Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 430
As the weather takes on a wintry feel, I welcome you to this week’s issue of e-News with a collection of news and views from across the Diocese of Portsmouth. Our headline news is the forthcoming Jubilee Year, and you can read the letter I have written to the clergy and laity of the Diocese. As we prepare for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins on Thursday, I encourage you to pray for this important intention. You can also read about my visit to welcome the new Anglican Bishop of Winchester. I also invite you to join us for an exciting Symposium on medical ethics. Meanwhile, this coming week we have a rich collection of saints to intercede for us, and then on Sunday we keep the Sunday of the Word of God. There is a call from the Bishops’ Conference to support the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal and also an appeal from newly appointed Canon James McAuley, the Cathedral Dean, to support this weekend’s Second Collection for the Cathedral and an invitation from the Rector of the National Shrine at Walsingham to visit on pilgrimage. Have a blessed week ahead. Prayers for you – and please pray for me.
In Corde Iesu
You can read this week’s e-News in full here.
Image: Portsmouth News / Mike Knee
From the Bishop
Pope Francis has declared 2025 to be a Jubilee Year, entitled ‘Pilgrims of Hope’ and this year, 2024, is to be a Year of Prayer in preparation. To mark this, I write below a Letter to Clergy and Laity about what the Jubilee Year is. I also ask everyone this Year to reflect on the ‘Our Father’ and the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy.
As we embark on the new year 2024, the Holy Father has invited us to prepare for the Jubilee Year of 2025, entitled ‘Pilgrims of Hope’. In his letter promoting the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis recalls the suffering and hardships that many of us experienced during the pandemic. In a time where many countries also suffer the effects of war and the climate crisis, Pope Francis sees the Jubilee Year 2025 as an opportunity to restore hope, a time of renewal and rebirth. The Jubilee Year will begin on 24th December 2024, with the opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica and will draw to a close on the feast of Epiphany, January 2026.
In preparation for the Jubilee Year, the Pope has proclaimed this year 2024 to be a year of prayer in preparation. It will focus on that prayer given to the disciples, the ‘Our Father.’ The Our Father not only reminds us that God is our Father but also reminds us of the union we share as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The word jubilee derives from the Hebrew, ‘Jobel’, which means ‘a ram’s horn.’ The instrument would be blown indicating the start of the year. In the Old Testament, for the Israelites, the jubilee was a time of universal pardon. In the Book of Leviticus, the Lord says, “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.” The year was seen as a time to re-establish relationship with God, with each other, and creation. This would see misappropriated land returned to their owners, debts forgiven, Hebrew slaves set free, and a fallow period for the land to recover. In the New Testament, on the Sabbath day in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus reads the Jubilee prophecy (see Luke 4:16-21) from the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2) and proclaims that it would be fulfilled through him, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…” The true jubilee is Jesus Christ himself. While in the jubilee of old slaves were set free from bondage and united with their families and homeland, in Jesus, we are freed from the bondage of sin and death. Jesus unites us to our true family, the family of God (the Church), and to our true homeland, heaven.
Read the letter here.
From the Bishop
This Thursday 18th January, we begin a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Christian Unity is one of my spiritual passions and I thank God for the ecumenical friendships I have, with the Hampshire Church leaders and not least with Bishop Jonathan, the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth (pictured). Pope Francis sees working for unity as a priority and the Synod of Bishops in Rome last October, graced by the presence of ecumenical delegates, re-affirmed that “what unites us is greater than what divides us. For in common we have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, among all and in all” (Ephesians 4:5-6)” The obligation to work for unity comes from the Lord Himself. On the night before He died, Jesus prayed to the Father asking “… that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17-20). Those six words “That they may be one” have become a useful shorthand for the ecumenical movement but they are much more than that: they are a divine command. Of course, Jesus also makes it clear that the unity for which he prays is not an end in itself, but that it is needed “so that the world may believe”.
I know that many of you too not only recognise God’s will in your search for unity, but also hold His command close to your hearts. The consultation for the diocesan ten-year plan You Will be My Witnesses provoked a number of comments about the significance of “doing together that which we do not need to do apart” (to paraphrase the late Cardinal Hume) and in the plan (page 49 – “Church Beyond Walls”) you will read that “The positive experience of working with other Christians was a theme throughout our consultations.” One of the concrete Actions in the Plan calls for every parish to “Participate in joint service and mission to the wider local community through Churches Together.” So I leave you with an invitation – or, if you prefer, a challenge. If your parish isn’t currently a member of a local churches group, how might it get involved? And, if such a group does not yet exist in your area, or maybe it has been “resting” for a while, could your parish take the lead in setting up or rejuvenating a new Churches Together Group? Finally, if your parish is already an active participant in Churches Together, how could you contribute personally? [Image: Diocese of Portsmouth]
From the Bishop
Last Saturday, I was invited to Winchester for the Service of Welcome to the new Anglican Bishop of Winchester, Bishop Philip Mountstephen. He was until recently the Bishop of Truro but in a very impressive ceremony this last weekend he was installed as the successor to the previous incumbent, Bishop Tim Dakin. Bishop Philip was born in Hampshire and studied English Literature at the University of Southampton where he came to Christian faith. Following a short career in teaching, he was ordained in the Diocese of Oxford in 1988, where he also served his curacy. From 1992 to 1998, he was the vicar of St James Church, West Streatham in the Diocese of Southwark. He also held posts as Deputy General Director at the Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS), chaplain of St Michael’s Church, Paris, ministering in English and French and supporting the church’s Tamil refugee congregation, and CEO of the Church Mission Society (CMS). He became the Bishop of Truro in 2018. During that time he chaired a review into the Foreign Office’s response to global Christian persecution, which led to the passing of a new UN Security Council Resolution. Philip is married to Ruth, a strategic planner who has worked in the NHS, local government and charity sector, and they have a married daughter, Kitty.
I look forward to meeting him regularly at our Hampshire Church Leaders meetings and on other occasions. Let us pray for him, not least during this week of prayer for Christian Unity. In the picture above, after he had taken his oaths in St. Lawrence’s church before processing to the Cathedral, I am formally assuring him of the prayers of the Catholic community. [Image: Hampshire Chronicle]
From the Bishop
The Diocese has organised an exciting Symposium and discussion day on medical and health-care ethics 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. Start of life and end of life questions are always in the news these days, together with issues to do with gender and mental health. All these raise the deeper question about what it means to be a human person. The Symposium is called “What does it mean to be human?” and features presentations from well-known experts, led by the popular motivational speaker and presenter, David Wells. It is open to people of all faiths and none and there will be something here for both specialists and lay, students and anyone with an interest in medical and social care. The aim is to bring the Catholic Tradition and its values into a constructive and fruitful dialogue with people of other viewpoints. Tickets cost £20, including sandwiches and refreshments, and are available on-line via Eventbrite.
It promises to be a fascinating day. To give you an idea, 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 then choose two of the six workshops on offer. The Workshops are The Human Person: United or Divided? (Dr. Catherine Knowles), Abortion: The Unseen Grief (Rachel MacKenzie), Mental Health and Spirituality (Dr. Gerard Fieldhouse-Byrne), Dysphoria v. Ideology: Walking the Gender Tightrope (Dr Collette McGovern), The End of Life: Fact and Fiction in the novel The Beast of Bethulia Park (Simon Caldwell) and Should Religion and Spirituality have a role in Healthcare Provision? (Dr Maria Lynch.). More details are available on the Eventbrite site. [Image: Nurses Group UK]
From the Bishop
At Midnight Mass here in the Cathedral, I was pleased to announce the recommendation of the Provost and Chapter of Canons that I appoint Fr. James McAuley to the Chapter. His installation will be at the next Chapter Mass on Tuesday 5th March 2024. The Chapter has a special role in the liturgical life of the Cathedral and in its general care, and its members are always special advisors to the Bishop on all sorts of pastoral matters. As the Dean of the Cathedral, it is great to have Fr. James in the Chapter as he is involved in the day to life of the Cathedral and the parish. So as we look forward to the installation, many congratulations to “Canon” James and the promise of our prayers.
From the Bishop
Here is the homily I preached at the 8 am Mass in the Cathedral this last Sunday, 14th January, the Second Sunday of the Year.
Recently a group of youngsters asked me when I first wanted to become a priest. I first thought about it at the age of 11. The Vocations Director had visited school and he gave an inspiring talk. That summer our family went on holiday to Ilfracombe in North Devon. I really liked it, so when we got back, I wrote to the Bishop of Plymouth to say I wanted to become a priest, in Ilfracombe. He wrote a nice letter back, but saying basically, grow up first, then write again. It was only years later at university in London, that the Lord put the thought of being a priest back in my head.
Here I am Lord! I come to do your will. The Readings today are about vocation. The First Reading is one of the most tender passages in the Old Testament: the call of Samuel, a young boy, to whom God suddenly speaks: Samuel! Samuel! He thinks it’s Eli: Here I am, you called. It happened again, and then again, until Eli, a wise and holy man, realised it was God calling. Go and lie down. If someone calls, say: Speak Lord; your servant is listening. And so, God called again and for the first time in his life, Samuel met the Lord and began a life-long friendship with Him. It’s the same in the Gospel, the call of the first disciples. John pointed to Jesus: Look, there is the Lamb of God. They followed Him. Jesus turned round: What do you want? They said awkwardly: Where do you live? Come and see Jesus replied, and they spent the rest of the day with Him – and many more days too, so much so that Andrew went to get his brother Peter: We have found the Messiah. These readings are all about the first time in life we discover the reality of God and embark on a personal relationship with him. They make us ask about our own spiritual lives, and how we are helping our children to develop a spiritual life. ARE we helping them? Or do we concentrate too much on their material life? And what about my own spiritual life, my own friendship with God, my listening to Him, my prayer and discipleship?
Next Sunday 21st January, the Third Sunday of the Year, is ‘Bible Sunday,’ the Sunday of the Word of God. There are a welter of materials available on The God Who Speaks website to help keep this day special. Pope Francis instituted this day in 2019 saying that it “is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God.” This “Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity. … The various communities will find their own ways to mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity. It is important, however, that in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s Word” (Aperuit Illis 3).
Tomorrow, Wednesday 17th January, is the memorial of St. Anthony of Egypt (251-356), the founder of monasticism. He came from wealthy Christian parents in Upper Egypt and upon his parents’ death, gave away his inheritance to the needy, placed his sister in a convent, and began to live as a hermit in a nearby cemetery. There he lived an austere life of prayer, manual labour and penance, whilst undergoing his famous temptations, trials of the flesh, yet overcoming them all. His fame began to spread and after 15 years he moved to another site where he lived for 20 years in complete solitude, eating only what people threw over the wall to him. Inevitably a group of disciples gathered around him and in 305 he emerged and organised a simple community. Each monk lived in prayer and penance, under the general authority of Anthony, coming together only for worship and communal work. He left for Alexandria in 311 and upon return founded another monastery before retiring again to the seclusion of Mount Kolzim, near the Red Sea. This time, he took with him a close disciple, Makarios. He visited Alexandria again in 355 to help the fight against Arianism, working closely with his friend Athanasius, whose Life is the main source of information about St. Anthony. After his return, he remained in the cave at Kolzim until his death in 356. Following his wishes, he was buried secretly and his relics were not discovered until 561, when they were translated to Alexandria and later to Constantinople. Many people visited this remarkable saint during his lifetime, out of veneration or curiosity. He avoided the fanaticism and excess of many of the Desert Fathers and although austere, was known for his sound teaching and personal holiness, a model for monks ever since. Artists have developed the legend of Anthony’s temptations, but early pieces often show him receiving St. Paul the Hermit as a guest, together with the ravens that used to bring him half a loaf of bread each day.
Tomorrow would be a good day for us to pray for all the hermits as well as for the monks, nuns and religious who live within our Diocese. [Image: www.mycatholic.life]
This Thursday 18th January sees the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. As I wrote in this newsletter last year, Christian Unity is one of my passions. I enjoy learning from Christians in the other churches, sharing our Catholic faith with them and building a sense of community. In the past year I have been blessed in a friendship with my near-neighbour, Bishop Jonathan Frost, the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth. Indeed, you may have seen in these pages that we are planning an youth pilgrimage together to Taizé this summer. We also have plans for exploring what our communities can do together as we, your leaders, grow in friendship. Unity is central to the very nature of the Church. This year I ask you to consider on a personal level whether you have ever thought of “the ecumenical cause” as being a “non-optional dimension” of being a Catholic. So, please join with the other Christians in your community during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to celebrate what we share together – our love for Jesus and His love for all of us. [Image: www.vatican.va]
This Friday, 19th January, is in England the (optional) memorial of St. Wulstan or Wulfstan (1008-1095), Benedictine monk and Bishop of Worcester. He came from Warwickshire and as a child, educated in Peterborough, he excelled both in sports and in his piety. In 1033, he joined the household of the Bishop of Worcester and was ordained a priest but later entered Worcester cathedral priory as a Benedictine monk. In 1050, he became prior and was zealous in both his administration and in his pastoral care and preaching. When in 1062, the Bishop of Worcester was appointed to York, Wulfstan was recommended by the papal legates as his successor and shortly afterwards, he was consecrated. He combined well the role of monastic superior and diocesan bishop and was the first English bishop to undertake a systematic visitation of his diocese. He encouraged the building of churches, promoted the celibacy of the clergy and insisted on the installation of stone altars over wooden ones. He had a particular devotion to the early English saints such as St. Bede and St. Oswald. After his death in 1095, his cult began, with many pilgrimages to his shrine in the Cathedral. St. Wulstan is also a patron saint of vegetarians and dieters. It is said he was one day very distracted at Mass by the smell of a goose being cooked, after which he swore never to eat meat again. [Image: Church Scholar.com]
This Saturday, 20th January, is the (optional) memorial of St. Sebastian (d. 288), a trusted soldier of the Emperor Diocletian who put his allegiance to God before his duty and so suffered martyrdom at his master’s hands. We know little for certain about him, although his legend gained has great popularity and he became a popular subject for artists, especially in the Renaissance. It is said he was born in Gaul and in 283 enlisted in the Roman army. His Christian faith was unknown to Diocletian, who appointed him captain of the praetorian guard. He supported and encouraged Christians under persecution and made many converts amongst the prison staff, including the prefect of Rome. In time Sebastian’s faith became known to the Emperor, who accused him of disloyalty and ingratitude, and ordered him to be shot to death with arrows. However, although the sentence was carried out and Sebastian left for dead, he had not in fact been killed outright and his wounds were tended and healed by a Christian widow. Instead of fleeing the city for safety, Sebastian deliberately went back to Diocletian to reproach him for his cruelty. The Emperor condemned him again to a brutal death, this time by being beaten with cudgels. His body was buried secretly in a grave now marked by the Basilica of St. Sebastian. After his death, he became popular as the patron saint of archers and soldiers. He also gained a reputation for his efficacy against the plague and in mediaeval times was listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. [Image: Good Catholic.com]
We find in today’s readings one of the core messages that permeates both the Old and the New Testament – the call to conversion and repentance. The Word of God truly helps us to turn away from sinful habits and with all of our mind and heart to turn back to God and to His holy will.
In the first reading God calls Jonah to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh. We see in this passage the power of the message despite the weakness of the messenger. God’s Word contains within itself a very special power to transform the minds and hearts of listeners. Jonah the messenger had his own personal struggles and challenges in proclaiming the message, but he witnessed the power of the message. The people of Nineveh did in fact repent of their sinful ways beginning with the king himself, who put on sackcloth, sprinkled himself with ashes and fasted as concrete signs of repentance.
In the Psalm (25) we see how through the power of His Word God “shows sinners the way”. The Psalmist prays with great confidence: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me.” God’s Word frees us from sin and sets us firmly on the path of God’s holy will.
In the Gospel Jesus begins His ministry with this simple, but powerful message: “Repent and believe in the Gospel”. This is one of the passages that may be used on Ash Wednesday, when the blessed ashes are sprinkled over the head of each person who comes up to receive them. “Repent” means to be sorry for our sins and to have the firm resolve to avoid future sins. “Believe in the Gospel” turns our whole mind, heart and soul to Jesus, to His life and teaching. We focus on Him, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus guides us in the truth and teaches us, thus showing sinners the way.
Next Monday, 22nd January, is the (optional) Memorial of yet another martyr from the Roman period, this time the deacon, St. Vincent (d. 304). Vincent came from Saragossa and is the proto-martyr of Spain. He was mentioned by St. Augustine, who has left us several sermons preached on his feastday. He was martyred at Valencia, during the persecution by Diocletian. The Acts of the Martyrs describe his tortures in some detail and record his speech to Dacian, governor of Spain: ‘The more I witness your fury, Dacian, the greater is my pleasure. Do not lessen in any way the sufferings you prepare for me so that I can make my victory shine more resplendently.” The Opening Collect of the Mass for this feastday is taken from a Spanish sacramentary. It highlights the courage of St. Vincent in enduring torture and death. As his feast falls in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let’s ask the prayers of this most celebrated martyr of the Iberian peninsula that we too can hope to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that stand in the way of unity in faith and charity: Almighty ever-living God, mercifully pour out your Spirit upon us, so that our hearts may possess that strong love by which the Martyr St. Vincent triumphed over all bodily torments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. [Image: Daniel stock.adobe.com]
We continue with the series on Prefaces of the Roman Missal by Canon Alan Griffiths, today we look at Preface I of the Sundays in Ordinary Time.
The Paschal Mystery and the People of God
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For through his Paschal Mystery,
he accomplished the marvellous deed,
by which he has freed us from the yoke of sin and death,
summoning us to the glory of being now called
a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for your own possession,
to proclaim everywhere your mighty works,
for you have called us out of darkness
into your own wonderful light.
And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim.
The title of this text echoes two fundamental themes of Vatican II: the Easter/Pentecost event, or ‘Paschal Mystery’ and the Church, founded in that Event.
The textual origins of this Preface are found principally in two of the early medieval major sources of Roman liturgical prayer, the so-called ‘Verona Sacramentary’ and the ‘Gelasian Sacramentary.’
Its scriptural basis is drawn from both Hebrew and Christian scripture. In Ex.19:5,6 God tells his people that if they obey his Law: You will be to me a royal priesthood and a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9 takes up the same words: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, that you may proclaim the praises of the One who has called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
The same theme is found in Apoc.1:5-6 and 5:9-10.
Thought for the Week
“Christian unity is a fruit of God’s grace, and we must dispose ourselves to accept it with generous and open hearts.” (Pope Francis)
Vatican and World
Pope Francis asks us to join him in prayer this month to recognise the gift of different charisms within the Christian community. Click here to watch this month’s Pope Video…
Let us pray that the Spirit help us recognize the gift of different charisms within the Christian community, and to discover the richness of different ritual traditions in the heart of the Catholic Church.
There is no need to fear the diversity of charisms in the Church. Rather, living this diversity should make us rejoice! Diversity and unity were already very much present in the first Christian communities. The tension had to be resolved on a higher level.
But there’s more. To move forward on the journey of faith, we also need ecumenical dialogue with our brothers and sisters of other confessions and Christian communities. This is not something confusing or disturbing, but is a gift God gives to the Christian community so it might grow as one body, the Body of Christ.
Let’s think, for example, of the Eastern Churches. They have their own traditions, their own characteristic liturgical rites…yet they maintain the unity of the faith. They strengthen it, not divide it.
If we are guided by the Holy Spirit, abundance, variety, diversity, never cause conflict. The Holy Spirit reminds us first and foremost that we are children loved by God – everyone equal in God’s love, and everyone different. Let us pray that the Spirit help us recognize the gift of different charisms within the Christian communities, and to discover the richness of different ritual traditions within the Catholic Church.
Vatican and World
Last Sunday was Peace Sunday. Let us continue in our prayers to pray for peace in Ukraine and in the Holy Land.
“War itself is a crime against humanity. People need peace. The world needs peace.” Pope Francis launched that appeal for an end to war this last Sunday, as he prayed the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. “At the beginning of the year, we exchanged wishes for peace, but weapons have continued to kill and destroy,” he lamented. He urged everyone to pray for “people who have power over these conflicts,” so that they might realize that war is “not the way to resolve them”. War, he added, “sows death among civilians and destroys cities and infrastructures.” He asserted that war is itself a crime against humanity. The Pope noted that he had just watched Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, speaking on a program on Italian TV. Fr. Faltas, said the Holy Father, spoke about the need to “educate for peace.” “We must educate for peace,” said Pope Francis. “It seems that we are not yet—all of humanity—with a sufficient education to stop every war. Let us always pray for this grace: to educate for peace.” [Image: Vatican Website, AFP or licensors]
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.
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.
The Called & Gifted team invites you to a Trinity Conference: Reawakening the Catholic Vision at Leeds Trinity University on Saturday 17 February 2024, 9.00am – 5.00pm…
How can the Catholic Church understand and respond to the post-Christian era? What is the future of our Catholic parishes, schools and homes when much of what we see appears in decline? How does the Church evangelise, form, teach and catechise adults in a post-Christendom age? How, in a world of competing social agendas, can the Church reclaim the narrative for true justice in the world? Speakers include keynote from Monsignor James Shea, President of the University of Mary (North Dakota, USA) and co-author of: “From Christendom to Apostolic Mission”, and Archbishop Mark O’Toole (CBCEW), Dr Hannah Vaughan-Spruce (Divine Revelation UK), Claire Fernandes (Celebrate) and more.
Ticket price includes access to all the talks, lunch, refreshments and a hard copy of the conference publication including written papers from all of the speakers. For the full timetable and booking info see here: www.trinityconference.co.uk. Any questions should be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have just come away from a Bishops’ Conference Zoom call in which the Cardinal was telling us about a meeting he had attended in which the real suffering of the Catholic community in the Holy Land and also that of both ordinary Israelis and ordinary Palestinians was outlined. We have all been shocked and saddened by the devastating conflict in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. After weeks of intense conflict, over 18,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed, thousands more injured, and over 1.9 million people in Gaza are displaced. Food, water and fuel are in increasingly short supply. Families need urgent help. CAFOD in Gaza have been working closely with local partners to reach those who have been affected by the conflict, supporting 10,000 families with vouchers to purchase essentials like food, water, mattresses and bedding and to another partner supporting 300 people with shelter, support, food and solar lanterns, where access to power is limited. Sadly, staff and volunteers have already lost their lives.
Prayers are essential and calls for an immediate ceasefire. It is also possible in parishes to hold a collection or fundraising event to get families in the Holy Land the help they urgently need. CAFOD can also supply fundraising ideas as well as help to organise an event or hold a collection, including ‘how to’ guides, posters and collection envelopes. You can donate via CAFOD directly here or you could put something in an envelope to CAFOD marked “Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal” and hand in during the Offertory collection at Mass. [Image: CAFOD]
Jo Lewry invites you to one of the CAFOD meetings in the diocese.
There are three meetings, one at Corpus Christi Wokingham RG40 2HE on Saturday 27th January, 10:30am until 1:30pm with a simple lunch provided, and two on Saturday 3rd February; one at St Philip Howard Fareham PO14 1ND, 10:30am until 1:30pm with a simple lunch provided, and the other at Holyrood Hall Newport Isle of Wight PO30 1UH from 11:30am to 12:30pm. Please book your place so that we have an idea of the numbers by emailing Jo on email@example.com
At these meetings we will share how your generous donations make a difference to the communities that we work with. For example, in New Kru Town, Liberia we are supporting a project that provides training to fishermen like James (in photo) which includes using a GPS fish finder, safety at sea and how to preserve fish. James told us “Coming home with nothing you feel bad – you have nothing to feed yourself, you have nothing to feed the jazz boys who help you bring your boat in, you have nothing for your crew, for your family. It is part of life. I am used to this. It feels really bad, but I am used to this. It’s important to help each other out because if I help you today, you will help me tomorrow. If God blesses you today, he will bless someone else tomorrow.”
I hope to see you at one of our CAFOD meetings.
Jenny LeLean, Head of Charity, Caritas Portsmouth invites you to a Networking Lunch to find out about Caritas Warm Spaces…
We are entering the coldest and most difficult time of year for people who are struggling with financial insecurity. This year many more people are having to make difficult decisions about whether to pay bills, heat their homes or eat. Citizens Advice are reporting that the numbers of people who visited them in 2023 for help with prepayment meters were almost as high than 2021 and 2022 combined. By the end of November 2023, they had referred more people than the whole of 2022 to receive support from foodbanks with one of the busiest months for foodbanks still to go. The number of people threatened with or experiencing homeless are also at record breaking levels. Our parishes can support in some way by providing warm spaces and hot food. T can be set up quickly and it is very simple to do.
If you would like to know more about how to organise or have experience to share on running a warm space / community meal project in your parish do join Caritas Portsmouth for our first networking event on Tuesday 23rd January from 12:30-1pm. An opportunity to learn from others experience, share best practice and see how Caritas Portsmouth can support you get your project off the ground. You can register here and we look forward to seeing you.
Ahead of this year’s Second Collection for the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Mother Church of the Diocese, which is scheduled to take place on 21st January, Canon James McAuley, Cathedral Dean, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia puts the financial needs of the Cathedral in context. He writes…
“I became Dean of our Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist in September 2022. Since then, the parish has paid for emergency repairs of serious leaks in the Blessed Sacrament and St Patrick chapels, and in the Discovery Centre, which cost £23,060 in total. The cost of these repairs was paid for by parishioners, who responded generously to an appeal for contributions. In January 2023, the 120-year-old West Window began to collapse because of deterioration in the lead work. Its restoration was completed in December 2023 at an estimated final cost of more than £100,000. So far, we have raised almost £38,000 towards the cost of restoration of the West Window. These projects have used up virtually all the Cathedral’s available funds.
The heating and electrical systems are in urgent need of upgrading. One of the three boilers, which heat the Cathedral and Cathedral House, has been broken since spring 2022. The money I had allocated to replace it had to be diverted to pay for the repairs to the West Window. The two remaining boilers both failed in late November 2023. After a week of no central heating, the two boilers were repaired, but we have been advised that all three boilers have come to the end of their useful life, having been installed about 25 years ago. We have no money to replace the boilers, never mind upgrade the heating system to a more energy efficient, “greener” system.
In the summer of 2023, the quinquennial architectural survey was completed and the report we received in September outlined work required over the next five years to the roof, windows, heating, and electrical systems at an estimated cost of more than £1 million.
I fully appreciate the financial pressures being felt by you and by your parishioners but would appeal to you to promote and support the Second Collection for the Cathedral on 21st January. Never has this annual collection by parishes for the Mother Church of the Diocese been more critical or needed. Your support is vitally important to us.”
Fr Robert Billing, Rector at the Catholic National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady, Walsingham recently wrote to Bishop Philip encouraging readers to consider organising a pilgrimage to Walsingham…
I take this opportunity to invite those of you who do not yet regularly lead a Pilgrimage to Walsingham to consider doing so in 2024. I invite parishes, or groups of parishes, to come on pilgrimage here and to stay with us. Perhaps, if pilgrimage to Walsingham has not been a regular feature of your calendar, you might like to think about organising a pilgrimage in the Jubilee Year of 2025 – under the title of Pilgrims of Hope. In any case, we would be very pleased to offer a warm welcome to pilgrims from your local Church! I am particularly mindful that, for many, the cost of going on the Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, may be increasingly prohibitive, given the limited number of chartered flights to Lourdes-Tarbes airport and so Walsingham might be an appropriate alternative.
Em Payne, our Pilgrimage Manager will be glad to give local organisers and clergy, every practical assistance in organising everything going forward via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Wrobel reports on the Polish carol service held at St Bede’s church, Basingstoke…
In 2019, some Polish families met together at St Bede’s church to sing carols to allow us to reflect on the wonder of Christmas; which was a very fruitful time for us all. We enjoyed it so much, that we decided to try to do this more often; however Covid and the lockdown put an end to our plans for a couple of years. We next met up again on Boxing day in 2022 to kick start our annual event.
In 2023, the Polish community in Basingstoke was established at which point, more families joined us; this allowed even more people to be involved in planning for the event which was held recently, on the 6th January 2024.
Families from different parts of Poland wore their traditional folk dress and adults and children took part in singing and playing instruments; the youngest of whom was only 6 years old.
The event was publicised in the pastoral area and we were delighted to be joined by some families from the parish and beyond. This served as a great opportunity to showcase and preserve our beloved Polish language; allowing our younger generations to be involved as well as Polish-English integration.
I am happy to recommend to you a new book. Dr. Denise Oliver, colleague of Dr. Christina Pal from the Life in Truth apostolate (both of whom some of you may know from their time in Bournemouth with the Academy of the Annunciation) has just published a splendid little book, called Renewal in the Seven Gifts: Novena and Consecration to the Holy Spirit (London, Claritas: 2023), available from Amazon and the usual book stores. It is a collection of short and simple meditations on each of the Gifts with Scripture extracts, reflections and prayers. It can be used by anyone at any time, but it seems especially helpful for youngsters preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Dr. Oliver in her letter to me said how it was our diocesan Year of the Holy Spirit last year that inspired her to write it. “Renewal in the seven gifts through this Novena and Consecration to the Holy Spirit promotes a deeper awareness and a greater openness to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit through the operation of His sevenfold gift. The charismatic renewal brought about a greater awareness of the Spirit’s action through charismatic graces which are enumerated in 1 Cor. 12. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isa 11: 2-3) are often forgotten; yet it is these gifts which help us to soar in the spiritual life.” She then adds: “We can never decide when the Holy Spirit will work through His gifts, but we can certainly be better prepared for His action. Let us be ready for an outpouring of the Spirit through His sevenfold gift, and promote a renewal in awareness of these most precious treasures!”
Some of you may have known Fr. Michael Butler, a priest of Brentwood Diocese, who died recently. I knew him from my time in the Chaplaincy at Cambridge and then from his visits to Oscott. He died last week at Conewood Care Home, Bishop’s Stortford where he had lived for over three years since his retirement. Father Michael was born 13 November 1934. Educated at Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green, he served in Royal Air Force (National Service) and was received into the Church at Chingford in 1955. He studied for the priesthood at St Augustine’s House, Walworth, and Venerable English College, Rome, where he was ordained by Cardinal Heard on 27 October 1963. He was appointed first as Assistant Priest at Chadwell Heath (1964-1971) before undertaking further Studies at Mount Oliver Catechetical Institute, Dundalk (1971-1972). He became chaplain at New Hall (1971-1976) and then went for further studies in U.S.A. (1976-1978), before returning and being appointed as Assistant Priest at Leyton (1978-1980). He became Parish Priest of Brightlingsea (1980-2001 and Catholic Chaplain to the University of Essex, Old Harlow (2001-2020). He was variously Chairman of the diocesan art and architecture committee, and a member of the Liturgical Commission and Historic Churches Committee. Please pray for the repose of his soul and for the comfort and consolation of his family and friends. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
The arrangements for Fr. Michael’s Funeral rites are: Thursday 8th February 4.30pm Reception of the Coffin and 7.00pm Requiem Mass. Then on Friday 9th February, his funeral Mass will be at Holy Cross Church, Tracyes Road, Harlow at 11.30am. [Image: Your Harlow]
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 this intricate stonework which is found in St John’s Cathedral. If you leave by the southwest door nearest to Bishop Crispian Way, look up before you leave.
This week’s challenge, is to identify some more intricate stonework in a church somewhere else in the Diocese, but where is this? Just email your answer to Deacon Craig by Friday 19th 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?