Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Jestem gotowy. Idę na kolędę!
I am ready.  I go for Kolęda!

Another tradition at this time of year is the Blessing of Homes at Christmas Time.  This tradition known as kolęda is very strong in Poland.  For the first time this year I took part in this and have been to visit some of our polish parishioners to meet with them, bless their homes and sometimes to share pierogi!!!
Many thanks to all who have made me welcome at this time of year.
Szczęsć Boże i Bóg zapłać


In many Catholic Countries there is the tradition of sharing opłatek before the meal on Christmas Eve  called Wigilia.
This bread is the same as the bread for the Hosts at Mass and is decorated with Christmas Scenes.  It is a reminder of Christ the Living Bread that we share in the Eucharist.  Before the start of the meal the bread is broken and shared among those at table as they wish each other a happy Christmas and blessings for the coming New Year.
I blessed the opłatki at the end of our Midnight Mass so that all who wished could share in this lovely tradition.


Now that we have completed our Advent Observances it is time to celebrate the Incarnation of Our Saviour.
My thanks to all who have helped in preparing our two churches to be fitting places for the celebration of our Christmas Services.
We remember in a special way all the prayer intentions that are symbolised in the Christmas Candles that burn in our churches during the Christmas Octave.  Again my thanks go to all those who helped organise this.
I am sure that you will agree from these few photos how lovely the churches looked for Christmas.
The altar illuminated by candles at St Joseph's Church

The altar decorated with candles at St Marie's Chruch

The Crib Scene from St Marie's

The Divine Infant on the altar ready to be carried
in procession at the Midnight Mass

An example of the wonderful flower arrangements in our church

Monday, 28 December 2015


As we enter this Fourth week of Advent I share with you some thoughts that are based on an idea given to me by the Rector of Wells - The Reverend Philip Thomas.
In these last few days of preparation for the approaching Nativity of our Saviour things take longer to accomplish.  A simple five minute walk onto The Rock for shopping seems to take an age.  This could simply be because there are more people out and about running hither and yon, in and out of the crowded shops in a last effort to buy a gift for that special someone in their lives.
Going about the town at this time of year as a priest seems to take longer as well as people stop me to tell me about someone who has gone into hospital or needs a visit at home or sadly to tell me someone has died.  There are also others who kindly remind me 'that I am coming to my busy time.'  A priest friend of mine says that he never does any visiting in the month of December but simply walks round the aisles of the supermarkets and there he gets to know all that he needs to know about the parish.
These meetings in the crowded market squares of our town at this time of year are simply chance meetings.  We did not know that Mrs O'Bubblegum was going to be out shopping at the same time as us and wanted to share some news with us.  It is by chance that we meet these people.
Today's Gospel speaks of another meeting between Our Lady and her cousin Elizabeth.  This was not a chance meeting. It was planned.  We could say planned by God.  We are told the on hearing the news that Elizabeth was pregnant Mary went 'as quickly as she could.'  It all sounds rather twee and quaint that a family member would go to offer what help she could to another in need.  It is perhaps the stuff of fairy tales or the making of a nice scene on a Christmas card.
It is rather quaint and nice till be examine the facts a little more closely.  Mary set out.  Yes but at the time she too was heavily pregnant with Our Divine Saviour. There is no mention of Joseph so presumably this trip was made alone.  Being a poor family most of the journey was made on foot as they couldn't afford any transport - usually a donkey.  Yet despite this Mary still went to the aid of her kinswoman.
As we come to this final week of Advent we too are preparing for coming of Our Saviour.  But we are not simply preparing for one day - 25th December and then it will all be over and we can get back to normal.  We are preparing our hearts and minds for a meeting with the Lord at the end of time.  We have already acknowledged and celebrated his birth in the flesh.  Now we await his return in glory. 
Will he find us ready or will our hearts and minds be so full of running in and out of shops for Christmas gifts that will be 25% cheaper in the sales on Boxing Day?  When the Lord comes will be find us 'watching in prayer and our hearts exultant in praise' as the liturgy of the Church prayers at this time.
We are not preparing for one day.  We are preparing for the Lord's return at the end of time and none of us knows when that will be.  We priests were taken aback to hear the sad news of the death of Fr Anthony Sudlow on Thursday morning.  He went to bed on Wednesday night and didn't live to see another day - the Lord came to call him home.  Will we be ready when the Lord may  call us to be with Himself.  It could be in 10, 20, 30 0r more years or it could be this evening as you settle down to watch Coronation Street or some other TV Programme.  Will we be ready?
As St Paul tells us elsewhere in the Scriptures - With such thoughts as these let us comfort one another.

Friday, 18 December 2015


Vigil Mass in St Joseph's Church
Midnight Mass
with Procession of the Bambino
and Blessing of Crib
in St Marie's Church
9:15am in St Joseph's Church 
11:30am in St Marie's Church

Thursday, 17 December 2015


Dlaczego uczysz się polskiego? 
(Why are you learning Polish) 
That is a question I have been asking myself over the last month or so when I embarked on a course at Manchester University to try and learn Polish. 
It was also the first question that our nauczycielka (teacher) asked us on day one of the course.  It didn't boost my confidence to find out I was the odd one out as most of the group are learning Polish because they have Polish wives, husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends.
So by means of an answer to the above question...

Uczę się polskiego bo lubię języki obce i zeby rozmawiać ze znajomymi z Polski.
(Because I like foreign languages and in order to speak with my friends from Poland)
It is widely acknowledged that Polish is a difficult language to learn.  A missionary priest in seminary once told me that it was easier to learn Chinese than Polish!!!  I have never attempted Chinese so I cannot comment.
Yes Polish is a difficult language both from a pronunciation point of view and from a grammatical point of view so why would I want to put myself through the difficulties of learning this language. 
Apart from the reason given above I am trying to learn Polish so that I can better minister to my polish parishioners who now make up a good part of the congregation.  It cannot be easy for them who are trying to pray and worship in a language that is not their own.  I remember the first time I went on holiday to a place where I couldn't speak the language - what a relief it was to hear someone speaking English.
Language is so much more than a tool of communication.  Speaking another language implies that you know or understand something about the culture and history and traditions of that country and its people. 
I had my first taste of Poland and its people when I was sent as a seminarian to Poland to teach English to my fellow seminarians.  It is an experience I will never forgot.  Visiting as country that is almost 100% Catholic has a very different feel to it and also a country where the Church has played such an important role in shaping the life of that country. 

I will be forever grateful to Ks Roman Komaryczyko who first invited me to Poland and allowed me to experience a different culture, language and tradition.  Bóg zapłać.

Tuesday was the last night of the course until after Christmas.  We resume our studies in February.  Until then I must wait for the results of the exam took on Tuesday.




On Sunday last we welcomed Esther and Emmanuel into the family of the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism. 
Please keep them and the family in your prayers at this time.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015


For the first time in our parish we gathered with some of our Polish families and celebrated St Nicholas Day. 
The 6th of December, the day of Saint Nicholas’ death in the year 343, is celebrated in many European cultures, to remember the good deeds of the Bishop of Myra, who have been recorded in numerous legends. In Germany, Saint Nicholas leaves nuts, sweets, and fruits in children’s shoes overnight or arrives in person with a big sack of gifts and a book about from which he draws all necessary information about the child and its good or bad behaviour. In Luxemburg, children receive most of their gifts not on Christmas Day, but on Saint Nicholas Day.
The legend that forms the basis for the celebrations of the Nicholas Day tells the story of a poor man and his three daughters. The poor man was lacking the money for the dowry of his daughters. Unmarried, his daughters would be to earn their lives by working as prostitutes. Bishop Nicholas heard of the man and his daughters and rescued them of the bitter fate: At night, he secretly dropped a lump of gold through the girls’ bedroom window. He repeated his action three nights in a row so that in the end, each of the sisters had a significant dowry. Only in the last night, the father managed to follow the charitable bishop and managed to thank him for his positive intervention and generosity. We don’t know whether the women had happy lives and found husbands they loved. And probably we would help the family to find a different solution nowadays. But Saint Nicholas’s goodwill and the fact that he wanted to help anonymously rather than drawing attention to his generosity is a nice thing to remember.

My thanks go to those who helped organise this event. 
I hope that we can build on this in the future.
Dziękuję bardzo i Bóg zapłać!