16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 23rd July 2017

Dear Parishioners,

During a recent flight, a friend fell into conversation with his neighbouring passenger from Sweden. When occupations came up my friend explained that he was a Catholic priest to which his companion responded: “I admire your Church. It is the only organisation I know of that consistently defends the dignity of human life.”

On 13th March 2017, a bill which would effectively decriminalise abortion had its First Reading in Parliament and was passed by 172 votes to 142.  A second reading on 12 May was thwarted by the General Election and the dissolution of Parliament.  Abortion procedures range from the use of chemicals to achieve an early miscarriage, to later surgical procedures that, by the use of sharp medical instruments or powerful suction, remove the baby piece-by-piece from her mother’s uterus. Such actions always violate the right to life of the unborn child herself, and can cause emotional and other harms to the mother.

Partly due to the disregard of the rights of the unborn child, scientific research and medical practice has often been undertaken which involves the destruction of human beings when they are at their embryonic stage of development. To date, no such research has led to any beneficial medical breakthroughs.

In 1961 Parliament legalised Suicide, the attempt to take one’s own life, but it remained illegal to assist someone to take their own life, with a punishment of up to 14 years in prison. In countries where this has been legalised, palliative care has been undermined. Every charity supporting the disabled is against legalising assisted suicide.

Euthanasia, unlike assisted death, is the direct killing of an individual by a medical doctor or other practitioner. In Holland and Belgium where euthanasia is legal there are signs that it has led to involuntary euthanasia as Doctors and Nurses arrogate to themselves the right to decide who ought to die, and in pressure being brought to bear on vulnerable people. Euthanasia, even more than assisted death, dehumanises the human person and subverts the vital doctor patient relationship.

In our Parish, we have a Pro-Life Group which is in need of support. We shall meet this Tuesday, July 25th, in the Presbytery at 7.30pm. Please come and help us champion the dignity of human life.

Fr John


15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 16th July 2017

Dear Parishioners,

On Saturday morning, the Office which oversees the celebration of the Sacraments, The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued a circular letter to bishops world wide, repeating the rules which govern the type of bread which may be used for the celebration of Mass.

By Saturday night, news had spread like wildfire: “Catholic Church bans coeliacs from Communion!” Is this true?

So, what did the letter state? “The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition. It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.”

This was a simple restatement of existing rules – there was no change, no announcement of new norms, no banning of coeliacs from the reception of the Eucharist.

Usually, such “reminder” letters are issued when someone, generally a bishop, has raised a question or when Rome has been alerted to possible abuse. I have seen advertised in this country, “gluten free” hosts which were mostly made of rice!  Rather than being bread they would be rice cakes! Jesus never claimed to be the “Rice of Life!”

However, the letter did state that Gluten-free hosts have always been invalid matter for the sacrifice of the Mass. A similar letter circulated to Bishops in 2003 stated that that “Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.”

The special hosts we offer to coeliacs are low-gluten hosts, partially gluten-free, that contain a sufficient amount of gluten to guarantee that the hosts are unleavened bread, without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.  The low gluten hosts used here comply fully with Church requirements.

The Church recognizes that it mustn’t exclude Catholics with celiac disease  from receiving Communion and has approved the use of low gluten hosts for this reason.  Anyone unable to tolerate even a small amount of gluten should receive communion from the chalice alone.

Fr John

Ordination – Mark Paver

Next Saturday 22 July. Due to lack of support there will be no bus to this event at Salford Cathedral. The easiest way of attending is to catch the train from Clitheroe to Salford Central Station. The time of the ordination is 12.00 noon, to be in the Cathedral by 11.30am

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 9th July 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Today is Sea Sunday when we pray for all who live and work at Sea and remember also the work of the Apostleship of the Sea, the official maritime welfare agency of the Catholic Church.

Many seafarers are Catholics, coming from the Philippines, India and Poland, so a key part of Apostleship of the Sea’s work is to provide spiritual support; helping them to get to Mass or praying with them in times of difficulty.

Another important part of the Apostleship’s work is giving simple, practical help to all seafarers, regardless of religion. For instance, it recently had to step in and help a Russian crew of a container ship. The crew had not been paid their wages for the previous few months. The ship was in a poor state of repair and was detained by the UK Maritime and Coastguard agency at Chatham in Kent after developing engine trouble. The Apostleship of the Sea provided the seafarers with practical and pastoral support, including buying essential provisions.

Usually a port chaplain’s work is fairly straightforward, like making sure seafarers have the correct SIM cards for their mobile phones, so they can make contact with their families back home. (Seafarers from Third World countries often spend 11 months away from their families) Sometimes, however, the work is more demanding as recently, finding accommodation for two shipwrecked crew members and comforting a deeply disturbed crew of another ship, one of who’s members had suddenly died far from home.

Our daily life depends on the maritime industry and the sea. 90% of world trade is transported by sea. Around the world, nearly 1.2 million seafarers, many from developing nations, work on board 50,000 merchant ships carrying food, clothing, furniture, petrol and many other products. Working conditions are very difficult, as seafarers often work long shifts in extreme weather conditions, sometimes experiencing pirate attacks. It is the most unregulated and dangerous industry in the world.

The Apostleship of the Sea is the Catholic Church’s official outreach to seafarers and fishermen, through port chaplains, ship visitors and cruise chaplains. They rely almost entirely on the support of Catholic parishes and their generosity to continue this vital work.

Today’s collection is your opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of seafarers.

Please also keep Apostleship of the Sea in your prayers.

Fr John

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2nd July 2017

Finance Committee

Parish Income (excluding St Hubert’s, Dunsop Bridge)


We have seen a 7% increase in gift aided income since 2014.

In 2016 we generated an additional £10,306 in Gift Aid Tax relief.

Instead of looking for cash every Sunday morning why not set up a bank DD to be paid monthly and fill in the gift aid form at the same time?

If you gave just £5 per week for a year—you will give £260.00 but Gift Aid will add £65 bringing the total for the church to £325.00


A full financial report will be given this Wednesday 5th July at 7.30pm at the Parish Forum.

Mass attendance has remained static over the last 6 years and so has the mass offertory.

Unfortunately church running costs have increased and so we all need to look at different ways of increasing church income.


12th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 25 June 2017

Dear Parishioners,

The new Mass time schedule came into effect two weeks ago. On Saturday evening, 10th June, Dunsop was a little down on numbers with near 40 attending. In Clitheroe the first 5pm Sunday afternoon Mass attracted a congregation of 53 but this followed the usual morning Mass and a packed church at the extra First Holy Communions Mass. Last weekend and this weekend will give a fairer picture of the impact of the new arrangement. Hopefully those who attended the Saturday evening Clitheroe Mass will find a new home and not, please God, surrender their Sunday practice.

I don’t normally recommend TV programmes but this is a must. On Sunday evening BBC4 broadcast a ‘Sky at night special’: Inside God’s Observatory. It lasts 30 minutes and I cannot recommend too highly. It killed off a host of popular misconceptions concerning the Church and science and clearly explained the important contributions that the Catholic Church has made to the science of Astronomy. Go to BBC iPlayer.

Weld day is next Sunday. When the Jesuits planned to establish a parish in Clitheroe they approached Thomas Weld, the man who had already gifted them Stonyhurst, and he donated in 1798 the meadow on which our church and social centre now stand, including the school sports field. He asked for no payment, requesting only that a Mass be celebrated each year for himself and his wife Mary. This we do this coming Sunday, the first Sunday of July. The Mass is celebrated in the gardens of the playing field and is followed by a parish picnic. Do come along to this great parish celebration, bring your picnic hampers and enjoy the complimentary strawberries and cream, wine and ice cream.

The Mass begins at 10.30am and consequently the 9.30am Mass in SS Michael & John’s and the 11am morning Mass in St Mary’s Sabden are cancelled. However, the Saturday evening Mass in St Hubert’s at 6pm and Sunday afternoon Mass in SS Michael and St John’s at 5pm will be celebrated as usual.

During the Mass the children from Dunsop, Sabden and Clitheroe who made their first Holy Communion this year will be awarded their certificates and work books.

Finally, Moira Billinge has written thanking the Parish for organising the recent successful sponsored walk for Right to Life with particular thanks to all the volunteers and especially the ladies who provided such a magnificent tea. Mass is to be celebrated for all at the Carmelite Monastery at Myton Grange.

Fr John


Corpus Christi – 18 June 2017


Each year Day for Life provides an opportunity to reflect on the dignity of every human person, both young and old, and to pray for and support all life from conception to natural death. This year’s Day for Life provides us with an opportunity to reflect, to pray and to offer practical and emotional support, especially for those who have lost a child and for those women who are anxious about their pregnancy.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act in October, we mourn the large annual number of abortions and continue to pray for the care and support of mothers and their children in the womb. Pope Francis, reminding us of the consistent teaching of the Church, describes abortion as a grave sin. As a compassionate pastor, however, he reminds priests that they are called to be ministers of God’s mercy. He also points out that we have not done enough to support and accompany pregnant women in desperate circumstances.

In his Angelus address on the Italian Day for Life in February this year, Pope Francis said to thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square, “May no one be left alone and may love defend the sense of life.” Citing the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he continued: “Life is beauty, admire it. Life is life, fight for it… Each life is sacred. Let’s pray together for those children who are in danger of interruption of pregnancy and for those who are nearing the end of life.” These words can help us rediscover a spirit of awe towards the gift of human life and stir our hearts to the wonder of this gift.

Within our parish communities, we are called to reach out and accompany all those who are alone, and to offer real practical support to those in need, which includes worried mums and dads and those struggling with the news of their pregnancy.

Please invite your parishioners to support the crucial work of Day for Life by their generosity to the collection which is taken today. This enables the Church to fund the Anscombe Bioethics Centre as well as projects that seek to care for life at every stage and in every condition. Please visit and encourage others to visit www.dayforlife.org.

Bishop John Sheerington

Pentecost – 4 June 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Speaking of today’s great feast of Pentecost Pope Francis said: ‘Saint Paul concludes his Letter to the Romans by praying that “the God of hope” will make us “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13). As a gift of the Spirit, hope is both an anchor (cf. Heb 6:18-19) giving us security amid the storms of life, and a “sail” driving us forward towards the safe harbour of eternal life. The Spirit bears witness within our hearts to the consoling truth of God’s promises and the inheritance that awaits us as his beloved sons and daughters (cf. Rom 8:16). Filled with this hope, we can become, in the words of Cardinal Newman, “consolers in the image of the Paraclete… advocates, helpers and bringers of comfort” to others. The Spirit, who brings hope to all creation (cf. Rom 8:20-22), also inspires in us love and respect for this world in which we live. May this Pentecost find us, like Mary and the Apostles, gathered in prayer, and may the gift of the Holy Spirit make us “abound in hope.”’

Returning from the School break, candidates in Dunsop make their First Holy Communion today, followed next week by the children of Clitheroe and Sabden.

On Weld Day, which this year is Sunday 2nd July, at the special 10am Mass celebrated on the Parish field all the children from the three school communities will be presented to the parish in all their finery and receive their certificates and rather splendid work books as mementos of the day they received the Body of Jesus Christ for the first time and became fully fledged Catholics. The Parish Picnic will follow.

Today also is the last Sunday before we adopt the new Saturday/Sunday Mass schedule which is clearly listed on the front of the newsletter and church notice boards. Please share this news far and wide, particularly among parishioners who may not have been to Mass recently.

Next Sunday, 11th June, due to the First Holy Communions, there will be an extra Mass in Clitheroe at 11am. So, next Sunday only parishes Masses will be:

Saturday at 6pm first Mass of Sunday in DUNSOP

Sunday at 9.30am usual morning Mass in CLITHEROE

Sunday at 11am First Holy Communion Mass CLITHEROE

Sunday at 11am First Holy Communion Mass SABDEN

Sunday at 5pm the new Sunday evening Mass CLITHEROE

The following Sunday’s masses will be at the new times.  Please see the red box on the front page.

Fr John

The Ascension – 28th May 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Ascension which marks the end of the post-resurrection period during which our risen Lord was seen by the disciples. His last words, as we heard at Mass today, were a command to go out, preach his message and invite to baptism. This is the mission of the Church which continues throughout the world to this day.

When the first disciples set out to spread the message they had only one option, which is still the best, to meet and speak with people face to face. But times change and today we have an amazing number of ways in which we are able to communicate: printed word, broadcasting by TV, Radio, Film, and the new world of digital media. All can be employed to spread the Gospel message as they may also be used to promote false news, violence and hatred: the communications media may be used for good or evil. So, today, the feast of the Ascension, the Church observes Communications Sunday.

Particularly we are encouraged to pray for all who work in the field of Communications, that their one guiding principle is the truth and the truth alone.

A particular intention for prayer is for those responsible for communicating on behalf of the Catholic Church in this country through the Catholic Communications Network.

The Catholic Communications Network (CCN) is the media office of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and seeks to support the Bishops in their task of communicating and defending faith.  The office is the central point for media enquiries and is a key resource for national and international media professionals. It also plays an important role in developing the public profile of the Church through word and image, online and offline. In addition to this, CCN works on carefully selected proactive campaigns to promote the Catholic Faith in public life such as the acclaimed Art of dying well. http://www.artofdyingwell.org/

Our own diocese has appointed its first professional communications manager: Rachel McGee is a practising Catholic, with a wide experience of the world of journalism and the communications world in general.

For further information: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/wcd17

                                                                               Fr John