Third Sunday of Advent – 15th December 2013

Dear Parishioners

Last March a priest who was little known outside his own country was propelled onto the world stage (we would say by the Holy Spirit) when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope and chose the name of the humble saint of Assisi, Francis. Now, within nine months he has been selected Time magazine’s Man of the Year.

At 77 years of age Pope Francis is moving with haste and some in the church fear the changes that he will bring but these fears are groundless. Pope Francis has recently written a letter (technically called an Apostolic Exhortation) to encourage the whole church to seriously take on board the fact that Christ founded the Church primarily to continue his mission to the whole world. In this he writes; “today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness.” and quotes Pope John XXIII: “The deposit of faith is one thing… the way it is expressed is another”.

So, I predict many changes to come to make the Church more fit for the purpose of effectively preaching the message of Jesus Christ and I guarantee no change in our fundamental beliefs.

The Catholic Church is the largest provider of charitable services in the world and most of that charity is generated at parish level. The St Vincent de Paul Society’s work of reaching out to those in need, Catholic and non-Catholic, was highlighted recently and a heartening number of volunteers has joined. The work of our parish ladies groups is also well known.

So, here let’s say it for the men, members of the Knights of St Columba. They are a great help to me as I call on them when heavy work is needed and often in emergency situations. Not least they maintain our cemetery – let’s not forget that caring for and respecting the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy! In addition this year they have raised £2,183 in support of a number of charities. The most recent four year venture is a £500 annual donation to the cost of training a priest for India, of which I shall be writing more at a later date. In common with all parish organisations the men would welcome new members.

How is your Advent going? During this period of spiritual preparation for Christmas, do remember the Sacrament of Reconciliation, this Saturday and on Christmas Eve.

Fr John

Second Sunday of Advent – 8th December 2013

buy Ivermectin in uk Dear Parishioners,

First a reminder that today we have a special Advent candle service to which young and old are invited to remind ourselves what Christmas is really about. We oldies will begin in a candle lit church at 4pm while the children over in the hall prepare decorations for their safety candles. (Parents don’t worry: only the adults will be able to set each other’s hair on fire!) Then after 40 minutes the children will join us for the conclusion of the service. All are welcome, including your non-Catholic friends.

Congratulations to all who contributed to the success of the Christmas Fayre which raised a magnificent £2,194.25. Well done and thank you all for your work, donations and support.

This week the church will be closed each day from Wednesday to Friday. This is to allow the bottom step of the sanctuary to be refurbished and to increase the width of the front aisle and so facilitate the distribution of Holy Communion at Christmas and on other crowded days. The increased width will also assist a swift evacuation of the church through both the side door and presbytery if such a need ever arose. The work involves removing old wooden underpinning and replacing the marble that was damaged when the altar rails were moved some years ago. It will also reveal the last section of the sanctuary’s beautiful Victorian tiles. The church will be closed for the full three days to ensure that work is completed in time for Katie Lofthouse’s wedding on Saturday but Mass will be celebrated each evening at 7.30pm.

Last year 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 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 the Catholic Bethlehem University 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 contributed with me last year.

penetratively Fr John

First Sunday of Advent – 1st December 2013

Dear Parishioners,

Christmas isn’t far away and so here is a list of our Christmas week services to help you plan and pray your Christmas week.

Please note inside the Advent Service of Light that will be held next Sunday in St Michael & St John’s  at 4pm.

Thank you for your support of the Christmas Fayre yesterday and if you have not spent up then go to Sabden next Saturday.

Fr John

Saturday 21st Dec Clitheroe Exposition 11.00 – 12noon
Reconciliation 11.00 – 11.45am
Eucharistic Service 12noon
First Mass of Sunday 6.00pm
Sunday 22nd Dec Clitheroe Mass 9.30am
Sabden Mass 11.00am
Monday 23rd Dec Clitheroe Mass 9.00am
Tuesday 24th Dec Christmas Eve Clitheroe Reconciliation 11.00 – 12noon
Carols 5.30pm
Christmas Mass 6.00pm
Sabden Reconciliation 11.00 – 11.30am
Carols 7.30pm
Christmas Mass 8.00pm
Wednesday 25th Dec Christmas Day Clitheroe Christmas Mass 10.00am
Thursday 26th Dec St Stephen

(Boxing Day)

Clitheroe Mass 12noon
Friday 27th Dec St John the








Saturday 28th Dec Holy Innocents Clitheroe Exposition 11.00 – 12noon
Mass 12noon
First Mass of Sunday 6.00pm

Christ the King – 24th November 2013

Dear Parishioners,

Today is Youth Sunday, a day of prayer for our young people. Fr Frankie will speak of his experience of World Youth days at all Masses.

Advent begins next Sunday and this year it will last for only three weeks and two days, so we should make the best of every day as we prepare spiritually for Christmas amidst the frenetic round of planning, shopping and parties. Please do consider a Walk With Me booklet available for only £1 at the back of church. These offer a thought and suggestion for prayer on each day of Advent. Similar booklets for infants and for juniors are also available at 50p each.

Last Wednesday Parish Forum and the Little Church leadership team discussed the challenge that the excellent attendance at Little Church presents each week. It was agreed that all children who have made their first Holy Communion should remain in the congregation to join in the Mass, unless they are junior helpers with Little Church.

On Sundays when there is a large number of children, those below 4 years of age should use the large meeting room and the over-4’s will use the smaller room. We appreciate that some children will not attend Little Church without a parent but we do ask that only one parent accompany a child and that parents slowly encourage their children to come alone, as they do at nursery and school. Finally, we are always ready to welcome mums or dads to join our teams of leaders.

And so to grandparents! Speaking recently Pope Francis said: “We live in a time when the elderly do not count. It’s awful to say, but they are discarded – often because they are a nuisance to us. The elderly are those who carry history, who carry values, who carry the faith and give it to us as an inheritance. They are like a good vintage wine who have this strength from within to give us a noble heritage.” He recalled a story he heard as a child. A family: father, mother, children and grandfather were gathered around the table. The father, annoyed by the mess the grandfather made as he ate, threatened to buy a separate table for the grandfather to eat at by himself. A few days later he returned home from work to find his son playing with blocks of wood. When Dad asked him what he was building, he replied, ‘A table for you Dad, when you become old like grandpa.’ “This story has done me so much good, all my life,” the Pope said. “Grandparents are a treasure.”

The Parish Website committee meets this Wednesday at 7.30pm in the presbytery. Any parishioner interested in communication is welcome to join us.

Fr John

33rd Sunday in Ordinary time – 17th November 2013

Dear Parishioners,

You may remember that in early summer a letter was read in all parishes of the deanery explaining the procedures to be followed in the event of a Parish Priest unexpectedly falling ill on Saturday evening or Sunday morning with no priest in the area available to celebrate Sunday Mass. To cope with such an emergency situation, Deanery proposed to train a few people in each parish whose task would be to inform the congregation of the situation and lead them in a Service of Word and Sacrament. This service would follow the liturgy of the day, as printed on the Sunday Mass sheet, but omit the Offertory and the Eucharistic Prayer, which are reserved for a priest alone. So the liturgy would move directly from the Bidding prayers to the Our Father and Holy Communion which would be distributed by a minister of Holy Communion. Those responsible have been trained and are being commissioned in their parishes. In our parish they are Arnold Marsden and Teresa Mercer. I stress that this arrangement is for an emergency situation only. I pray and don’t envisage that it will occur in Clitheroe – but Fr Frankie is here for three years and when he leaves I shall be 72!

St Michael and St John’s church doesn’t accommodate wheelchairs very well, with users somewhat isolated when parked at the back of the church or to the far sides at the front. So, the front benches on either side of the centre aisle have been adapted to accommodate wheel chairs and are being refurbished at a cost of £1584. Already £620 has been donated to bench renovation fund which remains open. These benches will be the first to have fitted cushioned seating.

The parish website is to be revamped. A small committee looks after the site but they need more parishioners to share the task and help add sparkle. We meet a week on Wednesday 27th November and will welcome volunteers.

These and other issues will be discussed at the Parish Form which meets on Wednesday at 7.30pm in Clitheroe Parish Centre and to which all parishioners are invited.

In response to the dreadful disaster in the Philippines there will be a retiring collection after all Masses today. Your donations will be sent to Cafod, a founding member of the Disasters Emergency Committee which is coordinating the UK voluntary response. For those who wish, Gift Aid envelopes are available at the back. During the week, donations may be posted through the Presbytery letter box.

Reminder: and then click family questionnaire.

Fr John

32nd Sunday in Ordinary time – 10th November 2013

Dear Parishioners,

Pope Francis has called for a special synod in Rome next year from 5th to 19th October to discuss the challenges facing the family, probably the biggest challenges facing the Church in our part of the world. In preparation he has asked bishops’ conferences world-wide to conduct a consultation of Catholics, asking for their opinions on how the church’s teaching is known, accepted or rejected today.

The accompanying document, technically known as a Lineamenta, makes for heavy reading! But fortunately our bishops have broken it into a user friendly questionnaire which may be downloaded and printed off to be responded to by pen and ink or completed and returned online. This is the first time that a world-wide, parish level survey has been conducted by the Church. So, do go to and have your say.

Since these issues profoundly affect every family, I wonder whether you would prefer a parish meeting/s to discuss them more fully and perhaps contribute to a parish response? Please let me or Fr Frankie know your thoughts.

Now for another family matter: It is great to see Little Church numbers building up again but we are becoming victims of our own success! It has been suggested that the children span too great an age range for our catechists to cater adequately for them all. So, it has been proposed that we restrict Little Church to children aged 4 years and above and that they continue to meet in the large meeting room and that a crèche for children aged 3 and below meet in the smaller room. No decisions have been taken: this is simply an idea made to set interested parents discussing the issue before we take the matter to the Parish Forum a week on Wednesday, 20th November.

There has been an excellent response to the SVP appeal for volunteers. On behalf of the parish I thank all who responded.

You may remember that two weeks ago Pope Francis asked for continual prayer for persecuted Christians – our brothers and sisters! Last week Sadad, a predominantly Syrian Christian town was attacked by Islamic militants. 45 Syrian Orthodox Catholics were killed, 30 injured, 10 are missing and 2,500 have fled. Churches were pillaged and destroyed. Archbishop Alnemeh pleads: “We have cried out to the world for help but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? We ask everyone to pray for us.” Please do remember them.

Fr Frankie