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Ilford Catholic cricketers are left inspired by memorable and unique trip to Vatican

PUBLISHED: 08:25 20 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 22 October 2018

Ilford Catholic players outside the Vatican church

Ilford Catholic players outside the Vatican church

Archant

Ilford Catholic Cricket Club enjoyed a memorable short tour to Rome to play two matches, but also have a private mass at St Peter's Church and dinner at the Pontifical College.

Ilford Catholic face the camera with their opponentsIlford Catholic face the camera with their opponents

The group were welcomed by Sally Axworthy MBE, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, and had afternoon tea overlooking the city where she talked about the embassy’s work in the region.

Members explained how the club – celebrating its centenary in 2020 – had developed in recent years, before a private tour of St Peter’s the next day.

A private mass at the old St Peter’s church was guided by Father Sameer Advani, whose incredible knowledge had the team mesmerised as they took in the history of the Basilicia.

And the tourists then took on the strong Capannelle CC at the only cricket ground in the region, overlooked by the race course, and posted a competitive 111, as Mulholland and Shiva top scored.

Ilford Catholic players with Sally Axworthy MBE, British Ambassador to the Holy See at the VaticanIlford Catholic players with Sally Axworthy MBE, British Ambassador to the Holy See at the Vatican

Capannelle lost several wickets in reply, but managed to reach their target with an over to spare.

The next day saw Catholic return to the same ground to play Vatican side St Peter’s, who they restricted to 97 with a good bowling and fielding display. But the tourists came up 11 runs short of their target.

The trip ended with evening prayers at the Pontifical College, the home of over 100 Seminarian priests and one of several in Rome, and was capped off with speeches from Father Eamonn O’Higgins and Father Advani and a presentation of gifts from both sides. Club chairman Vince Mulholland said: “As we approach our 100th year anniversary in 2020 we were incredibly fortunate and honoured to be invited on this tour and be given the opportunity to meet the British Ambassador and have an exclusive offer of a private mass at the Vatican.

“The trip for us was always so much more than a couple of games of cricket, it was indeed a pilgrimage in many ways and the experience the group had at times left them completely awe-struck and speechless.

Ilford Catholic played against St Peter'sIlford Catholic played against St Peter's

“It was a very unique and inspiring trip, and something that the whole team will remember for many years to come. We are very thankful to our hosts and also to Robyn Hulley from Essex CC who assisted us in the organisation of the tour.”

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