Last June, St. Kessog’s held an Ecumenical Vespers to launch the celebration of both the Year of St. Paul and the parish’s Golden Jubilee. This June they closed both years in similar fashion. Fr. Fitzgerald welcomed parishioners and visitors, including the Rev. Derek Bibb of the Methodist Union and the Rev. Sally Gorton of St. Mungo’s Episcopal Church, Fr. McElwee and Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick and the St. Mungo Singers for the celebration which opened with the singing of Noel Donnelly’s new hymn written for the Year of St. Paul, “St. Paul of Tarsus” to the tune of “For all the saints”.

The Vespers continued with Dr. Donnelly’s setting of Psalm 115, with a new Pauline response “I will boast of my weakness, that Christ may dwell in me.”, followed by Mgr. Fitzpatrick’s setting of Psalm 125, again with a response suited to the celebration of an apostle “I am here among you as one who serves”. The canticle was from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, “Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (words & music: Noel Donnelly).

The homily was given by the Rev. Sally Gorton who reflected rather wryly that it was with some trepidation that she had agreed to do it, given St. Paul’s views of women in church! Yet without Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, we would not be here at this service. Referring to the reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 12, she commented that this letter had been a most difficult one for Paul to write, as it was to a church riven by conflict. The thrust of his letter was that the members of the church in Corinth were to remember they were the Body of Christ. They had been baptised into unity, into inclusiveness, and they needed all the gifts given by the Spirit. .

She reminded the congregation that Paul had been a well-educated man from a well-to-do family, with Roman citizenship. His experience on the road to Damascus had turned his life around and it was never to be the same. He was still the same person with the same qualities but God used them to transform him. The same was true for all of us.

The service continued with the sung Magnificat, followed by the Intercessions and the Our Father. The St. Mungo Singers then sang the Geoffrey Shaw anthem “Hail, Gladdening Light!” before the final blessing (spoken and sung) and the final hymn which was a setting of the canticle from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians “Let’s Give Thanks to God our Father” (words, Stephen Smyth).

The congregation then retired to the Church Hall to enjoy a Cheese and Wine celebration.