The Anthony Pantin Centre for Peace Chapel, Beetham Gardens, celebrated a historic moment on Saturday July 7 with the baptism of five children from Sea Lots.
Deborah de Rosia of Eternal Light Community had informed Fr Martin Sirju, Administrator of the Cathedral, of the children whose parents and godparents had been suitably prepared. The baptism was to take place at the Cathedral but Fr Sirju suggested that the baptism be done at the chapel as it would be a golden opportunity to catechise. ‘Sister Debbie’ readily agreed.
Fr Sirju, however, was worried about Sea Lot families crossing turf to enter Beetham for the baptism. The last thing he wanted was tension or danger. This was resolved after consultations with relevant persons and preparations immediately began.
About 80 persons filled the little chapel for the occasion. Present were members of Centre for Peace, Eternal Light, Missionaries of the Poor, visitors and parishioners. Fr John Theodore CSSp, the regular celebrant for the weekly Saturday 10 a.m. Mass, concelebrated and anointed the children with the oil of catechumens.
Sr Gail Jagroop OP, who at present conducts the First Communion Class at Beetham, was also present with seven of the 10 children preparing for the sacrament. The parishioners gathered sang lustily and answered powerfully.
Fr Sirju celebrated the memory of St Maria Goretti, a young Italian martyr, and said he was offering the Mass for the children of the nation, especially young children who were murdered, some of them in a ghastly manner.
In keeping with the gospel of the day, he spoke about not putting new wine into old skins, and those present must understand baptism as a new way of living, a new way of doing things, even though bringing about this new way takes time.
He emphasised the link between baptism and education—parents from both areas must not disvalue education but put a much greater emphasis on it, that education must become the new wine being poured into fresh skins of the young.
Fr Sirju made mention of two schools close by, Nelson Street Boys and Girls, and said in the future they should be staffed by the best of teachers from Beetham and Sea Lots: “We do not need so many doctors as we do teachers”. The actual moment of baptism was very touching and all eyes were fixed on the children who were introduced to the community as its newest members afterwards with the congregation clapping loudly.
After Mass there were a few announcements and visitors were encouraged to come visit the chapel again. There was a sharing after Mass and Fr Sirju got a token tour of the area. Already we are looking forward to the next baptism. I wonder if First Communion, too? – A parishioner