Saint Faith's Red Letter Day

The 2005 Patronal Festival High Mass at Saint Faith's was in every sense a 'Red Letter' occasion.  We had a full church, an inspiring guest preacher, rows of robed visiting priests, including Methodist and Roman Catholic clergy, uplifting music of various kinds, and a church decked out and illuminated to great effect, with the sanctuary aglow and striking banners hung on the  screen.

Highlights of the service included a fine performance of Louis Vierne's 'Messe Solonelle', a Gradual sung in French, from the Conques community liturgy, and a sermon by Fr Philip North, Priest Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Reproduced below is the introduction from the servce book prepared for the occasion, giving details of the special features of this very special occasion. The service was followed by the traditional food, drink and fellowship in the  Parish Hall.

TODAY WE GIVE THANKS for the life, example and prayers of Saint Faith, our Patron.

 Saint Faith was only 13 years old when her father denounced her to the Roman proconsul Dacien because she refused to forswear her then-forbidden Christian faith and make a sacrifice to the goddess Diana. She was tortured, beheaded and buried at Agen in the year 304 AD; five centuries later, her remains were brought to the Benedictine Abbey at Conques. As we celebrate our liturgy this evening we pray for the community in Conques where some went on pilgrimage this time last year.  The community of Conques is served by the Premonstratensian order, founded in 1120 by St. Norbert at Prémontré, near Laon, France. The brothers also have a house in Manchester. We are delighted that Fr. Hugh, from that order based in Manchester, is leading the Prayers of the People tonight.

 We pray too today for the repose of the soul of our founder and benefactor, Douglas Horsfall, who built our parish church in honour of Saint Faith. As we give thanks for the life and witness of this parish church, we ask the prayers of Saint Faith for the future that God will continue to bless all that we seek to do in His name. We are grateful for the gift of new surplices for the choir, worn for the first time this evening, in memory of Aileen Dawber, R.I.P. and we extend our thanks to her family for this most generous gift.

 We extend a warm welcome this evening to visiting priests and people.  The two newly-ordained Deacons at this mass originate from the Diocese of Liverpool and are the Rev. Derek Hyett (serving the parishes of S. Alphege Edmonton and S. Matthew Ponders End in the Diocese of London) and the Rev. Paul Hutchins (serving the parish of S. Paul Royton in the Diocese of Manchester).  We also welcome and thank our visiting musicians Dominic Starkey (Trumpet), David Houlder (Organ) and Sarah Helsby-Hughes (Mezzo-Soprano).

Click on any image below for a larger version.

The pictures show the glowing colours of the High Altar and Sanctuary,
scenes from the service and group photos of the large sanctuary party, the servers and the choir.
The bottom row features the banners, the statue of St Faith and Fr Philip North with Fr Neil Kelley


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