We had all been anxiously watching the weather forecast in the days leading up to the big event. A late decision had been taken to relocate the event from the grounds at St. Edward's to St. Peters' School, when it became clear that the parking capacity in the vicinity of St. Edward's would not be sufficient. So there we were - in the early morning rain at St. Peter's - when Fr. Colin took the decision to move the Mass indoors, into the familiar surroundings of the dining hall.
If Fr. Colin needed confirmation that he had done the right thing, it came in the form of a gust of wind which caused the roof of the marquee - where the altar was to have been - to discharge a substantial cache of water over our Moderator, soaking him from head to foot. Fr. Colin duly left the site for a while, returning later in a new set of clothes. The experience did not dampen his enthusiasm, judging by the broad smile on his face later in the day.
Undeterred by the damp conditions, parishioners began to arrive - and continued to do so until the car parking was at its capacity; drivers were then directed off-site to park at St. Pius or in nearby roads.
Meanwhile, dedicated teams were setting up children's activities and food and drink outlets in anticipation of the picnic - and in the hope of a dry afternoon.
The dining hall was packed and the area outside accommodated those unable to get in - some sitting and some happy just to stand around the open windows and doors.
The entrance procession began, Deacon Michael Walker holding the Book of the Gospels aloft; he was accompanied by our other clergy and servers and then followed by Bishop Richard Moth.
Bishop Richard's homily focused on the second reading, which he commended to individuals and groups for their reflections:
Holy Communion was distributed both inside and outside the hall, in view of the overspill congregation.
The Bishop had to leave after Mass for another engagement; many of the rest of us made our way to the sports field for the picnic and other activities. We were pleased to see that the weather had improved considerably; picnic rugs and chairs quickly appeared and congregated in neat clusters around the field.
Our thanks are due to the Youth Team for their tremendous energy and enthusiasm in organising and setting up the children's activities, to Ingrid Phillips and her organising group, to the staff of St. Peter's School for their kind and efficient cooperation (particularly when the plans changed!) and to all who worked to provide food and drink, to ensure everyone's safety and ensure neat car parking.
The photographs below describe more precisely than words the happy mood and atmosphere which prevailed - along with the dry weather - for the rest of the afternoon. Special thanks also to Rosaline Brothers of St. Edward's for her clever photography and comprehensive record of the day.