Over the late Spring Bank Holiday weekend, St Catharine’s parish in Frome celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their current church being opened with a Flower Festival. This was also an opportunity for the parish to reach out to wider community as part of the Year of Mission and HOPEFrome’s Year of Hope.

A steady stream of visitors came to view the fabulous arrangements which filled the church and celebrated the life of the parish. Every window was filled by a display created by a different group in the parish including both St Louis’ and St Augustine’s schools. There were also arrangements on the Sanctuary, Baptistery, porch and Blessed Sacrament Chapel, all of which had a special link to the community and its history. Almost every pew had a pew end created by individuals and families.

Among the main displays was one created with flowers from Mells Manor garden given by The Earl and Countess of Oxford to celebrate the link between St Dominic’s chapel in the grounds of the Manor and the parish. They were displayed in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel which had been given by the parish when the church was built in 1968 to remember Mgr Ronald Knox who completed his famous Biblical translation at the Manor in 1948.

A display next to the statue of St Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, contained the national flags and flowers of all 28 nationalities represented in the congregation, while the altar was adorned with an arrangement which contained a wheel to celebrate the parish’s Patron Saint.

Everyone who visited the church over the weekend was very complimentary about the work which had gone into all the arrangements by everyone involved and there were many comments that the church had never looked as beautiful.

Those who had been creating the displays said that one great thing which had happened that as people worked hard to make their displays on the Friday, a real sense of community could be felt. People who had never talked before were chatting and sharing tips and building relationships especially between the communities who attend the different Masses within the parish.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile exercise both in celebrating the parish but in developing it as a community. Deacon David Brinn who had organised the festival was asked several times when the next one would be which was a sign of how successful it had been. So, in 2020 the parish will once again be transformed for another flower festival. Watch out Chelsea Flower Show!