The dioceses of Guildford and Evry united in celebration in early October for the 50th anniversary of the creation of the French diocese.
Bishop Andrew, Revd John McCabe (St Mary’s, Byfleet) and Revd John Page (St Michael & All Angels, Thursley) travelled to join in the celebrations, in recognition of the 15-year partnership between the two dioceses.
The trip also supports the goals of ‘reaching beyond borders’ and ‘cultivating community partnerships’ outlined in the new diocesan vision, Transforming Church, Transforming Lives, launched in September.
While visiting the French diocese, the team were invited to speak about their churches’ response to the refugee crisis with members of the Catholic Relief, before attending a youth concert to end the eve of the anniversary.
To celebrate the anniversary itself, a commemorative mass was held to a bumper crowd of 6,000 people at the Basilica of Longpont, for which Bishop Andrew joined his French counterparts on stage. Following the service, the celebrations continued with speakers giving thanks and a friendly picnic open to all, believers and non-believers alike.
Revd John Page said: “The service itself was a truly joyful affair, conducted with dignity and discipline yet with humour and a lightness of touch, and the Bishop of Evry gave an excellent homily.”
The trip was not without incident, however, as Bishop Andrew lost his episcopal ring on the Eurostar. Although the situation appeared to have been sorted when Eurostar sent an item from lost property, it turned out to be an almost identical ring. Bishop Andrew has been reassured that his ring has been located an he will be reunited with it soon.
Revd John summarised the trip in a letter of thanks to Bishop Michel Dubost, saying: “Thank you for your kindness in receiving us so warmly and in good heart last weekend. The experience of being among your guests was joyful. We were all encouraged and strengthened in the Christian faith by the whole experience.”