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Friends of St Mary's Church at Caerau

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St. Mary's News, Autumn 2020

This year is the 10th anniversary of Rev, Father Victor Jones's death. Caerau Friends and residents had planned to mark the occasion by planting a tree to replace the oak sapling, planted at the time of the scattering of his ashes in 2011, but lost in the winter storms of that year. Due to the pandemic we have had to postpone this until next year when conditions allow.

Father Jones was an inspirational spiritual and community leader who came to Caerau & Ely in the late 50's and lived among his parishioners in Heol Carnau. He undertook the herculean task of restoring the heavily vandalised St. Mary's, enabling it to reopen and hold church services that continued until Father Jones left the parish to become a padre in the Royal Navy. Sadly, his beloved church is now a ruin, but still very recognizable as a fine medieval church structure that inspires people to visit, not just from the community but from many parts of the world.

St. Mary's cross was stolen over 4 years ago, leaving the tower disfigured. A new cross was made by Architectural Stone and was due to be installed this year, but bad weather and the pandemic have delayed this. We are very grateful to Martin Birch of Bereavement Dept. and his team for their efforts in getting a new cross ready for installation, and we remain hopeful of seeing a cross atop the much loved old church as soon as conditions allow.

As with the rest of the country, Caerau Friends have been unable to meet for much of the summer, but our volunteers, who were able to visit the church as part of their exercise routine, have been taking care of the grounds and looking out for problems, collecting rubbish, and chatting (at safe distance) to the many visitors to the site over this period. The aim has been to keep the old church and grounds looking as nice as possible for visitors seeking solace and meditation during these troubled times. Paul took photos of the gorgeous spring and summer flowers that bloomed undisturbed throughout lockdown, some of which we show here.

Volunteers noted and reported that damage and wear has taken place over the summer, particularly to the low nave wall which is crumbling away, adjacent to the tower and needs urgent repairs. Caerau and City Councillor Peter Bradbury responded swiftly and asked that these be done.

When lockdown eased at the end of summer, Caerau Friends met together for the first time since March. It was a very happy meeting, but soon after, new restrictions came into force that meant not everyone was able to continue attending.

We hope people will keep visiting St. Mary's when possible and continue to enjoy your time in this very special place.

One unexpected visitor was the farmer's bull which was fortunately in a friendly mood enabling our volunteers to encourage it safely back into its field.

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and hoping the New Year restores some normality.

Delia & Caerau Friends.