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

New Diocesan Website

Would you like to hear about news and events from around the Diocese we have a brand new website—www.dioceseofsalford.org.uk  You can search for people and places and get an insight into the departments and services, although some material is still in progress—keep looking!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 3rd September 2017

Dear Parishioners,

A new school year opens this week and we welcome back the pupils and staff of our four schools

During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed for those with influence to “listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer most because of the unbalanced ecology.”

A day of prayer for creation was instituted by the Orthodox Church in 1989 and the current leader, Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have worked hand in hand to promote growing awareness of climate change and the challenges facing the future of our planet.

In 2015, Patriarch Bartholomew’s personal envoy, John Zizioulas, was one of the speakers at the presentation of Laudato si’, Francis’s landmark encyclical on environmental ecology. In the document, Francis praised Patriarch Bartholomew’s work for the environment. Zizioulas suggested that all the Christian churches start marking the day together. Pope Francis immediately embraced the idea, and decided to institute the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in the Catholic Church.

In his letter announcing the decision, Francis said the annual commemoration would offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.

“The celebration of this Day, on the same date as the Orthodox Church, will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters,” the pope wrote at the time. “We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective. It is my hope that this Day will in some way also involve other Churches and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches.”

I mentioned recently that we must start a group of interested parishioners and others who are prepared to put and keep Laudato Si on the parish agenda.

The parish Forum meets on 20th and this will be a major item on the agenda.

Fr John

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – 27th August 2017

Dear Parishioners,

As I mentioned at Mass last weekend, I have invited both Fr Kevin and Mgr John Chaloner back to the parish on Tuesday 3rd October to celebrate their unstinting service to both Our Lady of the Valley and to St Hubert’s.

The evening will begin with a Mass of thanksgiving for them and their service to our communities and to pray for their future good health and happiness in their two quite different circumstances. Mass will begin at 7pm in St Michael and St John’s and afterwards we shall withdraw to the Parish Centre for a cheese, wine and nibbles evening during which presentations will be made. The evening will end at around 9pm.

Though our Hall is large we are not permitted to host more than 200 guests at any one time and so the event will be by ticket only;  these will be available in the near future for £1 each. Tickets may be exchanged for a glass of wine; other drinks may be purchased at the bar and our ladies group will ensure a plentiful supply of tea. Please only purchase a ticket if you intend to come.

The organising committee did consider providing some form of entertainment but decided that the evening should rather be an occasion to meet and chat, particularly with our two guests of honour– though I will suggest that Fr Kevin bring his guitar along!

The Sabden community have already made arrangements for a farewell gift to Fr Kevin. Members of the St Michael and John’s community who wish to contribute to a presentation should enclose their donation in an envelope, clearly marked FR KEVIN, and either post it at the Presbytery or place it in the offertory collection basket at Mass.

St Hubert’s community please contact Rachel Alpe (01200 448293) regarding your photographs.

Last week I also mentioned that Fr Mark Paver will be with us on 16th and 17th September before he returns to Rome for a year to complete a further degree course. Mark was with us on student placement three years ago so it is a delight and an honour for us to welcome him back as a newly ordained priest. His brief visit will coincide with the Autumn Mass for our sick and housebound at which he will assist with the anointing.

Finally, work begins this week to repair the low wall in front of St Michael & St John’s, so please be careful when entering or leaving the church. The following week the external redecoration of all the Clitheroe parish buildings will begin and continue for 5 weeks.

Fr John


19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 13th August 2017

Dear Parishioners,

With Fr Kevin taking up a new post, we must look to the future and plan how best we become a missionary parish composed of three dynamic communities but with the services of only one priest possessed of one head, a degenerating brain and no power of bilocation!

I’m reminded of how Fr Bernard Cotter described his life as a parish priest “Imagine a juggler. If he is fairly competent, he can juggle three balls easily. He can complete other tasks at the same time — talking, smiling, singing, maybe even, if he is a super-juggler, riding a unicycle. Another ball is thrown at random; sometimes he can incorporate it, sometimes not. I am that juggler.”

So, to continue the metaphor: the whole parish must join the juggling act. Truth be told we do have a good number of parish activities and groups but we also need to expand what we have. Here are a few requests for you to consider, to ask yourself, could I give a hand here?

First, help with the baptismal preparation of infants. If we are to comply with the Bishop’s request in this regard, we shall need volunteers to welcome parents and their babies to Sunday Mass, sit with them and help them feel that they belong. Then afterwards invite them over to coffee in the Hall so that they have opportunity to meet other members of the parish community to which they belong. I ask you, do you need a degree in theology to do that? Please do offer to help. Young families would be invaluable in this ministry.

We need a new music group to alternate with the regular choir. So, we need guitarists, flautists, in fact any instrument, including the ukulele and they don’t need to be professional musicians! The group would lead the singing once or twice a month after rehearsal. We’ll work on a rota basis and all dates will be available for the coming year starting at the end of September. Interested? Want to learn more with no obligation? Contact me or Geralyn Lambert ( 07483 811358 or glambert@ssmj.lancs.sch.uk.

Following our discussion earlier in the year of Pope Francis’ Laudato si document.  I would like to see a Laudato si group formed to discuss and implement the Pope’s suggestions.

Finally, there will be no further Thursday evening Masses. Mass on Thursdays will be celebrated at 9.15am in Dunsop.

Fr John

The Transfiguration – 6th August 2017

Catholic response to ‘fracking’.

The Roman Catholic National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) has recently published a briefing report, only 13 pages long and in ‘plain English”, on ‘fracking’ (the horizontal drilling and high pressure fracturing of shale rock to extract gas).

This is very relevant to OLOTV parishioners, as the Government has now signed extraction licences with fracking companies for this area, specifically the area which includes Sabden, Pendle Hill, Pendleton, and half way along Whalley Road towards Clitheroe. The habitat impact assessment shows a wider area potentially affected covering the whole of Clitheroe and extending as far as Newton and Whitewell to the North West and Gisburn to the North East. More licences will follow, further extending the area affected in future.

The report provides an excellent summary of what is involved in fracking, the technical and scientific arguments for and against, and the potential local and global impact. It also draws on Catholic Social Teaching principles (CST) in seeking to evaluate what the Catholic Church’s response might be, in particular in the context of Pope John Paul ll’s encyclical, “The Gospel of Life”, Pope Benedict’s “Ten Commandments for the Environment”, and Pope Francis’ “Laudate Si”.

The NJPN recommends that fracking should not be supported in the UK, because “Britain should be leading the world in shifting away from fossil fuels and towards clean and sustainable energy, rather than trying to extract ever more inaccessible fossil fuels”, stating that “In making this recommendation we are taking a moral decision that we believe is most likely to favour the common good and meet our Christian obligations founded on love of God and respect for His creation”. The report concludes by saying: “The challenge for each of us is how to bring Christian love to the debate about fracking, applying the prism of love to the known facts, dilemmas and areas of uncertainty. We may come to different conclusions from each other but we should all ensure those conclusions are based on complete transparency and honesty”.

Reading this report will help discussion and response when the companies involved locally apply for Planning Permission for their permanent drilling rigs.

The report can be found on the internet at: http://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/environment/fracking-briefing-paper-njpn-environment-working-group/

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 30th July 2017

Dear Parishioners,

I’m afraid that we are faced with yet another change to the weekend Mass schedule.

Since the introduction of the 6pm Saturday night Mass in Dunsop Bridge and the 5pm Sunday Mass in Clitheroe, the parish Mass attendance has imploded, with the weekly attendance dropping by a quarter, from over 400 to 300. This figure is confirmed by an average weekly  £300 decrease in the collection.

Income is important, especially as we are about to begin the exterior decoration of the parish property in Clitheroe: the gutterings, downspouts, windows and doors etc. at a cost of £21,000, inclusive of VAT.

But to my mind, of more importance is that once parishioners regularly attend Mass elsewhere then they lose contact with the parish community! That we cannot afford.

Action must be taken but what? Initially, I considered calling another parish consultation but that would take time and so I have decided to act!

The Sunday afternoon Mass will return to Saturday evening but at the new time of 5pm. Then to enable me to travel up to Dunsop, the Mass in St Hubert’s will be pushed back half an hour, from 6pm to 6.30pm.

This weekend, times of Mass will remain the same but next weekend, 5th and 6th August these changes will come into effect.

Saturday, 5th August
5.00pm Mass in Clitheroe
6.30pm Mass in Dunsop

Sunday, 6th August
9.30am Mass in Clitheroe
11.00am Mass in Sabden

Finally, a reminder that we shall celebrate the annual Requiem Mass for deceased parishioners, priests (this year remembering especially Fr Wareing) and your friends and relations on Bank Holiday Monday, 28th August at 11am in the old Catholic cemetery.

Fr John