Parish Evening: Friday 23 January. If you help in any way to keep the parish running smoothly in the church and/or the hall, as well as in the community at large, please do come along for some informal time together. There will be drinks and some light refreshments. It will run between 7.00pm and 10.00pm and people can come and go at their leisure. I think you are getting used to the formula and it is always a delightful evening.
The Redemptorists and the future. Please pray for our Ordinary Provincial Council, which includes Fr Richard, and which will be meeting all the confrères to discuss the future over the coming weeks. It is going to be a busy time and it means that the first chance I will have of a Christmas break is the last week of February! I will try and stay as sane as possible until then.
Redemptorist Provincial Chapter. I write this message at the end of our meeting in Perth and before returning to Liverpool. I was surprised to find myself elected as secretary of the chapter on the opening evening, which meant I had a fair amount of extra work! Fr Ronald McAinsh was re-elected Provincial for the next four years and Fr Richard Reid, our rector, was elected as the Vicar Provincial. I have also been elected to the six man team which constitutes the trusteeship of our province. I mention this simply to forewarn you that I will be summoned to a number of extra meetings from time to time. You will also appreciate that Fr Richard is going to be away a lot in the coming weeks as our Ordinary Provincial Council determines how we are going to proceed and who is going to be appointed to fulfil the various ministries in the different communities. I am sure you join me in congratulating Fr Richard on his election and in assuring him and the council of our prayers.
Once again, on behalf of the Redemptorist Community, I would like to thank you for the wonderfully generous Christmas offering and for showering us with so many gifts and cards. As you know it is our privilege to be able to minister in Bishop Eton and St Mary’s and we will continue to do all we can to serve you well
Timetable. Unfortunately this week we are unable to return to the usual weekday timetable. Fr Richard and I will be attending the Redemptorist Provincial Chapter in Perth and Fr Smale is still under the weather, so the 7.00am Mass will not resume until Monday, 12 January. We are grateful to Fr Stephen Pritchard who has offered to celebrate some of the noon Masses.
I am writing this message immediately before celebrating the Christmas Masses with you, but I am certain that once again they will be grace-filled experiences. Therefore, I want to thank all of you who do so much to ensure that everything is prepared for the occasion and all of you who ensure that we celebrate our liturgies with such dignity and joy. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who do so much to ensure that our parish community functions well throughout the year. More and more people have become involved in a variety of ministries and undoubtedly the prime example is in the field of catechesis. Please be assured that none of your efforts is taken for granted. I pray that all our homes are filled with the joy of the Christmas season and that our unity in Christ is obvious to everyone because of the love and affection we show for one another.
Now I am beginning to sound a little like St Paul: and for a reason. Many of you have expressed a concern for me and hope that I am not trying to do too much. By the same token I am also concerned that you look after one another and ensure that no one is left trying to do more than is reasonable. This will also require that we have the wisdom and generosity to allow for the fact that we will never get everything perfect. It has taken me a lifetime to accept that life is often messy but that the mess can be fun!
I thank you for your generosity and the extraordinary outpouring of affection for all the members of our Redemptorist community at Christmas time, including all the cards and presents. We in turn will try to ensure that we will look after one another throughout the coming year. Please pray for our Provincial Chapter, which begins in Perth on Monday 5 January, and which Fr Richard and I will be attending. We will elect the Provincial and his Councils. Gradually the plans for the next four years will emerge in the coming months.
A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.
Last year there was some distress at the 7.00pm Mass on Christmas Eve because the church was packed and there were many people who could not get in. I would like to avoid any upset this year by pleading with everyone to leave this Mass and the corresponding one at 5.30pm at St Mary’s, Woolton, to families with young children. Both churches also celebrate Midnight Masses (carols begin at Bishop Eton at 11.00pm and at St Mary at 11.30pm.) And of course there will be the usual Masses on Christmas morning: Bishop Eton (8.30, 10.00 and 11.30) and St Mary’s (9.00 and 11.00). There will be no Masses on the evening of Christmas Day. Please plan thoughtfully.
First Reconciliation. Congratulations to our children in the sacramental programme, who made their First Reconciliation last Sunday: we hope they had a joyful and peaceful experience of the Sacrament. And once again I thank Trish Brophy and our wonderful team of catechists who commit so much time to ensure that the children are well prepared.
ADVENT. My hope is that the season of Advent will once again provide us with the opportunity to prepare well for the great feast of Christmas. It seems to me that the trick is to find the space and time to make all the necessary preparations, spiritual and practical, so that we can arrive at the 25 December, not exhausted with having already celebrated Christmas a thousand times before it arrives. Enjoy!
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