Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ at St Anselm’s
I am so delighted to be invited by Father Matthew to write to you as Area Dean of Hillingdon, to encourage you and to assure you of my prayers.
I hope that you and your loved ones have been able to keep safe and well in your homes during the Coronavirus lockdown. It’s a tough time, isn’t it, but I have been encouraged over the last few weeks by the words of Psalm 46 which speak so powerfully into the challenging times that we face:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
The Psalm concludes:
Be still and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46 verse 10.
I hope that, although you are sadly unable to meet together for Mass at the moment, you are still able to find your own space and time to be in God’s presence, for worship, prayer and reading the bible. It is so often in the stillness that we discover for ourselves the psalm’s promises that God is indeed our refuge and strength. I am therefore particularly grateful for the way that Father Matthew, and the rest of the team at St Mary’s Kenton, are supporting you pastorally, including providing you with access to their amazing online worship.
As Bishop Michael recognised in his recent letter to you, it is fair to say that life at St Anselm’s has been become rather fragile over recent years. However, I really do think that there are grounds for great hope that you are about to enter a new season of renewal, growth and blessing. First, you are about to receive a wonderful new priest in Father Matthew. I know from having met him that he will come to you full of faith, passion and vision for the future of St Anselm’s. Can I therefore encourage you to pray for Father Matthew and his family, to welcome them with open arms and then work collaboratively with him to discern God’s direction for St Anselm’s in the years ahead.
Secondly, Hillingdon Deanery is right behind you as you embark on this exciting journey. It has been really striking over the last year that, although as a Deanery we face many challenges and demands on our resources, the Deanery clergy all agree that providing St Anselm’s with the resources you need to bring renewal to the life of the church is our number one priority. The first piece of the jigsaw was to appoint a new incumbent who is a missional and entrepreneurial Catholic – we believe we have achieved that in Father Matthew. But we also feel that to give you a fighting chance of being properly equipped to serve your rapidly changing community, you need other resources too. We are therefore hoping to be able to reallocate additional resources to St Anselm’s from elsewhere in the Deanery as they become available. All being well, this may include a salary and housing for someone to work with Father Matthew to develop midweek community ministry based in St Anselm’s. We also hope to be able to provide some capital funds to kickstart a project to renew your building so that it is capable of being used flexibly to host a whole range of church and community groups and activities. The Southall group of churches are also available to help you to think about how you can connect with the incredibly diverse and vibrant community of which you are a part.
So, despite all the troubles of the present time, this is also a time to be hopeful and prayerful. I think that we have cause to be really encouraged about what God has in store for St Anselm’s and for the people of Hayes Town in the years ahead. In the coming weeks and months please do devote yourselves to prayer, as I and my colleagues in the Deanery pray for you. As psalm 46 urges, take time to be still before God, and listen for what the Lord has to say to you about your part in God’s plan to new life to St Anselm’s. You will discover that the Lord is indeed a refuge and strength but he is also the God of new life.
May God bless you and those you love.
The Revd Richard Young
Area Dean of Hillingdon