Thursday, 27 November 2014


On the morning of the 9th November (Remembrance Sunday) I was called to the Leyden family home to administer the Last Rites to Brendan. Shortly after reciting the prayers and coming away from the house Brendan passed away.
 Celebrating these Sacraments and ministering to the dying is always an immense privilege for a priest, but particularly when it is someone you have known.  The words used in granting the Apostolic Pardon are very powerful:

May the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who gave to his apostle Peter the power of binding and loosing, in his loving mercy accept your confession and put about your shoulders again the robe of sonship which was given you at your baptism.  And now in virtue of the faculty given to me by the Apostolic See, I grant you a plenary indulgence and the full remission of all your sins. In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen
Through the sacred mysteries of man's redemption may God almighty free you, both in this life and the next, from all the penalties he would have exacted from you for your sins.  May he open the gates of paradise to you and lead you in, to enjoy ending happiness.  Amen

Brendan was a great friend to many and I know that he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.  He worked tirelessly in the hospitality industry and will be remembered for founding the Leyden Brewery at the Lord Raglan Pub in Nangreaves (where incidentally he was born).
Brendan had a very homely down to earth faith that sustained him throughout life and in particular in the last weeks of his life.  Some of his friends, when they found out he went to church were a little surprised.  When they asked him why he went, in that typical down to earth way he replied 'Well it's something that you do.  It makes you feel better.' 
Brendan was also a great family man.  When he married his wife Helena at St Joseph's Church together they soon transformed what was previously Brendan's bachelor pad in Nangreaves into a fitting place for their children Joanna and Conor.  The family home was always a place of welcome, warmth and love for anyone who happened to call in.  Even in his last few weeks of illness Brendan always made sure that anyone who came to his home was made welcome.
We will miss you here below Brendan.  Rest in Peace and pray for us that as St Thomas More said 'we may all meet again, merrily in heaven.'


Last Sunday having celebrated all the Masses and a baptism I had a rare free afternoon.  I decided to have a little play with the camera I bought last Christmas and am only know getting used to some of its many features.  Here are some of the pictures I took.
Detail of the Sacred Heart Statue

The Flight into Egypt from the East Window

The Annunciation from the East Window

The Apparition at Lourdes in the stained glass

Christ the King

Statue of Our Lady

The Sacred Heart

St Joseph with light from candles

Image of St John Paul from the Shrine at the back of Church


Here is a recipe for a tasty soup I have made recently
The Ingredients

1kg of carrots
3 peppers (one of each colour
3 cloves of garlic
2 Knorr vegetable stock pots
1000mls of water

Put the water and the stock pots in a pan
and place on low heat

Peel and roughly chop the carrots
de-seed and roughly chop the peppers
Peel and slice the garlic cloves

Add the chopped vegetables to the stock and stir
Bring to the boil and then simmer until the carrots are tender

When ready, using a hand blender blend
all the ingredients together

Here is the blended soup.  On High Days and Days of Special Solemnity
a swirl of double cream may be added to the soup

Thursday, 30 October 2014


A devotional focus created to celebrate the Feast
On the 22nd October a long side the Church Universal we made history at St Marie's by celebrating the Feast of St John Paul II.
Mass was offered to the glory of God and in honour of the new saint.  After Mass there was a liturgy and devotions asking the intercession of St John Paul II.  The faithful also had the chance to venerate a First Class Relic of the Saint bestowed on us by Cardinal Stanislaw Dzwisz, the Metropolitan Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow and personal secretary to St John Paul II


Over the past few weeks I have taken up a hobby that I used to do many years ago as a child - tapestry.  At the moment I am still very much in the experimental stage with various designs that one da might form part of a vestment or hanging in a church some where.
The initial work involves graph paper  and a pencil to work out the basic design.  Then a choice of colours has to be made.  Once everything is in place then the canvas can be prepared in the frame to make it easier to hold and sew.
Then comes the task of transferring the squares of graph paper into actual stiches on the canvas. 
The photo in this post shows a couple of works in progress.  I am hoping to design an A - M arrangement (standing for Ave Maria) that can be incorporated into the design for feasts of Our Lady.


The Coat of Arms of the Institute

At the end of September the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest took on another apostolate in the diocese of Lancaster.  The Bishop of Lancaster the Rt Rev Michael Campbell has entrusted the care of St Walburge's Church in Preston to the Institute.  It is to be a church dedicated to the celebration of the Sacraments in the Extraordinary Form and to be a place of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Clergy from the Diocese of Lancaster together with clergy from other diocese joined the members of the Institute together with a packed church of lay faithful for this great occasion.  The Bishop of Lancaster who presided at the Solemn High Mass offered by Mgr Gilles Wach, Co Founder of the Institute to mark the beginning of the new apostolate in Preston.
Clergy waiting to process into the church
The Church of St Walburge

Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Most groups and societies within the Church avail themselves of a Chaplain from time to time.  This is usually the services of priest to provide for the celebration of the sacraments and offer spiritual support.

In more recent times the understanding of the role of a chaplain has been developed to include the use of lay people as chaplains.  Within schools this role has been developed further and now includes pupil chaplains.

Over the last few weeks at St Joseph and St Bede's School we have looked at the possibility of having pupil chaplains to help develop the prayer life of the school.

The process started by speaking about the role of a chaplain within the context of the school and then inviting those who wished to be considered for this role to write a letter stating why they think they would be good at this.

It was lovely to here some of the responses of the children

I want to be a chaplain so that I can bring Heaven to Earth
When I pray I feel that Jesus is sat at the side of me
Being a chaplain means sharing the love of God with all I meet
I want to be a chaplain because it's cool to be Catholic

Mrs Curran talks to the children
about chaplaincy
Once all the letters had been received we selected a number of pupils and then had a little chat with them about the role of chaplain and how they saw themselves fulfilling this role.  At the end of the interviews we were able to select those who would become the first pupils chaplains at St Joseph and St Bed School and they were commissioned in a service led by Father Francis and Mrs Curran, the lay chaplain at St Gabriel's High School.

Children thinking about the role of a chaplain


Recently the Holy Father appointed our new Bishop to succeed Bishop Terence Brain who has been our bishop for the last seventeen years.
Bishop John Arnold, currently auxillary bishop in Westminster will be installed as the eleventh Bishop of Salford on the 8th December 2014 at St John's Cathedral, Salford.
Please keep Bishop John in your prayers as he prepares to move 'up north.'  Also spare a prayer for Bishop Terence as he prepares for his retirement. 


Please for two couples who were married recently at St Marie's.  We wish them every blessing in their married life.

Peter and Sophie

Martin and Helen


Tonight, Lord, I am alone.
Little by little the sounds died down in the church,
The people went away,
And I came home,
I passed people who were returning from a walk.
I went by the cinema that was disgorging its crowd.
I skirted cafe terraces where tired strollers were trying to prolong
the pleasures of a Sunday holiday.
I bumped into youngsters playing on the footpath,
Youngsters, Lord.
Other people's youngsters who will never be my own.
Here I am Lord,
The silence troubles me,
The solitude oppresses me.
Lord, I'm 35 years old,
A body made like others,
ready for work,
A heart meant for love,
But I've given you all.
It's true, of course, that you needed it.
I've given you all, but it's hard Lord.
It's hard to give one's body; it would like to give itself to others.
It's hard to love everyone and claim no one.
It's hard to shake a hand and not want to retain it.
It's hard to inspire affection, to give it to you.
It's hard to be nothing to oneself in order to be
everything to others.
It's hard to be like others, among others, and to be of them.
It's hard to always give without trying to receive.
It's hard to seek out others and to be unsought oneself.
It's hard to suffer from the sins of others, and yet
be obliged to hear and bear them.
It's hard to be told secrets, and be unable to share them.
It's hard to carry others and never, even for a moment, be carried.
It's hard to sustain the feeble and never be able to lean on
one who is strong.
It's hard to be alone.
Alone before the world.
Alone before death and sin.
Son, you are not alone,
I am with you,
I am you.
For I needed another vehicle to continue
my Incarnation and my Redemption.
Out of all eternity, I chose you.
I need you.
I need your hands to continue to bless,
I need your lips to continue to speak,
I need your body to continue to suffer,
I need your heart to continue to love,
I need you to continue to save,
Stay with me, son.
Here I am, Lord;
 Here is my body,
Here is my heart,
Here is my soul.
Grant that I may be big enough to reach the world,
Strong enough to carry it,
Pure enough to embrace it without wanting to keep it.
Grant that I may be a meeting-place,
but a temporary one,
A road that does not end in itself,
because everything to be gathered there,
everything human, leads towards you.
Lord, tonight, while all is still  and I feel sharply
the sting of solitude,
While men devour my soul And I feel incapable
of satisfying their hunger,
While the whole world presses on my shoulders with
all its weight of misery and sin,
I repeat to you my "yes" - not in a burst of laughter,
but slowly, clearly, humbly,
Alone, Lord, before you,
In the peace of the evening.
Fr. Michel Quoist


Many of our parishioners will remember Father Alosza Micinski  a missionary priest that we support by our prayers and financial contributions to his Mission in Kazakhstan.
Over the last few months Father has suffered a lot with his health and has spent a good part of the time since August in hospital.  The root cause of his problem has still yet to be identified and it at the present moment his situation is very bleak.
His latest text message gives you a little feel for the situation.
'For me, each day now brings something new.  I will probably have to cancel my stay in the sanatorium, where I am a of yesterday, because I have been referred to a surgeon by a doctor.  I'll know if that is the case on Thursday,  The reason is quite a large and very painful lump that has appeared on my back.  Probably purulent.  Medics are concerned that it results in a blood infection.' 
Please do keep Father Alosza in your prayers at this difficult and worrying time.  He does hope to come and visit us in December, but that visit is very much determined by his health.


Music is something that we all listen to from time to time. No doubt we have our won favourites that we like to listen to again and again.  There could be many reasons why: it may remind of a certain person, a certain event in our lives or one of our favourite places.  Music can often express for us things that we cannot put into words. 
Music plays an important part in the life of the Church and in particular, the liturgy.  ~I once remarked to a friend of mine that music always adds something to the liturgy.  He replied 'yes, about twenty minutes, usually.'  That wasn't the answer I was expecting.
The purpose of music within the liturgy of the Church is to help us to pray, to help us raise our hearts and minds to God.  This can take the form of us singing ourselves or listening to the music being played or sung by others as part of the liturgy.  It is therefore important that great care is taken regarding the choice and type of music used in church.
When I was on holiday in the summer I concelebrated Mass at the church of St Sulpice in Paris.  At the end of the Mass a young man came into the sacristy.  In the course of the conversation he commented on the music at the Mass we had just celebrated.  I was struck by his comment.  'I don't believe in any of what has just been going on in here for the last hour, but I think the music could convert me.'
This is not the first time that I have heard such thoughts about the power of music to lead us to God.  I remember once inviting a music student to come and here the work he was studying in the context for which it was originally written.  He looked at me somewhat surprised when I said that we were going to church and attending Mass.  The piece of music in question was the Gloria from Mozart's Coronation Mass.
Everyone has their own opinion about the use and type of music in church but we have been using the likes of Mozart, Faure Palestrina for a good number of years and they have stood the test of time.  I am not convince that we can say the same about some of the so called 'modern music' that is so common in churches today.

I suspect this would raise the heart and mind to God
 More than this


Tuesday, 16 September 2014


The Exterior of Perigueux Cathedral
From Bordeaux I travelled to Perigueux - famous for foie gras. 
I did try to stay in Perigueux last year for a few days but there was no room at the inn.  All the hotels were full.  Well that is not strictly true.  After what seemed liked hours of driving around trying to find a place to rest our weary bones for the night we found the 'Grand Hotel de la Gare.'  The only thing that was true that it was near the railway station!!!
It has had a lick of paint since last year!!!
Having found my way to the hotel, I checked in and unpacked.  From there I made my way to the Cathedral to check on Mass times for the Feast of the Assumption - A national holiday in France.
The Cathedral is dedicated to St Front (and no there is no St Back) and is a major historical monument in Perigueux. It is also an important stage on the way of St James and as such was classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site of the routes of Santiago de Compostela. 
The Main Altar in the Cathedral
Perigueux hosts an excellent market on Saturday mornings (a bit like Bury).  I was therefore amused to find this sign in the Cathedral
Every Saturday at the Cathedral of St Front Market Day Mass at 9:30am. 
A priest is available for Confession until 11:15am


The High Altar
Bordeaux Cathedral
My holidays began officially on the Saturday morning.  After a lie in and a typical French petit dejeuner I made my way to Lourdes station to take the train to Bordeaux.  The train journey through the French countryside was nice and relaxing especially after the hard, but very rewarding work of the pilgrimage.
Having arrived at my hotel and unpacked the first thing to do was to find the Cathedral and to find out what time Mass was on Sunday.  I arrived just in time for the start of the Saturday Vigil Mass so did what I am not usually allowed to do - Sit at the back of church and say my prayers!!!

The lecturn from where I proclaimed
the Gospel in French
Every Sunday a Parish Priest has the duty to offer Mass Pro Populo  - for the people of his parish.  As I was on holiday I decided that I would concelebrate at the evening Mass on Sunday. 

Having shown my celebret to the sacristan I was graciously welcomed by the priests of the Cathedral.  Mass was duly offered.  Then as we came baxk to the sacristy I realised that parish life is parish life no matter where it might be.  A lady camr into the sacristy to remonstrate with Father that he had not read out a certain Mass Intention in the notices.  Another person came in to complain that there was no holy water at the back of the church.

The priest turned to me and sighed saying 'chez vous, mon Pere, vous avez vos problemes et ici j'ai la mienne.'  In your place Father you have your problems and here I have mine!!!

I let Father deal with the good lady and her Mass Intention and I went to bless holy water at the back of the church.  From there I went for a small steak bleu and a glass of the local fermented grape juice.

The statue of Notre Dame de la Nef


After the pilgrimage to Lourdes had finished I spent any extra day there before beginning my holidays. 
As many of you will know there is a lovely shop in Lourdes called the Monastere de Bethlehem which specialises in selling monastic products made throughout France and beyond.  My own parishioners and readers of this blog with know that this is where the crib figures at St Marie's came from.
On my last day in Lourdes I went with our Vicar General, Mgr Anthony Kay and Father Paul Daly to visit the actual Monastere de Bethlehem. 
The monastery is situated about twenty minutes drive outside of Lourdes and is practically in the middle of no where. 
Monsignor was a little worried that the Sat Nav was directing us up a long winding road that seemed to stop in the middle of a field.  Our perseverance was rewarded for there in the middle of the field was the monastery - a true oasis of prayer.
We were able to visit the chapel of the Sisters and to speak with them about the possibility of selling the monastic products in our own Cathedral Bookshop.  Watch this space.


Our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes brings together old friends and the opportunity to make new ones.  After a week of prayer, friendship and fun it is time to pack away our blue t shirts for another year. 
Traditionally we finish the pilgrimage with a social evening for all the pilgrims.  Over the years this has developed into a fancy dress party. 
Here are some of the pictures taken at the party. Worthy of special mention is the photo of Mary Walsh - devoted housekeeper to the late Father Joe Duggan PP of St Joseph's, Heywood.  This year Mary made her 50th pilgrimage to Lourdes and was presented with a special gift by the Bishop at the closing Mass.

Mary is pictured here with the current PP of St Joseph's,
Father Paul Daly


As anyone who know me well will testify Lourdes holds a special place in my heart. 
It was in that holy place, minding my own business, saying my prayers at the Grotto that Tom Arkless, the Chief Brancardier asked me if I had ever thought of being a priest.  At that precise moment I had only given it a passing thought and there was a further complication.  I wasn't a Catholic!!!
Tom Arkless sowed the seed of vocation in my mind and heart.  I will never forget his words to me. 'Son, your prayer at the Grotto.  Entrust everything to Her and you won't go far wrong.  She'll see you alright.'
And indeed Our Lady has 'seen me alright.'  Twenty eight pilgrimages to Lourdes and sixteen years of priesthood!!!
In Lourdes many young men feel a call to the priesthood or the religious life.  We commend them all at this time to the prayers of the Immaculate Virgin.
A few years ago I was leading a walking tour of Lourdes with Canon McBride.  As we went around the various places associated with St Bernadette he suggested that we offer an alternative tour pointing out the various places where pilgrims from our diocese have got engaged over the years!!!
Lourdes is not just a place to receive a vocation to the priesthood but also to marriage and family life.  We commend to Our Lady's care all our young families - those who form our diocese pilgrimage and those who work in our parishes all around the diocese. It is from good, strong families that future vocations will come.


Our Lady told Bernadette to 'ask the people to come in procession.'  At Lourdes this request is fulfilled on a daily basis with the evening Marian Procession and the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament in the late afternoon.
People from all around the world gather to walk with the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament and then to spend some time in silent adoration in the Underground Basilica. The procession concludes with the Blessed Sacrament being carried amongst those who are sick and Benediction given.  It is interesting to note that the vast majority of healings and miracles that have occurred in Lourdes have done so at the Blessed Sacrament Procession. 
The central theme of Lourdes is always that fact that leads us to Her Son.  The banner bearing Her imagine is carried at the front of the Blessed Sacrament Procession, but it is Her Divine Son that She wishes us to meet in the Blessed Sacrament Procession that is led into the underground basilica by the People of God and the Priests.

Sunday, 14 September 2014


Going on pilgrimage to Lourdes with the diocese also means that you remember the people back at home who have asked you to pray for them.  Please be assured that many Hail Mary's were said for all your intentions whilst I was in Lourdes and I remembered you all in my Masses. 
Candles I lit for all of you
Towards the end of our pilgrimage we have the tradition of taking a large diocesan candle to burn at the grotto.  This is often accompanied by other group candles.  In this post we see the diocesan candle and some from the groups that formed our pilgrimage this year.  These candles will continue to burn at the grotto long after we have returned home.  They represent all our prayers and intentions and the people that we remembered at Our Lady's Shrine.
Diocesan and Group Candles
There is also the tradition of bringing some water from the Grotto back home.  There are many taps from which pilgrims fill containers of water to take home.  This too helps us to continue our prayer back at home.
Thanks to Father Paul Daly and Mgr Kay driving back from Lourdes I was able to bring some of the water from the grotto back to the parish.  If you would like some then please let me know.  You will have to provide your own bottle.

A pilgrim fills bottles of Lourdes Water


Those of you who are familiar with Lourdes will immediately recognise this photo as The Crowned Virgin statue that dominates Rosary Square. It is a meeting point for many different groups.  The more observant among you will have noticed the sixth decade in Our Lady's Rosary.  This was a mistake at the time the statue was being sculptured. 
It was by this statue that we were to meet for the Torchlight Procession on the Monday Evening. What turned out to be a glorious beginning quickly became a mad dash up the hill to St Joseph's Gate when the heavens opened.
This picture taken by our Vicar General Mgr Anthony Kay captures the mood very well.  The skies became darkened.  There was a flash of lightening and then the heavens opened.  It was literally every man for themselves as our young people dashed in to help our sick pilgrims to shelter.  In all the years I have been going to Lourdes (28 this time) I have never experienced rain like that.
One of our young people grabbed hold of a wheelchair and fought his way through the crowds and the driving rain to the top of the hill.  Arriving at St Joseph's Gate he asked the lady in the chair 'Eeee are u alright now, luv?'  He didn't know how to respond when he lady said 'Si, si grazie mille.'  The lady wasn't a Salford pilgrim but an Italian lady!!!
I managed to find a shallower part of water to wade across in order to  get across Rosary Square.  Having got to the other side His Lordship the Bishop was heard to say 'Will you come back with an olive branch in your beak, Father dear.'
Having got wet on the outside a number of pilgrims took refuge in the Miam Miam and started to get wet on the inside as they took the traditional 'one for the road.'