Category Archives: St Mark’s

Parish Pilgrimage to the Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland

P2140052A group of people from the four Kirkby churches met at John Lennon Airport on 7th September 2009 to travel to  Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland for the Annual Parish Retreat.  For many this was their first flight so there was much excitement as the plane soared into the air over the Mersey and climbed to 23,000 feet for the short flight to Belfast.   Arriving at Corrymeela we were  quite overcome by the stunning scenery and the genuine warmth of our welcome –  as soon as we piled out of the mini bus we were greeted with ‘you are so welcome’ and taken in for the first of what proved to be many cups of tea.
After we had unpacked we gathered in one of the many comfortable lounges and over a cup of tea met Padraig, Theresa and Fergal who were to lead and care for us on our journey of discovery about why   Northern Ireland needs centres like Corrymeela.  Over the next few days we came to understand that Northern Ireland is  a country where Catholics and Protestants  live physically close to one another but are separated by the hurts created by the historical and ongoing political, religious and cultural conflicts which have arisen between these two branches Christianity.    Founded in 1965  Corrymeela is an ecumenical  Christian community which aims to provide a safe place within which to explore the possibilities for  healing, reconciliation and peace  between the Catholic and Protestant Communities.    The most healing place on the site is, undoubtedly the Croi.  “Croi” is the Gaelic word for “heart” and the building resembles the shape of a human heart with different chambers flowing into each other.  We met in this peaceful place daily at 9.30 am and at 9 pm for short periods of worship, music, fellowship and laughter, and always  left it feeling nourished and spiritually refreshed.  The peace of the ‘croi’ enveloped and embraced us when we returned from a challenging day in Belfast where we had seen the raw wounds of the ‘peace walls’ and the wall paintings – physical evidence of the hurts of this city which is only 30 minutes by air from our own. Lest this give an impression of total gloom one should mention that in Belfast we also visited the Clonard Reconciliation Project and were warmed and impressed by the unity pilgrims led by Father Gerry and Rev. Sam.

Just reading this it may seem that Corrymeela is worthy but rather dull but this is far from the case.   We enjoyed a week of fun, laughter, fabulous meals, superb sceney and, of course, many many cups of tea!  We enjoyed trips to Giant’s Causeway, and Porrush and  we had a great Irish evening in the local pub in Ballycastle. We experienced the warmth of the Irish people and the joy of seeing and hearing how Corrymeela is slowly but surely breaking down the divisions  and replacing them with trust and hopefully friendship.  None of us wanted to leave  Ireland or Corrymeela  and the journey back to the airport was full of discussion about which part of Ireland we should visit on the next Parish pilgrimage!  Our hopes can be summed up in the Irish prayer :

May the road rise to meet us, may the wind be always at our back, may the sunshine upon our faces, the rain fall soft upon our fields and until we meet again, may God hold us in the palm of his hand. Amen.

Vera on the Giant's Causeway
Vera on the Giant's Causeway
The Croi where all our worship was held
The Croi where all our worship was held

Day Retreat at Pennant Melangell

The shrine church of Pennant Melangell
The shrine church of Pennant Melangell

On July 16th, the Kirkby healing team members set off for a quiet day retreat to St. Melangell’s Church in the Berwyn Mountains, a remote and beautiful spot at the head of the Tanet Valley in Wales.

Our aim was to reflect on the life of Jesus through the cycle of Grace (some insights developed by Frank Lake based on the work of Emile Brunner). The first input being on acceptance, the second sustenance, the third Significance and the fourth achievement – much food for thought and self analysis, believe you me!

At 12 noon we walked down from our base to the church to celebrate the eucharist, with the opportunity for prayers for healing for those in need. The feeling of reverence as you entered this place of worship reminded one strongly of the many who had worshipped there way back from the 12th century, and the effigies, the oak screen and stone carvings tll the history of the church. The shrine of St. Melangall, situated behind the altar became the focal point of the service.

Returning to base for lunch we discovered it was raining: surprise, surprise!! However we enjoyed sharing our thoughts together whilst we ate.

After lunch we then continued with our next input and between each session continued with our own quiet time and prayers wherever we wished. Undaunted by the weather we wandered outside! In the midst of all the mountains it was so quiet and so peaceful! Who could not help but feel the presence of the Lord in such beautiful surroundings?

After tea and cake, more input and further quiet time for meditation before returning to church again for evening prayer which took place around the shrine. A final time to spend with our Lord before the minibus journey home.

If only the nations of the world could have shared the peace of St. Melangell, it would become a far, far better place. As we left with that peace, serenity and tranquility in our hearts and a quietness of spirit from the day, we gave thanks for the wonderful fellowship and sharing within our group and for a day well spent. Thank you to all concerned.

Written by Wyn, a member of the group

All Saints

CB108036On Sunday 1st November, in the evening, we held our annual Commemoration services for the Faithful Departed, especially thinking about those who have died in the previous year. Christmas is a hard time for many people, and we begin the run up to Christmas with services for bereaved families. Around 250 people attended this year, and we hope that in some small way, these services help them in the journey of grief.

When you lose someone you love often the hardest time is after the funeral. Family and friends rally around but a bereaved person can still feel very alone as they grieve for their loved one and seek to carry on. A listening ear can be a great help on that journey. We have a bereavement support team in the parish able to come and visit if you feel that you would appreciate this kind of support. This is available however long ago the death was. Please contact Andy Heber on 548 7969 if you would like to have more information.

Two Cathedrals

The Group with No Name went on a trip to Liverpool at the start of October half term. We visited both cathedrals, Hope Street, the Albert Dock, Mersey Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum, ‘an awesome sweet shop’, and saw HMS Illustrious on her visit to Liverpool. It was a long and tiring day, but with a collection of ridiculously large gobstoppers to sustain us, we had a fantastic time. Despite a brief rain shower early on, the weather was good, and we even saw Kirkby in the distance from the top of the Anglican Cathedral!

Widescreen view

The docks and the Three Graces
The docks and the Three Graces

Looking south over the river from the top of the Anglican Cathedral
I can see clearly now, the rain has gone...
The docks and Birkenhead
Where's the weather map?
Could we do this on the side of St. Chad's?