ACS Lent Appeal – Fr. Paul Blanch

ACS Lent Appeal – Fr. Paul Blanch

During Lent we are raising money for the Additional Curates Society. You can collect a box from church and bring the box in after Easter, or you can give online via

Each week I’ll be sending you the story of a Priest who was supported by the Society and what it means to the parishes involved. Here’s the first:

It is now almost two years since my Induction as Rector, and of course as many are aware, after less than only five months in post we were plunged into our first lockdown.  We all recall how difficult it was to maintain any semblance of normality in parish life.


Our first response was to live stream Masses from an improvised chapel within the Rectory, and along with Stations of the Cross using posters on-line, we were able to assist many to continue with their spiritual journey even in isolation.  Apart from the streamed Mass, we used our Musical Directors immediate family in lock down to provide music from their own home and often from a large cave on the beach in Ramsgate. The combination of Mass and superb four-part harmony Church music with the amazing acoustics of the cave soon saw our viewing figures top 2,000 week by week. This was an incredible outreach ministry with many viewers coming from my former parishes in the USA, but across our parish and far beyond.

I felt that it was vital to let the wider parish know we were still very much in business for pastoral care and Funeral ministry, and to that end I personally contacted all the local Funeral directors and offered my services to the bereaved, even though we could only have very small gatherings at the Crematorium.  This ministry has cemented many new relationships with people who ordinarily would not have contact with our Church.

As the pandemic saw a little more relaxation of rules, we returned to the Church for livestreamed worship and our numbers continued to grow, and the emails we received were very encouraging. Even our Church School link was further enhanced by the regular weekly steaming of Collective Worship following the Diocesan plan of special themes, and again to our great surprise, we have had as many adults as possible watching week by week and giving us very positive feedback on what was essentially some basic Christian teaching. This has all served to remind us that even in tribulation the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always Good News!

We have also had the good news of two adults both new to our Church Confirmed by Bishop Norman, and we are just beginning a second Confirmation course, with many older and long-time members of the congregation doing the course as a “refresher course” there is a keenness to go ever deeper into their faith.                                                                 

We have also tried very hard to make our faith practical during this difficult time, and a few our members have engaged with the local food bank, especially at a time when many families were desperate for basic groceries. The last eighteen months have highlighted for us that what we do within the Church building is to equip us for mission and service, we are reminded that at the end of every Mass we are sent out to be Christ to others.  As parish priest I have become aware of just how vital this is for us all to remember, and I was deeply moved to hear a parishioner say in response to our restricted outreach during the worst of the pandemic, that “A Church that lives to itself will die to itself” and that I pray we have not done!

It is with the continued and much valued assistance from ACS that our daily work of prayer, worship and outreach continues in a relatively understated manner, with a small but very faithful group of people who make a great effort to attend Sunday Mass, serve at the altar and sing n the choir, not to mention look to us for inspiration and encouragement to live out their own active apostolate. 

Fr Paul F Blanch