Sunday, 27 November 2016

PASTORAL LETTER

Our Bishop has written a Pastoral Letter that has been read this weekend




My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we open a New Year in the life of the Church, on this First Sunday of Advent, there are a number of matters that I wish to bring to your attention, briefly, in this short letter.

I am very pleased to say that real progress is being made in finalising the plan for the Diocese. The “proposal document” published in June of this year brought a wealth of responses and the experience and ideas contained in them has meant that it is taking longer than I had initially anticipated to reach conclusions. So I now intend to have the final document ready for publication on the weekend of 14th and 15th January. Given the responses received, some of the proposals have been adjusted or changed. Where these are now substantially different from what was in the proposal, there will need – for justice sake - to be a time of further consultation within just a few parishes so that priests and people may have an opportunity to consider the impact of these further proposed changes. 

I firmly believe that this re-structure will strengthen us all for our missionary purpose of bringing Christ to the world in which we live, both in the care we have for one another within our own communities and in the witness we show through our Works of Mercy in the wider community. 

I am aware that some people think the whole process has been too slow, while others believe it is rushed. I think we are making the right sort of progress considering the importance of the matters being considered. I am sure that we can embrace these changes and, strengthened by prayer and God’s Grace, build up the Church in this Diocese.

There was a clear consensus expressed in the previous Diocesan Consultation in 2015 that we should review the timing of reception of Sacraments and have a clear policy for our preparation for their celebration. I am pleased to say that there is a new policy, effective from this First Sunday of Advent, which draws on and develops the experience and pastoral practice of many parishes. There are guidelines for preparing families for the baptism of a child and a new program for preparation and celebration of Confirmation, intended for children in Year 8 of the High Schools, beginning in 2021. A close alliance between schools, parishes and families will combine so that our young people will grow in a sense of discipleship and develop a strength of living faith in their lives. A further policy concerning the preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion is also in preparation.

The people of our Diocese have also expressed a clear desire for the introduction of the Permanent Diaconate. So beginning in January, we will define the sort of diaconal ministry that we need in our Diocese and candidates will be invited to speak either with their parish priest or a nominated priest about an interest in ordination or to simply know more about what it entails.

While I thoroughly appreciate the hesitancy to change and the concerns as to what change may mean for all of us, I cannot ignore the real sense of expectation that it will bring a renewed sense of purpose and energy, particularly in engaging our young people. 

Two matters have frequently been mentioned in these past months. Many people have expressed an anxiety that the elderly will find it difficult to get to churches if distances increase. I hope that our sense of community will be reinforced by our ensuring that no-one is left isolated or without transportation and that no-one in our parishes will be left feeling lonely or alone. We need to be sure that individuals are not merely administered the Eucharist in their homes and receive parish newsletters, but that they are included in social gatherings and brought to Mass. 

The other concern is that we must not judge the health of our Diocese by numbers. At times, in his ministry, Jesus drew enormous crowds, in their thousands. But he also persisted and remained consistent in his teaching even when crowds drifted away either because they did not understand or approve of what he said or they were distracted by other matters. In the busy secularisation of our world, many have drifted away but, if we are persistent and constant in our living of the Gospel, in our kindness and care for those around us in need, then people will be drawn back with a new sense of searching and commitment. 

Pope Francis asks us if we have the courage to walk with others, even while they are walking away from the Church? I believe we have.

We begin this Season of Advent and prepare for Christmas. How good it is to celebrate this Feast with family and friends but let us all take care to remember why we celebrate Christmas and the purpose of all the arrangements and preparations. Christmas becomes a shallow and empty occasion if we forget that “God so loved the world that in the fullness of time he sent His Son to be our redeemer”. Our presents, decorations and parties must never allow us to lose sight of God’s love and His insistence in being a part of our world, to redeem and save us.

I wish you every blessing for this Season of Advent and let us continue to ask the Lord to stay with us on our journey.

With my prayers and good wishes


+ John Arnold

Bishop of Salford

THE ADVENT PRESERVATION SOCIETY

What started out as a bit of fun with a few parishioners at the parish of the Sacred Heart, Accrington (now closed) as a way of trying to 'keep Christmas out of Advent' has developed into an annual letter to members.
  
The letter is intended to be lighthearted but at the same time give us something to think about in the run up to the celebrations of our Saviour's Birth.

Below is the Message for 2016 from our Chaplain General.

The Advent Preservation Society

A Message from the Chaplain General

As I look out of the rectory window I notice the poles of the scaffolding that currently surround the tower of our beautiful church.  In the autumnal evenings they seem to glisten gently in the soft light that emanates from the security lighting hidden behind the scaffold.  

Advent is a time of renewal and reflection.  As we prepare our hearts once again to receive the King of Kings we must put aside all that is not worthy of the Lord.  All that gets in the way of us advancing the Kingdom of Christ our King in this passing world.  

It is not only the poles of the scaffolding that glisten in soft light. The shops too are gearing up for the approaching Feast, many of them without a second thought about Whose coming they celebrate.  For many it is just another commercial opportunity.  As members the Advent Preservation Society we must do all we can not to allow the secular preparations for the celebration of our Dear Saviour’s Birth to encroach on our own spiritual preparations which must always take priority.  
 
I had to smile the other day when my 'Gin Advent Calendar' arrived at my door.  The calendar provides a different gin to be sampled each day as you open the windows of the calendar.  It is a very different way to prepare for the Feast of the Incarnation.  My parishioners obviously know me well!!!

Even a secular thing like the 'Gin Advent Calendar' can be focus for further reflection.  A good G and T is made up of several elements.  The gin, the tonic, the lime, lemon or cucumber and then, of course, the ice.  

The ice doesn’t really add any flavour to the G and T but through its cooling effect improves the overall 'taste experience' of the gin.  As Christians and especially as members of the Advent Preservation Society we are called to be like the ice of a good G and T - not to be fully incorporated into the secular society in which we live but to stand apart from it, pointing to other, deeper and more lasting realities.  

Lastly, let us remember before God the founding members of our Society Mr Leo Warren and Mr Joseph Peter Schofield and all those who rejoice with us, but now upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one. 



With my prayers and good wishes for a fruitful Advent
  
The Fairly Very Reverend CPFX Wadsworth
Chaplain General


Thursday, 24 November 2016

SACRAMENTAL PROGRAMME

Last night we began our Sacramental Programme at St Joseph's School using a new resource from the Archdiocese of Liverpool.

The first session went really well and it was great to see the parents interacting with the children as they worked through the booklet. 

My thanks go to all the staff at the school for helping to facilitate this and thanks to Miss Mysercough for the photo below.

We look forward to seeing the children on Sunday when they will bring their enrollment forms to church.



Friday, 18 November 2016

PRZEPRASZAM!!! MY APOLOGIES

In the rush to do a few updates of the blog (long over due) I forgot to add a little post about our Polish Seminarians who came to visit us this year.

The visit of students from the Seminary in Katowice has become something of a tradition now and we look forward to them coming each year.  Whilst they are here they are able to experience something of the life of the Church in England (not Church of England!) as well as sampling our English culture and traditions and of course being able to practice their English!!

This year we welcomed three students: Mateusz Mryka, Bartłomiej Cudziło and Kamil Pyta.



During their visit they were able to experience something of another 'foreign' country.  We had a day out in Wales and the students were able to see something of the beautiful welsh countryside.






We wish them well in their continuing studies and look forwarding to hearing of their progress towards the Sacred Priesthood if that be God's will for them.  Please keep them in your prayers.

EDUCATION MASS

On Thursday 10th November our parish hosted the Bury Catholic Education Mass.  This is an opportunity to give thanks for the gift of Catholic Education and to remember in the month of the Holy Souls deceased colleagues.  

After Mass refreshments were served in the Minden Suite of the  Fusiliers Museum

Here is the homily I delivered on that occasion

I want you to cast your minds back to the visit of Pope Benedict to us in 2010 and in particular to the Big Assembly that he held in Twickenham.  I was fascinated by the question which Pope Benedict put to the large group of children from every Catholic school in Great Britain.  He asked them:  “What are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves?  What kind of person would you really like to be?”
These same questions are put both to us who have responsibilities in education and to the children entrusted to our care.  What are the qualities that we see in others?  This means what qualities do children look for in us?   You don’t need me to tell you that children today are much more perceptive and discerning than perhaps we were in judging teachers and leaders.
 When most of us are asked about our own school life and the things we remember most of all, I have never heard anyone answer “we had a well balanced curriculum” or that “we made progress and achieved a Level 6 or whatever ”  or even that “our classrooms were bright and modern”.  These and many other aspects of school life are important and must be attended to, but in my experience what always appears as the most significant memory is: “I remember Mr or Miss so and so”,  in other words: “I remember a teacher who was different”.
We remember the teacher who recognised us as individuals, who acknowledged our talents, who transmitted to us that we were capable, capable of doing more than we had imagined, teachers who helped and encouraged us when things were not going well, and teachers who quietly rejoiced in our small successes.
 Teachers do not constantly ask their children “what kind of person would you really like to be”.  They draw out from within the child through patient dialogue what is best and most challenging in the child.  Sadly many children today never arrive at that situation in which their talents are fully realised.  They never reach a situation in which the talents they have can be offered and used to better society.
Life has changed; the economy has changed; society has changed, education has changed.   The teacher can only do a certain amount. Most teachers go way beyond the requirements of mere duty and they deserve as individuals and as a profession greater recognition.   We should not overburden our teachers with expectations that they alone can heal the wounds produced in children by a broken society.   Very often however they are among the few who heroically try.
 Tonight we gather and give thanks to God and celebrate that great gift which is Catholic Education in our locality.  On a bad day we may well ask ourselves the question ‘Why do we do it?  Why do we bother to turn up to work each day and literally flog ourselves to death for the children in our care?  Ultimately it is out of love . It is because in the context of our Catholic faith we don’t need to be told by government officials that ‘every child matters.’  We truly believe it.  Each and every student – created in the image and likeness of God.  Every child matters whether they are gifted and talented or under achieving. Every child should be welcomed into our Catholic Family – it is who and what we are. 
In the Catholic view of education every child in our care has special needs – to be what God, from all eternity has called them to be.  Or in the words of Pope Benedict quoted earlier ‘to be the kind of person they would like to be.’  The task of making that happen is our vocation as those who, at whatever level, are involved in our Catholic Schools and for that tonight we say ‘Thanks be to God.’  

MEMORIAL CANDLES


Beginning this weekend (20th November) we will be selling what have become our very popular Memorial Candles.

These candles burn from the Vigil Mass of Christmas for the Octave.  The names of your loved ones or the intentions for which you wish to pray are placed on the candle via a label and the names and intentions are remembered during our Masses in the Christmas Octave.

Candles are sold at £5 each and are available after each of the weekend Masses or for further details please contact Father Francis

MEMORIAL SERVICE


Once again we will be hosting the Annual Memorial Service organised by Bernadette Gibson Funeral Service.

This service enables those who have been bereaved in the last twelve months to come and remember their loved ones through prayer, music and scripture.  There is also the opportunity to come and light a candle in memory of our loved ones who have died.

The service takes on Sunday 20th November at 7:00pm 
in St Marie's Church and all are welcome to attend.  

If you would like the names of your loved ones read out at the service then please contact Bernadette directly on 0161 761 6214 and she will happily add them to the list.