Thursday, 29 December 2011


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

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Parishioners from both parishes were invited to the annual St Anne's Christmas lunch, arranged by their social committee and held in the St Saviour's Church Hall.

Deacon Stephen and his wife Caroline were happy to come and join in the festive spirit.   

Although the invitation was welcomed, the number of different Church activities taking place that afternoon in the Lymington area made it inevitable that a number of Our Lady of Mercy parish were unable to attend. Parishioners from St Anne's, however, were there in good numbers.        

Those from either parish who did come, including Canon Peter Wilkie, thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

They had a choice of dishes  prepared on the premises
by the hard-working  volunteers, or cooked at the  house of parishioners who live nearby.

The delightful desserts were provided by members of the parish.


Fr Danny obviously enjoyed his meal, and can look forward to the fact that from now onwards with the help of parishioners it may be possible to organize a similar function in the new Hospitality Centre at Our Lady of Mercy.

These photographs were supplied by Carole Puttick, to whom many thanks.


Saturday was John's eightieth birthday.       His daughter Theresa, seen here holding a plate, decided to spring a surprise party for him.   She began planning it in September, was aided and abetted by several people who should have known better, and the secret was kept so successfully that John, who was told he was being taken to Mass at the Priory, knew nothing about it until he arrived at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy.      He could hardly believe it when he found members of his family from across the South of England (and Wales) here to greet him, and many other friends, a good number of whom were parishioners, had joined them for a special Mass.      Afterwards the renovated Parish Hospitality Centre with its new kitchen area was put to immediate use.

They're all expecting words of wisdom, well, words at any rate.    Is he going to say something?      No, not really.    He is still in such a state of shock that he is unable to string together more than a few incoherent remarks.    This is what he would have said had he been able to think lucidly:      Thank you, every one of you for making this day so unbelievably fantastic.    Thank you, especially, Theresa, for the enormous amount of work and planning you must have done, and thank you also to all those who must have helped you to make it such a memorable day.    Thank you Fr Danny, for offering the Mass for me, and thank you Tina and Holly and Cathy and Norah and everyone who took part for helping to make it so special.    What a wonderful family I am lucky enough to be part of, and what wonderful friends I have!        

This photo of John with Charlotte, one of his three lovely granddaughters, proves conclusively that all the long-held scientific theories about physical beauty being derived from inherited genes is a load of old eyewash.

Many thanks to Brian Choules for taking these photographs at the party.


On the day that the the last American troops were withdrawn from Iraq, a smaller but equally hard-fought war was concluded at Our Lady of Mercy and St Joseph.    There were two forces responsible for the execution of Father Danny's dream of a reburbished Parish hospitality centre.    One, spearheaded by Gerry, was determined to ensure that the building works were of the highest professional standard, and he has worked incredibly hard over the last few months to achieve this.   The other, led by Clare, was intent on achieving modern,  comfortable furniture in one room, with a hygenic and efficient kitchen in the other.        Both fought hard, and in the end both got their own way, and thanks to them we have a super modern high-quality Parish centre.    

Now Clare's going to cut the cake to celebrate the official reopening of the centre and she's delighted to do so.     But when you carry out a official function with a really sharp knife you have to watch carefully to make sure  you don't have an accident.     So keep your mind on the job, Clare. No!   Stop!    Look what you're doing, Clare!      Watch where that knife's going!   Oooooooww!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Our thanks to Michael Webb, whose comment made this week on our report of October 20th  identifies his family's friend.


While so many carol services are going on, it is sometimes easy to forget that we're still in Advent.      But we were reminded of this on Wednesday evening, when parishioners from the whole Pastoral Area took part in a well attended Service of Reconciliation at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy.     To inspire us we heard a modern story about a prodigal daughter and listened to Mozart's Miserere while following the translation in our service sheets. No less than six priests took part during the actual reconciliation, and confessions that evening were heard in the office, the presbytery dining room, the sitting room, the sanctuary, the confessional and the choir loft.


In case anyone hadn't noticed, we've now finished the refurbishment of our Hospitality Centre, so there's only the trappings to be put in.     Here we provide you with a unique opportunity to see the team at work.      The crockery and cutlery for the new kitchen has arrived, and it's all got to be unpacked, washed and put away.      They've only been here for two hours, and they've already got the coffee out.       Peter's on the floor wrestling with a flatpack, and it looks as if the flatpack's ahead on points.      Margaret is maintaining communication with the world outside.      Meanwhile Lesley's arrived to see that everything's being done properly.     The others are making decisions.

An anxious moment - will he like it?       But the smile on Fr Danny's face tells it all.     "It's very comfortable," he says to Clare and Cathy.     The Hospitality Centre's new furniture, which had been selected by parishioners, was delivered only minutes before this photo was taken. 


Our first piece of news concerns the staffing of Basics Bank.     On September 29th, as regular readers of our blog will remember (well, you weren't paying attention then, were you) we advertised for a new treasurer as the current holder, Peter Haslett, on the right of this photo, wanted to retire and put his feet up (a likely story).    Well, we can now confirm that the successful applicant is none other than Anthony Kirke, from St Francis of Assisi Church in Milford, who is well known to us because he and Judith often visit Our Lady of Mercy Church, and in fact were unlucky enough to get blogged there on Mar 3rd. You can see from Peter's broad smile how happy he is to be relieved of his burden, but we're not quite sure why Anthony's smiling as well!    Seriously, we welcome him to the team, we're delighted to have him with us, but we can only promise him plenty of hard work.

We've been visited by lots of generous people this week; the Lions of New Milton and all those who contributed to their trolley drops have helped the Basics Bank's team to keep the shelves well stocked up for quite a few weeks, while a big donation from Rotary and a number of other gifts and donations enabled Clare and her team to make up 112 Christmas parcels for local people who would not otherwise be able to afford the extras which make Christmas meals special.      Our photo shows the volunteers, including a very efficient group of young ladies from the Lymington Rangers, who formed an assembly line at the URC Parish Rooms to pack the parcels.

                                                          photo by Lemontree Photography 
We were very grateful to Elmers Court for allowing the annual Basics Bank fundraising event to take place there last Sunday afternoon.     Some of those to whom special thanks are due posed for the photographer:  Councillor Elizabeth Cox, Elmers Court General Manager Jean-Marc Poume, Santa Claus (we didn't find out who you really were, sorry Santa) local MP Desmond Swain and staunch supporter April Laraman.

                                                          photo by Lemontree Photography
As the fans arrived, there was a table crying out to be filled with items of food and toiletries and a nice big bucket for donations of money.     Unfortunately not as many arrived as had been hoped for.      Was this because other things were happening that afternoon?   There were two carol services, one at the Priory and one arranged by Lymington Churches Together which was held at the URC, St Anne's Parish held their Christmas lunch, and Our Lady of Mercy had Exposition, Rosary and Benediction.      Some parishioners tried to attend two of the five, but it depended on how long the event they chose to go to first overran its time as to whether they arrived at the second breathless or, in at least one case, more than half an hour after it had started.
Our thanks to Lemontree, for rescuing us.   They are at                                   

Thursday, 8 December 2011


               No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace 
          As I have seen in one autumnal face.   (John Dunne)
                                                         photo by Barbara, on a Lymington footpath                                                    


 We have today received the following from our special reporter:

Well, it may seem unlikely in the extreme to describe a Catholic Women's League lunch as not for the faint hearted. Certainly the Christmas Lunch for the CWL Lymington Section at the Stanwell Hotel had all the essentially reassuring ingredients: tasty seasonal dishes, mini mince pies, Christmas crackers and party poppers. The assembled ladies were warmly but glamorously adorned.

Peggy Walsh's attendance, in a crimson berry ensemble, was particularly welcomed. But additional excitement of the unexpected kind was provided by Father Danny, who recited a selection of dark fairy tales from Roald Dahl's "Revolting Rhymes" between courses, complete with moral analysis. 

We had just recovered our composure over tea and coffee when a vivacious Anne Heppenstall took centre stage to give a rousing rendition of "The Shooting of Dan McGrew", the Yukon-cowboy poem by Robert W. Service, notably referred to in song as "Put The Blame on Mame". (The poem, that is, not Anne.) 

It should be noted that table manners were universally impeccable (apart from a couple of wall-lights bedecked with streamers from an expertly aimed party popper - surely not Patricia!).

What delightful company: Ladies Who Lunch indeed!  

Many thanks to the lovely Joan Hayward for organizing it all.

 Our thanks to Giselle for the photos and for the commentary.


On Friday Lymington High Street by St Thomas' Church was occupied by a large crowd who sang carols and joined in prayers around the crib which Peter Cooper puts up for us each year.     This event was arranged by Lymington Churches Together and the Lymington and Pennington Town Council.    The Revd Chris Vivian (URC, nearest the camera) Mrs Linda Lee (St Thomas', far right) and Quaker Mrs Jan Rimbault each read a passage from the Christmas stories in the Gospels, and Town Mayor Mrs Anna Rostand (furthest left, wearing hat) switched on the lights on the large Christmas tree.

The children crowded forward to look more closely at the figures in the crib, although once the ceremony was over their attention was diverted by the arrival of Father Christmas!

Two days later traffic in the High Street was interrupted again, this time after the two services of dedication at St Thomas' Church to remember loved ones and to raise funds to support Oakhaven Hospice to enable it to continue to provide its wonderful specialist services for our community.

     Afterwards the packed church emptied out onto the street.

The crowd then made its way to the part of the High Street outside Moore and Blatch where they sang carols, ate mince pies and drank mulled wine, while waiting for the Mayor to switch on more lights.  

We were pleased to see that the Police allowed these ceremonies to go ahead, even though they have refused permission for the Good Friday Walk of Witness, which also used to take place in the High Street.


                                                                                photo by Giselle
During the past two weeks the level of activity by firms responsible for the refurbishment of what were our Parish Rooms has greatly increased and we expect shortly to be able to  show you our newly restored and completed Hospitality Centre.    Shall we be using it this weekend?    We very much hope so, but it will mean less custom for Stanwells, who have catered so often for Tom, Leigh and many other parishioners having a coffee break after morning Mass.

But of course the most important thing, as Ellen well knows, is to check your supply of Stanwells discount cards to see which one could help with the bill today. 


photo by Giselle

Thursday, 1 December 2011


There were varying degrees of concentration on the faces of members of the the Friendship Club and parishioners who were watching Jane Eyre at the Malthouse Theatre in the Lymington Community Centre last Wednesday Afternoon.    We were all very well behaved, and nobody booed when we found that the story had been changed to give us a happy ending so we couldn't have a good weep afterwards.


                                                                                             photo by Frances                                                  
After it was over we had a cup of tea and a chat, and it was a truth universally acknowledged that watching the film of an early romantic novel was a very good way of spending an afternoon.

  Altogether twenty-six of us went, thanks to Clare's making all the arrangements, purchasing a block of seats,  and undertaking the task of selling them all.

Den and Frances had prepared refreshments for us, and they made sure that everyone had a second cuppa. 

photo by Den


At last the kitchen is being installed in Our Lady of Mercy Hospitality Centre, in the opposite corner of the room to where it was.    To help us get our bearings  the door through to the loos has been included in the photo so we can see where we are  ...............   if you see what we mean.

Your intrepid reporter boldly went down into the cellar to look at the heating system, but was unable to find the boiler.     For it appears that this ancient piece of equipment, having been kept going for 47 years, has finally given up, can no longer be repaired and has had to be scrapped.    

So where do we find its replacement?   Back up the stairs again, for a damp cellar is not the best home for a modern high-tech appliance.    This smart new compact boiler, which will provide the heating for the church and the Hospitality Centre, has been installed in what used to be referred to in polite company as the Germolene room, right by the side of what was the original fireplace when the school was built 126 years ago.


                                                                                                            photo by Barbara
'Ah came tae cliffs by the sea and jist sat there.   The sea looked affie big and ah felt very wee, but ah wis happy.   Daft, isn't it?   Ah cannie tell ma mates, 'cos they'd think ah wis kinky.'  (Jock in God of Surprises by Fr Gerard Hughes.)


                                                      photo by Barbara
Help!  The stable at Lymington's been invaded by a motley flock of piebald sheep.    So who was responsible for leaving the door open?     It must have been that conniving quintet of Christmastide Church windowsill plotters our blog uncovered for us the week before last.     We'll have to look around and see what else they've been up to!