Catholic Church of The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady - Penzance - website - part of the Parish of The Holy Family
We hope you enjoy reading a selection of articles from the December 2003, (Volume 5, Issue 3) issue of our parish magazine.
The editors take no responsibility for views expressed by contributors to this publication
The articles do not appear here in any particular order
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Here we are, once more entering the Season of Goodwill. Last year at this time of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Men, the season was marred by the sight on television of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem being surrounded by tanks and guns. This year we have seen once again the deadly effects of a War waged against our Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq, and suicide bombers treading the streets and pathways of cities that Our Saviour knew two thousand years ago. In Africa another war is taking place as AIDS continues to devastate the population of that continent. Closer to home we have seen the collapse of the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland and the continuation of the religious and political animosity that has plagued the Province for hundreds of years.
Yet we still greet each other with words such as Merry Christmas, Peace and Goodwill to all.
Somehow those words are beginning to sound a little hollow given the world we seem to be making these days for ourselves and for our children. Let's make sure that when we say the Seasonal words of greeting this year we make a resolution to do what we can to really make the world a better place for everyone.
You will have noticed that I am now walking with the aid of a stick. My right knee was crocked during semi-finals of the Munster School's Cup in the late 1950's. It happened on the hallowed ground of Thomond Park, Limerick. My younger brothers, Rob and Fintan, were at the match. The coach carrying them brought them to our home in Cork long before the team reached there. My brothers announced to our parents that I had been injured. My brother couched the announcement in these words: "He is not dead because we saw him moving."
I am still moving, thank God. Now, however, I am being given even deeper insights into the difficulty which so many of you have in trying to cope with arthritis. Walking with the stick helps my balance. It also helps me cope with the feeling I have that either knee might give way at any time.
I have seen an orthopaedic consultant at the West Cornwall Hospital. He says I need a total reconstruction of the right knee. I am now on his waiting list.
This will mean a further time away from the parish. I have been trying to find a replacement priest who will be willing to be resident here. Fr Louis Purcell has immediately volunteered, bless his generous heart. I am not sure, however, if the time in which he is available will suit my own schedule
Please pray that I can find a priest who will be willing to come here at the time I can arrange for surgery. Perhaps you may know of a priest who can be considered as a locum for Penzance?
It is not just the occasional priest who is creaking just now. Our ability to continue to supply the number of Masses in the many places in which the Eucharist is presently celebrated is now in question.
A team of priests in the Cornwall Deanery has been set up to examine these matters. The team is made up of Fr Stephen Geddes, parish priest of Newquay, who is the newly appointed Dean of Cornwall; Fr Robert Draper, parish priest of St Austell, who is the Vicar General of the Diocese; Fr Bede Davis, parish priest of Falmouth, who is our former Dean; and Fr Tim Lewis, parish priest of Liskeard and Looe.
Among the factors which these priests are looking at are:
The decrease in the number of clergy.
Each member of the Church is involved in this matter. Your views should be heard. I ask you to pray for the guidance of the Holy spirit, to think through the above problems, to discuss with fellow parishioners both formally, at meetings which can be set up, or informally, over a cup of tea.
What do you think? What should our agenda be? What changes can we make to cope with the above factors? Since our care and concern must reach out to the entire Church in Cornwall - how should our generosity be manifest? Can each parish maintain the present number of weekend and daily Masses?
The Holy Spirit has not left us orphans. This Spirit will guide us now. Answers will be found, sometimes in unexpected quarters. It is lovely to note, for example, that the recent need to close Germoe Chapel on health and safety grounds was immediately met by the generosity of the Vicar of Germoe who welcomed the celebration of Mass in the village Church.
You will be hearing more about this from me, God willing. Meanwhile, please keep this date and time in mind - Sunday 8 February 2004 at 2.30pm. A meeting will be held then at the Hall of the Catholic Parish of Helston. This meeting will be led by the priests I have named above. I will be inviting the participation of members of our Pastoral Council and our Parish Finance Committee especially. But everyone is invited to attend. It makes sense, doesn't it: what affects all should be discussed by all.
Mention of our new Pastoral Council reminds me to thank all those groups in the parish who sent representatives and all those others who attended our first meeting. The final shape of our Council will emerge over time. Everyone in the parish is involved and groups which emerge from the Pastoral Council will most certainly wish to gather with other parishioners to concentrate on specific issues. Already, for example, two such issues are being addressed: Ministry to and of Youth; and outreach to young adults.
In this season of Advent please remain open to what the Spirit wishes to do next in our Church. Remember what our Holy Father wrote as he greeted the new Millennium: "It is not, therefore, a matter of inventing 'new programmes'. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition. It is the same as ever. Ultimately it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history. This programme for all times ... must be translated into pastoral initiatives adapted to the circumstances of each community What awaits us therefore is an exciting work of pastoral revitalization - a work involving all of us." (Novo Millennio Ineunte 29)
Thank you for all you do to witness to Christ. It is a privilege to be your priest.
Happy Christmas to you all
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If Jesus came to your house, I wonder what you would do?
Yes, if Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two,
If He came unexpected, just dropped in on you.
O, I know you'd give Him the nicest room, to such an honoured
guest, and all the food you'd serve would be the very best.
And you would keep assuring Him you're glad to have Him there,
That serving Him in your home - is joy beyond compare!
But when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door,
With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes, before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they had been?
Would you turn the radio off , and hope He hadn't heard,
And wish you hadn't uttered that last loud hasty word?
Would you hide your worldly music, and put some hymnbooks out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder if the Saviour stayed a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing,
and read the books you read,
And let Him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you plan to go?
Or maybe would you change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your very close friends,
Or hope they would stay away until His visit ends?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on,
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know the things that you would do,
If Jesus came in person to spend some time with you?
How often does someone really get the chance to try to make a difference to a child's life? Well this is the story of one such case.
Just about everyone has heard about Peter Pan - the boy who lived a magical life in Never Never Land and did not grow old because he had no shadow. A lot of you will also remember Pan's People - those attractive dancers who graced our television sets some years ago. Well, this is the story of a girl who is also called Pan - Pan Ainoy. She lives in a little village on an island in the middle of the mighty Mekong River in the small Asian country of Laos. However, unlike the magic of Peter Pan and the beauty of Pan's People, this Pan spends her life on the fringes of life, living in poverty and hiding in embarrassment in the shadows.
This story began for my daughter Marianne and her husband Chris last February when they were on holiday in Laos. That in itself was an adventure, but little did Marianne know that the trip would start her on another adventure that could have a profound impact on the life of someone else.
Laos is a very poor country, with many people living at a subsistence level and where hospital facilities are far and few between. Tourist guidebooks even advise people that if they get sick they should get to Thailand for medical attention as quickly as possible! Nevertheless, Laos has much to offer. Incredible scenic beauty and charm and the feeling of stepping back in time. Luang Prabang, the ancient capital has 'World Heritage' status and further south at Champasak the magnificent Angkor ruins even predate the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
The wide Mekong River passes through the country and over the years has formed many islands known locally as Si Phan Don, the Four Thousand Islands. The largest Islands are inhabited and have started to attract travellers. Enterprising locals looking to supplement their incomes from fishing and rice farming have built simple accommodation for tourists.
One day, while on one of the Islands named Don Khone, Marianne and Chris were cycling around when they caught a glimpse of a young girl with a severe facial disfigurement. The girl noticed them and quickly tried to hide her face from view.
The fleeting image of the girl remained with Marianne, not only for the remainder of the trip but also after she had returned home to London.
A few months later, Marianne read an article about a new Charity called "Facing the World". It had been set up earlier this year specifically to help children with facial disfigurements from poorer parts of the world with no access to medical treatment in their own country. To Marianne, this was a good omen. She immediately felt that she had to try to do something. So she contacted the charity to tell them about the young girl she had seen in Laos. In order for the girl to be considered for treatment, she discovered that it would be necessary to obtain a medical report about the condition as well as x-rays and photographs. She wasn't sure how she was going to go about doing this but resolved to at least try.
Through the Internet Marianne started contacting various aid agencies that had offices in Laos hoping that someone could put her in touch with a doctor in Laos. Finally through the Australian Embassy in Laos she was put in touch with an American doctor who knew of a paediatric doctor in Pakse which was the closest town with a hospital to the island where the young girl lived.
Armed only with the doctor's phone number at the hospital in Pakse, Marianne flew back to Laos in October. As soon as she got to Pakse and had checked in to a hotel, she contacted the doctor and explained the task she had in mind: that she was planning to travel to the Island where the girl lives and was hoping to be able to bring her back to Pakse for an examination, and if possible an x-ray. The doctor agreed to help and so Marianne set off to try to find the girl.
To reach the island she drove two hours by road through the jungle and then travelled a further half-hour by water taxi to reach the island. Everything now looked so different this time compared to her last visit just six months previously. The rainy season had just finished and the water level of the Mekong River was so much higher. It was now a churning mass of muddy brown water.
On arrival at the island Marianne set about trying to find the girl again. First, she found an English-speaking shopkeeper who could act as her interpreter. Then armed with a few brochures from the "Facing the World" Charity which showed the work that the Charity did and the results that they were able to achieve, she explained to some of the islanders how the Charity might be able to help the girl.
Luck was on her side and the girl was quickly identified. Someone immediately went to the young girl's village, and very soon the girl that Marianne had glimpsed those months before came to meet her accompanied with her grandmother.
The girl was called Pan, and was only sixteen years old - although she looks even younger. Marianne explained through the interpreter why she had come back and asked the girl if she wanted to go with her to the hospital in Pakse to see the doctor. Pan agreed that she would like Marianne to help if she could. So it was arranged that the next day Marianne would go to her village to talk to the Village chief to get the required permission for Marianne to take Pan to Pakse.
The Village chief gave his approval enthusiastically and soon Marianne and Pan, together with her grandmother, were on their way to the hospital in Pakse so that Pan could have the examination done. It would also be necessary to have a Referral form completed together with photographs and X-rays In order for Pan to be considered for remedial surgery by the charity Facing The World.
Because of the language barriers, achieving all this took a great deal of time but by the end of the day Marianne had all the necessary information. Everyone involved from the doctors at the hospital to the employees at the hotel in Pakse were very helpful.
Young Pan, herself, showed great courage on the trip to Pakse because she attracted lots of stares from strangers at the hospital. When she was in public she would try to hide her face by holding her jacket over her head. The experience of leaving her Island and travelling to an unfamiliar town in the company of a complete stranger, to be away overnight and to see a doctor were all things she experienced for the first time in her life.
On returning to the UK Marianne sent the Report to the "Facing the World" Charity where the surgeons looked at the photographs and x-ray and a panel met to discuss the case.
PHOTOS SHOWING THE
One of the questions that arose about Pan was whether the origin of her disfigurement might be a bacterial infection (one of the many odd and rare infections that exist in the tropics), so her photographs are now being referred to a tropical diseases expert for analysis. This does not mean that she will not be treated, but rather that if the swelling is something that can be reduced with relevant antibacterial drugs that this should be the first stage of her treatment. It would be tragic to bring her to the UK and realise that 2 months of drugs would have been able to resolve the major problems. Another possibility is that it might be a kind of localised TB infection, that usually results in swellings of the neck but which, in her case, might be on her face.
If one of these were determined to be the cause of her disfigurement, then the Charity would find her the relevant drugs to reduce her swelling and then investigate whether she still needs surgery to realign her eyes.
However, if it is possible to rule out the possibility of her having an infection, then the Charity have indicated that they will quickly start the process to bring her to the UK for treatment.
One of the criteria for treatment is that the operation must enhance the child's life, and Marianne is hoping that Pan will meet all the criteria, because without the appropriate treatment she would have little chance of getting married and having children of her own. In the Bhuddist religion disabilities and disfigurements are considered to be payments for sins in past lives!
Perhaps we can adopt Pan in our prayers and pray for a successful outcome. How wonderful it would be for Pan to be able to walk around freely with her head held high and no long need to try to hide her face from every stranger that she passes.
Click this link to read all about "Facing the World" orTelephone (+ 4 4) 0 2 0 7 3 5 2 0 0 5 2
Tuesday at 9.30 am in the Church
and The Holy Rosary is also prayed half an hour before all weekday Masses in
the Church or Haven Chapel. ALL
and The Holy Rosary is also prayed half an hour before all weekday Masses in
the Church or Haven Chapel. ALL
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