The Caritas Committee from the three parishes of Hemel Hempstead staged a special Christmas afternoon tea party for both elderly visitors and the volunteers at John F Kennedy Catholic School in Hemel Hempstead on Sunday 15 December.
Around 40 elderly people and their volunteers were offered afternoon tea, sandwiches and cakes while being entertained by children from St Cuthbert Mayne Catholic Primary School who sang O Little Town of Bethlehem, the Russian tale of the Babushka, and a medley of well-known Christmas songs.
Fr John Byrne, Parish Priest of Sts Mary and Joseph, The Resurrection and St Mark said: “This is a very special day bringing the three parishes and the community together, and it allows the Caritas Committee to say thank you to the volunteers by waiting on them making them feel special.”
The ‘three parish’ Caritas group normally meet at the Centre in the Park from 2—4pm every third Sunday of the month with more than 20 volunteers acting as drivers, caterers and co-ordinators, with entertainment and bingo. Teresa Fernandez is a volunteer and filled with enthusiasm for the work: “I just love doing the work that I do for the elderly and especially those who are alone. I get so much more out of it than I give.”
The tea party is always expanding and in seven months since starting it is now looking for a larger venue. 80 year old Philomena moved into the parish from Dorset. She explained what it meant to join a tea party: “This is a lovely parish I can tell you. I love it and it is a lovely group of very sociable people. I’m disabled and housebound but they look after me and make sure I have someone to pick me up. I may never win the raffle but I’m lucky in other ways.”
The Caritas Committee is formed of representatives from all three parishes and meet every second month. The Chair, Paul Heatley, noted the many forms of generous support they had received from donors, particularly from Caritas Diocese of Westminster.
A volunteer, Angela said: “We do a lot of things in our parishes. Hemel Hemstead is an affluent area and the Churches are packed, but there are many needy people, with loneliness and poverty, so it is living out the faith and making a contribution.”
The parishes are actively involved with Caritas projects in supporting groups and individuals. They have volunteers working in the local Homeless Shelter with Churches Together and the Food bank collection. They also offer coupons for food vouchers and subsidize short pilgrimages for parishioners.
Photos from the tea party can be seen on our flickr site by clicking here