6 hours ago
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
A former parish priest of the Catholic Church in Ringwood used to give directions: "Just look out for the sewage works". Certainly the old church used to look like some public utility - just a flat-topped box which, like all flat-roofed buildings, was prone to constant leaks.
But no more. In his sermon the present parish priest, Fr Anthony Pennicott (left: in the Narthex before Mass) said the introit hymn might well have been "There once was an ugly duckling". You will see from the attached pictures that it is ugly no longer - instead a rather resplendent swan.
My wife and I were invited because the church where our Ordinariate Group worships is in the same Pastoral Area, and the principal celebrant was Fr John Lee, who is co-ordinating Pastor (in Anglican terminology Rural Dean)of the Area. Other concelebrants were Fr Gerry and Fr Vitalis, parish priests in the Area and both from Nigeria. It was good to meet many of the Ringwood Congregation after Mass, and also to meet the Vicar of Ringwood, the Revd Dr David Miell together with his wife who is also in Anglican Holy Orders. I am not sure if I should be flattered or worried that David seemed to know my name already.
I took the interior photo (above) when people were gathering; by the time Mass started the Church was comfortably full. Afterwards, despite the chilly evening, some of the hardier souls spilled out from the Presbytery onto the lawn.
The Architect, Philip Proctor, told me how he tried to give a hint of Italy in the transformed building. He has achieved that, while it looks perfectly at home in its Hampshire setting. Congratulations to all concerned.