Each week for the past eight years I have produced and published a parish bulletin here in Paris. It is composed of notices for the coming week and a reflection on the Mass Readings for that weekend. I am amazed that a few people from different parts of the world contact me to comment on something or other that I have written. But, in case I would get carried away with my own literary ability, I am often told by people here that "nobody reads the parish bulletin" (printed edition). I don't mind, as I get great satisfaction in putting together some thoughts for each weekend. If you care to see what I am going on about, www.stjoeparis.org will lead you to the Parish Notices and Reflections on the St Joseph's Parish website. Soon I hope that the parish will have a Facebook page, (I am on Facebook for years), and also that the Masses at St Joseph's can be seen on Youtube shortly. That would mean that parishioners who spent some years in Paris could link in if they wishes to follow Sunday Mass or if a friend was being married here or a funeral Mass was being held. I'll announce when this service is up and running.
In the middle of Lent, one bright light has been the great support for St Joseph's Lenten Project 2016. We are supporting two educational projects in the Middle East for children of the wars going on. One is in Syria where the Jesuits are educating children in Homs so that one day, please God, they will be able to return to their home towns having been separated from family by war. The other is in Iraq where children are being educated in Kirkouk, so that these children will one day be the future of a peaceful and thriving Middle East. There is a real danger that ancient places of Christian worship stretching back centuries will soon be no more. The humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes in Europe brings tears to my eyes. The two projects to help children in the Middle East is supported on the Sundays of Lent by means of a special collection taken during the five weekend Masses. So far, I have been able to send €13,500 to 'L'Oeuvre d'Orient' who are the group who put the money to work in these places. This past weekend, we had a young Syrian lawyer who is a parishioner speak at some of the Masses at St Joseph's to tell of his experience since leave Aleppo, Syria in 2012. There are other Syrian parishioners who have come forward to help. Please God, we can make even a little difference for children who are traumatised by this long and fierce war.
On a lighter note, the Six Nations visit to the Stade de France did not leave us feeling great. Still, hope springs eternal! Then, we have the European Soccer to look forward to in June when Ireland - North and South - will be here to compete. It will be a good summer and who knows how far either or both teams will go. A.T.