Sunday, 16 September 2018

'No Car' Day in Paris

Today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. no cars will be in Paris. The city will breath a little easier and I look forward to a walk in the middle of the Champs Elysées.

Today at St Joseph's Church, 200 children and young people will begin their course for First Communion and Confirmation that they will receive next year. This is totally voluntary as they and their parents have requested this religious formation. If nobody turned up, there is nothing the church can do about it. It is such a joy when you find such a great response. The only cloud is that there are more applicants for these classes than there is space to accommodate them.

Yesterday, over 30 volunteers turned up to prepare to take these classes in two sessions, 9.30 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. Each class must have two adults present at all times and in the corridors there must always be a 'monitor' to ensure that only those who should be there are present.      

At yesterday's meeting, three of the volunteers were from the class who received the Sacrament of Confirmation in St Joseph's Church at Pentecost 2018. They have now come back to share their faith with the Confirmation Class of 2019.                                                                                                     AT

Monday, 10 September 2018

Back to School

Paris schools opened last week and the traffic increase was noticeable! As a child, I never liked 'Back to School' adverts. It was nice, though, to welcome back friends from last year and to meet new people.

This past weekend after Mass people at St Joseph's had a variety of activites: voters from USA were signing up for postal votes in the November mid-terms elections. [Pity the Irish 'Diaspora' gets no vote in any Irish or European elections!] The bookstall offers Bibles and Religious goods while coffee, tea and orange juice are served as people chat and children play.

Arrangements were being made for next week's beginning of CCD (preparation for Sacraments for children and youth). This year once again, there are more applications from families for places than we have space for classes. No a bad complaint! There will be 200 students each Sunday over two sessions, 9.30 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. with 40 volunteers and assistants taking a one-hour class. Most volunteers are not trained teachers but follow a clear and definite programme of Religious instruction and formation. These parishioners have a desire to share and hand on their faith. The high-point will be on 8th June 2019, with First Communions will be celebrated and the next day, Pentecost Sunday, Confirmations. That weekend is always special with relatives coming from all over the world.

This is not me 'blowing my own trumphet'. With me the one priest now here and for the foreseeable future, all that happens is laity-driven, as it should be. But, I am not alone! Each weekend 2,000 people cross the threshold into St Joseph's Church to take part in five weekend Masses. These come from over 40 different countries to worship in English. Being in the heart of a tourist area of Paris, beside the Arc de Triomphe, St Joseph's Church welcomes many tourists who join us for Mass.

That is my 'bit of religion' for the moment! Maybe next time I will tell about a great French/Irish wedding I was at last Saturday!                                                                                                AT