Most rugby playing fathers, once age catches up with them and bodies are broken, turn to coaching minis. Something I would have loved to get involved with but cannot due to priestly commitments; youth rugby has become a Sunday morning activity in recent years across the entire nation. Our local club has hundreds of families involved.
This secular phenomenon of Sunday morning sport is bad news for the church because I know several families who might well be church goers but for a love of the game. They are the sort who are not committed Christians (yet!) but who are certainly open to the faith. We must find different times in which to promote our services and way to meet their need.
Not wanting my boys to miss out I, rather selfishly, put on an 8am Mass at St. Anselm’s a couple of years ago. The idea being that Benny could get to Mass before training and thereby fulfil both duties. I thought it would be just the two of us but, to my surprise, that Mass has steadily grown and we now get around 20 most weeks. There are lots of reasons why people occasionally require an early Mass and some who simply like that slot. The 8am is here to stay.
The good news, for Benny, is that another boy in the congregation is in the same team. Meaning his father takes them both off to training after Mass. But the downside is that he never gets to play in front of his dad which is important for boys. So when news of the under 8 tour to the Isle of Wight was announced I grabbed the opportunity to make it up to him. And so at 7:45am this morning we head off together for a great weekend of rugby and fun.
As Father Nicholas is also away, in Ireland for a family wedding, I am grateful to Monsignor Keith Newton, who released Fr. Mark Elliot-Smith from Sunday duties at Warwick Street in London to enable him to come to Pembury and cover services this weekend. Please be there to support him and give him a warm welcome. He looks forward to seeing how the Ordinariate functions within a village setting. And it goes without saying that I am also very grateful to him!