The Parish of the Holy Spirit, Costa Blanca, seemed a very fitting place to spend Pentecost weekend. This is likely the largest parish in the diocese covering about 7,500 sq km, and with the largest electoral roll. The Senior Chaplain is the Revd Marcus Ronchetti. He is assisted by the Revd Ray Andrews and there will soon be two other priests joining the team. Also on the team is a licensed Reader, Stephen Carden.
The parish visit included a service of confirmation for candidates from across the parish (there are 8 congregations in total) on the Eve of Pentecost. The sense of joy in the candidates and among the members of the congregation who gathered to support them was palpable. People were really happy to be in Church! The service was enhanced by the presence of the Basingstoke Ladies' Choir, who were in the parish to do a fund-raising concert that evening. They were suitably dressed in red, for Pentecost!
Like so many of our parishes across the diocese, the best of the Anglican tradition is lived and shared, making a congenial home for English speaking Christians from across the spectrum of denominations. Fr Marcus in describing the life of Holy Spirit, Costa Blanca, says,
"Mainly it revolves around the Eucharist – that great act of thanksgiving for everything that has happened, is happening and will happen in order to bring about God’s Kingdom. An act of thanksgiving for and on behalf of the whole world, during which we celebrate our freedom, and humbly accept Christ’s invitation to feast with him...something awesome happens. It is the most important thing that we do".
I sensed from my conversations over the weekend that this sacramental theology lived out in this thriving parish, really provides God's answer to the deep needs of the community, Sacraments help the faithful to see the divine in the human, and help us understand how God works through ordinary people and things. Certainly the commitment of the parish of the Holy Spirit to supporting the work of local Spanish charities, flows from this sacramental vision.
The musical event on Saturday evening, at which the Basingstoke Ladies' Choir performed along with the Costa Blanca Male Voice Choir was a fund-raiser for the parish's work, and the excellent and enjoyable programme raised over €3000.