Requiem Mass remembers Great War fallen

Requiem Mass is marked at St James Church in Reading John Mullaney

On Sunday, August 3, 100 years since the eve of the outbreak of hostilities, a Requiem Mass was offered at St James Church in Reading to mark the centenary of the start of the 1914-1918 War.

The Great War was also a world war. At the time, and in its aftermath, every nation felt its effects. In no small way it created the world we live in today.

It was therefore fitting that, of the estimated 400 of St James’ parishioners who attended Mass, more than 60 countries and languages were represented.

The Mass was a solemn occasion. As Canon John O’Shea said in his homily the day was a special day. We were there to pray for those who died and also for those who lost families during this terrible conflict. He singled out the distinctive role of the Catholic chaplains who, unarmed, ministered the sacrament of Confession and offered Mass, even in the trenches of the front line itself, just as the soldiers were about to go ‘over the top’ to probable death.

The community of St James’ parish is multicultural and Father John spoke of his own cultural heritage. He described the difficulties Irishmen felt as they joined up to fight for Britain, seen at the time as an oppressor in Ireland. In contrast to this period when there ‘was anger in their hearts’, he spoke of today’s reconciliation between English and Irish people as exemplified by the Queen’s recent visit. It is this emphasis on the need to negotiate, to work out our differences, rather than the stupidity of war, that should serve as a lesson for us. In our own personal lives we can do our own little bit to develop harmony among individuals and nations. War is atrocious, we should pray for peace in our world.

He concluded with the prayer ‘Eternal rest grant to them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.’

The Mass was sung by the joint choirs of St James’, comprising the Folk Group and the Sunday Mass choir.

The Parish also remembered its own dead and a display, set up beside the baptismal font, recalled just a few relatives of parishioners who had been caught up the War. These included relatives of the Odell and Wright families. Also present in the congregation was Frances Mitchell whose great-great uncle had died at Gallipoli. No doubt many of the congregation could tell of relatives, some who survived and some who died along with those millions, who made the extreme sacrifice during those dreadful years from the 4th August 1914 to the 11th November 1918.

Requiescant in Pace

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 10:25