Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 429

January 9th, 2024
pgf new year

With this first e-News of 2024, I offer my prayers for you, wishing you a very happy and grace-filled New Year. I hope you had a good celebration of Christmas and for your reflection, I attach below the Christmas homily I preached at Mass here in the Cathedral. Thank you for all your kind and generous cards, greetings, letters and gifts. As we begin 2024, we no doubt have many intentions to pray for. One immediate thought is the need to pray for peace, and providentially this coming Sunday is Peace Sunday. Let us pray for peace throughout the world, especially for an end to the war in Gaza and Palestine, and for an end to the war in Ukraine. Pax Christi have produced some prayers and resources for our use this coming week: our thanks to them. Today, in the liturgical calendar, we enter Ordinary Time. This year Lent is early and so we shall soon be at Ash Wednesday (14th February). Let us pray for all the catechumens and candidates who will be coming to the Cathedral that week for the Rite of Election and that many more people around us will, like them, come to faith in the Lord. There are a number of courses to sign up for – such as the Ananias Accompaniment course – and ways to volunteer your time, treasure and talent – for instance as a CAFOD volunteer. These are excellent means of deepening your faith. Meanwhile, thanks for all your prayers and support. Let us ask the Lord to bless the clergy and faithful of our Diocese over the weeks and months ahead as we strive ever more earnestly to bring people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.

In Corde Iesu

+ Philip

Image: FrassatiUSA

9th January 2024

Message to Clergy

From the Bishop

Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez

Earlier this week, I sent a message to our clergy, priests and deacons, about the prudent application of the recent Declaration Fiducia supplicans from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. (The picture is of Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, Prefect of the Dicastery). Here is what I wrote.
Dear Fathers and Brothers, I have been asked to give some guidance about the pastoral application to the Diocese of Portsmouth of the recent Declaration Fiducia supplicans from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Dicastery has subsequently issued clarifications as many brother bishops, clergy and laity from across the world have found the Declaration confusing. No doubt further clarifications will be needed to enable its effective reception. In the meantime, I encourage you as good pastors to continue guiding and caring for every person, and not least for those in ‘irregular unions.’ The Church, ever faithful to the teaching of the Lord and the Apostles, is unable to bless irregular unions, but it goes without saying that it is always possible to pray with individuals, couples and groups who sincerely ask for the Lord’s help and loving grace. Given the current media attention, however, and to avoid the possibility of confusion and scandal, please take particular care to ensure that your prayers and (informal) blessings never give the impression that the Church is validating or regularising an irregular union. With my prayers for you and my best wishes.
Image credit: Riccardo De Luca / AP

Fr Clement Marshall, R.I.P.

From the Bishop

fr clement marshall

Just before Christmas on Wednesday 20th December 2023,  Fr. Clement Marshall, a retired priest of the Diocese who was living in Northern Ireland, died. Please pray for the repose of his soul. His funeral was on Saturday 23rd December and he was buried at Mill Town Cemetery, Belfast. May he rest in peace. 

Fr. Clement was born on 18th March 1934 in Belfast. He joined the Missionary Company of Mary, also known as the Montfort Fathers, and was ordained to the priesthood on 21st February 1959 in Church Stretton.

He was sent on mission to the Diocese of Portsmouth in 1985. He first served as a priest-in-charge between 1985 and 1989 at St Andrew’s, Romsey. From 1989 till 1990, he was the assistant priest at St Edward’s, Windsor. Afterwards, he served as priest-in-charge at St Saviour’s, Totland Bay, from 1991 till 1999. He was incardinated in the Diocese in 1991. From 1999 till 2004 he was the parish priest of St Mary and St Philip, Fordingbridge. He retired in 2004. During his retirement he lived in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight and Romsey. Since 2011, Clement has lived in Belfast.

One of seven brothers, three of them being priests, Clement leaves behind his brother Patrick, and a number of nephews and nieces.

Let us thank God for his loving service to the people whom he was called to serve. May the Lord grant him eternal rest in the love that he so generously served through his ministry.

Hear with favour our prayers, which we humbly offer, O Lord, for the salvation of the soul of Clement, your servant and Priest, that he, who devoted a faithful ministry to your name, may rejoice in the perpetual company of your Saints.

Image credit: Brother James Hayes  (flickr.com/photos/bro_james)

Be like St. Joseph

From the Bishop

st joseph

Here is the homily I preached on Christmas Day at the Mass during the Night and at the noon Mass, here in the Cathedral.
When you look at the Christmas crib, at the BVM and the Christ-Child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger, what else do you see? Looking around, yes, the shepherds, the Three Kings, the ox and the ass, but who else? There in the background, prouder than anyone, is a strong, silent man – we have no recorded words of his – a man humble, decisive, just and holy: I mean Mary’s husband. St. Joseph was involved in all the events of Christmas: the census in Bethlehem, the birth in a stable, the homage of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, the presentation in the Temple. This man of high principles also played a key role in the hidden years of Jesus’s home life in Nazareth: His childhood, His adolescence, His human development. Joseph shared with Jesus all his love, wisdom and experience. He taught Him a trade, the value of work, how to earn a living. He socialised Jesus into the cultural and religious mores of the day. More, he gave Jesus an example of being male, a boy, a youth, an adult. Although not His biological father, in this profoundly good Foster-Father, Jesus would surely have recognised a brilliant and faithful icon of His heavenly Father. But Joseph also had one quality all of us need to learn from. Let me come back to this in a moment.
For this Christmas, there’s no shortage of grey skies, weariness, doom and gloom. There are many intentions we need to pray for: peace in the Holy Land and the release of hostages, an end to the useless war in Ukraine, better efforts to tackle climate-change, a solution to the economic crisis and the challenge of mass migration. In our own lives too, we all face many difficulties of our own. Yet as Prophet Isaiah said: The people that walked in darkness has seen a great lighton those who live in a land of deep shadow, a light has shone. Christmas is about light. It’s about hope. It’s about a new birth, a fresh start. It tells us: God has not abandoned us. He is with us. A Saviour has been born to us: Christ the Lord. Christmas reassures us that not only there is a God: He is our Father. He is on our side. He loves us, and He wants the best for us.
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Rite of Election

rite of election

Fr. Anthony Fyk, Bishop’s Secretary, shares some information about the forthcoming Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, which takes place in the Cathedral this year on 17th February at 11 am.

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion takes place at 11am on Saturday 17th February 2024, here in St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth. We are pleased to share with you information about this year’s Rite of Election for catechumens preparing to be initiated as Christians in the Roman Catholic Church and Call to Continuing Conversion for candidates – baptised Christians who are to be received into the full Communion of the Roman Catholic Church. At the Rite of Election, the Bishop, in the name of the whole Church, summons the catechumens to the Easter sacraments. In the same liturgy, he acknowledges the desire of those already baptised to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, and to share in the Eucharist.

Two forms need to be completed and returned as soon as possible to prepare for the Rite of Election: ask your priest or catechist. Form 1 is Request for permission to baptism or to receive a person above the age of reason. This form must be returned directly to the Chancellor: Rev Steven Restori by e-mail or post. Form 2 is to be completed online before the Rite of Election by the priest or catechist coordinating the catechumens and candidates. It must be submitted by Friday 9th February 2024. On the day, all catechumens and candidates must register in the Cathedral Discovery Centre between 9:30am and 10:30am, along with their godparents / sponsors. It is essential for each catechumen or candidate to be accompanied by a godparent or a sponsor. The catechumens and candidates, with their godparents and sponsors will be seated in the front benches of the Cathedral during the ceremony. The catechumens will be on one side, and the candidates on the other. During the ceremony, the catechumens will be called and their names enrolled in the Book of the Elect. The catechumens will be presented to Bishop Philip by their godparents. The candidates in their turn will be presented to Bishop Philip by their sponsors.

As in previous years, there will be a photographer. We will also be live-streaming the liturgy. Whilst candidates and catechumens will mostly have their back to the camera, we need to make you aware that there is a possibility of them being identified due to their names being called out. Please make sure you contact us if anyone is not happy to be either photographed or live-streamed.

We wish you every blessing as you accompany your catechumens and candidates on their journey of faith.

‘Ordinary’ Time?



Today, Tuesday 9th January, the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Church begins the period of the Liturgical Year known as ‘Ordinary Time’, the Sundays and weekdays per annum. The liturgical colour is green, symbolising new life and hope. The overall purpose of this season is to contemplate the life and teaching of Christ and the salvation He has won for us. The Sunday readings this year belong to Cycle B and are mostly from St. Mark. The weekday readings follow Year Two of the Lectionary Cycle. During much of history, Ordinary Time was referred to as the ‘Season after Epiphany’ and the ‘Season after Pentecost.’ It was only in 1969 when the new Liturgical Calendar took effect after the Second Vatican Council that the term ‘Ordinary Time’ came into common use in the liturgical calendar. It got its name not because it is ordinary or non-exceptional – how can any time after the Resurrection be deemed ordinary?! – but because it is ordered or numbered time, derived from ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.). The season continues until Ash Wednesday (this year 14th February), and begins again on the Monday after Pentecost (this year 20th May) until the First Sunday of Advent. It consists of 33 or 34 weeks. The last Sunday is celebrated as the Solemnity of Christ the King.
This initial period, brief this year, between Christmas and Lent can often feel like a valley. It seems to reflect a lull in the broader culture, especially in these wintry, northern latitudes. Although the days are lengthening, they can still seem short and dark. Yet during this time, when we might feel surrounded by cold and darkness, the Eucharistic liturgy seeks to give us light. It is in the Mass that we are drawn into the compelling love of Christ. During this season let us pray that God will direct all our actions so that we may abound in good works. May the Light of Christ guide our steps. For a helpful guide to Ordinary Time from Our Sunday Visitorsee here.

St. Aelred of Rievaulx



This Friday 12th January, is in England the (optional) memorial of St. Aelred of Rievaulx (1109-1166), the ‘Bernard of the North’ known, after St. Bernard, for his rich and profound teaching on friendship with Christ and with others. He was born of a noble family in Hexham and educated in Durham and in 1130 became a steward in the court of King David. Popular at court for his gentle and pious character, he left four years later for a more austere and simple life with the Cistercians at Rievaulx in North Yorkshire. In 1147 he became the Abbot and remained in this position until his death in 1166. He governed the monastery with holiness and gentleness, and it flourished under his rule becoming the largest monastic house in England at the time with over 600 monks. Towards the end of his life, he suffered very poor health and was confined to his room suffering from gout and stones. He was considered a saint even in his own lifetime. He was popular for his warm personality, respected for his intellect and counselling, and venerated for his personal holiness and preaching. Some of his writings survive, giving an indication of the breadth of his concerns. The most famous is de Spiritali Amicitia on friendship, based primarily on Cicero but also drawing on the Christian tradition of Augustine, John and Bernard. It seeks to illustrate the centrality of the person of Christ in true friendship. He also wrote de Anima which explores the nature of the soul and incorporates psychology, philosophy and theology. He wrote several lives of the Saints, most notably those of St. Edward and St. Ninian and many beautiful prayers and sermons.
Image credit: sykescottages.co.uk

St. Hilary, the ‘Athanasius of the West’


st hilary

This Saturday, 13th January, is the (optional) memorial of St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-368), known as the ‘Athanasius of the West’ for his robust teaching and, as with St. Athanasius, his dogged opposition to the heresy of Arianism. He came from a wealthy pagan parentage and trained as an orator. He got married as a young man and he and his wife had a daughter named Afra. However, his studies led him irresistibly to acknowledge the existence and providence of God and in 350 he converted to Christianity and was baptised. Three years later, although his wife was still alive, he was appointed Bishop of Poitiers. He fearlessly championed Catholic orthodoxy against the prevalent heresy of Arianism, which denied the full divinity of Christ. He ended up being exiled in Phrygia where he wrote his great doctrinal work De Trinitate. From there he attended the Eastern Council of Seleucia in 359, his arguments being so effective that the Arians appealed to the Emperor to allow this troublemaker to return from exile to Gaul. When he returned to Poitiers in 360, there was much rejoicing. Many of his writings are directed to refuting Arianism by demonstrating the divine nature of Christ. He also wrote commentaries on the Psalms and the Gospel of Matthew. Hillary’s writing style involves long and convoluted sentences which some find obscure, but three of his addresses survive that show the power and fearlessness with which he defended the true faith. During his day, he was regarded as one of the greatest theologians of the Western Church and in 1851 was named a Doctor of the Church. His feastday has traditionally been used to mark the beginning of term in some universities, hence ‘Hilary Term.’

Image: aleteia.org

The Second Sunday of the Year


jesus mosaic

This Sunday, 14th January, is the Second Sunday of the Year, or of Ordinary Time. You can find the readings for Sunday’s Mass here. On our diocesan Liturgy Project website, Fr Anthony Fyk shares these liturgical notes…

Liturgically we are now in a period of transition. From all the solemnities and feasts that we celebrated and experienced during Christmastide to the simplicity of Ordinary Time. Of course, there is nothing ordinary in time, for all time is a gift and a grace. In today’s Gospel we hear of John pointing out the Messiah – “Look, there is the lamb of God.” The same words are used in the celebration of the Eucharist at the invitation to Holy Communion – “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world…” Many texts found in the liturgy are scriptural based. The double usage of ‘behold’ is not there haphazardly, but has a function of a rhetorical force, of empathising a strong and compelling invitation to receive the Lamb of God in Holy Communion. After genuflecting, which is a gesture of reverence, the priest takes the host and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, invites the people to behold, to gaze upon the Lamb of God. As celebrants, do we really mean these words of invitation? Or do we say them out of mere habit. For the faithful, do we gaze upon the Lord with faith and trust, and accept his invitation to receive him in the Eucharist, but also to accept his invitation of following him and be his disciple. Along our pilgrim journey of life, we all struggle with our sins and we may feel unworthy at times, but we should take counsel in the words of Pope Francis, “[Jesus] knows us; he knows we are sinners; and he knows we make many mistakes, but he does not give up on joining his life to ours. He knows that we need it, because the Eucharist is not the rewards of saints, no, it is the Bread of sinners.” Today, we are called to ‘come and see’ and follow him, as we heard the disciples did. Lastly, as we are called to ‘behold’ the Lord in the Eucharist, we are also called to ‘behold’ the Lord in others, especially in the poor, sick, and the suffering. We cannot neglect this truth, for as Pope Francis has reminded us, “when those who receive [the Eucharist]turn a blind eye to the poor and suffering, or consent to various forms of division, contempt and inequality, the Eucharist is received unworthily.”

Peace Sunday 2024



This Sunday, 14th January, the Second Sunday of the Year, is also designated as Peace Sunday. It is a day of prayer for peace in the world and one of the Masses this weekend may be a Votive Mass for Peace. Each year, Peace Sunday gives every parish the chance to pray and reflect on the Pope`s Message for the annual World Day of Peace. For his theme for the World Day of Peace in 2024, Pope Francis has chosen ‘Artificial Intelligence and Peace’ (Artificial Intelligence and Peace). Governments around the world are taking the development of AI seriously. In November, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak invited experts and world leaders to a summit, expressly to look at AI and safety. Prior to the summit, he affirmed that, whilst we should not be alarmist, and that there are undoubtedly benefits for humanity in the development of AI, “get this wrong,” he said, “and AI could make it easier to build chemical or biological weapons.” In that light, Pope Francis is raising a highly contemporary theme. For many of us, the first question is: ‘what exactly is ‘Artificial Intelligence?’ Things that humans have traditionally done by thinking and reasoning are increasingly being done by, or with the help of, AI. We are already familiar with a number of its uses – internet search engines like Google, the ability of applications like Amazon, YouTube and Netflix to recommend something to buy, watch or listen to, based on our previous choices, software like ChatGPT which can generate articles and essays, or design software that can generate images.

Pax Christi have produced a series of resources to mark the day. What are our concerns as peacemakers in the development of AI? First there is the direct impact of AI on war and weapons. Drone Wars UK warn that AI is seen by the world’s military powers as a way to revolutionise warfare and gain an advantage over enemies. Worrying military applications of AI are already being rolled out and those in development pose threats to our lives, human rights and wellbeing. Then there are the fundamental concerns that Pope Francis raised when he announced his theme for the World Day of Peace: the need to be vigilant that a “logic of violence and discrimination” doesn’t take root in the development of AI at the expense of the most fragile and excluded; that the advancement of AI does not fuel injustice and inequality and therefore conflict, and, of course, that AI is developed so that it serves humanity and the protection of our common home. It is a theme we will need to keep returning to.

Pax Christi have produced a series of resources to mark the day.
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Prefaces of the Roman Missal


This week we feature Preface of the Epiphany of the Lord used at Mass this past Sunday, and a chance to look back at the three Prefaces of the Nativity of the Lord, and the two Prefaces of Advent

The Roman Mass texts for Epiphany mostly focus on the coming of the Magi, but texts of the Liturgy of the Hours, and eucharistic texts of the Ambrosian and Hispanic tradition, maintain the ancient ecumenical focus of Epiphany, not just on the Magi but on the Baptism of the Lord and the first of his ‘signs’ at Cana in Galilee. This Preface seems to act as a synthesis of all these themes, without mentioning any one of them. It terse character is typically Roman.

The Epiphany Preface in the pre-1970 Roman Missal is found in the Gelasian Sacramentary, and the Papal sacramentaries of the ninth Century. It contained the simple statement that we find in the final two lines of middle portion of the present Preface. To this the revisers added lines from a Christmas Preface in the Verona Sacramentary, celebrating the revelation ‘today’ of the mystery of our salvation as a light to the nations, a theme also found in the Preface for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on 2nd February.

The Scriptural background of these themes is that of light and revelation, as, for instance, in The Servant Song (Isaiah 42:6-7): I have made you a covenant for the people and light for the nations …  and the Canticle of Simeon ((Luke 2:29-32): … a light of revelation for the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.
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Thought for the Week

Thought for the Week


“Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the World.” 
(Pope Benedict XVI)

Vatican DDF clarifies Fiducia supplicans

Vatican and World


In a statement signed by the Cardinal Prefect and the secretary, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) clarifies that ‘Fiducia supplicans’ does not change the doctrine on marriage; that bishops are able to discern the application of the document according to context; and that pastoral blessings are not comparable to liturgical and ritualised blessings. The text of the press release concerning the reception of Fiducia supplicans was issued on 4th January 2024. You can read it here:
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Benedictine Nuns move into Mater Ecclesiae

Vatican and World

Mater Ecclesiae

Six nuns of the Benedictine Order from the Abbey of Santa Scholastica in Victoria, Argentina, accompanied by their Abbess, have been welcomed in the Vatican by the president of the Governorate. They will form a monastic community in the Monastery, which served as Benedict XVI’s home after his resignation and until his death. The Argentine Benedictine nuns invited by Pope Francis to reside in Mater Ecclesiae, the monastery in the heart of the Vatican Gardens that was the home of the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, for almost a decade after his historic resignation, arrived on Wednesday morning, January 3rd. The Pope had invited them with a handwritten letter dated October 1, 2023, and the nuns “generously accepted the invitation.” The nuns were welcomed by Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, President of the Vatican Governorate, who went to Fiumicino Airport at dawn to greet them. As stipulated by the Pope, the Governorate is responsible for all matters concerning Mater Ecclesiae. The nuns were accompanied by the Abbess of Santa Scholastica in Victoria. Upon their arrival at Mater Ecclesiae, they all visited the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens to sing and pray before the statue of Our Lady, an identical copy of the effigy venerated in Massabielle. Thus, Mater Ecclesiae, which has never ceased to be a place of prayer, has returned to being the residence of contemplative orders, as desired by Pope St. John Paul II. With the Brief “La vita contemplativa” of March 25, 1994, he canonically established a Monastery of contemplative religious in Vatican City to “support the Holy Father in his daily care for the whole Church through the ministry of prayer, adoration, praise, and reparation, thus being a praying presence in silence and solitude.” Pope John Paul II dedicated the monastery to Mary Mother of the Church; hence its name Mater Ecclesiae. According to the monastery’s statutes, there was a rotation of different monastic orders every five years. The last nuns had been there until November 2012, after which restoration work began.

Following his resignation from the papacy on February 11, 2013, Benedict XVI expressed a desire to reside in Mater Ecclesiae. After a brief stay in the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, the Pope Emeritus moved to the Monastery on May 2, 2013, where he dedicated himself to prayer, study and music until his death on December 31, 2022. Four Memores Domini, consecrated lay persons assisted him until his passing, together with his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who continued to live in the Monastery until his transfer to his home diocese in Freiburg on July 1, 2022.

Article: Vatican News. Image: CNS photo/Paul Haring

The Great Story of Jesus Retreat

Upcoming events

GSOJ retreat Day January 2024

Liza Nahajski invites you to sign up for The Great Story of Jesus Retreat to be held at St Peter’s Pastoral Centre, Winchester SO23 9SR on Saturday 13th January 2024 from 10am-4pm…

Start the new year with this retreat delivered by Sr Margarida Mondral of the Verbum Dei Community. Refresh and reboot with a renewed appreciation of the core of our faith: the gift of the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Sprit to animate our lived faith. This may appeal to all who want to reflect more deeply on Jesus and how his life relates to our lives. Please apply for a place and more details:lnahajski@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

Invitation to an online Course on Prayer

Upcoming events

Teach us to pray

Allegra Mutanda, Director of Evangelisation and Leadership at St Peter and the Winchester Martyrs will once again be leading her course on prayer themed ‘Lord, teach us to pray’, running online from Monday 15th January 2024 from 7.00-8.30pm…

Pope St John Paul II once said that ‘our Christian communities must become genuine “schools” of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly “falls in love” (NMI 33). But we know that prayer can be challenge. How or why do we pray? Through these sessions, we will not only explore different forms of prayer, but we will have the opportunity to practise together that way of praying, helping grow deeper in love with Christ.

These sessions will take place online over seven evenings from Monday, 15th January 2024, 7.00pm-8.30pm. Sessions include how to pray with Scripture, and particularly the Psalms, Intercessory prayer, Silence, and Journaling prayer.  The timing is apt especially as we prepare to enter into a Year of Prayer as announced by Pope Francis and ahead of Lent.

To register for the course, click here.

Ananias Accompaniment Courses

Upcoming events


Liza Nahajski invites you to sign up for the next Ananias Accompaniment Courses running online from Wednesday 17th January 2024 from 7-9pm…

Liza will be running a 5 week online course commencing on Wednesday 17th January 7-9pm. Learn about accompaniment, the journey into a more fulfilling relationship with Jesus, and how this can help us to sensitively accompany others on their journey. Please contact Liza if you would like to join this course or to explore bringing this to your parish. lnahajski@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

Alton Day of Renewal

Upcoming events

adore jan 24

The team at Alton Day of Renewal invite you to this month’s online meeting on Saturday 27th January

An internationally acclaimed Author, Conference Speaker and Catholic Renewal Leader will be the keynote speaker at a free mini-retreat to show how relying on the power of the Holy Spirit is vital in enabling us to respond to God’s call to be holy.

The meeting is hosted by “ADoRE”, one of the longest-running charismatic days of renewal in the country, and includes Mass, adoration, praise and worship, inspired teaching and prayer for all participants to receive the anointing and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Guest speaker on 27th January is Charles Whitehead KSG, who worked closely with Pope St. John Paul II for many years as President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Council. He also founded the popular Celebrate Family Conferences.

Charles’s talk is entitled “Chosen to be holy – transformation by the Holy Spirit” and it will be  an introductory overview of the year’s theme of holiness through the Holy Spirit.  

The Mini-retreat is on Saturday 27th January 10.00am – 1.00pm on Zoom. For full details and advance registration click here. You can find a poster here

Douai Abbey Pastoral Programme

Upcoming events


Douai Abbey offers a programme of retreats, workshops, courses and day-schools which offer the opportunity for spiritual and personal development. The focus is generally on spirituality, theology, scripture, history and ministry. They invite you to join them for a number of retreat days, beginning on Saturday 10th February

Come to Douai Abbey for a day or weekend of peaceful quiet  and join the Benedictine community at their prayer and in their lovely surroundings. A series of workshops, reflection and retreats has been prepared for Spring & Summer (click here for details),  and you will be most welcome to join in one or other of these events.  In particular there is a series of four options for Lent including A Preparation for Lent led by Abbot Paul Gunter (an expert on Liturgy) on Saturday 10th February (click here for more information).

There are also workshops & meditations on Death & Dying, on Resurrection Art & Music, on Contemplative Photography, & a workshop  for those feeling they are on the Edges of Faith. There is also a Pentecost retreat. Or just come for a quiet day or two of your own as many do.

What does it mean to be Human?

Upcoming events


Here is an invitation to something you won’t want to miss…

Start of life and end of life questions are always in the news these days, together with issues to do with gender and with mental health. All these raise the deeper question about what it means to be a human person. In response, our Diocesan ‘Dialogue with Cultural Sectors’ team is planning an exciting Symposium. It’s on Medical and Social Ethics and is called “What does it mean to be human?”. The Symposium will take place at The Arc (formerly The Discovery Centre) in Winchester (opposite St. Peter’s Catholic Church) on Saturday 16th March 2024 from 10.00 am until 4.15 pm. The Symposium features presentations from well-known experts and will be led by the popular motivational speaker, David Wells. It is open to people of all faiths and none, specialist and lay, to students and to anyone with an interest in medical and social care. The aim of the Symposium is to bring the Christian Tradition and its values into a constructive and fruitful dialogue with those of other viewpoints. Tickets cost £20, including sandwiches and refreshments, and are available on-line via Eventbrite: https://what-does-it-mean-to-be-human-symposium.eventbrite.co.uk There will be two keynote presentations: “What does it mean to be a Human Being?” (Mgr. Michael Nazir Ali) and “How significant is the Sexual Revolution?” (Ryan Christopher of ADF International). Participants can also choose two of the six workshops on offer about issues to do with the start of life and the end of life, spirituality and mental health, gender dysphoria, respect in healthcare and the value-systems in contemporary healthcare provision. More details are available on the Eventbrite site.

Image: GC University

News from the Caritas Holiday Clubs

Social Action

Holiday Clubs

Jenny LeLean, Head of Charity, Caritas Portsmouth shares news of recent Caritas Holiday Clubs

Two holiday clubs were run during the Christmas holidays in Southampton parishes with 20 children participating in a variety of activities including food preparation, art, crafts and games.

The days began with chopping vegetables to make soup and followed by creating their own toilet roll Christmas trees, marshmallow snowmen and pretzel wreathes.  After a lunch of vegetable soup and sandwiches, the afternoon sessions were filled with group games. Due to a generous donation by The Bookmark Team, every participant received a free giveaway storybook- ‘Corner Story’ at the end of the day. The children left some great feedback and parents grateful to have some activities for their children in the run up to Christmas.

  • It is a fun club and I really liked it
  • It was awesome.
  • It was the best and would like to come again!

We’d would like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers who made these events possible.

Holiday clubs or family activity drop-in sessions are a great way to get to now some of the families in your community. Get in touch if you would like to set one up in your parish at caritas@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

What is your New Year resolution?

Social Action

cafod iow

Jo Lewry asks what is your New Year resolution? Why not volunteer for CAFOD?

We have many volunteering opportunities in the Portsmouth Diocese to enable you to put your faith into action so why not come and join our team of amazing volunteers, like these parish volunteers from Isle of Wight? You can make a difference and help your brothers and sisters living in poverty overseas so please volunteer! For more information, please contact me by email jlewry@cafod.org.uk or telephone 07710 094447.

We are looking for new  school volunteers  especially in Isle of Wight, Reading, Maidenhead and Portsmouth who can visit Catholic primary schools to share assemblies and workshops about CAFOD’s work and  inspire our young people to put their faith into action. So, if you have time during to week to visit our Catholic primary and secondary schools please get it in touch to find out more. Full training and resources are provided.

Our fantastic parish volunteers help promote our Lent and Harvest family fast days in their parishes. So why not come and join our volunteering team.

“For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink” Matthew 25:35.

SVP asks “Could this be you?”

Social Action

Chidlren running across grass

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) is looking for volunteers willing to help children put their faith into action. Bethan Townsend, Young Vincentian Officer asks, “Could this be you?”  

The St Vincent de Paul Society have primary school groups called Mini Vinnies, and volunteers would support teachers or youth leaders wishing to start a group in their school or parish. They will talk to children about how they can make a difference to those living in poverty and share resources to support the group. The role is flexible but does need people with some availability during school hours (at least 2 mornings or afternoons per month) who are willing to travel within the diocese (all costs are covered). If you are passionate about helping children discover how they can make a difference in their communities, please email Sarah for more information on youngvincentians@svp.org.uk.  You do not have to have previous experience of working with children as all training will be given. Our next initial training day is on Tuesday 27th February 2024.

Helping those in need at Christmas and beyond


Jeff Sendall, Headteacher at St Thomas More’s Catholic Primary School shares news of local outreach to those in need…

St Thomas More’s, Havant, work across the year to support families in the area who are struggling to make ends meet. Throughout the year, the school asks for donations for their partnership with One Church’s ‘Love Your Neighbour Foundation’, which provides food and support to families in the local community.  Once enough items have been collected, children from the school go to the main food centre and help to sort and pack the items, ready for distribution.

As well as supporting this charity, the school gets involved with other projects throughout the year, such as raising money to source rucksacks for the homeless with things they may need. The school tries to educate children to take care of others, all year round, and this even starts as young as their Pre-School children visit a local care home to give the residents gifts or pictures they have made and to spend some time with them. This has gone down really well with the residents and is a connection which continues all year as it is not just Christmas that residents can get lonely.

Closer to Christ in Winchester



As reported in recent issues of e-News, thanks to the leadership of our priests in over 60 parishes and the extraordinary generosity of nearly 3,000 families, we are so pleased to share that we have now secured almost £11 million in pledges to the Closer to Christ campaign. This is a truly remarkable achievement and speaks to the genuine commitment to the future of our Catholic faith across our Diocese.

To date, nearly £600,000 in funds raised has been used to help fire up local initiatives and support parish projects. Here, four different parishes from across the Diocese talk about the difference that the money raised through the Campaign has been used for within their respective faith communities.

St Peter and the Winchester Martyrs parish has spent nearly £70,000 to date with Closer to Christ funding as part of the implementation of the principles of Divine Renovation across the worshipping community. Furthermore, the parish continue to plan building works for the Centenary Project in 2026, with the aim of undertaking much of the work in 2025.

You CAN quit Porn – says Fr. Mike Schmitz


fr mike schmitz

Click here for a short message from Fr. Mike Schmitz. This is not the first video on Ascension Presents about how to overcome an addiction to pornography, but it might be one of the simplest and most actionable. Since 2000, Covenant Eyes has been a leader in the online accountability space. They are the #1 App for helping people find freedom from pornography. Their accountability software monitors images on device screens and sends a report to a trusted friend (ally) who holds you accountable for both your online and offline choices. In this video, Fr. Mike invites you to consider whether it might be helpful for you to make this the next step towards freedom for you or someone you love: https://www.covenanteyes.com/how-it-works/

Image credit: Ascension Presents | Fair Use via YouTube

Praying for our Seminarians


ryan hawkes

Our Seminarian to keep in your prayers this coming month is Ryan Hawkes who is in his fourth year at the Venerable English College, Rome. His home parish is St Bede’s in Basingstoke. He writes…

When I began seminary everybody told me that ‘you have to make the most of it because the years will fly by’, and, now in my fifth year of formation and second year of Theology, I’m coming to understand what they meant! The time really does pass very quickly and is packed with wonderful experiences and opportunities, even if there are challenges long the way.

One such experience which I’m enjoying this year is my house-job: ‘Schola Master’, the director of our seminary choir. It’s really amazing to see how willing my brother seminarians are (even those who would admit to being less musically inclined than others) to throw themselves into choral singing, and the standard really is high. Before heading home for Christmas the Schola led our annual Advent carol service. This is always a highlight and we had to do it twice because of the number of guests!

At the end of this year I, along with Jack Ryan, will be admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders, all being well. This represents our last ‘step’ before ordination to the Diaconate and so holds special significance for us. The prayer and support of those back at home really does carry us through, so thank you for all that you’re doing!

Please, at this time of year, remember in prayer those who, for whatever reason and in whatever way, do not know the love of God for them, or do not receive love from others. And of course, let’s pray for peace in the Holy Land.

You can read the Vocations Prayer Newsletter for January 2024 here.

And finally…Where is this?

And finally

where 429 crop

How well do you know our diocese? Each week we share a photo from somewhere in the Diocese of Portsmouth. Your challenge is to tell us “where is this?”…

Our challenge for you last time was to identify this distinctive railing outside a church somewhere else in the Diocese – at St Edmund’s Horndean. Congratulations to Liam Olford who correctly identified it, and thanks to Michael White for sharing the photo with us.

This week’s challenge, is to identify this intricate stonework in  a church somewhere else in the Diocese, but where is this? Just email your answer to Deacon Craig by Friday 12th January 2024 for a mention in the next issue.

When you write in with your guess, why not send a photo of a feature from your own church for us to use in a future issue to help readers get to know the diocese better?