Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 432

January 30th, 2024
nichols welby

I am sending you this e-News today from Norwich, where with Cardinal Vincent and Archbishop Justin Welby, the Catholic and Anglican bishops are gathering for two days of prayer and reflection together. These joint bishops’ conferences occur every two years, the last one being based around the two cathedrals in Liverpool. This time, we are gathering for prayer and discussion in the two cathedrals of Norwich, the Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Today, after a short pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Julian of Norwich, we will be reflecting on the Coronation of the HM King Charles III before Choral Evensong in the Anglican Cathedral. Then tomorrow, after Morning Prayer, there will be a discussion session of the Synod on Synodality and a presentation from Professor Rod Strange on St. John Henry Newman. Please pray for God’s blessing on all our endeavours to bring about a deeper communion in doctrine, life and worship between our two communities. Meanwhile, my thanks to Deacon Craig for his work putting together this week’s e-News and I wish you all a blessed week ahead.

In Corde Iesu

+ Philip

Image: Catholic Herald

A New Priest – Fr. Francisco Hintikka

From the Bishop

fr francisco hintikka

Last Wednesday 24th January, the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, I went over to Sacred Heart Bournemouth Oratory in Formation to ordain Brother Francisco Hintikka to the priesthood. It was a beautiful celebration of the Mass with a lot of priests and people present, followed by a reception in the newly refurbished hall beneath the church. Three priests from Finland concelebrated and Fr. Francisco is only the eleventh native Finn since the Reformation to be ordained a Catholic priest. Here is the homily I preached.

A warm welcome to Sacred Heart Bournemouth Oratory-in-Formation for this priestly ordination of Bro. Francisco Hintikka. Welcome to Canon John O’Leary, Rector of Allen Hall, Fr. Keith McMillan from the Jesuits, to Fr. John Saward and to Fr. Richard Biggerstaff of the St. Barnabas Society. Welcome to brother priests, Oratorians and seminarians. Welcome to Joy Smith and to all joining us online. Bro. Francisco tells me he is only the eleventh native Finn since the Reformation to be ordained a Catholic priest and so we’re especially happy tonight to welcome three priests all the way from Finland: Frs. Toumo, Tuomas and Anders. Bro. Francisco’s life story, before and after his conversion, is extraordinary: his home life, his work in Helsinki, his move to London then the amazing grace of coming to faith in Christ, initially as an Anglican but later as a Catholic. He tried his vocation in Parkminster but it was in Oxford he first met the Oratorians. He recalls a blessing with a relic of St. Philip. He considered joining the Oratorians, but he said they seem far too holy and intelligent for me. Yet by God’s grace, here we are tonight: the end of a long journey and the beginning of a new and great adventure. What God had planned from all eternity now at last comes to fruition.
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Be an Ananias to others

From the Bishop

msp southwark 260124

Last Friday I went to Southwark Cathedral to celebrate the Foundation Day Mass of the Missionary Society of St. Paul (MSP). It was a lively occasion, with many priests and people from the Society present, along with Bishop Paul Hendricks and Bishop Philip Moger. Here is the homily I preached in honour of St. Paul, inviting everyone to reflect upon the person of Ananias who was God’s instrument in his conversion.

I welcome all of you to this Mass today in which we thank God for the Missionary Society of St. Paul. It was on this day in 2000 that the first MSP priest arrived in this country to serve in the Diocese of Clifton; they now serve in other dioceses too, including my own. So I welcome brother priests, especially those of the Society, as well as Associate Missionaries and friends here today. I thank Fr. Mark Odion, the Regional Superior, for kindly inviting me to celebrate this Foundation Day Mass and for all that the Society brings to the life and mission of the Church in this land.

But let me say a word about he whom we venerate today. An educated man, a Roman citizen, a hard-line Pharisaic Jew, St. Paul was en route to Damascus, when suddenly he was knocked off his horse by a blinding light and a voice crying from heaven: Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me? Who are you? he asked. I am Jesus. The conversion of St. Paul is one of the most important events in human history. Thanks to him and his three great missionary journeys, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and in later centuries across the whole world, not least to Africa and Nigeria. Paul’s writings, his 13 New Testament Epistles, have continuously shaped the thought, life and mission of the Church down through history to today. Rich in teaching and exhortation, it’s truly remarkable that when you listen to them attentively, it’s as if he’s speaking about issues in the Church now. Moreover, Paul’s life-story and dramatic conversion, his personal-passionate love for Jesus Christ, his commitment to mission, his holiness of life and his glorious martyrdom continue to be an inspiration to us all. He gives us an example of how to become a saint. No wonder the MSP Missionaries have taken St. Paul as their patron. It’s hard to think of anyone better!
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Thanks to Fr. Kevin Bidgood

From the Bishop

fr kevin bidgood

Our congratulations, our thanks and our prayers for Fr. Kevin Bidgood, who having reached the canonical age, is retiring this Lent. We thank God and pray for him. Fr. Kevin, who came originally from the Isle of Wight, was for many years an Anglican priest, latterly within the Diocese of Winchester, until his reception into the Catholic Church in 1994. He trained at St. John’s Wonersh and was ordained on 5th September 1998 and served in St. Edmund’s Southampton. Later, he served in the Havant Pastoral Area and became parish priest of Sacred Heart Waterlooville until his appointment in 2017 to St. Francis’s Ascot. I remember when asking him if he would be willing to go to Ascot to serve there, he told me he had never been in the north of the Diocese. I assured him he would like it – and he did! As he retires, the parishioners of Ascot, I know, will miss him very much. Let us pray to the Lord for him, for good health and a happy rest.

In succession to Fr. Kevin, I have appointed Fr. Phillip Harris as the Priest-in-Charge. He will be working closely with Canon David Hopgood in Windsor. I thank Fr. Phillip for his generosity in this and for all the help and support he gave to Fr Kevin Hoiles in the parish of Southbourne, as well as the supply work he undertook locally.  Please pray for him as he begins this new appointment.

Safeguarding Audit

From the Bishop

autumn leaves sunshine cbcew

Ruth Attfield, Head of Safeguarding in the Diocese, informs us about the forthcoming audit of the Diocese being undertaken by the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA)

“Did you not realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living in you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred and you are that temple” (1 Cor 3: 16-17). Safeguarding is an absolute priority to the life and mission of our Diocese of Portsmouth; that we create ‘safe spaces’ for everyone, the young and the old, the strong and the vulnerable. The creation of a strong and healthy culture of safeguarding is a responsibility that rests upon us all.

The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) is a professional standards body with regulatory powers that exists to regulate Catholic Church bodies, offer assurance to the public and drive improvements in safeguarding standards in the Church. The CSSA endeavour to help everyone adhere to the policies and standards that have been agreed. Part of the CSSA’s role as a regulator is to undertake audits across Dioceses in England and Wales, assessing safeguarding practice against the eight national safeguarding standards. We have been notified that our audit will be conducted on the week beginning Monday 18th March 2024 with the practical elements being concluded on Friday 23rd March. Commenting on the imminent audit, Bishop Philip said “We are pleased to welcome to the Diocese members of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) who will be here to undertake an audit.  We look forward to this because audits invariably show up not only the things we do well, but also the areas that need improvement and development.  I invite you therefore to engage sincerely and wholeheartedly with the CSSA when they visit, so that they can capture accurately the efforts being made across the Diocese, to ensure our parish and church communities are safe places for those who use them.”
Image: CBCEW

The Prophet Isaiah

From the Bishop

clergy day fr jeremy corley

Last Tuesday, I went up to Winchester for the Clergy Formation Day. It was led by Dr. Jeremy Corley, a priest of our Diocese, who is the Lecturer in Sacred Scripture and Director of Research at St. Patrick’s Pontifical University in Dublin. Fr. Jeremy did his first degree in Hebrew at Oxford before studying for the priesthood at Oscott. After ordination, he was for five years assistant priest at St Joseph’s, Aldershot. He then went to Catholic University of America in Washington to do doctoral research in Biblical Studies (1992-96). When he returned, he served as parish priest of St Joseph’s Newbury, but was soon asked to go to Ushaw College, Durham as Lecturer in Scripture. He left there in 2011 and moved to Maynooth. During his time, he has been or continues to be on the Executive Committee of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain, the Catholic Biblical Association of America and the editorial board of the journal Catholic Biblical Quarterly. He is currently the President of the Irish Biblical Association.

We are very proud of Fr. Jeremy! The author of several books and many articles and essays in journals, he willingly returns to the Diocese at least twice a year in order to offer a formation day on Scripture to our clergy. His main interests are in the Book of Sirach, the Old Testament wisdom literature and biblical intertextuality. Last week he gave us a fascinating few hours on the first chapters of Isaiah.

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, Quadragesima



This coming Sunday, 4th February, is Sexagesima Sunday. Have you ever heard of Septuagesima Sunday or Sexagesima Sunday? Or for that matter, Quinquagesima or even Quadragesima? You never know which quiz these names might come up in, so now you will be primed with the right answers!

In the Church’s Liturgical Calendar that was in use prior to 1969, we would now be in the pre-Lent preparation period. The Third Sunday before the beginning of Lent was called Septuagesima Sunday, Septuagesima literally meaning “seventieth” in Latin, that is, 70 days until Easter (although in fact there are only 63 days). The next Sunday, the Second Sunday before Lent, was called Sexagesima Sunday, that is, 60 days before Easter and the following Sunday, the one before Ash Wednesday, was called Quinquagesima meaning “fiftieth” or 50 days until Easter. (In fact, there were 49 days). The First Sunday of Lent itself was called Quadragesima Sunday (40 days til Easter). These names date back to a time when it was common for Christians to begin the Lenten fast immediately after Septuagesima Sunday. Just as Lent today begins 46 days before Easter – since Sundays are not days of fasting – so, in the early Church, Saturdays and Thursdays were considered fast-free days. So in order to fit in 40 days of fasting before Easter, the fast had to start three weeks earlier. These pre-Lent Sundays are still observed in celebrations of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, but they were removed when the liturgical calendar was revised in 1969, in order to underline and focus on the forty days and forty nights of Lent and the fasting associated with it. In the post-1969 Missal, Sundays, which always celebrate the Lord’s resurrection – even in Lent – are not fast days.
Image: Bora Tosun Stone / EyeEm / Getty Images

St. John Bosco, Founder of the Salesians


st john bosco

Tomorrow, Wednesday 31st January, is the Memorial of St. John Bosco (1815-1888), founder of the Salesian Order. He came from Piedmont in NW Italy. His father died when he was two years old and he was brought up by his mother in extreme poverty. He entered the seminary in 1831 and was ordained a priest in 1841. He worked throughout his life in the education and care of children, especially the poorest, principally in Turin. His attractive and charismatic personality soon drew many to his oratory and his evening classes. For a while he lived in poverty with his mother and about 40 destitute boys in the Valdocco area and later he open workshops for training the boys to be shoemakers and tailors. By 1856, the number had grown to 250 with four workshops. There were also 500 children attached to the oratories and 10 priests to help teach them. John Bosco was an eloquent preacher and writer; he also had a reputation as a visionary and a wonder worker, with an extraordinary gift for handling difficult youths without punishment, but with a gentle yet effective firmness. On Sundays, he would often take the children on expeditions into the country, beginning with Mass, followed by breakfast and open-air games, a picnic, Catechism class and Vespers at the end. He believed in the spiritual value of contact with natural beauty and the uplifting power of music. 1859, he began to organise a Congregation for this work to expand and continue; it was formally approved in 1874 and specialises in pastoral work and schools. He also founded an order of nuns to do the same work for girls. He died in 1888 and his body is enshrined in Turin, where thousands still visit on pilgrimage today.

Tomorrow, let’s remember in our prayers the clergy, staff and pupils of Salesian College Farnborough. We wish them – and all in the Salesian community – a happy feast day!

Image: Salesian Missions

This Friday is Candlemas Day



This Friday, 2nd February, is Candlemas Day, the Feastday of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, and the end of the Christmas season. This is the day recorded in the Gospel of Luke when, forty days after birth, the Jewish law required that every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord. When Joseph and Mary got to the Temple, an upright and devout man, Simeon, prompted by the Holy Spirit, met the Holy Family and took the baby into his arms and blessed God saying: Now my eyes have seen your salvation, the glory of your people Israel, a light to enlighten the pagans. Jesus Christ is the Glory of Israel: He has fulfilled all the hopes and promises of Old. More, He is the Light of the World. He has overcome evil, sin and the powers of darkness. That’s why on this day at the start of Mass candles are blessed and lit. Christ is our Light. Without Christ, human lives have no fundamental meaning. Without Christ, human moral value-systems become groundless. Without Christ, there is no eternal life, no heaven to look forward to, and human hearts are restless, yearning for a happiness that can never be fulfilled. The Church uses candles not to create a magical atmosphere but because they are potent symbols. To give off light, a candle burns up its own body-mass. This symbolises Christ who in his birth, life and death, gave up Himself, even His flesh and blood, for our salvation. You and I have received His light into our hearts through baptism. He has chosen us personally to be His disciples. And He calls us to share that Light with others. This is why as we carry candles, we must recognise our call in Him to radiate that Light of Christ to others.

Try to attend Mass on Friday for this important liturgical celebration.

Image: Diocese of Phoenix

St. Blaise, Patron Saint of Sore Throats


st blaise window

This Saturday, 3rd February, is the (optional) Memorial of St. Blaise, the patron saint of sore throats, and one of the most popular saints of all time. The sources on his life are unreliable, but for sure, he was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia (d. 316). Indeed, he is the only Armenian saint to be commemorated in the Roman Calendar. It is said that during a period of persecution, the governor of Cappadocia imprisoned him in a cave outside Sebaste. A mother came to the Bishop, asking him to cure her son, who was choking on the fishbone, stuck in his throat. The Bishop saved the boy with his prayer and with the sign of the cross. For that reason, he has been venerated ever since as the patron saint of those suffering from diseases of the throat. He was eventually condemned to death and beheaded in 316. On this day, many people receive a blessing of the throat. Two blessed candles are tied or held together in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross and applied to the throat, as the priest pronounces a special invocation to St. Blaise, asking him to protect the individual from diseases of the throat. Let us pray on Friday for anyone afflicted with problems of the throat: cancer, Covid, a cold or whatever.

Here is the special Blessing Prayer that the priest uses on this feastday, as he holds two candles under the throat of the person being blessed, while making the Sign of the Cross: Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii, episcopi et martyris, liberet te Deus a malo gutturis, et a quolibet alio malo. In nomine Patris et Filii + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. ‘Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat, and from all other harm besides. In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.’

Image: My Catholic Life

Sunday’s Liturgy


jesus heals simon peters mother in law

This Sunday, 4th February, is the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can find the readings for Sunday’s Mass here. On our diocesan Liturgy Project website, Canon Gerard Flynn shares this commentary…

If you have ever had an operation, or been ill, you will remember landmarks of your recovery:

  • Today’s the first day that I have been out of bed to sit up.
  • My hair was washed; I felt human again.
  • I walked into the garden!
  • I really wanted to do something.‍

We meet God in the kitchen and the classroom, the hospital ward and the office. In one healing moment today’s Gospel shows that. God is at the sick bed and in the kitchen.

Simon’s mother-in-law has had a fever. Jesus does something that accompanies every healing, in the Gospel and the hospital ward. He visits her and touches her. Touch by itself is powerfully healing. Jesus takes her hand and helps her up. The landmarks of healing come at once. She is up, in the kitchen, at work, doing what a Jewish mother rejoices to do, feeding guests. I guess that chicken broth with barley featured in her meal.

I wish I knew her name but, whoever she is, I hear her saying later to her friends: It was wonderful. I knew how much better I was when I got back to work. She discovers God in Jesus. She sees the sacred in the cooking pot and the serving spoon. She is fully healed. She shows that all of us who are saved need to be ready to serve the Lord and to serve our neighbours.

Somebody once said: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. If we see God in our work, we can work very hard without our work ever being hard.

If you’re not sure, just contrast the attitude of Jonah: Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service, his time no better than hired drudgery? Have you ever worked with people like that?

Next week St Paul tells us: Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. I hope that this week you feel as restored as Simon’s mother-in-law; that you will feel sent out to do everything for the glory of God.

Image: New Ways Ministry

St. Agatha (d. 251)



Next Monday, 5th February, is the memorial of St. Agatha (d. 251), the patron Saint of Catania in Sicily (pictured). Like St. Agnes last month, St. Agatha is commemorated in Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon. She is said to have been a young noble Sicilian, who had dedicated herself and her virginity to God as a child. She rejected the advances of an amorous consul who exposed her as a Christian during a time of imperial persecution. She was condemned, tortured and humiliated, yet she refused to renounce her faith. One of her most gruesome ordeals was the cutting off of her breasts, although she was miraculously healed and encouraged by a vision of St. Peter, as she lay in prison, mutilated and in agony. She eventually died after being rolled over red hot coals, inviolate to the last. Her last prayer to Christ was ‘Lord, receive my soul,’ after which she breathed her last. Her cult became hugely popular in Italy. A church was constructed in her honour in the fifth century and Saint Gregory the Great included her name in the Roman Canon of the Mass. She was invoked against fire and, by extension, against the unpredictable eruptions of Mount Etna. She is also the patron of bell-founders through her association with a warning bell rung to alert folk of a fire or an imminent eruption.

Image: Ferrini

St. Paul Miki and Martyrs of Japan


st paul miki and companions sacred art series

Next Tuesday, 6th February, is the Memorial of St. Paul Miki (d. 1597) and his companions, the Martyrs of Japan. The first Christian apostle of Japan was St.  Francis Xavier, who landed in 1549. When he left a few years later, Christians numbered almost 2000. Nearly 50 years afterwards, they were much more numerous, but the Japanese ruler incensed by this increase and by the boasting of a Spanish sea-captain, embarked on a policy of persecution. This extended according to Japanese custom to the dependents of the victims too. There were twenty-six martyrs in all in this first wave. Paul Miki was Japanese, of an aristocratic family, a Jesuit priest and a notable preacher. Two others were Jesuit lay brothers and six Franciscans, of whom four were Spanish, one Mexican and one from Bombay. The other 17 were all Japanese layfolk, except one Korean; these included catechists, interpreters, a soldier, a physician and three young boys. The martyrs had part of their left ears cut off and were displayed in various towns to terrify others. They were crucified near Nagasaki, being bound or chained to crosses on the ground. Each martyr was then dispatched by a separate executioner, who stood by the cross with a lance at the ready. After their death, their clothes and their blood were treasured. They were canonised in 1862. Other Japanese martyrs, hundreds in number, suffered in the 17th century, including St. Lorenzo Ruiz, Patron of the Philippines.

In 2016, Martin Scorsese released a film called Silence about the story of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. Although the film is based on a fictional novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo, many of the events and people depicted in “Silence” are real. The film does not sugarcoat the brutal nature of this chapter of Jesuit history. It is a movie well worth watching, even if theologically problematic. You can read more about it and watch video clips and interviews here.

Prefaces of the Roman Missal


preface ii ordinary time

We continue with the series on Prefaces of the Roman Missal by Canon Alan Griffiths, as we look at Preface III of the Sundays in Ordinary Time, The salvation of man by a man…

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.
For we know it belongs to your boundless glory,
that you came to the aid of mortal beings with your divinity
and even fashioned for us a remedy out of mortality itself,
that the cause of our downfall
might become the means of our salvation,
through Christ our Lord.
Through him the host of Angels adores your majesty
and rejoices in your presence for ever.
May our voices, we pray, join with theirs
in one chorus of exultant praise, as we acclaim:

The text is largely drawn from the Verona Sacramentary, and there are parallel texts in the Ambrosian Missal. It is a highly compacted text in the Latin, and hard to translate adequately, because any translation requires expansion to convey the sense properly. The English given in the Missal has been controversial, and is not really adequate. It’s not so much ‘the cause of our downfall’, as ‘the outcome of our downfall’.

The Preface is a profound and beautiful meditation on the theme of the Incarnation as itself a redemptive event. The word ‘mortal’ is repeated twice, as ‘mortal beings’ and ‘mortality itself’. ‘Mortal’ and ‘Mortality’ are the keys to the whole text.
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Thought for the Week

Thought for the Week


“Simeon and Anna cherished the hope proclaimed by the prophets, even though it is slow to be fulfilled and grows silently amid the infidelities and ruins of our world. They did not complain about how wrong things are, but patiently looked for the light shining in the darkness of history.” (Pope Francis)

Synod on Synodality: Adoration and Service

Vatican and World

bishops in green st peters rome

In case you missed it, here is the homily that Pope Francis preached in St. Peter’s Basilica on 29th October at the Mass at the conclusion of the first Synod on Synodality: loving God through adoration and service.

A doctor of the Law comes to Jesus under a pretext, in order to test him. The question he asks, however, is an important and enduring one that, at times, arises in our own hearts and in the life of the Church: “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Mt 22:36). We too, immersed in the living stream of Tradition, can ask: “What is the most important thing? What is the driving force?” What matters so much as to be the guiding principle of everything? Jesus’ answer is clear: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:37-39).

Brother Cardinals, Bishops and priests, men and women Religious, dear brothers and sisters, at the conclusion of this stage of our journey, it is important to look at the “principle and foundation” from which everything begins ever anew: by loving. Loving God with our whole life and loving our neighbour as ourselves. Not our strategies, our human calculations, the ways of the world, but love of God and neighbour: that is the heart of everything. And how do we channel this momentum of love? I would propose two verbs, two movements of the heart, on which I would like to reflect: to adore and to serve. We love God through adoration and service.
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Bishop Declan on Holocaust Memorial Day

Vatican and World

bishop declan lang

For Holocaust Memorial Day last Saturday, 27th January, Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishop’s Conference’s International Affairs Department, urged us to reflect on those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and pray for those who work tirelessly to promote and protect freedom around the world. He said: “On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember the six million people who were murdered and all those who have suffered in the genocides that followed. The theme this year is “Fragility of Freedom.” It reminds us of the slow and subtle erosion of freedoms that create the circumstances that allow genocide to take place. It also urges us not to take our freedoms for granted, and to be mindful of our own responsibility in defending and strengthening freedoms in our communities. “The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust published a special prayer to commemorate this day. I invite you to join me in prayer, remembering those who were murdered.” Here is the prayer:

Loving God, we come to you with heavy hearts, remembering the six million Jewish souls murdered during the Holocaust. In the horrors of that history, when so many groups were targeted because of their identity, and in genocides which followed, we recognise destructive prejudices that drive people apart. Forgive us when we give space to fear, negativity and hatred of others, simply because they are different from us. In the light of God, we see everyone as equally precious manifestations of the Divine, and can know the courage to face the darkness. Through our prayers and actions, help us to stand together with those who are suffering, so that light may banish all darkness, love will prevail over hate and good will triumph over evil. Amen.
Image: CBCEW

Mass for Religious

Upcoming events

st cecilia abbey ryde

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.

Rite of Election

Upcoming events


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.

New Exhibition at Quarr

Upcoming events

quarr monastic life exhibition

On Saturday 17th February, Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight invite you to an historical exhibition that they are putting on at 2 pm. The exhibition is part of a reflection on the past in preparation for the 900th anniversary of the foundation of the Old Quarr Abbey in 2032. If you wish to take part, please email Tracy Osborn tracy.osborn@quarr.org
Image: Quarr Abbey IoW

Bosco Experience / Reunion afternoon

Upcoming events

bosco camp

The organisers of Portsmouth Diocesan Don Bosco Boys’ Camp are holding a Bosco Experience / Reunion afternoon on Sunday 25th February 2024 from 2 to 4pm at St. Peter’s Church, Jewry Street, Winchester SO23 8RY. This is for boys currently in year 6 up to year 11 and a chance for new boys who want to find out more and have a ‘taste’ of the Bosco Experience and for those who have been on camp to meet with old friends. Fun activities and a chance for parents to find out more and sign up for camp. Booking is essential. To find out more please email dbcamps@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk.

Escorted Tour to Knock

Upcoming events


Knock Pilgrimages invite you to join an escorted tour to Knock & Co Mayo from Sunday 3rd March 2024.  The price is £899.00 per person and includes flight, 10kg hold luggage, 5 nights in 4* Castlecourt Hotel, Westport with Dinner, Bed & Breakfast and also lunch on three days.  All entertainment, excursions and transport are also included.  The tour will visit Knock, Galway City, Kylemore Abbey, Croagh Patrick & Ashford Castle.  Single  supplement on enquiry.

Contact Patricia or Natali on 01268 762278 or 07740 175557 or email: knockpilgrimages@gmail.com

Have you booked your ticket for our Symposium?

Upcoming events

Symposium Poster Final

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.

Lenten Retreat in Southampton

Upcoming events

Lenten Retreat Poster

St Vincent de Paul parish in Southampton invite you to register for their Lenten Retreat on Saturday 16th March

All are invited to participate in our Lenten retreat on Saturday 16th March, 10-4pm. The day will include talks, Mass, the Rosary and Adoration. Hot drinks and biscuits will be served during breaks. Participants should bring a packed lunch. A Tesco Express is opposite the church if you would like to use it. Free parking is available. Donations of £10 per person should be made before the event to secure your place. To book your place and for payment details please contact svpoffice@portsmouthdiocese.org.ukClick on the image for a poster.

Charter for the Care of Victims and Survivors

Social Action


Ruth Attfield, Diocesan Head of Safeguarding shares news of our Charter for the Care of Victims and Survivors…

In December 2023, our Charter for the Care of Victims and Survivors was published on the Diocesan website. The Charter sets out our commitment to Victims and Survivors of abuse, providing a clear and transparent outline of the services and support available for those who report having been harmed to us.  You can access the Charter via the website here.

We have also produced a poster of the Charter to be made available and prominent within our parishes, on internal and external noticeboards and shared via parish communication channels. Click here to download a copy.

Young Leadership programme

Social Action

cafod young leaders

Jo Lewry celebrates the amazing things our CAFOD Young Leaders are doing in their schools.

On 23rd January we had the second training day for our Young Leaders. These are students in Year 12 who joined our Young Leadership programme 2023-24. This year we have Young Leaders from Farnborough Hill, Salesian College Farnborough, Oaklands College Waterlooville, Christ the King College Isle of Wight, The Marist Ascot and St Anne’s Secondary School Southampton.

We started the day with the Young Leaders sharing some of the ways that had raised awareness about CAFOD last term. They had led whole school assemblies, had a stall at the Christmas fayre, collected donations for local food banks, sold doughnuts and cupcakes, and raised funds to buy CAFOD world gifts. Next, we looked at motivation and leadership skills focusing on how to engage students in their schools with CAFOD’s work. In the final session the Young Leaders were asked to plan a campaign on an issue that motivated them. They came up with innovative ways to raise awareness about homelessness, educating fellow students on food insecurity and peace building.

I look forward to hearing how these activities went when we meet next term for the final training day!

Family Fast Day is approaching

Social Action

cafod family fast day 2024

Christine Allen, Executive Director at CAFOD recently wrote to me reminding us of the importance of supporting this year’s Lent Family Fast Day…

As Lent approaches this year, we are all aware that the cost-of-living crisis weighs heavily on our hearts. I know things are very tough for our church community here in England and Wales. This is a global experience of course – I hear every week from our colleagues and CAFOD’s Church partners worldwide about the profound challenges they face in their countries seeing so many grappling with poverty as they strive to provide for their families while prices of essential goods soar.

The cost-of-living crisis presents a dual challenge. Not only does it affect those we serve but it is impacting CAFOD’s ability to support people and communities during this critical time. I cannot emphasise enough how important the Family Fast Day appeal is to our work, especially at a time when we see the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on our income. Your endorsement of Fast Day amongst parishes and schools in your diocese over the coming weeks is so needed.

CAFOD’s Family Fast Day falls on Friday 23rd February. This Lent, we are sharing the story of our work with a fishing community in Liberia with parishes and schools in England and Wales. Like his apostle namesake, James Pyne is a fisherman by trade, living in New Kru Town, a coastal suburb of Monrovia, Liberia. Many of the fishermen James called his brothers have died at sea, because they didn’t have the right safety equipment. Through our partnership with Caritas Monrovia and the local fishermen, and with the generous support from parishes and schools here, we’ve been able to set up a comprehensive training programme and fund modern equipment, including GPS fishfinders and life jackets, ensuring their safety and improving their catch. James and his crew can now be confident about returning home safely, with enough fish to provide for their families. You can watch the video here.

This is just one example of CAFOD’s work around the world. By remembering our sisters and brothers like James and supporting them through CAFOD’s Lent appeal, Catholics in England and Wales engage in encounters that show the face of Christ. Your endorsement and support for our Lent Appeal is invaluable, encouraging our community to engage with James’ story, give to the Fast Day collection, and take part in the Big Lent Walk with their parish or school as well as remembering CAFOD’s work in their prayers.

Here are some way to support CAFOD this Lent:

Pray for Peace

Social Action


I am sure that like me you are sickened to read about and see pictures on TV of the continuing wars in Ukraine and in the Holy Land and the devastation of lives and properties involved. There must be better and more humane ways of resolving differences and with justice and reconciliation for differing peoples to live peaceably in coexistence. So many have died, have been seriously wounded, lost their homes and livelihoods, are mourning loved ones. The destabilising impact on the world and its well-being is incalculable. This week, let’s redouble our prayers for peace and an end to the senseless violence. Here is a prayer to say from the Roman Missal:

O God of peace, who are peace itself and whom a spirit of discord cannot grasp, nor a violent mind receive, grant that those who are one in heart may persevere in what is good and that those in conflict may forget evil and so be healed. 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: USNews

The Gospel of Mark – an online formation series


Gospel of Mark

Deacon Martin McElroy from St Peter and the Winchester Martyrs parish invites you to join him, on a journey through the Gospel according to Mark…

As you may know, in this liturgical year (which started in Advent), we will be reading Mark’s gospel on most Sundays, and also in weekday Masses, during Ordinary Time.

On our parish YouTube site, I am re-publishing the videos of the presentations I made in the formation series on Mark’s gospel, which we first ran in the spring and summer of 2021.  The series covers one chapter of Mark each week, with an introduction session to start the series, plus a couple of reflection sessions along the way, and a recap at the end of the series.

I’ll be publishing one video from the series per week, and you can also download (from the Description alongside each video) a PDF document with the slides I’m presenting, so you can study both at your own pace.  I encourage you to follow along – ideally reading the chapter of Mark that corresponds to each week’s presentation, before you watch the video.

You can access the videos (plus an accompanying PDF document with the presentation material) from the YouTube site of the parish of St Peter and the Winchester Martyrs.  The video for Session 1 is already there, with its PDF document, for you to get started.Read More

Adoration in Woodley


woodley adoration

The other day, Fr. Leonard Odomeja, parish priest of St. John Bosco’s, Woodley wrote to tell me about developments in the parish.

“I thought that you might like to know, that in keeping with your continued encouragement to us all to develop the Six Holy habits, we have introduced a monthly 9-hour (10 am-7 pm) Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament here in Woodley last November. We intend to keep it going every third or fourth Monday of the month. It is aimed at giving those who for varying reasons cannot make it to the half-hour Adoration before Mass each weekday, a chance to spend some time with the Lord at least once every month. It is becoming quite popular. There is also an opportunity for confession (another of the holy habits) for those who cannot get to the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturday evenings before the vigil Masses. Above is a picture of the attendees towards the end the Adoration this evening. Many came during the earlier hours of the day .. Towards the end of the Adoration, we pray Vespers together, conclude with an appropriate hymn, and after the Benediction, sing a hymn to the Blessed Virgin. Fittingly, we hold the Adoration in the Lady Chapel. We pray for you each time and we humbly ask you to keep us in your prayers too.”

The Chosen


the chosen

The Chosen is the biggest crowdfunded project in TV history, and the first-ever multi-season show about the life of Jesus. This series allows viewers to see the life of Jesus through the eyes of those that knew Him. Follow the transformations of His followers through the ministry of Jesus as He journeys to change the world. You can watch every episode of The Chosen on Angel Studios for free: download the Angel Studios app and start streaming full episodes. “A charismatic fisherman drowning in debt, a troubled woman wrestling with real demons, a gifted publican ostracized by his family and his people, a religious leader struggling with his beliefs: see Jesus through the eyes of those that met him.” Series 4 has just been launched. For more details, click here.
Image: Entoin

Remembering Cardinal Consalvi


Cardinal Consalvi

The Venerable English College in Rome, together with the British Embassy to the Holy See, has announced a series of events for the 200th anniversary of the death of the renowned papal diplomat, Cardinal Ercole Consalvi. Cardinal Consalvi was the papal diplomat known for his negotiations with Napoleon. To mark the bicentenary of his death, the Venerable English College in Rome, together with the British Embassy to the Holy See, have been hosting a number of events, aiming to highlight Consalvi’s engagement with the United Kingdom. The first of these events was an invitation-only symposium entitled Consalvi and the United Kingdom held last week on 24th January. The Cardinal’s diplomatic skills during his visit to Britain are often credited with a crucial role in advancing the Catholic campaign for civil rights in this country. The symposium was followed by a concert at the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso, where recently-discovered music from Cardinal Consalvi’s era was given its first modern performance. Meanwhile, some of Consalvi’s manuscripts from the Archives of the Secretariat of State have been placed on display in the Vatican Museums.

Speaking to journalists at a press conference to announce the events, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, said that Cardinal Consalvi was a “really a fascinating figure”. He stressed the Cardinal’s “openness to negotiation” and the fact he had “achieved many things for the Church in relatively few years”. Archbishop Gallagher also noted that Consalvi made many sacrifices in order to serve the popes, and stressed his ability to understand and put into practice the worldview of each of the pontiffs that he worked under.
Image: The Catholic Weekly

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 Calvary which dominates the east wall of St Mary’s church in Aldershot.

This week’s challenge, as we approach the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, is to identify this appropriate painting in another church in the Diocese, but where is this? Just email your answer to Deacon Craig by Friday 2nd February 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?