The Louise da Cocodia award 2017

Giving the Louise Da Cocodia award at St Chrysostom’s School is one of the delights of my work as parish priest.

The reward is a memorial to Louise who was a wonderful, and much missed, member of our congregation and a remarkable woman in the history of Manchester too. You can read about Louise on our church blog – click here.

Louise had a special heart for the marginalised of city life, and a special concern for those of minority ethnic groups. In addition she was a committed foundation governor at St Chrysostom’s School.

When she died, in her honour, St Chrysostom’s School  instituted the Louise da Cocodia award at St Chrysostom’s School. Towards the end of the academic year staff at the school are asked to nominate a child who has made a special contribution to school life through the year. This isn’t particularly intended to be someone who has achieved academically but rather someone who by their manner and work has built up care and love in the school. In a sense its like a citizenship award.

The award emphasises that school life encompasses more than lessons and is about helping others, caring and good relationships. Of course its difficult to choose and most of the children would be worthy nominees. This year it was so difficult to choose that we decided to give two awards.

At the end of year assembly in the school Miss White and Mr Birks explained the reasons for the nomination, and talked of the help, kindness, sensitivity and warmth Muskaan and Alisha have shown, and of the valuable contribution they have made during the school year not only in the class but throughout the school. The children received their award with loud applause from all the children at the assembly.

Well done to Alisha and Muskaan – may you continue to be as aspiring, and as happy, as Louise was!

Fr Ian

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I encourage you to get lost.”

A few weeks before she completed her time with us as Parish Assistant Hannah preached a memorable sermon at Sunday Mass, in which she reflected with us on her time with us. Here is an abridged version:

Lost in wonder, love, and praise – the last line of the song Love Divine, All Loves Excelling by Charles Wesley. A song I heard for the first time this year when we sang it at our Sacred Heart Mass a couple weeks ago. I believe this phrase, ‘Lost in wonder, love, and praise,’ simply sums up my year of service here in England. When I heard this phrase, I reflected on it’s meaning with my own interpretation.

I have been wandering on an unknown path all year, feeling lost at times. I am not lost in the understanding of the word, as off the right track or disoriented. Although, that did happen a few times in London and Barcelona. But, I am lost in the understanding of being completely absorbed by my surroundings. Becoming aware of the new senses and raw emotions within the experience. Completely absorbed in the moments filled with wonder, love, and praise.

I arrived in England on an early morning back in August. I remember flying into England and looking out my window to see a foggy, green countryside. I was lost in the moment of wonder. A feeling of admiration of the country’s beauty rushed over me. I was curious about the people living below and how I would soon be a part of this country. Curious about the way people in England live and interact with each other. Being in a new country, I have been able to observe and wonder about the cultural norms and traditions. Each day comes with its own challenges and joys, and this year I have learned to wonder and wander more deeply.

In the gospel, Jesus states, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” This church has welcomed me in with warm arms ever since day one. And for that, I am forever grateful. I have been able to hear stories of past, present, and future, woven together in this church. Each Sunday, new faces walk through these doors and the hospitality this church shows is abundant. Sharing meals, stories, and tea with people at this church allowed me to be lost in love. Lost in God’s love pouring out through the people.

During my time here, I have been able to notice the differences and similarities of this church community’s traditions compared to my Lutheran traditions. I have noticed that even though our outward expression of faith is different, sharing God’s love is at the heart of each faith. I have been able to reflect on and engage in my faith in a variety of new ways. For example, praying the rosary, attending Tenebrae and the Easter Vigil, and going on the pilgrimage to Ladyewell were new experiences for me. During these times of worship and prayer, I have become lost in praise. Completely absorbed in the way we celebrate and show God’s love.

We are all on a journey. A path which involves a variety of relationships, moments of joy and pain, and times of curiosity and adventure. A path where God walks alongside us during the whole journey. When we become lost in the moment, we are presented with a place to discover more about ourselves and the world around us. It is important for us to become lost in the moment. Moments of wonder, love, and praise. It is also important for us to have goals, hopes, and dreams, even when we don’t know what the future holds. Therefore, in order to know where you’re going, you need to have an awareness of where you are right now. I encourage you to get lost. Get lost in those moments of wonder, love, and praise, and see what you discover.

(More reflections from Hannah are here.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creating a Herb Garden

Coriander, Lavender, Sorrel, Chives, Mint, Rosemary… all chosen for our new herb garden at Church. Year 6 children of both St Chrysostom’s and St John’s Schools joined together on a great community and church project at the end of their school year. By tradition the children of the schools (now in the St John Chrysostom Federation) work together on a church project which benefits the community too. It’s great that this is also something as they leave primary school that in future they will see. In the past Year 6s have made mosaics, banners, a book of poems. This year a herb garden.

It was a fantastic project led by Stuart Bowman who does gardening at both schools. The children designed the garden, having examined the location. Together they prepared the ground, they then chose carefully the herbs and worked out the best position for them. And there was more. Wood labels for the herbs of the garden were made, a special book commemorating the project was put together and given to church, and children also worked on a leaflet explaining the project which was freely available for children, and visitors to church. (See: Herb_Garden_Leaflet)

Mr Elswood plants Hyssop in the herb garden.

Then on Monday 17th July the children returned to church for the dedication. We heard passages from the Bible and from the Quran encouraging us to appreciate our beautiful world and to care for it. We thanked all involved and then we went outside to the garden itself.

To mark the dedication Mr Elswood, (Executive Headteacher), ably assisted by Mr Bowman and children, planted a Hyssop (‘the holy herb’) plant. Fr Ian blessed the garden and said a prayer, not only of dedication, but also a prayer of blessing for the children.

Thank you for this lovely, traditional, herb garden, Year 6 children. May it be a small, but significant, sign to us all of cooperative working between people of different faiths for the good of the whole community.

Posted in St Chrysostoms Church, St Chrysostoms School, St Johns School | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Words for Hannah

What a lovely selection of words St C’s people chose to describe Hannah Loeffler-Kemp, as they thanked her for her time with us as parish assistant.

At Mass on Sunday morning Fr Ian presented Hannah with this ‘word cloud’ made up of the descriptive words about Hannah which people had offered. Fr Ian read out some of the words as he thanked Hannah for the special contribution she has made to our church life over the time she has been with us – since August last year. What a year it has been – and Hannah has done such a wide variety of things, and met a huge variety of people. In particular Fr Ian highlighted Hannah’s smile, her gentleness and the great gift she has shown us in her preaching.

We will miss Hannah greatly, and assure her of our love and prayers as she returns to Duluth, Minnesota.

Saying goodbye to Hannah, and could the churchwardens be saying ‘Ye-Haw’?

Hannah replied to our words of farewell by saying: ‘My heart is grateful. Thank you for your abundance of hospitality and grace this year. I have witnessed the way your stories, past, present and future are woven together as one. It has been beautiful to see the way my story has become woven in this story – the story of St Chrysostom’s Church. St Chrysostom’s will always hold a special place in my heart.

Posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Christian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Do cuddly toys go to heaven?

Have you a cuddly toy which is special to you?

Boing boing

Each of my children has or has had. Boing Boing the tiger (named after the noise Tigger from Winnie the Pooh makes) is currently very much part of our family life, and indeed of the life of the classroom he regularly goes to. So special is he that he has to have a special collar with his phone number on should catastrophe happen and he gets lost in his travels. Once he went on the school roof and anxious teachers had to climb up to retrieve him.

Cuddly toys give comfort, constant and faithful companionship, and are an object for love. They are very special, and often live on in memory. So special are they that they can feature in worship too. In one parish in which I worked a little girl came for a blessing at Mass and always held up her cuddly toy for a blessing too.

Archbishop John Habgood was once asked whether cuddly toys go to heaven. He gave a characteristically measured and careful answer talking about how the relationship between the special toy and its ”owner’ enriched and enhanced the life of the owner, and others,  and was one of tenderness and love, and that surely would be preserved and enhanced in God’s kingdom.

I was sad to hear of the death of Michael Bond the author of the Paddington Bear books. Paddington, the bear from deepest, darkest Peru was found at Paddington station with the label ‘Please look after this bear.’ Paddington’s eternal optimism and refusal to be defeated by life made him very special. No doubt he was very special to his creator, who based him on a teddy bear he found on the street and rescued. Undoubtedly Paddington, with his familiar hat and duffle coat, has been a friend to many children, and indeed adults.

I was very moved by a lovely cartoon which has appeared  – copied here. Paddington holds hands with Michael Bond and offers a simple request, a prayer, for him. It’s a reminder to us all to be childlike, and an encouragement to us to be optimistic too. It’s a delightful thought that not only do our cuddly toys travel with us through the valley of the shadow of death, but also in a simple, touching way they may look after us for ever.

Fr Ian

Posted in Anglican, Catholic, Christianity | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Pray Vespers at 5pm with us!

Fr Chris writes: It’s always lovely when we hear from so many people over the year as they visit different parts of the world – and especially so over the summer.

Everyone is welcome to join in with St Chrysostom’s in prayer wherever they are this summer.  Whether you are in rain soaked Piccadilly Gardens, or sun drenched Ibiza YOU can join us in prayer at 5pm wherever you are, and “Pray Vespers!

Pray vespers u

All you have to do is follow this link:

Take me to Vespers

This takes you to the form of Vespers for the day which we are encouraging people to use (of course you can use a different version if you prefer).

We believe the version we suggest is simple to read and follow.

So do join with others who have already said that they will do this.

Now – it would be great if we could collect the differing places where you are going to pray.   So if you can please let me know the dates, between 30th July 2017 and 2nd September 2017 you’d volunteer to say Vespers. I’ll sort out the rota and share this via Facebook etc. If you are a member of our church Facebook group you can share a photo on the day you say Vespers – perhaps a selfie.

Let’s have a little competition to see how many different places that Vespers is being said this summer by members of our diverse congregation. So be it Hulme or Hong Kong, Longsight or Lusaka, let me know! All you need do is enter your dates in the comments below.

Prayer is never alone – we are always joined by others – and this summer we can join in with other members of our congregation in praise and worship as we take part in Pray Vespers at 5pm!

“prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God” so as we relax and enjoy our summer breaks together let us also renew our friendship with God.

Posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Catholic, Christian, Prayer, St Chrysostoms Church | Tagged | 2 Comments

Summer Reading 2017

Have you a book choice for this Summer? We’ve asked a variety of people connected with St C’s for a recommendation for Summer reading, and here are their choices.

Have you a suggestion to share? Why not put your choice in the comments below, with a sentence or two about your choice.

First of all Edward, Church Treasurer, suggests for ‘beach reading’ Patrick Gale’s, A Place called Winter. Edward is in good company with his choice A Place Called Winter was a Radio 2 Book Club Choice on publication and went on to be shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize. The publisher comments: “In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.”

Canon Alma’s recommendation is Conclave by Robert Harris, which she describes as a real ‘page turner’ and a book which, Alma says, challenges us to think about great holiness and great corruption in the church’s corridors of power. Several people at church have been reading Conclave and enjoying it.

Hector McMillan’s choice is To Travel Hopefully by Christopher Rush. Christopher, after months of wading through the treacle of grief takes himself off to France to follow in the footsteps of R L Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cevenne . Hector comments: “It was also an honest book, I felt, and a hopeful one. As someone who has been in the grief bubble myself in recent years and re-emerged I could identify with his otherworldlyness and with his gradual re-connection with the world around him.”

Jo Yee Cheung, (director of OMF) chooses Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. Jo writes: “I think I was originally only drawn to its musical title. As it happens, the allusion to music is only a tiny allegory within a touching narrative about the Greek island of Cephalonia, the 2nd World War and the resilience (and humour) of those involved. It has become one of my most cherished books.”

Have a look at summer reading book choices of previous years too: Here, and also here!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment