A letter from Fr. Desmond Banister

A letter from Fr. Desmond Banister

Dear Parishioners of S Anselm’s in Hayes Town

I am very grateful to Father Matthew for his kind invitation to write to you at this particular period of difficulty and uncertainty for all of us in this time of pandemic.

Compared to Bishop Michael Colclough, whose connection with your parish goes back over forty years, I am, I appreciate, still a relative new boy in these parts!

My first memories of S Anselm’s date back just over a decade. I arrived in North Hillingdon in September 2009 and had to learn my way around this part of West London. Eventually, I had to travel to Hayes to meet the son of a lady resident in this parish, who had recently died, and found myself locked into the Hayes Town one-way system(!!), which took me past what looked like a derelict church building on Station Road. I since learned that this was S Anselm’s. I learned too that the parish had had a difficult history and had no full-time priest.

Our Hillingdon Deanery Clergy Chapter met at S Anselm’s on 3 February 2011, thanks to the good offices of Father Simon Evans, then Area Dean. Over the coffee-cups, I learned that a couple wanted to get married at S Anselm’s later that year, but that no priest had been found to conduct the wedding. So I volunteered – and the offer was taken up with considerable alacrity. The wedding took place at S Anselm’s on 14 May. It was the first that had happened there for many years and was, very properly, an occasion of great rejoicing!

Since then, I have been very pleased to assist you in various ways, most recently in arranging suitable cover during the recent Interregnum, following Father Geoffrey’s departure for a parish in the Diocese of Derby at Eastertide in 2019. I have much enjoyed both my occasional Sunday visits to you for the Parish Mass and also the Low Masses I have been able to cover on a Thursday morning. It is really good that you specifically asked that these be kept going, even in the absence of a full-time priest!

We are not yet quite sure when it will be possible for our churches to re-open for public worship, even though we look forward to that time with increasing impatience. You are most fortunate in having Father Matthew as your new Parish Priest and whether or not it will be possible for him to be licensed publicly on the Feast of S Mary Magdalene in July (which also happens to be an important birthday for Father Matthew, but don’t tell anyone!), I am sure that a way will be found for the legal necessities to be completed, so that he actually becomes your Parish Priest on that day and so begins with you a fresh chapter in the life of S Anselm’s. As Bishop Michael’s recent letter to you indicates, life at S Anselm’s has rarely been easy and I guess that the immediate future will present its own difficulties and problems for all of us. As a parish, S Anselm’s has shown a remarkable degree of resilience over the years and I wish you all both happiness and success as you look forward to sharing with Father Matthew in the life, mission and ministry of S Anselm’s in Hayes Town, both in the coming weeks and months, as we strive to move from the present ‘lock-down’ and into what some have described as the ‘new normal’ (whatever that may mean).

Our Lady of Walsingham: Pray for us.
S Anselm: Pray for us.

With prayers and every good wish to you all.

Father Desmond