Father Michael celebrated his last Solemn Mass at All Saints' on Sunday 17th January prior to his retirement at the end of the month.
The congregation of 76 at Solemn Mass, at which Fr. Michael celebrated but Fr. Christopher preached, included several people who had come specifically for the occasion and about 6 children whom he had baptised during his time at All Saints'.
After the service, the whole congregation gathered near the font for a group photo (which can be seen below), then coffee was served at the back of the church as usual. This gave ample time for those unable stay for lunch in the hall to speak to Fr. Michael and say their goodbyes.
At about 1.15 pm those remaining moved through to the hall, where 4 long tables down the middle were loaded with an appetising finger buffet - not just plates of sandwiches, but a variety of quiches, chicken, salad, crisps, sausage rolls, pates and dips etc with cheesecake, eclaires, fresh fruit or cheese and biscuits to follow. In the corner, another table had bottles of wine, lemonade or fruit juice, and glasses. (The buffet was a team effort, so a big 'thank you' to everyone who contributed food or drink.)
On both sides of the hall chairs had been arranged around small tables (somewhere to rest a glass, and to sit while you eat) - but with over 85 people in the hall, for many it was 'standing room only'. The lunch ended with speeches, a toast to Fr. Michael and family, and the presentations. Thank you to everyone who contributed so generously.
Lydia was given £15 with which to buy herself something as a reminder of her time with us, and Sandra received £40 with the same request plus a bouquet of flowers, in recognition of her contribution to the life of All Saints' - teaching in the Sunday school and as a lesson reader - and for her help and constant support to Father Michael. Father Michael received two gifts - a cheque for £50 from members of the Walsingham Cell (mainly the st. Barnabas Pilgrims, as most of the others had already contributed to the gift from their own church) and a cheque for £1,002 from a grateful congregation in thanks for his ministry over the last 12+ years. He also received a card with messages and good wishes from everyone in the congregation (we hope we didn't miss anyone!)
When the presentations were over, Fr. Michael cut the cakes. Thanks must go to Jane Clarke for her delicious fruit cake, and to Rita for making the sponge. So we said 'au revoir' to Fr. Michael and family - we know it wont be goodbye! - Our grateful thanks and very best wishes go with you all.
A 'Thank you' letter from Fr. Michael to the Church wardens and Parishioners of All Saints', South Wimbledon.
On behalf of Sandra, Lydia and myself I should like to you for the very generous gifts which were presented to us on Sunday 17th January and to express our appreciation of your kindness. The buffet lunch was a splendid occasion and I was delighted that so many attended and were able to share fellowship with us.
All Saints' will always have a special place in our affections as from the very beginning of my ministry in the parish every effort was made to welcome us and to help me adjust to be being responsible for two parishes. I am conscious of the inadequacy of words yet it is only through words that we state what is in our hearts and minds. I have been deeply touched by the very kind tributes that have been paid to me which I will always treasure. This message thus comes with a sense of profound gratitude to the parish of All Saints' for all the support I received over the years and with the promise of ever prayerful remembrance.
Here are just a few pictures of the occasion:-
Father Michael and his congregation
With Fr. Christopher Sandra, Fr. Michael & Lydia
Elizabeth & Christian The Organist on Orange Juice!!!!!!!
Our Churchwardens Churchwarden & Parish Secretary
Ray Jean Mini
Enjoying the Occasion
Amusement all round!
Jenny and Ann
Enjoying the joke!
Cutting the 1st slice of cake
More smiling faces