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Given at the Mass celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the foundation of All Saints Parish Kenton on Sunday 6th November 2022

Today we thank God for the parish and people of All Saints, Kenton, as we celebrate its foundation ninety years ago. Earlier in the week, we celebrated the Feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls; today we give thanks for the saints of the parish, those who men and women who faithfully lived the gospel, loved their families, reached out to others in generosity and who now sing their hymn of joy in heaven. We pray for those being purified before they see God face to face in heaven. We pray for all whose prayers continue to be raised here to the Father through Christ and the intercession of Our Blessed Lady and the saints. We give thanks to God.

The foundation of the All Saints Parish, Kenton in 1932 was part of the expansion of the provision of churches for the rapidly growing area of north London after the First World War. During the rapid expansion between 1921 and 1931, when its development peaked, Kenton’s population increased twenty-fold. Much of this was stimulated by the development of the railways and opening of Kenton Station in 1912 and later Northwick Park and Kenton Metropolitan Station in 1931. 

Kenton welcomed new residents, those who moved south to London for work during and after the Depression, increasing numbers of Irish migrants to England who came to seek work, and later the expansion continued to create the diversity of people from all continents who make up Brent and Harrow today. Many of those who came to Kenton were Catholic. 

Cardinal Bourne recognised and worked hard with the clergy and people to expand the number of parishes in this part of London. The Cardinal said at that time: ‘Where the development of the Catholic Church in this country is concerned, you cannot buy too much land, and though I count many instances of where we have bought far too little, I do not know of a single instance where we acquired too much.’ (Vickers, By The Thames Divided, 538). We thank God for the generosity of our benefactors who bought and paid for the land, the church and later the building of this church in 1963, the upkeep of buildings, pastoral activities, outreach and priests. 

The Cardinal expressed in 1903 his gratitude for the laity upon his arrival in Westminster: ‘I count much on the support of the laity, for I shall need help of every kind if I am to accomplish anything’ (Vickers, 533). This continues today as we seek to build together to serve the mission of the Church to build up the Church, reach out to the poor and find those who have fallen away and seek those who do not believe. 

The history of the parish could be written in terms of its families and the earlier generations. The schools, St Bernadette’s and St Gregory’s, which are a gift to us, rely on new children and families. Families and faith hold closely together and are reflected in the lives of great-grand-parents, grandparents, and those who are here today. It is recorded in the prayers of all those who have stormed heaven from the pews and the many candles which have been lit for various needs. By these small and regular deeds, we live out our faith as we are each called to become a saint.

The readings today reveal this new life of the resurrection after death. The seven brothers in the first reading approach their martyrdom in a spirit of trust. They look forward to their new life in heaven where, ‘the King of the world will raise us up, since it is for his laws that we die, to live again for ever.’ They rely on God’s promise that they will be raised up by him. 

In contrast, the Sadducees of Jesus’ time, who do not believe in the resurrection, try to trick Jesus by posing legalistic questions about life in heaven. Jesus does not answer their question directly but affirms the teaching of the resurrection of the dead and shows them that this belief can be found in the Book of Moses. The promise of the new life in heaven means that we can pray for those who have died and offer Masses for them so the angels may bear them upwards to heaven. This is our great hope.

Looking forward, it is our responsibility to continue to build up the parish towards the celebration of its centenary in ten years’ time and beyond. The lives of our families, our schools and our church need to find new ways of sharing the hope which in our heart with others. We know the promise of the Gospel that Jesus has risen from the dead, he has saved us, and continues to walk with each one of us. The synodal process initiated by Pope Francis invites us to share our faith with others and reach out to those in need and the poor. 

In this part of London with its rich diversity of people, there is an invitation from Pope Francis to find ways of building relationships with other Christians, with people of other religions and none. Recently the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue published its letter of greeting to Hindus for Deepavali, Christians and Hindus: Together promoting conviviality and co-responsibility 2022. They recognised that ‘tensions, conflicts and violence in different parts of the world on the basis of religious, cultural, ethnic, racial and linguistic identities and supremacies - oft fuelled by competitive, populist and expansionist politics, as also by majoritarian and minoritarian movements and blatant misuse of social media - are a cause of concern to all of us, since they grossly affect the fraternal and peaceful co-existence in society.’ 

To counter this, they affirmed that ‘Christians and Hindus, can together promote conviviality and co-responsibility for the good of each and everyone.’ This means finding ways of living together in harmony, working in solidarity to build the common good and to care for one another and the good of God’s gift of creation. They continue, ‘It is built on a daily basis, through personal encounters and dialogue, in mutual listening and learning, with patience and perseverance, and with the conviction that “Life exists where there is bonding, communion, fraternity” (Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti - On Fraternity and Social Friendship, 2020, no.87)'.  

I thank all those people who help to build up the life of the parish, are involved in the groups I read about in the newsletter and generous in many ways for the good of the parish. I thank Fr Hector Rouco and the former priests for their leadership as parish priests.

May all the saints pray for us.

Bishop John Sherrington

Photo: The Attainment; Vision of the Holy Grail to Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival by Edward Burne-Jones (Bishop John Sherrington)