The passing of a crown

The following reflection was quickly written and recorded today for United Christian Broadcasters Radio for a production on Monday for the day of the Queen’s funeral


Upon her last, passing breath
she passes the crown to another,
like a baton
but it’s a burden too,
like a gold-plated cross
and, hiding beneath, the rough wood
which dares to splinter.
Honour and riches and fame and renown
can never hide us from the dangers and strife.
There is no such thing as a comfortable life,
and sacrifice is sewn into her handmade garments
and sequined robes of gold.
And yet she seemed to sail so effortlessly
along an uncomfortable journey
comforted by the One with whom she was anointed
beneath that canopy
which hid her from the public eye,
seven decades ago.
An intimate moment spent with God
whose breath and gentle whisper
is almost imperceptible
but always there,
like the feint scent of sesame seed and olive oil,
roses, orange flowers, jasmine
musk and civet.
She was anointed for service
determined only by her heritage
and how wide her heart was open to the passing of a crown.

Common Ground

This is a half-remembered, fully-edited and yet extended reflection from today’s homily at Mass. It’s by no means entirely or exactly what was preached at all but it is a sensitive reworking, and simply provides a little prompt for reflection.

The gospel reading was the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

The story of the Good Samaritan is among the savoured stuff of Sunday School teachers. It is a simple story with much appeal.

Samaritans feature often in the gospels – not just played out in parables but in the lived experience of Jesus and his apostles. Remember how he draws close to the Samaritan woman at the well? How he asks her for a drink, whilst his onlookers stand surprised by the way he treads across the boundaries which divide, and how he bridges the gaps which have become filled with animosity, disagreement and suspicion.

In those days, the Samaritans and Jews lived far apart from one another. There was religious difference. There was to be no encounter, no friendship, no love. The story of the Good Samaritan would have stunned Jesus’ listeners.

Jesus creates that common ground upon which people who are different can stand. He shows us us how we can build friendships and relate to one another in a spirit of mutual respect, and with love.

It’s the place where conversation occurs, where there is speaking and listening, and where new possibilities are discovered.

It is a place where hope exists, where it is tangible – passed around like a ball game where the only rule is love.

It is a place of stillness, too, and of gentleness. Where wounds can be tended, where healing takes place, where patience is needed.

It is also a costly place – not necessarily in terms of finance, although the Good Samaritan is willing to pay that price – but perhaps in setting aside some things to which we hold close.

On this common ground our insecurities can easily rise to the surface. And so it is a fragile place too.

But is the place we are called to create and occupy, always being intentional but also willing to be surprised. There has to be honesty and openness, as we discover a shared language where love can be heard.

This common ground is also easily spoiled, easily invaded by others, who do not play by the same rules, and who can unsettle the ground. People whose motives are not the same, and who do not understand what it means to till and work this common ground.

Here, in South Cardiff, we have a unique calling and a daily opportunity to help create and cherish that common ground. To build friendships, engage with difference, in order to fulfil the law of Christ which, quite simply, is to love God and to love one another.

The Samaritan in the story of Jesus had no ulterior motive. There is no indication that he wished to proselytise the man he helps and heals. He doesn’t see him as low lying fruit, easily plucked. He simply meets the need presented to him with love and care and compassion. Perhaps he leaves the rest to God.

The Samaritan man creates that common ground where Love’s possibilities are endless.

But crossing boundaries is a difficult thing to do. It is a tender place where love must reign, and which fosters hope not hostility, reconciliation not rage, peace not pain. We must cross those boundaries with care and tenderness, recognising the fragile ground upon which we walk.

Perhaps, standing outside a community, with a certain perspective, we may think we know what is right for it. We may look from a distance, see the people coming and going and standing around, living their lives, loving their loves, and want to bring our own message to them, do things in a different way, a new way. Perhaps we may even think that we have a truth they need to have, a treasure they need to hold.

Jesus was a Jew but, in his own story, it is the Samaritan who saves. Yes, as Christians, we are commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations but we also forget, at our peril, the command of Jesus to love one another as he has loved us.

Yes, Jesus creates that common ground upon which people who are different can stand. He shows us us how we can build friendships and relate to one another in a spirit of mutual respect, and with love.

We must go and do the same.

Leading us to the street

Glastonbury Pilgrimage | Benediction Homily by Fr Dean Atkins| July 9, 2022
John 13:1-17

He looked nervous and out of place
when he walked into the Foodbank.
I’ll call him “Sam.”

Sam had just graduated from university
and now, maybe, with so many dreams dashed
and hopes from the distant past dissolved,
he found himself in need.

He had fallen out with his parents
and had lost that support
so many of us have taken for granted.

I asked him if he’d like a coffee
whilst he waited for his bags of food.
A coffee.
Such a simple thing.
Something I consume in ridiculous quantities
every morning of my life,
without giving it much thought,
or being too thankful for it,
to be honest.

“A coffee?” he said, as though I was offering him gold.
“Oh, yes please. I can’t remember the last time I had a coffee.”

As we sat across the table
over the coffee
which I now valued so much more,
we talked a little.

Sam told me about the problem with his parents,
and how he wasn’t very good with money,

“And, if I’m honest,” he said,
with his head lowered,
“I drink too much.”

But tomorrow,
he was starting a new job,
working in a Buffet Restaurant,
and he could see the possibilities,
even though he wouldn’t be paid for some time yet,
and probably wouldn’t be paid as much
as he once thought his university degree would bring him,
there was some hope.

I never saw him again
although, in the weeks afterwards,
whenever I passed by the restaurant
I wondered how he was doing.

I still wonder.

Some people
cling to you,
stand out,
stir you in some way,
leave their mark.

I hope he’s ok.

The people who find themselves at a Foodbank
are many and varied.
There are the ones you may stereotypically expect to see,
and those who return,
and you’re not surprised to see them.
Again.
And again.

But there are others too.
Those who have fled from a broken relationship,
the professionals, a former doctor or journalist,
those devastated by drugs,
the recently released from prison,
the sex workers, the homeless,
the full-time workers, the stay-at-home carers,
those whose minds have been fractured by life,
those who have lost their job,
their home,
their hope,
who come to us, sometimes,
with a sense of shame,
or awkwardness.

Those who look nervous
and out of place.

And here we are.
We,who dare to believe in Jesus,
the Bread of Life,
who fed the thousands,
and dared to say,
‘Come to me all who are burdened by life
and I will give you rest.’

How beautiful is this place!
And yet this is a place
of ruins and lost glory,
a place dismantled by politics
and religious turmoil,
five centuries ago.

This is a place where the past
lies heavy upon us.
A fragile place
of dissolved dreams
and dashed hopes.

We should feel nervous here,
and out of place.

Not because of the dismantled walls,
the toppled stones of the past,
and the lessons of history,
but because of what we are doing here.
Right now.

We should not be able to look at him –
the Sacramental presence of Jesus,
the Body of Christ,
which I consume each day, each week,
without, at times,
giving it much thought,
or being too thankful for it,
(to be honest) –

without thinking of Sam,
and so many others
whose hopes have been changed,
or snatched from them altogether.

Those who need some hope,
some friendship,
a step up,
as they step on.

On the night that Jesus gave us this beautiful gift of himself,
a means through which we receive
all the benefits of his death and resurrection,
a constant sign of his presence,
a sharing in his life,
he also stooped to the ground
to wash his disciples’ feet,
an act which unsettled St Peter,
made him feel nervous,
and out of place.

Jesus moves from the table
to the grime that lies between the toes,
from the food to the feet,
from the sacrament to the sweat,
from the sweetness to the street.

And we have moved through the street too,
through this strange and fascinating town of Glastonbury
with its way-out ways,
and its alternative spiritual awakenings,
moving with Christ, the Bread of Life,
singing of the wonderful way
in which Jesus is present among us
in the Sacrament of the Altar,
feeding us,
leading us,
changing us.

Maybe much of what we have done
through the streets,
were a mystery to those who witnessed it,
but, here, as you sit and sing
and smile and love…

think of Sam…
and all those who are hungry
for food,
for friendship,
for hope.

“Lord to whom shall we go,
you have the message of eternal life?”

Ah, those words of St Peter
which embrace both a sense
of hopelessness and hope.

We have no one
or nowhere to go to…

…we are hopeless…
but you, Lord…
are our hope.

Life is fragile,
and full of ruined dreams
and hopeless situations,
and toppled stones,
and so often we feel nervous
and out of place.
Strangers in a strange land.

But our only hope
lies in Christ,
who is here,
in our midst,
upon this altar,
feeding our souls,
leading us to the streets,

leading us to Sam…

and Janet, and Laura…

and Tianie and Layla and Mohammed…

and Stephen and Bill and Barbara…

and Ahmed, and Derek…

and Sarah, and Sophie and James…

and Fiona and Spencer and Jake …

and…

My Today

Faith is common currency here in Butetown. At St Mary’s (Church in Wales) Primary School we are able to beautifully give expression to all faiths within a Christian nurturing environment.

About 86% of our pupils are from Muslim families and there is wonderful respect of each other’s faith as we work together to build a strong, peaceful and cohesive community.

Over the last week or so, particularly during our celebration of Refugee week and the conversations I’ve been able to have with some of our young people, I’ve given much thought to the beauty of Butetown, and the nurturing environment the school is able to give to children, and I’ve had some lovely conversations about faith and belief.

It’s not the same experience some of us have experienced in the past, and we want to be part of a world of peace where all are respected, and where faith and belief and belonging are valued.

A little poetic reflection.


1970s, 1980s,
growing up into the Valleys,
I kept my head down about faith.
Don’t admit, if you can,
being Christian.
Avoid the talk.
It’s not cool.
It doesn’t fit with football or friends.
Curl the conversation astray.
Just kick the ball away.
It’s easier that way.

But that was yesterday.

It’s a world away from today.
And I’m a 20 mile,
40 year journey
from my childhood days.
I’m back in Butetown,
where Faith is not far from football,
and boxing doesn’t punch the Faith away.

For me,
I was the only known boy
in my whole school year
to “go to church,”
back in those glitter ball days.
There was ridicule then,
here in this Christian Country
and so I kept the ball at arm’s length,
kicked it into touch.

I’m back in Butetown.
Back?
Because I was never here before I came -
apart from my grandfather
who welded his way
among the ships here
along the water’s edge,
some time after his teenage years
were spent in the dark canals,
the deep underground,
hacking coal,
shipped this way,
back before a war which challenged faith
and kicked God into touch.

In Butetown,
faith is not such a strange thing.
It’s a common language,
spoken on the streets,
shared in shops,
understood, respected.
There is difference and change.
But there is no reason
to keep your head down
about faith.

And so I get something
of what it means
to be the different one.
The one who tries to make it
all worthwhile
in a kick to goal
or a touchdown
or a sprint across the line,
avoiding the harsh calls
from the touch lines,
shurking the “bible basher” jokes
at the end of the
council street cul-de-sac
and it’s dead end dreams.
I was there before I met you,
avoiding the talk,
wishing it was yesterday,
a world away
from what is my today.

Churches Unlocked

Welcome to our Churches Unlocked festival with activities and events taking place from Tuesday 21 – Sunday 26 June, 2022

We are one of ten churches in the Diocese of Llandaff taking part in the Festival, and you can discover more of the riches of our diocese being unleashed during this festival week here



WELCOME | CROESO

We have a packed programme at St Mary’s Church in Butetown as we explore and celebrate ‘Welcome, Sanctuary and Diversity‘ and here you’ll find all you need to make the most of your visit. Here are some quick links to some of the items on this page:

Timetable | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | On Display | Wild Side | Tours | Prayer and Worship | Extras


REFUGEE WEEK

As well as participating in the Churches Unlocked festival, we’re also celebrating Refugee Week and The Great Get Together (inspired by Jo Cox)

Check out how our Church Schools are leading the way in celebrating Refugee Week with this article from the Diocese of Llandaff featuring St Mary’s School


ON DISPLAY

We love working with others and we have a number of different organisations taking part this week.

Each day, there’ll be an Audio-Visual loop from St Mary’s School, as well as an exhibition from Tiger Bay and the World, Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group, Cardiff Street Pastors, Info-point. Yes, we love working with others!

In particular, we are working together with St Mary’s School throughout the whole week. Why not check out an amazing video from the school called Butetown’s Colourful Journey which celebrates our vibrant and diverse community:

MOVE ON!

Feel free to move around the church and grounds, taking in the sights and sounds, discovering a story behind every item. Our volunteers are on hand to help, and if they don’t know the answer to a question, they’ll do their best to find out!

Info-point: Take an interactive tour and pilgrimage through St Mary’s using the Info-point trail inside the building. Discover more about Info-point here. Using your Smart Phone simply scan the QR code available in the church for wi-fi and the particular tour, and you’re off!

Stations of the Cross: You can also walk the Stations of the Cross with our simple reflections available here

Faithful Butetown: there are secrets to be discovered in the streets of Butetown, and our guided tours through our community reveal the faithful past and present of the city, discovering significant sites and stories from different religions, and celebrating the part that religious groups have played in the life and growth of our city. There’s an opportunity to participate in one of these on Saturday when we ‘Meet at Betty’s statue’ as we partner with The Great Get Together

‘Enter the Mystery’ On Friday at 2pm, you can discover the Mystery and History of St Mary’s Church on our guided, interactive tour

We also have our own colourful Guide Book available to purchase at just £3

Recording God’s Garden Adventure with Nicki Prichard, Headteacher of St Mary’s School, and Matt Batten from the Diocese of Llandaff

ST MARY’S WILD SIDE

Yes, we do have a wild side! Our gardens are open for you to explore – you can dig deep into our wildlife area and discover the beauty of nature in the heart of our city, or take an interactive journey on your Smartphone.

Prayer and Reflection: Take our audio-visual trail through the wild side, reflecting on God’s Creation and our repsonsibility towards the natural environment. Here you can explore our Stations of Creation and God’s Garden Adventure (designed for children but popular with those not so young too!) or visit some of the other reflective areas and shrines, including Our Lady and St Francis of Assisi.

Get Wild: You can discover the Wild Side QR Code Trail here which explores some of the features of our gardens and how we are helping to take care of nature and offer a space for people to reap the benefits of getting close to nature.

Wild Activities: we have some Nature spotting activity sheets available, as well as a few bug hunting jars – popular with children – and a few other activities available during the week. Remember to tread carefully – and be kind to every creature!

You can access the garden through the far left hand corner of the church, where you’ll find the Meeting Room (where you can grab a coffee!)

There are two interactive experiences for both children and adults

PRAYER AND WORSHIP

Whilst St Mary’s is an historic place, with a rich heritage, it is, above all, a place of prayer and worship, a home to the church which gathers here. Each day throughout the year there is a regular pattern of prayer, and all are welcome.

This week is no different, and each day is maintained by a rhythm of Mass and prayer. (including our weekly Mass on Wednesday with pupils from St Mary’s School). You can discover these times in the timetable below where you will also find links to Morning and Afternoon Prayer (using the Universalis webpage) as well as the Angelus and the Rosary.

However, there are also some interactive prayer staions available this week which have been designed and created by Beccie Morteo our Diocesan Education Officer, to explore some of the themes of Refugee Week.

A snapshot from the Easter Vigil 2022

REFRESHMENTS

The Kettle’s always on, and you’re welcome at the table!

Tea, coffee, cake and biscuits available throughout each day from after Morning Prayer to 3.30pm, all served in The Meeting Room – yes, a place to meet people! It’s at the far left corner of the church where you’ll also find a toilet, and the entranceway to the gardens.


TREASURE HUNT

Children can discover an amazing secret on our Tiger Bay Treasure Hunt – The Mystery of the Stone Head. Pick up a Guide in church or check out more details here

GET POETIC

In the weeks before there is also a Poetry Competition for Church Primary Schools with the winners announced at the Schools of Sanctuary Celebration on Thursday

Kimberley Abodunrin plays Betty Campbell in the one-woman show

DAY BY DAY: THE TIMETABLE

TUESDAY 21 JUNE

8.30 am
Angelus and Morning Prayer

[The Angelus bells ring three times a day from St Mary’s. Check out the meaning of the chimes in a reflection here]

9am onwards
Flat Holm - A Walk through Time: The guys from this amazing project will be with us through the day as they provide an opportunity to discover the history and religious significance, the nature and conservation of the island which is situated in the Bristol Channel at the southernmost part of the parish. Interactive activities, including a 3D experience of the island.

10.00amBetty Campbell: A Journey through Butetown' - Betty Campbell Play (for St Mary’s CIW Primary School)  You can find out more about the play here

12 noon
Angelus and Mass  

1.30 pmBetty Campbell: A Journey through Butetown' - Betty Campbell Play (for St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary School)*

4pm
Afternoon Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage)

WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE

8.30a
Angelus and Morning Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage)

11.00a
School Mass. Each week on Wednesday we celebrate Mass with pupils of St Mary's School. This week, we'll be celebrating what it means to be a welcoming community. All are welcome!

12 noon
Angelus and Mid-day Prayer

1.00 pm
‘Betty Campbell: A Journey through Butetown' - Betty Campbell Play (for Mount Stuart Primary School)*

4.00p
Afternoon Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage)

7.00pm
‘A scandal to have lost’
In an edition of St Marys Parish Magazine of 1872, we read “It now remains for the Welsh Churchmen of Cardiff to aid the Vicar in his endeavours to restore, what is a scandal to have lost, Welsh Services for the Church of the most important town in Wales. (Join us for this bilingual event with simultaneous translation, as we discover the contribution towards the Welsh Church and the Welsh Language of a past Pioneer priest of St Mary’s, Fr Griffith Arthur Jones, led by Revds Dyfrig Lloyd and Dean Atkins.

'Sgandal i fod wedi colli'
Mewn rhifyn o Gylchgrawn Plwyf y Santes Fair yn 1872, darllenwn: 'Mae’n nawr yn nwylo Eglwyswyr Cymraeg Caerdydd i gynorthwyo’r Ficer yn ei ymdrechion i adfer yr hyn a oedd yn sgandal i fod wedi ei golli, sef Gwasanaethau Cymraeg yn yr Eglwys, yn hon, y bwysicaf o drefi yng Nghymru'. Ymunwch â ni ar gyfer y digwyddiad dwyieithog hwn gyda chyfieithu ar y pryd, wrth inni edrych ar gyfraniad offeiriad Arloesol y Santes Fair, Tad Griffith Arthur Jones i’r Eglwys Gymraeg a’r Iaith Cymraeg. Arweinir y noson gan y Parchedigion Dyfrig Lloyd a Dean Atkins

You can discover more about the event in this news article from the Diocese of Llandaff
Fr Jones of Cardiff

We also have a Beta version trail throughout Cardiff and Wales exploring the life and heritage of Fr Jones of Cardiff.



THURSDAY 23 JUNE

8.30am
Angelus and Morning Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage)

9.30am
Faithful Butetown Walk (for St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales Primary)

12 noon
Angelus and Mass

2.00pm
‘In our words’
Children’s presentation from St Mary’s School about Welcome, Sanctuary and Diversity. What does it really mean to be a School of Sanctuary?

3.00pm
Drinks Reception for the Schools of Sanctuary Celebration

3.30 pm
Schools of Sanctuary Celebration

7.00pm
SORRY - due to unforeseen circumstances, the choir have had to CANCEL the following event (However the event on 30th is still going ahead)

‘Interfaith Choir’ Rehearsal and gathering – all are welcome as the choir prepares for their event at St Mary’s next week – Freedom of Religion and Belief Conference: End the Persecution’ on 30 June.
The Interfaith Choir, rehearsing this week on Thursday evening at St Mary’s are preparing for this amazing event which takes place the weke after our Festival on Thursday 30th June

FRIDAY 24 JUNE

8.30am
Angelus and Morning Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage)

11.00am
‘In our words’
Children’s presentation from St Mary’s School about Welcome, Sanctuary and Diversity.  What does it really mean to be a School of Sanctuary?

12 noon
Angelus and Mass

2pm
'Enter the Mystery’ Discover the Mystery and History of St Mary’s Church on our guided, interactive tour

4.00 pm	Afternoon Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage)

En-route – Faithful Butetown

SATURDAY 25 JUNE

1000am
Church open

1100am
Morning Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage) and Rosary

1130am
Mass and Angelus

1pm:
Faithful Butetown Walk – ‘Meet me by Betty’s Statue’ - a shared walk with conversation beginning at Central Square and finishing in the Bay, as we discover the faithful past and present of Cardiff and Butetown.

This event is also registered as a 'Great Get Together' event (inspired by Jo Cox) and there is an invitation to extend the walk from Cardiff Bay across to Grangetown Pavilion for the Great Get Together gathering there!


LINK: You can find links to all our Faithful Butetown and Faithful Cardiff Walks at our Visit page which takes you around the city centre, through Butetown, and around Cardiff Bay

4pm 
Afternoon Prayer (Link to Universalis webpage)
Our Saturday afternoon ‘Faithful Butetown’ walk invites you to meet at Betty’s statue in Central Square at 1pm
Our Faithful Butetown Walk is registered as a Great walk Together. It won’t be the same without you!

SUNDAY 26 JUNE

11.00am
Solemn Mass – on Sanctuary Sunday which marks the end of Refugee Week

12 noon
The Great Get Together Barbecue! All are welcome (Vegan, vegetarian and halal options available)

Visit the Great Get Together Map which includes details of the ways in which we are getting involved, including our Barbecue and the Faithful Butetown Walk


God’s Garden Adventure



EXTRAS

Our website has an array of resources and insights, including our blog featuring fascinating articles and reflections.

For example, Under the Same Sun is an article which explores how Butetown came to be what it is today – a diverse and multi-cultural community, whilst The Boxers of Tiger Bay begins with an appreciation of Tiger Bay Boxing Club which is carrying on a rich heritage in Butetown and, most importantly, helping young people to flourish!


Check out our colourful resource for schools

Within the Walls and Windows: check out our colourful resource for schools with ideas of teaching and learning. St Mary’s is a great resource for learning in the heart of our community.

Every item tells a tale, and this bell came from a Napoleonic ship docked here in Tiger Bay

Articles of Faith: there’s usually a story behind the objects you see. Check out our growing catalogue of Articles of Faith, many of which have a link to a wider reflection in our blog. For example, did you know that the brass eagle-shaped lectern is linked to Cardiff becoming a City, and the stone-corbal head at the entrance to the Lady Chapel reveals a thousand years of history?


Community: we are an intrinsic part of the community which we love, and we are committed to working together with others to celebrate all that is good, and to address issues and concerns so that our community can be strong and flourishing. Check out some of the ways in which we are involved in our Community

A Peaceful Passing of Time

As we watch from a distance, we pray for the situation between Ukraine and Russia, hoping for peace, a peace that will last. Here’s our prayer.

Photo: @sunya Unsplash.com


Time passes,
days move on.
Politicians play their part,
debating, waiting.
Troops are deployed,
sanctions employed.
Each nation spins their own story,
hails their own history
tells their own tale
of sorrow and woe.

And on the ground
the people wait
between the drones
in hushed tones,
where troops hide between the skeleton bones
of bombed buildings,
a whispered word away from those
who have become their enemy.
Frightened people flee home to safety,
fear the worst
wish for more.

The frontier is a fragile place,
a borderland where difference meets,
a place of conflict, fights and foes,
but also the meeting of minds
where people can look into the life of another
and hold hands across a world of difference.

As men are manoeuvred,
weighted by weapons,
we wait
and pray
for a peaceful passing of time.

There is no easy way for peace.
It is demanding
and demands so much
of us
as we inhabit this blighted and beautiful
blue and green globe,
and walk across borders
and the boundaries of our lives.

It is the place where Jesus walked,
treading his way across the borderlands,
stepping in and out of people’s lives,
embracing the stranger,
a friend to the foreigner,
speaking peace when faced
by the face of aggression.
The curtain is torn from top to bottom.
His own death hails another world,
a different way,
where Divine dreams
drop dews of peace
upon the landscape of war.

And here we are,
watching from a distance,
waiting for the worst,
wishing for more,
praying for the invasion of peace,
an action of military proportions
that transcends, transforms, the human trauma.

There is no easy way,
as we pray
for Ukraine and Russia
for that borderline fight for peace,
and a peaceful passing of time.

God our Father, may your peace, which is beyond all understanding, fill the hearts and minds of all. May those who walk the borders seek peace not pain, and wander across the ways of justice and love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ripples in a Pond

Today we celebrated the unveiling of the monument in honour of Betty Campbell and which stands in Central Square in Cardiff City centre. Heres the homily preached at her funeral at St Mary’s Church by Fr Dean in 2017

I saw Betty on several occasions before her death. The last time, though, that I saw her ‘out and about’ was, I think, at the monthly quiz at the Community Centre at the beginning of September and, before that, at the Commonwealth Torch Relay which wound its way back to the Butetown Centre. In the midst of that crowded room, as she exchanged words with so many people, she turned to me and said of one, “She was one of my pupils,” and then, pointing to someone else, “And he was too.”

“Betty,” I said, “it would probably be easier for if you just pointed out people you haven’t taught.”

She laughed.

On the wall of another headteacher’s office, I once read the quote, “Teachers affect eternity.”

The influence Betty has had upon countless numbers of children – and of staff – is immeasurable, and has continued and will continue in the lives of those to whom she gave so much, and who in turn will also influence so many others, like ripples in a pond.

Yes, teachers affect eternity and it is eternity which gives colour and meaning to this funeral celebration today. Christians believe that we are made to live with God for ever, and that through the death and resurrection of Christ, this destiny can become a reality.

The symbols placed upon her coffin speak of eternity: the white pall, a reminder of the baptismal garment, when Betty was first clothed in Christ. The cross, with which she was marked in baptism, and the gospels, the Word of Life. The Paschal candle burning near her coffin, a visible and living reminder of Christ’s triumph over death and his risen presence.

Each week, throughout her life, Betty celebrated the Eucharist in this place, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

In the weeks before her death, her family and those close to her, saw her gradually but quickly weaken. At home, she received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, food for the journey, a pledge of eternity and the Laying on of Hands and anointing with holy oil, the sacrament of Christ’s soothing presence.

Later in this Mass, we will hear eulogies from Betty’s family, and we will hear more about her extraordinary life. Although, of course, for her family, it is not Betty’s achievement and wider influence which will run deep today but the fact that they mourn the death of a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend.

Betty lived and worked in this community, she worked for the community, she fought for this community a community of which she has been and will always be an intricate part, although her influence extended further, much further, like ripples in a pond.

At the many eulogies she gave at funerals here at St Mary’s, there was always an innate sense of joy and pride, a deep sense of belonging, along with a melancholic tone to her voice of Tiger Bay days gone by, but also a stubborn and inspiring tenacity for the Tiger Bay Community, even in the midst of change.

Communities can so easily gain a reputation that is simply not true.Yes, the Docks, Tiger Bay, Butetown, has had its moments, its characters, its tough times, its rough times and it still has challenges and changes to deal with, but it has been built on the back of immigration, of different faiths and cultures, living alongside one another, rubbing shoulders, holding hands.

Apart from the many eulogies she gave here, the last time I heard Betty publicly speak, it was this in which she rejoiced and which she celebrated, drawing our attention to the different colour faces she could see in the room before her.

This acknowledgement of ‘difference’ is something which stands strong in the story of Betty Campbell. It was what made Tiger Bay, what Tiger Bay was, what Tiger Bay is, and it will determine what this community will be in the future, and whose influence lies beyond its own boundaries like ripples in a pond.

It’s why all of us, regardless of whether we were born in Butetown, or what colour our skin, or what faith and belief rests in our hearts can, along with Betty, because of Betty, say, ‘I am Tiger Bay.’

May the Lord, in whom she trusted, the Lord whom she loved, and who filled her life with so many blessings, have mercy on her now, and welcome her into her heavenly home.

Summer Celebrations


After the disruption of the last eighteen months, we’re really looking forward to our Celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Sunday August 15th.

For many years, this celebration, initiated by Fr Graham Francis, has been a popular event in the midst of the Summer for Christians from Cardiff, South Wales and beyond! This year, we’ve decide to turn things around. You’re invited to arrive from 6.30pm onwards to enjoy a barbecue in our gardens before we celebrate Vespers (Evening Prayer) at 8.30 pm.

In the past (pre-covid!) we gathered in great numbers and flowed out of the church for a torchlight procession through Butetown before enjoying the fireworks. However, this year all that we do is determined by COVID restrictions in place at the time, and so we’ll be able to confirm arrangements closer to the time.

With restricted numbers able to attend, we’re asking anyone who would like to participate in our celebrations to book their place at Eventbrite.

Our Assumptiotide celebration from a previous year
The torchlight procession of Our Lady through Butetown
Arriving back at St Mary’s Church after the procession

Well Travelled

A Reflection from Fr Dean on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Google maps tells me that the distance from Nazareth to Ain Karem, the place where Elizabeth lived in the hill country of Judea is 150.9 km.  By car, it would take me 1 hour and 35 minutes.  Public transport: 3 hours and 2 minutes, but if I was to walk , it would take me 31 hours.  Making the rather over exaggerated assumption that I would be able to walk for 8 hours a day, it would take me four days to walk there.  The truth is that it would probably take me longer.

Assuming that the young teenage Mary was a little fitter than a much older priest who has seen better days, perhaps she experienced four or five or even six days of walking and wondering, aware of the growing presence of Jesus within her.  Journeying is something that she would become particularly familiar with in the months and years to come.  She makes the difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, heavily pregnant.  Some time later, she journeys from Bethlehem to Jerusalem with a new born baby.  There is the escape into Egypt, seeking safety from danger, seeking asylum.  Years later, she makes the familiar journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem with her twelve year old son, wise beyond his years, causing her to wonder.  As she watches her child grow into a man, and begin his public ministry, she continues her journeys with Jesus.  She is always at a distance, but never far away, and she is there when her son is torn apart by pain and suffering on that Via Dolorosa journey to Golgotha, with the cross, to the cross.

Mary is a well-travelled woman.  Now, at the end of her journey through life, as she bids goodbye to her earthly life, her journey continues still. She, like each of us, is a pilgrim whose destination is heaven.  She, like us, will never really be at home in this world, as St Paul reminds us. She – whose body has been a home to the Lord – is assumed to heaven, body and soul.  Where Mary has gone, we are destined to follow.  She was the first to receive Jesus.  And now she is the first to share his glory. As we make our torchlight procession with the image of Mary in our midst, we are reminded that, like Mary, we are a pilgrim people.  As we gaze above us to the fireworks in the sky, we are reminded of our destiny which is heaven.

Rejoice!

We’re back with our weekly bulletin with details about the week ahead, what’s been happening in the parish, and what’s to come!

At the heart of our life together is prayer, particularly our celebration of the Mass but we also like to keep busy and, as you’ll see, there is so much in the diary!


Worship this Week!

Sunday 11th July | 15th Sunday / Sea Sunday
11am: Mass (with Act or Remembrance)

Monday 12th July | St John Jones, Martyr
6pm: Mass

Tuesday 13th July | of the day
7pm Mass

Wednesday 14th July | of the day
11am Mass

Thursday 15th July | St Bonaventure, Bishop, Doctor
**Please note that there is no Mass today**

Friday 16th July | of the day
10am Mass

Saturday 17th July | Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary 
11am: Morning Prayer and Rosary
11.30am: Mass

Sunday 16th July | 16th Sunday
11am Mass

Sea Sunday

Join us on Sunday for a Sea Sunday Special. We’ll be joined by members of the Merchant Navy Association and, hopefully, some members of the Sea Cadets, to pray for and remember all who have served and those who continue to serve us in their life at Sea.

There’ll be an Act of Remembrance at the War Memorial in our Gardens, and we’ll also be laying a Wreath at the Russian Convoy Memorial Window. We’re still following COVID restrictions so remember the mantra Hands, Face, Space – although we can, of course sing together now but we will have to review the advertised refreshments after Mass because of the restrictions still in place.


Full of Grace

We’re getting ready for a great event at St Mary’s. Weather permitting, we’ll spend as much of it as possible outdoors in our gardens with a whole programme throughout the day. Stay for the whole day or just pop in at your leisure – but we do ask that you book with us first. You can do this at Eventbrite or by contacting us directly.

The day kicks of with Prayer of Arrival and a session called Back to Nazareth as we are guided through Holy Scipture and the incident of Jesus being lost (and found!) in the Temple of Jerusalem when he was 12 years old.

Mass is scheduled for 12 noon – our preacher is Fr Ben Rabjohns SSC, Vicar of Penrhiwceiber, and we have Eucharistic Adoration in the afternoon, ending the day with Rosary. (An additional Mass is pencilled in for 1pm depending on the numbers attending)

All our outdoor space will be available – both the gardens and the area outside the main doors on the other side of the church to create a courtyard with tables and chairs.


MATTers

The Ministry Area Trasformation Team (MATT) is going full steam ahead to draw together the parishes of Splott St Saviour, Grangetown St Pauls, and Sts Dyfrig and Samson, and St Mary’s.

The diocesan deadline for the emerging Ministry Area is December 31st but we’re already ahead of schedule, and will you keep you updated about news and development.

Last week our PCC met to pass the declaration required to move towards a formal merging, and we also elected a fourth member to the MATT which means that your representatives are now Georgina Partridge, Rachel Williams, Iris Musa and Glyn Perryman. Please continue to pray for the MA Transition Team, and for all the parishes in the grouping.


Wild Side

We continue to work on our Wild Side and gardens, and its been great to be able to use our outdoor space after Mass and for other events, and this week we are submitting a new grant application for a Growing package.

If you’d like to volunteer in the gardens then please speak to Fr Dean or Glyn Perryman

On Thursday evening, we welcomed members of Cardiff QuayNotes Choir for an outdoor rehearsal and it was great to see people stopping on Bute Street to watch and listen – although we did have one complaint from one of our closest neighbours!


Stations of Creation

Soon, we’ll have a new addition to our Wild Side and Website. Stations of Creation and God’s Garden Adventure will invite adults and children on an audio tour, exploring our life with God and how we are called to value all that he has created!

Hopefully, it will be ready in time for the Walsingham Festival, and we aregrateful to Matt Batten, the Diocesan Communication Offcier, and Nicky Prichard (Headteacher of St Mary’s) and Daniel Ready for narrating the tour!

We also hope too that we will have our QR Code Trail installed in the gardens. But all will be revealed soon! Watch this space!


Faithful Butetown

As well as our self guided walks through Faithful Butetown and other parts of th city, we also kicked off the first of our group walks last Saturday. It was fully booked so we added another for Saturday July 10th, setting off at 12.30pm.

However, we will review when is the best day and time for the group walks – for example, we had an enquiry from a Jewish friend if a walk could be organised that didn’t take place on a Saturday – their Sabbath, of course!

Bookings for this week’s walk can be made at the Eventbrite page