Wednesday, 6 March 2019

San Damiano Cross for Haslemere

The artist Antoni Pytel with his Icon

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Haslemere, has just received a wonderful gift from a master craftsman.  Antoni Pytel, the father of a parishioner, has been working on an iconic San Damiano Cross which was shown to the congregation and used for the first time for an ecumenical Taizé service recently.

A San Damiano cross is a large Romanesque rood cross that St Francis of Assisi was praying before when he received the commission from the Lord to rebuild the Church. The original cross hangs in the Basilica of St Clare in Assisi and Franciscans cherish this cross as the symbol of their mission from God. It is of a type sometimes called an icon because, besides the main figure of Christ, it contains images of other saints and people connected with Christ’s crucifixion. The tradition of such crosses began in the Eastern Church and probably reached Italy via Serbia and Croatia.

Antoni Pytel, whose favourite hobby is painting religious icons, worked on the cross for around two months. When in Britain he always attends Our Lady of Lourdes, and decided to present his masterpiece to the church where his daughter and grandchildren worship.

For the Taizé service, attended by people from many other churches in Haslemere, the cross formed the centre of worship. In flickering candlelight its artistic beauty could be shown off to perfection.

Article by Fay Foster

Friday, 1 March 2019

New Diocesan Director for Missio in Arundel & Brighton - Focus on Mission

Deacon Duncan Brown - Arundel & Brighton Diocese Missio Director
Bishop Richard Moth and Missio’s National Director, Fr. Anthony Chantry are delighted to announce that Missio’s new Diocesan Director for the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton is to be Deacon Duncan Brown.

Missio’s Diocesan Directors are responsible for leading each diocese’s focus on Mission and promoting support for Missio, the Pope’s own Charity for overseas Mission. The work of the organisation involves raising money to support the 1069 Mission Dioceses throughout the developing world which are too young or too poor to support themselves. This takes place through the Red Box Scheme which has existed in the vast majority of Catholic parishes in England and Wales for the past 80 years.

Deacon Duncan will be helping all those in Arundel and Brighton Diocese interested in discerning how they can become more deeply involved in the Church’s mission and in becoming Missionary Disciples.

Duncan Brown was ordained deacon in 2016 and serves in the parish of St Mary Star of the Sea, Hastings. He is married with two teenage children. Having worked with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company for a number of years, he now works in a family firm as a funeral director in St. Leonards on Sea.

Deacon Duncan says ‘ I am excited to be taking up this role in 2019, following Pope Francis’s announcement of the Extraordinary Month of Mission due to take place throughout October. I look forward to working with the team at Missio as well as Missio’s diocesan directors from all over England and Wales. I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in becoming involved with our Mission work in the diocese to contact me.’

If you would like to get in touch with Deacon Duncan with regard to promoting Missio in your parish or would like to become more involved in the promotion of Mission more generally in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, kindly contact Duncan at

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Teams of Our Lady logo

A quick internet search states Teams of Our Lady (French: Equipes Notre Dame) is a Roman Catholic lay organisation recognised by the Holy See under the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It is a movement of "Married Spirituality" which brings together Christian couples united by the sacrament of marriage; and who wish, together, to deepen the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Teams UK Newsletter puts it a little more simply: "Teams is an International Christian Movement for married couples of all ages". Founded in France in 1939 by Father Henry Caffarel and formally established on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the movement is placed under the special patronage of the Blessed Mother. In January 2018 there were Teams in over 92 countries world wide; with a local, regional, national and international structure to ensure consistency of the Movement and its spiritual foundations. The cause for Father Caffarel's beatification is currently ongoing.

The aim for the Teams Movement are essentially quite simple- to help married couples develop a relationship with God both personally and as a couple. In practise this means between 4 and 6 couples and a spiritual counsellor (priest or religious) meeting together every month for a meal and to discuss, pray and share the ups and downs of everyday life.

The structure of a Teams meeting is that the group will gather in each other's homes and start off with sharing the Word of God, and praying together. The specific bible readings are supplied for the Team, and with the spiritual counsellor, this is a time for open shared reflection on scripture followed by prayer. Next comes supper, but the structure of the evening necessitates a "responsible couple" chosen by the group who manage the evening's business/work/sharing along with the host couple.This ensures that certain topics are covered and that the evening follows the Teams format.

This format includes sharing highs and lows as individuals rather than as a couple although these sometimes overlap (this is an opportunity for only one person to speak at a time and concludes with prayer both for the individual and for the couple). The "Endeavours" are also discussed: these are methods or tools for deepening relationship with God and with spouse and include personal prayer, couple prayer, reading the Bible, a study topic (on an agreed faith enhancing subject) and "the sit down" (a helpful structured way of a couple communicating with one another). These "Endeavours" take place between meetings, in ordinary daily life, and gives the couple a template for spiritual growth and sharing faith. Other helpful tools that the Teams organisation promote are an annual Retreat and 'The Rule of Life' (an individual examination of conscience leading to specific resolution(s) to enable change and spiritual growth eg am I resisting God's call to contribute more to my parish community?). The meeting always finishes with the Magnificat in honour of Our Lady and patron.

The spiritual counsellor is a fully fledged member of the Team, is not responsible for the meeting, but is there as friend and as a help-mate as much as any other person in the Team. They, too, share with the group their highs and lows, and progress with the Endeavours.

A newly established Team in the Surrey Sector includes the Abbot of The Benedictine Monastery: St Augustine's Abbey, Chilworth who says of the Movement: " I was approached quite out-of-the blue, and asked to consider being the Spiritual Counsellor to a newly organised Team of Our Lady, which I had never heard of before. I agreed, and I'm so glad I did. This is a precious movement within the Church, and the monthly gatherings are both stimulating and humbling, and a source of grace for all concerned. The definite, but at the same time flexible, structure of the meetings, allows for varying levels of mutual sharing, with an emphasis on the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, prayer of intercession, and an openness to discuss the challenges and rewards of married life, all within the convivial context of a shared meal".

For more information on Teams of Our Lady please go to:

Monday, 18 February 2019

Bishop’s Skydive Success! - A Big Thank You From the Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage

Lucy Barnes and Bishop Richard in skydiving gear
The Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage sends out Heartfelt thanks to Bishop Richard and Lucy Barnes for taking on the challenge of throwing themselves out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft. Our prayers were answered and they returned to earth safely!

Many thanks too for all of those throughout the Diocese who supported them with prayers and donations. The Pilgrimage Office reports that over £10,500 was raised in total, having increased the target three times during the fund raising programme! Not least, we should also thank the intrepid Nancy Sackwood for instigating the original idea.

Rev Deacon Mike Thoms, director of DLP, added his appreciation when he said “I am sure that all of our Assisted Pilgrims and their helpers who benefit from some financial support to make their dream of joining us in Lourdes a reality, join me in sending our heartfelt thanks to Bishop Richard, Lucy and all those who supported them in this endeavour. Without help, many would struggle to fund their trip to Lourdes, and I am certain that they will join me in prayer at the Grotto in July 2019 for all of those who helped make the Skydive such a success.”

Applications are open now, so if you would like to apply to join us in Lourdes, please go to our website (, email us ( or phone (01403 740110) to receive an application form.
The 2018 Clinical Team

Have you thought of joining our medical team in Lourdes? See the contact details above.

Photo: Lacaze Lourdes

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Racial Justice Sunday 17 February

Seamen pictured on board ship
17 February marks Racial Justice Sunday, which focuses on the experiences of ethnic communities in England and Wales.

It is a day on which we all called to earnestly pray for an end to racism and racial inequality in our country. 

The theme this year is Dignity of Work, looking at how all people must not be exploited or face discrimination and hatred in their work. 

For more information and resources go to

Saturday, 9 February 2019

John and Tina on their wedding day
This Sunday 10 February John and Tina Nichols, from the Catholic Parish of Guildford, will feature in a special edition of the ever-popular BBC Show, Songs of Praise, to celebrate Valentine's Day at 1.15pm. The couple, who have been married for fifty years and have been active in the parish Marriage Preparation programme for thirty years. They are also members of the Diocesan Marriage & Family Life Commission, and are recent recipients of the St. Philip Howard medal for their work as marriage catechists.

Being selected to be part of Songs of Praise was "a surprise and fun to do" Tina recently said. The BBC crew spent a day with the couple in January filming them at home, and then at St Pius church where they were filmed presenting a part of a Marriage Preparation session with three other couples. The programme makers were interested in the couple not just because of their long marriage but also because of their experience of marriage catechesis (a conservative estimate is that they have supported 750 engaged couples over 30 years).

Married in 1968 in the crypt chapel of Liverpool Cathedral, after having met at University, agnostic John "fell in love with Tina and pretty much in love with her family too" very quickly. They moved to Guildford with baby son Michael, and soon after another baby, Anna, was on the way but they tragically lost her in 1970. It was at this point that they particularly experienced "Christian love in action" from the parishioners of St Joseph's church and in such a way as to profoundly deepen Tina's faith. Children Anthony, Tim and Lucy followed in relatively quick succession. Married and family life was busy along with their respective careers in medicine and pharmacy.

Regulars at St Joseph's church, they were invited to a talk run by 'Marriage Encounter' in 1984 and then joined a local group which they are still a part of today. John said it was a means of "making a good marriage better", and that this and the Marriage Preparation courses helped them to make time for conversation, managing conflict, and to continue to understand each other better. They both feel that these marriage programmes have supported them through the ups and downs of family life and a marriage where one partner is not Catholic. It has also given them insight to help engaged couples in similar mixed faith relationships, which is a strength acknowledged by the Marriage and Family Life Commission.

Discussing their life with the Songs of Praise team and reflecting on their experiences the couple expressed their love for each other, their children and their seven grandchildren who keep them busy in retirement. They said that they "never stop learning" about each other and that they still enjoy the Marriage Preparation courses and have so much enthusiasm for it as it is  "such a joyful ministry".

Our congratulations to John and Tina.

If you miss it on Sunday do go to BBC iplayer to catch up.