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Bury St Edmunds’ international celebration of Pentecost

A colourful and enthusiastic International Mass took place in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday (June 4), involving a number of different nationalities, timed to coincide with the feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the early Church.

There was standing room only at a packed church of St Edmund's when parishioners wearing their national dress joined together to celebrate their unity in diversity, according to Fr Alvan Ibeh, who came up with the idea for the Mass.

He said: "We have lots of different nationalities in the congregation, I myself am from Nigeria. Our differences are a gift to the parish, so we need to celebrate them, especially on this day of Pentecost to reflect what happened at the first Pentecost. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came on the Apostles who were made up of lots of nationalities.

"The Holy Spirit unifies the people of God. The Holy Spirit will always break every barrier and enable us to understand each other and to work as one. I want the parish to know that we are all one, no matter where we come from."

The Mass began with a procession of the different national groups into the church, including groups from Poland, India, Philippines, Ghana, Vietnam, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Mauritius, USA, South Africa and Singapore.

Concelebrating Mass were Fr Alvan and Canon Mark Hackeson assisted by Deacon Alan McMahon.

Prayers were led in different languages and an Indian choir sang for the congregation.

During his homily, Fr Alvan said: "We must speak the same language ' the language of love. Let us run away from anything which means we speak a different language. God will give us the fire of his love.

"If I look into your eyes, I do not see Africa or Poland or England ' I see love."

Afterward Mass, everyone was invited to the crypt to enjoy a truly international feast, which included delicacies such as Vietnamese spring roll and banana tapioca pudding, Filipino caldereta (beef casserole) and pancit (noodles), Indian tuna cutlets and chicken 65, Ghanaian Jellof rice and Polish cheesecake and chicken salad.

Pictured top are Mass participants outside St Edmunds and, above, a group from Ghana. For a full picture gallery see below or click here.

St Edmunds Pentecost International Mass June17