So much happened during the summer of 2021!
During July and August, most of us go into a holiday mode. Even so, life continues, and, in the community, many things happen. Summer is a good time to plan the new pastoral year and to catch up with people.
Between the months of June-August,18 baptisms were celebrated. It was a joy to see these proud and grateful parents finally reunited with their friends and families. The lockdown produced a lot of new life! We had 4 weddings and 4 wedding anniversary celebrations. There were also the sad farewells of Sue van Dijl, Philip Salmon, Ineke Hens, Annie Wegbrans-Gijzen, Judge James Crawford, Baby Michael Higginson, Rita van Waning, and Jacqueline van der Ham- Singleton.
Another very moving moment happened when the flowers from the murdered crime reporter Peter R. de Vries were placed around our monument for perished refugees in the church garden. It drew a lot of local and national attention. See the video featuring an interview with a local TV station in this newsletter.
We now see 200 people back at church for the Sunday morning mass whereas the evening mass has around 100 people. It is a lot easier to come to Mass now, so we hope that we see many of you back in the new pastoral year. During the press conference of 13th August, the hope for letting go of the 1,5-meter distance on 20th September was announced. But if we go back to “normal” for large gatherings, there is also talk of proof of full vaccination or recovery from Covid being required.
During the summer, we had 12 Mill Hill missionaries celebrating their jubilees in our parish ranging from 25-60 years of ordination to the priesthood. Another happy event was seeing Andrew Hartwell do his Eagle Scout project with some of his friends. They painted all the woodwork on the side entrance of Koningin Marialaan – from the hallway up to the bar. It looks so much better now!
On a personal note, I have been quite involved with a few jobs that I do as a volunteer besides my pastoral duties in our church. As a member of the Supervisory Board of Cordaid, a lot of extra attention needed to be given to our workers in the field and those coming home from Afghanistan. I am also on the Board of Society De Witte in The Hague. This is a club with 3200 members. I am responsible for the non-Dutch speaking activities which involved quite a bit of community rebuilding after a long corona lockdown. And last, but not least, during the summer, many support services for the homeless and refugees were more difficult to deliver, which required quite a bit of extra personal effort to ensure that the marginalized were not forgotten. My 3rd volunteer job is chairing the Auxilia-Brasili-Ja foundation, an organization that started on the day of my ordination in my hometown, Wervershoof, 35 years ago on 25th October. Since then, this organization has funded many projects around the world.
On 4th September, the Parish Board and Office Staff will meet with their counterparts from the Dutch parishes at Elandstraat and Parkstraat in The Hague. The visit will include tours of the 2 beautiful church buildings, followed by a meeting to exchange information and hopefully make viable suggestions to address our common practical and pastoral challenges.
During the months of June and July we saw a decline of € 9000 in income. Despite the video streamed liturgies and more people registering to be in church, this is a cause for concern. Hopefully, we will be able to close the financial gap in the new pastoral year.
On Sunday 5th September we will open a new pastoral year. Children’s Liturgy and Religious Education will resume, as well as most other activities, with strict corona protocols in place. Obviously, a lot will depend on the development of the corona situation, but with a large number of people who are vaccinated now in The Netherlands, things are starting to look more hopeful.
I hope that you feel re-energized after this summer, and I look forward to seeing you again soon in our beautiful community and church buildings.
Kind greetings, Fr. Sjaak