2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 18th January 2015

Dear Parishioners,

On New Year’s Day, the feast of Mary the mother of God, Pope Francis focused his homily on Mary as both the mother of God and mother of the Church.
“Jesus,” he told the congregation, “cannot be understood without his mother,” the one who gave him human flesh, raised him and was near him always, even as he died on the cross and rose from the dead.
“Likewise inseparable are Christ and the Church,” he said. And, just as Mary brought Jesus into the world more than 2,000 years ago, the Church continues to bring him to the world, he said.
Pope Francis repeated what he has said in the past: “It is not possible to love Christ without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to belong to Christ but not the Church.”
The Church brings Christ to people, nourishes people with the sacraments and helps them understand what it means to belong to Christ, the Pope said. “Our faith is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God.”
“Where can we encounter him? We encounter him in the Church, in our hierarchical, holy mother Church,” he said. “It is the Church which says today: ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’ It is the Church which proclaims him. It is in the Church that Jesus continues to accomplish his acts of grace which are the sacraments.”
“Without the Church,” the Pope said, “Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling.”

Then this past week Pope Francis gave a 45-minute news conference aboard the papal plane traveling from Sri Lanka to the Philippines. Responding to a question related to the murders in Paris he said first that religious liberty and liberty of expression are both “fundamental human rights. “After stating forcefully that “One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion, in the name of God. To kill in the name of God is an aberration.” But then he began to outline what he sees as important limits on free expression: “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.” “There is a limit, he said. Every religion has its dignity.”
When asked about climate change he said that he remembered a saying: “God always forgives; we men sometimes forgive; but nature never forgives”, adding, “I believe that man has gone a bit too far. Thank God that today, many, many people are talking about this.”

Fr John



Tomorrow’s Parish Forum meeting (Wednesday 14 January) in Sabden majors on the Call, the Journey and the Mission of Marriage and Family Life. Many of you will have already read the reflections referred to on the back page of the Parish Newsletter but in case you want to read more you can find it at:


You can download the PDF document:  The Call, the Journey and the Mission which gives excellent scope for reflection prior to the Forum.

The Baptism of the Lord – 11th January 2015

Dear Parishioners,

Bishop John has sent the following letter to the priests of the diocese:
“As part of the work of the Synod on the family, you may know that Pope Francis has asked us to take time to reflect on marriage and family life, and our own experience. It is all too evident that both marriage and family life have been challenged and, in our generation, they have seen unprecedented breakdown. Despite its many struggles, we know that without the gift of family our society would have lost something fundamentally important and good. Marriage is such a noble vocation and family life must be strengthened and assisted, especially in times of difficulty.
The Bishops of England and Wales have prepared some simple reflections on the Call, the Journey and the Mission of marriage and family life. I am asking that these reflections be made available to all parishes. I ask you to invite your congregations to read these reflections and to share your thoughts with one another, especially in your families. If you would like to share those reflections with me then I would be happy for you to write to me. I cannot promise to answer every reply but I will certainly consider what you write, and will use it as part of my submission to Cardinal Vincent Nichols and to Bishop Peter Doyle, who are to be the representatives from England and Wales at the second Synod on the family next October”.
That is Bishop John’s request but the question I have is: How do we implement this, how do we organize a parish wide consultation?
I propose to take the discussion papers to the Forum on Wednesday for you to discuss and suggest how best we may as a parish tackle this project and produce a report. This raises a slight problem: attendance at Forum isn’t great and when it is held at Sabden even fewer go. So, I appeal to all who are interested in the future of our church and country to share cars and make the short journey to St Mary’s parish hall and join the discussion and help us find a way of responding to the bishop’s request.
Secondly, Last November Pope Francis convened a conference in Rome to tackle the scourge of human trafficking, modern day slavery. It was attended by Ministers and Police Chiefs from many governments. Anthony Brown will tell us briefly of one charity that has heeded the Pope’s call for ordinary people to raise awareness of this problem.

Please do respond to both the Pope’s and our Bishop’s requests for action on these two different but important issues.

Fr John


The Epiphany of the Lord – 4th January 2015

Dear Parishioners,

“May there never again be wars, but always the desire and commitment to peace and fraternity among peoples,” the Pope said in his traditional noontime Angelus address on New Year’s Day, delivered before a crowd of more than 100,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He added: “Prayer is at the root of peace.” He also asked Catholics to remain loyal to their Church and honour Mary, the Mother of God.

Fr Frankie and I wish you a happy New Year as we also thank you for the cards and other gifts we received: I have never eaten so many mince pies as this year! Also our thanks go to all who decorated the church and prepared and helped with the ceremonies. I’m sure none will begrudge a special mention of Jane and her team who descended on the church even before Bishop John had left and worked solidly for the following five hours to so splendidly decorate the church and sanctuary. (Perhaps this is the moment to mention that they would welcome new members – no previous experience required!)

Bishop John enjoyed his visit to our outpost of Salford diocese and although time constraints prevented him meeting with the many parishioners who filled St M & J’s he was able to join in the hall after Mass with the many who had packed St Marys and enjoy tea and delicious cakes, some of which went home with him in a doggy bag. He now intends to whizz swiftly round the other 157 parishes in similar fashion! He was as impressed with us as we were by him.

Last Sunday evening Mark Paver, while visiting his family over Christmas joined us for a meal and wishes to be remembered to you all.

This year’s marriage preparation course begins next Sunday, 11th January at 1.30pm in the Presbytery. This is compulsory for all who wish to marry here. So, if you know anyone who is thinking of marrying before March 2016 please invite them to contact me or Fr Frankie as soon as possible.

RCIA resumes on Thursday in the Presbytery.

Please also note that the next Parish Forum will be in Sabden on Wednesday, 14th January. Peter White completed his three year (non-renewable) term as Chairman in November and Mike Bradley was elected to succeed him. We thank Peter for the commitment and enthusiasm that he brought. The secretary may be renewed and Margaret Donnelly was voted for a second term.

Fr John


Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) – 14th December 2014

Dear Parishioners,

Our Lady of the Valley is the first parish of the diocese to be visited by our new bishop. Bishop John will come next Sunday, to celebrate the 9.30am Mass in Clitheroe and then the 11 o’clock in Sabden.
Last Monday at his installation Bishop John preached without notes and everyone I spoke with was impressed by his style and what he said. He is a bishop very much in the style of Pope Francis.
Because Mass in Sabden will remain at the usual time Bishop John will not be able to meet many parishioners in Clitheroe but don’t let that deter your attendance. He will be principle celebrant and will preach, so do come along and by your presence show him what an active and vibrant parish we are.
At the end of his installation he asked everyone to join him in a simple daily prayer: Stay with us Lord on our journey. I’m not too sure where this journey will take us but mark my words, Salford diocese is certainly going to move!

No doubt you have noticed the two glass lecterns in the sanctuary and I’m most grateful to Tony Hargan who drew the plan, ordered the reinforced glass, supplied the glaziers with the measurements and then assembled them. To have a similar lectern built (they can’t be bought off the shelf) would cost over £1,200. Ours were built for only £250 each and one of them was paid for by a kind donor.

The Comedy and Carols evening was a huge success with the Radio Lancashire team impressed by the numbers who came on such a dreadful night. The comedians were very good (the local boy was given the loudest reception!) and the congregation sang wonderfully well, ably led by our music group. The retiring collection for Olive Aid raised £382. To listen to the programme, tune into Radio Lancashire at mid-day on Christmas Eve morning.
One of the comedians praised our church and then as he looked at the sanctuary commented: ‘And this is where Gothic meets IKEA!’ I don’t need to mention that out of respect, the Blessed Sacrament had been removed from the Tabernacle.

Christmas cards, carrying the times of all Christmas week services will be delivered to all parishioners’ homes. If by chance you don’t receive one then it is because we don’t know your address!
During these coming busy two weeks please remember to pause and sanctify each day by a few minutes of quiet prayer.

Fr John

Second Sunday of Advent – 7th December 2014

Dear Parishioners,

Please remember in your prayers Bishop John Arnold who tomorrow, Monday 8th December, will be installed the eleventh Bishop of Salford.

Bishop John Arnold

Bishop John Arnold

Bishop John was born in Sheffield in 1953, schooled in the Midlands and after reading Law at Oxford for a short time practiced as Barrister in London before deciding that his vocation lay in the priesthood.
He was ordained for Westminster Archdiocese in 1983 where he served as a hospital chaplain and on the staff of Westminster Cathedral before being appointed Parish priest of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St George in Enfield. After 8 years he returned to Westminster to take up the reigns as Chancellor and Vicar General before being ordained an auxiliary bishop in 2006.
So he comes to us with a wealth of experience and ready to face the many challenges that the decreasing number of diocesan clergy and demographic changes present.
We wish him many years in the service of the Lord and assure him of our prayerful support in this new calling.

Fr John

Pope Francis: Never Forget the Victims of Trafficking


For immediate release – 5 December 2014

Pope Francis’ message to delegates gathered in London for Santa Marta Conference on Human Trafficking- “We must never forget the suffering of so many men, women and children.”

dating in münchen discord Full Message  

“I extend greetings to you and all the delegates gathered for the conference to discuss continued efforts in the fight against human trafficking. I am deeply grateful to all present for your resolve in combating this evil and for your commitment to carry on the work begun at the conference held in the Vatican in April of this year. Your labours to promote ongoing dialogue on the legal remedies to human trafficking and on the essential care of those who suffer this enslavement are especially important because of the hidden nature of this crime. We must never forget, nor may we ignore, the suffering of so many men, women and children whose human dignity is violated through this exploitation. I thank the Home Secretary of the British Government, the Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for organizing this event and the delegates who demonstrate anew their commitment by their participation in this initiative. In assuring you that the Church remains steadfast in her pledge to combat human trafficking and to care for the victims of this scourge, I offer the promise of my prayers that Almighty God may bless and guide your efforts.


Franciscus P.P.”

First Sunday of Advent – 30th November 2014

Dear Parishioners,

As the world moves into shopping overdrive we shoudn’t forget that Advent is primarily a time in which to prepare ourselves spiritually to celebrate the great feast of Christmas. How? Pope Francis has commented: “In their daily routine, St. Joseph, together with Mary, shared a single common centre of attention: Jesus. They accompany and nurture the growth of the Son of God made man for us with commitment and tenderness, reflecting on everything that has happened. In the Gospels, St. Luke twice emphasizes the attitude of Mary which is also that of St. Joseph: she “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”. To listen to the Lord, we must learn to contemplate, feel his constant presence in our lives, and we must stop and converse with him, give him space in prayer. Each of us should ask ourselves, “How much space do I give to the Lord? Do I stop to talk with him?” Ever since we were children, our parents have taught us to start and end the day with a prayer, to teach us to feel that the friendship and the love of God accompany us. Let us remember the Lord more in our daily life, especially this Advent!”

Walk with Me booklets are on sale (£1) to help you put aside a short period each day for quiet reflection and prayer.

Two years ago, I introduced you to Olive Aid. This is a charity which helps all Palestinians who have lost their olive trees, usually their only source of income, to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on the West bank and that dreadful security wall. Olive trees are precious: just twenty trees can sustain a family for a year. Olive Aid is a self-help project run by Bethlehem’s Catholic University (most of whose students are Muslim) which provides needy families with 3 year old olive saplings. Christian and Muslim alike are helped but the project particularly aims to stem the emigration of Christian families who suffer the most in the conflict. Today, Christians in Bethlehem constitute less than 15% of the population. Fifty years ago, Christians living in the birthplace of Jesus made up more than 70% of the population. You can buy a tree for £25. For details see me or go to www.oliveaid.com It is a Christmas Charity that I support and a number of parishioners have joined with me over the past couple of years in buying trees.

Finally, now is the time to consider whom you will invite to Come Home for Christmas. Invite a friend or relation who may have slipped from practice to join you at Mass and come home for Christmas. (Watch a short video at www.catholicscomehome.org)

Fr John


Christ the King – 23rd November 2014

Dear Parishioners,

Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King, who reigns over Heaven and earth. But does He reign in our hearts? Or does He seem a distant Person whom we hope to meet one day in Heaven? Do we experience the new spiritual life He gave us in Baptism? On Sunday night we begin a week-long Parish Mission. Everyone is invited to come closer to Jesus during this week, letting the Lord himself speak to us through his Word, and asking Him to renew and enliven all the gifts and graces He has already given us in Baptism and in Confirmation. He wants to do this for us! We merely have to respond to Him and his invitation to know Him personally and intimately. Our relationship with the Lord is more important than any other. Take this opportunity to be with Him this week, so that you will really be able to celebrate His birth at Christmas. This is a great opportunity not only to receive special spiritual blessings for you and your family, but to pre-pare your heart for this coming Advent. The mission will be led by Barbara Ma-son, who has given retreats, missions, talks all around the world and has a number of catholic publications to her name. Ideally please come to all the nights of the mission but if your time is pressured please don’t be afraid to attend one or two.

  • Please bring a Bible.
  • We will meet in St Michael and St John’s parish hall from 7.30 – 9pm, Sunday 23 Nov. through Friday 28 Nov. except on Wednesday and Friday when we will be in St Michael and St John’s Church.

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.’ (Pope Paul VI). The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms” buy Pregabalin without prescription (EG, no. 3). Pope Francis from ‘Joy of the Gospel’

Fr Frankie