Celebrate Charismatic Conference - Oct. 2010 + a special birthday

The weekend just gone saw us welcome once more in our school a weekend charismatic conference organised by Celebrate. There were over 300 participants (inc. myself), about 85 of whom were under 18. These were split into "streams" each with their own activities/talks/games/prayer times, etc... We all came together for the Sunday Mass.

What a life-giving, spirit-filled, joyous, uplifting 2 days, the first of which was my birthday. In actual fact, I spent the afternoon of my birthday (Saturday) with Bernard Weaver, the 82 year-old husband of one of the mainstays of the Southampton Catholic Charismatic scene, Frances Weaver. The two of them are old friends of our family (see here).

Two days earlier, Bernard had been diagnosed with cancer (he'd already had a cancerous thyroid removed a couple of years previously). As yet, it is not known the extent of the cancer. He has to go for a full body scan in the next few days. Frances was understandably worried about him and did not want to leave him on his own for 2 days during the conference. Their daughter had offered to take Bernard (who was trying his best to be his usual carefree, joyful self) round to her house for the Sunday. But no solutions had presented themselves for the Saturday. So I offered to go round to Bernard once the conference had got underway, thereby freeing Frances to come to Celebrate. I needed to be on hand at the start in particular for any equipment/electrical issues, etc... given that they were using our school. Though Bros. Francis + Augustine were also able to help, they weren't participating in the weekend and so weren't immediately on hand.

So, the day of my birthday from 1pm till 9.30pm that night, I was with Bernard. First up, a pub lunch in a converted 16th century house in Romsey. Lovely jubbly! Then back to the Weavers' house for some Commonwealth Games action on tv (Bernard, like me, is a keen sports fan - see below photos), followed by a wonderful little British film on dvd "Sixty-Six", which tells the semi-autobiographical of the film's Jewish director's Bar Mitzvah which happened to fall the day of the '66 World Cup Final. A comical and touching film, ultimately about father-son relationships (which so many films seem to be about when you think of it). When Frances came back in the evening, full of the spirit, she was delighted to find Bernard bubbly and cheerful having had a wonderful day. It had been a real pleasure for me too. In fact, what with the morning spent at the conference, I'd have to say that it was one of the loveliest birthdays I've ever had!

Here are a few photos. The first few are from when I invited Bernard + Frances around to our community for a meal a few months ago. They used to come here back in the '70s when a Brother who was in community here at the time, an American, Bro. Ernest Paquet, used to host their regular charismatic prayer group sessions. The others are from a day out at Wembley back in the Spring when I took Bernard to the Saints' glorious win in the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy (cup for clubs in the 3rd + 4th divisions.

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