Saturday, 18 March 2017

East Africa Crisis Appeal

East Africa Crisis Appeal
Bishop John Arnold, CAFOD Chair of Trustees has written to all parishes in Arundel & Brighton Diocese asking for support for the crisis in East Africa.

He says:

Our Lenten Fast Day has only just past, and so it is with great heaviness of heart that I find it necessary to write to you about the situation of terrible need in East Africa, which you will no doubt have seen in the news. Severe drought, and several compounding problems - lack of food, and civil war - means that now over 16 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, northern Kenya and Ethiopia are facing starvation. The United Nations warns that the world faces the largest humanitarian crisis in more than 70 years.

Only the most serious of crises would lead me to write to you again, so soon after your fasting and giving to CAFOD's work at Lent Fast Day. But the combination of issues in East Africa have created what is now such an intractable crisis that the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), of which CAFOD is a member, is launching a full scale humanitarian crisis appeal today.

So, we are alerting you to that appeal, and inviting you to respond in your parish to support our emergency response across South Sudan, Somalia, northern Kenya and Ethiopia our work in East Africa, the majority of which is in partnership with local Church partners, is as long established as CAFOD itself, and we know it is a region close to the hearts of many in the Catholic community.

The humanitarian crisis In South Sudan, alone, 4.9 million people - nearly half the population - urgently need food aid. Famine has been declared in two areas of Unity State, where 100,000 people face starvation and fears are growing that more vulnerable families in other parts of the country are on the brink of famine.

In last month (February) in a pastoral letter, the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan have called on the international community “for immediate and unconditional concrete intervention and action before thousands of innocent lives are carried away and before it is too late.”

In Somalia, the UN estimates that half the population are in now need of urgent food aidwith over 400,000 children now in need of urgent life-saving support.

In northern Kenya, the government declared drought a national disaster in February, affecting more than 2 million people in northern region of the country.

In Ethiopia, failed autumn rains in 2016 have led to a new drought affecting 5.6 million people in the southern and south eastern regions of the country.

What we and are partners are doing Our trusted local Church partners, and Caritas sister agencies are doing all that they can to reach the most vulnerable in their parishes – on the frontline providing vital aid where the needs are greatest. Unfortunately, those responding have seen the suffering and crisis worsen out of proportion, leading to the DEC's decision to respond this week. This DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal will help to support our partners scale up their work and reach more people in need.

One of saddest things about this truly devastating crisis is that so many of the communities affected have worked tirelessly, for so many years; only to be thwarted by repeatedly failing rains, extreme weathers, and circumstances beyond their control. Yet, their dignity and faith is truly extraordinary.

Most of all, I ask you please to keep the region's people in your prayers. They have endured so much, and for so long.

Please pray too for our local Catholic Church and our other partners who continue to work against the odds in the worst-affected areas across, and for us as we work with them to address this widespread crisis.

Yours in Christ,

Bishop John Arnold

Chair of Trustees, CAFOD

Your parish collection

• The situation is urgent so we are suggesting the weekend of the 18/19th March or 25/26th March for a second collection after Masses.

• Resources - including an appeal poster, prayers, and an announcement about the appeal for your parish newsletter - can be downloaded and printed here

• As usual, collection envelopes can be ordered either by emailing or by calling us on 0300 011 5680

Find more details about the crisis and our work here

Keep up to date with the situation as it evolves here

Friday, 17 March 2017

24 Hours for the Lord

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization proposes the 24 hours for the Lord in Lent of 2017, on March 24-25. The theme which will guide the reflection in 2017 is I desire mercy (Mt 09:13). For more information see their website.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Bishop Paul Tighe Speaks about the Vatican and Social Media

Bishop Paul Tighe, the man behind the Pope's social media presence and the head of the Vatican's Office of Culture, shares with Jo Ling Kent why the Vatican is aggressively reaching out on social media. He was speaking at South by South West Festival.

For news report see Catholic News Service.

Friday, 10 March 2017

CAFOD Lent Activities in Arundel & Brighton Diocese

Children gathered round their Lent CAFOD Fish
Children at St Thomas a Becket Junior School in Eastbourne have started  Lent with raising money for CAFOD, to help the poorest communities around the world.

They  brought in coins to fill a fish outline and made and sold cup cakes decorated as fish. 

All 250  children in the school wrote a Lenten promise on a little fish which was then placed within the larger fish outline and put on display to mark the beginning of their Lenten journey. 

This is one of the many activities taking place for CAFOD in the Diocese from Schools to Parishes

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

80th Birthday Celebrations for A&B Priest, Fr Kevin Griffin

Bishop Richard Moth with Fr Kevin Griffin
Recently, the parish of St Mary's Crowborough celebrated the 80th birthday of their much-loved Parish Priest, Fr Kevin Griffin. 

There was a packed church for Mass concelebrated with Bishop Richard, during which he highlighted Fr Kevin's gift for preaching. Afterwards, the whole Parish joined Fr Kevin and Bishop Richard for a party in St Mary's School hall, which had been beautifully decorated by the school children. A joy-filled celebration was enjoyed by all.

Celebration time

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Forgiveness and Compassion of an Iraqi Priest - Father Naeem Ayub Shoshandy

Father Naeem Ayub Shoshandy is a 33-year-old Iraqi priest who cannot hold back his tears as he describes the terrible flight on the night of August 6, 2014, when the difficulties, kidnappings, and killing of Christians culminated in the Islamic State's invasion of the Nineveh plain, including his village of Qaraqosh. Fr. Naeem recalls the fire of the mortars, the lifeless bodies of the children who were playing in the street, and finally, the Bishop's decision to flee from Nineveh, leading the Christian community in order to escape from death. Later, when they arrived in Kurdistan, they were exhausted, frightened, “And… when we arrived there… we found ourselves in the street…”

They have been in tents and in prefabricated metal barracks for two years, suffering all sorts of hardships, but sharing the little they have with refugees of other religions, including Muslims. Father Naeem explains, "We have these problems because we have left everything, absolutely everything in our city, in order to save and maintain our faith. Because we could have remained in our city only under three conditions: by apostatizing from our faith and converting to Islam, by paying the yizia, or by death.”

The Iraqi Christians call the priests "the children of the resurrection," not only because of the efforts they make to provide them with the necessary aid on a human level, but above all because hope has triumphed every day in the Kurdistan refugee camps thanks to their spiritual work.

Fr. Naeem saw his own brother die at the hands of the Islamic State's henchmen. He has forgiven the murderers, and does not hesitate to say, "(Forgiveness) makes me a real Christian, and not just a Christian by name."

It is worth listening to his testimony and allowing yourself to be moved by Father Naeem's tears. Hopefully, these tears will soften our hardened hearts, so that we may receive the lesson of faith, of heroic hope, of complete trust in God, and of forgiveness that our Iraqi brothers and sisters offer us.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Lenten Appeal for Alix Manders - St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Primary School, Knaphill

Alix with one of her children
At St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Primary School, one of the mums, Alix Manders, was told a few weeks ago that she is terminally ill and that the NHS could do no more for her. Alix has now been offered some hope with the opportunity of immunology treatment, which is available privately at a cost of £100,000. In the first week of fundraising about £25,000 has already been raised towards this. To stand any chance of success, it is critical that this treatment begins without delay.

Please see Alix's story below:

Hi, my name is Alix Manders and I am the mummy to three wonderful and beautiful boys. My world was turned upside down in November 2014, I was 22 weeks pregnant with my third child and I just knew that something wasn't right. I felt very unwell with pain under my left rib and my ever expanding tummy was already the size of a 40 week pregnancy, so I went to my maternity unit. All of the doctors were baffled with what was wrong, however an ultrasound and an emergency MRI confirmed that I had a huge mass in my left ovary which had grown so big it was now under my left rib. After my obstetrician performed emergency surgery to remove it, she and a colorectal surgeon came and gave me the devastating news that they had also found a tumour on my colon and that I had cancer.

Whilst recovering from surgery, I suffered a blood clot in my arm - being pregnant, having surgery and having cancer had increased the risk of this. I then was referred to and seen by the oncology team. They told me I had stage 4 colon cancer as it had spread to my liver and ovaries, but because I was pregnant, I could not have treatment straight away. The doctors decided that my little boy would be delivered by C-Section at 30 weeks - this was necessary because the cancer was spreading at a fast pace to other organs. My beautiful son, Finley, was delivered healthy and after spending five weeks in SCUBU, he was eagerly welcomed home by his over-excited brothers! A week after Finley's birth, I began my 12 rounds of gruelling chemotherapy. This was a joyful, but physically draining time for me - having to care for two energetic children, stay with and care for Finley in hospital and endure chemotherapy all at the same time! My family were an incredible help and gave me the support and strength I needed. A CT scan and an MRI showed I had responded well to the chemotherapy and the tumours had shrunk - we were over the moon with this news. I was also told I was suitable for surgeries to remove the tumours, giving me further hope that I would win this battle.

In December 2015 I had a liver resection. It took me a month to recover from this operation and in February 2016, I then had cytoreductive surgery to remove the tumour from my colon and the surrounding lymph nodes and they stripped off the lining of my peritoneum. I also had hot chemotherapy directly in my abdomen to hopefully get rid of any cancer cells left behind. Recovery was hard and slow. I spent 7 long months in and out of hospital. In the last few months I was allowed home in the days, but had to return for treatment and care every night. I moved into my mum's house with my kids, as I needed help to take care of them. Daily life was hard - school runs, after school activities and the usual chores were all too much on my own. However, with the help and support of my family I carried on. When I returned to hospital for an appointment, a CT scan picked up tumours that were still on my liver, so I had to endure more chemo. I was also offered more surgery or radiotherapy which was promising and yet again gave me further hope!

Devastatingly, a PET scan then showed I also had areas of cancer on the peritoneum (lining of my abdomen) which had never been seen before on previous scans. Five weeks ago, I was told there is nothing more they can do to cure me on the NHS. One kind Doctor told me my only chance is immunotherapy, but there is a huge private cost which I could never raise alone. So here I am - I am not ready to give up and I am not ready to leave behind my three loving boys and the most amazing mum and family I could ever wish for. So please... I really need your help. Thank you xxx

Donations can be made directly at :

Additionally, during the Year of Mercy, Mr George, the headteacher at St Hugh of Lincoln, wrote a weekly reflection for the school newsletter on different aspects of mercy. Good feedback was received from a number of parents and Mr George decided to take the best of them and put them together into a book. Bishop Richard has written a foreword and the 24 page book was recently published.

Copies of the Year of Mercy book are on sale now from Mr George at St Hugh of Lincoln at £4.00 a copy. He can be contacted on 01483 480441 or The Year of Mercy book is also available at the Bookshop at DABCEC in Crawley. All proceeds from the sale of these books will go to the medical fund for Alix.