“There remains an experience that we can give to one another, beyond all differences & beyond the dividing power of suffering. That is what the fourth Gospel means in its conclusion. How truly we can believe in the resurrection of Jesus, & how close we are to a life beyond the grave, is shown to us in the power of forgiveness. As long as a pain really tortures us, we can try as hard as we want, but we will still carry a little of the need for revenge within us. No matter how much good will we exercise in biting it back, it will still gnaw at us, & we will only be able to forgive in a very weak way. Our heart is only truly free when we understand that we can grow beyond wounds & injuries. Some time or other, we will even see that the most valuable aspect of a human being, what is most beautiful in us as persons, is ultimately all those times in our lives that originally gave us a great deal of pain, but in which we have learned to go on living. Those things have been transformed into sources of understanding & even, finally, of goodness. That is what Christ shows us on the evening of the Easter Day. Beyond suffering & pain, & beyond the desire for revenge, there is a power of life that brings us close to God & lets us speak words of forgiveness that are valid in heaven & on earth.” (The Open Tomb: Eugene Drewermann) Our shared occupancy of St Benedict’s House with the Village Surgery ended last Tuesday evening, & the medical team began work again in their extended & refurbished accommodation on Wednesday morning. Their time in our House since last August has been both a joy & blessing, experiencing the House fully alive again, & with a deep sense of service from us to the medical team & patients. We would like to think that some of our prayer & spirituality, in which the House has been seeped over many years, will have helped in some way the care & healing practised by the doctors, nurses & administrative staff. We already miss their cheerful presence. Please keep them all in your prayers, & indeed the construction staff who have done such a great job over recent months, benefitting from the wise oversight of Tony Marken, as together they have achieved an excellent result. Last Sunday we held a Parish Forum as a follow up to the Forum on 25th Feb 2018, when Fr Bede gave a comprehensive report on the life of the Parish & St Benedict’s RC Primary School since the last Forum on 27th Nov 2016. We spent over half of the allotted hour listening to some of the reasons why parishioners come regularly to Our Lady & St Benedict’s. It was a profoundly deep & spiritual experience to listen to an emerging & beautiful image of what epitomises our journey in life & faith together. We then moved on to identify some areas of pressing need within the organisational structure of the Parish, with a need for clarity on how our various groups weave together under the leadership of the Parish Pastoral Council. The key areas of responsibility which need covering in the immediate term involve additional members for the PPC, the election of a Chair, & individuals prepared to cover aspects of Safeguarding, Health & Safety, & Data Protection. At a further follow up Forum on Sun 13th May 2018, we hope a full explanation of the duties & responsibilities on these ministries, together with our existing sub-groups, some of which are currently dormant, will encourage some of you to step forward & offer to take on some of these works of service for the wider Parish. We also intend to revisit the Parish Mission Statement in order to reform it in line with our current & onward situation. One concernof particular importance was raised in relation to those parishioners of ours who no longer join us here, but practice at the Abbey or in other neighbouring Parishes. I encouraged the forty parishioners present to make gentle contact with those in such a position, to seek their counsel on the reasons behind their ongoing absence from us. It would be really helpful if either the absent or you could convey the reasons either in writing or email, to Caroline Dollard by 8th May 2018, so that the feedback can be put to the Forum for information, discussion & advice. Please take home with you a copy of the summary sheet from the Forum which records the wonderful phrases of affirmation about our Parish life & ministry which emerged last weekend. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.