The remnants of St Francis continue for another week. This time, the church for which he had become patron for 70 years and more in a place far, far away from where he once trod. Assisi and Splott are miles apart. In more ways than one. A few years ago, I was really privileged to celebrate Mass at Assisi with a pilgrimage group from St John’s School, Aberdare. We only spent a day in Assisi and it was enough for me to know that I would like to return. This morning we discreetly remembered the closure of St Francis’ Church in 1969, forty years ago this week. In my reading of its history, one reason for its building was the lack of adequate street lighting which made it difficult or impractical or impossible, perhaps, for people to get to St Saviour’s from Lower Splott. These days we have more than adequate street lighting!
It amazes me how the congregation at St Saviour’s can fluctuate from one week to the next. Today there were 34 communicants, the previous two weeks it was closer to fifty. Somewhere we have lost or missed or missed out on 16 communicants. Where have they gone? Where are they? What has happened? Each one has a different story to tell, each leading a different life, at a different pace, with different challenges and changes. Should I call on the 16? Should I have a marathon week of visiting? Perhaps, yes. Indeed, yes!! And yet ‘the Diocese’ has decided that the Parish of Roath St Saviour is a half time post (three days including a Sunday) If, this week, I should call on the 16 people who have not brightened the doors of St Saviour’s this Sunday (for whatever reason) that would mean, perhaps, 16 hours of visiting (give or take the travelling in between) which works out as two days, which leaves me with Sunday to…well, you get the idea. The nights are drawing in. The visting will continue into the late hours. At least, these days, there is adequate street lighting.
I wonder who decides what? Has there been an audit, a survey, a questioning and pondering, a ‘looking into’ and a ‘looking at?’ Has there been an asking of this question or that, a peering or perusing, an interest or an interesting enquiry? Not to my knowledge – which means little, I suppose. But I’m not aware that anyone (on a Diocesan level, that is) has been illuminated on what the parish would need for the Kingdom of God to be proclaimed in Splott. And so we wait for the 16 to brighten the doors of the church again on Sunday. What a welcome light they will bring. How warming. How lovely. How welcome a return. The Diocesan Strategy, meanwhile, remains in darkness about what is required. Meanwhile, we have more than adequate street lighting.