FrMichael  parish

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Fr Tim

Funerals. Sadly we have a remarkable number of funerals in our two parishes at this present time. During the coming week, we have six in St Mary’sand two here at Bishop Eton, and more have already been arranged for the following week. I am indebted to Fr Pat O’Brien who continues to help us. I am also indebted to the wonderful work which our deacons and ministers are doing to help the families and to help us cope with this situation. If there are others who would be willing to consider training for this ministry, I will be very happy to discuss this with you. I think it is important that we plan for the future rather than find ourselves in another crisis management situation.

On the subject of funerals, Archbishop Patrick Kelly is grateful for the prayers and good wishes of so many on the death of his sister, Isabella. I was able to attend the Requiem Mass at Morecambe last Thursday.

Lent Break! In spite of all the funerals I am managing a few days away this week, having not managed to get away since Christmas! I will be back for the weekend and promise to try and keep my Lenten resolutions!

Jubilee Year of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour: Copies of a new book for this Jubilee Year are now available at £7.95. The book, Fountain of Grace, has been written by Fr Jim McManus, C.Ss.R. and has a Foreword by Cardinal Vincent Nichols. I strongly recommend it. We have also ordered 2000 Prayer Cards, which could be converted to icons in your home if you so wish and these should be available soon. May I encourage our ministers, who take Holy Communion, to check with those who are housebound as to whether they would like a visit from a priest so that they can take part in the blessings of this Jubilee Year. We can then organise a visit from one of the priests in the community.

Adult Confirmation. Please note the crash course for those who wish to receive the sacrament of Confirmation at the Easter Vigil begins this Wednesday (2 March) in the Hughes Room at 7.00pm. There will be two more sessions on the following two Wednesdays and each session will last an hour. It is imperative that you come to all the sessions. If you have not yet registered, please contact the parish office or simply register on the night.

Pastoral Letter: I apologise sincerely that you did not receive Archbishop Malcolm’s Pastoral Letter last weekend. We are reading the letter at all the Masses this weekend.

Jubilee Year of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. As promised I have left laminated cards of the prayers to obtain the Plenary Indulgence before Our Lady’s Shrine. Please remember that further requirements are to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. I am researching the easiest way of obtaining a large number of copies of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour for those who would like to have one in their homes. Could ministers of the Eucharist please check with those to whom they take Holy Communion as to whether they wish to receive these special graces and we can arrange a visit from a priest in due course?

HOLY YEAR:

Further to my article on the Holy Year and Indulgences, you need to know that the  special day in the Cathedral for our pastoral area is Saturday, 5 March. Next week we will publish the timetable for that day and I anticipate it will mean revising our own timetables at Bishop Eton and St Mary’s, so that we can participate in this event and provide support with priests available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As explained in the said article, as well as the Cathedral, our two churches are also places of pilgrimage until the Feast of  Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at the end of June.

Accordingly, during Lent we will offer extra opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A confessor will be available for half an hour before the midday Masses on Wednesdays and Saturdays and afterwards as well for as long as necessary. I will also provide prayer cards in the church so that you can fulfil the requirements for the indulgence.

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.

THE OCTAVE OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

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.

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