GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY: DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS: Last year, Bishop Ralph Heskett, CSsR, having been challenged about the problem of finding more priestly vocations for the Diocese of Hallam, gently reminded his priests and people that they would not emerge from Bishop’s House! This might be worth our meditation as we pray that we may all deepen our sense of vocation and strive to be faithful to our common baptismal calling.
To read Pope Francis message for Vocations Sunday please click here
ADOREMUS: It may have something to do with my age, but time does seem to be flying by these days and I am conscious that the Eucharistic Congress will be on us as soon as the schools return in the autumn. Five representatives from each parish will attend the Congress and will form part of a forty strong team working in our pastoral area in preparation for the Synod in 2020. They met for the first time last Monday evening. In due course we will have a display board at the porches of each church identifying our representatives so that you can feed and exchange ideas with one another during the next two years. Redemptorist Publications have produced a magnificently illustrated booklet, Adoremus Extra. It has 124 pages (including the Freddie Freckles story) and I have ordered a number of copies for those who wish to imbue themselves with the spirit of the event: they retail at £4.75.
THE PAST WEEK: Archbishop Malcolm was given a royal welcome at both our schools last Thursday. We have some treasured photos of children wearing his mitre and holding his crozier. Certainly the children are clear about one thing: that the Bishop’s job is to be like Jesus, a good shepherd of the flock, who is there not to rule but to serve the people. Later in the day many joined the Archbishop for the Holy Hour at St Anthony’s. It will be good if we can prepare for the Eucharistic Congress by having Holy Hours in each parish and a devotional service for each school. Watch this space!
FORWARD PLANNING: Last week I highlighted the fact that in a couple of weeks we will be stretched to the limit since most of the community will be going to Perth for a meeting with our Redemptorist General and his Co-ordinator for the Redemptorist Conference of Europe. No one has objected to my proposal that we settle for a 7.00am Mass at Bishop Eton and a noon Mass at St Mary’s during that week. It is a measure of just how things are beginning to unravel that during the past week Fr Burns had to go to Clapham to ensure that they could have their weekday Masses.Furthermore, it is no secret that some of the confrères in our community are encountering new health challenges.
With all this in mind, I simply ask you to revisit my ‘open letter’ and continue to discuss and pray with one another about the future.
In three weeks (i.e. during the first week in May) most of the Redemptorist community will be in Perth with Fr General, considering the best way forward for us in terms of restructuring the Redemptorist family in the Conference of Europe. As a consequence it will be impossible for us to maintain the usual timetable of Masses that week. Fr O’Brien has kindly agreed to offer Mass at St Mary’s and Fr Smale will be in residence at Bishop Eton.
I am proposing that for that week we have a 7.00am at Bishop Eton and a noon Mass each day at St Mary’s. I trust this will meet with unanimous approval! As you well know, we are going to meet more and more of these challenges in the months and years ahead.
AN EASTER GREETING
The Easter Liturgy is quite remarkable. It explodes with joy as it invites us to place our hope in Jesus, who bursts forth from the grave. The message is unequivocal: even death is now conquered and we have everything to live for because we will live for ever with the Lord.
Whenever Jesus was at work among the people, all he asked for was that they believed. Faith is the ultimate and most wonderful gift for us here on earth and I pray that my faith and yours will be renewed and strengthened through our celebrations together this Easter. The deeper our faith, the more we allow the Lord to take possession of our lives and the more we live in love of him and one another.
Thank you for all you do to ensure that our communities function well, but more than that, thank you for being who you are: brothers and sisters of the Lord, who witness to his resurrection.
FROM ALL THE REDEMPTORISTS:
A VERY HAPPY EASTER
Fr Bernard Lubienski, CSsR: May I introduce you to this Polish Redemptorist who died in 1933, but who was a student at Bishop Eton in the 1860s when the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour came to Bishop Eton? Pope Francis has declared him ‘Venerable’, which means that his cause for canonisation has begun. We are inviting our parishioners to join us in asking Fr Bernard’s prayers for special intentions, beginning with our confrère, Fr Tony Hunt, who has been in hospital again recently, with the prospect of needing further surgery on his other leg. We are making prayer cards available and will tell you more about Fr Bernard in the months and weeks ahead.
Each year I encourage you to do all you can to celebrate the great liturgies of the coming week. They are unique and provide us with wonderful opportunities to deepen our faith in the mystery of salvation, accompanying Christ through his Passion so that we are ready to rejoice in his Resurrection again on Easter Sunday.
In advance I want to thank all of you – catechists, readers, ministers, servers, musicians, singers, sacristans, flower arrangers, parishioners – for the trouble you take to ensure that our celebrations are so memorable.
ARCHBISHOP MALCOLM’S VISITATION:
Now that the Archbishop has visited both parishes I want to extend my thanks to all of you for making him so welcome and ensuring his visits were such joyful occasions. Last Sunday evening at Bishop Eton, it struck me that here was a perfect illustration of what we are told in the Acts of the Apostles: “Paul and Barnabas went from town to town putting fresh heart into the disciples.” Archbishop Malcolm certainly put fresh heart into our parishes and our Redemptorist Community and we are immensely grateful to him.
RECONCILIATION: Please remember that if we wish to celebrate this Sacrament it is recommended that we do so before the Mass of the Last Supper on Thursday evening, when the Easter Triduum begins.
By the end of this Sunday I will have spoken over the past few weeks at every Mass about this Sacrament and hope that this has been helpful.
Our Reconciliation Services are on Monday 26 March at 7.30pm in St Mary’s and Tuesday 27 March at 7.30pm in Bishop Eton.
Priests will also be available after this week’s Masses and of course you may always call at the monastery and ask for a priest at any reasonable time.
ARCHBISHOP MALCOLM is welcome to our parish today. He will celebrate all the Masses and help us with the First Reconciliation Service this afternoon for the children in the With You Always programme. If you wish to meet Archbishop Malcolm there will be coffee and tea served in the Fisher-More Hall after each Mass.
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