With Fr Andrew (Rector) and Fr Barrie (Assistant) and all the Redemptorists I wish you the joy and peace of Christmas. My hope is that the words of a new Christmas carol, sung by the children, will be the reality in all our families: “Christmas isn’t Christmas ‘till it happens in your heart. Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas really starts.”
Once again I wish to seize the opportunity of thanking you for all your love and support throughout the year. Your generosity and your outpouring of good will over Christmas is really quite overwhelming and humbling: but thank you.
I also wish to thank again all those who work so hard and in so many different fields to ensure the smooth running of our two parishes. There are so many unsung heroes that it would be invidious to try and name them. It is the same in both parishes and I am sure that those who were able to attend the Bishop Eton parish celebration of carols last Tuesday will agree with me that it is quite stunning to realise the dozens of ministries that are covered when they are named with the placing of baubles on the tree and the lighting of candles.
Invitation to all helpers: Parish helpers’ social evening: Friday 13 January: 7.00pm -10.00pm.
Slight preparation hiccup: I thought I was on track with my preparations for the feast when a dodgy tooth set me back on Thursday. I hadn’t realised how traumatised you feel for a while after an extraction, but happily I seem to be bouncing back and hope to be able to fulfil all my commitments over the weekend, but if I have missed anything or anyone, please forgive me.
A very happy Christmas to you all… Tim Buckley, C.Ss.R .
THE FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT: It is not often that we have the full four weeks of Advent, and I have found it particularly rewarding this year to have the extra time of preparation for Christmas. The many events involving both the parishes and the schools have been beautifully celebrated and there are many more during the coming week. Please note that this Sunday afternoon in both parishes the children in the First Communion classes are presenting the Christmas story and these events are open to all: Bishop Eton (Nativity) at 3.00pm and St Mary’s (Christingle Service) at 4.00pm.
Please do take note of the times of all the Christmas Masses: this is my sixth Christmas with you and the times have not changed during those years. As far as possible please respect the fact that the Christmas Eve Masses (St Mary’s: 5.30pm & Bishop Eton: 7.00pm) are celebrated to support families with young children.
7.00pm Mass for families with young children, as is the 5.30pm at St Mary's Woolton.
11.00pm Carols followed by Midnight Mass, beginning at 11.30pm.
8.30am, 10.00am, 11.30am—No evening Mass
ADVENT. We are halfway through this wonderful season. Preparations move on apace in the schools and the parishes. Please note all the special opportunities by way of Reconciliation Services, Confession times and Carol Services which are detailed in this bulletin. Above I suggest we all resolve to find some quiet moments each day when, like Mary, we can ponder the mystery of it all.
THE ORDINATION OF BRO CHARLES RANDALL CSsR will take place next Thursday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at our mother church in Britain, St Mary’s Clapham. For the record: the church’s full title is Our Immaculate Lady of Victories. Bishop Ralph Heskett CSsR will be the ordaining bishop. It will be a wonderful occasion for Charles and for us all. We thank Charles for ministry as a deacon during these past two months. His support to the parishes and our community has been invaluable. In the New Year we hope that he will be able to return and continue his ministry among us as a newly-ordained priest, at least for a while. I am very conscious that Provincial Council is concerned that the younger men should be mainly involved in our special charism of preaching missions and retreats and undoubtedly Charles will be taking on that work in due course.
THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT:
I always consider Advent to be a time of wonderful opportunity. The Christmas story is captivating because it speaks to us of a God who is close to us and with whom even the children can identify because he comes as a little child. I pray that we will use this time well. Above all I hope we can strike the right balance especially with the children. Hopefully, while sharing with them the wonder of this God who entrusts us with the gift of Jesus, we can also teach them the value of waiting in expectation: a grace that will stand them in good stead throughout their lives.
Special prayers please this weekend for the families with children in Year 4, who are taking part in the Sacramental Programme.
On Sunday afternoon the children will celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time.
May we all come to value the gift of this sacrament, especially in the wake of the Year of Mercy.
As usual there will be extra opportunities to receive absolution after the Masses during the final two weeks of Advent or at the Reconciliation Services
- St Mary’s, Monday 12 December
- Bishop Eton, Tuesday 13 December
- Pastoral Area at Our Lady of the Assumption on Monday, 19 December
The Solemnity of Christ The King: marks the end of the Holy Year of Mercy. It is an occasion to give thanks for the remarkable blessings of this Jubilee throughout the whole Church. In our parishes we have been doubly blessed because of our celebration of the 150th anniversary of the gift of the icon of our Mother of Perpetual Succour to the Redemptorists. I suggest that one way in which we can keep the memory of this past year alive is by building up our Novena Devotions. I extend an invitation especially to those who may never previously have shared this half hour of prayer to come one Wednesday at 7:30pm.
More Challenges: Fr Andrew has been asked to conduct a retreat for Marriage Encounter in Ireland this weekend because the priest previously booked has taken ill. This leaves us stretched to the limit, but Fr Kevin Callaghan has kindly offered to cover the 8:30am and 11.30am Masses at Bishop Eton on Sunday morning and I will be able to cover the rest.
Also, on Monday, a number of members of the community will be going to Birmingham for the funeral of Sr Jackie Smith, a Selly Park Sister, who worked with the Redemptorists in Hawkstone for many years. Only in her early sixties she was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer just a few weeks ago. Please keep her and her parents in your prayers, as also all who are sick or have recently died in our parishes. I plan to cover all the Masses in our two churches on Monday, unless Fr Barrie arrives back in time for the noon Mass at Bishop Eton!
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY. Once more we remember with gratitude those who made the ultimate sacrifice that we can live in the freedom we still enjoy today. We will have our usual ceremonies at the war memorials both here at Bishop Eton after the 11.30am Mass and before the 11am at St Mary’s. May they rest in peace.
THE END OF THE HOLY YEAR. Next Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, brings to a close our Jubilee of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour., during which we have also celebrated the Jubilee of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.The year may be coming to a close, but hopefully our determination to live ever more compassionate lives will remain undiminished.
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