Wednesday, 8 March 2017






Tuesday, 7 March 2017


Congratulations and best wishes to Brian and Sheila Knight who were recently married at St Joseph's Church.  Please remember them in your prayers.


Recently I was privileged to attend the Diaconate Ordination of two seminarians who stayed with us last summer - Bartłomiej Cudziło and Mateusz Mryka.

The ordination took place in the parish of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Knurów, southern Poland

It was a tremendous joy to be with this fine young men as they begin their ministry as members of the clergy.  I am grateful to the Parish Priest of Knurów for his kind hospitality but my thanks mist also go to Father Mateusz, Michał Rosinski, Kamil Pyta and the families of the newly ordained deacons for their kindness and care to me during my stay.  Bóg zapłać!

Below are some pictures of the ordination - some of them courtesy of the Archdiocese of Katowice website.

The Church of Our Lady of Częstochowa Knurów
(Yes I know it's pink!!!)

Another view of the church

Deacon Mateusz

Deacon Bartłomiej 

Being presented for Ordination
'Most Reverend Father,
Holy Mother Mother Church asks you to ordained these men,
 our brothers for service as Deacons....'

The Bishop with the newly ordained Deacons and other Clergy

 On the Sunday morning I was able to celebrate Mass at the new centre dedicated to St John Paul II in Kraków.  Here I am concelebrating Sunday Mass in the main chapel of the basilica


Since our last blog update please remember in your prayers those who have recently died

Brendan Paul Cawley
Tomasz Wencki
Joseph Walsh
Jean Holmes
John Bolton
Kathleen Parkin
John Kildunne
David Kirby
Kevin Burke
Canon Henry Jones
Fr Joe Wareing SJ
Fr Willie Fallon
Mgr Arthur Keegan
Winifred McGiveron
Joanne Collier
John Postle
William Walsh

May they rest in peace and rise in glory


Recently we celebrated the baptism of Elliott.  Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

(Photo used with permission)


As readers of this blog and parishioners will know Una KRoll died on 6th January 2017.  In accordance with her wishes her funeral service took place at East Lancashire Crematorium on 3rd February.

Again, in accordance with Una's wishes I offered a Requiem Mass for her on 10th February.  This was attended by a small number of parishioners and a good number of her friends whom she had worked alongside over the years.

Below is the homily I preached at the Requiem Mass

Whenever I sit down with families who are bereaved to make preparations for the funeral liturgy I always ask them to tell me something about the person who has died.  I am often amazed at the number of things that they managed to pack into their lives.

Today we gather to offer this Requiem Mass and to pray for the repose of the soul of our sister Una Kroll: religious sister, medical doctor, wife, mother, grandmother, campaigner on behalf of the marginalised, ordained minister, spiritual director, confidante and friend to many.  Una certainly packed a lot into her 91 years for which we give thanks to God today.

As we gathered at the Crematorium last week one cleric made the comment ‘Una has brought us all together, hasn’t she?’  Una had that great ability to bring people together – and often people who shared very different views from her own.

Those of you who knew Una, and those of you who know me, will probably realise that we saw the world, politics and certainly the Church in very different ways!!!  As I stood here week by week preaching at Sunday Mass I was always conscious that Una was listening intently to what I had to say.  On some occasions she would raise her head and give me a hard stare.  I was never sure whether that was because I had given her a new insight into the scriptures, or a different way of looking at something – or simply because she disagreed with what I was saying!!!

Usually having had one of Una’s stares at Mass, there would be a following email thanking me for what I had said or on occasion, disagreeing with what I had said.  But even when disagreeing and at times, profoundly, there was always a respect and a courteousness for my role as her Parish Priest. 

Una’s decision to become a Roman Catholic sent ripples across the Anglican Communion – how could one who campaigned so ardently for the role of women and for their ordination to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion possibly take such a step to become a Roman Catholic?  There has to be more to it than she simply wanted to stand alongside her sisters in the Roman Catholic Church.  That ‘kindly light’ referred to by another convert, Cardinal John Henry Newman, brought her to a unity of faith within the harbour of our Holy Mother the Church.

In the laat few weeks of her life Una wrote an email Una to family and friends talking about her then forthcoming funeral.  In it she wrote  'I have also asked him [Fr Francis] to come to the funeral, if he can, so as to be there as a representative of my beloved Catholic Church.  He is a special person in my life as he holds very different views from myself as an ex Anglican priest, now a Catholic, but we have great mutual respect and are reconciled to one another's differences in God's Love where we find a unity, a unity that is not presently possible on earth. 

In the weeks before she died I visited Una at the Franciscan Convent in Blackburn.  At that time I was able converse with her about many things, both spiritual and temporal. I was also privileged to hear her confession and to celebrate with her, and for her,  the Sacrament of the Sick.  As we prayed together the prayers from the ritual I was reminded of part of that lovely poem entitled Septuagesima by Sir John Betjemen.  I think it sums up Una’s life of faith as well as giving us who remain something to ponder on.

And when it comes that I must die 
I hope the Vicar’s standing by, 
I won’t care if he’s “Low” or “High” 
For he’ll be there to aid my soul 
On that dread journey to its goal, 
With Sacrament and prayer and Blessing 
After I’ve done my last confessing. 
And at that time may I receive 
The Grace most firmly to believe, 
For if the Christian’s Faith’s untrue 
What is the point of me and you?


During the month of February we held our Marriage Preparation Sessions for all who are planning to be married in our parish and further afield this year.

Please keep all the couples in your prayers as they prepare for their 'Big Day.'

John and Kelly
19th August at St Joseph's

Hayley and Michael
13th May at St Joseph's

Robert and Paulina
27th May Suwałki, Poland

Hannah and Matthew
28th May at St Marie's


During the month of February we welcomed Deacon Piotr Dąbrowski and Dawid Dyrcz to our parish together with Fr Mateusz who has supplied for a little while in our parish last year.  This time they came not to be involved in parish ministry but to spend a few days holiday with us after Christmas. 

Please keep Piotr and Dawid in your prayers as they continue their studies.  



Sunday, 15 January 2017


This weekend the Bishop has published his proposal for the re-structuring of parishes within the diocese.  The full report can be read on the diocesan website  The Bishop also wrote a Pastoral Letter for the whole diocese.  Within the letter there was a section about what was happening in each parish.  Here is the letter read this weekend in our parish.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very grateful to all those who have helped me throughout this last year to consider the challenges to our Diocese and plan for our future. Thousands of people, priests, religious and members of parish communities throughout the Diocese have responded with comments and suggestions. In interpreting the “signs of the times”, Pope Francis urges us to consider that commission given to us by Jesus Himself. We are “to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News”. Pope Francis asks us to become “missionary disciples” in “missionary parishes”. To enable us to do this in the changed and changing  circumstances of the present time, there is need to re-draw parish boundaries and choose the best distribution of churches and priests for ministry to our Catholic community and for the development of our mission to the wider community.

I have written at some length about the purpose and rationale of the consultation and how it has progressed. That document can be found in printed form at the back of churches and on the Diocesan website, together with a description of the proposed arrangements for parishes throughout the Diocese. In just a small number of cases, it has not yet been possible to determine the best alignment for a particular parish and so it is necessary and just that these communities have a little more time to discuss their situation.

In the case of this parish of Saint Marie and St Joseph, Bury, it is proposed that it remains as at present.

The implementation of these proposals will happen in stages, appropriate to each situation, over the coming months and years.

Whatever your feelings may be (agreement, disappointment, relief or sadness) I would ask you to accept the decisions I have made about how our parishes might best be organised and engage in the growth and development of the Church in this Diocese, where each one of us is an ambassador for Christ and a missionary disciple. Let us all use the challenges of this present time to build a Church for future generations.

“Stay with us, Lord, on our Journey” 
With my prayers and good wishes.   
+ John Arnold, Bishop of Salford

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


Recently St Marie's School had a visit from the OFSTED Inspectors.  It is always a tense time for everyone in the school community as the inspectors look at every aspect of the education that the children in our care receive to assess whether we are up to standard.  I am delighted to say that not only did OFSTED find that everything was in order but they judged us to be:


This is fantastic news for our our school and community.  The hard work of our teaching staff, governors, teaching assistants, ancillary staff and pupils has been recognised.  Congratulations to all who have contributed to us receiving this wonderful result.  

The full report can be read on the school's website but here are a few quotes from the document.

'The headteacher has realised her aspiration of ensuring that the school provides an excellent education for all pupils, irrespective of their backgrounds or starting points'. 

'Teaching and learning is very well managed. Leaders’ expectations of teachers and teaching assistants are high. All staff work hard and successfully. There is a clear ‘St Marie’s way’ of doing things. Highly effective teaching is based on consistently applied principles from Nursery through to Year 6'. 

'An increasing majority of children start this school having spoken very little or no English. Provision to support these pupils is outstanding and so they learn English quickly. By the time pupils leave at the end of Year 6, they have typically made excellent progress across all subjects from low starting points'. 

'St Marie’s is a school where pupils love to attend, are very well cared for and are very happy'. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017


Of your charity pray for the happy repose of the soul of Rev'd Dr Una Kroll 
who died on Friday 6th January 2017 - Feast of the Epiphany.

Una was born in England but raised in Paris, Latvia, London and in suburban colonies of Russian emigrees, so grew up speaking three languages fluently.  Her mother, left as a single parent when Una was only two years old, had, like most girls of her age and class, little useful education and was determined that Una be well educated.  Una was to later go off to Cambridge and read medicine and and qualify as a doctor.

Una was well known as a campaigner for the ordination of women within the Church of England.   Her famous outcry at General Synod 'You gave us stones when we asked for bread' has been much quoted on both sides of the River Tiber.

Since her reception into full communion with the Catholic Church Una has worked tirelessly for the rights of women both within and outside the church.  She has been a great support and friend to many in our parish, relying on her experiences of ministry in the Anglican Communion to help them as a confidant and spiritual director.     

It will not come as a surprise to those who knew Una and know me that we had very different views about most things - both theological and otherwise.  This Una acknowledged in a lovely way in one of her last emails.  

In talking of her funeral and myself she wrote 'I have also asked him [Fr Francis] to come to the funeral, if he can, so as to be there as a representative of my beloved Catholic Church if possible.  He is a special person in my life as he holds very different views from myself as an ex Anglican priest now a Catholic but we have great mutual respect and are reconciled to one another's differences in God's Love where we find a unity, a unity that is not presently possible on earth.  I once lost my internet connection altogether recently and commented that:  'there is no wi-fi in heaven' and 'I cannot imagine there is disunity in heaven either' so maybe we will end up united in the Heart of Love. So, if he does manage to come please welcome him warmly and if he cannot I know he will pray for my soul'. 

Una will be sadly missed by all who knew her as a friend, parishioner and confidante.  I will indeed pray for the repose of her soul and pray that one day we will be re-united in the Heart of Love.  May she rest in peace and rise in glory

Friday, 6 January 2017


There is a tradition of blessing chalk on the Feast of the Epiphany.  That tradition we continue in St Marie and St Joseph as we bless the chalk at the end of Mass.  This chalk can then be taken so that you can bless your homes with it.

The prayers that accompany this sacramental are given in this post.

A Blessed and Holy Epiphany to you all. 

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord
R. Who made heaven and earth
V. The Lord be with you
R. And with thy spirit

Bless + O Lord God, this creature chalk to render it helpful to men.  Grant that they who use it in faith and with it inscribe upon the entrance of their homes the names of thy saints, Caspar, Melchior and Baltassar may through their merits and intercession enjoy health of body and protection of soul.  Through Christ our Lord.  R Amen

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


There is no time when the death of our loved ones is welcomed but it always seems even harder to bear when our loved ones pass from us at Christmas our New Year time.

Of your charity pray for the repose of the souls of parishioners who have died at this time this year.  Also remember their families who feel their loss so acutely.

 Nora Stalker
Megan and Jim Martin
Tom Chadwick


Another tradition familiar to the polish members of our parish family is kolęda.  The priest visits the house and family to bless it and them.  They may even join in singing a Christmas Carol.  This is sometimes followed by a cup of tea or coffee and some cake or even pierogi!!!

Wiekuisty Boże, Ty z ojcowską dobrocią zaradzasz ludzkim potrzebom. Ześlij hojne błogosławieństwo na tę rodzinę i na ten dom i darem swojej łaski uświęć jego mieszkańców. Niech wiernie zachowują Twoje przykazania i tak korzystają z obecnego czasu, aby kiedyś doszli do przygotowanego dla nich mieszkania w niebie. Przez Chrystusa, Pana naszego. Amen.

Niech to mieszkanie i wszystkich w nim mieszkających błogosławi Bóg Ojciec + i Syn, i Duch Święty. Amen.

Eternal God, who with fatherly kindness remedy our human needs. Send forth your generous blessing upon this family and this house, and the gift of your grace to sanctify your people. Let them faithfully keep your commandments, so that one day they may come to the mansion prepared for them in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

May this house and all who live here be blessed by God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen


Our celebrations of Christmas began with the Vigil Mass at St Joseph's Church on Christmas Eve. The church was pleasantly full and the arriving congregation joined in the singing of carols before Mass accompanied by two of our congregation on the accordion.

The traditional Midnight Mass, began at Midnight accompanied by our choir who sang and played traditional chant.  At the end of the Mass the image of the Baby Jesus that you can see in the accompanying photo was taken in procession and placed in the Crib whilst everyone sang See Amid the Winter's Snow.

At the end of the Midnight Mass there was the blessing and sharing of the opłatek - a tradition familiar to the Polish Members of our parish family.  

Mass was celebrated in each of our churches on Christmas day

May I take this opportunity to thank all those who worked so hard in both of the churches to prepare them for the celebrations.  A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make sure everything is as nice as it can be.  To those who collaborate with me to make things happen I am truly greateful.


Most people make New Year's Resolutions at this time of year.  This usually involves giving something up (like smoking) or taking something on (like learning a new language or skill).  I have never really been one for making New Year Resolutions as they usually get quickly forgotten.

However this year I am going to make a concerted effort to keep this blog more up to date,  We will see how we get on.

Before I can begin the task of blogging for 2017 there are just a few things to note from the year that has just gone by.

As part of their presentations of the Nativity of Our Lord the children from St Joseph's School produced a very thought provoking play entitled 'A Midwife Crisis.'  Through song and drama the children us led us in mind and heart to Bethlehem and the events that we celebrate at Christmas.

At the end of the play the Midwife said something along the lines of 'all along I was looking for the Baby Jesus and in the end it was the Baby Jesus that came and found me.'

Isn't that so true for all of us?  It is often the case that the Lord comes to find us.  May we have the grace to accept Him into our lives.

In the midst of our preparations for Advent and Christmas St Marie's School received the phone call that every school dreads - the notification that OFSTED will be arriving.  

We are confident that we have done well in the Inspection but at the time of writing this we have no received the official report from OFSTED so cannot say any more.  Watch this space!!!

On the 8th December - the Solemnity of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception I had the privilege of being in Lourdes to celebrate the feast.  The Mass for the Feast Day was presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Muller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In the afternoon we gathered for the Blessed Sacrament Procession and a time of Eucharistic Adoration in the underground basilica of St Pius X. I was asked to lead the prayers and devotions for the English speaking Pilgrims present for the feast.  You can catch a glimpse of me around 3 minutes 18 sec and then there are various other appearances as the procession and liturgy unfold.