Sunday, 30 October 2011

Half term is over

Yes, we've been on holiday again. You may have seen one of us this week and wondered why we weren't in seminary!

Thomas Cardinal Wolsey,
Archbishop of York
I've spent some of my holiday in Ipswich, a place which was formerly quite unfamiliar to me! I knew that the old Hanseatic town of Ipswich, or Gippeswick in the historical vernacular, was an important place indeed, and I know lots of stories about Our Lady of Ipswich (who, unlike Our Lady of Walsingham, was spared the iconoclasm), Cardinal Wolsey, and what not, and was pleasantly surprised to see much of the town centre preserved. I'd always, mistakenly, assumed that Ipswich, being so important, must have been destroyed in the war, but the quaint street and timber-framed building survived, complemented by modern renovations around the water-front area. One could even call it the hidden gem of our diocese.

I tried to visit some of the Catholic parishes in Ipswich during my stay, and I managed to meet some parishioners at St Mark's and its quaint and friendly out-lying church, Holy Family, in Brantham. I also had a peep in St James, St Mary (which, I've since discovered, is dedicated as Jesus Christ and Saint Mary), and St Pancras in the town centre, which is a beautiful church indeed, though a little scaffolding remained from the finishing-touches of its renovation. Unfortunately, I didn't get to visit St Mary Magdalen, though I've been there before, or any of the other 'station' churches, nor Woodbridge, which is also in the Ipswich deanery.

I always enjoy visiting parishes in our diocese, not only for my penchant for architecture (surely a veritable curse cast upon all priests upon their entering seminary: one just can't help but mentally re-arrange even the most beautiful of churches!), but it is always a good thing to 'plug back in' to East Anglian life now and then, to remind ourselves of reality!

I wonder which town will await me next holiday...!

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