22nd Sunday in Ordinary time – 30th August 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Being a keen angler I know of the Ribble Valley’s beauty and its reputation for its fishing! My name is Callum Brown and I’ll be part of your Parish community for the next five months. I’m training to be a priest for Salford Diocese, studying at St Mary’s Seminary, Oscott, the same seminary at which Fr Frankie trained. I hail from the Rossendale Valley, am 26 and in the 5th year of a 7 year course.

The seeds of a possible vocation first began to show themselves during my second year of university where I experienced in a very gentle and gradual way, a sense of dissatisfaction with the direction my life was heading. I had a vibrant social life and was very much involved in the life of the Catholic Chaplaincy. Yet I felt a strong desire to do more for Christ and deepen my faith and commitment to His Church. For the next eighteen months the conviction grew, which I describe as a persistent nagging, almost like toothache, that perhaps my vocation was not to the teaching profession but the priesthood. I took the plunge and contacted Salford’s Vocations Director during my third year of University.

Following a period of discernment and a long application process, Bishop Brain sent me to Valladolid seminary in Spain. Valladolid is a challenging place where each year twenty men live under the same roof for 9 months searching to make sense of what God is asking of them; getting to know themselves and God better. It was a blessed time for me, the experience of living in a passionately Catholic part of Spain and having some breathing space to reflect deeply on the prospect of vocation was a gift.

Academic training then followed at Oscott College, a six year course to equip students with the skills and knowledge required for parish ministry. Towards the end we are appointed to live and work in a parish to get a real taste of the life for which we are training.

So it with great joy that I come to Our Lady of the Valley parish and the opportunity to spend what will hopefully be a grace filled time with you and I ask your prayers and patience as I continue on this journey of discernment and learning towards Priesthood.




Did you know?….. CAFOD is supporting the Jesuit Development Service (JDS), who work with some of the poorest communities in El Salvador, to the west of the country. The communities here grow food to survive, but the steep, rocky landscape makes farming difficult. The Jesuit Development Service helps train farmers, so people can share skills, develop new ways to earn money and create a better life for their families. Working in partnership is an essential part of our identity.



As announced last week Fr Joe leaves us this weekend to take up duties in Salford Cathedral where an experienced assistant is needed.

We wish him well in this new appointment.

Callum Brown will arrive at the end of this week and Fr Kevin Murphy the following week on 10th September.

21st Sunday in Ordinary time – 23rd August 2015

PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES – 31st July to 6th August 2015

We have returned with the ‘joy of mission’!
We all experienced so much on an individual, Parish and Diocesan level. It would appear that there aren’t enough words to do justice and to share our reflections.
So here are just a few words we collectively recorded in an attempt to give insight into Lourdes…………….

 Single words……..

“joy” – “time” – “laughter” – “tears” – “God” – “love” – “wonderful” -“mass” -“special” -“moving” – “spirituality” – “friendship” – “experience” – “reconciliation” – “healing” – “deep” – “beautiful” – “emotional” – “music” – “service” – “opportunity” – “expressions” – “singing” – “young” – “welcoming” – “meaningful” – “involvement” – “journey” – “memorable” – “opportunity” – “joyful” – “holiness”.

A few more words……..

“Truly inspirational” – “first visit” – “above expectations” “Our Lady” – “packed schedule” – “joining in” – “worthwhile experience” – St Bernadette” – “Christian Community” – “wonderful Bishop” – “reflective experience” – “torchlight procession” – “Ave Maria” – “uplifting and enhancing” – “strengthening of faith” – “making new friends” – “Bishop John’s presence” – “God Bless all” – “encouraged to participate” – “grace and adoration” – “kindness and love”.

And so much more……..

“looking after the sick” – “with our Parish groups” – “closer to God, Jesus and our Mother Mary” – “our amazing clergy as human beings” – “great grace and peace” – “would recommend it to anyone” – “getting to know people” – “blessed by my visit and long to return” – “continue much harder at home” – “excellent volunteers, especially the young people” – “sincerity, humility and humanity” – “a place to experience for yourself” – “Rosary Basilica, really beautiful” – “people’s devotion to Our Lady” – “Our Blessed Lady has pulled her cape around me” – “treasure of late night silence at the Grotto” – “faith is very much alive” – “diocese activities and time for your own personal preferences”

The choir sang beautifully; the young ‘army’ of volunteers, dressed in their blue T-shirts, looked after the sick pilgrims in their wheelchairs with such care, love and devotion. It was humbling to witness; we all felt very proud of them.

Food for thought: One young girl’s experience changed the world for many.

You just have to go to know……..!!

Many thanks to all who made the Pilgrimage to Lourdes such a special, uplifting and spiritual experience. See you all next year!!
Stay with us Lord on our journey

From Our Lady of the Valley Parish Pilgrims

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 9th August 2015

Dear Parishioners,

The Anglican Church has also urged their members to voice concerns over the Assisted Suicide Bill. Their Press release reads:

Churchgoers are being encouraged to contact their MPs to highlight the risks involved in proposed legislation to legalise assisted suicide.
James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, has asked that parishioners either make an appointment to see their MP or write them a letter expressing their concerns about a Private Member’s Bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday September 11th.
The Bill is expected to seek to grant physician-assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults, who have six months or less to live.
Bishop James, the Church of England’s lead bishop on health care, said the proposed legislation, if passed into law, would have a detrimental effect both on individuals and on the nature of society.
He said: “Our concern about this proposed legislation is rooted in our practical care for the most vulnerable in our society. In our communities and through healthcare chaplaincy, the Church of England cares daily for the elderly, the ill, the dying and their families.
“If this Bill is passed we will have crossed a line that will make the future very uncertain and dangerous for a significant proportion of the most vulnerable people, including the elderly and those living with disabilities.
“This is a key moment for all of us as we decide what sort of society we want to live in and what future we want for our children and grandchildren, one in which all are valued and cared for, or one in which some lives are viewed as not worth living.
“I ask those who are happy to do so, to contact their MPs, either by making an appointment to see them in person at their constituency surgery, or by letter, to make it clear that they oppose this Bill.”
To hear a full interview with James Newcome on the Assisted Dying Bill listen here: https://soundcloud.com/the-church-of-england/assisted-suicide-01

Please share this press release with your Anglican friends and encourage them to contact their MPs.

Fr John

A reminder that contact details for MPs can be found on the Parliament website at http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2nd August 2015

Dear Parishioners,

“How great a lie …to make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!” Pope Francis

Whilst hospital visiting an elderly and frail lady whom I didn’t know, asked whether I could answer a difficult question: “I’ve told the doctor that if I have another heart attack I don’t want resuscitating. Was that wrong?” I reassured her that she had nothing to worry about because we are not obliged to use extraordinary means to maintain life. I then explained that her decision was not a form of assisted suicide but that she had simply decided to leave matters in God’s hands.
That advice is totally in line with the principles of Church teaching, as described in the Day for Life cards that are available at the back of church.

The first principle is that we embrace life. Every person is loved by God and every life is a precious gift never to be destroyed or neglected. It is wrong to hasten or bring about death. God will call us in his good time.

The second principle is that we accept death. This means there is no obligation to pursue medical treatment when it no longer has any effect or, indeed, harms the patient, or where the risks or burdens of the treatment outweigh the likely benefits.

Both these principles should guide our decisions when faced with a medical crisis.
Needless to say, such important decisions are best faced with others – medical and care experts along with immediate and extended family members. The family, after all, should be the privileged place where we find mutual support and understanding.
In such discussions these two questions can guide us:

“Does this decision love and respect life?”

“Does this decision accept the inevitability of death?”

We should attempt to answer yes to both, as life itself is a gift from God and death but the gateway to new life with Him.
For further information go to: www.dayforlife.org

Finally, please do contact your MP and ask him to oppose the Assisted Dying (Assisted Suicide) Bill to be debated in Parliament in a month’s time. Contact details for Nigel Evans: House of Commons, London SW1 OAA or email: evansn@parliament.uk Other MP’s can be found on Parliament’s website: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Fr John

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 26th July 2015 – Day for Life

Dear Parishioners,

Cherishing life, Accepting Death is the title of this year’s DAY FOR LIFE, an appropriate theme as we ponder the prospect of the Assisted Dying Bill to be debated by Parliament on 11th September.
Preaching at Mass earlier in the year, Pope Francis said, “The two texts in the day’s liturgy (Acts 20:17-27 & John 17:1-11) say the word ‘goodbye’: Paul entrusts his own to God, and Jesus entrusts his disciples to the Father”
Before the images of Paul who weeps, kneeling on the beach and that of Jesus weeping in his heart as he leaves his disciples, Pope Francis recommended that we reflect on ourselves and ask ourselves: “who will be the person to close my eyes? What will I leave?”
He noted: “Paul and Jesus, in these passages, both do an examination of conscience: ‘I have done this, this and this’. And thus it is good to ask oneself, in a sort of examination of conscience: ‘What have I done?’ And to do so with the awareness that it is good for me to imagine myself at that moment: one never knows which ‘see you later’, ‘see you soon’, ‘see you tomorrow’, ‘until we meet again’ will become our final ‘goodbye’”.
The Holy Father then invited further reflection: “Am I prepared to entrust to God all of my loved ones, to entrust myself to God? To say that word which is the Son’s word of entrustment to the Father?”
Pope Francis also encouraged us to find a little time to read Chapter 16 of the Gospel according to John or Chapter 19 of the Acts of the Apostles. These are “the farewell of Jesus and the farewell of Paul”.
“In the light of these very texts, it is important to think that one day I too will have to say that word: ‘goodbye’. “To God I entrust my soul; to God I entrust my history; to God I entrust my loved ones; to God I entrust all”.
He concluded, “let us commemorate Jesus’ goodbye as we pray “that Jesus, died and risen, will send us the Holy Spirit so that we learn this word, learn to say with all our strength this last word: ‘goodbye’”. The moment of that utterance we leave in God’s hands.

Despite the distraction of the holidays please do remember to contact your MP asking them not to vote for the Assisted Dying Bill.

Fr John


16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 19th July 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Fiona Bruce MP and the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group have written requesting your help.

As many of you will know, Rob Marris MP is trying to legalise assisted suicide.
This battle will be won or lost in constituencies – many MPs we have spoken to are saying that they will “see what their constituents have to say” before making up their minds. The more your MP realises that there is opposition in their constituency, the more likely they will be to vote against. It really is essential that you do all you can to influence their decision. You really will make a difference.
Please could you:

  1. Make contact with your MP using this tool http://notoassistedsuicide.org.uk/ or, you can also use this link http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
  2. Ask for a meeting at one of their local constituency surgeries. At the meeting, there are two things that need to be communicated:
  • Say that you would like them to oppose the Bill
  • Say that you would like them to turn up on Friday September to 11th to vote against the Bill.

Crucially, we then need you to let us know the results of your efforts. We need this intelligence as it helps us to calculate whether or not we can win the vote.
If you cannot get to see your MP, please write to them in your own words setting out why you oppose assisted suicide using this link (some helpful evidence-based arguments are available here). http://notoassistedsuicide.org.uk/

Also Archbishop Peter Smith has written: “I strongly urge all Catholics to contact their own MP as soon as possible to express their concern about the dangerous impact which such a Bill would have on the most vulnerable people. MPs do listen to their own constituents. What is needed is more and better palliative care, not assistance with suicide.” I recommend these excellent websites: the Bishops Conference www.catholicnews.org.uk/assisted-suicide and the Anscombe Bioethics centre www.bioethics.org.uk
Remember that every charity for the disabled is adamantly opposed to this Bill! Although parliament is in recess the Assisted Dying Bill will be debated after their return on September 7th. Please act now.

Fr John


15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 12th July 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Yet again on Weld Day we were blessed by good weather and a congregation that grows by the year. I’m grateful to those who donated the ice cream, the wine, the strawberries and the cream, as are all who enjoyed them. Over 300 cornets and tubs of ice cream disappeared down children’s throats – help by not a few adults.
The school did a great job in tidying the garden and erecting the gazebo that protected the altar. Early Sunday morning, as a team of men set about organising the site, I reflected that most of this work would better be done the day before and as I scratched my head to remember the arrangements of last and previous years I concluded that the day needs an organising committee. The first Weld Day was overseen by a small group, but gradually over the past six years almost all the organisation has fallen back back to me.
Only a few days before, I had reported to the Parish Forum that the Bishop has asked the clergy to set about handing over the organisation of their parishes and their associated activities to parishioners. He requested this as a welfare measure to prevent burnout and illness among his priests as many take on responsibility for more than one parish and their associated schools, in a world where administration increases by the year and is accompanied by demands for greater accountability and transparency.
So, asks Bishop John of the clergy: free yourselves from administration and property management so that you have more time for the important services that are specific to you and your vocation. At the Forum, I announced that a strategy to form organising groups/committees to take full responsibility for many aspects of parish life must now be a priority for our parish with its three churches and their communities.
Many already exist: Finance, Maintenance, Website, Marriage and Baptism preparation, the choirs, Cafod, Trafficking, Flower guild, the dependable long standing Women’s group and the Knights, Eucharistic Ministers, Readers, Life, Church cleaning and SVP to mention just a number that come to mind as I type. Some of these function exceedingly well, others need reinvigorating, and nearly all need to look at membership. But even this number leaves some aspects of parish life neglected.
Please give this matter serious thought over the holidays, let me have your ideas and in September we shall begin the process.

Fr John