Monday, 20 July 2009

Catholics and Healthcare

Anybody living in this country benefits from universal healthcare in the UK which is a wonderful blessing whatever its faults and fallings. In many Third World Countries they do not have the benefits of such universal healthcare. In many parts of the world the Church is in fact the main provider of healthcare to already poor and marginalised communities.

During a recent address to the a special conference on healthcare, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations and Specialised Institutions in Geneva, reflecting on global healthcare needs said: "The Catholic Church sponsors 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 health clinics, 15,448 homes for the elderly and disabled, and other health care programmes throughout the world, but especially in the most isolated and marginalized areas". Yet "faith-based organisations do not receive an equitable share of the resources designated to support global, national and local health initiatives", he said.

"We must be guided by the best healthcare tradition that respects and promotes the right to life from conception until natural death for all regardless of race, disability, nationality, religion, sex and socio-economic status".

As members of the Diocese set off to Lourdes for the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage we are reminded of the important ministry to the sick that the Church supports in Arundel & Brighton. It is not just through this annual pilgrimage but also through the work of chaplains and volunteers in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and private homes.

The Diocese is also grateful for the work of relgious orders who run homes and facilities for care of the sick in the Diocese. Bishop Kieran recently blessed a new Physiotherapy unit at Holy Cross Hospital which is run and owned by the Daughters of the Cross. Many other religious orders run nursing homes and carry out wonderful work with the sick. Even with universal healthcare in this country provided by the State their is still a real role for the Church in ministry to the sick and in particular supporting a more holistic, spirit-filled approach to care of those who are sick.

Jesus said: 'Imagine a sower going out to sow... some fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!' (Mt 13:2 & 19)

Monday, 13 July 2009

Volunteers Please Take a Step Forward

Today our offices were visited by Barbara Wallace who used to work for the diocese but is now living in Kent but is using the fruits of her work in the diocese and elsewhere to promote a structured and spiritual basis for the work of parish volunteers. Above all we should anchor the role of volunteers in the Church as a response to their Christian baptism and confirmation, a work of the Spirit. Equally their should be a clear description of what is expected of the volunteers and an agreed period for the volunteering rather than the usual open-ended and unstructured arrangements that exist in most parishes. Volunteers are the lifeblood of parishes and church organisations but we have a responsibility to treat them properly.

To help with this work Barbara has prepared a very useful work book 'To Love and Serve the Lord' and a more recent work book 'Ministry Descriptions'. These are both available from the Diocesan Bookshop at the Christian Education Centre in Crawley via email Barbara, who also runs seminars and workshops on volunteering in parishes can be contacted via her website She also produces a free quarterly newsletter which you can sign up for.

Talking of volunteers and volunteering the Communications Office is looking for a volunteer who can help with Web and IT work. If you are interested or know someone who is interested and want more information and a role description then contact me by email:
'Open our hearts O, Lord to accept the words of your Son.' (Acts 16:14)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

New Beginnings with Water, Oil and Fire!

On Saturday 13th June the church of St Anthony and St Francis in Crawley had it's new altar consecrated by Bishop Kieran. The church has recently been refurbished and renewed creating a new and beautiful liturgical space. If you are passing by the Friary Church do pop in, as I did recently, to have a look.

During the Mass the Bishop used the symbols of water, oil and fire (see pictures). These are powerful symbols that helps us enter more deeply into the mystery we celebrate. They point us to another reality, the presence and grace of God.
At the Second Vatican Council, that great meeting of all the world's Bishops in the 1960s the first document produced was on the Liturgy, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium). Liturgy is an important part of the life of all parishes of the diocese. The Bishop works to support the liturgy through his Pastoral Team and in particular the Diocesan Liturgy Office including Barbara Hopper, the Liturgy Adviser, Fr Martin Jakubas, the Priest Adviser and the Liturgy Commission. There is also lots of good up-to-date news and information on the National Liturgy Office website including very sensible and measured advice on 'Swine Flu'.

"For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, 'the work of our redemption is accomplished' and through the liturgy, especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church." (SC 2).