The missal left in Church by former parishioner, Minnie Liddle, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Bentley, revealed a prayer that many of us may have forgotten but seems especially apposite at this time of change across our Diocese of Hallam; especially within Doncaster deanery, where reorganisation and realignment of parishes means new partnerships being formed, two churches closed, new Mass times adopted and new priests appointed.
Minnie is 105 years old and originally from Sunderland. Like our own Bishop Ralph, she grew up in St Bennet’s parish. She was a very regular attender at both Sunday and weekday Masses at Our Lady’s until age 103, when she was visited at home with the Blessed Sacrament regularly by Helen Nellis, a dear friend and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Helen had for many years picked Minnie up and brought her to Mass in her car, and also the parish sisters from the Daughters of St Francis de Sales convent adjoining Our Lady’s Church brought Minnie to church. Minnie had kept her well-thumbed weekday missal at church at her usual place in the pews close to the Lady Chapel for ease of use. It only recently came to light and was retrieved by parish helper, Josie Green, and placed next to Our Lady’s altar.
Minnie now lives in a care home nearer her granddaughter across town and receives Holy Communion from the local parish, but still enjoys visits from time to time by Helen, the Sisters and a few other Bentley parishioners.
When Josie recently gave Helen the retrieved missal to take to Minnie on her next visit, a flick through the pages revealed prayer cards and leaflets and a piece of paper cut off and saved from the bottom of an old weekly bulletin from the last week of November, 2002. On it was printed a prayer for The Journeying Church, taken from the preparatory material for the then forthcoming Hallam Assembly of 2003. This seems a good time to be reminded of it.
The Journeying Church (from the Hallam Assembly 2003)
Oh God, once we were secure in familiar territory in our sense of belonging. Now you have called us out of the familiar, leading us where we know not, struggling in faith to follow your beckoning, we are unsure and uncomfortable. Journeying God, pitch your tent with ours so that we may not become deterred by hardship, strangeness or doubt. Help us to walk in other’s shoes. Show us the movement we must make towards a wealth not dependent on possessions, towards a wisdom not based on books, towards strength not reliant on power and towards a God not confined to heaven but earthed, poor, unrecognised. We pray this through Christ Our Lord, Amen.