Announcement from Fr Simon

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

Monday, 15th February, is the 25th Anniversary of my Induction as Vicar of St Martin’s, Ruislip. In some ways, 15th February 1996 feels like yesterday!

 

The years have shot past, but much has happened. We’ve done a lot together in terms of mission, re-ordering the interior of the church building (twice), developing liturgy with seasonal variations, nurturing young people and adults in the faith, working in partnership with BWI, BR and our other local schools, developing a variety of lay ministries, training and launching curates into parish ministry, going on pilgrimages and visits to Walsingham, to the Abbey of Bec, to Taize,  to places in and around Tours associated with St Martin, to the Holy Land, Romania and elsewhere….

 

Most of all I feel a huge sense of gratitude for all the fun we’ve had and all the love and support I’ve received as I have tried to serve you and the mission of St Martin’s in a rapidly changing culture and a changing world. Undergirding everything has been the steady, life-giving rhythm of prayer: the Daily Office and Mass, with a wonderful number of people participating on weekdays as well as Sundays, as well as the faithful work of the Prayer Support Group.

 

This summer I shall have been a priest for 40 years. I’m hoping and the churchwardens have kindly agreed, that we might have some kind of celebration that will draw us all together, on Saturday 10th July at midday, perhaps out of doors in the churchyard, weather permitting.

 

I’m writing to you now to say that this will also be the occasion at which I say “Farewell.” I shall be retiring as Vicar of this parish, but I won’t cease to be a priest: that is for life! Plans are in place for me to continue having an active ministry supporting the life of the Church in the rural community in the Diocese of Salisbury where Nikki and I will be living.

 

All the signs are that by July, we will be in a far happier place than we are now, certainly with the increasing rollout of the vaccine. St Martin’s is also, currently, in a strong position to cope with an interregnum, having two young and gifted curates, strong and competent lay leadership and the support of active retired priests. Our priority during the coming months must now be to make sure we have key people in place to re-imagine, rebuild and sustain those areas of our life and mission which have been put on hold since the first lockdown in March last year.

 

An interregnum can be a challenging time for a parish church, but it can also a time with exciting potential during which, not infrequently, undiscovered gifts emerge from within a congregation. It is an opportunity to reflect on what you want for the future of St Martin’s and what are the qualities you might hope for in a new parish priest who can work with you in forming fresh vision for the future. But the interregnum does not start until the current incumbent has gone, so there’s no need to get ahead of ourselves, or get into a panic!

 

Let’s focus now on making sure that everything is in place for the period of time when St Martin’s will be without a vicar, to run smoothly. Our church has deep spiritual roots, a deep and living anglo-catholic spiritual tradition, a large (by CofE standards) congregation and thus significant resources on which to draw. Priests come and then move on; people come and go… “but the Church of Jesus, constant will remain.”

We are about to enter the season of Lent. Do visit the church, to pick-up resources and guidance for Lent. Please also, check-out our website. Here again, is the guidance for Lent that I sent out recently:-

 

We won’t be back in church at the beginning of Lent, but I do hope that at some stage soon, well before Holy Week, we’ll feel confident to start public worship again.  In the meantime, there are some things we can do, perhaps by making a personal Lent Rule of Life which might include some of the following ingredients:-

  • Make an intentional pilgrimage to visit St Martin’s Church to pray for a while on Ash Wednesday (when the church will be open from 7am until 8pm) and during the season of Lent.

  • Spiritual reading: over the course of Lent, try reading one of the Gospels bit by bit and pray about what we’ve read, or use the Walk with me daily guide to Lent (£1) which will be available in church. There’s also a book called Rooted in Love with daily reflections by the College of Bishops of the Diocese of London, available in church and from Amazon.

  • Look up this short Lent booklet written by our former curate, Fr Philip Barnes. There are also copies in church.

  • Try fasting from something you know isn’t doing you much good, or just eat less! Physical hunger can evoke spiritual hunger and a desire for God.

  • Charitable giving or charitable action: collecting boxes for the Additional Curates’ Society will be at the back of church. ACS supports churches and communities in some of the most deprived parts of Britain. Their work is more urgent than ever now. We can also support them by visiting their website   We could also ask ourselves in Lent, if there is some charitable action that we should take up, such as helping a neighbour, or phoning someone who might be lonely, or repairing a relationship that has gone wrong.

  • Participate in the opportunities for praying together on our website and Facebook page. You might also like to take advantage of other Lent worship resources at the Shrine at Walsingham, or Taize or the Diocese of London or another church, either locally or anywhere else in the world.

  • On this website, there will be a short devotion for Ash Wednesday,  as well as a version of Stations of the Cross that we can follow at home. Our Lent Course, Christian Witnesses: Signs of Hope, in which five local people describe their way of living the Christian life will also, I hope, be available to watch from home, at least until we can be back in church again.

  • While public worship is suspended, the church will remain open every day. We can go in to pray. There will be material available for us to use individually, such as a short version of  Stations of the Cross and a Prayer Walk around the church. Please remember that once you’ve touched or picked up a leaflet or piece of paper, you should not put it back but take it away with you.  

 

My very best wishes and prayers for you all,

 

Fr Simon

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St Martin's Church
Eastcote Road

Ruislip
Middlesex

HA4 8DG

England

Tel: 01895 625456


Email: stmartinsruislip@btconnect.com

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