St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Copenhagen was blessed by the arrival of Fr. Benny in 2007 and Fr. Joe in 2009.These two young priests arrived full of new and exciting ideas to work in a parish consisting of three language groups: Danish, English and Polish. Fr. Benny came to assist with the Danish congregation and Fr. Joe was assigned to help and later overtook the English-Filipino Chaplaincy from its founder, Fr. Patrick Sheils, an Irish Redemptorist. First of all, the two priests had to get to know the people, learn the Danish language and get used to the climate. There were many different cultures and traditions surrounding them. They began their new assignments by calling for many meetings, conducting a SWOT analysis of the Parish situation and a great many plans made based on those feedbacks. Some Ministries already existed like Couples for Christ, El-Shaddai and the Legion of Mary, but these needed organising. There was an urgent need for several more ministries to help both the parishioners and the priests’ community: comprising of two other priests from Poland. For the elderly the 60+ group was started and for the families with young children “Kool Kirke” (Cool Church-Sunday School). This was a monthly meeting which included a Family Mass, catechism through games and group activities and socialising for both the parents and the children. Another ministry “SAYA”- Saint Anne’s Young Adults, reached out to all those between 18-30 years of age. A large part of the English–speaking congregation composed of Au-Pair boys and girls mainly from the Philippines. Their needs were catered to, through a sub-group called “CAP”-Centre for Au-pairs, supported by Caritas Denmark, to provide a place of relaxation, friendship and support. Spiritual and moral advice from the priests was also important for them, as there were away from home and loved ones. With Fr. Benny’s help, the weekly “Alpha Courses” were a beginning to many other Adult Catechetical projects like, Catholicism, Marriage Preparation Seminars, Dogmatic Theology, Priest Prophet King, Life Worth Living, … etc. These helped provide more efficient and effective parishioners in parish ministries.
Fr. Benny worked hard with his many helpers to establish the Charitable organisation “Better World Denmark.” This involved a couple of weekends of activities to raise money and the opening of a shop to sell 2nd hand goods and religious articles, the proceeds of which were to help the needy both in Denmark and abroad. Amongst many projects in Europe, Africa and Asia, the Philippines received a large sum of money to help the victims after the continuous disasters the last couple of years. This turned out to be events that brought the three language groups together beyond all other barriers and was As a move to involve Lay ministers in the Church, much was improvised through the Lectors’ ministry, the Altar servers’ and the Eucharistic ministers’. Music was at the heart of the Filipinos and an easier way of bringing people to be active at Church, and thus 3 choirs were formed. Fr. Joe founded the “DCICMM” – Danish Catholic International Choirs Music Ministry, which turned out to be a great success involving many church choirs in Denmark to an annual Concert together at St. Anne’s.
It was amazing to see how both the priests reached out to all areas of parish structuring; not just the spiritual and sacramental, but also the community-building, organisational, technical, digital, user-friendly facilities and charitable areas too. St. Anne’s Catholic School was also served by both priests with masses and other religious duties such as First Communion and Confirmation preparations, Confessions and the yearly visit to Rome with the 8th graders, who sang to the Pope. The Parish Council also came under the priests’ jurisdiction to execute new plans to solve the church-tax problem. The Community finances had also to be attended to and the general running of the Presbytery. A ministry lead by Fr. Benny helped rebuild the Parish Hall and the surrounding rooms after they were totally ruined by a devastating flood. Under the guidance of these two priests the parish became more united and active. Many people became involved in working together both within and outside the ministries. Both priests were very visible amongst their parishioners, working incredibly hard to serve and activate their “flocks.” In addition to this they had to attend to all the usual parish duties with hospital visits, house blessings, confessions, festive celebrations, special masses and counselling. Their list of duties was endless. At their most important duty: the Holy Mass – the parishioners were greeted by a well prepared and engaged priest, their homilies were touching according to the theme of the day and had a message for each person present. We are most grateful for these two Indian Redemptorists who won a place for themselves in our hearts forever. We will miss them while we cherish continuing the good work they began.
Ms. Mary Anne Grøn, Copenhagen