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3215: Our Lady of Charity and St Augustine, Daventry, England
Our Lady of Charity & St Augustine, Daventry (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Miss Marple.
The church: Our Lady of Charity and St Augustine, Daventry, England.
Denomination: Roman Catholic, Diocese of Northampton.
The building: Dating from 1971, it is a modern building. The architects were William Ellis Partnership, who also designed numerous schools, commercial buildings, sports and leisure complexes, and residences. It was recently renovated and features a clean look and renewed seating. The church has a good internal height and great acoustics. The altar is at the centre of a broad arc of seating with three aisles.
The church: There was a high level of involvement and a sense of energy among the congregation. They work with the Society of St Vincent de Paul and are a member of Churches Together in Daventry. They are also part of the Northampton Diocese Justice & Peace Group. There is a Holy Hour each Tuesday evening and a guitar mass once each month. There is one mass each Sunday, as well as mass at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in nearby Yelvertoft.
The neighbourhood: Daventry is a market town in Northamptonshire, about 75 miles north of London. The local area around the church is residential but it is close to the town centre as well.
The cast: The Revd Shyju Chacko, assistant priest, led the service as the parish priest was absent.
The date & time: The Transfiguration of the Lord, Sunday, 6 August 2017, 10.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Sunday Mass.

How full was the building?
The church was 75 per cent full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A member of the congregation met each person at the door and greeted each individually as she gave out hymn books and service sheets. I received a nice smile and good eye contact.

Was your pew comfortable?
The church has been refitted with very colourful upholstered seats in royal blue being christened that weekend. Some were small bench seats but most were individual chairs. The kneelers were also of high quality and slid out soundlessly. The parish was very proud of this investment.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was a pleasant buzz in the church and a lot of greeting going on. Some people were already praying quietly and seemed undisturbed by the buzz.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to the parish and to this feast of the Transfiguration, especially if you are a visitor." The speaker then asked for the congregation to observe a few minutes of silence before Father Shyju came out to begin mass.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The congregation had a Parish Mass Book with the full text of the mass, a hymn book, and a newsletter on the back of which there was a reflection on the scripture readings of the day.

What musical instruments were played?
There was a keyboard being played very competently. There was a choir of about 15 adults who led the singing.

Did anything distract you?
Three elderly people just in front of me kept talking right through the service, even breaking into short arguments among themselves. It was as if they had re-entered adolescence and it was quite disturbing.

Our Lady of Charity & St Augustine, Daventry (Interior)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The liturgy was very relaxed and informal out in the congregation but quite traditional on the part of the priest and the altar servers. The service was very positive on the whole and the sense of community was very strong. A bit more silence would have helped.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
5 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – The preacher was warm and positive and connected well with people for the first three minutes. However, towards the end he became overly theological and I believe he floated off into space, leaving the congregation at a loss about where he had gone.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The homily spoke about transfiguration moments in our lives and the need to recognise their importance, but also never to doubt the closeness of Jesus when we come down from the mountain.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Seeing the children go out for their part of the service and their enthusiasm to get together.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The choir gave a solid lead to the congregation but seemed to lose their way in their communion reflection hymn. It was made even less prayerful by the elderly adolescents jawing away in front of me.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
There was a fairly rapid exit and no one made direct contact. We were told there was tea and coffee afterwards, but when we went in to the hall, no one approached us or invited us for a drink.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It looked like there was a regular grouping of friends around tables and it was difficult to break into any of the groups.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I lived in Daventry, I would be happy to attend regularly. I loved the bright interior and the welcoming atmosphere at mass.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, generally it was positive and friendly.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The elderly adolescents that I wanted to tell off for talking.
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