Our Lady of Pity and St Simon Stock, Putney – Roman Catholic

History and appearance

The church building was constructed in 1906, with the sanctuary added in 1936. This article goes into a lot of details about the specifics of the church’s history, architecture, and the features of the inside.

Clergy

The service was led by a priest in green and white vestments, assisted by an altar server in red. A gentleman from the congregation in plain clothes gave the first two Bible readings, and a lady in choir dress sang the Gloria and the responsive psalm. A choir of about a dozen accompanied the hymns from the organ gallery, and a lady from the congregation helped the priest give out communion.

Congregation

The congregation numbered just over a hundred, with a roughly 2:1 female-male ratio. There was a wide age range, with several families and young people, and a good proportion (about a quarter to a third) of people from an ethnic minority. The congregation seemed friendly, with the people who joined me on the pew I chose welcoming me to the church, and a real sense of community was evident in the way both in which people greeted each other upon entering the church and talked to each other after the service.

Service

I attended the Sunday morning 11:15 am Mass. This followed the Pauline Mass or Ordinary Form structure, observed by the majority of Roman Catholic churches.

The service started with the priest, the altar server, and the reader processing to the sanctuary to an opening hymn. After prayers of penitence and the Gloria, there were Bible readings: I Kings 3:5-12, Romans 8:28-30, parts of Psalm 119 (sung responsively), and Matthew 13:44-52. Unlike in other Roman Catholic churches I have been to, I did not notice any incense being burnt during the Gospel reading, although it was otherwise accompanied by the usual acclamations and read by the priest himself.

The sermon followed the theme of what we hold to be valuable (the Kings reading being Solomon asking for wisdom above anything else, and the Gospel reading comparing the kingdom of heaven to a pearl of great price). The priest related the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls as an example of finding an archaeological treasure, and asked us to consider what we hold dearest to our hearts in our own lives. There was then a collection, during which a second hymn was sung.

Thereafter followed communion, preceded by prayers (including the Lord’s Prayer) and the Creed. Most of the congregation took communion, although some stayed in their seats. After communion, the priest read out some notices, and blessed the congregation before processing to the entrance of the church with the altar server while a final hymn was sung.

Afterwards

Immediately after the service ended, the organist played a piece on the organ, which many members of the congregation stayed behind to listen to, clapping at the end. Tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes were available in a church hall which had a door leading out into a garden for the children.

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