3rd February 2019 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

THE FEAST OF ST BAKHITA, FEBRUARY 8

We cannot become distracted: we are all called to leave behind any form of hypocrisy, facing the reality that we are part of the problem. The problem is not in the opposite lane: it involves us. We are not permitted to look elsewhere and declare our ignorance or our innocence. Pope Francis to the participants in the International Forum on Modern Slavery, 7 May 2018.

A common theme runs through everything Pope Francis writes and says. It is the interconnectedness of everything A mystical sensibility that sees God in every grain of dust (Laudato Si’) It is that interconnectedness that compels us to see others  as ourselves and to hurt for the poor, the marginalized and the exploited, just  as we sometimes hurt for our families and those closest to us.

On the feast of St Bahkita which is celebrated this Friday, let us pray to her for the strength to recognise our complicity, in being part of an economy that perpetuates exploitation and modern day slavery.

St Josephine Bakhita bore 144 scars throughout her life which were received after she was kidnapped at the age of nine and sold into slavery. Such was the trauma experienced that she forgot her birth name and her kidnappers gave her the name Bakhita meaning ‘fortunate’. She experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery. In 1882 she was bought for the Italian Consul and in this family and subsequently in a second Italian home, she received kindness, respect, peace and joy. A change in her owner’s circumstances meant that she was entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice.  There, Bakhita came to know about God whom, ‘she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was’ since she was a child. She was received into the Catholic Church in 1890, joining the sisters and making final profession in 1896. The next fifty years of her life were spent witnessing to God’s love through cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. When she was on door duty, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who attended the nearby school and caress them. Her voice was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering. She was a source of encouragement to many and her constant smile won people’s hearts.   She died on 8 February 1947.

Anthony Brown

27th January 2019 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

CARITAS SUNDAY

Caritas Sunday is the one opportunity each year for Caritas to appeal to every parish in our Diocese to support the corporal works of mercy.  Formally Catholic Children’s Rescue Society (founded in 1886), Caritas Diocese of Salford expanded to respond to many areas of need in our parishes, from our work with the Homeless, with Children, Families and the wider Community and in Welcoming Refugees.  Caritas keeps central admin costs to a minimum to ensure every penny donated makes a difference.  Caritas’ work with schools and parishes is growing in importance as we strive to become a diocese of Missionary Parishes.

“Caritas” is the Latin word for Love, and Caritas Diocese of Salford has 22 formal services and centres located around the Greater Manchester and East Lancashire areas as a response to people’s needs. Apart from Caritas Anti-Trafficking which is based in Clitheroe and to which parishioners have donated over £1,500, our nearest service is the Maryvale Mother and Baby Home in Blackburn.  Our Parish Pro-Life Group has provided a large amount of knitwear and baby clothes for the home and also helped generate over £800 in support of it.

Last year the Caritas Sunday appeal raised £26,409, of which our parish raised £912.88, in support of the Bolton Young Parents’ Home and Caritas Family Project; the Homeless at Bury Red Door; and Refugee education and integration at Cornerstone Day Centre.  So please accept a huge thank you from Caritas!

722 people across the Diocese of Salford gave up their time to volunteer on Caritas projects, over 100 of whom are Caritas Representatives, volunteers who help to share information from Caritas in parishes, and who work with the Hope in the Future development teams to support local outreach projects.

This year Caritas is calling all parishioners to Be The Change, to help the key goals of Housing the Homeless; Building Stronger Families and Communities; and Welcoming Refugees.  This is where funds from this year’s second collection will go.

The Caritas Annual Review and a special edition of the Caritas Beacon are available at the back of church.  If you would like to get involved in social action in this Parish, then please speak to your Caritas Representative, Anthony Brown, or your Hope in the Future Team via Peter Donnelly or to any member of the SVP.

 

20th January 2019 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

“Our nationality is an accident of birth. We do not own this country: we are merely stewards of its resources…”  Those words from the Guardian newspaper echo the words of Pope Francis. They were a response to the migrant “crisis” and a few desperate souls risking their lives to reach us across the English Channel.

In 2016 our Parish responded to a picture of little Alun Kurdi’s body washed up on the shores of Greece.  For three years we have welcomed refugees from Manchester and Burnley, providing a day that lifted our hearts as well as theirs.  Our Parish has done more: the “Refugee Come Dine with Me initiative” has provided a model for the rest of the Diocese, as also we have helped establish the Clitheroe English Club which helps refugees and asylum seekers learn basic English, and parishioner and friends knitted many hundreds of squares for blankets for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

We can never do enough.  Pope Francis has repeatedly reminded us that caring for refugees lies at the heart of our Faith.  Our Parish response to the “Hope in the Future” programme and the “Live Simply” initiative are based on the interconnected messages of Pope Francis’ two great letters – Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si.  Both hinge on our response to the poor, the exploited, the marginalised and migrants.

“Refugee Day Out” for 2019 needs your support.  Revive in Manchester, New Neighbours in Burnley, the Clitheroe Mosque and Stonyhurst College are all looking forward to this year’s event but we need a new chair and more volunteers.  Three years is more than enough for two people to take on this task which Tom and Kathryn Clay have done so selflessly until now.  So, we are looking for someone to take over the torch. But do not fear: the framework and contacts are now in place and with a few more volunteers the leadership can easily be shared. Could you consider volunteering? Please see me, Anthony Brown or Tom Clay.

This Wednesday, January 23rd, our Parish hosts Sean Ryan, charismatic speaker and accomplished musician who will speak on on his work on the Diocesan Refugee Sponsorship Programme.  Starting with St Monica’s in Flixton in 2016, parishes throughout the Diocese have sponsored refugee families. St Wilfrid’s Longridge and  St Joseph’s Hurst Green will soon follow. It will be an interesting and entertaining evening but mostly we hope it will motivate our Parish and the wider Clitheroe community to support this year’s “Refugee Day Out”.

Fr John

 

 

13th January 2019 – The Baptism of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,
                            – a few extracts from Pope Francis’  comments on prayer at his  general audience last week .

It is in Luke’s Gospel that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. And from this request is born Christ’s teaching on the words to use in addressing God. He is to be addressed as “Father.”

Jesus explains also some things to give us confidence. They emphasise the attitudes of the praying believer.

For instance, there is the parable of the importunate friend, who goes to disturb a whole family that is sleeping, because a person arrived suddenly from a trip and he has no bread to offer him. What does Jesus say to this man who knocks on the door and wakes his friend? ‘I tell you, though he will not get up to give the bread to him because he is a friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him whatever he needs'(Luke 11:9).”

There follows the story of the father and hungry son, in which Jesus suggests that a father would not give a serpent to a son who is hungry and asks for a fish. Thus, God will not forget his children.

But why is it that sometimes prayers seem to go unanswered? “We’ve all experienced this — how many times have we knocked and found a closed door, Pope Francis asked. “In those moments, Jesus recommends that we insist and not give up. Prayer always transforms the reality — always. If the things around us don’t change, at least we change, our heart changes. Jesus has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and every woman who prays.”

“We can be certain that God will answer. The only uncertainty is due to the timing, but we must not doubt that He will respond. Perhaps we’ll have to insist our whole life, but He will answer.”

Fr John

6th January 2019 – The Epiphany

Dear Parishioners,

Today we welcome Fr Joseph Archibong to make the annual mission appeal on behalf of the Kiltegan Mission Society. The St Patrick’s Missionary Society, to give its official title, was founded by an Irish diocesan priest, Fr Francis Whitney, who in response to an appeal made by the famous Irish pioneer Bishop Shanahan in 1920, volunteered to help the mostly French Spiritan priests in their mission in Nigeria.

There Fr Whitney witnessed the enthusiasm of the Nigerian people to the call of the Gospel. The urgent need for more priests gave him the idea of recruiting volunteer Irish priests and seminarians to work in in Nigeria.

The idea grew and the Kiltegan Fathers were established on St Patrick’s Day, 17th March 1932 and began training its own priests at Kiltegan in Ireland, hence the name. The Society then recruited qualified Irish laity, men, women and religious, to join them and help found and run desperately needed hospitals and schools.

The fledgling society rapidly grew and Rome asked the Kiltegans to take on missions in Kenya and later in Brazil. Propelled by the spirit of their motto ‘Caritas Christi Urget Nos’ (The love of Christ urges us on: 2 Cor 5:14) that growth continued and St Patrick’s Missionary Society priests now work in in Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, South Sudan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Grenada.

ln 1997 African students were accepted by the Society to train as missionary priests and in 2007 as Kiltegan celebrated its 75th anniversary the first African members were ordained as full members of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society. As their numbers have grown, they represent a new beginning for St. Patrick’s Missionary Society changing it from a largely Irish organisation to a truly International Society.

In the 21st century their work concentrates on building up the local church through the establishment of small Christian communities within parishes, supporting families, training lay leaders, formation of young Christians, alongside their priority mission to the marginalised and the poverty-stricken in the teeming shanty towns of Africa’s growing cities. In South Sudan they work especially among the huge numbers of refugees.

Fr Joe will tell us more…

Fr John

Toy Appeal – Caritas Salford

TOY APPEAL  Caritas School Services would be grateful of any new unwrapped toys for their appeal, by 17th December. More info Mike Coen/Rachel Clift (0161 817 2276

2nd December 2018 – 1st Sunday of Advent

THANK YOU ALL…

Recently, all parishioners were invited to complete a questionnaire entitled “Offering my Time and Gifts” as part of the Hope in the Future initiative.

On the 4th October 2017 Bishop John launched this initiative for the renewal of the Diocese of Salford. Earlier in the year, three meetings were held in all three churches in our parish to help us reflect on how to follow the example of St Francis of Assisi in rebuilding our church, by recognising and celebrating our gifts in the service of the church and  others.

Following on from these meetings the questionnaire was launched to look at harvesting our gifts. The questionnaire invited each parishioner to confirm which parish groups they already volunteer for and which parish groups they would be interested in knowing more about with a view to volunteering. The response to the questionnaire has been amazing and a big thank you must go out to all those who returned their questionnaire.

Out of the 350 forms taken over 80 were returned. These showed the vast number of people that already volunteer for the numerous parish groups we have and they also showed just how many of our parishioners want to volunteer.

Every parishioner who returned a questionnaire stating their interest in a parish group will in due course be contacted with further information. Due to the overwhelming response this will take a little time but be assured contact will be made.

Out of the 71 parish groups listed on the questionnaire, interest was shown in relation to 54, with many groups having several volunteers. Some of the groups already exist in our parish but many are new, which will hopefully represent exciting times for our parish moving forward. Sadly, we received little response to the youth groups, which with dropping numbers of teenagers and young people attending church is something many parishioners have raised as a concern.

If you have not yet returned your questionnaire, it is not too late. They can be returned to the Presbytery at any time. Spare questionnaires are still available at the back of church after Mass, so if you have not yet had one, please feel free to take one.

As already stated, those who have shown interest will be contacted in due course and for now, we thank those who already volunteer and those who have shown interest.

Hope in the Future Steering Group

Christ the King – 25th November 2018

Dear Parishioners,

(An interesting extract from an article written by the respected journalist John Allen)

Over the last three weeks, Christians and others concerned with religious freedom have been watching the drama play out in Pakistan, where Asia Bibi was finally released from nine years on death row on a blasphemy charge only to be forced into hiding inside the country with no clear exit strategy for asylum.

Bibi, an illiterate Catholic mother of five, at least has the good fortune that her case has become something of an international cause célèbre, so it garners steady media and political attention. Yet hers is hardly an isolated story, with most other victims of religious persecution around the world languishing in silence.

In this context, it’s worth revisiting a landmark study released in the spring of 2017 by “Under Caesar’s Sword”, a joint partnership between Notre Dame (Catholic University in Indiana) and the Washington based Religious Freedom Institute, which is devoted to understanding global Christian communities. In this case, the study focused on Christian responses to persecution in 25 nations, generally those where anti-Christian oppression is the strongest and most violent.

Although there are several annual reports on religious freedom violations worldwide, few focus specifically on anti-Christian persecution, and this is the first to ever ponder not merely the fact of oppression but how Christians respond to it.

In terms of why the focus on Christians, the study couldn’t have been clearer: “In short, Christians are the most widely targeted religious community, suffering terrible persecution globally.”

Further, the study noted another compelling reason for the focus on Christians: “Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this persecution is the lack of press coverage it receives … the mainstream media and human rights organizations give it little attention.”

As an example, the study noted that during a period from 2008 to 2011, Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s most respected watchdog groups, devoted just 2.5 percent of its reports to religious persecution of any sort, and fewer than half that number included Christians. This despite the fact that the low-end estimate for the number of Christians killed for their faith around the world every year works out to one new martyr almost every hour of every day.

Fr John

33rd Sunday in Ordinary time – 18th November 2018

Dear Parishioners,

As you may be aware, on 18 June 2015 Pope Francis published a letter called Laudato Si which emphasises our responsibility to care for our common home, planet earth, which faces a dire future if present trends continue.

He speaks to the whole world about the increasing damage we are inflicting on our environment and challenges us all to make the connections between our lifestyles and the damage they do to the planet.  He encourages us to learn to recognise the choices we have in our lives to help or hinder our planet’s health.  Every drop of water we drink, every strand of cotton we wear, every word we write on our computers affects the environment in some way or other. And need I add: plastic bags?

His letter has been received positively by other churches, environmental groups and governments

He calls us to recognise our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork, as an essential aspect of Christian living. We must all take responsibility to safeguard God’s creation.

In our parish this Advent, we are launching a short course called Global Healing on 5 December, which will continue with two sessions after the New Year. Bishop John has recommended it to the diocese.  It starts with an evening of film, discussion and a multicultural meal.  In the spirit of our “Live Simply” parish initiative, the 30-minute film illustrates practical responses from dioceses, parishes, families and individuals around the country. The film includes interviews with Cardinal Nichols and specialists in environmental questions.

Seven people have already volunteered to provide a choice of meals from around the world. But it would be good if more volunteered to join them! Please contact any member of the Live Simply (Laudato Si) group, or ring Anthony Brown on 01200 422811 for further information.

Also, volunteers from the group will be outside after Masses who will be only too glad to answer your questions and offer tickets (so that we have an idea how many will come, to ensure sufficient meals with no wastage of food).   The tickets are free but please only take one if you intend to come, and return it if you find you can’t.  Please feel welcome to invite family and friends.

Fr John

Further information: – http://www.olotv.org.uk/parish-groups/laudato-si