

Enjoying the first of our fortnightly community lunches cooked in our new kitchen in Our Lady’s Hall, Since October we have provided lunch once a month on a Tuesday and Sands End Adventure Playground in Pineapple Park has  providing lunch two weeks later. We will start again in the New year.

 

At our first community lunch in the hall cooked in our new kitchen. Now, a year later, at the end of 2019,  the community lunch is still going strong. It is on the first Tuesday of the month, except in January. Anybody is welcome!

 

Fr Bill waiting with an estimated 200,000-250,000 pilgrims in Phoenix park,   Dublin, on a rainy, windy, lovely day as the Pope arrives to celebrate Mass  in August

Caroline, one of our delegation of two from Our Lady’s keeping dry as we waited for the Pope to appear

Irish music at the RDS during a break at the World Meeting of Families

 

Pilgrims at an afternoon Mass in the main arena at the RDS Dublin during the World Meeting of Families

Rain had soaked the worshippers at the Mass in the RDS as we received communion,  then the rainbow appeared, a great promise of hope for the Church.

The icon of Christ appears in glory lit by the late evening sun

Bishop, one of our asylum seeker family members, drew this card for us.

 

 

Francesco opens a bottle of wine for us; he cooked a wonderful BBQ on Pentecost Sunday, many thanks.

Marie at the BBQ on Pentecost Sunday

George talking to Megumi at the BBQ on Pentecost Sunday

Maria at the BBQ on Pentecost Sunday

 

The Blessing of the Statue to St Barbara patron saint of miners and tunellers at Tideway West, Carnwath Road.

The church is made ready for the First Communion Celebration Day 22 April 2018

Baby Alexander in foreground with Baby Theo by the font after they were baptised on Saturday 21 April.

The organist, Domenico, and the choir in April

Sarah, one of our two volunteer co-ordinators who organise our team of volunteers to provide food, clothing, toiletries, a little cash – and thousands of nappies to our asylum-seeker families who visit us on Sunday afternoons once a month.

 

Flowers on the Altar in the Lady Chapel.

Sunset over Pineapple Park

 

The shop in the hall after 11am Mass

 

Above: neighbours and friends met outside the church on 18 June, 2017 a beautiful day for the Great Get-Together lunch as we recognised, as the late Jo Cox MP said, we have much more that unites us than divides us.

 

Above: The Church Tower at evening time.

 Catechists and flower arrangers prepare for Sunday’s First Communion celebration 2017

Happy Easter

 Easter Flowers and (below) front of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, flowers in church and camellias blossoming outside as Spring arrives

 

Easter Font  2017

 

 

 

 

stephendale road exteriorOur Lady of Perpetual Help here in Fulham, near the Thames  is open for each and everyone of us all through this coming year. The church that carries her name is in Stephendale Road in Fulham, SW6. We have had many occasions to thank her for her intercessions to her Son in whose name we live and move and have our being. Here there is a welcome for everyone of goodwill, a place of prayer and beauty.

Our postal address is Parish House, 2 Tynemouth Street, Fulham, SW6 2QT. You will find Sand’s End east of Wandsworth Bridge Road, south of New King’s Road, north Imperial Wharf. You can contact us on 020 7736 4864. Fr Bill’s email is billbowder@rcdow.org.uk and his parish mobile is 07598878599 and the parish email address is stephendaleroad@rcdow.org.uk