28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 15th October 2017

Dear Parishioners,

We have been asked by the Bishop to support this survey.

In 2016, Pope Francis called Modern Slavery a ‘true crime against humanity’ and urged the Catholic Church to assist in the fight to eliminate it.  The eradication of Modern Slavery was included in the United Nations Sustainable Development goals in 2015.  As a Church we are in a privileged position as many of those exploited look to the church and come to the Church for help. In this survey we are asking you to help us identify these vulnerable communities – who they are, where they are, what they need, and what you need to support them effectively.

The Modern Slavery Act (2015) defined the crime of modern slavery as occurring when any person holds another person in slavery or servitude, or when a person requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour.  In this country there are many faces of modern slavery: people who find themselves in situations of domestic servitude; women and girls from abroad and from the UK trafficked for sexual exploitation; men and women abused by drug cartels and organized crime groups who end up in car washes, nail bars and as cleaners; and finally the thousands of people recruited from Eastern European countries who are exploited in various industrial and agricultural sectors – farming, fishing, poultry and factories.  Human trafficking, more specifically, occurs when one person arranges or organises the movement of another person (within the same country or across national borders) so they can exploit or enslave that person.

Parishes and chaplaincies across the UK are asked to assist with this short survey about modern slavery. It will help the Church, via the Santa Marta Group, in gathering important data in the fight against Modern Slavery.  Please go to the link below and input the password: Bakhita  https://stmarys.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/informational-survey-2017-modern-slavery

And with another question: Should you give money to street beggars? Watch the following 6 minute video made by Fr Jim McCartney for the answer.

Fr John

CAFOD – Harvest Fast Day

Grateful thanks to all those who donated. Your generosity means that the farmers in El Salvador can plant seeds that will grow and bear fruit and so sustain their families. If you have not yet returned your envelope it can be placed in the collection basket at Mass or  through the presbytery door at St Michael’s and John’s

Fifty Years…

PRO-LIFE  Fifty years ago the Abortion Act was passed.  Since then 8 million babies have been destroyed.  The national Pro-Life groups have organised a mass rally in London on 27 October. Not suggesting we all descend on London but I urge everyone to write to their MP expressing their strong views about any liberalising of the Act.  It is very likely that a private members Bill that failed due to the General Election will come before the House in the near future.
The address for most of us is: Nigel Evans MP, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 8th October 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Thank you very much indeed for the great privilege and blessing of my time here in Our Lady of the Valley parish these last two years.  I am grateful to you all for the faith, hope and love that you have shared.  Our three churches are alive with people who profess and practise the Catholic faith in active, engaged and inspiring ways.

Thank you especially for the memorable, uplifting celebration on Tuesday evening, when mass was concelebrated to mark my departure and that of Mgr John Chaloner.  This was a wonderful occasion and we all appreciated the inspired music ministry and the involvement of the children in reading, singing and the remarkable “stick dance.”

Thank you for the cards, gifts and the extremely generous cheques.  Coming to priesthood later in life, with a teaching career and savings behind me, I always donate such gifts to charity: thankfully, I am sending over £1,000.00 to Craig Lodge where the charity “Mary’s Meals” is based.  I will tell them that this comes from the great goodness of the people of Our Lady of the Valley parish.

I am grateful for having begun my priestly ministry in a parish where lay people are so involved and where social action is a lived reality and not just a preached ideal.  Our faith community is a beacon to society at large and we should be justly proud of the ministry to the marginalised, the work to support refugees, the campaigning against trafficking and slavery and so many other ways in which the lonely, disadvantaged and vulnerable are supported.

I have come to see what great local Catholic schools we have with truly excellent head teachers and outstandingly devoted staff who go the extra mile in pursuit not just of academic excellence but also of the nurturing of faith.  Parishioners can be assured that their children and grandchildren are being given the best of starts in life.

My greatest gratitude is for the amazing spiritual bouquet that was presented to me.  I have discovered more and more how dependent we priests are on the prayers of the faithful.  Please know that I will also pray and offer the mass for you in the days ahead.  Thank you and God bless you.

Father Kevin

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 1st October 2017

Dear Parishioners,
At the recent Forum, in my report on the Parish Social Centre I mentioned the challenge faced by Clitheroe’s local hospitality and catering businesses by the success of the gigantic Holmes Mill project.  To meet this challenge we have to attract more custom and one way is by challenging the popular perception that the Centre is more or less for Catholics only! Yes, that attitude still persists. So, the Centre will be given the more modern title of “The Old Schoolroom”, with St Michael and St John’s appearing underneath in smaller letters.  When I reported this, some parishioners were uncertain but the simple fact is that if the Centre is to remain open, warm, in good repair and decoration, and pay for itself then we simply must continue to adapt and fight for a share of the market! Consider that a decade ago there were well over a hundred parish social centres and clubs in the diocese but today there are less than twenty still functioning and most of these are fighting for survival. We have to adapt to survive or go the way of the Dodo. However, to assure parishioners that the Centre is and will remain a parish venture, I propose that we hold an Annual General Meeting open to all parishioners and other members, that will provide an annual report followed by opportunity to question, challenge and suggest ways to ensure its future viability.

Also at the Forum, I promised that a committee would be formed to ensure that Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical finds a place at the very heart of our parish. You may remember that last winter, as a parish we studied this document over six evening sessions. These meetings were well attended and produced a number of recommendations on how we should respond to Pope Francis as individuals and as a parish community.

These study sessions and those which previously examined Pope Francis’ first encyclical Evangelli Nunciandi were organised by a small steering team. I would like to invite a new group to carry forward the response to Laudato Si by considering the important environmental and ecological issues that the Pope has raised so that our parish grows to be not only environmentally friendly but also encourages us all to take responsibility for protecting and nurturing our tiny planet, God’s gift to us all. Our children are born to inherit the earth, our common home. In what state shall we bequeath it to them?

If you are interested in this venture then please give or email me your name and contact details and we shall take it from there.

On Wednesday, as we hear today at Mass, Bishop John will unveil his ‘Hope in the Future’ vision for the Diocese  More about that later!

Fr John

CAFOD – Harvest Fast Day

CAFOD  Harvest Fast Day is Friday 6 October and focuses on the work our partners are doing in El Salvador.  By donating to CAFOD’s Harvest Appeal you can plant the seeds for an abundant future for farmers who live and depend on their land to put food on their table and buy essential items.  Fast Day envelopes will be distributed this weekend.  See poster

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 24th September 2017

Dear Parishioners,

One item on the agenda of the Parish Forum which met last Wednesday discussed the Clitheroe Christmas Fayre which has reached the point of crisis.  This only concerns Clitheroe for both Dunsop Bridge and Sabden run their own successful Christmas events.

For many years now Janet Clegg and Carol Riley have organised our Christmas Fayres.  We have had themed Fayres, Autumn Fayres, a variety of stalls, games, raffles, tombolas, delicious refreshments and of course Father Christmas.

Planning and coordinating this event has taken a lot of hard work and effort and, as well as being a social occasion, has raised significant funds for our Parish.  We thank Janet and Carol for all they have done.  Sadly, the money raised from the event has decreased over the last few years and we have agreed not to have one this year as planned.  What can replace it in Clitheroe?  We do need some new ideas for raising much needed funds.  Two suggestions are a Grand Raffle with real determination to sell all the tickets, (in the past tickets have been unsold) and a Spring Fayre.  Please give it some thought and let us have your ideas.

We also need a small group of enthusiastic volunteers to organise whatever is decided and make it happen.  Can you give some time? Often money raised is for a specific project and, surprisingly, fund raising events contribute to building our Parish Community.  Please think hard !!

Suggestions can be given to Margaret Donnelly, donnelmarg@aol.com (01200 441081) or given to Janet and they will be considered at the next Forum on November 15th.

Thank you,

Secretary Parish Forum

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 17th September 2017

Dear Parishioners,

We welcome back to Clitheroe and Sabden Fr Mark Paver who three years ago, as part of his training, spent some months with us. This weekend he returns as an ordained priest. As well as celebrating our weekend Masses he will concelebrate and assist conferring the sacrament of sick at the healing Mass on Sunday at 2pm.

This is time of the year when we begin organising the RCIA course, but unusually this year I have received no inquiries. As you know the RCIA is geared to help those who feel drawn to joining the Catholic Church or who simply wish to dip their toes in the water to learn what we are about. Catholics wishing to develop their knowledge of the faith are also welcome. Please contact me as soon as possible if you know of anyone who is or might be interested in this year’s programme.

This week and next, I’ll be meeting with parents of children in our schools who are eligible to make their First Holy Communion in June next year. We shall more or less follow the same programme as last year, except that as the children spend an hour with their catechists on Sunday morning after Mass, this year we propose that the parents join parishioners in the Social Centre for coffee so that new parishioners and the like will get to know members of the parish community, especially our younger families.

Parents of children who do not attend a Catholic school and who wish their children to make their first Holy Communion should contact me as soon as is possible and certainly before the end of this month. Please spread the message, otherwise they will be left to join next year’s programme.

The Parish Forum meets on Wednesday at 7.30 with tea or coffee and biscuits from 7.15pm. As usual we have an interesting agenda, including the formation of the Laudato Si group, Christmas Mass schedule (this year 9 masses over three days but only one doddering priest!) the new programme for infant baptisms, closure of the passage between the school and the church, a report on developments in the Social Centre, new arrangements for the Christmas Fayre and a number of other issues to follow up from the July Forum.

Sadly, the holidays are over!

Fr John

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 10th September 2017

Dear Parishioners,

September has once again been designated as an awareness month for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The aim is to inform parishioners of our work, encourage new members and thank everyone who supports us with prayers and financial contributions. Members are called to become ambassadors for Christ, to seek out those in need and to put their own personalities and life experiences into the friendships they develop.

Our theme is “Welcoming the Stranger” and we are focusing on homelessness, grief, loneliness, hunger and social isolation. Social isolation is the main poverty of our time. When combined with any other kind of poverty it makes any kind of difficulty much bigger. Our volunteer members visit people in their homes, in hospital and in care homes on a regular basis, sometimes for many years. They offer practical support such as food, furniture or financial help when needed.

Members try to attend a weekly meeting on Tuesday at 7 pm and make a visit with another member each week. During 2015/16 our members made a total of 1788 visits.

Fr. John kindly allows us to take a collection after Masses every three months. During the last financial year this totalled £2922 plus £337 from gift aid, a truly magnificent amount! This was used to support families and people in need in our locality, our commitment to our twinned conference in India and medical training for an Indian Doctor and Nurse. We also support national projects including community shops, camps for disadvantaged families and the development of the Vincentian Youth Programme. We appreciate your great support which has brought help and hope to those in need.

We presently visit 130 people in our area but we would like you to let us know if you are aware of anyone who needs help or support. Our work is confidential and all members are DBS checked.

Please consider joining us to help put the words of Jesus into practise. “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.” All you need is to be able to offer time and love.

For more information please contact Peter on 01200 441081 or speak to any SVP member.

Thank you for all your help and support.

SVP Conference Members