I’ve just returned from a remarkable weekend in Hasselt, Belgium, where I was invited to an event to mark the 700th anniversary of the Eucharistic Miracle there. The event, which included a festal Mass and a Eucharistic Procession through the streets, included an international symposium on the Eucharist at which I was one of the speakers. The paper I gave was called “The Eucharist, Highlight of the Church and Source of the New Evangelisation” and I will post it shortly on our diocesan website. The aim of the symposium was to cultivate a greater love for the Mass. Eucharistic practice in Belgium is currently just 1% but this event in Hasselt drew a crowd much larger than the organisers were expecting.
Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying the summer! Later in the year, we’re organising a big “Discipleship Day” in Winchester. It will be on Saturday 18th November - please mark the date in your diary now!
Finally, prayers and best wishes to all grandparents for Grandparents Day, the feast of SS. Joachim and Anne (see below)!
"I want to encourage everyone to visit – if possible, every day – especially amid life’s difficulties, the Blessed Sacrament
of the infinite love of Christ and His mercy, preserved in our churches, and often abandoned, to speak filially with Him,
to listen to Him in silence, and to peacefully entrust yourself to Him”
Because Adoration of the Eucharist deepens our relationship with Christ, it enables us to be more effective disciples who will be better able to lead others to the life of the Church that has the Eucharist at its heart.
Wednesday 26th July is the memorial of St Joachim and St Anne, parents of Mary, grandparents of Jesus. Please give thanks to God and pray for all grandparents, living and deceased, for the gift of faith they have helped pass on to their children and grandchildren.
You can read more about St Joachim and St Anne here.
I have made some further new clergy appointments in the diocese, which take effect from 8th September 2017.
Please pray that in the new appointments the Lord will bless these pastors and their communities abundantly.
Fr John Lavers will become Parish Priest of St. Anne and St. Mary Magdalen, Alderney. I am especially grateful to him for this as it enables the community of Alderney to have a full-time resident priest. Meanwhile, my gratitude to Canon Michael Hore and the clergy of Guernsey for their ministry there these last years.
I am also grateful to Fr PJ Smith for accepting the appointment as Coordinating Pastor for the Solent Pastoral Area.
I am sorry to announce that Fr Vitalis Kondo MSP will be leaving the diocese in September. He has been asked to take up a new ministry by the Missionary Society of St Paul. I am very grateful to him for his service in our Diocese, for all his work in the Horndean parish and for establishing the Nigerian chaplaincy.
Oscott Seminary have introduced a preparatory year for men discerning a call to the Permanent Diaconate.
Its aim is to help candidates better understand the reality of a vocation to Holy Orders and to discern whether this is what God is calling them to. There will be Parish based pastoral elements, spiritual formation and intellectual input given through teaching, seminars and discussions.
Wives of prospective candidates will also be supported during these days and are encouraged to attend. Attendance at these days does not commit an individual to beginning the formation program, but is part of the overall selection process.
This is your last chance to book to join me on Pilgrimage to Lourdes from 18th - 25th August.
You can still book up until 31st July - but only if you don’t require assistance.
We are short on helpers this year (for the first time ever) so we can, unfortunately, no longer accept bookings from Assisted pilgrims.
At the request of the Holy Father, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has recently written to Diocesan Bishops to remind them that as principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, moderator, promoter and guardian of the liturgical life in the Church entrusted to their care, they are to watch over the quality of the bread and wine to be used at the Eucharist. In summary the Holy Father has not sought to change or modify the existing provisions which remain as follows.
With regard to legitimate variations in the use of bread with a small quantity of gluten and the use of mustum as Eucharistic matter the norm remains as follows: for the celebration of the Eucharist by persons who, for varying and grave reasons, cannot consume bread made in the usual manner nor wine fermented in the normal manner:
a) Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.
b) “Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.
c) The Ordinary is competent to give permission for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist. Permission can be granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission.
In responding to this ‘news story’ Coeliac UK’s website both acknowledges the no-change position and notes: “There are communion wafers available on the market that have a minimum content of wheat sufficient to be considered acceptable to the Catholic Church rules”. Their website also provides a list of companies supplying such hosts. For more info:
Please pray this week for the members of the Neocatechumenal Way who are undertaking a remarkable evangelisation initiative called “2 by 2.”
The initiative began this last weekend after a two day retreat and a celebration of the Eucharist presided over by Bishop John Sherrington in London. 150 people from Neocatechumenal communities in this country (priests, seminarians, catechists, families in mission and young people) are going in pairs, two men or two women, without money and mobile phones, carrying just the Bible, the breviary, a crucifix and the rosary to all parts of England and Wales. They will rely totally on God who sent them to provide for them.
Relying on the providence of God, during the whole week they are announcing the Good News of God's love to the people they meet. Many of the pairs have begun their mission by visiting the Bishop or the Cathedral in order to introduce themselves.
The week will conclude on Sunday 30th July when the pairs will return from their visits and gather together again to listen to their experiences of evangelisation. On Wednesday 2nd August in the morning there will be the celebration of the Eucharist at the conclusion of this experience.
Please pray for the families of the Neo-Catechumenal Way that we have here in Paulsgrove in our Diocese. There are four families on mission, with two religious sisters and Fr. Vittorio their chaplain. The families are now establishing themselves and are now well-known in the parish. May God bless them with his grace and Love.
During this Centenary Year, the World Apostolate of Fatima statue of Our Lady of Fatima is on a journey around the cathedrals of England and Wales along with relics of recently canonised St Jacinto and St Francisco Marto.
The statue and relics will be visiting St John's Cathedral here in Portsmouth from Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th August.
Please support and advertise this event across the diocese.
The Called and Gifted process has started at St. Edmund’s Southampton. The parish requested that “retreat elements” such as scriptural meditations and personal reflection times were added to the normal teaching. These parts were led by Geoff and Gina Poulter on a very hot June weekend. The feedback on the two days was excellent:-
“The teaching was great, enjoyed spending time with the community and sharing our faith.”
“It was inspiring and has built my confidence in my calling.”
“I came because I will never forget the look in my friend’s eyes when he had finished the process, and I am fascinated to know what God is calling me to do.”
“This is helping me follow Jesus more closely, find out the purpose of my life, and my role in the new evangelisation.”
“I am beginning to see the gifts that God has given me and how I can use them to serve others.”
This last week, I had a visit from Fr. Paul Preaux, the Moderator General of the Community of St. Martin. The Community is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the Church in France at the moment, and last February with Canon Paul Townsend and Sr. Hyacinthe, I had the joy of visit them and seeing things for myself. You may remember the photos from Evron in the eNews at the time! The seminary at Evron forms priests to serve in dioceses mainly in France, where the priests live in communities of three or four, serving in parishes and undertaking whatever work or projects the diocesan bishop asks of them.
Members of the Community have a distinctive love of the Liturgy and the priesthood, with a strong emphasis on the sacred identity of the priest and his constant renewal. They now serve in many dioceses in France. What struck me was the youthfulness of the students and the fact that there were over 100 of them. Fr. Paul was telling me that already for this autumn there are another 15 seminarians joining the community. He has a problem in that he is not sure where to house them.
Fr Brian Coogan, celebrating 70 years, and Fr Joe Gruszkiewicz celebrating 32 years of priesthood concelebrated Holy Mass on 7th July at the church of The Sacred Heart in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight with Fr Rob Stewart, just two weeks a priest, having been ordained at the Cathedral on 25th June.
Please pray regularly for all our priests and for vocations to the Sacred Priesthood.
More information to follow, but please keep the date free.
I’ve just started reading Sherry Weddell’s latest book, called Fruitful Discipleship. Living the Mission of Jesus in the Church and in the World. Like her previous Forming Intentional Disciples (2012) and Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples (2015), it is published by Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana) and is available from, among other sellers, Amazon. Its ten chapters take up many of her previous themes, but this book is particularly focused on the charisms God has given each one of us for service and mission. It is a must for anyone interested in the Called and Gifted Programme.
Weddell’s theme is based on the saying of Jesus in John 15: 8 “It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.” She describes how the Holy Spirit is working in all the baptised, calling and gifting us to say “YES” in ways that answer someone else's prayers and fuel the mission of the whole Church. God has chosen to be present in the world through the faith and obedience of missionary disciples who witness to Jesus Christ and bear abundant fruit.
Please send these rosaries to:
Michael Blackburn, 164 Green Park Road, Halifax HX3 0SP.
For more information, please contact Michael on 01422 352559 or via e-mail.
Congratulations to St George Catholic College in Southampton who have received an 'Outstanding' grade in all categories of its recent Section 48 Diocesan Validation. This is the first time in the history of the school that it has achieved this grading. The school was praised for its leadership, teaching in the RE department as well as the spiritual and moral values it promotes.
This past year has been particularly blessed with the Jubilee Day of Mercy for Secondary Schools which the Papal Nuncio, Baroness Caroline Cox and Magnus McFarlane Barlow, founder of Mary's Meals, attended with me. The Vatican also granted the school a Holy Door for the day.
In addition notable speakers such as Fr Nick King SJ , Fr Andrew Pinsent , the Iraneaus Community, the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima and relics of Sts Jacinta and Francisco as well as Charismatic Renewals weekend event 'Celebrate' have relocated to the school, all during a very busy year.
We thank Our Lord Jesus for His continued blessing on all of us and we ask for the guidance of The Holy Spirit and the Intercession of Our Lady as the school continues in its important mission of making Jesus known and loved to our young people and beyond.
Harvester Catholic Men's Weekend
High Leigh Centre, Hoddesden
National Justice & Peace Conference:
A Sabbath for the Earth and the Poor
the challenge of Pope Francis
The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire
Saturday 22nd July
Alton Day of Renewal
23rd - 29th July
Don Bosco Summer Camp
St Cassian's Kintbury
29th - 31st July
Voices of the Organ
Inauguration of the Restored Mutin-Cavaillé-Coll Organ of Quarr Abbey
St John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham
Wednesday 9th August
Retreat Day for the Deaf
St John’s Cathedral and Discovery Centre Portsmouth
Saturday 12th August
Special Centenary Mass for the
Centenary of Bl. Oscar Romero
12.30pm St George’s Cathedral, Southwark
(followed by Reception in the Amigo Hall)
Saturday 12th August
Franciscan Celebration Called to be Presence in the World
Monday 14th - Thursday 17th August
Faith Summer Break
Residential faith camp for children aged 11-15
Friday 18th - Friday 25th August
Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes
Saturday 19th August
Alton Day of Renewal
Monday 21st - Friday 25th August
Fanning the Flame - Hampshire Camp
Saturday 9th September
Diocesan Day for Altar Servers
Saturday 9th September
Blessed Oscar Romero Walking Pilgrimage
St Joseph's Church, Havant to St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth
Saturday 23rd September
Evensong: National Ecumenical Celebration
for the Centenary of Bl. Oscar Romero
3.00pm at Westminster Abbey.
(This event is free entry but requires booked tickets.)
Sunday 24th September
International Migrant Mass
St John's Cathedral, 2pm
Sunday 24th September
Annual walk from Ryde to Quarr Abbey
30th September - 1st October
Saturday 21st October
National Altar Servers' Mass
Westminster Cathedral, 2.30pm.
Saturday 18th November
More details soon!
Thursday 27th July
Church Leader’s Meeting, Bishop’s House, Portsmouth
Friday 28th July
Meetings, Channel Islands
Saturday 29th July
Meetings with potential seminarians, Bishop’s House, Portsmouth
Monday 31st July
Various meetings, Bishop’s House, Portsmouth
Tuesday 1st August
Visit to the Oratory in Formation, Bournemouth
Friday 4th August
Various meetings, Bishop’s House, Portsmouth
The repose of the souls of all who have died recently, especially those killed through acts of warfare, violence, terrorism and natural disaster. Requiescant in pace.
For all clergy preparing to move to new appointments and for their parishes.
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