Wednesday, 30 December 2009
All things bright and beautiful, all priests both great and small
Vestments rare and colourful - our Father wears them all
He starts the year in Advent
In royal purple hue
On sundays wears the Roman
he's got a choice of two.
All things bright and beautiful, all priests both great and small
vestments bright and wonderful - our Father has them all.
Then on Gaudete Sunday
the violet purple goes
Our Father lights lifts our spirits
in rose from head to toes.
All things bright and beautiful our Father really rocks
matching vestments beautifully with rosy, brown striped socks.
At Christmas time and feasts days
he's robed in white and gold
his brightness all enfolding
his little parish fold.
All things bright and beautiful the bells of Christmas ring
Folks turn up from verywhere to hear our Father sing.
The vestments green for weekdays
best known as Fer- ri -a
when nothing much is happening
the plainest ones so far.
All things bright and beautiful all priests both small and tall
Vestments not so colourful - green suits him best of all.
The vestment for the martyrs
is crimson red - not plain
to honour saints in heaven
who did not die in vain
All things bright and beautiful, all priests both small and tall
Scarlet, crimson - red as blood, our Father has them all.
When garbed in robes for funerals
our non RC friends stare
to see his black biretta
perched on his golden hair.
All things bright and beautiful our Fathers in the black
praying for departed souls who cannot answer back.
Our church is so delightful
with marble altar new
and ambo from which Father
can preach to me and you.
All things bright and beautiful Our Father we would keep
Stylish, trendy, fashionable....
good taste does not come cheap.
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Monday, 28 December 2009
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Today we begin the season of Advent. The word "advent" comes from the Latin "adventus" meaning, "to come." But what is it that we are waiting for? The world would have us think that we are waiting for the birth of the Child Jesus at Christmas - after all, we've had Christmas decorations up in the shops for a while now. In fact, some in the Church would tell you that this is what we are waiting for.
But the reality is quite different. We have already had the birth of Christ. He was born some 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. The Church reminds us of a cycle of life over the course of the year. This cycle begins with the anticipation of the birth, the birth itself, the death and the resurrection of Our Saviour - all within the space of a few months. The remainder of the year is when the Church has us live out these special events.
But what is it that we are awaiting? What is to come?
Our Gospel today speaks of "signs" in the heavens - the sun, the moon and the stars in dismay. People will be confused and wandering, looking, searching for something. Anything that will provide them some comfort, something that they can hold on when everything seems so precarious, so perishable, so petty.
These are the signs of the second coming. They are also the signs that the enemy uses to confuse and conflict us. Think back to the fear and uncertainty as we neared the end of the 20th century. So many were afraid that the world would come to an end before the arrival of the 21st century. Yet here we are, living and breathing.
So what is it that we are awaiting? What is to come?
We await the Second Coming, This Second Coming will mean the full establishment of the Kingdom of God. And we need to be ready but one of my friends said ‘Oh Father, we’re nor ready for the Second Coming yet. We’ve just had new curtains!’ The problem, of course, is that we don't know when the Seconding Coming will be. So, we remind ourselves of our need to wait while remembering what has already come to pass.
But we do look at the birth of the infant Jesus, not as if it were to happen, but because of what it means for us. A child needs to be cared for, nurtured, fed, bathed, held and loved. This is, in fact, our task. While we await the Second Coming we are to care for the Kingdom that is already and not yet. We are to serve each other and the Church faithfully. We are the ones who will feed and bathe and clothe and love. We are the ones who will teach the Faith, who will build up Christ’s Kingdom, who will share our faith with those who come after us.
On this First Sunday of Advent we are reminded that we can spend all our time waiting and doing nothing, or we can be about our Father's business while we wait. It is on this that we will be judged. It is on this that our very lives depend.
The last three words of the Alexandre Dumas novel ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ present for us a summary of our attitude: wait and hope. But while we wait and hope, we must also work!
Monday, 23 November 2009
Thomas More and so many others followed Jesus Christ in being people of integrity. The powerful Pilate could have Jesus tortured and killed, and he did, but Pilate himself remained a prisoner because he lived a lie. And Jesus remained a King because he testified to the truth to his last breath. He testified to the truth in the face of danger, power and opposition. So did the martyr Thomas More. As citizens of His kingdom we must do the same. “Then you are a King?” Pilate asked. And Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this was I born...to testify to the truth.”
Saturday, 7 November 2009
It has been sometime since I posted photos of our Extra Ordinary Form Masses. So with this post are a few pictures taken at our Mass last night.
I would like to record my thanks to everyone who was involded in last night's Mass. The Choir for singing so splendidly Faure's Requiem. Our Altar servers and MC and the faithful souls who came to this Mass to pray for those gone before us marked with the sign of faith.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
The choir will be singing Faure's Requiem Mass. All are warmly welcome to attend this Mass and pray for all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Saturday, 3 October 2009
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Monday, 21 September 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
With that in mind I thought I would share with you to-day some thoughts about the priesthood and in particular my own journey to the altar of God.
I suppose I first become conscience of the stirrings of a vocation to the priesthood was in I was in my teens aged about 14. In those days we had to choose options in High School – the subjects that we wanted to study at O level in the last two years. Not sure which subjects I needed to study or should study I went along to talk to my local vicar.
You may surprised when I say I went to talk to the local Vicar to discuss a vocation to the priesthood. It didn’t seem strange to me for at that time I was a practising Anglican and it was ministry within the Anglican Communion that I was contemplating.
The Vicar encouraged me to do well at school and said ‘The diocese would like you to be as educated as possible. If it is possible for you to study A Levels, then you should. If it is possible for you to read for a degree then you should before you apply to the diocese to accept you as a student for ministry.
I politely thanked the Vicar for his time and advice but went away with a heavy heart. I did not consider myself to be a gifted academic or bright boy so the prospect of A levels and university filled me with fear. I tried to put the thoughts of ministry out of my mind.
This I almost successfully managed to do until the last year of high school when the possibility that the Lord was calling me to serve him as a minister came to the fore again.
As I was preparing to leave high school – the school chaplain – himself an Anglican minister asked if anyone in Year 11 wanted to go to Lourdes in the summer as part of a youth group. As a boy I had heard and read about Lourdes, its miracles and the apparitions of Our Lady to St. Bernadette but I thought only strange people called Catholics went there!!! Curiosity however got the better of me and I decided to go on the pilgrimage. That was in 1986 and I was 16 years old.
Whilst in Lourdes the thoughts of a possible vocation to the priesthood became stronger than ever but I hoped that they would go away once I went back home!!! And for a while they did.
But during my third visit to Lourdes as I was sat before the grotto saying my rosary – Tom Arkless our Chief Brancardier came up to me and asked me if I had ever considered becoming a priest? I looked at him and said I had, but there was a slight problem – ‘I’m not actually a Roman Catholic’ said I and I thought being a Roman Catholic might be a prerequisite to become a Catholic Priest. Tom asked me to think about it. That question ‘Have you thought of becoming a priest?’ prompted me to have a word with local Catholic Parish Priest when I got home.
I then embarked on a series of instructions in the Catholic faith. Every Tuesday night after Novena in a cold, damp presbytery – the Parish Priest sat at one side of the table, me at the other and the penny catechism between us. ‘Who made you? God made me, Father. I said. ‘Why did God make you?’ God made me to love him and serve him in this life and to be happy with him for ever in the next’ After a course of instruction lasting a year and a half I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1990.
On my next pilgrimage to Lourdes I met a Father Paul Clarke, a Franciscan Priest. During that pilgrimage I was able to talk to him about the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood. Through Fr. Paul’s encouragement I made application to the Franciscan Order as a Postulant and in 1991 moved to the Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury to beginning a course of training that would last for 7 years and result in me being ordained to the priest in the Franciscan Order.
My first appointment as a priest was to the Franciscan Parish of St Clare in Blackley where I served as Assistant Priest for three years. However during that time I felt the Lord hadn’t quite finished with me yet and was calling me to serve him as a secular priest in the diocese of Salford. And so on the 11th February (the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes) I went to see Bishop to discuss the possibility of being incardinated into his diocese as a secular priest.
After a series of meetings, many letters and much prayer and reflection the Bishop decided to accept me as priest of his diocese and appointed me to the Sacred Heart in Accrington – for a fortnight – Sadly the priest I followed had dropped dead at the crematorium only a few days before I took up my appointment. That fortnight turned out to be 2 years!!!
From there I moved to St Kentigern’s, Fallowfield to serve as Assistant Priest with Father Thomas Connolly. In appointing me here the Bishop said I would be there for at least three years. However 18 months later the Bishop moved me to St Ann’s Ashton as PP and Hospital Chaplain. After four happy years there the Bishop was to appoint me to St. Marie’s here in Bury and as you know to take on the parish of St Joseph upon the retirement of Father Morrow.
What happens next is in the hands of God.
I share all this with you – not in a way of making me look good so that people will marvel at my achievements– that is not what the priesthood is about. I and my brother priests share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ and it is Him we are called to make known and not ourselves.
I share with you in the hope that it might inspire someone here or someone you know in your own circle of family and friends to think about the possibility that God could be calling them to serve him in the priesthood.
When I am asked to give thanks to God and bless couples who have celebrated 25, 30, 40 or 50 years of marriage I always ask – tongue in cheek if they would do it again and pray they say yes.
If someone asked me if I would do it again I would say YES. Why? Because It’s worth it. It is worth the years of study worrying if you are going to pass the exams. Its worth being called out of bed at 4:00am to attend to the dying and ease their passage to God with the words ‘Go forth O Christian Soul…’ It’s worth it to pronounce to the sinner those words ‘I absolve you from you sins.’ It’s worth it putting up with parishioners who disagree with something you have said or are trying to do. It’s worth it to stand between God and man at the altar and plead the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the living and the dead and utter those words Hoc est enim Corpus Meum. This is My Body.
My dear people pray for your priests. Pray that we will be worthy to minister to you and before the Most High God. But please don’t leave it till I am too old and past it to carry on ministering. Pray for an increase in vocations. Encourage members of your family and friends to consider if God is calling them to be priests.
Pray for priests, but above all pray for holy priests because Poor Jesus – He deserves better than us. Amen.
Monday, 14 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Over the next academic year as well as learning sign language I was given an insight into the world of the deaf, their culture and some of the difficulties that those with a hearing disability face. It was a very interesting course and I enjoyed it immensely.
As part of the course we had to say something about our work and I made the ‘mistake’ of telling the group that I was thinking of becoming a priest. I say mistake because the teacher, a committed Catholic and profoundly deaf herself, roped me into what is now called Hollywood House in our diocese and the Catholic Deaf Association. From that moment I have been involved in work with deaf people. God moves in a mysterious way in our lives and the ability to sign has come in useful on a number of occasions in my ministry as a priest.
In to-day’s Gospel we read the story of the healing of a deaf man by our Lord. As part of the healing process the Lord says to the deaf man ‘Ephphatha – that is ‘Be opened’ and the Lord touches his ears. Those same words and gestures are used in the ceremony of baptism. The priest makes the sign of the cross over the ears and mouth of the child saying ‘The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word and your mouth to proclaim his faith to the praise and glory of God the Father.’
But we all know there are none so deaf as those who do not want to hear. There are none so hard of heart as those who will not open themselves up to the Lord and allow his healing touch to change their lives.
We come to Mass Sunday by Sunday and we hear the scriptures proclaimed, we hear homilies preached, but do we really listen. Does what we hear proclaimed in these four walls week by week make any difference to the way we live our lives? Or do we have selective hearing?
One of the converts I was instructing sometime ago at one of our sessions suddenly exclaimed ‘Father, I’ve got it! The Catholic Faith isn’t like the pick and mix counter at Woolworth’s (in the days when we had Woolworth’s). You can’t pick and choose which bits to like and ignore the rest.’
How right he was but how many of us try to do just that? We take away with us the parts that we like and those that we don’t like or that challenge us to change we pretend we haven’t heard. Jesus being born in Bethlehem is a nice story so we listen to it. Jesus telling us we have to love our enemies and pray for those who cause us trouble – well we don’t like that so we don’t listen. Jesus blessing the children is nice so we listen, but Jesus telling us that certain types of relationships are wrong -well we don’t like that so we turn off our hearing aids so we can’t hear.
Friday, 4 September 2009
An initial proposal has already been sent to the Bishop and he has visited the church to discuss that proposal further with me. We have now moved onto the next stage and detailed plans have to be drawn up for submission to the Board of Administration and later the Historical Churches Group as St Marie's is a listed building.
At this stage the plans are as follows:
1) Move the present altar back to its original position on the east wall and re-locate the tabernacle from the side altar on it.
2) Create a new, smaller altar on the same level as the present one but move it back some six foot to enable dignified celebrations 'versus populum'
3) Create a Sacred Heart Chapel where the Blessed Sacrament currently is by bringing the statue from the back of church.
These plans are in no wy finalised and will need the permission of the Bishop and the Historical Churches Group before any changes can be made.
The Requiem Mass for Florence Lyons will be on Monday 7th September at 9:30am in St Joseph's Church.
The Requiem for Nora Monks will be on Friday 11th September at 12:15pm in St Marie's Church.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Let’s start this overview with the obvious statement that there are a whole range of opinions from the utterly negative to the utterly positive. Before coming to the middle where the Universal Church finds herself, I want to look very quickly at the extremes.
And that brings us round to the washing of cups and pots after all, for washing in water is precisely what we need for salvation. The human will is damaged but not irreparably. Grace is a real power to change and improve our lives. In Holy Baptism, God not only declares us just, but begins in that very instant the process of sanctification. He cleanses the heart little be little and forgives what emerges from it to defile us. Understand now, why He pronounces blessed the pure in heart. We are not to be overly confident, nor are we to be overly depressed about human beings, but above all, we must look to God for His grace to raise us to heavenly glory. Amen.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Monday, 31 August 2009
Sunday, 23 August 2009
Friday, 21 August 2009
Some of the “students” were former inmates of this august house of formation, and had tried to adhere to traditional ways even then, so the phrase “Douai Martyrs” may have applied in more recent times. It rejoiced their hearts to see the Gothic splendours of the Pugin chapel of St Cuthbert ringing once more to the sound of plainsong and the Mass of Ages.
The move north from Merton College, Oxford to County Durham facilitated participation [full and active!] by clergy in the Northern Province, though some still came from the south. Clearly, the thirst for contact with our ancient heritage is as strong in the North as it was down in Merton.
The clergy fellowship was a key element to this venture, as before, but the use of trainers from the North gave a different feel to everything, both in the Mass practices and also in the bar. Those with some experience supported those with little or none. The de-briefing in the sacristy after early morning Masses was also very important, with servers and LMS Committee members adding their contribution to the mix.
Because there will be a Summer venture in the south later this year, the scale of this conference was smaller than Merton I and II and this gave rise to the possibility of more in-depth formation. It also afforded more opportunities for friendship and solidarity amongst participants. This latter will prove its worth in the coming months in parishes up and down the kingdom as we try to implement the Holy Father’s much valued Motu Proprio.
This point cannot be over-emphasised. We have already seen in the so-called Catholic press persecution of priests for re-launching the TLM in parishes. Since none of us has the hide of a rhinoceros, the networks of support provided by like-minded clergy and laity is vital for withstanding the assaults of the frightened liberals. The criticism of ‘blogging priests’ is just another way of trying to undermine the mutual support and self-defence of orthodoxy.
The aforementioned Motu Proprio refers not only to the Holy Mass, and so participants were treated to a learned and pastoral review of the Traditional Rite of Holy Unction, Viaticum and Commendation of the Dying given by a serving hospital chaplain. Having served as a hospital chaplain myself, I can concur with Father’s experience and his thoughts on the pastoral relevance today of the Traditional Rites.
With so many people coming to the UK from around Europe, the draw backs of vernacular liturgy are becoming ever more evident and the use of the Traditional Rites in Latin serves to assure migrants of the presence of a Catholic minister at their bedside in their hour of need.
Even more benefit might have accrued from this lecture had not some of us found it difficult to focus attention so long after rising for Mass. A fellow participant, who dared to snore, assured us that it was the getting up early that caused his wandering thoughts. He was not complaining however, because the early Mass shows the priority of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in our spiritual lives.
This training conference for priests offered some of us the chance to develop our skills in the offering of Missa Cantata and Missa Solemnis. Reflection on this amongst my fellow trainees and tutors suggests that more attention needs to be given to the formation of musicians, servers and MCs to facilitate the roll-out of this normative form of the TLM. It is most fitting to begin with priests, but even in Traditional circles others have their role to fulfil in the worship of Almighty God.
Clerical humour being what it is, recreation allowed several wags to speculate on appropriate Latin versions of some of the ditties to which we are all subjected these days at Sunday Mass. I will long remember “Legate Nos, Domine” for ‘Bind us Together, Lord.’ However, readers will be delighted to learn that we could devise nothing to latinise Kumbayah!
The majority of participants, including your writer, offered Mass in the More Ancient Use of the Roman Rite each day, growing and improving as they did so. It was a delight to re-live the joy of a First Mass along side those priests who offered the Usus Antiquior for the first time at Ushaw. It is to be hoped that more clergy will re-kindle joy in the priesthood through discovering the riches of our Catholic heritage.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
1. CONSULT THE PRIEST
Go to see the priest who will conduct the funeral, at the earliest opportunity. He will give you guidance on all matters concerning the funeral service. It is essential to remember that a ceremony in church, whether a Mass or Service of Prayer, is always an act of worship and is never simply a 'presentation' or 'event' or 'celebration of a person's life' with those present as observers. Normally a funeral takes the form of a celebration of Mass but this is not always so. A service of prayer may be held at the Crematorium or at the graveside.
Singing forms a necessary or integral part of worship. As well as being a form of prayer it also acts as a means of including all present in what is taking place. The priest will be quite happy to help you choose suitable hymns for the funeral liturgy.
More and more requests are made for non religious music or pop songs at funerals. This is not permitted in either of the churches in our parish. Music of a non-religious kind, whether sung 'live' or played on CDs or audiotapes is best suited either for the crematorium or even at the graveside itself. The music of the liturgy, like the liturgical texts, should be expressions of faith in the saving mystery of Christ's death and resurrection, and appropriate to the part of the liturgy in which they are sung. 'You'll never walk alone' and 'I did it my way' and the like, do not have a place in the Church's liturgy and they should not be used.
Worship in Church always includes passages of God's Word from the Bible. There will usually be two readings from the Scriptures, or maybe three. The last reading is always from the Gospels. The first may be from either the Old or New Testament. If there are three the first is from the Old Testament and the second from the New Testament.
Whilst these texts do have particular associations for people and may be very attractive, they do not fit easily into the normal Catholic Funeral Liturgy. Non-religious poems and texts might come across much better during prayers in the home before or after the funeral liturgy.
6. PERSONAL TRIBUTES
It is sometimes requested that a member of the family or friend be permitted to 'say something' in church. This is always a very sensitive issue and needs to be handled carefully. A funeral is a moment of solemnity and it can be very difficult for members of the family to contain their distress. Catholics are not permitted to have addresses of a political nature, and must also always be aware of how any address can cause tension or conflict. The crematorium or the graveside might be better suited to such an address.
A 'personal tribute' should be restricted to the person's qualities and should be in keeping with the religious nature of the occasion.
If there is to be such a personal tribute in church, the person delivering it needs to consult the priest and should write their text beforehand so that it does not take more than two or three minutes. The text should be no longer than 400 words and should be handed to the priest at least two days before the ceremony. The place in the ceremony for such a tribute is after Holy Communion.
7. CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS
It is common nowadays for the Christian symbols of the crucifix and a book of the Gospels to be placed on the coffin at the beginning of the ceremony. A member of the family or a friend may place the symbols.
Any flowers placed on the coffin will be removed as the coffin is brought into the church and then replaced at the end of the Mass when the Book of the Gospels and Crucifix are removed and the procession leaves the church. A table will be provided near the front of the church for people to place Mass cards.
It is sometimes requested that the coffin be covered with a flag. The Catholic Funeral Rite specifically does not permit this in church. National flags, or flags or insignia of associations have no place in the funeral liturgy. They may drape the coffin until it comes to the church door, but will then be respectfully removed before the coffin is brought into the church. They may be replaced again as the coffin is taken from the church after the mass, and before it is placed in the hearse.
9. OVER NIGHT IN CHURCH
Sometimes families request that their deceased relative might lie in church during the night preceding the Funeral Mass. This Prayer Vigil can be arranged with the Funeral Director and the Priest.
When arranging a funeral bear in mind that there are certain Feast days when it may not be possible for the parish to accommodate the celebration in church. Holy Thursday is one such example. You may need to be aware of this when discussing the date and time with the funeral director.
We hope this guidance will be helpful in your planning for the funeral and that the resulting ceremony in church will be dignified and prayerful.
Sunday, 16 August 2009
James, FLorence and Betty Flynn
Brooke Anastasia Wheildon
The McMermott Family
Friday, 17 July 2009
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Here is a brief summary of events over the last few weeks.
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
All: Who made heaven and earth.
C: Let us pray, my dear brethren, that by the help of God’s grace this paten may be consecrated and hallowed for the purpose of breaking over the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered death on the cross for the salvation of us all.
All: May He also be with you.
Almighty everlasting God, who instituted the laws of sacrifice, and ordered among other things that the sprinkled wheaten flour should be carried to the altar on plates of gold and silver; be pleased to + bless, + hallow, + and consecrate this paten destined for the administration of the Eucharist of Jesus Christ, your Son, who for our salvation and that of all mankind chose to immolate Himself on the gibbet of the cross to you, God the Father, with whom He lives and reigns, forever and ever.
Lord God, may you deign to + consecrate and to + hallow this paten by this anointing and our blessing, + in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.
Let us pray, my dear brethren, that our Lord and God, by His heavenly grace and inspiration, may hallow this chalice, about to be consecrated for use in His ministry, and that He may add the fullness of His divine favour to the consecration performed by us; through Christ our Lord
C: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
O Lord our God, be pleased to bless + this chalice, made by your devout people for your holy service. Bestow that same blessing which you bestowed on the hallowed chalice of your servant, Melchisedech. And what we cannot make worthy of your altars by our craft and metals, do you nonetheless make worthy by your blessing; through Christ our Lord.
Lord God, may it please you to + consecrate and to + hallow this chalice by this anointing and our blessing, + in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.
C: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Almighty everlasting God, we beg you to impart to our hands the virtue of your blessing, so that by our blessing + this vessel and paten may be hallowed and become, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, a new sepulchre for the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; through Christ our Lord.
BLESSING OF LILIES
O God, Who art the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, the Lover of spotless purity, the Giver of all grace and everlasting life, sanctify by Thy holy benediction these lilies, which in thanksgiving, and in honour of St. Anthony, Thy Confessor, we present for Thy blessing.
Pour down upon them, by the sacred sign of the holy Cross, Thy heavenly dew, Thou Who didst so kindly create them to gladden man by their beauty and fragrance; enrich them with such power, that to whatsoever disease they may be applied, or in whatsoever home they may be kept, or on whatsoever person they may be borne with devotion, through the intercession of Thy servant, Anthony, they may cure every sickness, repel the attacks of Satan, preserve holy chastity, and bring peace and grace to all who serve Thee. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Monday, 8 June 2009
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Friday, 5 June 2009
Saturday, 23 May 2009
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Saturday Vigil Mass at St Joseph 5:00pm
Sunday Morning Mass at St Joseph 9:15am
Sunday Morning Mass at St Marie 11:30am
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Of one thing we can be sure, the Church is constantly changing, and that it true of both the Universal Church and the local Church as well, in dioceses, deaneries and parishes.
June this year will see some significant changes in our deanery. After 23 years as Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Bury, Fr Morrow is retiring. There are also changes in other parts of our deanery, but this letter only outlines the implications of the changes for the Bury, Tottington and Ramsbottom area.
With Fr Morrow’s retirement, the Bishop has decided to amalgamate the Parishes of St Marie’s Bury and St Joseph’s and St Bede’s Bury, therefore forming a new Parish out of these two parishes.
With all amalgamations, and any changes in parish life, the overall provision of pastoral care and the Sunday Mass are paramount in the decision-making process. However, the work of a priest in a parish involves a lot more than just the Sunday Mass, it entails being involved in various chaplaincy works, celebration of other sacraments and presiding at other liturgies as well as a lot of other aspects of pastoral care.
As I am sure most people are aware, the number of active priests in the Diocese has drastically reduced in the past few years. This is as a result of fewer ordinations (e.g. in the past five years there have only been seven ordinations to the priesthood for Salford Diocese) whilst at the same time many more priests have retired and sadly many have also died.
In light of the projections for the situation over the next few years the Bishop asked the priests in the parishes in the Bury area to look at the provision of Mass and pastoral care, and to plan accordingly for the next five to ten years. We started this process, and quickly realised it is not an easy task. In order to be able to serve the needs of the five churches in the Bury area with the number of priests available to us now and over the next few years, we had to suggest several changes to the Bishop.
We wanted to be able to ask the people in the parishes about what would be the best Mass times for their parish etc, but, because the times of Masses in each parish has implications for the other parishes if the priests are going to be able to cover for each other in emergency and at holiday times, we have had to make some difficult decisions.
Therefore, from the 7th June this year, the parishes of St Marie’s and St Joseph’s, Bury, will become one parish, and together with Guardian Angels Bury, St Hilda’s Tottington, and St Joseph’s Ramsbottom they will become a cluster of parishes. This means that the clergy of these four parishes will be working together and providing support and cover for each other.
We have thought long and hard over the various ‘permutations’ of Mass times and the actual number of Masses we are able to provide within the Bury Area. We have taken into consideration how we can cover for each other, aware of the fact that at times we could still be celebrating several Masses on Sundays, and having to hope that there are no traffic hold ups if we are travelling between Churches!
Change is always hard for everyone, and we have had no option but to bite the bullet and make changes and some reductions, in order to be able to provide Sunday Masses in each of the five churches (four parishes) in our cluster. The changes affect all of the churches, and in presenting the changes to you we are hoping for your understanding in this matter.
In an ideal world we would have been able to keep everything exactly the same, and everyone’s most convenient/favourite Mass time in their Parish would have remained unchanged. But within the diocese as a whole we have reached the point where this is no longer feasible.
There is some good news. Fr Robin Colpman, who is one of the younger priests in the diocese has been appointed by the Bishop as assistant priest into our deanery. His appointment is a little unusual. The Bishop has appointed him to me as Dean, but he will live at St Joseph’s Presbytery, Bury. His ministry will be at Fairfield Hospital and St Gabriel’s High School. Although he will live at St Joseph’s Presbytery, Fr Robin is not the assistant priest in the newly created parish of St Marie’s and St Joseph’s – Fr Francis Wadsworth is to take on the responsibility for the newly created parish, so all matters relating to either of the two churches of St Marie’s or St Joseph’s should be addressed to him.
The new Mass times which the Bishop has now approved, for the cluster of parishes detailed below will take effect from the weekend Saturday 6th June/Sunday 7th June.
On behalf of the Priest in the cluster,
Fr Paul J Cannon.
Dean of Mount Carmel Deanery.