14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 5th July 2015 – Weld Day

Dear Parishioners,

Some time ago the Bishop wrote a letter inviting people to write to him and share ideas on how our diocese should organise itself and move forward as a Christian community in the 21st century. He received a massive response both by letter and email and has consolidated many of the questions and suggestions into a questionnaire to gauge opinion on a wide range of issues such as the appropriate age for First Communion, Confirmation, lay involvement in the management of the diocese, the mission of our schools, a diocesan development plan and, Chris Carr will be delighted to learn, whether we should have permanent deacons. All in all there are 33 questions, most of which require ticking either a Yes or a No box.
The paper questionnaire is available at the back of the church or may be answered online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Salford2015 or by the diocesan website at http://www.salforddiocese.net  Please note that you must respond before Friday 7th August.

As the new Parish Priest, last Sunday I celebrated Mass in St Hubert’s Dunsop Bridge and afterwards met and discussed a number of issues with parishioners. Mgr Chaloner is to remain in retirement living in the Presbytery and has kindly agreed to celebrate a 10am Mass on Sundays in St Hubert’s. Midweek I shall celebrate a Mass on Tuesdays at 9.30am and whenever required. Then after the holidays on the 6th September I shall again celebrate the Sunday Mass and afterwards meet with the whole parish in Thorneyholme School to arrange how best we all may contribute to the growth and organisation of the parish within the parish of Our Lady of the Valley.

Teenager Betty Ward, a Dunsop parishioner, writes “My unruly, curly hair is one of my defining features and up until a few years ago I couldn’t bear to think of losing it. However, I met a brave young girl who at the age of 11 was diagnosed with alopecia and began losing her hair. The thing is you don’t just lose your hair; you lose your confidence and feel self-conscious. Please help me support the Little Princess Trust which provides real hair wigs to children with hair loss by sponsoring my hair donation. For me, my hair will grow back but for some children it never will. Help make a little girl feel like a princess again.” So Betty will donate her hair and also hopes to raise money by people sponsoring her. Text BWRD56 followed by £2/£5/£10 to 70070 or go to Nyaunglebin www.justgiving.com/bettyward.

Happy Weld Day!

Fr John


Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Dear Parishioners,

Today I celebrate Sunday Mass in St Hubert’s, Dunsop Bridge, and afterwards shall meet with parishioners to begin the process of shaping our three very different Catholic communities into a cohesive Missionary Parish – as Pope Francis has asked us to become. Thankfully we have behind us the successful amalgamation of St Michael and St John’s Clitheroe with St Mary’s Sabden, in the process of which both communities generously shared, learned and benefited from each other.
Today I have only three aims. The first is to organise a general meeting of St Hubert’s community at which a couple of representatives from Clitheroe and Sabden will be invited to share the stories of their journey to amalgamation and respond to any anxieties which may exist within the Dunsop Bridge community. The second is to arrange for a midweek morning Mass in St Hubert’s (not on Sabden’s Wednesday)! The third is to organise a meeting with a member from the parish finance committee, Mgr Chaloner and a Dunsop representative to discuss finance.

On a different topic, in the 1800’s a Pedlar’s Trunk was discovered at Samlesbury Hall where it had lain hidden in a priest hole for 200 years. The Trunk contained all that was necessary for the celebration of Mass (but disguised as a pedlar’s wares) and is thought to have been used by our martyrs St Edmund Arrowsmith and/or St John Southworth. In 1892 the Trunk was sold at general auction to a local Catholic man who recognised its religious significance. Subsequently it was handed over to the care to Stonyhurst College. The College has loaned it as part of an exhibition at Samlesbury Hall over the coming year. If you would like to visit the exhibition, the Hall is open for visitors Sunday to Friday 11am – 4pm but closed on Saturdays and occasional Fridays. (To check opening times contact 01254 812010). This is a golden opportunity to introduce your children to Lancashire’s Catholic heritage and have a day out.

Finally we celebrate the beginnings of our parish next Sunday on Weld Day, beginning with Sunday Mass at 10.30am in the garden, followed by a parish picnic. A complementary glass of wine, strawberries and ice-cream are provided by kind sponsors – you bring along the family, a picnic and some sunshine.

Fr John


12th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 21st June 2015

Dear Parishioners,

At the end of July, representatives of our parish Combating Human Trafficking Group will meet the Bishop to agree how he might best add his voice to our work.
Human trafficking is a crime against humanity that requires continued global and local cooperation between the Catholic Church and law enforcement. The twin strategies of police cracking down on the criminals behind trafficking, and Church and social workers aiding victims, must go together. These were the words of Pope Francis at the second international conference on human trafficking in Rome in April 2014.

In the UK, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Bakhita Initiative are putting the Pope’s words into practice down to parish level. Our Parish group is a bottom up approach in the same spirit.

So how does a parish group like ours fulfil a twofold aim of aiding victims and cracking down on criminals?
Firstly we work with the http://wendykeithdesigns.co.uk/category Medaille Trust which provides safe housing for victims rescued from trafficking. The Trust has government funding for a limited period only, after which victims will be without any form of benefit and many will become street homeless. Without charitable donations we shall fall short of the Church’s aim of aiding victims. Last October we raised over £2,200 for the Medaille Trust at the Vīsāvadar Traffik Jam concert in the social centre and in the last 6 months people have taken hundreds of Medaille magazines. The magazine is free, though it invites readers to donate money.
Secondly we are working with the Police via parishioner DCI Sion Hall who has the lead on trafficking and child sexual exploitation in East Lancashire.

Rewa Pope Francis has said: “Every Citizen of every country must be made aware of human trafficking and join the fight against it.” Through talks to adults and in schools, the Parish website, emails within the Group, and the media, we can become the eyes and ears of the Police. Major opportunities for awareness raising will arise with Ant-Slavery Week in October. For the Year of Mercy, called by Pope Francis to begin in December, our Deanery is to adopt trafficking as its Social Justice activity.

On 21 July we meet at 7.30pm in the Presbytery to formulate plans for our meeting with the Bishop later in the month. All parishioners are welcome.

Anthony and Mary Brown


11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 14th June 2015

Dear Parishioners

I have received the following letter from Right to Life, the charity who benefited from the recent sponsored walk.

Dear Mgr. John, Fr. Joe and Parishioners of Our Lady of The Valley,

Thank you once again for hosting such a wonderful walk for Right To Life, which this year was in memory of the Late Jim Dobbin.
You all do so much to make the walk the joyful, beautiful and successful event that it always proves to be. First of all, you forfeit your Bank Holiday Monday to serve the needs of the walkers, together with the time that you spend prior to the event in working out the optimum route for our safety.
The care that your Stewards take of us, the refreshments that are served during the walk, and the beautiful food that you provide afterwards, is appreciated more than we can ever describe or begin to thank you enough for, as is the incredibly warm welcome that you always extend to us each year.
We do know how extremely generous your Parish is to so many other causes, and we are humbled that you also include the work of Right To Life in your great generosity.

With love and enormous gratitude.

God bless you all.

Moira Billinge
For Right To Life

To which I add a personal note of thanks to all who took part in the walk, their sponsors and all who helped organize the day, particularly the cake bakers and the ladies who served the teas.

Fr John


Corpus Christi – 7th June 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Congratulations to our children in both Sabden and Clitheroe who today make their First Holy Communion and also to one young man who will receive his First Holy Communion from the Bishop in St Hubert’s, Dunsop Bridge.
Please pray for them and their families. As I have told the parents: as a dog is not just for Christmas so First Holy Communion is not just for this special day but rather it is a beginning, the beginning of a relationship with Jesus Christ that if lived faithfully will stand their children in good stead as they navigate their life’s journey.

The Bishop is in Dunsop Bridge to celebrate Bridget Hilton’s Civic Mass following her installation as the Mayor of Ribble Valley. Bridget is known to many of us and we wish her well during her coming year of office and assure her of our prayer and support.
Also Bishop John is visiting St Hubert’s in recognition of the church’s 150th anniversary, to announce Mgr John Chaloner’s official retirement and to thank him for his commitment and dedication as parish priest over the past 18 years, and formally announce that St Hubert’s is to join with our parish of Our Lady of the Valley.
Mgr Chaloner isn’t leaving but will continue to live in retirement at St Hubert’s Presbytery and celebrate the 10am Sunday Mass.

The Right to Life Walk was a huge success with a good attendance and a really pleasant atmosphere. Unexpectedly Archbishop Kelly was able to join us this year and now well recovered from his stroke he completed the walk. All the visitors were appreciative of the welcoming cups of tea and the wonderful homemade cakes provided at the end of their trek. My thanks to all who participated, sponsored and otherwise supported this important Right to Life event. In his blog to the clergy, Bishop John wrote “It was good to see a number of young families. I must say there is a great deal of beautiful countryside in this Diocese.”

And then there was the farewell party! What a great night it was, a real good old fashioned parish “do” with entertainment provided by our children’s choir and parishioners, the excellent Splinter Jazz Group, the Mulgrew comedy trio and the surprise compare. Fr Frankie was deeply touched by your generosity of the Spiritual Bouquet and the cheque for £1,386! A great night that showed the Parish and its Centre at their best.

Fr John


The Most Holy Trinity – 31st May 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Speaking recently about the family Pope Francis offered his unique form of spiritual, common sense guidance.
He told a personal story about an occasion when he was rude to a primary school teacher, who promptly called his mother. When his mother came to school the next day, she made him apologize to the teacher and then disciplined him when he got home. Today, instead, he said, parents reprimand the teacher who tries to discipline their child.
He then said it is obvious that the current situation is “not good” or “harmonious,” since it tends to put families and schools in opposition rather than in collaborative relationships.
Further he claimed that parents today are “puzzled by the new demands made by children” and the complexity of life, so that many are “paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake.”
Another problem is that “Educating children is difficult for parents who see their children only in the evening when they return home tired from work.”
“It is even more difficult for parents who are separated, who are weighed down by their circumstances,” he said. He urged separated parents to “never, never, never take a child hostage” by speaking ill of the other parent. He recognized that being separated is “a trial” but added that “children must not be the ones to carry the weight of this separation or to be used like hostages against the other spouse.”
The advice the apostle Paul gives to both children and parents in his Letter to the Colossians (Col 3, 18-21) that children obey their parents in all things and that parents never drive their children to resentment — is “a wise rule,” he said.
To exasperate a child is to ask them to do things they are not able to do, the pope explained. Rather, children must be accompanied and “grow without being discouraged, step by step,” he said.
He also encouraged families to practice patience. “Even in the best of families, there is the need to put up with each other,” he said. “But that’s life. Life is not lived in a laboratory, it’s lived in reality.”
If families were able to recover their pride in being the primary educators of their children, he said, “many things would change for the better, [both] for uncertain parents and for disappointed children.”

Fr John


Pentecost Sunday – 24th May 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Due to the high demand for tickets to attend Fr Frankie’s farewell celebration both by parishioners and non-parishioners alike, those wishing to bring children and the capacity of the Parish Centre, which is restricted by Law to 200 people, I and the organising committee have had to perform some quick footwork. At the recent Parish Forum which decided to mark Fr Frankie’s departure, it was agreed that the event would not be for children (all of whom have attended farewell events organised by our three schools) but for parishioners alone to thank Fr Frankie for his service to them over the past almost two years. (The one exception are the children in the choir) As a result, on Thursday the following message was emailed around the parish and published on the parish notice board:
Fr. Frankie’s Social Evening: Because of the very high demand for tickets and to ensure that every ticket is a wanted ticket, Fr. John has decided that we must make a charge of £5 a ticket for the evening. Tickets must be paid for on receipt and will be on sale after all Masses this weekend, 23rd & 24th May. There will also be an opportunity to get tickets on Tues 26th May at the presbytery between 6.15pm and 7.00pm. If by any chance some tickets remain unsold, they will be available after Masses on 30th & 31st May. There will be a full buffet of cooked meats, salads etc. as well as entertainment and a presentation to Fr. Frankie. The evening is not for school aged children other than those providing the entertainment. We regret having to make these changes in arrangements but feel that it is necessary as we may not exceed 200 in the Social Centre at any one time.
Hopefully this measure will ensure that all parishioners who wish to attend will be able to do so and none will be left in the street breaking down the doors!

Please do support tomorrow’s sponsored walk. If you cannot walk then please consider baking to provide refreshments for the walkers, many of whom will have travelled a distance to join us.

Fr John


The Ascension of the Lord – 17th May 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Speaking recently to some 7,000 people gathered in the Vatican’s audience hall, Pope Francis reflected on the role and vocation of fathers.
The world today, especially in the West, often appears as a world without fathers, as men are so focused on their jobs or personal fulfilment that they neglect their families. When their lives are all work and no play, men turn their children into “orphans” who lack a father to guide them, show them love and teach them values, Pope Francis said.
They are orphans in a family because their fathers are often absent, but above all because when they are home they don’t act like fathers, they don’t dialogue with their children, they don’t fulfil their role as their children’s educators, they don’t give their children, by way of their example and their words, those principles, values and rules of life that they need like bread.”
Pope Francis recalled how when he served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he would often ask fathers whether or not they played with their children, if they had the courage of love to ‘waste’ their time with their children. “And their answer was awful, you know. The majority said, ‘Well, I can’t, I have too much work.’”
Christian communities need to be extra attentive to the crisis of fatherhood in society today and how so many young people feel “orphaned” within their own families, the pope said. So many of the problems that children have, some of them serious, stem from them not having a good father figure – a father who is an authoritative, loving guide and role model, he added.
In fact, the more a father needs to work or be away from home, the more important it is that he takes extra care to live up to his duty of providing solid, quality guidance, he said.
Another problem, the pope identified, is that sometimes fathers seem lost or unsure of what role they are supposed to play in the family and “so, being in doubt, they opt out, they withdraw and neglect their responsibilities, perhaps hiding behind a dubious relationship of ‘equal footing’ with their children. While it is true fathers need to accompany their children, they must not forget they must act like a parent, not a best friend because that is not good for the child.”

Dads, a message well worth pondering on.

Fr John