by Fr Kevin Jordan, Parish Priest St Mary Magdalen, Willesden Green
Each week on the A-Team, Hannibal would say, ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’
Until recently, the diocese’s directions to our church would bring you to firmly shut doors across a derelict car park; the entrance to the open church was hidden away. Combining our Proclaim initiatives and Growing in Faith funds we decided to change that and to restore and enhance the much-loved but tired interior of the church.
Today, the drab paving stones are broken up by constantly flowering beds and the forbidding wooden doors are fully open all day revealing a bright welcoming church. To keep these doors open all year, new inner doors create a buffer against the cold. And in the centre, from a stained glass window, St Mary Magdalen kneels not at the feet of Christ, but beside the tabernacle and the altar in adoration of Christ’s Real Presence today.
On 22nd July this year Bishop John Sherrington came to celebrate our patronal feast and the 80th anniversary of the laying of the church’s foundation stone as well as to bless those glass doors. In his homily, Bishop John indicated the significance of this day when he said: ‘This anniversary reminds us not only of a sacred building for prayer and worship of God but importantly of the families whose prayers have built this parish, the generosity, time, energy and resources given freely, the priests who have served here, and Catholic faith which has been lived in joys and sorrows, fears and hopes, tears and laughter, life and death.’
The Mass had music old and new, from Haydn’s Nelson Kyrie and Gloria to Macmillan’s St Anne Sanctus and Agnus Dei and was followed by a hog-roast and other food and drinks, all enjoyed by over 300 parishioners.
Saying Mass now, I see people walk past and witness our living stones at prayer. Some stop and stare, some make a sign of reverence, some walk past and then come back to linger a while. And one Muslim lady in the area said, ‘I’ve lived here all my life and I never knew your church was open.’
I love it when a plan comes together.