Following the successful street parties that took place to mark the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, hundreds of local communities – ten times more in fact – are reported to be planning similar parties during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations this coming week.
More Than Gold, the churches’ joint 2012 charity, has partnered with the ecumenical agency Hope Together to encourage the Christian community to be at the heart of this summer’s parties and to actively build community.
James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games, said: “This summer’s festivities have already begun with the arrival of the Torch Relay. Stories are being carved out of people gathering in their thousands to welcome the Olympic Torch, giving local communities the desire to look for more occasions to meet and celebrate together. These opportunities are of course round the corner with the Diamond Jubilee only days away and the Olympic and Paralympic Games weeks away.”
Cathedrals, parishes, schools and churches, working together wherever possible, are all planning to take advantage of the three-fold opportunity to make a mark on their local community.
“Many across our nation have been looking for tangible and consistent ways of healthily responding to the violence we saw on our streets last summer.” said James Parker. “Last year’s royal wedding reminded Britons that we have not forgotten how to celebrate with our neighbours. We now have every reason necessary to meet time and again as communities during the five days of the Diamond Jubilee and over the period of 27 days of the Summer Games. There’s still time to make preparations and get involved. A summer of this kind comes around only once in a lifetime. It’s imperative, even at this late stage, that as many people as possible think and plan ahead.”
In his recent Loyal Address to Her Majesty the Queen on behalf of the Catholic community of England and Wales, Archbishop Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said: “For all of us it will be a unique and wonderful experience to express the great loyalty and gratitude felt by all Catholics for the Queen as such a remarkable role model for this country and the all of the Commonwealth.
“On behalf of the Catholic community as a whole, we would wish to thank the Queen for her outstanding service throughout her life and especially now as we celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.”
St Anne’s Parish in Royal Docks, East London, in the shadow of Olympic events, will celebrate 125 years since the parish’s foundation over the weekend of the Diamond Jubilee. Aside from its own Jubilee Mass, it is also planning to use the Queen’s Jubilee to host a festival for the local people. Mgr John Armitage, Parish Priest, said: “For many in the East End of London, as is true for the rest of the country, the 2012 Games will be something they only get to be a part of by watching a television screen. We want to find any means we can to gather our local community at the time of the Jubilee so that the Games themselves might also be used as a time to further build unity and understanding between peoples instead of the division we saw and experienced last summer.”
James Parker said: “The Sunday of the Jubilee celebrations offers Catholic churches the unique prospect to gather not just as parish communities but to invite other neighbours also: non-practising Catholics, other Christians, those of other faiths and none to come along and celebrate. Everyone will eat at some point on this day, so why not make it an occasion to all eat together?“
For those still planning events, and for those who have not yet started, there are many resources available to help Catholics get involved. These are available on the websites of More Than Gold, Catholic 2012 and Hope Together.