Laudato Si’ – Live Simply

Our Parish application for the CAFOD Live Simply Award is now registered.  See the registration certificate on the notice board in the porch.  Keep up with activities and offerings via our webpage on the Parish website.

Callum’s Ordination

We will celebrate this with him as a Parish on September 14th in the Old School Rooms.  As well as giving him a spiritual bouquet we would like to present him with a generous gift to help him as he starts off on his journey in the priesthood.  Envelopes will be available at the back of churches from next weekend 16/17th.  Please return these in the weekend collections or at the presbytery.

Corpus Christi – 3rd June 2018

Dear Parishioners,

On behalf of the Parish and the Right to life charity, I thank all the bakers in our three communities who responded so magnificently to the requests for cakes – for the tea party that followed the Healing Mass on Sunday, and to refresh the sponsored walkers who offered their blisters on Monday to raise money in support of Right to Life. Thank you all – our housebound particularly enjoy their gettogether over tea after their special Mass.

I’m in the process of planning the next Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults  programme which will begin in September. The RCIA is an introduction to the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church and is open to any who may wish to deepen their knowledge of the Church, to any who are already determined to join the church, to others who may wish to dip their toes in the water to feel the temperature and any who may have slipped from practice but are considering resuming it again.

This year I’m taking a completely new approach based on a series of professionally produced DVD presentations, each of which will be followed by a question and answer session.

Already four people have approached me, so no one should fear that they may be alone! Please take a little time to pray and consider looking among family and friends to ask whether any is interested and then encourage them to come along. There is no obligation – its more of a come and see exercise.

When I have an idea of how many are interested then we shall decide on which night of the week we shall meet. So, please spread the word around and I may be contacted by email, telephone or briefly after Masses. (I do miss not having the time to chat with people, particularly after the Clitheroe weekend Masses but pressure to accommodate both Dunsop and Sabden dictates otherwise)

Following discussions with the respective Headteachers and the Parish Forum the schedule of Holy Day Masses will change on Friday 29th of this month, the Feast of St Peter and St Paul. The new Mass schedule is: 9.15am in Sabden, 10.30am in Clitheroe and 6pm in Dunsop Bridge. This will enable Thorneyholme pupils to attend the 10.30am Mass in St Michael and St John’s.

Finally, First Holy Communions will made this Saturday at 11am in St Michael and St John’s and 6.30pm at St Hubert’s followed by Sabden on Sunday at the 11am Sunday Mass. Please pray for all the children and their families on their special day.

Fr John

Trinity Sunday – 27th May 2018

Dear Parishioners, 

On the day we welcome many of our infirm parishioners to mass and a tea party, I offer a few                thoughts from Pope Francis…

Fr John

“It does me so much good to read when Joseph and Mary took the Baby Jesus – the Baby was 40 days old – to the Temple; and they found two grandparents there [Simeon and Anna], and these grandparents were the wisdom of the people; they praised God that this wisdom could go forward with this Baby. It was grandparents who received Jesus in the Temple, not the priest: he came later. It was the grandparents; read this in Luke’s Gospel, it’s very beautiful!

Dear grandfathers and grandmothers, thank you for the example you give of love, of dedication and of wisdom. Continue to witness these values with courage!

The Church looks at elderly people with affection, gratitude and great esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society. In particular, they represent the roots and memory of a people. You are an important presence, because your experience constitutes a precious treasure, indispensable to look to the future with hope and responsibility. Your maturity and wisdom, accumulated over the years, can help the young, supporting them on their path of growth and of openness to the future, in the search for their way.

Many elderly generously use their time and the talents God has given them, to open themselves to help and support others. I am thinking of all those who make themselves available in the parishes for truly valuable service: some dedicate themselves to the adornment of the Lord’s house; others are catechists, animators of the liturgy and witnesses of charity. And what to say of their role in the family realm? How many grandparents take care of their grandchildren, transmitting with simplicity to the littlest the experience of life, the spiritual and cultural values of a community and of a people!

In a world such as the present, in which often only strength and appearance are valued, you have the mission to witness the values that truly count and that remain for ever. Precisely as persons of the so-called third age, you – or better “we” because I am also part of it – are called to work for the development of the culture of life, witnessing that at every stage of its existence life is a gift of God and has its beauty and importance, even if marked by frailty.”

Pentecost Sunday – 20th May 2018

Dear Parishioners,

This parish has an excellent record in defending human rights and life: anti-trafficking, refugees, CAFOD and other Aid Agencies, locally caring for the elderly and others in need, fighting attempts to introduce Euthanasia and defending the rights and lives of the unborn.

The following is taken from “Truth Must Speak To Power,” Lord Alton’s Speech at a rally commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act  which came into effect on the 27th of April 1968.

“Since then, 8,894,355 abortions have been carried out, and at least that number of unborn children have lost their lives. I say ‘at least’, because of course some single abortions will have been carried out on twins, or triplets, or other multiple pregnancies.

8,894,355. That is a monstrous figure.

To put that in context, the Second World War, the worst and most bloody conflict ever visited upon this country, claimed 450,290 British lives. Abortion has caused more human destruction in the UK than Nazi Germany, and in all the conflicts and tragedies of our history, only the Black Death has extinguished a greater proportion of our nation. The number is three times the population of Wales – it represents a life lost every 3 minutes; 20 every single hour.

And upon whom is this everyday violence visited? No-one less than the most innocent, and most vulnerable members of our society: children in the womb. Whilst the abortion lobby who support and wish to extend this practice and the related abortion industry who benefit from it deny this, it is a stark moral reality.

As a matter of biological fact, it is simply undeniable that from conception, from the time that a human sperm fertilises a human ovum, a new human being begins to exist. As with every member of every mammalian species.

What abortion involves then is not a mere removal of ‘potential life’, or a ‘blob of cells’. It is the wilful killing of the smallest and most helpless member of the human family in the very place she should be safest: her mother’s womb.”

Please continue the work and support the Right to Life Sponsored Walk on Bank Holiday Monday, 28th May.

Fr John

Sixth Sunday of Easter – 6th May 2018

The Christian Heritage Centre – Theodore House

Work is well under way on Theodore House – part of the Christian Heritage Centre charity based in the grounds of Stonyhurst College.

This ambitious project has already raised over £3 million. As a result, a ruined Victorian mill in the heart of Lancashire’s Ribble Valley is now being transformed into a residential centre for families, individuals, pilgrims, scholars, parishes, schools, groups, retreatants, and visitors to England’s Sacred County.

Theodore House will have accommodation for 34 people –including a refectory, library, lecture theatre, two seminar rooms, an atrium and an Oratory dedicated to Saints Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II.

One seminar room is named for Lancashire’s Bowland Trust, who have made a generous contribution, and the library is named for two of our own parishioners, the late Bridget and Peter Hardwick – kindly funded by Mark Thompson who runs the New York Times, and was taught by Peter Hardwick.

Those staying at Theodore House will be able to visit the historic libraries and see the unique Stonyhurst Collections – which belong to the whole Catholic community – providing access, for the first time, to the 850,000 children in 2,200 British Catholic schools, and to parishes. The Universe Catholic newspaper has published a series of features about the project which can be read at:

The Catholic writer, J.R.R.Tolkien, and the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, had direct connections with the area and the Tolkien Trail and Hopkins Trail will take visitors into the beautiful countryside. Walking and cycling and access to sports facilities, swimming pool, and golf course will make the perfect holiday or short break.

Further details are on the charity’s web site – with how to support the project and details of Trustees and Patrons – including Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor; Cardinal Vincent Nichols; Bishop Terence Braine; and Bishop John Arnold. The project is on Facebook at:

To complete the building work the Trustees must raise a further £400,000 – including £300,000 for a family annexe to enable families to stay with their young children. Gifts can be increased via Gift Aid and by legacies.

Benefactors or those wanting to organise bookings should contact Frances Ahearne on 01254 827084 or Anton’ de Piro at: Tel: +44 7748272908. Please do keep the project in your prayers.


Fifth Sunday of Easter – 29th April 2018

“Welcome: to meet and speak to someone in a friendly way when they arrive; to show someone that you are pleased they are with you.”

We do this naturally in all our churches, but last week Fr John called a meeting to find ways we can do this even better.  Conscious that new housing developments are springing up, and that a local church has closed, we are already seeing, and will continue to see, many new faces entering our churches, and they are bringing their children to us for baptism and the sacraments.  We need to make everyone who comes feel so welcome they will want to come regularly and feel at home with a real sense of belonging.

But how? The group discussed many ideas and suggestions, and at the end of this first meeting resolved that:

  • Some willing parishioners will wear a badge that will make them easily approachable, just saying “Welcome to the Parish of Our Lady of the Valley (followed by a space to write the wearers Christian name). Some of these people will already be Welcomers but we hope that more will volunteer.  We shall need a possible 4 in the general area of SMSJ’s church entrance before Saturday evening and Sunday masses, fewer in Dunsop and Sabden.  We will keep you informed when the badges have been made.
  • All parishioners should be on the look-out for people they haven’t seen before and be prepared to initiate conversation with them.  We should invite people to join us for coffee after Mass, preferably accompanying them to the hall and introducing them to others.  If they can’t stay for coffee, they will at least know that they are invited and welcome.
  • When a family brings a child for baptism and is introduced to the congregation, we should do more than just clap that welcome, but be ready to congratulate the family at the end of Mass and show a genuine interest in them.

These are simple, first steps that each of us should endeavour to adopt.  There will be a second meeting of the Welcoming Group on Tuesday 19th June at 7.30pm in the Presbytery, and Fr John very much hopes that more of you will come along.  After all, if we love our parish we have an interest in securing its future, it’s part of our calling to bring people to Christ.

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey, and help us to extend Your welcome to all. 

Carol Hartley

Fourth Sunday of Easter – 22nd April 2018

Dear Parishioners,

You may have noticed in last week’s newsletter that Deacon Callum Brown is to be ordained to the priesthood next month. Callum was studying at Lancaster University with the aim of a career in teaching until God intervened in his life and Callum realised that he was being called to become a priest. So, he applied to the diocese, passed selection and began his 6 years of training. It was as a part of this training that he came to our parish in September 2015 for four months of pastoral experience to observe the reality of living and serving in a parish, as had Fr Frankie Mulgrew and Fr Mark Paver before him.

He has all but completed his studies and will be ordained a priest in Salford Cathedral on Saturday 21st July at 1pm. A bus will take and return as many parishioners who wish to attend the ceremony and the reception that follows to the two pickup points in Clitheroe and Sabden.

This year Callum is the only priest to be ordained for our diocese, so those who attend should have no difficulty in finding a good vantage point.  Please note that parking is very difficult in and around the Cathedral, so if you wish to attend, I advise that you catch the bus and do not attempt to drive there! First come, first served so sign up on the list at the back of the church if you intend to go.

Fr Callum’s first Mass will be celebrated the following day, Sunday 22nd July at 2pm in his home parish of St Mary’s Haslingden. Friends are welcome.

At the parish Forum we decided to arrange a parish reception and presentation to Callum on a Friday night after the holidays and also invite him to celebrate the parish’s weekend Masses. In consultation with Callum we have agreed on Friday 14th to Sunday 16th September.

To collect for the presentation, envelopes are being printed. Please use these if you wish to contribute to the presentation. There will be only one presentation made on behalf of the whole parish, to the exclusion of individual gifts from friends, families, societies or each church community. As always, please remember that we are one parish community. Envelopes may be left at the Presbytery or handed in with the Sunday offertory collection. Cheques should be made payable to Our Lady of the Valley Parish.

Fr John

Third Sunday of Easter – 15th April 2018

Dear Parishioners,

On Monday Pope Francis published his third exhortation entitled: Gaudete et Exultate (Rejoice and be Glad) In the introduction to the exhortation, the Pope re-emphasizes that the goal of his exhortation is to “re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities.”

An apostolic exhortation is considered the second-highest form of papal teaching after an encyclical letter. Since his election, he has issued two other exhortations: Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia

The following is a response from Cardinal DiNardo, the President of the American Bishop’s Conference

“‘Do not be afraid of holiness,’ These words of the Holy Father jumped out at me when I first read them. In a way, each one of us has a fear of striving for holiness – a fear that we would be mocked, ignored, or even hated by others because we would stand out. Yet that is what the Lord has called each and every person to! Pope Francis calls us out: ‘A Christian cannot think of his or her mission on earth without seeing it as a path of holiness, for this is the will of God, your sanctification.’

The Holy Father describes how holiness comes through the daily struggles each of us face. In the ordinary course of each day, the Pope reminds us, ‘We need to recognize and combat our aggressive and selfish inclinations, and not let them take root.’ Yet, he says, this ‘battle is sweet, for it allows us to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives.’

One paragraph, in particular, points out the continuing need we have for civility in all our interactions, especially in the media. ‘Christians too,’ the Holy Father writes, ‘can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication.’ Even in our heated disagreements with one another, we always need to remember that it is God who judges, not man.

In the light of Easter joy, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, I encourage every Christian to rekindle their baptismal call to be holy by reading this wonderful exhortation by Pope Francis, especially the beautiful section on the Beatitudes. Through an exploration of the Beatitudes, and by offering examples of how to live out our call to holiness in everyday life, the Holy Father has given us a wonderful tool for renewing our love for God and for each other.”

I’ll order copies when English translations are available. Meanwhile the document and a summary is available on the Diocesan Website.

Or click here to download:

Fr John

Second Sunday of Easter – 8th April 2018

We continue to explore the symbols of the Icon of the Christ of San Damiano, now hanging in our three churches

The figure on the right in the red cloak is the centurion whose son was cured by Jesus. It is from his act of faith that we take the words before receiving Holy Communion, “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof… On his left shoulder we can see his son’s face and if we look attentively behind the boy there are what is thought to be the foreheads of three persons. These three persons represent the centurion’s family who had all been brought to the faith. The painter did not place a halo around the centurion’s head, probably because he felt it more important to have space to include the centurion’s son. However, the faith of this man is expressed in two ways. First of all, his eyes are focused intently on Jesus; the three extended fingers of his right hand symbolise his belief in the Trinity, while the two fingers that remain closed show his adherence to the two natures of Christ. The centurion represents the multitude of people who coming to faith in later life have responded faithfully to the constant inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

Near the left leg of Jesus, the artist has painted a rooster. This is not the cock that crowed as Peter denied Christ three times, because the icon shows Christ glorified with his chosen ones; the time of denials is past. Rather in past ages, when we lived close to nature, the rooster became a symbol of the rising sun. The cock is a symbol of what St Peter wrote in his letter that Jesus is the true light now and forever rising on the world. Clouds may obscure this Sun, but they are only clouds. We walk in his light in order not to stumble on obstacles along the way.

At the very base of the icon there appears to be a stone or rock. There are a number of options here. It could refer to the altar on which the sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated to mystically and seamlessly connect us to the one sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. It may also recall the words of Jesus to Peter “You are Peter and, on this rock, I will build my Church”. Or it may be a personal message for each of us, reminding us of Jesus’ advice: “Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them is like the man who, when he built a house, dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built. But someone who listens and does nothing is like the man who built a house on soil, with no foundations; as soon as the river bore down on it, it collapsed and how great was the ruin of that house.”

Michael Hargreaves