Dympna Mallon is the Laity Coodinator of the SMA - the Society of African Missions, based in Ireland. On Sunday 12 March she gave the following presentation at the SMA parish of Our Lady of the Rosary and St Patrick in Walthamstow, Brentwood Diocese, which was being presented with the Livesimply Parish Award at the 11.30am Mass.
I am delighted to be back in Walthamstow, especially this weekend as you hold your annual celebration of St Patrick as the patron of your parish. I timed my trip well! I was here in the parish almost exactly a year ago - that was another well-timed trip because that weekend was also the celebration of St Patrick as the patron of the parish. This means that I know that you know how to celebrate.
But I could never have imagined that just one year later, there would be a second reason to celebrate: the presentation of the Livesimply Award to this parish recognising your efforts to live simply and sustainably, caring for the earth and in solidarity with the poor.
You as a whole parish community have undertaken a journey: a journey of faith and a journey of action, without fully knowing what it would involve or where it might lead. It was a journey which began in earnest in November 2015 with your truly overwhelming response to the SMA Thumbprint Campaign for Climate Justice. Following from that, last March a conversation began to explore ways of building on this parish's response to the Thumbprint Campaign, and as a parish community, your answer was to commit to pursuing the Livesimply Award. Today that award is being presented to acknowledge the efforts and the achievements of you as a parish community.
Of course there has been great leadership given by Fr Kevin, Fr John and the members of the parish Faith in Action group, but the story of the journey and the achievements belongs to the whole parish community. As a parish community, you have heard Pope Francis' call to conversion: the call to change your attitudes, your lifestyles, the choices you make - and you have certainly responded.
I think it is very appropriate that today's Gospel is the story of the Transfiguration. It is also the story of a journey, of a new vision, a new way of seeing Jesus, and ourselves. It's about looking at things differently and being guided and inspired by the fullness of God's glory. Thinking about you all achieving this award, I believe that what you have done, what you have undertaken here in Walthamstow, is a similar story.
You have begun a journey. You have been open to a new vision, to see yourselves - and creation - in a new way: as part of the web of life, and to reflect God's love for every living being. You have chosen to look at things differently and have allowed yourselves to be changed, and your lives to be changed as a result - just like the Apostles in today's Gospel.
You have begun a journey of conversion. You began as a vibrant, active parish and are emerging now as a parish community which is committed to social justice, ongoing care for creation and ecological conversion. You too have been transfigured in your openness to the call to be followers of Jesus in a fuller way than ever before.
I am thrilled, and privileged, to have been part of your journey to this point. Last year I challenged you to become the first SMA parish to earn an ecology award. You not only rose to the challenge in style; you have set the bar very high for other SMA parishes and communities.
I want to congratulate each and every one of you on your inspiring witness and wonderful achievement. And I pray that your shared journey will continue as a beacon of hope and inspiration for people and communities right across the country - and beyond. Thank you very much.