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Fr Tim

The Year of Consecrated Life. The Year of Consecrated Life formally closes this Sunday. Archbishop Malcolm will lead the concelebrated Mass in the Cathedral at 4.00pm. Fr Andrew and I plan to be there and that evening we are off to London for Provincial Council Meetings on Monday and Tuesday. (I should be back late Monday evening!)

A JUSTICE AND PEACE GROUP FOR THE YOUNG: This weekend, after an encouraging launch last weekend in St Mary’s, Sarah McGeehan will speak at the end of all the Masses about a new initiative for young people, aged 10 to 14. It was born over the Awakening Weekend and I believe promises to provide a wonderful opportunity to involve our young people as they begin to mature. We will also be looking for more leaders in the older age bracket (16-19) to support the venture.

THE YEAR OF MERCY AND OF OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR. In March our Pastoral Area is invited to the Cathedral to share in the special graces that the Cathedral offers as a place of pilgrimage, but you should also know that all our Redemptorist churches around the world have been designated as places of pilgrimage this year because of the icon. In a short article in BE Alive I will outline the opportunities this is providing for us.


I fear there are a number of reasons for what appears to be a waning of interest in the call to prayer for Christian Unity leading up to the feast of the Conversion of St Paul on 25 January. I will not attempt to explore those reasons, but simply urge you to renew your commitment to this time of prayer. Jesus’ prayer that we may all be one remains the ultimate summons to us never to grow weary of striving to heal the wounds of the past. The need to find peaceful solutions to all the conflicts that blight human relations remains as urgent as ever: This is not a bad starting point. So, once again next Sunday there will be an   exchange of pulpits with our Anglican neighbours. I will be preaching at Mossley Hill Parish Church at 10.15am and Rev Alan Kennedy will return the honours here at 11.30am. In the afternoon there will be a United Service at the Bethel Welsh Church in Heathfield Road at 4.00pm and I hope we will be well represented. We will also have a special bidding prayer at all the Masses during the Octave.

The Holy Years of Mercy and Our Lady of Perpetual SuccourIn the next edition of BE Alive I will outline a plan to unite these two celebrations so that we may all benefit from the graces which are being offered. Also, I hope that this will provide us with an opportunity to renew and develop our Novena Devotions on a Wednesday evening. On this subject I will welcome suggestions as to how this might be done.

‘Thank you’ for all the good wishes to Fr Barrie on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee of Ordination and for all that is going on in the parish. I called into the new ‘Women’s Group’ last Monday evening and I was bowled over by the wonderful atmosphere. I am grateful for another successful ‘Parish Helpers’ Evening’ and for all those who helped to make our Mass for the Servers such a blessed occasion.


FR BARRIE O’TOOLE’S GOLDEN JUBILEE OF PRIESTHOOD. I am sure that you all join me in congratulating Fr Barrie on reaching his remarkable milestone this weekend. I know how much his compassionate and gentle ministry and his self-deprecating sense of humour are appreciated. Bearing in mind the considerable health problems he has had to cope with during the past couple of years, his contribution to the life of our two parishes has been nothing short of outstanding. Thank you Fr Barrie and may you continue to minister among us for many more years to come.


May I begin, on behalf of the Redemptorist family, by again wishing you and your families


Christmas was simply wonderful. I would estimate that over 1600 people came to the Christmas Masses at Bishop Eton, which means that with St Mary’s we celebrated the Feast with congregations numbering around 3,000. But it wasn’t just the numbers: the spirit at all the Masses was one of good will and friendship. I believe we enter the New Year ready to continue the work of building our two parishes into more and more vibrant communities. The Holy Year of Mercy and the celebrations around the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour will provide us with special focuses for our prayer and ministry.

I also want to thank you for all the encouragement you continue to give me and my Redemptorist confrères and for your generosity over Christmas, including gifts and an extraordinary collection of close over £5,000.

Please remember to put in your diaries our Parish Evening on Friday 15 January from 7.00pm, when we want to express our gratitude to all of you who give so much of your time and talents in the service of the parish.


I don’t know about you, but when we get into the weekend after Christmas I begin to lose it and forget what day of the week it is. This year, with Boxing Day falling on a Saturday, the problem seems to be accentuated because the same evening we are already celebrating the Vigil Mass of the following Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family. I would suggest that the only time the arrangements become even more complicated is when Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, but breathe a sigh of relief because next year is a leap year, so Christmas Day will be on the Sunday, which makes life a lot simpler.

In the build-up to Christmas this year I was musing on how blessed we are to be men and women of faith. Christmas captivates our minds and hearts and the story is easily grasped by the children who love to relive it for us. Our lives are enriched by the beauty of the Christmas music: I have always loved the carols and many wonderful new ones have been added to the traditional ones we know by heart. But there is a Christmas song which always stops me in my tracks. The music and the words are powerful, but have you noted the final verse?

It’s all a dream, an illusion now

It must come true, sometime soon somehow

All across the land, dawns a brand new morn

This comes to pass when a child is born.

The challenge for you and me is to remind the world that the dream has come true and it is for us and our children to prove it. Thank you again for all the hard work that has gone into making this Christmas another wonderful experience in our two parishes. Thank you for all that you do throughout the year to bring the dream alive.



With Fr Andrew, Fr Barrie and all the members of the Redemptorist Community, I wish you and your families the peace and joy of the Christmas season. Every year we have so much to be thankful for, while at the same time we realise that as Christians there remains so much to be done to ensure that others can come to know the wonder of Christ in their lives. To see in the child of Bethlehem the presence of God requires great humility; to grasp the mystery that the Spirit of God – who made it possible for Mary to conceive that child – continues to make Christ present on our altars and therefore in all of us who are in communion with him, also requires great humility. As we celebrate Christ’s Mass this year, may our children remind us that Jesus requires us all to be like little children and only then can we begin to understand what it is he is offering us.

Our Awakening Day in October unleashed an enormous amount of energy and good will and reminded me of just how blessed I am to be ministering in our two parishes at this time. Once again I want to thank in a special way all the volunteers who devote so much time to ensuring that everything runs smoothly and invite you to our parish volunteers’ ‘Get-Together’ on Friday 15 January in the Fisher-More Hall.

I believe that with the Year of Mercy and the 150th Anniversary of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour being entrusted to the Redemptorists coinciding next year, we will have opportunities to build on the foundations of the awakening experience and grow together into even more vibrant and missionary communities. Watch this space!

A very happy Christmas to you all… Tim Buckley, C.Ss.R .

yearofmercyHOLY YEAR OF MERCY.

My thanks to all of you who were able to celebrate Mass last Tuesday to launch the Holy Year. I sense that it is going to be a time of great grace. The world needs reconciliation; we need reconciliation. In the New Year I will share some more thoughts with you about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but for now, please remember that priests will be available at the usual times and after all the weekday Masses until Christmas, and the Reconciliation Services are at 7.30pm this Monday (14 December) in Bishop Eton and this Tuesday (15 December) in St Mary’s. They will be conducted in the way that is becoming our tradition.


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