17th February 2019 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

The second extract from Pope Francis’ letter Gaudete Exsultate (Rejoice and be Glad)

The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people… I contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in parents who raise their children with immense love, men and women who work hard to support their families, the sick, elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence.

Holiness is the most attractive face of the Church. But even outside the Catholic Church and in very different contexts, the Holy Spirit raises up “signs of his presence which help Christ’s followers”. St John Paul II reminded us that “the witness to Christ borne even to the shedding of blood has become a common inheritance of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants”. He stated that the martyrs (particularly of the last century) are “a heritage which speaks more powerfully than all the causes of division”.

Points to ponder or discuss: Where in my neighbourhood do I see signs of holiness?

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As you are aware, three years ago it was decided to delay the age at which children receive the sacrament of Confirmation. After consultation and discussion, the Bishop has decided that Confirmation will be offered to Year 8 pupils, but that the preparation for this will begin in year 6 (after the dreaded SATS) and continue on through year 7 until Easter/Pentecost of Year 8. So, our present Year 6 pupils will be invited to begin their preparation in June this year with a view to receiving the sacrament in 2021. The proposed scheme is quite imaginative, involving community based activities and it certainly will not be restricted to the desk or classroom. Full details are to be published in the near future.

I mention all this now so that we may begin to enlist volunteers to help run the scheme. Please consider this and do not fear – training will be provided. So, if you are interested to learn more then watch this space or have a word with me.

Fr John

10th February 2019 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Early last year Pope Francis released an Apostolic Exhortation known by its opening words Gaudete Exsultate (Rejoice and be Glad) It is a call to holiness in today’s world. It is an important letter but as with all papal documents it is not always easy to read. So, the diocese has offered bite size portions which will be printed periodically on the back page of the newsletter for your personal reflection and prayer.

The first instalment follows below. The numerals refer to the paragraph numbers in the original document but do not necessarily quote the whole paragraph. It would be advantageous to refer to the biblical quotations.

Rejoice and be glad (Mt 5:12), Jesus tells those persecuted or humiliated for his sake. The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. The call to holiness is present in various ways from the very first pages of the Bible. We see it expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1).

2  The Letter to the Hebrews presents a number of testimonies that encourage us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (12:1). It speaks of Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Gideon and others (cf. 11:1-12:3). Above all, it invites us to realise that “a great cloud of witnesses” (12:1) impels us to advance constantly towards the goal. These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.

Points to ponder or discuss: Who are the witnesses among our own family and friends who inspire us? What is it about them?

Fr John

 

 

3rd February 2019 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

THE FEAST OF ST BAKHITA, FEBRUARY 8

We cannot become distracted: we are all called to leave behind any form of hypocrisy, facing the reality that we are part of the problem. The problem is not in the opposite lane: it involves us. We are not permitted to look elsewhere and declare our ignorance or our innocence. Pope Francis to the participants in the International Forum on Modern Slavery, 7 May 2018.

A common theme runs through everything Pope Francis writes and says. It is the interconnectedness of everything A mystical sensibility that sees God in every grain of dust (Laudato Si’) It is that interconnectedness that compels us to see others  as ourselves and to hurt for the poor, the marginalized and the exploited, just  as we sometimes hurt for our families and those closest to us.

On the feast of St Bahkita which is celebrated this Friday, let us pray to her for the strength to recognise our complicity, in being part of an economy that perpetuates exploitation and modern day slavery.

St Josephine Bakhita bore 144 scars throughout her life which were received after she was kidnapped at the age of nine and sold into slavery. Such was the trauma experienced that she forgot her birth name and her kidnappers gave her the name Bakhita meaning ‘fortunate’. She experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery. In 1882 she was bought for the Italian Consul and in this family and subsequently in a second Italian home, she received kindness, respect, peace and joy. A change in her owner’s circumstances meant that she was entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice.  There, Bakhita came to know about God whom, ‘she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was’ since she was a child. She was received into the Catholic Church in 1890, joining the sisters and making final profession in 1896. The next fifty years of her life were spent witnessing to God’s love through cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. When she was on door duty, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who attended the nearby school and caress them. Her voice was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering. She was a source of encouragement to many and her constant smile won people’s hearts.   She died on 8 February 1947.

Anthony Brown

27th January 2019 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

CARITAS SUNDAY

Caritas Sunday is the one opportunity each year for Caritas to appeal to every parish in our Diocese to support the corporal works of mercy.  Formally Catholic Children’s Rescue Society (founded in 1886), Caritas Diocese of Salford expanded to respond to many areas of need in our parishes, from our work with the Homeless, with Children, Families and the wider Community and in Welcoming Refugees.  Caritas keeps central admin costs to a minimum to ensure every penny donated makes a difference.  Caritas’ work with schools and parishes is growing in importance as we strive to become a diocese of Missionary Parishes.

“Caritas” is the Latin word for Love, and Caritas Diocese of Salford has 22 formal services and centres located around the Greater Manchester and East Lancashire areas as a response to people’s needs. Apart from Caritas Anti-Trafficking which is based in Clitheroe and to which parishioners have donated over £1,500, our nearest service is the Maryvale Mother and Baby Home in Blackburn.  Our Parish Pro-Life Group has provided a large amount of knitwear and baby clothes for the home and also helped generate over £800 in support of it.

Last year the Caritas Sunday appeal raised £26,409, of which our parish raised £912.88, in support of the Bolton Young Parents’ Home and Caritas Family Project; the Homeless at Bury Red Door; and Refugee education and integration at Cornerstone Day Centre.  So please accept a huge thank you from Caritas!

722 people across the Diocese of Salford gave up their time to volunteer on Caritas projects, over 100 of whom are Caritas Representatives, volunteers who help to share information from Caritas in parishes, and who work with the Hope in the Future development teams to support local outreach projects.

This year Caritas is calling all parishioners to Be The Change, to help the key goals of Housing the Homeless; Building Stronger Families and Communities; and Welcoming Refugees.  This is where funds from this year’s second collection will go.

The Caritas Annual Review and a special edition of the Caritas Beacon are available at the back of church.  If you would like to get involved in social action in this Parish, then please speak to your Caritas Representative, Anthony Brown, or your Hope in the Future Team via Peter Donnelly or to any member of the SVP.

 

Lourdes Pilgrimage Choir

LOURDES PILGRIMAGE CHOIR   We are looking for new members to enhance the liturgy.  Any sopranos, altos, tenors or bass who would like to join us please contact Fr Philip Brady 061 740 2071 or email philip.brady@dioceseofsalford.org.uk

Further info from Cathedral Parish Office deborah.holmes@dioceseofsalford.org.uk or tel 0161 817 2210.  The ability to read music is preferable but not essential.

20th January 2019 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

“Our nationality is an accident of birth. We do not own this country: we are merely stewards of its resources…”  Those words from the Guardian newspaper echo the words of Pope Francis. They were a response to the migrant “crisis” and a few desperate souls risking their lives to reach us across the English Channel.

In 2016 our Parish responded to a picture of little Alun Kurdi’s body washed up on the shores of Greece.  For three years we have welcomed refugees from Manchester and Burnley, providing a day that lifted our hearts as well as theirs.  Our Parish has done more: the “Refugee Come Dine with Me initiative” has provided a model for the rest of the Diocese, as also we have helped establish the Clitheroe English Club which helps refugees and asylum seekers learn basic English, and parishioner and friends knitted many hundreds of squares for blankets for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

We can never do enough.  Pope Francis has repeatedly reminded us that caring for refugees lies at the heart of our Faith.  Our Parish response to the “Hope in the Future” programme and the “Live Simply” initiative are based on the interconnected messages of Pope Francis’ two great letters – Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si.  Both hinge on our response to the poor, the exploited, the marginalised and migrants.

“Refugee Day Out” for 2019 needs your support.  Revive in Manchester, New Neighbours in Burnley, the Clitheroe Mosque and Stonyhurst College are all looking forward to this year’s event but we need a new chair and more volunteers.  Three years is more than enough for two people to take on this task which Tom and Kathryn Clay have done so selflessly until now.  So, we are looking for someone to take over the torch. But do not fear: the framework and contacts are now in place and with a few more volunteers the leadership can easily be shared. Could you consider volunteering? Please see me, Anthony Brown or Tom Clay.

This Wednesday, January 23rd, our Parish hosts Sean Ryan, charismatic speaker and accomplished musician who will speak on on his work on the Diocesan Refugee Sponsorship Programme.  Starting with St Monica’s in Flixton in 2016, parishes throughout the Diocese have sponsored refugee families. St Wilfrid’s Longridge and  St Joseph’s Hurst Green will soon follow. It will be an interesting and entertaining evening but mostly we hope it will motivate our Parish and the wider Clitheroe community to support this year’s “Refugee Day Out”.

Fr John

 

 

World Day of Peace

In England and Wales Catholics, are invited to make today (January 20th) a day of prayer for peace and to reflect on the theme Pope Francis has chosen for the annual World Day of Peace with the challenging title ‘Good politics serves peace’.

Today also we begin the annual week of prayers for Christian Unity so that Christ’s prayer, “That they all may be One” becomes reality.  It will conclude next Sunday with an ecumenical service in the United Reformed Church at 6pm.

13th January 2019 – The Baptism of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,
                            – a few extracts from Pope Francis’  comments on prayer at his  general audience last week .

It is in Luke’s Gospel that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. And from this request is born Christ’s teaching on the words to use in addressing God. He is to be addressed as “Father.”

Jesus explains also some things to give us confidence. They emphasise the attitudes of the praying believer.

For instance, there is the parable of the importunate friend, who goes to disturb a whole family that is sleeping, because a person arrived suddenly from a trip and he has no bread to offer him. What does Jesus say to this man who knocks on the door and wakes his friend? ‘I tell you, though he will not get up to give the bread to him because he is a friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him whatever he needs'(Luke 11:9).”

There follows the story of the father and hungry son, in which Jesus suggests that a father would not give a serpent to a son who is hungry and asks for a fish. Thus, God will not forget his children.

But why is it that sometimes prayers seem to go unanswered? “We’ve all experienced this — how many times have we knocked and found a closed door, Pope Francis asked. “In those moments, Jesus recommends that we insist and not give up. Prayer always transforms the reality — always. If the things around us don’t change, at least we change, our heart changes. Jesus has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and every woman who prays.”

“We can be certain that God will answer. The only uncertainty is due to the timing, but we must not doubt that He will respond. Perhaps we’ll have to insist our whole life, but He will answer.”

Fr John

6th January 2019 – The Epiphany

Dear Parishioners,

Today we welcome Fr Joseph Archibong to make the annual mission appeal on behalf of the Kiltegan Mission Society. The St Patrick’s Missionary Society, to give its official title, was founded by an Irish diocesan priest, Fr Francis Whitney, who in response to an appeal made by the famous Irish pioneer Bishop Shanahan in 1920, volunteered to help the mostly French Spiritan priests in their mission in Nigeria.

There Fr Whitney witnessed the enthusiasm of the Nigerian people to the call of the Gospel. The urgent need for more priests gave him the idea of recruiting volunteer Irish priests and seminarians to work in in Nigeria.

The idea grew and the Kiltegan Fathers were established on St Patrick’s Day, 17th March 1932 and began training its own priests at Kiltegan in Ireland, hence the name. The Society then recruited qualified Irish laity, men, women and religious, to join them and help found and run desperately needed hospitals and schools.

The fledgling society rapidly grew and Rome asked the Kiltegans to take on missions in Kenya and later in Brazil. Propelled by the spirit of their motto ‘Caritas Christi Urget Nos’ (The love of Christ urges us on: 2 Cor 5:14) that growth continued and St Patrick’s Missionary Society priests now work in in Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, South Sudan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Grenada.

ln 1997 African students were accepted by the Society to train as missionary priests and in 2007 as Kiltegan celebrated its 75th anniversary the first African members were ordained as full members of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society. As their numbers have grown, they represent a new beginning for St. Patrick’s Missionary Society changing it from a largely Irish organisation to a truly International Society.

In the 21st century their work concentrates on building up the local church through the establishment of small Christian communities within parishes, supporting families, training lay leaders, formation of young Christians, alongside their priority mission to the marginalised and the poverty-stricken in the teeming shanty towns of Africa’s growing cities. In South Sudan they work especially among the huge numbers of refugees.

Fr Joe will tell us more…

Fr John