The Roman Catholic mission at Minsteracres began in 1765 with the Rev William Gibson, resident chaplain and tutor to the Silvertop family.
This autumn saw a flurry of events to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the mission, culminating in November with a weekend to mark the saint’s day of St Elizabeth of Hungary, to whom the church at Minsteracres is dedicated.
Tyne Valley chamber choir, Antiphon, thrilled visitors with an a Capella concert of early and late church music on the Saturday, and again at vespers on Sunday. “It was stunning!” says parishioner Camille Mazarelo. “The quality of the voices – each of them could be soloists – and the atmosphere of the church surrounded by cascading roses, and poppies for remembrance day, was sublime.”
Camille should know, she is also music director of St Elizabeth’s own choir, the Rubato singers, who themselves sang Missa Brevis in D minor by Mozart and an anthem to St Elizabeth composed by Camille herself for the celebration.
Mass was celebrated by Bishop Seamus Cunningham who went on to bless a new garden outside the church. The garden was designed and built by another parishioner Rosaleen Doonan in the shape of St Cuthbert’s cross, with a water fountain at its centre. Rosaleen has toiled throughout the year in all weathers, sometimes assisted by husband Kevin and other volunteers to create a space of calm and beauty.
The rain held off long enough for the dedication of St Cuthbert’s garden, then everyone took shelter inside for a celebration breakfast.
The day before, yet another parishioner, Katie Mooney, held a birthday party for the children with jelly and ice cream, games and a cake, the youngest participant being just ten weeks old.
“We were delighted with the turn out for the children’s party,” says Katie’s mum Margo. “Everyone enjoyed the games. As well as a dancing competition there was pass the parcel, musical bumps and a topical twist on pin the tail on the donkey – pin the hat on the bishop!”
As one of the resident community at Minsteracres, Sr Therese O’Regan, said of the weekend, “Flowers, music, food, people – everyone was provided for in a kaleidoscope of festivities!”