Preparing for faith festival
SITUATED IN THE north-east of Birmingham, the parish of St Nicholas has close links with Oscott College (a nearby seminary) and the old Benedictine community. "The Benedictines were instrumental in the early days of the parish," said Fr Brendan Carrick, parish priest for the last six years and the only celebrant in the busy parish.
St Nicholas has had three churches, built in 1840, 1929 and 1951 Pugin designed the first church, but all of them were built on traditional lines. The numbers in the parish have outgrown the church capacity every time, and even now the present church is being reordered for the needs of today's liturgy.
The congregation is largely comprised of young families and elderly people, from a vast catchment area in and around the city. This high level of youthful participation is underlined by the problem of a lack of places in local Catholic schools. Fr Carrick describes it as "a pleasant problem"! This is one of many issues the parish actively tries to solve.
The parishioners, 650-strong every weekend, are involved in a variety of groups and organisations, ranging from the Third World Group to the Scripture Study Group. The former sponsors three or four missions around the world. There is also the Catholic Women's League, the SVP and RCIA groups present in the parish, and the parish also finds time to assist Adult Education.
St Nicholas caters for everyone: the 9 am mass on Sunday is
especially designed tor young families. "It is a lively Mass, with a special Liturgy of the Word for children" said Fr Carrick.
Another feature of the parish calendar is the annual Mass with the anointing of the sick, which is this week. It gives elderly parishioners a chance to meet one another in a relaxed environment as they gather from nearby nursing and residential homes for one of the most important events of the year. The parish strives to include everyone, even if only in a small way.
St Nicholas is also preparing for the Festival of Faith: "a type of Catholic Mission" in Fr Carrick's words. This event is held by all the local churches, and although 15 months away, preparations have already begun.