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By Phillip Ideh (Snr)

Church of Our Lady of Dolours, the Servite Friars Church on Fulham Road, London, celebrated its sixth International Mass on Sunday, July 18, 2010. It would be recalled that this celebration was begun in the Diocese by Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, to mark the divergence –the difference –the multi-cultural texture of the Catholic Church in London.  It was a celebration of difference and unity.


The celebration took place in the Servite Primary School Playground with music, dance and food after Mass. Each representative of her country welcomed and served food at their designated area and sixty-eight families had signed up to be involved.

          Display of dishes were made by the Filippinos,Portuguese, Irish, British and African Communities and such African delicacies as pounded yam, joloff rice, fried rice, plantain (do do) and vegetable soup (efo riro!)

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          Earlier, he Servite Prior and Parish Priest, Fr. Dermot McNiece had celebrated the Mass with Friar Fr. Jim Mulherin, his Assistant and Vietnamese Deacon, Paul Ly.


          Welcome greetings were made in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Tagalo, Konkani/Asian and African languages.

          July birthdays were celebrated and those who received the Sacraments this year were invited to the Altar. Pupils of the Servite Primary school, who attended in great number, took part in singing the hymns and in a procession round the Church before the Gospel Reading. Offertory Hymns – (kum ba Yah) was rendered by the School Choir, Instrumental Solo by a member of the Vietnamese Community while African Movement was interpreted with Gifts to the altar. A Yoruba (Nigerian Drummer) used his “Talking Drum” to render a syncopated music to the measured steps of the female members of the African Community who swayed in captivating bodily movements bearing the Offertory Gifts to the Altar, to the admiration of the congregation.


          Communion Hymn 313 was sung in Filippino, 731 was sung in Welsh, 433 in the Scottish language while a Portuguese parishioner sang Solo.

          Prominent among the worshippers were Paul and Valentina Okaru, from the Falomo Parish of the Catholic Church of the Assumption in Lagos. Nigeria. Paul is a Catholic Knight and he is the President of the Catholic Men’s Organisation in his parish. The couple usually spend their summer holidays in the Servite parish.

          The success of this year’s celebration was due mainly to the diligent people-friendly attitude or efforts of prior, Fr. Dermot who flagged off preparations for this year’s event as early as June 13, 2010. He had convened an inaugural meeting in the Founder’s Room in the Priory with core members of the Committee Work and S team before flying to Brazil, South America, for a Conference! The Parish Secretary, Dupe Harris whose father, Chief Solomon Olaniyan Jinadu, 82, died earlier, at the time of the Icelandic Volcanic eruption, had to fly to her hometown, Inisha, Osun State in Southwest Nigeria to join her widowed mother and other siblings, to bury him. The preparations, however, went on, regardless as Sr. Kathleen of the Cross and Passion Convent in Fulham Road, Tom Hay, Charlene O’Brien, Valery Voak and Therese McMurray, to name a few, made sure that volunteers and donors  honoured their pledges by phoning them and reminding them of their pledges.

          The Servite Church has about Forty Volunteer Groups working in the Parish. Built by the Servite Community in 1873, the Parish stretches from the river Thames in Chelsea to Old Brompton Road in Southwest London and it is part of the Roman Catholic Westminster Diocese.

          In emphasising the joy, dignity and importance in participating in the International Mass, the prior and parish priest, Fr. Dermot told parishioners that the Mass “was to prepare us for the shock of Heaven – and who we might have to share a table with!”

          He added: “Some of us might die of fright when we get to the Gates!” he went on to say that “Mass is not a static experience of God’s Frozen People – but a sacrament of delight in the one whom my heart loves”.

          He concluded that it was a lovely day on which “the Sun had shone and the sangria twinkled – a midsummer’s parish day to remember and to delight in for a very long time – into the dark of the winter!”