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 PRESS RELEASE

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.”

Camberley 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 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

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 cheap (EG, no. 3). Pope Francis from ‘Joy of the Gospel’

Fr Frankie

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time -16th November 2014

Dear Parishioners,

This Sunday in Clitheroe our First Communion children join us for Mass before going over to the school to learn about prayer while their parents join me to reflect on prayer in family life. In Sabden this session will be on Saturday morning. Then at next Sunday’s masses in both churches the children return to celebrate prayer in their lives and for the first time the new Youth choir will lead the singing in Clitheroe.

The Parish Forum meets on Wednesday when a new chair will be elected. The constitution states: The forum is chaired by a parishioner elected by the forum to serve for three years. He/she may not serve for two consecutive periods. So we shall thank Peter White who has carried the torch well for the past three years and invite him to fulfil his final task and supervise the election of his successor. Margaret Donnelly, the secretary, has also completed a three year term but, unlike the chair, may stand again for election.

Many parishioners may remember when baptisms were conferred on Sunday afternoon at around 3 o’clock in most churches and the congregations consisted of maybe a dozen close family and friends. Times have changed and now the majority of baptisms are attended by congregations of 50 or more with relatives travelling considerable distances and are usually followed by a family party. Mid-afternoon is considered rather late to accommodate this and so we baptise at 12noon. While Fr Frankie is here this doesn’t present an insuperable problem but increasingly Sundays are becoming more congested and, of course, Fr Frankie is only here for another two years at the very most. So for Clitheroe, I propose to move Baptisms to 12.30 on Saturdays. Saturday has an evening Mass so the noon Eucharistic service, which is attended by fewer and fewer, will cease but Exposition, Reconciliation and the Rosary will continue.
Another development is the increasingly frequent requests for more than two Godparents: 6 is not unknown! Church regulations envisage either a single or two Godparents. If there are two, they may be of one or either gender.
The Godparents task is an important one. They are to take an interest in the child’s spiritual development and help the parents with this responsibility. So, for instance, if parents can’t bring a child to Mass then the Godparent should! Church regulation is that at least one Godparent must be a practising Catholic and the other at least a baptised Christian. Sadly, experience is that when there are more than two Godparents they are unlikely to take a real interest in the child.
So come along for a lively debate on Wednesday.

Fr John


Traffik Jam Concert A Resounding Success

The Parish Hall was full to capacity at the Traffik Jam concert at the Parish Centre on 31st October.  The event raised £2,222.50 for the Medaille Trust.  You may have noticed that the figure keeps going up.  It isn’t too late to add to it.  The Medaille Trust is a charity that provides safe houses for people rescued from human trafficking.  Starting with the Garage Band who played English and Irish music with a fine blend of lyrical ballads, comedy and banter, the concert moved onto Nyima Murry’s haunting folk/blues and some of her own compositions.  The evening finished with the hall echoing to the sounds of over two hundred voices singing popular songs along with Clitheroe Ukulele Orchestra.  It was an evening of fun in aid of a serious issue, the music ranging from light hearted sing alongs to the searing reality of human trafficking.  Nyima Murry sang a trafficking song specially composed for the occasion.

Speaking at the concert Anthony Brown said that the Medaille Trust has 6 safe houses, 3 for sex victims and 3 for men plus a family unit and an Albanian Unit.  Government figures for referrals of potential victims of trafficking  for 2013 in the UK were 1746, of which approximately two thirds were female and two thirds were sexual exploitation.  Nearly one third were minors.  These figures are known cases and represent the tip of an iceberg.  Locally, we are working with the Police via parishioner Detective Chief Inspector Sion Hall.  In East Lancashire there has only been one prosecution in recent years but there is no room for complacency.  The trafficking industry is massive world wide and growing and the Police need the public’s eyes and ears.

A large number of people and organisations have been very generous with their support and particular mention should be made of Sign Design, Burnley for their large outdoor posters and Jenny Press for their large free advert.   Donations and raffle prizes have been many but notably from the Lancaster Foundation, Manchester Football Museum, Ultraframe, Carter Leisure, Sitting Pretty, Byrnes Wine Shop, Townsend Records, Booths and Sainsburys.  Thanks to generous raffle prizes the raffle alone made £354 and sponsorship and donations amounted to £663.50.




The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – 9th November 2014

Dear Parishioners,

The Ebola appeal will remain open for the next couple of weeks. Donations may be left in the collection boxes at the back of church, though notes should be handed in directly.

Now, news from two parishioners supporting charities.

The Traffik Jam concert was an enormous success with well over 200 in attendance and everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves. The concert made £2,211.00 for the Medaille Trust. A full report and pictures will appear on the Parish website. Thank you all, Anthony Brown

In 2010 I visited Musami Mission in Zimbabwe, which has been run by the Jesuits since the 1920s. During my visit I was taken to the Mbare district of Harare, one of the most impoverished and violent districts of any city in the world. Amongst the multiple horrors I witnessed – most too gruelling to recount here – was a seven year old curled up in a doorway covered in polythene, two tiny sisters rummaging through refuse for scraps and a ten year old attempting to sell empty plastic bottles at the roadside with an infant on her hip and a toddler by the hand. These are the orphans of Africa’s AIDS epidemic. Every child’s face I looked into on that afternoon became the face of my son, or my nephew. I imagined the mothers of these children, dying in fear for their futures. Never before had the words ‘there but for the grace of God’ rung so true.
I have remained in touch with those I briefly worked with at Musami, one of whom was Patricia Vetutete. Patricia too had been shocked by what we witnessed in Mbare, but despite her own poverty, she decided to help. With my assistance and that of Jackie Robinson an experienced charity worker and my sister the charity Ray of Light was born.
The money we raise is delivered by Jesuit missions in Zimbabwe, and we have no overheads. Every penny we raise goes directly to the neediest children. It costs £160 to clothe, feed and educate a child for a year. Four of Ray of Light’s children have sponsors who will pay that sum until their education is complete. Sponsorship gives a child the confidence that she or he can complete his/her education, but any donation helps. Since 2011 it has put 17 street children in fulltime education. Ray of Light will be awarded registered charity status when it is able to £5,000 in a single year. As you leave church, please take a leaflet and for more information wvisit
Thank you, Catherine Robinson.

                                                             Fr John


All Saints – 2nd November 2014

Dear Parishioners,

I must first thank parishioners and both our primary schools for the Spiritual Bouquet and the many cards, cakes, gifts and well wishes you so generously gave me on Sunday (the actual day!) for my 70th birthday. What a great surprise it was and never before have I received so many and such huge birthday cards! It was a most affirming experience and I am grateful to you all.

In response to the emergency appeal to help fight the dreadful Ebola epidemic that is raging through some West African counties and to prevent its further spread, there will be a retiring collection for those who wish to contribute to CAFOD’s work in the area.

Next Sunday is Remembrance Day and so, as last year, Mass will be delayed for half an hour in Sabden to allow parishioners to join the local community for a short Remembrance service at the village cenotaph. Mass will begin at 11.30am.
With the centenary of WWI in mind, Peter and Susan White spent two days restoring the war memorial chapel in St Michael and St John’s. The panelling has been cleaned, re-gilded where necessary, polished, and the two missing names of Pte E Snape and L’cpl D Moon have been added to the memorial Roll of Honour. In addition the icon of La Madonna della Strada (Our Lady of the Way) was cleaned and re-gilded.

At 7.30pm on Tuesday there will be an interfaith meeting in the Presbytery during which we will not be talking theology nor, for that matter, politics! This will be, hopefully, the first of a number of gatherings where folk from the various Churches in Clitheroe meet with members of the Muslim community to talk about life and so come to know each other a little better. We begin on Tuesday by discussing the various customs and religious rituals that surround birth and the new-born in our communities. Surely, everyone is an expert on that? The meeting will end by 9pm. Then in future gatherings we’ll look at childhood, adolescence, marriage, old age, and plenty more before arriving at death and burial. So do come along. If we are too many for the Presbytery (which I doubt) we’ll move to the parish centre.

Finally, again this weekend and after both Masses in Clitheroe Ann Harkin our parish’s Safeguarding Representative will be on hand to answer questions and deal with any other matters regarding safeguarding. Eucharistic Ministers who depart church immediately with Holy Communion may leave name and telephone number and Ann will contact them later.

 Fr John