Newsletter 12th September 2021

Dear Parishioners

Another week has past and little by little I am starting to find my feet. At times it seems one step forward, and one step backwards! But I have enjoyed immensely starting to get to know individual members of the parish and being a part during this past week of the preparations for First Holy Communion, to take place within the parish early next year, and meeting with the Catechists and our large group of Confirmandi as they resumed their Confirmation Course on Tuesday last. 

This year we shall be welcoming Bishop Patrick to St. Mary’s on Friday 8th October, for a special Mass at 7pm, in which he will administer the sacrament of Confirmation to those who have been preparing over the past few months, often under very difficult circumstances, and  as a result of the constraints put upon them for meeting together. It is very heartening to know we have such a well prepared and large group of Confirmandi moving forward on this important step in their faith journeys.  I am immensely grateful to our loyal group of Catechists who have done a splendid job in helping our young people to prepare to receive  the sacrament of Confirmation next month. It will also be good for me to experience a Mass with Confirmation, as the Parish Priest, and not as the Bishop’s Private Secretary! I have played my part so often in helping different parishes to organise for Confirmations during the past five years, however I have never been on the receiving end of an official visit by our Diocesan Bishop and his Secretary! I know though we shall give Bishop Patrick a very warm welcome here at St. Mary’s, and make this a very joyful celebration for our young people too. Do pray for them each day in the weeks now before the 8th October, that the Holy Spirit will guide them and support them forward as they make this important next step in their commitment to the Church and in their Christian discipleship.

With the Bishop’s visit just a few weeks away now we are making many practical arrangements to ensure it is a wonderful celebration within our parish. I am keen that we offer some form of hospitality to our Confirmandi and their families and friends and to Bishop Patrick and his new Private Secretary, Fr Simon Gillespie, in our parish hall after the Mass. I would be very grateful, and if you feel able to do so, if as many people as possible could offer to prepare some baked goods, cakes, and cookies etc. these can be dropped off to me here at the Rectory on Thursday 7th October or the morning of Friday 8th October. This will ensure we can have a good party for all concerned. If you feel able to bake for this event, could you let either myself or Andrew know, so that we can ensure that we have enough simple baked goods for the party afterwards. In addition, if you would like to assist with the serving of refreshments in the hall after Mass could you also contact us so we can ensure we have enough volunteers on hand that evening.

This Introduction seems to have become all about baking and celebrating, parties and serving food! But in a way that’s a good thing, as we know only too well Our Lord enjoyed a good party and parties are always joyful celebrations and help to build up a community. Thank you for the lovely welcome party arranged for me after Sunday Mass last weekend, it was such a joy to meet so many of you personally there, and to share time together over some delicious cakes and biscuits and a cup of tea or coffee after Mass. I hope soon we can start to regularly gather for tea and coffee again in the hall after Mass at the weekend and enjoy a time of social engagement and catching up with regulars and newcomers to our parish each week. Just a note that we shall be looking for volunteers in the next few weeks who might be prepared to assist with this. Do get in touch with Andrew or myself if you feel you might be able to offer your support in this way, and so that together we can draw up a regular rota of volunteers.

A reminder that the church is now open again from early in the morning and until dusk in the week each day except Mondays and on Sundays until after the morning Mass. Do try to pop in and make use of the church during the day for quiet prayer when you can. I have found it a lovely space in which to pray and to sit and be still, or to mediate in the early morning, during these my first few weeks here, and such quiet moments waiting upon the Lord help us to become more fully the people we are called to be in Christ as we wait upon him and allow ourselves the chance to listen to His still small voice, and to step back for a while and be still amidst all the busyness of our lives. In addition, can I draw to your attention the new evening Mass we are offering each week on a Tuesday evening at 7 pm. I hope by offering this Mass it will allow many who are working to be able to come to Mass in the week. Exposition begins at 6 pm, and Benediction at approx. 6.40 pm, but don’t feel you have to come from 6 pm, just drop in if you can anytime from 6 – 7 pm. This month we will be praying before the Blessed Sacrament during Exposition for an increase in vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life.  Mass is now celebrated in the church daily except for Mondays when the church is closed, and I hopefully can take a day off! It is hoped that I shall soon have clearance from the Home Office to minister as a Chaplain in our local prison, and so I am afraid we shall not be offering a morning Mass in the church on a Saturday.

In the gospel set for this Sunday we are reminded that the kind of fidelity to which Jesus calls each of us too is heroic, but not unique or rare by any means. That afternoon in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus taught an important truth about the Messiah and about our own Christian discipleship as well. We come to the Father’s glory not by going out of this world and refusing to engage fully with all the pressures of our daily lives, but through engaging with the world around us, and with the people that we meet each day, but keeping a still centre within our lives. We do so too not by avoiding the crosses each of us carry, but by embracing those crosses in love and through the power and knowledge of the strength of God’s great love for each one of us. Each of us has a cross or perhaps many crosses to carry in life. About that we have no choice. We have a choice though as to whether we allow the crosses that we carry to make us bitter, or if we choose to allow Christ to help us to bare the load. Every cross that is set upon our back can open us up to the power of God’s love in our lives. When we allow Christ to shoulder our burdens and pains, our sufferings and our sorrows, so we discover that we never walk alone. Christ is beside us and He waits to help to ease the burden of the many crosses we carry upon our backs, to help us to shoulder the weight of the crosses that we carry. 

Let us this week embrace all we must carry in life with a newfound trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His great love for us. Let us not be downhearted or afraid. But put all our trust and hope in the one who calls us forward and seeks to help us to carry the load. The one who carried the weight of the Cross upon his own shoulders on the way to calvary, who died there and rose again from the dead, that we might be set free from sin and learn more fully for ourselves to love and be loved.

I pray that each of you may have a good week ahead. Please continue to hold me in your prayers each day.

Your parish priest and friend,

Fr Jonathan 


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