Sunday, 13 April 2008

Salvi eritis, omnes fines terrae

One of the reasons I returned to England on Easter Sunday was to attend the Farewell Mass for Canon Michael Griffiths at Our Lady Help of Christians parish in Luton. Fr Pat Beidelman from the Casa here joined me and we concelebrated the Mass at 10.00am. It was a very moving event. The church was full and many of the people were visibly weeping. Canon Michael himself was moved throughout the Mass and asked them to pray for him, as he would for them, as he made this tremendous move to the island of St Helena. As he left the church the people began to cheer and clap him. He went inside to the sacristy and removed his vestments and began to ready himself to leave the parish immediately. Here he is with St Helena hat ready:

As he left the church, he found the carpark was now full of people who wanted to see him off. The altar servers waved Welsh flags and they had secured the services of the infamous Frosty the Snowman!

Fr Jonathan Hill was driving the Canon down to Portland for his ship, but there were now so many cars parked and people gathered around, cheering, clapping and waving flags, it became difficult for them to get going. Indeed it was proved hard for Michael even to get to the car in the first place, so many people stopped in, shook his hands, hugged hima nd even asked him to bless them!

The next day I drove down to Portland and joined the two priests for an evening. We had a lovely time together. The next day I took him down to the port to board the ship, the RMS St Helena, after Fr Jonathan had bidden farewell. Michael and I spent some time chatting and praying and then the time came for me to leave. Here is the last picture I took as he was about to enter the terminal. I was sad to leave him, and for him to leave so many who love him here, but glad too that the Lord has called him for this generous work amongst a people who have no access to a priest and to the sacraments of eternal life. "What man among you, having one hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?" Michael goes to an island known as "The ends of the earth": we pray that there too the Lord may continue His work of salvation.

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