6th Sunday of Easter – 10th May 2015

Dear Parishioners,

First may I say how nice it is to be here in the parish of Our Lady of the Valley, and how welcoming and friendly everyone has been. Fr John has asked me to write a little bit about myself for the newsletter. For the last two and a half years I have been working in the parishes of Bromley Cross, Harwood and Tonge Moor in Bolton, where I was appointed in September 2012 after being ordained to the Priesthood in July 2012 and completing my training at the Venerable English College, Rome.
Born in Blackley, Manchester, I was educated in Fr John’s old parish at Mount Carmel RC Primary School, St Matthew’s RC Secondary school and then Xaverian RC Sixth Form College before going to Salford University where I studied for an honours degree in Applied Physics with Electronics, as well as a postgraduate Masters degree. Following this I trained for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the Victoria University, Manchester, after which I entered the teaching profession at the secondary level.
After teaching for two years, I entered training for the priesthood for the Salford diocese and was sent to the English College, Rome. Here I studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas where gaining a Bachelors honours degree in Sacred Theology (STB).
After six years, I left formation and returned to the diocese to continue my teaching career and taught in the diocese at the secondary level for another eight years. In 2010 I returned to the English College Rome to complete my training for the priesthood including post graduate studies in Theology, gaining the degree of Licence in Spiritual Theology (STL).
I returned to the diocese in July 2012 to be ordained at St John’s Cathedral, Salford and take up my appointment at St John’s, Bromley Cross, and in April this year was given my new appointment here at Our Lady of the Valley. I am also currently involved in helping to organise the Catechesis for the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes as well as being part of the diocesan vocations team and have recently joined the diocesan pastoral team for World Youth Day in 2016.
I look forward over the coming months to getting to know you all as I walk with you in our journey of faith.

Fr Joe

5th Sunday of Easter – 3rd May 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Today we welcome Fr Joseph Gee to the parish of Our Lady of the Valley and the beautiful Ribble Vale, wishing him a fruitful ministry and happiness over the coming couple of years. Next week Fr Joe will use this page to introduce himself.

At its last meeting, Parish Forum decided to hold a parish celebration in the Social Centre on the last Sunday of this month, 31st May, to acknowledge Fr Frankie and thank him for all he gave during his time with us and wish him well in his new appointment. The evening will begin at 7pm and will include entertainment, a buffet supper and a presentation.
In preparation Susan White is to compile a “memories” photo album for presentation to him. If you have a suitable photograph please hand it in at either Church or email it to signdesign69@hotmail.com Photos can also be what’s apped to 07791854159. Please include a personal caption; it would be nice to have some handwritten ones, perhaps written on the photo itself. Do make the photos as varied as possible: we don’t want a book full of Fr Frankie in various poses! The absolute cut-off date for entries is 20th May. It will be difficult to return actual pictures.
Maureen Mercer is to organise a Spiritual Bouquet, so start praying today! Carol and Harry Waterworth are to bake and decorate a special presentation cake and Margaret Donnelly is to arrange a financial collection. The event will be coordinated By Sam Smith, Geralyn Lambert, Susan White and Margaret Donnelly.
You may remember that a committee was appointed by the March Forum to look at the future of the Parish Draw. Their conclusion was that if it ain’t broke then don’t mend it! The two problems the Draw faces is the demise of many wonderful and loyal supporters over the past decade or so and that the annual contribution of £10 hadn’t risen over the past 18 years! So, it was decided to recruit new members and increase the annual one off payment to £20. With a membership of only 180 this would realise a monthly prize of £180. Also we require 10 agents to collect the annual fee. Would you like a harmless flutter that would improve the parish finances? Then here is the chance to do so by joining the parish Draw.
Forum also adopted the new structure of future meetings which will begin with tea and biscuits on arrival, a restricted agenda and will last for only one hour.

Finally, we have more of the Bishop Arnold prayer cards which are available in the sacristy.

Fr John

The Bible insists that Christians will be judged by how they cared for the “the least” of their brothers and sisters

 “I have stated several times that these new forms of slavery – human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution, organ trade – are very serious crimes, a wound on the body of contemporary humanity. The whole of society is called to grow in this awareness, especially with regard to national and international legislation, in order to prosecute the traffickers and redirect their unjust gains to the rehabilitation of victims.”

The Catholic Times reports:

Last week Pope Francis addressed members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences which dedicated its plenary assembly to examining the phenomenon of human trafficking including the trafficking of migrants. The Bible insists that Christians will be judged by how they cared for “the least” of their brothers and sisters, he said. “And today among these most needy brothers and sisters are those who suffer the tragedy of modern forms of slavery, forced labour, prostitution” as well as the victims of trafficking in organs and drugs.

Slavery which “was widespread and socially accepted – scandalously including in the Christian world because it was big business” – eventually was abolished through long-term and dedicated efforts by both Christians and people of no religious faith who worked together to fight for human dignity, he said.
“Unfortunately, in a global economic system dominated by profit, new forms of slavery have developed and in some ways they are worse and more inhumane that that of the past”, the Pope said. “We are called to denounce and combat them”.

Every citizen of every country must be made aware of human trafficking and join the fight against it, he said.

Special action is needed to encourage countries to enact legislation to bring traffickers to justice and to use “their unjust earnings for the rehabilitation of victims”.

Nations also must be encouraged to grant asylum to the migrants who have fallen prey to the traffickers and ended up in their nations he said.

4th Sunday of Easter – 26th April 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious life.
Pope Francis said recently: “Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone.” That someone could a grandparent, parent, teacher, aunt or uncle, friend or sick parisioner, indeed any parishioner.
Such prayer in not necessarily long in words but should be persistent over time. To assist your prayer there are prayer cards available as you leave church where a five day prayer booklet available also. But please, only take one if you are determined to pray them.

Lord, Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of our souls,

You who know Your sheep and

know how to reach the human heart.

Stir the hearts of those people

who would follow You

but who cannot overcome doubts and fears.

You who are the Word of the Father,

the Word which enlightens and sustains hearts,

conquer with Your Spirit the resistance and

delays of indecisive hearts.

Awaken in those whom You call the

courage of love’s answer: ‘Here I am, send me.’

 A final word from Pope Francis: “I wish to state this clearly to the young, whose youth and openness to the future makes them open-hearted and generous. At times uncertainty, worries about the future and the problems you daily encounter can risk paralyzing your youthful enthusiasm and shattering your dreams, to the point where you can think that it is not worth the effort to get involved, that the God of the Christian faith is somehow a limit on your freedom. Dear young friends, never be afraid to go out from yourselves and begin the journey! The Gospel is the message which brings freedom to our lives; it transforms them and makes them all the more beautiful. How wonderful it is to be surprised by God’s call, to embrace his word, and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, in adoration of the divine mystery and in generous service to our neighbours! Your life will become richer and more joyful each day!

Today in Clitheroe there is a traditional benediction at 2pm during which we shall pray for vocations.

After Mass there is a retiring collection to finance the training of priests, men like Fr Frankie.

Fr John


Bishop Patrick Lynch: Mediterranean Migrant Deaths 20th April 2015


For immediate release – 20 April 2015

Bishop Patrick Lynch:  Mediterranean Migrant Deaths

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the men, women and children dying almost daily in the Mediterranean Sea as they desperately search for a safer life in Europe. We call on all EU member states to involve themselves in the relief efforts and to work collaboratively to find a swift, just, effective and compassionate solution to these humanitarian disasters.”

Bishop Patrick Lynch

Bishop for Migration, Department for International Affairs, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

3rd Sunday of Easter – 19th April 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Those who regularly attend Parish Forum (our Parish Council) will have noticed that attendance has fallen over the past year to eighteen months. A number have told me that it is because meetings are too long: advertised as lasting an hour and a half, they have often stretched to two hours so that by the end, when there is a cup of tea and the chance of an informal chat, everyone wants to get off home. So, starting this Wednesday Forum will begin at the usual time of 7.30pm but will last for one hour only and tea will be served as parishioners arrive. The agenda will include matters arising from the minutes of the previous Forum, appraisal of recent events, only one or two major items for discussion and reports of 3 minutes each will be received from only three parish groups. (Since Forum meets every six weeks all parish groups will have the floor every few months).
The two major items this week will be a discussion of Fr Frankie’s departure and his testimonial and farewell event. The other item will be the future of the Parish Draw. The recommendations of the committee that was elected at the last Forum to look into the future of the Draw will be received and discussed.
At this Forum only, in place of three parish group reports we shall discuss this new format for the meeting and amend it if necessary.

As mentioned last Sunday, Fr Frankie will celebrate all Masses this weekend and take up his new post towards the end of the week. Fr Joe Gee will arrive on Tuesday 28th April.

A few dates for your diaries.

Next Sunday 26th April at 2pm: Latin Benediction.

Thursday 21st May: Confirmations in both Churches at 7.3pm.

Monday 25th May Spring Bank Holiday: the parish hosts the North West sponsored walk in aid of the charity Right to Life. Bishop John Arnold has agreed to join us.

Sunday 7th June Corpus Christi: First Holy Communions in both Churches at 11am.

Sunday 5th July Weld Day: one Mass for the whole parish will be celebrated on the parish field at 10.30am followed by the parish picnic.

Fr John


Housing Justice Roadshow: 16th April 2015




A full house of 80 delegates representing over 45 charities and organisations, including local authorities, joined the Housing Justice conference hosted by Caritas Diocese of Salford on Thursday 16th April. Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action on housing and homelessness, speaking out and enabling practical church and community responses.

The Manchester Roadshow brought together people from churches, housing and homelessness organizations, and others from the voluntary and statutory sector. The aim of this ecumenical event was to encourage and motivate churches to be part of the housing solution in Manchester and to work in partnership with others.

Mark Wiggin, CEO Caritas Diocese of Salford welcomed delegates from the Greater Manchester housing and homelessness services; Rt. Rev John Arnold Bishop of Salford led the gathering in prayer and reflection on the Christian response to poverty and homelessness. Alison Gelder, CEO Housing Justice set out the national context and Amanda Croome, CEO The Booth centre and Chair of the Multi-Disciplinary Homelessness Form in Manchester set the local and regional needs and service gaps. Across the nation and in Greater Manchester, homelessness and lack of decent housing have a devastating impact on lives. The introduction of welfare benefit reform has made this situation worse for many families and single people. The information presented revealed a very difficult situation of raising needs an falling resources but a solidarity and determination of providers to work together to address the growing needs of people.

Workshops explored Faith in Affordable Housing: using surplus church, land and buildings for affordable homes; Night Shelters – the importance of night shelters for homeless people & how churches can get involved; Mentoring & Befriending – how supporting people in housing need changes lives and also a workshop on addressing the needs of homeless migrants with no recourse to public funds

There is significant housing need in all areas of the country and the Roadshow gave an excellent opportunity to share good practice and discuss how working together can bring real change to communities. Hopefully, a legacy form the Roadshow will be a strengthening of collaborative working between service providers and a more united voice on the issues of homelessness in the region.


Mark Wiggin

2nd Sunday of Easter – 12th April 2015

Dear Parishioners,

The pressures that hospital chaplains face have increased immeasurably over the past couple of decades and so the diocese has accepted that it is unreasonable to expect one chaplain to carry the burden of a large modern hospital 24 hours a day over 6 days a week. So chaplaincy services to Blackburn hospital are to be supplied by a team of two priests who, while also serving the parishes of Holy Family Blackburn and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Longshaw, will separately work fulltime (24 hour cover) in the hospital for 3 days each week. The remaining 24hours will be covered by a rota priests in nearby parishes. Fr Ged Barry, the parish priest of Holy Family and Our Lady’s will be the lead chaplain and his assistant both in the hospital and parish will be Fr Frankie. So Fr Frank is on transfer and will celebrate all Masses next weekend 18 & 19th April before taking up his new post the following week.
That same weekend I will celebrate Mass in St Hubert’s, Dunsop Bridge to begin the process of growing the two parishes together. Mgr John Chaloner will continue to live in the Dunsop Presbytery and though retired will celebrate one Mass on Sunday mornings.

As you know Fr Frankie was appointed here for three years with a view to him then completing his ‘apprenticeship’ with a two year appointment in a city parish. That three year term has proved to be a little less than two but during this comparatively short time he has used his many talents to the benefit of both the parish and our primary and secondary schools. Christmas homilies will never be the same again! By happy coincidence the next Forum is scheduled for a week on Wednesday, 22nd April, at which we shall discuss how we may show our appreciation and arrange a suitable farewell for him.

Fr Joe Gee is to replace Fr Frankie. Fr Gee is three years ordained and prior to that he spent many years teaching physics and science; his life giving the lie to the claim that science and religion are incompatible! He is a Manchester man whose family lived in Mount Carmel parish Blackley where I was first appointed after ordination in 1969. So, you might say we both go back a long way – though he was only a babe in arms at the time! He will take up his appointment at the beginning of May.

Fr John


Cardinal Nichols welcomes new Act to tackle modern slavery


The Modern Slavery Bill received Royal Assent yesterday.

Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “I welcome the Modern Slavery Act 2015 as the Bill receives Royal Assent today. While no Act can cover everything in the serious criminal activity of human trafficking and modern slavery, which abuses vulnerable people, the enhanced support and protection for victims is particularly to be welcomed.