I wish you a very happy and grace-filled second week of Advent! I also pray for your safety in the cold snap we are having at the moment. It’s a very short Advent this year because Christmas falls on the Monday immediately after the Fourth Sunday. Even so, try to find a bit of peace and quiet in the midst of all the Christmas shopping and other preparations, so you can pray and be with the Lord. I always think of Advent as the best season for devotion to the Blessed Mother. Why not say the Angelus each day to ask Her help? May She bring you, and all of us, closer to Jesus Her Son.
God bless you all.
This coming Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, is known as Gaudete Sunday from the Introit at Mass:
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.
The mysterious figure of John the Baptist, introduced in last week’s readings, comes into sharper focus on the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Who he is, we see in this Sunday's Gospel, is best understood by who he isn’t.
John prepares the way for the Lord. His baptism is symbolic, not sacramental. It is a sign given to stir our hearts to repentance.
John comes to us in the Advent readings to show us the light, that we might believe in the One who comes at Christmas.
Read his complete reflection for this coming Sunday - and sign up to receive the reflections each week by e-mail here.
In her second Advent Reflection, Jennifer Geach considers the Immaculate Conception which we celebrated last Friday.
Sometimes when God tells us to wait he wants us to actively receive his grace for that moment. This is especially true during Advent.
In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz encourages us to prepare our souls for the arrival of Christ as we wait for Christmas Day.
Here is the splendid Collect prayer for us to say. It is used at mass on Monday Advent Week III:
Incline a merciful ear to our cry, we pray, O Lord,
and, casting light on the darkness of our hearts,
visit us with the grace of your Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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.”
Make sure you get your copy.
I am pleased to announce that at long last, after extensive discussion and consultation, we will be launching in the New Year a new Diocesan Pastoral Council. This consultative body will meet four or five times a year in order to “investigate and consider matters relating to pastoral activity and to formulate practical conclusions” (cf. Can. 512 §1). The Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops (Apostolorum Successores) explains clearly what the purpose and structure of such a Council should be: for more on this see here.
In our diocese, the main objective of everything we do is that of new evangelisation, bringing people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church. This I intend to make the main focus of the new Council. It will function as a Diocesan ‘Evangelisation Strategy Team’ under my chairmanship, whilst working in close liaison with Fr. Mark Hogan, the Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation. I will soon be contacting Coordinating Pastors to ask them to nominate members of Pastoral Area ESTs willing to serve. There will also be an annual gathering of the Council open to anybody actively involved in the work of evangelisation across the Diocese. My hope and prayer is that the Council will “truly reflect the People of God” (cf. Can. 512 §2) and play a key role in helping us all discover what the Lord is calling us to.
More details will be announced in due course in e-News.
I was recently interviewed by Aba Shields, our Diocesan Marriage and Family Life Project Worker.
Next October in 2018, the Holy Father has convened a Synod of Bishops in Rome on the topic of Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. The Vatican has sent out a Preparatory Document for discussion: you can read it here. Meanwhile, as mentioned in an earlier e-News, a petition is being put together to be sent to the Holy Father asking him to canonise the Patron of our Youth, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati either at the Synod itself or at the World Youth Day in Panama in March 2019. The petition is gaining numbers – you can read an article about it here. Do sign it if you can: you can sign it here.
Finally, I came across a splendid page on Blessed Pier Giorgio on the “Catholic Singles” website: click here.
BITL - the Beaulieu Institute for Theological Literacy - is part of the strategic vision of Beaulieu Convent School Jersey, part of the way the school sees itself as fitting into the mission of the local Church and culture in Jersey, and the wider Church in the Diocese of Portsmouth. BITL is seen as a response to my invitation to place schools, with their unique position in society, at the heart of the Church’s New Evangelisation.
Read more here.
I warmly commend to you this scholarly work on the great and saintly English writer, journalist, poet and Christian apologist, G.K. Chesterton, his life, his thought, his writings by Fr Paul Rowan, Assistant Head (Director of Catholic Life and Formation) at Beaulieu Convent School in Jersey. Fr Rowan's book, The Scrappy Evangelist: Chesterton and a New Apologetics for Today is an important contribution to Chesterton studies.
Read more here.
There are lots of photos from the celebration here.
For the 5 weeks of November in Avon Stour Pastoral Area, 112 people have participated in one of 14 house-groups spread across all six parishes, held on different days of the week, some in the morning, some afternoon and some evening. Come to the Feast focuses each week on a different part of the Mass, and the aim was to draw people into a deeper understanding and richer experience of coming to Mass. 26 parishioners were trained as small-group facilitators and 16 people opened their homes to host a weekly group.
Read the full story here.
There has been lots of laughter in the air around Our Lady of Sorrows in Fordingbridge and Sacred Heart Ringwood.
Parishioner Helen Eales brought an interesting idea to their churches. “Let’s Twin our Toilets” she said. With somewhat amused faces they agreed to raise money so that their toilets could be twinned with those in an impoverished area. 2.3 billion people don’t have somewhere safe to go to the toilet, something we take for granted every day.
Toilet Twinning is part of the Christian development agency Tearfund which is a water and sanitation charity initiative to flush away the world’s toilet trouble. They raise funds to help build latrines in some of the poorest areas of the world. It is funding projects across Africa, Asia and America.
Their parish toilets are now twinned with a small village in the Central African Republic where only 35% of the population have access to safe water and only 27% have proper sanitation. Diarrhoeal diseases are the second leading cause of death in this area. The average life expectancy is only 54 years old for women and 51 years for men.
For more information on the Toilet Twinning project please visit this website.
Seafarers docked at the port of Southampton have expressed their thanks to the parishioners of the diocese who have donated Christmas gifts for distribution by the Apostleship of the Sea. Deacon Roger Stone is currently taking bags of presents every day onto ships, along with prayer cards as well as sim cards to help seafarers make contact with home. He plans to continue work as normal even on Christmas Day.
Deacon Roger, along with his assistant, Peter Morgan, managed to get on board 1100 of the ships that came into the port last year, interacting with thousands of seamen, many of them Indian and Filipino. “The challenge of this work is not having enough time. Going onto a ship it’s important for it not to be just a fleeting visit. It needs to be quality time with the chance for the seafarers to open up and share concerns” said Deacon Roger, who's been involved in this ministry for eight years. "These men can't get to church so we are, in effect, bringing the church to them."
Over 3,000 refugees are currently sleeping rough in Northern France, and temperatures are rapidly dropping. There are minors as young as 13, and they have no access to clean clothes, water or shelter. So this holiday season our goal is to provide each and every one of these refugees with a warm winter coat. To do this we URGENTLY need your help.
Could you look in your cupboards for a winter coat that you no longer wear?
Take a picture of yourself holding up this coat and post it on social media with a message such as: “Show you @Care4Calais by donating a coat to a refugee this winter. Here’s my #Coat4Calais”
You can donate at: 147 Greenhill Road, Winchester SO22 5DU or, if you can’t give a coat, simply visit here and buy a coat for a refugee for just £25.
Could your parish do something similar to help refugees in Calais or the local homeless?
Lets keep people warm this winter!
13-20 December: Chanukah
The Jewish Festival of Lights which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was recaptured from the Syrian Greeks by the Maccabee brothers in about 162 BCE. For the eight evening of the festival, candles are lit from right to left in a hanukkiah, a nine-branched menorah; one candle for each evening. The ninth candle is the shamash (the servant candle) from which the other candles are lit. Foods cooked with oil are traditional to remember the miracle with oil that kept the Temple lights burning so many years ago.
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: email@example.com
If you have a Parish or Diocesan event to advertise, please complete this form.
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
Monday 18th December
NET Ministries Meeting, Bishop’s House
Meeting with the Director of Permanent Diaconate, Bishop’s House
Tuesday 19th December
Curia Christmas Party, Bishop’s House
Friday 22nd December
Seminarians Christmas Gathering, Bishop’s House
24th - 27th December
Christmas at Cold Ash
Saturday 6th January 2018
ABLAZE! Catholic Music ConcertBethel Convention Centre, West Bromwich
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 Canonisation of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Patron of our Youth.
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.
The work of the Apostleship of the Sea.
The work of Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth and Caritas Jersey and those with whom they work.
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