Mary Gomersall (1930-2015) Requiem Mass address

A Requiem Mass was held at St Chrysostom’s on Thursday 16th April for Mary Gomersall, Fr Ian’s mother. Mary had enjoyed worshipping at St Chrysostom’s when in Manchester, and making friends there. Revd Dr Kim Wasey, Ian’s wife, spoke at the Mass about Mary’s life, and her connection with St Chrysostom’s.

Mary Gomersall, always took a great interest in Ian and where he was and what he was doing, faithfully writing while he was at university, regularly visiting through curacy, still caring for and supporting him in practical ways too.

But of all the places he has lived and worked, St Chrysostoms had a special place in her heart.

Mary on her 80th birthday

Mary on her 80th birthday

Mary loved this place, and the people here, and she loved especially coming with us on the parish pilgrimage to Walsingham and sharing in the meals and worship and visits and of course the evening quiz! And through that, and her visits here to St Chrysostoms, she made some firm friends here, who I know meant a great deal to her.

Mary was a faithful pilgrim.  In many ways her whole life was that of a faithful pilgrim.

There were often times when it was not clear what would happen next or how things were going to be ok, from the loss of her father when she was only 5 years old, to trying, along with her husband John, to make ends meet and build a life as a newly married couple – through times of unexpected illness and hardship and the change and challenge that life brings

She remained faithful. And she is one of a line of strong and faithful women, her mother and her grandmother before her, women who held families together through tough times, with fortitude and giftedness.

Mary had faith in people and was willing to see the good and the potential, even when others sometimes struggled to do the same.

But she was also willing to speak the truth as she saw it, especially if that was about speaking up for those who couldn’t speak up for themselves, or challenging with truths that might be a bit uncomfortable to hear.

She was faithful in prayer, so much so that, not long before she died, her rosary gave out and broke and she was anxious that Ian should send up a new one.

She was faithful in her commitment to her own parish church in Sedgefield, asking for the newsletter to be dropped round even when she was too unwell to get to church herself, and she was always very pleased when the rector brought her communion at home.

She was never failingly interested in the lives of her children, and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She and Dominic would chatter away on the phone, and she cared very much for Gregory’s uniqueness, how he was managing at school and so forth, and she always chose wonderful gifts that became great treasures to Annie, including the hello kitty lunchbox she takes to school every day.

She was a faithful pilgrim on the journey of family life – treasuring the stories of the past, caring for people in the hard times, and celebrating with them in the good – listening, accepting, loving and wanting the best.

She was a faithful pilgrim in her Christian life. Constant and committed, yet open to new insight and sharing the journey generously with all she met on it – from whatever background or circumstance in life.

In this time of Eastertide, we celebrate a foretaste of the joy of heaven, and of what it is to live in the light of the resurrection.

The poem we heard (Kipling’s The Glory of the Gardenthat Mary chose for her funeral was picked up beautifully by the Rector of Sedgefield to talk about Mary’s life and you’ll see his words in the memories booklet.

He talked of how, that first Easter, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb looking for Jesus’ body, heard his voice, and met him resurrected in the garden. Mary Magdalene was deeply faithful in that journey she made, that pilgrimage, back to the tomb of Jesus, still to offer care to his body even after believing she had lost him to death. And she was rewarded for her faithfulness by witnessing the glory of the resurrection.

Mary Gomersall was faithful in tending to her family, her friends, her Community, and in tending and nurturing her faith. Now her pilgrimage has reached its end, and its culmination in the place God has prepared for her. May she now meet the risen Christ in the garden of resurrection that is eternal life.

May she rest in peace, and rise in glory.  Amen.

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Centenary of the Armenian massacres

armgen100-1-150x150The lead letter in today’s (17th April) edition of the Church Times is from Fr Ian. It speaks for itself.

Centenary of the Armenian massacres

Khatchaturian, Exiles 1915, in the National Gallery of Armenia

Khatchaturian, Exiles 1915, in the National Gallery of Armenia

Sir, – On 24 April, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day marks the centenary of the beginning of the massacres that cost the lives of more than one million Armenian children, women, and men.

Special events are being held in Yerevan and elsewhere to remember the atrocity perpetrated against the Armenians.

The achievement of genocide on this scale encouraged others later in the 20th century to follow suit. Very significantly, Adolf Hitler is reported to have said: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

The Church of England has always enjoyed good relations with the Armenian Church, and here in Manchester my own parish church has been pleased to welcome friends from the local Armenian church, and also to visit them for worship.

I hope that many churches in England will offer prayer for the Armenian peoples at this significant anniversary for them, and, in doing so, “speak today” and take a stand against such atrocities.

Ian Gomersall
St Chrysostom’s Rectory

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Jesus appears to the disciples

Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis) at St Chrysostom’s 2015

We are following the Easter story through Eastertide in a Way of Light (Via Lucis). Each Sunday in Eastertide we offer a  stopping place – a Station of the Resurrection (based on those found in the Church of England’s Common Worship), for personal prayer and reflection.

3. Jesus appears to the disciples Luke 24.36-43

Christ appears to the disciples at the table after the Resurrection (Duccio di Buoninsegna d.1319)

Christ appears to the disciples at the table after the Resurrection (Duccio di Buoninsegna d.1319)

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. ______________________________________________________

We praise you and we bless you, our risen Lord Jesus, King of glory, for in your birth you were proclaimed the Prince of Peace, and in your resurrection you breathe into your people peace beyond this world’s understanding. Be present, Lord, this day with those whose lives are disfigured by conflict and those whose hearts know no peace. To you, Lord Jesus, true bringer of the peace of heaven, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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Ours the cross, the grave, the skies

Dr Noel Preston continues his series of hymns for the current church season. (See an earlier entry here). Here Noel chooses a hymn for Eastertide, and offers his own choice of tune for the hymn.

One of Charles Wesley’s finest works begins in many hymn-books with the line

Love’s redeeming work is  done

though in some collections this verse is preceded by another one, so that the above line does not appear in the index. (Often sung words can be found by clicking here).

The various compilers set the words to a number of different tunes, usually including “Savannah”, a weak tune which may well suit more reflective words, but is quite inappropriate here.   It tends to trickle down, with several ‘passing’ notes that make it even weaker.   Moreover, like others of the set tunes, it has us descending in one verse, note by note, from the grave to the skies !


Wesley’s words demand a strong rising tune;  and one of the Revd Dr Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley’s tunes “Bewdley” fits them admirably.   It lifts our voices steadily upwards as we sing

  Made like him  like him we rise

and reaches its climax at the first note of the following line, as we sing

 Ours the cross  the grave  the skies

and the last few notes of Ouseley’s tune for this line direct us up from the despondency of the tomb towards the realisation that He is not here, He is risen.   We remember that the Christian symbol, the Cross, shows us the path we must tread through our trials and tribulations, till we accept the abundant grace with which to triumph over the evils of this world, and thus to achieve the rewards of inward happiness, contentment, and even joy.

A final thought  —  the climax in the tune “Bewdley” is just right in other verses of Wesley’s hymn also:

Christ has opened Paradise

                    Where thy victory O grave

                    Hail the Resurrection thou !

Footnote:  Ouseley’s “Bewdley” is not appreciated by many compilers of hymns;  but it can be found in both Standard and Revised versions of Hymns Ancient and Modern (though not associated with these words).

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Resonant moments of Holy Week

Fr Ian looks back at the liturgies of Holy Week and the Great Three Days this year

At the Easter Vigil

At the Easter Vigil

The worship of Holy Week and Easter enters deeply into the imagination, mind and soul. It is a time to let this happen, and so be nourished spiritually with the sacred signs, sacraments and symbols of this holy time. Some of the most poignant moments are familiar to all, and were for me again this year. They include the sense of togetherness (‘team work’) in the experience of the worship, the washing of feet, the watch at the altar of repose, the desolation of Good Friday, light and dark of the Easter Vigil, and the singing of the Exsultet.

Some moments are particular to the year and to the individual. I thought I would share some of my resonant moments of this year, and in doing so encourage others to consider what resonated for them.

The darkness and lament of Tenebrae: Having suffered a recent close bereavement I found the laments sung in Tenebrae allowed me to bring deep feelings forward in prayer, and doing this was comforting in the serenity and darkness of the liturgy.

The Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday

The Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday

People at prayer in the Watch: I experienced a feeling of solidarity in prayer at the Maundy Thursday watch, not only with those at prayer in church but also with Christians around the world who were praying at the same time.


Maria Desolata: Patty Wickman’s Passion Painting which formed part of our devotion on Good Friday evening had a significant effect on me. Here was Mary back at home asleep, as it were, on Good Friday. However, her sleep was calm. It was a sleep which inspired and tried to begin to give meaning and hope to the devastating events.

One of the flower displays made by children of our schools for Easter

One of the flower displays made by children of our schools for Easter


Solemn Te Deum: After we’d received Communion at Mass on Easter Day we had a new feature at Mass – a singing, with lashings of incense, of the Te Deum, an ancient song of praise of the Church, sung with lots of Alleluias. The joy of the singing, the beauty of the church and people together and the strength of the worship was wonderful and uplifting.

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The Road to Emmaus

Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis) at St Chrysostom’s 2015

We are following the journey through Easter in a ‘Via Lucis’ Each Sunday in Eastertide we offer a  stopping place – a Station of the Resurrection (based on those found in the Church of England’s Common Worship), for personal prayer and reflection.

 2. The Road to Emmaus  Luke 24: 28-35

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them.


“Christ at Emmaus” by Walter Rane

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

We praise you and we bless you, our risen Lord Jesus, King of glory, for you are with us, even when our eyes are closed to your companionship. Walk this day alongside the disconsolate and the despairing, open their eyes to your gentle illumination, and let their hearts burn within them at your invisible presence. To you, Lord Jesus, walking by our side, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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Celebrate the 50 days

Alleluia! Christ is Risen

Easter isn’t just one day – it’s a season of 50 days

Christians make a lot of Lent – giving up things, fasting, praying, and other worthy things – some of them good, some of them pretty heavy going. Lent is a season of 40 days to get ready for Easter, and Easter is a season of joy and celebration and its 50 days. (Easter Day to Pentecost Sunday).

Easter C at Altar

Easter candle burning on Easter day

We love the Easter Season at St Chrysostom’s. We are a welcoming church which loves to celebrate richly, and Easter season is the time to do that. Our great Easter Candle (and it is big!) is placed right at the front of the Church throughout Easter, our Easter flowers are  lovely, our liturgies resonate with Alleluias.

And more… We don’t want our Easter joy to be confined to a church building. As Easter People we want to live out our Easter faith. So at St Chrysostom’s we campaign for a Real Eastertide! We look for ways to explore the beauty and joy of this special season, and show ourselves ourselves and others that we are an Easter people.

We invite you to make this wonderful season special for yourself and others. We’ve lots of ideas as to how to celebrate Easter.

Why not take some of them up or make some of your own?

Click here: 50-days-ideas for this year’s list of ideas for the 50 days.

Have you more ideas? We’d love you to contribute them here by adding a comment, or join the discussion in our Church Facebook Group.

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