11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 17th June 2018 (Day for Life)

Day for Life

Day for Life is the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. The theme for this year is human trafficking and Pope Francis appeals to Catholics in England and Wales to open their eyes and hear the cry of human trafficking victims.

Pope Francis has written: “Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred… Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.

In the last 12 months there have been two major East Lancashire Police operations where coordinated action across six towns led to the arrest of fourteen men and one woman operating a sex trafficking ring based in Blackburn. Its tentacles reached Clitheroe. Human trafficking is a major issue in the UK and in Lancashire we have instances not only of sexual exploitation but also enforced Labour, domestic slavery, forced marriage and enforced criminality. Today’s collection is taken in support of Church supported life activities. There are materials and on-line resources from Day for Life http://www.dayforlife.org/

Caritas Salford Anti-Trafficking, the Santa Marta Group and the Medaille Trust is launching an exercise which is part of an ongoing diocesan strategy to raise awareness on human trafficking in Greater Manchester and Lancashire. Through prayer and greater awareness Catholics can play an important part in helping the Police end this horrific crime. For more information go to:

Catholic Church http://santamartagroup.com/

Anglican Church  https://www.theclewerinitiative.org/

Salvation Army https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/modern-slavery

Please make sure you do not leave church today without taking one of our cards and that you know what to do when you see something that doesn’t look right and probably isn’t.

Together we can end modern slavery.

June 17: Day for Life

Pope Francis appeals to Catholics in England and Wales to ‘open their eyes’ and ‘hear the cry’ of human trafficking victims.

As the Catholic Church in England and Wales prepares for Day for Life on Sunday 17 June, Pope Francis has sent a special message to Catholics in England and Wales asking them to break the chains of captivity of those who have been trafficked and to “bring comfort to those who have survived such inhumanity.”

Day for Life is the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. This year’s Day for Life aims to raise awareness of the vile crime of human trafficking.


See also Bishop John’s message https://youtu.be/WFLLg_pOJHA

The CAFOD Live Simply Award

It is a tribute to the work of our Laudato Si’ Team that we are now registered for the Live Simply Award.  All we have to do now is put our plan into action!

Our next talk, Bird and Bats and Everything to do with the Environment,  is on Wednesday 13 June (see Events).


10th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 10th June 2018


In his traditional New Year’s Day address, before around 40,000 people who had converged on St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis highlighted the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, describing them as the world’s “weakest and most needy.”

The Pope had chosen the plight of migrants and refugees as the theme for the Church’s World Day of Peace, celebrated annually on January 1, and in his address said:

“For this peace, to which everyone has a right, many of them (the refugees) are willing to risk their lives in a journey, which is often long and dangerous; they are willing to face strain and suffering.”

Refugees’ journeys to safety are sometimes pictured on the news, but so often seem distanced from us – not something that affects us and our community – but not so. This is the testimony of an asylum seeker from the middle east who is living with his wife and young children in Clitheroe, written as homework (“Write 80 words about something you did recently”) for the English class he is attending, and reproduced here with his permission:

 “At 11 o’clock, in the middle of the night, we were in Turkey. We were going to Greece. We are 150 persons going in a small boat in the middle of the sea. The engine was broken. Everyone was scared and cried. I decided to call the police and called them to rescue the boat. After 3 hours they answered they were coming. We nearly died”.

Around 150 refugees and asylum seekers will be visiting the Ribble Valley on Saturday 23rd June. We can’t solve the problems of the world, but we can at least make them welcome for a day.

The day begins on the St. Michael and St. John’s School Field at around 10.30 a.m. when our guests arrive, with a BBQ provided by the Mosque at midday. Then, at around 1pm, the visitors will be heading over to Stonyhurst College, where there will be activities laid on by the College, a refugee v College football match, a walk, ending the afternoon with the now traditional cream tea. Please come along on Saturday morning to say “Hello”. If you would like to join the “Share the Journey” walk organised by parish CAFOD reps (https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Share-the-Journey), or come to Stonyhurst College, please let us know. You will need to arrange your own transport.

We are still looking for volunteers on the day. In particular we need First Aiders and people to help at Stonyhurst College. If you can help, leave your details on the form at the back of Church, or contact Tom Clay on 07962136749.

Please pray for the success of the day.

Tom & Kathryn Clay

The uplifting story of an abortion survivor

The Irish Referendum on abortion was a blow to our pro-life aspirations but do the people who voted realise where that result might lead us?  An inspirational story on BBC2’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday this week follows the publication of a book by Melissa Ohden – a woman who survived an abortion in the US.  In 1977 her 19 year old, 8 month pregnant,  mother was given a saline infusion abortion which would normally kill the baby in 5 days.  Melissa was born barely alive and effectively discarded in toxic waste but rescued by a nurse who heard slight noises.  Whilst her story outlines how babies were killed in the womb in the US in 1977 (they use different methods these days), and what happened when they were born alive, the story is actually an uplifting one.  It is about how Melissa survived against the odds and became a healthy, successful woman.  It is also about the relationship she now has with her birth mother who had never wanted the abortion in the first place.

After the referendum result Bishop Leahey of Limerick spoke of the compassion that divides people on the issue of abortion – the compassion for the mother and  the compassion for the unborn child – and compassion too should guide our judgement of others who see things differently to ourselves.   We should  follow the example of Melissa Ohden in her compassion and forgiveness for the grandmother nurse who wanted the abortion, participated in it, and wanted the living baby left to die.

But as David Alton says:  Love them both holds the key to making progress. This must always mean contesting the idea that a loving response can ever involve ending another’s life. Providing practical alternatives must always accompany efforts to challenge laws and attitudes.

You can see the full story on youtube, Testimony of Melissa Ohden, abortion survivor

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

May 27, 2018: The Bishop of Limerick on the Irish Referendum

A report in the Limerick Leader about a letter written by the Catholic Bishop of Limerick in regards the Referendum result that will lead to change the 8th amendment of the Irish Constitution.  

SOCIETY has been “very much divided” by the referendum on whether to repeal or retain the eighth amendment, the Bishop of Limerick believes.

Limerick City and County voted by a significant majority to repeal the eighth amendment in Friday’s referendum.

In a message read out at Masses across the Limerick diocese this Sunday, Bishop Brendan Leahy described the result of the referendum as “deeply regrettable and chilling” for those who voted no.

In his message, the Bishop also acknowledged that each person’s political position on the matter was “ultimately borne out of care.”

“Those who voted no did so with compassion particularly for the unborn child,” Bishop Leahy said.

“Those who voted yes did so with an eye particularly on the mother carrying that child.”

“We have unquestionably been divided in many respects as a society over recent years by pivotal political decisions but we must begin to heal and to remember that we are one, not two societies,” Bishop Leahy said.

The stories of many women who terminated their pregnancies were heard during the debate, he added.

“They were women in crisis pregnancies or women in dreadful circumstances; victims of sexual violence or those who have been given dreadful news regarding the viability of the baby in the womb, a baby they dearly want, or women whose lives are put at risk by an imminent childbirth.”

“While the Church’s position is that life, in or out, of the womb is to be protected, it is only right that we have heard these stories and got a sense of women’s immense pain and distress.”

“So often, women were left on their own at that time, perhaps with the support only of a friend, perhaps immediate family but not much else.”

“A message we can take, therefore, from the stories we’ve heard is that we have ultimately failed them as a society if we allow them to be isolated.”

“We need to engender more coherently a society of care, a society of support so that the default for women in these circumstances is to turn to that society and know that it wraps them in a blanket of love and support.”

“The Church treasures life above all else and that extends to life in the womb,” Bishop Leahy added.

“Even before the Referendum, it was a core value and it will remain so.”

“The result, in that context, is deeply regrettable and chilling for those of us who voted no.”

“The final result of the Referendum is the will of the majority of the people, though not all the people.”

The vote does not change the Church’s position on that matter, he added.

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