On Saturday I went to the Intercultural Mass at St. Catherine of Siena’s in the centre of Birmingham (stcatherinesbirmingham.org.uk). The church itself has a congregation from a very wide range of backgrounds and every World Mission Sunday (www.missio.org.uk) they celebrate it by having a huge Mass and food served afterwards from every group of people that attended.
This year, they got the largest hall in the nearby O2 academy (very kindly provided for free) and practically filled it! There was food served from the Indian subcontinent, East Africa and Southeast Asia. The food was so good that you had to queue for everything! When I asked for one lady for the food she was serving she said that it was so good ‘you will come back for more’. Naturally, after finishing my plate, I did just that.
The Mass itself was celebrated by the Archbishop Bernard Longley and was a wonderful spectacle and hopeful experience. The church itself can fit roughly 1,000 people, something it rarely sees on Sunday mornings, but this time people were struggling to find a spare space. It got so busy that they had to open the top gallery.
There was music from every group of people; large African drums were brought out, Vietnamese processions, Irish dancing and an Indian dance of thanksgiving. The Archbishop even got a sort of Hawaiian-necklace made out of tinsel put round his neck and wore it throughout the Mass.
It was an eye-opening experience of what can be done when people work together; even when people were hungry and going on a ‘beeline’ straight for the food after the Mass there wasn’t a single word spoken out of anger or irritation. Here was an example of joy and happiness displayed by everyone working together and celebrating their own unique heritage.
Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned God or spirituality once this week. It’s strange, considering where I am and what I am doing, I almost never mention God, Christ, holiness or spirituality, but I will write more about that next week…