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On Friday, 20 January the first of this year’s evenings of Prayer for Peace and Healing took place at the Annunciation Church, Chesterfield. The services began in April 2016 and now take place on the third Friday of each month, with people coming from within and beyond the Diocese to attend.

  “Our prayer programme was initially a response to Pope Francis’ gift of the Year of Mercy in which we were all invited to reach out, touch and experience the mercy and healing of Jesus in a very personal and powerful way,” said Fr Lee Marshall, “but they have since developed into a regular feature at the Annunciation.”

  As with any new venture in an established parish, until the waters were tested, it was hard to gage how people would respond. Much prayer and preparation had been given to the programme, but no one could have fully anticipated the groundswell of faith, love and hope that have continued to materialise.  “We are trying to reach out to as many people as possible within our Parish and Diocese to join us in prayer at these evenings,” said Fr Adrian Tomlinson, Parish Priest.  “Our world is in much need of peace and healing and our prayer programme is a response to this.”

  The evenings all begin at 7pm with a recitation of the Holy Rosary, led in different languages.  It is sometimes said that Chesterfield is under-represented by people of other languages and ethnicities, yet over the months there have been prayer contributions in languages from across the globe, including Malayalam, Filipino, Italian, Croatian, German, French and even Ar’ear’e, a rare language spoken by only a few thousand people on the Solomon Islands.  During the Rosary, Confessions are available with resident and visiting priests, and many of those present choose to take advantage of this most healing Sacrament.

  Holy Mass commences at 7.30pm, after which the church lights are dimmed for the Eucharistic Healing Service and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Candlelight and liturgical music enhance the profound sense of peace, worship and reverence.  The music is generously provided by talented staff and pupils from St Mary’s Catholic High School, and supported by a small choir of parishioners.

  This last part of the service is incredibly powerful, often with many healing tears flowing.  Just as in Scripture (Mark 5: 21-43) the woman in the story ignored the conventions of her day for the chance to touch Jesus’ garment, so many of those present overcome the self-conscious reserve prevalent in our modern society, exercising real faith in the healing power of the Lord by coming forward to touch the humeral veil wrapped around the monstrance.

  Response to the Peace and Healing services has been overwhelmingly positive, with several healings of different sorts being reported subsequently, including those of a parishioner whose prayers for reconciliation with her estranged sister were later answered in a most unexpected way.

  Many parishioners have commented that ‘the uplifting prayer programme is a wonderful blessing for the whole community’.  Thus far the services have attracted many other parishioners from all over the Diocese and beyond, with a committed group even travelling from Wakefield each month.

  All are welcome at the next evening of Prayer for Peace and Healing on Friday, 17 March starting at 7pm, and on the third Friday of any subsequent month.