A special Mass for the Zimbabwe community was held at St Nicholas of Tolentino in Easton, Bristol on Saturday 14 October. Bishop Declan was welcomed into the Church by expressive singing and dancing which carried on throughout the Mass. You can see the pictures below.

Phil Gibbons, Conmmunications Officer for Clifton Diocese, wrote the following report for the Bristol Post’s regular Tuesday Thought column this week:

International Masses show a strong sense of Community!

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to one of our Churches; St Nicholas of Tolentino in Easton, for a Zimbabwean Mass. I knew this would be something I would enjoy, as being no stranger to Zimbabwe and Southern Africa over the last twenty years, I was imagining the colours, expressive singing and of course, the fact that it was topped off with a feast in the Church hall afterwards, all made the rainy Saturday afternoon something to look forward to.

I was not disappointed either. Along with the Bishop of Clifton, Bishop Declan Lang, we were introduced to many people who had travelled from all parts of Bristol and a large contingent coming over from Cardiff to be part of this Mass and inspiring afternoon. The singing, readings and prayers, many in the Shona language and all accompanied by the rhythmic djembe drumming, reminded me of the many happy times I have spent in that part of the world over many years.

Speaking with a few of the Cardiff contingent after the Mass, we were inspired to hear that they were planning to hold similar Masses in Cardiff soon with the blessing of their Bishop. Yes, to save them traveling to Bristol once a month, but also to celebrate their community in South Wales.

I was also lucky enough to meet many years ago, an inspirational person who set up and was managing a Community radio station just outside Cape Town in South Africa called Bush Radio. Whilst addressing an audience of radio people in Manchester, the large figure of South African Zane Ibrahim, just stood on stage, and in a soft unassuming voice, simply said, “In South Africa we use Community Radio to stay alive”. I guess this was a ‘Drop the mic’ moment, but he did not do it for effect, he said this to emphasise how powerful a collective community can be.

This all came back to me last week in Easton when I was sat at the back of the Church seeing the Zimbabwean Community all have one collective reason to be in this amazing church, that does such great work for and with all of the many communities in Easton.

Yes, I should talk about integration here, but why can we not celebrate both ways of Worship? Many of our Parishes have ‘International’ Masses which embrace all Nations, whilst many have Masses in different languages and special masses such as this one last week – all are welcome!

This is why the sense of community, whatever that community is, is so important in our lives and how we live them.

The food was, as expected, simply plentiful and superbly tasty by the way!

St Nicholas Zimbabwe Mass October 2017

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