Palm Sunday – 29th March 2015


This week we embark on a journey that will take us from the joy of Palm Sunday through the suffering and sorrow of Holy Week to the triumph and celebration of Easter.

Maundy Thursday

Salford Cathedral 10.30am Chrism Mass

Clitheroe: 8.00pm Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

We commemorate the last meal that Jesus ate with his disciples in which he washed their feet and instituted the Eucharist. Afterwards he walked to the Garden of Gethsemane where the Apostles were unable to stay awake and pray with him. In darkness he was arrested. We commemorate this by the removal of the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose. As a community we respond to Christ’s words, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” by watching with Christ from 9.00pm until Compline (the Church’s night prayer) at 10.00pm.

Good Friday

Today is a day of Fast and Abstinence

Clitheroe: 9.00am Stations of the Cross

Sabden: 10.00am Stations of the Cross

Clitheroe: 10.00am Ecumenical Service at St Michael & St John’s

followed by procession of the Cross to Castle Gate

Sabden: 11.00am Ecumenical Service at the Village Cross

Clitheroe 3.00pm Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

Jesus died at the ninth hour, three o’clock in the afternoon. We gather in mourning to hear St John’s account of Jesus’ Passion; to pray for all for whom Christ died; to venerate the cross on which he died; and to share the fruit of his redeeming death in Holy Communion.

Holy Saturday

Clitheroe 8.00pm Easter Vigil

In darkness, the Easter fire and the blessing of the Paschal Candle celebrate Our Saviour’s resurrection from the dead and the victory of light over darkness. The extended readings recall God’s redeeming acts throughout history that culminated in the Resurrection. The Easter Water is blessed and we are invited to commit ourselves afresh to Christ by renewing our baptismal promises during the baptism of three new members into our community. This Vigil Mass is the most important Service of the whole year and should be attended even in preference to Mass on Easter Sunday itself.

Easter Sunday

Clitheroe 9.30am Mass & Renewal of Baptismal Promises

Sabden 11am Mass & Renewal of Baptismal Promises


5th Sunday of Lent – 22nd March 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Seeing the elderly only as a burden “is ugly. It’s a sin,” Pope Francis said recently.

“We must reawaken our collective sense of gratitude, appreciation and hospitality, helping the elderly know they are a living part of their communities” and sources of wisdom for the younger generations, 78-year-old Pope Francis said at his weekly audience on 4th March. “If we do not learn to treat the elderly well, we won’t be treated well either” when the time comes.
In a talk punctuated with references to his own family life, his grandmother and his experience visiting homes for the elderly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis said even Christians are being influenced by cultures so focused on production and profit, that the biblical exhortations to respect the aged and draw upon their wisdom are being ignored. “We elderly are all a bit fragile,” the pope said, including himself among the aged.
The elderly he visited in Buenos Aires, he said, would often tell him that they had many children and that their children visited them. “And when was the last time they came?” the pope said he asked one woman. “She said, ‘Well, at Christmas.’ It was August. Eight months without a visit from her children. Eight months of being abandoned. This is called a mortal sin. Understand?” “It is so easy to put our consciences to sleep when there is no love,” he said.
“While we are young we are tempted to ignore old age as if it were an illness to hold at bay, we want to remove our growing fear of weakness and vulnerability, but doing so we increase the anguish of the elderly,” Pope Francis said.
“But when we become old, especially if we are poor, sick and alone, we experience the failures of a society programmed for efficiency, which consequently ignores the elderly.”
The elderly are the “reserve of the wisdom of our people,” they have experienced and survived the struggles to raise a family and provide them with a dignified life, he said. Tossing them aside means tossing aside their experience and the way that experience can contribute to making life better today.
A society that cannot show gratitude and affection to the elderly “is a perverse society,” the pope said. “The church, faithful to the word of God, cannot tolerate such degeneration.” “Where the elderly are not honoured,” he said, “there is no future for the young.”

Fr John

4th Sunday of Lent – 15th March 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Two weeks ago I mentioned that the 2011 census revealed that 1 in every four UK citizens claimed to have no religion (a number that has doubled in only 10 years!) You can be certain that many of these are baptised Catholics. I also reported that in response to Pope Frances’ plea that parishes in the West strive to become missionary parishes willing to share the gospel and welcome enquirers our Bishops have launched Proclaim 15, a strategy to help us become just that. Well, two weeks ago we held the first of three Lenten meetings to launch this initiative. Attendance was poor and disappointing but for those who did come it proved to be a most encouraging evening. Perhaps surprisingly the majority were from the younger adult side of the parish. The next meeting is this Wednesday: as Jesus said to Andrew: ‘Come and see’.
For more information go to:

A reality of church life today is that more frequently than not a majority of mourners at a Requiem Mass may not be Catholic or if Catholic have lost contact with the Church and no longer know when to stand, sit or kneel. To save visitors any embarrassment it was decided at Wednesday’s Forum to invite parishioners at Requiems to occupy the left hand benches at the front of the church so that mourners in the benches on the right-hand side are able to easily see and follow the parishioners’ lead. Also, and to avoid embarrassment, parishioners are requested at communion to come smartly forward and not wait for mourners to first approach the altar.

You may remember that a few years ago we started renovating the church benches but following a Forum proposal that we should first cushion the benches we turned attention to this. After much discussion and experimenting with two different designs of cushioning, neither of which was successful, it was decided on Wednesday to forget the cushioning and proceed with stripping and staining the benches. (Neither can we replace the benches with chairs because if the church’s slanting floor)

Family Paschal Candles are now available at the same price as last year, retailing at £10.

We are half way through Lent. Hopefully you are maintaining your Lenten resolutions. If you have slipped then simply start all over again and if you haven’t even started, well begin today.

Fr John

3rd Sunday of Lent – 8th March 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Pope Francis said last Sunday that Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God’s willingness to forgive his children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus. He then offered this examination of conscience:

  •  Do I turn to God only when I’m in need?
  •  Do I attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?
  •  Do I begin and end the day with prayer?
  •  Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?
  •  Do I rebel against God’s plan?
  •  Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?
  •  Am I honest and fair with everyone, or do I fuel the “throwaway culture?”
  •  In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?
  •  Do I honour and respect my parents?
  •  Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?
  •  Do I respect the environment?
  •  Am I part worldly and part believer?
  •  Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking, and amusements?
  •  Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?
  •  How do I use my time? Am I lazy?
  •  Do I want to be served?
  •  Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?
  •  Am I meek, humble, and a builder of peace?

    He concluded “Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind.”

Fr John


2nd Sunday of Lent – 1st March 2015

Dear Parishioners

Today you are invited to take two consultation papers.
The first is from Bishop John outlining a number of questions concerning the life and organization of the diocese. If you wish to respond to any of them, then please email the Bishop directly on or write to him at Wardley Hall, Wardley Hall Road, Worsley, Manchester M28 2ND.
The second is from the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, seeking your thoughts on Marriage and Family life in 2015, as a part of the preparation for the Meeting (Synod) of Bishops in Rome in October. The parish has produced a questionnaire listing 6 questions posed by our Bishops. If you respond then do so as concisely as possible so that replies may easily be collated and forwarded to Bishop John. Responses must be returned within two weeks, by 15th March.

Now to another important matter. Did you know that according to the 2011 census around a quarter of the population of England and Wales reported that they have no religion? This represents some 14 million people, a number that has doubled since the 2001 census. Another sobering statistic is that over half the people who self-identify as Catholics have little or no contact with the Church. Surely something must be done to challenge this situation?
Pope Francis took the lead last year when he published Gaudium Evangelii (The joy of the Gospel). It is a wakeup call to the whole Church but particularly to the flagging Church in Western Europe. He proposes that we come together in prayer and in groups to examine how best we may share both the joy that the Gospel brings and our faith that gives meaning and purpose to life.
In response to this call our bishops have launched an initiative called Proclaim 15 which aims to inspire, support and encourage parishes to do just that.
We begin on Wednesday at 7.30pm in the Hall to look at what a relationship with Jesus means. Then on 18th March: what is a disciple of Jesus? and finally on 25thMarch: how do we share our story?

Come on: respond to Pope Francis and at the very least do it for Lent!

Fr John

FLAME 2—Catholic Youth Festival at Wembley Arena March 7th.

This will be the largest Catholic youth event ever held in the UK. Matt Redman will be leading the music.  Matt is a great singer with a great band behind him.  Listen to him singing 27 Million, a song about human trafficking.

A range of interesting people will be speaking including Cardinal Luis Tagle, recently by the side of Pope Francis throughout his visit to the Philippines. This event is open to young people and young adults year 10 upwards. Full programme and booking details on

1st Sunday of Lent – 22nd February 2015

Dear Parishioners,

The following is taken from Pope Francis’ homily for Ash Wednesday last year.

He said, during Lent Christians are called to use the three things the Gospel recommends for spiritual growth: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
“In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could lead to a hardness of heart, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, in order to experience his tenderness.”
With more regular and intense prayer during Lent, Christians are called to think of the needs of others, “interceding before God for the many situations of poverty and suffering” in the world.

As for fasting, Pope Francis said the point isn’t just to follow the rules for Lenten fasting and abstinence, because that could lead to self-satisfaction. “Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.”
Fasting should “exercise the heart” to recognize what is absolutely essential and to teach one how to share with others. “It is a sign of becoming aware of and taking responsibility for injustice and oppression, especially of the poor and the least, and is a sign of the trust we place in God and his providence.”

He continued, almsgiving is a practice that should be common among all Christians, but especially during Lent. Christians give concrete help and attention to those in need — asking nothing in return — because they recognize how much God has given them even though they were not deserving. Almsgiving also helps free people from “the obsession of possession, from the fear of losing what they have and from the sadness of not sharing their well-being with others.”

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” The need for conversion is clear, he said. “There is something not right with us, with our society, with the church and we need to change, to turn, to convert!” The call of the prophets to turn back to God, “reminds us that it is possible to realize something new within ourselves and around us simply because God is faithful, he continues to be rich in goodness and mercy, and he is always ready to forgive us and start all over.”

So, some points to ponder during those snatched moments of silence that Bishop John recommended last week.

Fr John

Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent

From Catholic Online:
Ash Wednesday
marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
Following the example of the Ninevites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth.
Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.
The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins — just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days’ penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

Suggestions for preparation for Easter

Stations of the Cross


6th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 15th February 2015

Dear Parishioners,

In Lent we are asked to prepare for Easter by prayer and sacrifice. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Bishop John suggests we give God some silent attention each day
  • Buy (£1) the ‘Walk With Me’ booklet which will help you pray and reflect each day of Lent.
  • Join the Stations of the cross in Clitheroe at 7.30pm on Fridays and in Sabden at 7.30pm on Tuesdays.
  • Spend a little time each day reading the Bible in the quiet of your home.
  • Attend daily mass. (Details weekly in the newsletter)
  • Come to Exposition on Saturday mornings between 11am and 12noon.
  • Pay a visit to the church which is open daily during daylight hours.
  • Encourage someone who has been away from Mass to return to practice and accompany them to church.
  • Recite the Rosary at home or join the weekday recitation in church at 9.30am.
  • Visit someone in need of help or friendship or perhaps an elderly relative you haven’t visited for a while?
  • Make up a longstanding quarrel.
  • Help to clean the church on Monday mornings at 9.30.
  • Give up a favourite treat like sweets, drink, watching too much TV or cigarettes.
  • Keep ‘Family Fast day’ on Friday.
  • Every Friday give up eating meat.
  • Make a clean sweep. Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), available Saturdays in Clitheroe from 11 to 11.45 and during the Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
  • Attend the series of ecumenical Lenten talks on Saturday mornings in the Hall at 11am. (Coffee from 10.30)
  • Join a Lent discussion group based on Pope Francis’ recent letter ‘The Joy of the Gospel’, Wednesdays at 7.30pm in the Hall on 4th, 18th and 25th March.
  • Attend a Lenten Station Mass at 7.30pm at St Mary’s Langho 25 Feb, St Joseph’s Blackburn 4th March, St Joseph’s Darwen 11 March, St Gerard’s, Lostock Hall 18 March.

Wishing you a fruitful Lent,

Fr John



5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 8th February 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Pope Francis has made today, the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, an International Day of Prayer against Human Trafficking. Anthony Brown, the parish and local coordinator against human trafficking explains:
Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of trafficking victims, was born in Sudan in 1869. Captured by Arab slavers she was sold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum until finally bought by the Italian Consul, Callisto Legnani. For the first time since the day she was kidnapped, she found that no one used the lash when giving her orders; instead, she was treated with love and as one of the family.
Callisto returned to Italy and when he and his family had again to move abroad he left Bakhita in the care of the Canossian sisters, an Italian Religious order. There, she came to know and experience God’s love. She had always believed in God but had never known who he was until then. In January 1890, Bakhita was baptised Josephine and made her First Holy Communion. When Callisto returned, with unusual courage, she expressed her desire to remain with the Canossian sisters. She had by then come of age and enjoyed the freedom of choice which Italian law guaranteed.
On 8 December 1896 Josephine Bakhita made her religious vows and for the next 50 years lived in the Canossian community, involved in various services: cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to all who called at the convent door, especially the poor and those in trouble. Her sisters in the community esteemed her for her constant sweet nature, exquisite goodness and deep desire to share her love of Jesus with others.
As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness but always responded to people with a smile. She died on 8 February 1947 surrounded by the sisters. A crowd quickly gathered at the convent to have a last look at their ‘Mother Moretta’, their ‘Dark Mother’, and ask for her prayers.

I have ordered 200 prayer cards for Sunday 8 February and hope that you will take one from the porch and pray for the victims of human trafficking.

Sunday 8th February is also Caritas Sunday, when we are invited to be part of the rich heritage of charity in our diocese and to reflect on the part that we all as members of our church and community have to play in bringing about a fair and compassionate society

Anthony Brown, The Medaille Trust and Caritas Salford.

There is a retiring collection today for Caritas which supports people living on the margins of society and who are often overlooked by statutory bodies.

Fr John