The parish that plays together stays together – and prays together.
Such was the thinking behind our latest parish get-together – an evening of Irish-inspired entertainment and high jinx in St Edmund’s Hall, to mark St Patrick’s Day on Friday 17 March. Huge thanks to everyone who made the evening a success – all the organisers and fabulous performers; Peter Harvey our MC; Pio Altarelli’s PA; Aida and her amazing shamrock cake; Caroline Coles for her photography; and our very lively, supportive audience (around 70 parishioners and friends).
At face value, the event was a great excuse to indulge in good food and drink and to enjoy the wide range of performances on offer. The talent was plentiful – poetry, storytelling and singing, along with music on the fiddle, bodhran, trumpet, recorder, drums, guitar (acoustic and electric) and piano. Additional diversion was provided in the form of an Irish trivia quiz and, for the youngsters, a snake hunt.
However, as the evening progressed, we sensed a little bit of magic at work. It was evident in the supportive whoops and applause given to each act, the knowing smiles and nods exchanged over a shared joke and the lively chatter between guests, who ranged in age from nine months to 90 years.
It was especially heartening to see so many of our talented teen parishioners taking part in the event, both on and off the stage: events such as these can inspire our youth and help to build their confidence, social skills and sense of community. Of course, we were also delighted to welcome Fr Martin and our friends from St Benet’s who happily joined in the shenanigans.
The evening opened with a prayer by Fr Charles and closed with a traditional Irish blessing but, on reflection, one could view the whole event as a parish prayer. We all know instinctively that play produces a sense of togetherness and support: it is often the overlooked glue that binds us. So, looking ahead, perhaps one very effective – and enjoyable – route to building a thriving, evangelising parish is simply to have more fun together, or as St Patrick might say, “Let’s have a bit more craic”!