Flower power came to Birmingham in the form of a flower festival which took place as part of the celebrations on the weekend prior to St Patrick’s day.
Traditionally the St Patrick’s celebrations begin with Mass at St Anne’s church. St Anne’s is at the heart of the Digbeth area which has had a vibrant Irish community for many years.
The Mass is usually attended by Civic dignitaries and this year Archbishop Bernard Longley was the main celebrant. In previous years once the Mass had been celebrated the focus moved to the Parade. Fr. Pat Brown, the parish priest of St Anne’s, wanted to strengthen the connection between the celebrations and the faith. As a means of doing this he suggested that a flower festival be held in the church during that weekend.
It was with the awareness of the influence of the hundreds, known and unknown, whose lives had impacted on the City, that Fr. Pat suggested the theme of ‘Influence’. He invited groups to take part that had had an influence on the life of the area. As the Sisters of Charity had ministered in Birmingham since 1937 we were invited to contribute to the festival.
The other contributors included the Sisters of Mercy, the Legion of Mary, some of the neighbouring parishes, the Vietnamese community who had been the ‘boat people’ who came to Birmingham in the seventies, the Newman Association – Blessed John Henry Newman who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the UK last September was the founder of St Anne’s parish – and the Knights of St Columba.
It was a wonderful weekend in the church with over 1200 people visiting the flower festival. Some people came to pray while others sought peace for a while from the noise and activity of the celebrations, grateful that the church was accessible and welcoming and appreciative of the beauty all around.