Newsletter- 8th Week of Eastertide- Pentecost Sunday

Dear Parishioners

Today the Easter Season formally draws to a close with the celebration of the great solemnity of Pentecost. In the Gospel today we hear the words: Peace be with you!’ and with these words the Risen Lord stood amongst his fear-filled followers. He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. With their hearts filled with joy, Jesus sent them out to bring the fire of his love to all. With the Holy Spirit transforming their lives, the disciples began speaking in many different languages (First Reading). Christ was calling them to share the Gospel to the whole world. We too are baptised in this same Spirit. Each of us has been given a unique gift, so that together as a community we become the risen Christ, bringing love and goodness to all people (Second Reading). Filled with the Holy Spirit we become a new creation in the Lord. The Responsorial Psalm at Mass this Sunday joyfully proclaims a time of rejuvenation as the spirit of the Lord moves over the earth. On Pentecost Sunday, let us pray for a spirit of renewal for our local parish community and for the wider Church as well. Let us pray too that we may overcome any fear, doubt, or differences between ourselves, and be united in giving expression to the joy of the Resurrection, each of us doing so in our own unique way, whilst rooted in the same spirit of Christ’s transformative love.

Canon Michael Bell – Diamond JubileeOn Thursday June 8th this year Canon Michael Bell will celebrate 60 years of ordination to the presbyterate. His has been a long and fruitful ministry. After seminary at St Hugh’s Tollerton (the former diocesan seminary), he continued his seminary studies at St. Edmund’s College, Ware. Following ordination to the Priesthood, on the 8thJune 1963, in the Church of the Annunciation, Chesterfield, he was sent as a curate to St. Mary’s, Derby, and then to Holy Spirit, West Bridgford. Following his time in Nottingham Fr Michael continued his studies in Youth Leadership at Swansea University. On his return he went as assistant Priest to St Joseph’s Matlock and St Joseph’s, Shirebrook before becoming diocesan Youth Officer and Chaplain to The Briars; after which he was appointed Parish Priest of Our Lady and St. Therese, Wirksworth and then for ten very happy years Parish Priest here at St. Mary the Immaculate, Grantham. From Grantham Fr Michael moved to become Parish Priest firstly of Holy Cross, Whitwick and then finally Parish Priest of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Sleaford. He retired from Sleaford in 2017 and came to live back in Grantham. 

During his time in active parish ministry, Fr Michael was appointed a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter of St Barnabas in 2001 and served for several years as Provost to the Cathedral Chapter. Fr Michael has quietly and efficiently done all that was asked of him throughout his 60 long years of active ministry as a priest of our diocese, offering loyal and committed service to the Bishops and people of our diocese. Fr Michael was one of the founding members of the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, he was on the Diocesan Investment Committee and Ecumenical Commission for many years and for some 33 years was the Editor of the Diocesan Yearbook. In retirement Fr Michael has continued to be an enormous support to my predecessors here in Grantham and continues to be so for me too, to this day. On a personal level, I have come to greatly value his friendship and prayerful support of my own ministry here, and his unobtrusive, wise, and kindly manner in offering a gentle guiding thought or observation when it has been needed, but always without ever interfering in how the parish may now be run. I feel immensely privileged to have Fr Michael living within our parish community and I am glad he still comes regularly to concelebrate Mass and feels able to assist with a little pastoral visiting in the parish, hospital, and hospice when his time allows. 

I know you will want to join me in wishing Fr Michael ad multos annos as he prepares to celebrate his Diamond Jubilee of Ordination on the 8thJune this year.

Planned Celebrations: When I chatted informally last year with Fr Michael to ask how he might like to mark his 60 years of ordination he asked that his official celebration Mass should take place at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Sleaford, the last parish in which he served before his retirement, and a place where he still has many friends living. Respecting Fr Michael’s wishes, parishioners from St Mary’s are warmly invited and encouraged to join Fr Michael and others too from around the diocese and beyond, in Sleaford, for a special Mass of celebration at which Fr Michael will preside and then to stay to enjoy refreshments afterwards in the parish hall. Fr Peter Harvey, at Sleaford, was unable to accommodate a celebration Mass on the actual day of Fr Michael’s ordination and so I have arranged that Fr Michael preside at our normal Parish Mass that day. The following arrangements are planned:

St Mary’s Grantham: Parish Mass at 11 am on Thursday 8th June for members of our local parish community. Fr Michael will be the principal celebrant and I have invited a few of his very close priest friends from our diocese to come to concelebrate Mass with him that day. They will stay on for a celebration lunch in the Rectory. Following the Parish Mass (weather permitting!) I invite all parishioners attending Mass that day to join Fr Michael and his guests for some simple refreshments after Mass, tea and coffee, a glass of fizz and some special cake, in my garden/the parish Link room. If the weather is inclement, we shall probably gather in the Lower Hall. 

Our Lady of Good Counsel, Sleaford: Official Celebration Mass to mark Canon Michael Bell’s Diamond Jubilee of Ordination. Friday 9th June at 7 pm, followed by a Buffet Reception in the Parish Hall. Diocesan clergy, parishioners and friends of Fr Michael are warmly invited to join him that evening at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Sleaford. For more details, please contact Fr Peter Harvey (Parish Priest) – Telephone: 01529 302529

Corpus Christi: On Sunday 11th June we keep the great Solemnity of Corpus Christi (the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ). Following the 9.30 am Mass and in place of the Final Blessing, we shall have a procession of The Blessed Sacrament around the church, after which the Blessed Sacrament will be enthroned in a monstrance upon the Altar and a short period of Adoration will take place followed by Benediction.

First Holy Communion Mass: On Saturday 17th June at 11 am, our First Holy Communion Candidates will receive Holy Communion for the first time, at a special Mass celebrated by me in the parish. Please continue to keep them and their families and our parish catechists in your prayers as this special day draws closer.

Fr Jonathan Annual Leave: More details will follow, but a heads up that I shall be away from the parish on annual leave from the afternoon of Sunday 18th June until Friday 7th July inclusive. During my absence from the parish Monsignor John Hadley has kindly agreed to offer Mass cover at the weekends, and so there will be no changes to the Sunday Mass schedule, Saturday Vigil Mass at 6 pm and Sunday morning Mass at 9.30 am. During the weekdays whilst I am away there will be one celebration of Mass only during the week (details to follow). From Tuesday to Sunday each week the church will remain open for private prayer. A friend of mine will be house sitting in the Rectory during my absence from the parish and I am very grateful to the generosity and kindness of Fr John and Andrew for offering their practical help and support during my time away on holiday. Please be aware though that both work full time, Andrew within his own business and Fr John as Chancellor of the diocese. In the case of an emergency please contact Andrew Wakely in the first instance who will put you in touch with a priest. For all other routine parish enquiries and non-emergencies, I ask please that you wait to contact me upon my return from my holidays when I will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible.

With my prayers for you and your families during the coming week,

Your parish priest and friend,

Fr Jonathan


2023 28th May– Newsletter – Download