Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 431

January 23rd, 2024
bishop of winchester installation hampshire chronicle

The image above, courtesy of the Hampshire Chronicle, taken during the entrance procession for the service of installation of Bishop Philip Mountstephen, the new Bishop of Winchester, reminds us that these days are days of prayer for the unity of Christians. The Octave of Prayer ends this Thursday so these next three days let us pray for that deeper communion in doctrine, life and worship which Christ wanted and to which we are called. The progress that has been made and the many friendships at all levels that we nowadays enjoy with our brothers and sisters in the other communities is something to thank God for. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us grow ever closer. Meanwhile, welcome to this week’s e-News with lots of news and events from across the Diocese for us to ponder. Please note especially my invitation to further feedback on the Synod and do say a prayer for Bro. Francisco Hintikka from Sacred Heart Bournemouth who is to be ordained priest tomorrow evening. Have a blessed week ahead! Thank you for all your support and prayers. God bless you and your families.

Issue 431

The Synod on Synodality

From the Bishop


The international Synod on Synodality is conducting feedback on aspects of the final synthesis report issued after the October 2023 session in Rome. The Assembly was attended by 464 representatives from the five continents, 365 with voting rights. You can read the synthesis report here. As part of the preparation for the Synod Assembly this year in October 2024, Fr. Chris Thomas, Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, has asked each Diocese to reflect on the synthesis report and to submit any feedback. Because of the tight timings for this, he wants us to submit our Diocesan feedback by mid-March. To focus this task, I would like us in the Diocese to consider three areas of the synthesis report related to communion, participation and mission that fit in well with our ten-year strategy You Will be My Witnesses. These are Entering the Community of Faith: Christian Initiation (PART I: PROPOSAL M and K), the Church is Mission (PART II PROPOSAL N and O) and A synodal approach to formation (PART III PROPOSAL K and L). In other words, typical questions here would include: How can we better initiate children and adults into Christian discipleship and the life of Christ’s Church? How as a Diocese can we be more missionary? And how might we form people more effectively in the Gospel and the teaching of the Church?

Over these next weeks, I will be consulting some of our usual clergy groups such as the Bishop’s Council, Coordinating Pastors, the Council of Priests as well as clergy in Pastoral Area meetings and Deaneries. But to broaden this to the laity and the whole Diocese, I would like to invite your feedback by email directly to our Synod Coordinator, Fr. John Chandler (jchandler@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk). Please mark the email clearly ‘SYNOD’ and indicate your name, address and parish. Please also keep strictly to the three areas outlined in order to make the task of collation feasible. Although Fr. John and his team will be unable to engage in a discussion, I know they will be very grateful for your input. Our thanks to you – and to him – for this work.

Ten-Year Mission Plan – the Next Steps

From the Bishop

YWBMW cover

I want to thank everyone, clergy and laity, for all the hard work being done in your Pastoral Areas and in individual parishes to bring to life the mission plan You Will Be My Witnesses. I have asked every area for a first draft of their Pastoral Area plan by 26th March. It needs to cover the three main themes of (1) deepening faith; (2) mission and service; and (3) parish structures. At their meeting last November, Co-ordinating Pastors received a workbook with helpful prompts about what needs to be considered. It led to a good discussion. I look forward to the submissions in March in order to see how things are going. In the summer, I will be visiting each pastoral area to meet with the team of clergy and laity in order to hear directly where things are up to and also to offer support.

Fr. Andrew McMahon ofm R.I.P.

From the Bishop

Fr. Andrew McMahon Ofm

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Andrew McMahon R.I.P. who died last week in Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth following a fall. Fr. Andrew has been the chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters at Park Place in Wickham for many years and will be missed very much. Please pray for his family and friends. His funeral is on Monday 5th February at Park Place at 11.30am Fr. Andrew was in the Capuchin Friars for over 60 years He will be remembered for his time in Southampton earlier in his career where he ran a shelter for the homeless. After twenty years in Southampton, working and living with men from prison, or from drinking in the parks, he was asked to go to Park Place Pastoral Centre, as Chaplain to the Community of Franciscan Sisters.
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Visit to St. Patrick’s Hayling Island

From the Bishop


Last Sunday, I went over to say Mass in St. Patrick’s Hayling Island and to encourage and support the parish there during the continuing absence of Fr. Mark Whiting, their parish priest. Fr. Mark is on extended sick leave but making good progress: please say a prayer for him. Here is the homily I preached at the Mass for the Third Sunday of the Year about the “power of God’s Word”.

I am pleased to be with you today and look forward to time together after Mass. I wanted to visit and encourage you while Fr. Mark is on sick leave. He is making good progress, but there’s more to go, so let’s keep him in our prayers. I thank Fr. James, Mgr. Jeremy and the local priests for looking after you. I also thank greatly the stewardship group and all of you for sustaining the mission of the Church in Hayling Island. As you know, we have a ten-year mission-plan to revitalise the parish and the Diocese. It’s called You Will be My Witnesses: it’s on our website. It’s about deepening faith, becoming more missionary and managing better our resources. Please pray for God’s grace that we can turn the ship, bringing more people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.

One way of doing this is the Bible. Today, the Third Sunday of the Year, has been designated the ‘Sunday of the Word’ and in the Readings, we hear of the power of God’s Word to change hearts and to change lives. God speaks to us in our hearts, at Mass, through the Church, through other people and the events of life. In the First Reading, God sent Jonah to Nineveh to urge people to change. He was successful: they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth. In the Gospel, Jesus announced: The time has come … the Kingdom is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News. And many did! That same day, the lives of four fishermen were totally changed when Jesus called them: Follow me and I will make you fishers of people. The Word of God is all-powerful: it touches hearts and minds; it can turn a person’s life upside down. The Bible records God’s words and deeds, which is why it is a powerful agent of change and why in 2019 Pope Francis established today as a day to thank God, to celebrate, study and share God’s Word. He wants us to read the Bible more, to value its riches, and to discern its meaning for our lives. Using the Bible to deepen our faith is what our diocesan plan is all about.
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New Meeting Centre in Cosham

From the Bishop


Last Tuesday evening I went over to Cosham to dedicate and bless a new Meeting Centre that has been opened by the members of the NeoCatechumenal Way mission to Portsmouth. The room is at 61 High Street, Cosham and behind the pink coloured coffee shop “Cake O’Nuts.” The facility is funded by the Missio in order to be used for prayer, meetings, catechesis and all sorts of other gatherings, and it has the advantage of being a “non-church site” when as part of the mission, members attract potential converts and draw them into conversation. The families that make up the Missio have already attracted a number of new members and they were present for the blessing of the centre last week. We began with Vespers which included testimonies from the families and also from the new members and during the liturgy I blessed the room. Afterwards, we had a truly splendid buffet and a time for conversation. Please pray for the success of this long-term mission, which is truly seeking to reach out to the wider community to find the lost and the needy.

This Sunday is Racial Justice Sunday


racial justice

This Sunday, The Fourth Sunday of the Year, is Racial Justice Sunday 2024, a day kept by other Christians too. An optional Second Collection may be taken this weekend for the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ). Here is a message from Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Racial Justice explaining the theme and offering some suggestions to mark the day.

“Hello. My name is Bishop Paul McAleenan. The theme of Racial Justice Sunday in England and Wales in 2024 is ‘Seeing one another in the life of the Church’. There are different ways that the theme could be approached. I would like to suggest one particular way. In the history of the Church, there have been those who looked at the society in which they lived, and responded to what they saw. They looked, made a decision based on what they saw, and acted. Alert and sensitive as they were to the commandments of Christ, when they saw justice being denied to someone because of their racial origin or colour, they were prompted to act. Their actions of opposing racism, promoting equality and justice, became their life’s work. Following this path, sometimes they encountered hostility, rejection, and attempts to overturn what they were doing. However, they persevered and became instruments of change, agents of progress, and some are acknowledged as saints of the Church. There are many, many saints in the Church. Each is different. Each chose to follow a particular aspect of the person of Jesus. Some saw Jesus as a teacher and devoted their lives to teaching. Some followed Jesus as one who loved the sick and opened hospices and hospitals. Others saw Jesus as the friend of the poor and gave witness to that. Among the saints are those who remembered the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right. They shall be satisfied.” And then they spent their lives working that everyone would be treated justly, with fairness and without discrimination.

“For Racial Justice Sunday this year, can I suggest that you explore the lives of those great men and women – those who devoted their lives to the pursuit of racial justice, those who emulated God’s passion for justice, which we read about in the scriptures. They will inspire us, teach us, and make us sensitive to the importance of racial justice and why we work for it. May we too, like them, see one another in the life of the Church.”

St. Francis de Sales, Patron of Journalists and Writers


st francis de sales

Tomorrow, Wednesday 24th January, is the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), one-time Bishop of Geneva. Francis was born in the family castle in Savoy in 1567 and was privately educated in Annecy, a Jesuit college in Paris. In 1588, he began to study philosophy and theology at the University of Padua where in 1591 he became a doctor of law. It looked as if he would have a dazzling career; he was offered a senatorship and a highly desirable marriage. Francis, however, had decided to become a priest and despite strong opposition from his family, was ordained in 1593. His education equipped him well to become a memorable preacher and he also became known for his works for charity towards the poor. His first mission as a priest was in Chablis, where he attempted to convert the strongly Calvinistic people there back to Catholicism. He was frequently under attack and in physical danger, but by patient and compassionate preaching, he succeeded in making many new converts and restoring many lapsed Catholics to their faith. In 1602 he was appointed the Bishop of Geneva and became a leading figure in the counter-reformation movement, famed for his simple, straightforward preaching, his administrative process and his untiring intellect. Francis involved himself personally in catechism classes, and he founded many excellent schools. It was during this time that he befriended a widow, Jane Francis de Chantal. He became her spiritual advisor and, guided by him, she founded the Order of the Visitation in 1610, usually known as the Visitandines. Francis died in Lyon in 1622 and was canonised in 1665 by Pope Alexander VII, who declared him a Doctor of the Church. Francis has been named patron saint of writers for his example of persuasive and reasonable Christian writings. Two of his works are still popular today: his Treatise on the Love of God and his Introduction to the Devout Life, the latter being first guide to piety to be written for laypeople. It grew out of advice and instruction which he had written privately to his cousin, who later persuaded him to publish it. Many of his letters to Jane Francis de Chantal also survive. The story of his remarkable life is well worth exploring.

May he pray for us during this week of prayer for unity that one day all Christians may enjoy full communion in doctrine, life and worship.

The Conversion of St. Paul


conversion st paul

This Thursday 25th January is the Feastday of the Conversion of St. Paul and the end of the Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians. St. Paul, after Jesus, is probably the most influential figure in the history of Christian thought, doctrine and mission. Saul of Tarsus began life as a fervent follower of the Jewish law. At the age of 14, he studied in Jerusalem as a Pharisee under the famous rabbi Gamaliel and following the rabbinic tradition of studying a trade as well as the Law, he learnt tent-making. Although Aramaic was his mother tongue, he had a strong Hebrew education. His birth in Tarsus automatically gave him the status of a Roman citizen and he spoke Greek fluently, which made him eminently qualified for his later role as Apostle to the Gentiles. The changing of his name from Saul to the Hellenic form Paul, traditionally associated with his conversion, may have been a Romanisation present from his childhood. As a Pharisee, he persecuted the early Christian Church relentlessly, strictly applying the Jewish Law, which the new sect appeared to be flouting. The story of his conversion is in Acts 9: 1-22 and Acts 22: 3-16. While he was on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians, he was blinded by a bright light and thrown to the ground from his horse. He heard the words ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ As Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, ‘The Risen One spoke to Paul, called him to the apostolate and made him a true Apostle, a witness of the Resurrection, with the specific task of proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles, to the Graeco-Roman world.’

Thursday’s feast reminds us that the best and most effective way to hasten the unity of all Christians is to foster our own daily personal conversion to Christ.

Image: Daily Compass

SS. Timothy and Titus, Young Disciples of St. Paul


ss timothy and titus

This Friday, 26th January, is the Memorial of two young disciples of St. Paul, both mentioned in the New Testament and both recipients of Letters from their master: St. Timothy and St. Titus. Timothy came from Lystra and as a young man studied Scripture; after his conversion to Christianity, he became the companion and at times the representative of St. Paul, who sent him to visit the Churches in Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus. He was the first bishop of Ephesus and in his two Letters, Paul directed him to correct those who were changing the original doctrines. He also asked him to appoint more bishops and deacons. He was said to have been martyred by stoning and beating in 97 AD. Titus was of Gentile origin and became Paul’s companion and secretary. He took part in the Council of Jerusalem in 49 AD and was sent by Paul initially to Corinth and then to Crete, where he became its first bishop. In his Letter to Titus, St. Paul instructs him to ordain priests and to govern with firmness.

Let us ask the prayers of SS. Timothy and Titus today for the Church in our land and for the work of new evangelisation to which we are called.

Image: Daily Compass

St. Angela Merici, Founder of the Ursulines


st angela merici

This Saturday, 27th January, is the (optional) Memorial of St. Angela Merici (1474 – 1540). Born at Desenzano near Lake Garda, she was orphaned in early life, but became a Franciscan tertiary and devoted herself, along with several companions, to the education of poor girls. In 1535, they dedicated themselves to this work under the patronage of St. Ursula, although they took no vows and wore lay clothes. The formal organisation of this sisterhood into a congregation came in 1565, when the Church authorities became willing to approve what until then was a novel concept, an unenclosed and pastorally active female order. The congregation flourishes to this day and has been described as the oldest and most extensive teaching order of sisters in the Church. St. Angela was canonised in 1807.

The Ursulines comprise different families and communities. Please pray for the community of Ursuline sisters – Sr. Helen, Sr. Sneha and Sr. Vineeta – who used to be with us at Bishop’s House. They are often in touch, assuring us of their prayers for us; they are now working in a parish in the Diocese of Nottingham.

Image: My Catholic Life

The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


prophets 1447

This Sunday, 28th January, is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can find the readings for Sunday’s Mass here. On our diocesan Liturgy Project website, Fr Anthony Fyk shares this commentary…

After a baptism, the celebrant performs an anointing with Chrism and says “The God of power and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin and brought you to new life through water and the Holy Spirit. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation, so that, united with his people, you may remain for ever a member of Christ who is Priest, Prophet, and King.” The anointing signifies our sharing in the priesthood, kingship, and prophetic office of Jesus Christ. Today’s scripture readings bring to mind the prophetic role of Jesus Christ, and by extension our share in this very office. We may have the notion that a prophet is someone who has divine or secret insight of future events that will come, but simply put, a prophet is one who points the way to God.  We are all called to be prophets. We have all received the divine call, as God’s children in our baptism and confirmation, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is a message of love, a message of justice, a message of peace, and a message of reconciliation.  Through our words and actions, we are to promote justice and peace, to defend the weak and rejected of society, to live a life of honesty and integrity following the pattern set before us in the life of Jesus Christ. This is only possible if it based on a firm foundation of prayer. Being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, does not mean that we escape from the world, society, and culture we live in, but to the contrary, to engage with the world, to be a voice of truth, to speak out against injustice and hatred, and pointing the way to God, which is the way of peace, reconciliation, and love. We have nothing to fear, for God will put his words into our mouths, will strengthen us with fortitude to speak with authority. We may take inspirations from the numerous prophets of the Old Testament, or look at some modern-day examples, such as Damien of Molokai, Oscar Romero and Teresa of Calcutta.

Image: theliturgyproject.com

Prefaces of the Roman Missal


preface ii ordinary time

We continue with the series on Prefaces of the Roman Missal by Canon Alan Griffiths, this week featuring Preface II of the Sundays in Ordinary Time: The Mystery of Salvation

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 out of compassion for the waywardness that is ours,
he humbled himself and was born of the Virgin,
by the passion of the Cross he freed us from unending death,
and by rising from the dead he gave us life eternal.

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 sources for this text are Eastertide / Ascensiontide prefaces from the Gelasian Sacramentary and the collection of liturgical texts known broadly as the ‘Gregorian Sacramentary’.

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Thought for the Week

Thought for the Week


“To be a Christian was to go to Mass. This was true from the first day of the New Covenant. Just hours after Jesus rose from the dead, He found His way to a table with two disciples.”  
(Scott Hahn, The Lamb’s Supper)

Opening our Hearts to God’s Word

Vatican and World

pope francis book of the gospels

Last Sunday, the Third Sunday of the Year, was also the Sunday of the Word of God. Celebrating the annual Sunday of the Word of God, Pope Francis encourages us to be “conquered by the beauty” the Word of God brings into our lives, opening our hearts and showing us new and unforeseen wonders and horizons of God’s love.

Pope Francis presided over the celebration of the “Sunday of the Word of God” in Saint Peter’s Basilica on 21st January. This year’s motto is taken from the Gospel of Saint John: “Remain in my Word” (John 8,31). The Pope established the day as a pastoral initiative to show the importance the word of God has in the daily life of the Church and our communities, a Word that is not confined to a book, but one that remains ever alive and becomes a concrete and tangible sign. The Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization and Section for Fundamental Questions regarding Evangelization in the World, prepared a special liturgical and pastoral handbook for the annual observance, which takes place each year on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. In his homily during the Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis, referring to the Gospel reading for the Sunday, observed that when Jesus called His first disciples to leave their fishing nets to follow Him, the Lord’s word “unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit, a power that draws people to God.” That Word draws us to God and then “sends us to others,” the Pope explained, as it makes our hearts and minds grow, showing us new and exciting horizons of hope and love that we naturally wish to share with others. The Pope explained how we, too, on our own shores of life where we are occupied with the “nets” of our daily occupations, need to hear the Lord’s call to set out with Him as missionaries, “God’s messengers and witnesses to a world drowning in words, yet thirsting for the very Word it so often ignores.”  Recalling how the Saints down through the centuries opened their hearts and minds to God’s Word, letting it touch them and renew their soul with the peace of Jesus and concern for others, the Pope suggested we, too, can be moved in a similar way if we “stop being ‘deaf’ to God’s Word.”

Image: Crossroadsinitiative.com / Article from Vatican News

Mass for Religious

Upcoming events


Here at the Cathedral on Friday 2nd February at 12.15pm the annual Mass for Religious will be offered. With thanks to Fr. Bruce Barnes, Episcopal Vicar for Religious, and his team, this is an annual meeting of all the religious and consecrated persons living and working within the Diocese and the Mass will be followed by lunch and a meeting in the Cathedral Discovery Centre. In the Diocese of Portsmouth, we are blessed to have 19 female religious congregations and 15 male religious congregations working among us. Some congregations are in multiple locations, such as the Benedictines at St. Cecilia’s Abbey, Quarr Abbey, Douai and Farnborough. Let us pray for all our religious. They give us all an inspiring example of prayer and dedication. If you are free, I’d like to invite all clergy and laity to join me for the Mass and to ask God’s blessing upon us all and upon our mission, and especially upon our religious brothers and sisters.

Image: St. Mary’s Abbey, Ryde.

Rite of Election

Upcoming events

book of the elect

On Saturday 17th February 2024 at 11 am you are invited to join us for The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, 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.

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

Symposium on Medical Ethics

Upcoming events

medical ethics

Start of life questions 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 4.15pm. 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 lunch and refreshments, and are available on-line via Eventbrite. 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: Harwood House

Personal Safety at Work

Social Action

unhappy fa barboza unsplash

Ruth Attfield, Diocesan Head of Safeguarding, reports that the theme of international Stalking Awareness Day on 18th January 2024, focussed on the risk to Lone Workers of physical and verbal abuse and harassment…

Lone working can be defined as any situation, or location, in which someone works without close or direct supervision, without a colleague nearby or who is out of sight or earshot of another colleague. Diocesan staff and volunteers who work in a building with others may be considered lone workers in certain circumstances.

The Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth has overall responsibility for ensuring the health and safety at work of our Clergy, employees, and volunteers, so far as is practical to do so. This includes compliance with several legal duties.

However, there are a few questions we can all ask ourselves to help protect our safety at work. These include:

  • Do I keep in regular contact with my base/office/parish when working alone?
  • Are others aware of my itinerary and work schedule?
  • If I am travelling for work alone, are others aware of my planned arrival and departure times, who I am due to meet and are there up to date telephone contact numbers for us both?
  • Am I clear that I should never put myself or colleagues in danger and that, if I feel in any way threatened, unsafe or in imminent danger, I should withdraw immediately?

This leaflet produced by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust is intended to make individuals think more about, and improve, their personal safety at work, along with details of where to find other sources of help and advice.

Any concerns you have about personal safety should be discussed with your Line Manager in the first instance. For those holding a role within the Diocese of Portsmouth, additional support and advice can be obtained via hr@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

Image: Fa Barboza/Unsplash

Let Life Flourish

Social Action


Danny Ó hEarchaí, from Jersey, Knights of Columba Director for Membership & Development and Deputy Supreme Knight invites you to join a year of prayer ‘Let Life Flourish’. This is a partnership between the Knights of St Columba and SPUC. The KSC will be holding Rosaries, 40 hours Adoration and Holy Hours during 2024, in the build up to next year’s Jubilee Year.  See this poster for more information.

The monthly intentions for the Bouquet are:

January: For families, that they will be supported and remain open to the gift of new life
February: For those seeking healing after an experience of abortion
March: For medical staff, that they will always act to protect the dignity of human life at every stage
April: For those grieving the loss of a child during pregnancy
May: For women and families struggling with infertility
June: For fathers of children lost to abortion
July: For the Church, that its witness to the sanctity of life will touch the hearts of all people
August: For women and families expecting a child at this time
September: For political leaders, that they will act to uphold the sanctity of life through just laws
October: For an end to abortion in the UK
November: For the work of SPUC and the KSC in defending the sanctity of life
Feast of Christ the King – Solemn close of the Spiritual Bouquet

Could You Help…?

Social Action

israeli palestinian crisis appeal

The Catholic community in the Holy Land and also ordinary Israelis and ordinary Palestinians are suffering through the current conflict. Could you help…?

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

The Big Lent Walk

Social Action


Jo Lewry, Community Participation Coordinator for CAFOD Portsmouth invites you to sign up for CAFOD’s BIG Lent walk 2024…

Do you like walking?  So why not challenge yourself and take on The Big Lent Walk! Walk 5k a day when and where you choose over the 40 days of Lent, alone or with friends. Raise money to help people as they overcome poverty.

CAFOD and SCIAF (Caritas Scotland) are teaming up to bring the Big Lent Walk to Great Britain! Read more about us and our decision to join forces. Thousands of walkers from England, Wales, Scotland and beyond, will be tying up their purple laces and walking an incredible 200km this Lent to fight global poverty.

“The Big Walk is something to look forward to”, says Angela Powell from CAFOD. “It’s a great way for children and adults to step outdoors to appreciate our God-given environment and to act out our faith as part of something that brings about change for the better”.

This year Ged in Liverpool will be taking on the Big Lent Walk with his dog Louie. ‘We are taking on the CAFOD Big Lent Walkies! Walking 200km before Easter.’ Ged continues, ‘I’ve seen the astonishing difference our support helps people bring about. CAFOD knows its partners well overseas and local people trust them. Right now, is such a crucial time to enable people to adapt to what the changing climate is doing to their communities in the forgotten places of the world.’

So, sign up to do the Big Lent Walk yourself, or join in with your school or parish. Then put your best foot forward with the biggest group of Big Lent Walkers yet.

So do join us as we walk to raise funds to fight global poverty.

Mission Plan – Have YOU adopted Six Holy Habits?


Holy Habits Post

Parishes should have by now received their printed copies of the Diocesan Ten-Year Mission Plan You Will be My Witnesses together with summary leaflets and prayer cards for parishioners. Additional copies of leaflets can be requested from communications@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

In his Pastoral Letter about the future of the Diocese in October 2022, Bishop Philip invited us all to establish or pledge our commitment to Six Holy Habits. How have you answered his call? Send your story to communications@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

Incense and why we use it…



Seminarian Nathan King who is currently on Pastoral placement at St John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth recently made a fascinating video about incense and its symbolism. Click here to watch it…

Incense calls us to prayer. It shows us how our prayer rises to God like the smoke from the thurible, purifying our worship of him. Incense reminds us of heaven and shows us that our worship of God is divine in origin.

Incense is the blood of the tree. Through repeatedly wounding the tree, its sap is brought forth. This sap is hardened and made into pellets of incense. The wounds are hardened, dead and odourless. They are placed by the priest on the coal of divine charity they melt and release a sweet fragrance that is offered in worship.

The priest takes the wounds of his people under the symbol of incense and places them on the coals transforming wounds into worship. Christ is the one who transforms wounds into worship, and this is extended to us through the Mass which is the perpetuation of his sacrifice, continually transforming suffering into love and prayer.

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The Great Story of Jesus Retreat


great story of jesus

On Saturday 13th January, a group of 32 people from different places in the Diocese, gathered at St Peter’s, Winchester, for a day retreat led by Liza Nahajski and Sr Margarida Londral from the Verbum Dei Community. The retreat followed the Great Story of Jesus and the central proclamation of our faith (sometimes called the Kerygma). With videos, group sharing, adoration, prayerful dynamics, reflective stations and personal reflection, it was a great start of the year, filled with hope and promise. Please contact lnahajski@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk if you would like to know more for your parish or your school.
Some feedback from participants:

  • How much I need to give time to the Lord. I need these kind of spaces so to know what the Lord wants of me; to pray before doing anything. 
  • It has been great to be together with likeminded people, it is powerful. 
  • Giving up what I think is important, letting God take over, like the fishermen… who left everything to be and follow Jesus. 
  • I’ve appreciated the opportunity to step out of my daily routine and meditate the Word. There is a lot of suffering in the world… the retreat enabled me to be able to offer prayers and it increased my zeal to share this to everyone, to my parish and pastoral area. 
  • What struck me the most was to meditate Matthew 8:1-4 (‘if you are willing, you can heal me…’). Jesus speaks to us individually, He spoke to me personally as he did to that leaper. Listening to Jesus is affirming, exciting and renewing.  
  • It was an experience of unity, fellowship, family, energy, renewal, welcome, hospitality… all this is fuel for my life. 
  • Jesus is my Lord and Saviour.
  • It was so wonderful to bathe, as it were, in Jesus. How amazing it would be if all the parishes could do this. 

Christian Unity in Tadley


churches together tadley wpcu 2024

Pete Hughes from St Michael’s Tadley shares news of an Ecumenical service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity organised by Churches Together Around Tadley…

Churches Together Around Tadley ventured beyond Tadley to the 12th century church of St Mary the Virgin in Silchester, Roman Calleva Attrebatum, for the annual Unity Service on Sunday afternoon, 21st January. The church is rather remote and located just within the ancient walls of the Roman city and in very poor weather it was good to welcome representatives from all the local church communities.

Rev  Karen West, the resident Anglican Vicar of Silchester wrote on Monday – “On behalf of CTAT and Ministry team colleagues, I’m writing to say an enormous THANK YOU to you all for supporting us hosting the Unity service yesterday. It was so good to be able to welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ to our beautiful Church and to offer them generous hospitality.”

Pictured are the gathered local church leaders.

Book Recommendation


lights in the darkness crop

Someone bought me for Christmas a book which I highly recommend: Phillip M. Thompson’s Lights in the Darkness: Exploring Catholic Themes in Twelve Extraordinary Films (Eugene OR, Cascade: 2017). Having seen many if not all of the films he covers, I found it gripping to re-visit them once again in the light of his remarks. The films he covers include The MissionGattacaBabette’s Feast, Diary of a Country Priest, Dead Man Walking and others – many of which I’m sure you too will have watched. Film is a powerful and unique artistic medium that can be a source of profound ethical reflections and spiritual insights. Thompson brings this out in his book. He focuses on twelve award-winning films, exploring the themes of grace, redemption, pilgrimage, conscience, justice, faith and reason, the common good, sacramentality, and wisdom. In addition to unpacking these themes, each chapter provides background information on the relevant historical moment and explores the development of the film itself. Dr. Phillip M. Thompson is the Executive Director of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University. He has published two books, Between Science and Religion, the Engagement of Catholic Intellectuals with Science and Technology and Returning to Reality, Thomas Merton’s Wisdom for a Technological World. He has written in or been interviewed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Associated Press, and Headline News.

Image: Amazon

A Postcard from Perth


liam in perth

We recently received a “postcard” from Perth, Western Australia. Of course, it wasn’t an old fashioned post card, but an electronic one, as you might expect from our former Diocesan IT Manager, Liam Olford who is currently travelling in Australia. He writes…

G’day from Australia! Megan and I have now been in Australia, Perth, for nearly a month and have settled into life here and adapted to living in a hostel. We’ve swam in stunning water, explored islands, experienced 40 degree heat (and sunburn), crawled through the tunnels of a convict built prison, met some kangaroos, watched countless breathtaking sunsets and even been in the centre of a thunderstorm! No day here is the same and everyone is very friendly. Across the rest of the month we have a boat trip planned to spot wild dolphins, Perth Zoo, a music concert at a local stadium and I’ll be meeting up with a distant relative I’ve never met who has invited me around for a BBQ which is very exciting!

In Perth city centre they have a beautiful Gothic Cathedral, St Mary’s. The Archbishop here is the Most Reverend Timothy Costelloe SDB, assisted by Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Reverend Donald George Sproxton. There are 108 parishes in this Archdiocese, I’m quite thankful I do not have to roll out IT equipment to them in this heat!

We will be staying in Perth until the middle of February where we have some family coming over for a road trip to Adelaide which I’m very excited about. Once we setup in Adelaide, I will start looking for work. Certainly enjoying the time off at the moment!

I do miss working with the Clergy, Staff and Volunteers of the Diocese and would like to wish all of them a very happy new year. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

I’m regularly posting pictures on Instagram. If anyone would like to follow our journey, the account is: memoriesforoneday

I’ll send another update in March!  All the best, Liam.

And finally…Where is this?

And finally


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 the dome of St Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough and can be seen from the nave above the sanctuary.

This week’s challenge, is to identify this Calvary in  a church somewhere else in the Diocese, but where is this? Just email your answer to Deacon Craig by Friday 26th 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?