Welcome to the Watermead Apostolate

A sharing in love and faith through our God-given talents

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Our Story ~ How it all began

Watermead is the name of a Christian apostolate which shares faith through gifts, talents and time.  We record and publish our own music, cards, stationery and books, with everything we produce a chapter from someone’s personal journey of faith.  Through what we share we help and support various charities and good works.

We began in 1992 in the parish of St. Theresa’s, Birstall, Leicestershire, England, when our priest (Fr John) explored the possibilities for a hymn, “Our Song Gives Praise”, composed by two of the parishioners – father (Tom) and daughter (Alison).  A publishing friend had told him that the hymn was good enough for publication, and this acknowledgement encouraged the writing of further music for hymns and mass settings. Through 1992/3 other initiatives were explored, including a collection of parishioners’ favourite prayers, and the group of people that had gathered to discuss possibilities for a music-publishing venture were now looking to form a general publishing apostolate.

 “Watermead” was chosen as the name we would use, from the lakes and parkland neighbouring the church, and with a loan of £1,000 from the parish finance committee we began our apostolate in 1994.  Our choir recorded a cassette of the hymns and mass settings so far written, “Our Songs Give Praise”, and we published the collection of parishioners’ favourite prayers as a book,“Words of Prayer and Encouragement”.  We made enough money on both of these projects to pay back the parish loan and to finance further publishing and recording projects.  From then on the work has gone from strength to strength.

Today we publish books, music, mass cards, stationery – in fact, anything we are given (stories, words, music, drawings, paintings, etc.) is incorporated into the various projects, and well over two hundred people are represented in the items we produce.  There have been many publishing projects, cassettes and CD recordings. Our music is also used as reflective meditations during the retreats that we arrange and these prayerful sessions have become known as “Music as Prayer”.

A national Church Supplies company, "Shinglers of Sutton", took on the marketing for us in 1999 until they retired at the end of 2009.  We now provide our own catalogue and continue to supply not only churches, communities and shops in Great Britain, but also retailers in Ireland, Lourdes and Rome.

People who work with us are generous in their giving of time and resources, so we have always been able to share our profits with charities.  The Colombian-based “Let the Children Live” charity is one of these charities and in 1999 we wrote and recorded their charity song ¡Vivan los niños!  We continue to support this charity, along with other charities and good works through our apostolate.

 But the Watermead Apostolate did not begin as fundraising for charities.  It began because parishioners in a parish were invited and trusted to share their gifts, talents and time in the mission of the Church.  Everyone has valuable life experiences that, once given a voice, can reach out and help others.  Our apostolate has become a sharing of those voices – a mission that anyone can feel invited to be part of.  Through Watermead we offer people, God’s little ones (“Anawim”), the opportunity to share their faith with others by whatever comes to them (words, music, arts and crafts) on their own individual paths towards God, enabling hearts to speak and communicate.

Over the years many paths have been run and have crossed, all with their own blessings and difficulties.  Our biggest hurdle was in 2000 when our work was unable to continue from the parish of St. Theresa’s, but the then Bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm McMahon, offered premises at St. Joseph’s church in Leicester.  These have given ample space for the expansion of the work: operating first from the parish house, then the parish hall and in July 2006 the “Old Stable” church became the new Watermead Centre, incorporating a gifts shop, publishing centre and a therapies/counselling room.

 In July 2004, from the security of St Joseph’s, we resumed our music apostolate with the “Anawim” recording, “I Call You Friends”, quickly followed by a collection of retreat instrumentals called “People of God”.  In February 2006 we recorded “Don sings the Parables” with Don Maclean (the “Parables” project had begun during the last weeks at St Theresa’s but was only completed in 2005 when Don agreed to become involved.  Further recordings are always  in process.  Meanwhile, the publishing apostolate continues to grow, embracing more and more people, locally and around the country.

When we chose the name “Watermead” we were asked why not simply take the name of the parish.  At that time many saintly and personal names had been mused over, but it was felt that what we were beginning was for all who wanted to be involved in sharing God’s love – and a title should not imply parochial or denominational ownership.  Over the years this name has also proved beneficial as the umbrella under which we can discreetly offer our Christian message where the Church would not normally have been received with enthusiasm.