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.


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.


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

The Mystery of the Stone Head

As we look forward to the time when St Mary’s Church can be opened to welcome schools and many other visitors including the many tourists to Cardiff, we’ve been doing a little work in the background! Here’s a little resource, the first of many we hope, to help children explore the history and mystery of St Mary’s!

Called The Mystery of the Stone Head it guides children around the church to discover some of the treasures of the past and present!

You can download the pdf document here:

Lloyd George Avenue

Picture Cardiff Council

As you may know, there is an LA consultation in place regarding the proposals to create 92 pay and display parking spaces along the length of Lloyd George Avenue in Butetown for visitors to the city centre and the Bay. You can view the details of this here

Whilst the following does not represent the views of the Parochial Church Council or congregation of St Mary’s, this is my personal response sent to the LA:

Butetown – Lloyd George Avenue Pay and Display Consultation 

Thank you for giving residents and others the opportunity to comment on the proposed plans for Lloyd George Avenue.

I accept that the stretch of road is often quiet and not used as much as anticipated when it was built.  However, from the outset, I view the plans as a disappointingly uncreative and a simplistic reimagining of the space available.  The plans will effectively create a long stretch of car parking throughout the length of Butetown for visitors to the City Centre and the Bay. 

Whilst it may achieve the purposes of calming traffic, particularly those who may be prone to speeding and driving in a dangerous and antisocial way, there is the potential that, in providing 92 car parking spaces more cars will be attracted to the area and actually increase traffic in Butetown whilst having little positive impact on its residents or community life.  There are, of course, other ways in which traffic calming can be achieved. 

I note that the green space along the stretch of Lloyd George Avenue will not be affected.  However, in reviewing what the LA does with this stretch of road, perhaps this is an opportunity to extend the green space into the area currently used by south-bound traffic (which your proposed plan will utilise for two-way traffic). 

More trees could be planted and the natural environment further enriched which will benefit both local residents and visitors to the city, and also increasing the bio-diversity of our city.  It will provide an enhanced walking experience for visitors to the Bay and a stimulating environment for residents. 

I’m also concerned that the community of Butetown is being utilised simply for the benefit of those who do not live here, and I hope that the LA will be sensitive to this present and growing concern which exists within the community and hope that, in the future, there can be an increased integration between the needs of a growing City and its local communities.

Many thanks, 

Fr Dean Atkins 

Necessary Sin?

In a few days time, we will light the Paschal Candle, and hear the beautiful words of the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation. We use some of the words from that beautiful proclamation to explore some of the days of Holy Week

Have you seen those ‘video trials’ where children are left in a room with a bowl of sweets, and told not to eat one until the parent returns?  The next few minutes are filled with angst and temptation, as the child considers whether or not to have a sweet or two.  Surely, no one would notice.  Sometimes, one sweet leads to another which leads to another, and an empty bowl!  Such videos are often quite humorous  but they also share something of what it means to be human!

Perhaps it was inevitable that Adam, the figurative first man, would go astray.    Given the freedom to make decisions for himself, the liberty to live as he pleased, it’s not surprising that some of what he did fulfilled a need for selfish gain, to try to make him greater than he was, rather than living according to God’s plan.

God doesn’t operate us like robots, does not control us or pull our strings.  We are not puppets for his pleasure.  He does not make us love him or live for him.  After all, who can be made to love anyone? And so God gives us complete freedom to do as we please and yet all the time calls us closer to him, wanting us to be drawn into a loving relationship.

In Holy Scripture, Jesus is called ‘The Second Adam’ and at the Easter Vigil, the Exsultet proclaims, ‘O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!’

It may seem a strange way to describe ‘sin’ as ‘necessary’  But here is meant perhaps the sense that Adam’s sin was bound to happen, considering the freedom he has been given.  It’s into the mess of humanity, the grit and grime of sin, that Christ takes flesh.  He becomes human in every way except sin, says St Paul.

His saving love takes him to the pain of the cross.  Usually on Good Friday, the faithful are invited to offer a physical gesture of veneration by approaching the unveiled cross to bow, to touch, to kiss.  We draw close to Christ, to kiss salvation, to embrace Love who has embraced us.  He is our glorious Redeemer.

This article featured in our Holy Week booklet, “This is the Night: at home with Holy Week’ distributed in our Lenten resource boxes

Go Wild

Spring has sprung, the sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, it’s time to get outdoors!

With the most recent changes to COVID restrictions announced by Welsh Government we’re excited that we can now begin outdoor activities for children (only) in our Wild Side and gardens at St Mary’s.

So, Go Wild on Tuesday April 6th for an exciting session of activity, fun, discovery and learning!

There are lots of things to do from bug hunting, planting bulbs and other flowers and shrubs, sowing seeds, or creating a potted herb garden for a Community Larder. Help bring more colour to our butterfly and bee garden, or get your brooms ready for a sweeping clean!

It’ also all hands on deck at our Bird Feeding Stations. We have some very busy, hungry flying friends!

Or why not be a Wildlife Detective for the day, and help us spot as many different species as possible?!

As ever, we’ll be organising the event according to strict COVID regulations and Risk Assessments. Parents will be required to register their child as a participant with us, and complete a Permission and Information form. Parents are also expected to drop off and collect their children at the stated times. Children should wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the activities involved. More details will be sent upon registration.

To enquire or register, please email: admin@stmaryscf10.com or call or text 07368 176300