St. Margaret’s Children & Family Care Society celebrated 55 years of working for children and families with Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes Church on 30 May 2010. The principal celebrant was Archbishop Conti, and many of the adoptive and foster parents and children who have been involved with the Society or benefited from its services were present.
As people gathered for the Mass, the St. Mungo Singers provided reflective music, before leading the congregation in the singing of the Magnificat. Archbishop Conti welcomed all present with great pleasure on what he remarked was a very apposite day for the celebration, the Sunday designated for celebrating the Day for Life in the UK and the vigil of the Feast of the Visitation.
The Mass continued with the singing of the Russian Kyrie and the joyful Dunkeld Gloria, followed by the readings for the Sunday, including the sung responsorial Psalm (Ps 8 – What is man that You should keep Him in mind?). After an initial hitch with a rogue microphone – Archbishop Conti joked about his well-known difficult relationship with technology – the Archbishop gave the homily. He commented firstly on the readings and psalm with their references to the creative work of God which inspires us to praise the Trinity for their gift of love. Creation is ongoing and the plan of God is to unite all things in Christ. This is the effect of the gift of the Spirit.
Archbishop Conti pointed out that the Day for Life is linked this year to the Feast of the Visitation – the meeting of two pregnant mothers – and it was most appropriate to sing the Magnificat as the opening hymn, a hymn of praise and celebration for God’s actions. The St. Margaret Society serves life at its beginnings. Unfortunately now increasingly the need is to defend life at its conclusion. The Day for Life leaflet has this as its theme this year. Referring to our Christian belief that, in death, “life is changed not ended” and to the Newman poem “The Dream of Gerontius”, the Archbishop put before the congregation the need to bring this alternative view of the ending of life with dignity and support before our society, as an alternative to the views offered by those in favour of assisted death.
As the congregation sang the beautiful Marian hymn “Mary, Full of grace”, the gifts of bread and wine were brought to the sanctuary. The congregation smiled as one little girl in the procession showed a determination to put the ciborium on the altar herself, and dispense with the help of the deacons.
After Communion, the collection for the Day for Life was taken up, and Archbishop Conti explained that the money would go to various pro-life causes and organisations including the hospices for the terminally ill. At the end of the Mass, he thanked all present for their work in cherishing life. In particular two couples were thanked for their work for the Society at this celebratory Mass with the award of the Archdiocesan Medal, at the request of the Society.
Fr. Tom White, the Chair of the Board, introduced the couples, firstly James and Geraldine Lynch, and then Michael and Eleanor Kane (who had fostered over 100 children). Each was presented by the Archbishop with the Archdiocesan Medal and the ladies also received a bouquet, as the congregation enthusiastically applauded.
The Mass then ended with the rousing “God, we praise you”. The St. Mungo Singers then sang the Schubert Salve Regina as the congregation made its way to the parish hall for refreshments and a chance to catch up with friends. It was a heartwarming celebration, and the presence of so many children added to the joy and the sense of celebration, both in the liturgy and in the hall afterwards.