Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Bringing Your Parish From Maintenance to Mission - A Day for the Diocese

This coming Saturday 21 January from 10am-4pm, at DABCEC, Crawley there will be a day looking at how you can move your parish from maintenance to mission as part of the New Evangelisation.

The guest speaker is Michael Roche from Alpha in a Catholic Context. Michael will explore how we can make our parishes more responsive to the call of the New Evangelisation. He will draw on lessons from the “Divine Renovation" books. These make suggestions as to how we might change the culture within our Parishes, so as to create the right conditions for Evangelisation to take place.

Booking and further information please contact David Wills on (01293) 651157 or email: david.wills@dabnet.org  or book online.

You can buy copies of the book from the Diocesan Bookshop ring 01293 651165 or email: bookshop@dabnet.org

Sunday, 15 January 2017

From the Vatican - Pastoral Care Workers Killed in 2016

Christians praying at Mass in Gaza
Photo: ©Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk 
In the year 2016, 28 Catholic pastoral care workers were killed worldwide. For the eighth consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral care workers killed is AMERICA, 9 in 2016, more than double the number compared to 2015.

According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, in 2016 14 priests, 9 religious women, one seminarian, 4 lay people died violently. In America 12 pastoral care workers were killed (9 priests and 3 religious sisters); in Africa 8 pastoral care workers were killed (3 priests, 2 nuns, one seminarian, 2 lay people); in Asia 7 pastoral care workers were killed (1 priest, 4 nuns, 2 lay people); in Europe one priest was killed.

Once again the majority of the pastoral care workers in 2016 were killed in attempted robbery, and in some cases violently attacked, a sign of the climate of moral decline, economic and cultural poverty, which generates violence and disregard for human life. 

In these situations, the priests, religious sisters and lay people who were killed, were among those who loudly denounced injustice, corruption, poverty, in the name of the Gospel. Fr. José Luis Sánchez Ruiz, of the Diocese of San Andres Tuxtla (Veracruz, Mexico) was one of the victims who was kidnapped and then released with "obvious signs of torture", according to a statement from the diocese. In the days before the kidnapping he had received threats, surely for his harsh criticism against corruption and rampant crime (see Fides 14/11/2016). As Pope Francis recalled on the feast of the protomartyr St. Stephen, "the world hates Christians for the same reason it hated Jesus because He brought the light of God and the world prefers the darkness to hide its wicked works". (Angelus 26/12/2016).

They all lived in these human and social contexts, administering the sacraments, helping the poor, taking care of orphans and drug addicts, following development projects or simply opening the door of their home to anyone. And some were murdered by the same people who they helped. Hardly any investigations conducted by the local authorities lead to identifying the perpetrators and the instigators of these killings or the reasons why they were carried out.

There is still much concern regarding the fate of other pastoral care workers kidnapped or have disappeared, of whom we have not had any news.

As it has been for some time, Fides’ list does not only include missionaries ad gentes in the strict sense, but all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths. We do not propose to use the term "martyrs", if not in its etymological meaning of "witnesses" since it is up to the Church to judge their possible merits and also because of the scarcity of available information in most cases, with regard to their life and even the circumstances of their death.

The provisional list compiled annually by Agenzia Fides, must therefore be added to the long list of many of whom there may never be news, who in every corner of the world suffer and even pay with their lives for their faith in Christ. Pope Francis often reminds us that "Today there are Christians who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, slaughtered because they do not deny Jesus Christ" ... "the martyrs of today are more numerous than those of the first centuries". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 30/12/2016)

For a full report see link below:

Friday, 6 January 2017


Fr Cormac being ordained in Rome by Bishop Luigi Traglia

How many of us stay with the same employer? How many of us work more than 45 years? How about the same boss for 60 years? Cardinal Cormac is in conversation with the A&B News’ Peter Burholt on his 60 years in priesthood – a reflection on his life, both the ups and the downs.

When did you think about being a priest? Did you just fall into priesthood and follow a family tradition, grow into it or was there a ‘Damascus’ moment in your life?

No, I do not remember a dramatic ‘Damascus’ moment in my life. I come from a very Catholic family with uncles who were priests, so it is not surprising that I might consider a vocation to the priesthood. I remember when I was about 15 I was out with my father on his calls - he was a doctor – when he turned to me and asked ‘What do you want to be?’ I said, without hesitation, that I wanted to become a priest. And I never changed my mind.

What were your aspirations when you were going through seminary in Rome? Was it to become, one day, a bishop or a cardinal?

Having expressed my wishes to my father when I was 15, I never really deviated from that by the time I left school at 18. I was convinced I wanted to be a priest and that was the only thought when I went through seminary. No, I had no idea of what the Good Lord had in store for me. Perhaps that was fortunate!

After seminary, what was your first appointment?
This was as a curate in Portsmouth, then a very poor parish where people were mostly dockyard workers or widows from the War. Many were lapsed and I quickly learnt that there was no point in asking why they did not come to Mass.

In time I evolved the idea of starting courses for non-Catholics wishing to know more about the Faith, which were very successful. After four years I moved to another parish and put in place what I had learnt in Portsmouth – it revolutionised the parish.

Do you recall any particular parish experience which has helped you moving forward?
For a moment Cardinal Cormac pondered this question. With a wry smile he replied.

Yes, there was. When in Portsmouth members of the Catholic Evidence Guild would speak about the Faith in Southsea. I went to join them on one occasion and there was a big crowd. The speaker before me was excellent. To my horror, when I started to speak they started moving away because they became bored. That taught me a bit about speaking.

Cardinal Cormac is well-known today for his humorous stories and his ability to hold an audience.

What do you count most precious in your life?

The family is absolutely crucial. The greatest evil of life today is the break-up of families. It has such an effect on the children. The work the Church does in trying to hold marriages together is hugely important.

It is quite common for priests to be tested at some point in their lives. Has this happened to you?

You are right. And I have had my fair share, after all we are human. I must give credit to my family, as well as my Faith and friends for weathering the storms of life. You will always find the cross in life in ways that you hadn’t expected. Even during times when you do not get a result, you realise through it all that the Good Lord was there in the community of the Church.

As a priest, what makes you sad?

There were sad times when I accompanied people as they were dying or families in their bereavement. You get to see the will of God or in the providence of God in everything.

In contrast, the most worthwhile thing about being a priest is being with people. I remember the experience I had of a married couple who were childless for 10 years. They came back, hand-in-hand, to give me the great news that a baby was expected. These are the small things that give me great joy.

If you were not a priest, where do you think your calling would have been? Would it have been a concert pianist or a co-presenter with Chris Evans on BBC2? Or ……………….?
Interesting question. I had thought about being a doctor, like my father, or a musician – or in today’s terms even a DJ. Yes, the Cardinal did say DJ!

We have a strong culture of vocations in the family, there are doctors, teachers, lawyers and business people. I would have liked to have been a teacher. It is a very noble profession and a demanding one. Teachers and priests are similar in that they both have the task of forming the whole person for the greatness of life.

In celebrating your Jubilee, is there a moment which stands out from all the other events?

People have been so kind to me in offering their prayers and good wishes, but I think it was my special trip to Rome when I was joined by 28 of my family. We met the Holy Father, who said that when you get older, you become wiser and more compassionate; wiser because you learn from other people and your own experiences in life; more compassionate because you understand more – therefore, you give more and you learn that you need to be forgiven yourself for your own faults and weaknesses. Wisdom and compassion are the good qualities that good priests have as they become older.

I will tell you something else you need, patience and perseverance.

I remember as I was setting off to Rome to start my formation at the seminary all those years ago, I went to see my parish priest to ask for advice. I thought he would say ‘the harvest is great and the labourers are few’ but he didn’t. Instead, he just said ‘pray for perseverance’. I thought that it was very boring advice, but it has proved to be very true.

Being with Cardinal Cormac talking about some of his reflections on 60 years of priesthood is an honour. However, the one problem is that small matter of time – it was time for the Cardinal to fulfil his next commitment. But that same time has given us a great man over his 60 years of priestly fulfilment. With our prayers and blessings we say ‘Well done for getting this far and may we continue to experience your wisdom and enjoy your humour for many, many years to come. Amen’

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Diocesan Medal for A&B News Editor Pauline Groves as She Retires

Pauline Groves presented with medal and certificate by Bishop Richard

Pauline Groves who has been A&B News Editor for 23 years. Pauline, already a volunteer on the paper took over from Canon John Stapleton as Volunteer Editor of A&B News in 1983 and in all those years did not miss editing a single copy, coming in 12 times a year to oversee its compilation and production. Her last edition will be that produced in February for March.

In recognition of this outstanding contribution to the life of the Diocese, Bishop Richard presented her with the St Philip Howard, Diocesan Medal at the End of Year Mass for Volunteers and Staff. He gave thanks for her commitment and dedication over the years.

From February 2017 there will be a new structure for A&B News following Pauline's retirement. An A&B News Editorial Board will be formed under the direction of the Bishop and the Communications Commission. The Communications Officer, Mark Woods will take on the role of General Manager for the A&B News team with a new Volunteer Editor, Harry Robertson who together with other current and new volunteers will take forward production and publication of the paper each month. Ruth Gerun will continue to offer secretarial support and the email address for contact and stories will continue to be abnews@dabnet.org.

We wish Pauline well in her 'retirement' though we are sure it will still be a busy one.