Our Lady’s Film Evenings
Everyone, regardless of belief is invited to our film evenings. Admission is free and there is always a joyful, lively, and inclusive atmosphere!
An update – March 2019
Sadly, the film evenings concluded, at least temporarily, on 27th March 2019 with a lively and well attended finale. Nonetheless, please watch this space, or contact the Parish Office, for possible future developments
Our Lady’s Film Evenings formally commenced in 2011 as a fruitful initiative of St John Fisher Church’s long established Our Lady’s and Padre Pio’s Prayer Group. Today, the film evenings are better described as Our Lady’s Film Evening at St John Fisher Church Bexley as they have developed beyond a parish apostolate.
The roots of the evenings however go back to 2006 with a series of presentations that commenced on the 18th May with a presentation on the Syrian Monastery of Deir Mar Musa. Presentations, of ever-increasing sophistication, evolved rapidly thereafter from “annual reports” by the late Fr. Ernest Ayittey-Akorsou CSSp on his work in Ghana, to a series of highly informative presentations by the erudite Dr Desmond Miller on a range of spiritual subjects (such as Divine Mercy, Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi, and the Apparitions of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces at Aokpe). Dedicated film evenings followed shortly afterwards with an inaugural event on the 11th July 2007 on the alleged apparitions of Garabandal in Northern Spain, and culminating with a regular monthly program at the end of 2011. With the purchase of the parish’s own projector in 2012, the support team and its capabilities expanded significantly.
Each year we aim to have a balanced programme of movies and documentaries. Commencing in January, we show an apposite film during the Church Unity Octave, such as on the Orthodox Church, Mount Athos, Anglican monasticism, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Thereafter we aim to include films, typically on: a particular pope; Old Testament characters; and both well and lesser-known saints, all arranged where possible around the liturgical calendar. For instance, in May 2017 we aim to have a movie on Fátima to celebrate its centenary.
Apart from August, we have one film evening per month, usually on Wednesdays. Unfortunately, for license reasons, we cannot promote the actual film titles outside of St John Fisher Church (including billboard, websites etc). Consequently, they are advertised with generic titles. Whenever possible, subtitles are employed for the hard of hearing.
We occasionally host special supplementary events such as showing the “Catholicism” series by Bishop Robert Barron, and on the Camino de Compostela (the well-known pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain). We also occasionally have a charity stall raising money for severely disadvantaged children in the Ukraine by selling cakes, jams, and quality handmade goods. Each evening is promoted by e-mail (contact email@example.com if you would like to be included), parish newsletter entries, word and mouth, and posters.
We are delighted with the large range of attendees (Catholics, non-Catholic Christians, priests, nuns, and at times Jews and even Muslims), some who routinely travel considerable distance for the evenings. We have even had one visitor from Australia and another from Crewe! Many now travel collectively by bus or by car (the hall has a free car park and ready wheelchair access), and more than a few find that they reconnect with old friends after years of separation. Some attendees even have their evening meal during the showing on their way home from work. We want to ensure everyone knows that they are most welcome!
The number of people attending varies on the film itself, prevailing weather conditions, and time of the year. A typical attendance is approximately 50, but we have had almost twice that number on one occasion!
Our aim is to provide:
• wholesome and top-quality spiritual entertainment and education
• inspirational examples of a variety of heroic role models (saints)
• a joyful social evening providing opportunities for building community and for networking, especially between local churches
Our long-term hope has been to occasionally host dinner evenings where attendees can get to know each other better and to discuss previous films at length. We welcome anyone willing to take on this initiative.
Admission to the evenings is free, but donations are gratefully received for charity. As of December 2018, we have raised more than £5,000 which has been allocated to a wide range of charities, including the educational sponsorship of a young boy from the streets of Mumbai, India. The notion of donations originally grew from the desire to offset the wear-and-tear of a projector, kindly lent by a parishioner, who in turn generously diverted these same donations to seriously disadvantaged children in the eastern Ukraine!
Each evening has a common structure of: welcome and introduction; a scrolling educational presentation on the theme of the film; and an interval for socialisation, during which tea and coffee is served and the bar is reopened. In parallel there is a free books stall (book donations on religious themes always welcome!). At Christmas we have a special celebration with mince pies and mulled wine!
The support team for the film evenings is growing and now involves people across the diocese in various duties, not least those spontaneously helping out in the kitchen during the interval and those integrating newcomers. Nonetheless, we currently need a deputy with basic computer skills who could help with setting up on a very occasional basis. The principal contact is Tim Bowman who can be contacted via the Parish Office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 01322-524813.