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A French Twin

by Michael Ford last modified 03 Sep, 2019 03:26 PM

The twining between a Dorset and a French parish has been successfully re-invigorated by the new incumbents in both areas.

The Revd David Bond, of the Quuen Thorne Benefice, led 11 of his parishioners on the trip to the Pays de Conches Benefice in southern Normandy over the summer.

During the trip the twinned Benefices celebrated an interdenominational Mass in English and in French, a first for both benefices’ recently-installed priests, Revd David and Père Jean-Claude Vinet.

The Dorset visitors were greeted (and invited to tea) by Nicolas Pelcat, who is the Ėvreux Diocese lead on twinning.

And then treated to a sightseeing tour that included Victor Hugo’s house on the banks of the river Seine, the fascinating ruins of the Jumièges Abbey and an impressive 14th century Market Hall.

For 30 years the Diocese of Salisbury has had an active, mutual and well-developed link - now a twinning - with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Évreux, in Upper Normandy.

In many ways, the nature of the Diocese of Évreux is similar to that of Salisbury.

The Catholic Church in France is the established or parochial church, roughly equivalent to the Church of England in this country. The Diocese of Évreux comprises the Cathedral city of Évreux (about an hour's train ride north of Paris), a number of smaller market towns and many villages and hamlets spread over extensive agricultural areas.

Thus, the churches in both dioceses have many common points of reference related to pastoral work, rural ministry, lay training, work with children and young people and the role of and deployment of clergy and laity.

Not surprisingly this has resulted in much exchange, discussion and debate in the many years we have shared this link.

At present, the Évreux Committee hosts or is hosted in France during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Usually these visits are coupled to a theme such as rural ministry, lay training, pastoral work, Church or the environment.

In addition there are 3 active parish twinning projects involving Queen Thorne, Bridport and the Whitton Team.

A spokesperson for the Queen Thorne group said:

"Everyone who took part had a wonderful time and benefited from new and renewed friendships and cultural experiences.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to all of the Pays de Conches parishioners who were involved, particularly the hosting families.

"Planning for the French visit to us next summer will start very soon; we look forward to involving the whole of Queen Thorne!"

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