Norfolk churches mark day of Covid reflections
Churches across Norfolk marked the Day of Reflection on the anniversary of the first Covid-19 national lockdown on Tuesday, March 23, with simple services, lighting candles and planting trees.
In a private ceremony, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, dedicated a grove of nine Himalayan Birch trees in his garden as a symbol of hope amidst the pandemic.
A simple service was held, attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk Lady Dannatt, the Dean of Norwich Cathedral, and members of the Bishop’s House staff, shortly before the special vigil of lamentation and hope Evensong held at Norwich Cathedral.
Lady Dannatt placed a cast-iron plaque in the birch grove that had the following words inscribed upon it: “Grove of Himalayan Birch planted as a sign of hope in 2020 amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.”
Bishop Graham said: “As we reflect as a nation today on the past year, let us support one another in our losses and sorrows with love, and as we approach Easter may we look to the new hope of the Resurrection.”
"This national day of reflection gives us an opportunity to find meaning in silence. We do need to find a way to mark this time of acute change and there may be various ways of doing that. A permanent memorial may be one way but perhaps a more meaningful legacy would be to ensure a thriving NHS and a prevalence of neighbourliness and community spirit. That spirit was always there, but it’s become more obvious and I hope we hold onto that as we emerge from this crisis."
The birch trees were planted last January by pupils from the Eco Council of St Michael’s VA Junior School in Bowthorpe.
A peal of bells rang out including from St Peter Mancroft Church on Norwich's Hay Hill and Norwich Anglican Cathedral live streamed a Vigil of Lamentation and Hope. Cathedral Dean, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, said: "We will have the weight of grief and thinking of people who have lost their lives but we hope that the service will finish on a note of hope. It is so powerful when people do things together."
A striking memorial consisting of around 2,000 tiny crosses representing those who have died of Covid-19 across Norfolk and Waveney will be removed shortly. People are invited to take a cross and an image of the display will be on a postcard, featuring a prayer.
Lakenwood Benefice, which covers St John the Baptist Old Lakenham with St Paul's Tuckswood, held a livestream on Facebook. A candle was lit in the window and prayers led for those who had lost loved ones and suffered over the past year.
Parishes across the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia responded to an appeal from Cardinal Vincent Nichols to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament as part of day of National Reflection on Covid.
The Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Alan Hopes said: “All Catholics are being asked to hold this day as a day of prayer. We are asked to open our churches and to encourage our people to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for the many needs, hopes and sorrows that have emerged over the past year. This will be our particular contribution to this important day for National Reflection.”
St John’s Cathedral in Norwich took part, with Fr Leo Michael, pictured below, preparing the Blessed Sacrament, and the Parish of Our Lady of the Annunciation in King’s Lynn was opened for prayer all day and there was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with lighting of candles which were placed on the church porch step to mark the vigil of light.
Pictured above, Bishop Graham Usher and Lady Dannatt with the memorial birch trees. Picture by Diocese of Norwich. Below is Fr Leo Michael with the Blessed Sacrament at St John's Cathedral in Norwich.