One of our New Year resolutions in 2011 was to widen the scope of our blog by bringing in other activities than purely Parish ones. So when, in February, older children from St Joseph's School took part in a project which enabled them to learn more about, and to emphasize with the problems faced by elderly day-patients at Oakhaven Hospice, the blog was there.
In March, after receiving the sacrament of confirmation and being ordained to the diaconate, Edwin Barnes of our parish became a Catholic priest of the Ordinariate. So the blog was at the Cathedral to celebrate with him. Since then, despite his other duties, we have frequently benefited from Fr Edwin's dedication to this Parish and his willingness to
offer Holy Mass at Our Lady of Mercy on weekdays.
The Pastoral Area pilgrimage for this year took place in Greece, and was entitled In the Footsteps of St Paul. Under the guidance of Mgr Peter Ryan the group visited sites like this one in Philippi where St Paul is known to have preached. Those who went were thrilled with their experience, and the blog was delighted to receive not only a splendid collection of photos, but a full report as well from a group member.
photo by Tony
The opportunity to knit pullovers and bonnets for the infants being schooled because of the work of the Children of the Universe Foundation gave impetus to the formation of a new parochial group, the Stitch and Knit Club. It soon gained support, and has continued to thrive throughout the year.
The broadening of the coverage of the blog enabled it to report on the activities of individual parishioners, especially those who achieve remarkable feats or who successfully pursue unusual hobbies. Those who dabble in photography have done much to help broaden the coverage, and one of the most striking changes this year in our parish blog is in the number of extra photographers who have contributed. They are always acknowledged.
Another of the features which has made 2011 stand out for our blog is the way in which birthdays have so often been the occasions of communal celebration. Usually cake replaces biscuits with the coffee in the parish rooms after Sunday morning Mass, but even confinement to Southampton General Hospital did not deter parishioners from joining
Peggy for her ninetieth in July.
photo by Frances
July also saw the beginning of our new extended blog, which now includes the parish of St Anne's at Brockenhurst. Early forebodings about the difficulties of covering activities in two churches several miles apart have been somewhat calmed by the good photography and timely communication of Brockenhurst parishioners, whilst the differences
between the ways in which the two parishes do things has added a new dimension to our blog.
In August five of our younger parishioners travelled to Madrid for the World Youth Day and had a great time. Other people visited Rome, Lourdes, Walsingham and the Holy Land and let us use some of the photographic records of their trips. Some came home from holidays in places as far away as Australia and New Zealand (not to mention Marrakech) and allowed the blog to publish their snaps.
photo from Mike
Inevitably the interesting and varied programme of the Catholic Women's League captured more space on the blog than that of any other club or society. The Friendship Club, the Catenians, the Wednesday Word and the Choir also featured, and with the opening of our refurbished Hospitality Centre the future may well see the formation of more groups with common interests.
photo by Barbara
photo by Michael
"Let's get the food back under cover - it's starting to rain!" This moment of hesitation captured on cyberspace for future generations to admire and wonder about is one of a small but growing number of outstanding photographs which we have had the privilege of being able to publish this year. In recent weeks we have even included photos which, though taken here, have had no other connection with our parishes than to show, admire and hopefully remind us to be thankful for the beauty of God's creation in this area.
During the year several talks, discussions and workshops were arranged for those in the pastoral area or in this part of the diocese. If the blog wasn't there, a photographer nearly always was and even succeeded sometimes in capturing the atmosphere as well as the spirit of the day on Praying with Children and Grandchildren has been caught here.
photo by Anthony
One facet of this year's blog has been the lessening of the "attendance register" element in the captions of photos of groups of parishioners. When the blog began in 2009 we thought it a good idea to list the names of everybody in each photo. Do you think we should always do that? Or would you prefer us usually to concentrate more on what the photo is about? For example: Some of our parish volunteers are at work making flower arrangements in the new hospitality centre at Our Lady of Mercy. (Here is one they made earlier.) So that is why the window sills of our church looked so attractive during the Christmas season. What do you think? Please comment.
Average weekly readership of our blog: December 2010 : 135 December 2011 : 326