We’re now ploughing through Advent hastening towards the joys of Christmas. I wish you a happy Advent and draw your attention to some of the helpful resources below, especially the meditation from Jennifer Geach. At Christmas I’ll be sending you and everyone at Mass in the Diocese the gift of a special book (see item below). Hope you enjoy it!
Meanwhile please pray for me and for all our clergy and people at this magical time.
Have you ever had a Christmas where you felt like you were really prepared?
Have you ever had a Christmas where you walked into Christmas Mass and you felt focused and peaceful and ready?
We prepare for everything we consider important in life, and Advent is the time we prepare for Christmas.
For many people, preparing for Christmas includes shopping, baking cookies, wrapping presents, hanging decorations, and much, much more. Often these activities are stressful and chaotic, and they easily become a distraction from what Christmas is really all about.
Welcome to Best Advent Ever.
Each week founder of the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology, the theologian and best-selling author, Dr Scott Hahn, offers a wonderful reflection on the readings for the coming Sunday.
Our God is coming. The time of exile – the long separation of humankind from God due to sin – is about to end. This is the good news proclaimed in this Sunday’s liturgy.
John the Baptist shows that all of Israel’s history looks forward to the revelation of Jesus. In Jesus, God has filled in the valley that divided sinful humanity from himself. He has reached down from heaven and made His glory to dwell on earth.
Read his complete reflection for this coming Sunday - and sign up to receive the reflections each week by e-mail here.
Readers may remember that, back in Eastertide, Jennifer Geach offered us a series of reflections on the previous Sunday. I have asked her to resume these reflections for us over these weeks of Advent.
It’s important that we use this Season of Advent to prepare for Christmas, especially as this year Advent is the shortest it can be.
Here are a few more ideas to help you make the most of this time of preparation:
The USCCB website has a lot of items on Advent
The Liturgy Office of Bishops Conference of England & Wales
Dr Scott Hahn celebrates the joy of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception with this short video about God's greatest masterpiece, Mary.
This day is an important one in our diocese, for Mary Immaculate, along with St Edmund of Abingdon, is Joint Principal Patron of
the Diocese of Portsmouth.
Please pray especially this Friday for me, your bishop and for the clergy and people of our diocese and for the Mission of the Church in this place that we may all bring people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.
Being a Solemnity, the usual Friday obligation to abstain from eating meat is dispensed.
English Martyrs parish in Reading are running a campaign during Advent to raise money to support the Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS in 2014 to rebuild and return to their homes in the Ninevah Plains. The money raised will be sent to Aid to the Church in Need who are working with the Ninevah Reconstruction Committee to achieve this aim.
They will be holding a “Vigil of Light” on Sunday 10th December to focus prayer on Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith, particularly thinking of those in the Middle East. If you are able to, please consider going along or publicising this service.
More information on the event can be found here.
This Christmas, as a help to the work of evangelisation across the Diocese, I wish to give a gift to everyone who comes to Christmas Mass – not only to the regularly practising but to all the Christmas attendees.
A generous donor has provided me with 40,000 copies of Matthew Kelly’s best-selling book, Rediscover Jesus, for distribution to all the faithful of our Diocese of Portsmouth. For more on this gift, see here.
Over the next week, every parish will be receiving their allotment of books, enough for the usual numbers of practising Catholics, plus many more for the Christmas attendance. I suggest the books are handed out to each person at the end of the Christmas Masses as people leave church. Some parishes are gift-wrapping the books and others are planning to invite readers to a follow-up meeting in January to discuss it.
Hope you enjoy it. May it help all of us in our efforts at “Bringing people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.”
Congratulations to Abbot Xavier Perrin of Quarr Abbey IOW, who has just published a new book on Mary Immaculate! The book is called The Radiance of Her Face: A Triptych in Honor of Mary Immaculate. It is an enlarged version of one originally written in French, but translated expertly by Sr. Laetitia Payne of St. Cecilia’s Abbey, Ryde and Sr. Deirdre Clarke of the Ordinariate Sisters of the BVM, Birmingham. In it, Abbot Xavier paints a fresh and vivid portrait of the Blessed Virgin’s share in God’s redeeming work. He reflects on the development of Marian doctrine in the life of the Church and seeks to rekindle devotion to Mary Immaculate.
I commend this small book to you, not least because it is in honour of Mary Immaculate, Co-Patron of our Diocese. Available from Amazon and other bookstores, it would make an ideal Christmas gift!
To coincide with the launch of his new book, Abbot Xavier will give a talk on Saturday 9th December 2017 at 11am in Quarr Abbey Church on the theme: “Why is Mary's Face so Fascinating?” after which he will be signing copies of his book. Details of the event can be found here.
Paperback: 106 pages
Angelico Press (5 Nov. 2017)
The Diocesan Justice Peace and Social Responsibility Team would like to thank everyone who has worked and campaigned for justice over the last year and send good wishes for a fruitful Advent and Blessing for Christmas.
You can read their December bulletin here.
Recently, I wrote to all the MPs of our Diocese – 34 constituencies cover our area – to ask them to raise as a matter of urgency the situation in Cameroon with those responsible in our government, that pressure might be brought to bear to help resolve the tensions and difficulties being faced. Nearly all have responded and done so favourably. Here is a response typical of many:
Dear Bishop Egan
Thank you for your letter about the situation in Cameroon. I am indeed aware of the worrying situation in that country: in particular the Biya regime’s violent repression of protest against the compulsory use of French in courts and education, and of political opposition in general in the run-up to next year’s scheduled presidential election.
I have written to the Foreign Secretary pressing the points you raise, and asking him what the government is doing to help safeguard human rights, including the right to education, in Cameroon. I will send you a copy of his reply as soon as I receive it.
With best wishes.
I am intending to visit Archbishop Cornelius for a few days in early February and I will take with me the prayers and best wishes of our Diocese. Please continue to remember Cameroon and our sister diocese of Bamenda in your prayers. Let us ask the Lord for a speedy resolution of the current troubles. Please pray too for our own government and for all our Members of Parliament who represent us and labour to serve us.
Last week with a group of priests I offered Mass for Francesca and Urs Schwarzenback in their splendid family chapel at Culham Court on their estate near Henley. (Their House and home is just in our Diocese as it’s on this side of the river!) The Schwarzenbachs, who were especially good friends of Cardinal Cormac’s, are parishioners of Twyford parish and well known to Mgr. Jim Joyce and also to Sr Veronica at Kiln Green.
The chapel is stunning and well worth a visit. It is a chapel of ease within the Twyford parish and Mass is celebrated there occasionally: see the Twyford parish newsletter. The chapel is owned by the registered charity Culham Chapel Trust.
For more information, visit their website here.
Francesca and Urs Schwarzenbach are pictured with me and the other priests after our Mass.
On Monday I attended an impressive and uplifting Christmas Carol Service in the Great Hall of Reading University. The Service was led by the Anglican chaplain Rev Mark Laynesmith and prayers by Fr Stan, the Catholic chaplain to the university. About 450 people attended together with Sir David Ball the Vice Chancellor. I was invited to preach and I explored the opening Prologue of St John’s Gospel which had just been read by Sr Theodora.
You can read the sermon here.
Concern for the number of people they had seen sleeping rough, the Mini Vinnies of St John the Baptist School in Andover, held a sponsored and supervised "rough sleep over" in their school hall.
With the money which they raised they were able to supply the Two Saints hostel in Andover with forty packs of toiletries to help those coming in to the hostel.
The photo shows some of the Mini Vinnies with the toiletries packs.
For a two week period during November, St Joseph’s Day Nursery in Aldershot held a collection for the local Foodbank, focussing on things for the Christmas hampers.
Every year Farnborough Foodbank deliver Christmas hampers to over 250 families who are less fortunate than others.
This event was ideal for promoting to the children, and the parents of children, within the Nursery about helping those less fortunate and they showed massive support with their donations.
The Nursery staff would like to wish all the volunteers who help at the Foodbank and all families a very Merry Christmas.
Local M.P, Royston Smith recently visited St Mary's School. He visited to talk about resilience and his job as an MP. The students were all given a chance to ask him questions. Some of these questions were:
. Did you always want to be an MP?
. How long have been in Parliament?
. What are your views on Brexit?
. What is it like to be an MP?
. What is the hardest thing about being an MP?
Mr. Smith answered with very interesting, in-depth answers. He was first elected in 2015. He initially put his name forward in 2010 but did not succeed. After five more years of hard work, he was successful. Royston Smith was inspired by Margaret Thatcher. In his early years, he was unsure whether to run as an MP because of the tough decisions he would have to make for the community. He claims that if he had not met Margaret Thatcher, he would not have had the privilege of being where he is now.
Mr. Smith spoke to Years 3 to 6 and a group of students from the senior department when he visited. Serena, Year 3, explained, 'We learned a lot and enjoyed his visit, it was very interesting.' Kelly, Year 4, commented, 'He inspired us to work hard at all we do and to show resilience just like he did.' Orla, Year 5, reported, 'It was very inspirational and an interesting talk.' Chido, Year 6, stated, 'He has taught us how to work hard if we want to do well in the future. The whole school enjoyed Mr. Royston Smith's visit and we hope to see him again in the future. He has invited us to visit him in Westminster'
Christ the King Sunday saw the young people in Jersey involved in a walk of witness from St Patrick's Church in the East to St Thomas' in St Helier and in the rain! Then a special Mass was concelebrated in English, Portuguese and Polish by Fr Benjamin (Youth Chaplain), Mgr Nicholas and Fr Francis. Choirs from across the Island provided some inspiring music. It was lovely to see so many second year Confirmation Youth coming to participate in this special occasion.
Our Lady & St Edmund Parish, Abingdon has been awarded to receive the CAFOD Live Simply Award. Two assessors visited the parish and went through the parish report on LiveSimply activities in the parish for the past year as well as viewing the church and grounds. After a question and answer session with the four members of the Live Simply steering group, together with a representative of the PPC and Fr Jamie, the assessors reported back to CAFOD and recommended the Parish for the award. A plaque marking this success will be presented to the Parish later. Well done to the Live Simply team and many many thanks to everyone for your support throughout the Year.
I would like to encourage all readers to send in items for the e-News about events in parishes, pastoral areas and schools about the many sacramental celebrations and general good news about people in the diocese.
I often hear much Good News from many people - do share it with us so we can share it with others in the diocese.
Thanks, of course, to all who already contribute articles for the e-News on an occasional or regular basis.
Please e-mail all news items by Friday for consideration for the following week's issue to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a Parish or Diocesan event to advertise, please complete this form.
Thursday 7th December
Trustees meeting, Bishop’s House
Vicars General meeting, Bishop’s House
Friday 8th December
Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception,
St John’s Cathedral, 12:15pm
Religious visitation: Handmaids of Sacred Heart, Boscombe
Sunday 10th - Monday 11th December
Bishops’ Gathering, Bristol
Thursday 14th December
Bishop’s Council meeting, Bishop’s House
Saturday 16th - Sunday 17th December
Parish visitation: Our Lady of Lourdes and St Swithun’s, Southsea
24th - 27th December
Christmas at Cold Ash
Monday 8th January 2018
Winchester Catholic History Group
Talk on The Vowess, A Forgotten Vocation by Dr Laura Wood
St Peter's Church, Winchester
Saturday 27th January 2018Alton Day of Renewal
Part time - 14 hours per week (Thursday and Friday)
The Catholic Academies & Schools Office (CASO) in Portsmouth are looking to appoint an Administrative Assistant to support their work with the schools in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth. This will be an interesting and varied role and would be suitable for an existing Clerk to the Governors, or those with an interest in school administration.
Closing date for applications: Thursday 18th January 2018
Interview date: Wednesday 24th January 2018
Part time - 13.5 per week to be worked over 3 days, plus approximately 12 hours per year (taking minutes at 6 evening meetings).
The Parish of Sacred Heart, Bordon and St Joseph, Grayshott, is seeking a skilled and enthusiastic person to be Parish Secretary. The role is to provide high quality support in all aspects of administration to the Parish Priest. Previous secretarial experience and broad computer literacy essential.
Closing date for applications: Wednesday 20th December 2017
Interview date: Tuesday 9th January 2018 (at Sacred Heart Church Hall, Bordon).
Part time - 6 hrs per week to be worked at times required ensuring effective financial administration of the Parish (Flexible working to be agreed).
The Parish of Corpus Christi in Wokingham is looking to appoint a part time Parish Bookkeeper to provide financial services to the Parish.
Commencement Date: As soon as possible
Closing date for applications: Monday 15th January 2018 (4.00pm)
Interviews will take place on: Wednesday 7th February 2018
Full time - 37 Hours per Week, Term time only
The Governors are looking to appoint a Lay Chaplain for the school in the Spring Term 2018. The position has arisen as the previous post holder has retired, following eight years of service with the school. The successful candidate will be a Catholic and will contribute to the spiritual formation of the school.
Closing Date: Monday 18th December 2017
Interview Date: January 2018
The repose of the souls of all who have died recently and for all those killed through acts of warfare, violence, terrorism and natural disaster. For all departed clergy and people of the diocese and for all the Faithful Departed. Requiescant in pace.
For the work of Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth and Caritas Jersey and those with whom they work.
We receive a lot of adverts for events. If you would like to advertise an event, please fill out this form here