Anyway: first lesson I have learnt - I should have brought my cassock. Apart from the fact that all the priests were them when on duty (and birettas too), in this cold weather it would provide a little extra warmth.
In the same complex as the presbytery, there is an apartment where seven religious sisters of St Vincent Palotti live. I have only met one so far - Sister Hedwig. They are all involved in some way in the apostolate of the parish, whether in the sacristy, teaching, works of charity, etc. It seems an absolutely ideal set up. The presbytery and church are set in the midst of a densely populated area.
Currently, all the priests are engaged in house-to-house visiting which is done in a systematic way twice a year. They have record cards which they take with them and note down any significant pastoral matters that arise. In principle, everyone is of course Catholic (the practice rate is said to be about 25%), but not all admit the priest into their homes. But to those who do, the priest offers a blessing of the house and the parish team get a good picture of the state of things in their parish.
I have discussed the question of parish visiting before and I know that England is a completely different context. Yet if priests were living together and assisted by religious, it would be easier to do what is a difficult task and visit each of the households in the parish, even those who are not catholics.
I concelebrated with the parish priest at this morning's 12.30 Mass at which there was standing room only. I am told, however, that the attendance is even higher at the other Masses. Masses in the morning begin at around 6.30am and are then every hour and a half concluding with the 12.30 Mass, and then there are two further Masses in the evening. So it's quite busy!
We had an anticipatory birthday lunch for Father Piotr who celebrates his 30th birthday on 21st Feb. Since that is in Lent, they preferred to celebrate it earlier. Since my birthday is also quite soon, they also kindly included me in the celebrations as you will see.
A few photos for you to be getting on with:
Father Peter's birthday cake.