Friday, 29 November 2013

New WHY? course from the Catholic Truth Society

New course from CTS
What would we say if we had three hours at most to explain the Catholic faith to someone who is unconvinced about the existence of God, knows almost nothing about Jesus Christ and has had never studied anything about the Church? To address this need, the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) has just published the WHY? course, written by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent of Arundel and Brighton diocese, and with three short films produced by St Anthony Communications covering the questions, “Why God? Why Christ? Why the Church?” 

To present the truth with a certain spontaneity and freshness, these topics have been addressed on the course DVD by means of edited interviews of men and women of faith and knowledge, including many young people. The accompanying booklet contains transcripts, background information, and answers to sixty of the most difficult questions that people often ask, such as, “Why should I care if God exists or not? Hasn’t modern science shown that human beings are just clever animals? Why is Jesus Christ special, among the many ‘messiahs’ of humanity? Isn’t organised religion, including the Church, the source of much evil? Can’t I live a good life without going to Church?” By means of beautiful illustrations, the course book and films also convey a sense of the way in which the Catholic faith, dedicated to gathering humanity to heaven, has also contributed so much to the flourishing of life on earth.

The CTS hopes that this course will be a major new contribution to evangelization, apologetics, and catechesis. Others who might benefit include Catholics wanting refresher courses, parish and school discussion groups, those preparing for marriage, First Communion parents, and Confirmation groups. 
You can obtain copies from the Diocesan Bookshop.

For further information, see

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Joy of the Gospel - Pope Francis Speaks to the Church and the World

The first Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis was published on Tuesday 26 November 2013, entitled Evangelii Gaudium - The Joy of the Gospel.

“THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.” – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium).

The document is well worth reading and is a further glimpse of how the Pope wants the Church to be i.e. centred on Christ.

You can read the full text on the Vatican Website.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Bishop Kieran receiving the cheque from Patrick Burgess, chairman of The Friends of Arundel Cathedral
Recently Bishop Kieran gathered with many people from the diocese to celebrate the diocesan patronal feast of St Philip Howard with Mass in Arundel Cathedral. Afterwards they, together with the Knights of St Colomba and The Friends of Arundel Cathedral continued the celebration with afternoon tea in the Cathedral Tea. 

Following this, The Friends had their annual general meeting.  At this, the chairman, Mr Patrick Burgess (currently High Sheriff of West Sussex) presented Bishop Kieran with a cheque for £45,000 towards the ongoing maintenance of the Cathedral and its associated properties. 

This coming year they aim to rebuild the Blessed Sacrament Chapel roof to stop the constant ingress of water, to rebuild some of the external walls at the rear of the cathedral and give better access to its gardens.  They also aim to provided better and safer access to the cemetery and make a start on the five year plan to re-lead the south facing stained glass windows.

Story and picture Canon Tim Madeley

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Catholic Charity Event in Hove

View of Catholaity Fair in full flow
Brighton and Hove’s premier Catholic charity event, the 55th annual Catholaity Fair, took place on Saturday November 9 in Hove Town Hall.

Despite single-digit temperatures and heavy rain showers, hundreds of keen shoppers queued outside the Hall before the 10.30am opening.  Inside, more than 50 stalls were occupied by a variety of groups; these included ten church parishes, national charities like the SVP and Mary’s Meals, the A&B Deaf Service, the Scouts - including a Polish Scout Group, and local charities like St. Teresa’s Kenya Project and the St. Anne’s Day Centre. Outside, a musical duo entertained the waiting crowd.

Once Brighton & Hove’s Mayor, Councillor Denise Cobb, declared the Fair open everything was for sale. There were books, DVDs, games, bric a brac, tombola stalls, Christmas cards, bottles, cakes, clothing, shoes, wooden gifts, groceries, lucky dips and Polish doughnuts. To supplement the usual sweets and chocolates, this year Anna Hayward and her daughters from Sacred Heart Parish organised a candy floss machine (a temptation that proved irresistible to many, including her parish priest - who gallantly offered several parishioners a taste of his purchase).

The Fair is really about something much more important than raising money and awareness. It is about recognising, sharing and celebrating the selfless spirit that leads people to undertake charity work. The many young helpers at Catholaity felt its magic, and I am sure they will grow into caring people who give their time and talent to help others .          

Photos and story from Harry Robertson

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A&B Girl Wins National Prayer Writing Competition

Winner Erin with Bishop Kieran in Arundel Cathedral
Each year the Knights of St Columba hold a Prayer writing competition. This is a national competition with prayers being presented by pupils from across the country and is judged at the knight’s Supreme Council Meeting which took place in Glasgow at the end of October.

This year the theme of the prayer was “A prayer to the Holy Spirit for Guidance in Life”

For the first time this year 83 students from St Philip Howard Catholic High School, at the instigation of the Bognor Regis Council of Knights composed prayers to be entered for this competition. Two were selected from those and were then entered with a further 80 entries from across the country.

The outright winner was from St Philip Howard Catholic High School. Many congratulations go to Erin Glenys Wade.  She was presented with her certificate and prize money at Arundel Cathedral by Bishop Kieron after the Mass for deceased Knights which took place on Sunday 10 November. Erin was then invited by the Bishop to read her prayer to the congregation.

Read her prayer here:
A Prayer to the Holy Spirit for Guidance in Life
Dear the Lord above and the Son of God.
I pray to you for all the good and the bad;
Achievements, failures and even small worries.
I pray to you for everything and anything for I know you listen.
As I grow older, you stay.
As I follow my dreams, you support.
Even when I lose faith, you never stop loving me.
As I come forth to confirm,
I pray for your faith and support.
I pray that you will lead me onto the right path
I pray that with your help I will achieve happiness and be able to live my life.
After everything; obstacle, celebration, breakdown and cheer,
 I promise to keep my faith to you,
I promise to keep my love pure
I promise to never hold grudges.
And I promise to help others in times of need
For I know
That is what you would do.

Article and photo by Charles Yarham

Friday, 22 November 2013

Philippines in Need - Diocesan Schools and Parishes Respond

Sr Mary Andrews having her nails painted at the Towers Fundraising event.
Many schools and parishes in Arundel & Brighton Diocese have responded generously to the appeal by CAFOD for funds for the disaster in the Philippines. Below is the story of one schools efforts to raise money:
"Sisters, staff and pupils at the Towers Convent School galvanised in to action to raise money for The Philippines. An emergency mufti day was swiftly organised in response to the desperate needs of the people in The Philippines since last week’s typhoon.

The theme was the colours of the Philippine national flag, which inspired the whole community to raid their wardrobes in search of red, blue and yellow garments. Pupils instantly sprang in to action arranging games, activities, face painting, nail polishing etc - activities which were all held in the gym over lunchtime. Staff and Sisters entered in to the spirit, having their nails brightly polished or being adorned with temporary tattoos or hair braids. Quite a sight to behold!

During morning break a cake sale magically appeared and by lunchtime we had raised over £1000 from cakes and pupils’ generous donations. By the end of the day a grand total of £2000 had been made and was ready to wing its way to relieve some of the suffering currently being experienced by the poor people of The Philippines."

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Homily for the Mass for the Victims of the Typhoon Haiyan

Prayers for the Philippines
Archbishop Vincent Nichols recently gave the following homily at Westminster Cathedral about the recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Many Filipinos living in this country were present:
"My brothers and sisters, this evening we gather to pray for all who have lost their lives or been caught up in the horrific devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as Filipinos call it. It blasted central regions of the country last week killing thousands and leaving millions in a desperate state. There are, I’m sure, many family and friends of Yolanda’s victims here this evening. I offer you my heartfelt condolences and prayers. We are with you in our hearts.

I long to be able to reach out to all those who are suffering. That is not easy. The Philippines is far away. You cannot go to express your love and support. I cannot go. But I have asked Bishop John Arnold to go to the Philippines as soon as possible, to go on my behalf, to go on your behalf, to carry our love and our prayers to your country in this time of need. Bishop John will go next week. We thank you, Bishop John. May God strengthen you for this journey and fill your heart with our love and prayers.

At this moment we readily feel powerless, unable to help. And yet help is being given by people and governments from all around the world. The Government of this country and our own Catholic community here, together with many, many others, are sending help. And so we should for you, the Filipino community here, enrich our country greatly by your faith, your prayers and your work. We salute you all you do here and we stand by you in this hour of need. I thank in a special way our own Catholic aid agency CAFOD for its impressive response. We pray that this help may speedily reach those most in need. Where there is help there is hope for the future.

Hope for the future was beautifully symbolised by the lovely pictures of baby Bea Joy. As you probably know, Bea Joy’s 21 year old mother, Emily Sagalis, still heavily pregnant, was swept away by a huge wave and feared lost. But her husband, Jobert, found her floating among the debris. Soon after, Emily gave birth to her daughter amidst the rubble: new life emerging from the abyss of destruction.

Such hope for new life is so evidently carried in the hearts of very many of those suffering the effects of the typhoon. In fact, more than anything we can give them, they offer us an inspiring witness to the power of hope, a hope deeply rooted in faith.

I find it especially remarkable that their trust in God has not been crushed by the terrifying winds which flattened everything else, including so many churches. For others, this kind of natural disaster, far from manifesting the “author of beauty” [as we heard in the first Reading], gives reason to reject belief in God. But, instead, what have we witnessed? As Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, said: we see “Faith in the midst of ruins.”

It was humbling and encouraging to see people last Sunday, despite everything they’d suffered, gathering for Mass close to the remains of their beloved church buildings which had crumbled before the elemental forces. At Loboc, for example, the Parish Priest, Fr Andres Ayco decided to hold three Masses, whereas others in the area held just two. Why? Because he had not been able to announce that the 8:30 am Mass was cancelled! That’s real pastoral care. Fr Andre knew that those who turned up for Mass would be severely disappointed if there was none. They needed it, desired it. For as Fr Andre said: “Behind their suffering is their faith in the Lord.”

In this same parish, the Children’s Choir sang hymns to uplift the community’s spirits. One of the Choir members, a fifteen year old girl called Carmel Mae, explained that though still frightened herself by the aftershocks she didn’t want fear to prevent her from giving “hope and inspiration to the people…so that they will no longer be afraid.” Just one instance of the love shared amongst those who have lost so much.

Certainly, this admirable hope, faith, and love flourishing in the face of the grievous pain of loss, this cleaving to God despite the horror experienced, encourages us to strive for the same remarkable and unreserved commitment to God’s providence; to the God who from all bad things has the power to bring out good, even from the suffering wrought by Typhoon Yolanda. Nowhere do we see this power of God more clearly than in the Crucifix. In every darkness, we are gently invited to look to the Crucifix, and from its silence discern God’s response.

When Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in our cathedral, he directed our gaze to “the great crucifix dominating the nave, which portrays Christ’s body, crushed by suffering”. He spoke eloquently of Christ uniting our sufferings to the infinite merits of his sacrifice. He assured us that we are caught up in Christ’s eternal oblation, the source of life itself. In the Crucifix we see the very presence of God in human suffering and death: the Word now silent promising healing and resurrection. We cannot exclude God from this awful situation because God has chosen to be in the thick of it, transforming it from within! Look at Christ crucified and see the people of the Philippines embraced in that ultimate Love which is the source of their sure and certain hope. From the silence of the Cross, hear the reason for their faith.

Mary stood by the foot of that Cross. Devotion to Mary brings great comfort to people afflicted by the typhoon. Processions with statues of Our Lady tangibly express their firm conviction that the Virgin is with them, giving birth to her Son amidst the rubble, giving birth to Hope, to new Life, even where death appeared to triumph. In the parish of Barangay Napu, dedicated to Birhen sa Kasilag, Our Lady of Light, the statue of our Blessed Mother survived destruction. In the Masses celebrated in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda, and at every Mass, the Light who is Mary’s Son, God-with-us, shines brilliantly, casting out the darkness of despair from people’s lives.

At this Mass, and at every Mass, we are most intimately bound in love to all the victims of the typhoon, and they to us. We believe that in offering Mass for them, the most powerful assistance is given. We pray that those who lost their lives may be gathered into the outstretched hands of the dying Christ, who breathed into our world the very breath of Life, the Holy Spirit. By the power the Holy Spirit, may all who died in Christ be lifted up to the Father, raised to life everlasting. We pray for those who mourn that they may know the consolation of Christ who wept at the death of his friend Lazarus, and who weeps with them. We thank God for our Filipino brothers’ and sisters’ inspiring example of hope, faith and love amidst such devastation. We express our gratitude for their great witness to the life-giving power of the Mass.

Pope Francis, at the Angelus last Sunday, assured the population of the Philippines of his closeness to them. The Holy Father then invited everyone gathered in St Peter’s Square to pray for a moment in silence and afterwards to join him in praying the Hail Mary for the victims of the typhoon. Looking to the Crucifix, looking to Mary standing by her suffering Son, standing by those suffering in the Philippines, let us now do the same.

Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

You can donate online with CAFOD - the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development part of the Caritas Internationalis.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Bishop Kieran Issues Pastoral Letter for End of Year of Faith

The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton, Kieran Conry has issued a pastoral letter to mark the end of the Year of Faith which was read in all churches in the diocese at the weekend.

Bishop Kieran reflected on the nature of faith and the need for it to be first and foremost "a personal response to God’s love and an acceptance of that offer of God’s friendship."

The heart of faith for the Bishop is that "despite me and my mistakes, God loves me intensely and without reservation or condition. Faith is believing what the basic gospel message is: it’s not, “Do this,” but see what God has done. God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for us and free us from our sins."

To read his letter in full or listen to the audio version go to the Diocesan website.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Philippines Disaster Foremost in Mind of Church at the Moment

We continue to pray and raise funds for the disaster in the Philippines. In this Arundel & Brighton Diocese we are able to support the work of our own Caritas Internationalis member CAFOD.

But as you can see below and in the video this is a worldwide Church effort from the Vatican to the Philippines itself says: The death toll is estimated at 10,000, but expected to grow. There are millions affected, and nearly600,000 people displaced, after Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippineswith 150mph winds and 10-foot tidal waves.

Patrick Nicholson, Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis:
“People who've flown over the area say they haven't seen similar to this since the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or the Haiti earthquake, so we're talking about a massive catastrophe.”

Such comparisons are proof of the destruction, and the need for immediate assistance. Catholic groups stepped up right away.

Pope Francis, through the Vatican's Cor Unum Council, agreed to send $150,000 to the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The money will be distributed among the dioceses hardest hit by the storm.

Meanwhile the Vatican's official aid agency, Caritas Internationalis, created a special fund where people can donate to support aid efforts. They also have aid workers on the ground, assessing the damage and helping out victims.

Patrick Nicholson, Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis:
“In a disaster of this magnitude, disease can spread very quickly. We're seeing lots of dead bodies on the street, so that's a real concern. So getting water that is clean, and hygiene set up is really key.”

Caritas Internationalis is coordinating with its local affiliate in the Philippines, as well as U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, and the country's government.

The network of Catholic dioceses and churches in the devout Pacific nation has allowed Caritas to reach victims almost immediately. But the challenge in the coming days is helping out people living in more remote areas.

Patrick Nicholson, Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis:
“Our immediate reports are, again, of whole communities being washed away, and the levels of destruction being very high. So those are our real concerns at the moment, to reach those places, which haven't yet been reached, and to provide the assistance the survivors there really need.”

Besides hygiene, the other priorities for Caritas are ensuring people affected by Typhoon Haiyan have access to food and water. They also see an immediate need for housing and counseling.

And while long-term reconstruction efforts are also on their minds, Caritas Internationalis said the focus, at the moment, is on saving lives.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Catholic Church to Play Key Role in Helping with Philippines Disaster

Reuters/Erik De Castro - Courtesy of alertnet
The Catholic church will play a vital role in responding to the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan says CAFOD, as it launches an urgent appeal for funds to support the work of its church partners in the Philippines.

Donate to CAFOD's Philippines Typhoon Haiyan appeal >>>

CAFOD, the overseas aid agency of the Church in England and Wales alerted people to the so-called “super-typhoon” which has been described as the most powerful storm ever to make landfall, striking the central Philippines on Friday 8 November with sustained winds of 235 kph.

With power lines and phone lines down, the full impact of the typhoon is not yet known, but it is clear that it is had a catastrophic impact on the lives of millions of people. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in Tacloban city alone. Hundreds have been killed elsewhere, and there has been widespread destruction of homes, schools and roads.

Crucial role of the church
In a country where 80 per cent of people are Catholic, CAFOD is working with Caritas Philippines and its American sister charity, Catholic Relief Services, to provide the most urgently needed aid: food, emergency shelter and essential household goods –– like pots, pans, blankets and cooking equipment – for people who have lost everything. With water supplies disrupted in many areas, the agency is also planning to provide clean water and sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

In the longer term, CAFOD will help people to rebuild their homes and to make a living again. Because of the scale of the flooding and because roads have been blocked, some parts of the country remain difficult to reach – but the agency’s Church partners are rapidly reaching out to the worst hit and most remote areas affected.

No time to waste
CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: “However distressing the images of devastation and stories of suffering caused by Typhoon Haiyan, we cannot waste time on despair or shock – not when there are still lives to be saved, and communities in such desperate need of help.

“We are launching our emergency appeal in response to the hundreds of schools, parishes and individuals up and down the country who have contacted us to ask: ‘What can we do?’, showing the generosity and compassion that is always the hallmark of the Catholic community in times of crisis.

“The best way we can all help is by supporting the charities and church groups who are already operating in the worst hit areas, responding to their immediate needs for food, water and shelter, beginning the hard work of rebuilding the communities that have lost everything, and keeping them constantly in our prayers. Together, we can bring new hope to those who today face utter desolation.”

Shocking scenes
Local aid workers have described devastating scenes in the aftermath of the typhoon, particularly on the island of Leyte.

Rey Barnido, an aid worker from CAFOD’s partner Caritas Philippines, said: "Patients are overflowing from the regional hospital in Tacloban. There are dead people everywhere. There is no water or power. Volunteers are trying to manage the disaster. It looks as if nuclear bombs were dropped."

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of CAFOD’s partner Caritas Philippines, said: “It’s the first time the Philippines has experienced a disaster of this magnitude. Despite the precautions, this was beyond all expectations. We really need all the help we can get.”

CAFOD has immediately deployed an emergency support team who will be working alongside Caritas Philippines and Catholic Relief Services.

The typhoon hit some of the same areas that were affected by an earthquake in October, adding to damage to houses and hampering aid efforts. Thousands of people on Bohol island, where CAFOD was responding to the earthquake, are now living in tents, makeshift shelters and evacuation centres. CAFOD is continuing to supply food and shelter to those who most need it.

Over the next few days, the typhoon is likely to cause more devastation in the Mekong River basin as it hits the coast of Vietnam. It may also add to the flooding in Cambodia, where more than 140,000 are already homeless.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Diocesan Advent 2013 Reflection Materials Now Available

Our Lady of Advent, Gate of Heaven © William H. McNichols
During this year's programme of reflections for Advent (Year A), each week will focus on only one of the readings for that particular Sunday. This will be followed by an excerpt from the document The Gift of Scripture.

This opportunity to reflect on The Gift of Scripture connects the Advent programme with the Diocesan Jubilee programme (see above), where we are invited to enter more deeply into our understanding of God's Word. You can either order direct from the Diocesan Bookshop or download copies from here.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Eastbourne Parish Fundraising to Keep Warm this Winter

Fr David (left) and Fr Rags (right next to Dr Nick) with Dr Nick (centre) at the end of the Marathon 
Face with expensive repairs both to the church and presbytery boiler, the church of Our Lady of Ransom took up fundraising with a vengeance inspired by Dr Nick Woodall. He started the ball rolling by running the Beachy Head Marathon. 

It was Nick’s initiative which inspired so many other parishioners to launch their own fund-raising evenings including a successful Filipino Evening, and the parish priests Fr Rags Hay-Will and Fr David  King are so grateful to everyone for becoming involved in this way. 

It has also been a great opportunity to bring many of the church community united together socially, in a cause which affects all of them.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Catholic Deacon Helps to Bring Voice of Syrian Christians to UK

Patriarch Gregorios with Deacon Richard Downer and Fr Dominic Robinson SJ
Deacon Richard Downer who is a Melkite Greek-Catholic Deacon living in A&B Diocese was recently instrumental in arranging for the visit in October of Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III to the UK. He is President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in Syria.

He came at the special invitation of Aid to the Church in Need to speak about the situation of Christians in the Middle East and especially Syria which is his home, living as he does in Damascus on Straight Street which St Paul walked down nearly 2,000 years ago. The Patriarch made a presentation in Westminster Cathedral Hall which you can see on the ACN website as well as meeting government ministers and others.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A&B Group in Rome with Pope for Pilgrimage of the Families

“Holy Family of Nazareth reawaken in our society the awareness of the sacred and inviolable character of the family, an inestimable and irreplaceable good….”

Pope Francis and Cardinal Paglia with children of the pilgrimage
These were Pope Francis’ concluding words that encapsulated the theme of the inaugural pilgrimage of families to the tomb of St Peter. Tens of thousands of people, from across the world, gathered during the weekend of October 26th and 27th in response to the Pope’s call to come together on pilgrimage. Amongst them were a group from England and Wales representing the Catholic Grandparents’ Association including several from Arundel & Brighton Diocese.

Saturday’s event was extraordinary in its informality. Helium balloons waving in the air greeted the pope on his arrival and gymnasts and acrobats entertained us.

A variety of families were introduced to the Pope; Young engaged couples came forward to explain how they longed for their marriage and the start of their families. A couple who had been married for 50 years came forward with their children and grandchildren, they said the secret to a good marriage was to say yes to each other and to put their marriage first. A young Syrian refugee spoke to share his belief that politicians won't solve the problems of war; he said we need to pray for peace and he thanked all the families of the world for praying for peace in Syria.

The atmosphere was one of a happy family party as children moved freely around the top of the steps hugging the Holy Father and holding his hand.

Everyone joined together to make a profession of faith and the balloons were released into the sky; a very visual statement of the joy and faith of the people gathered.

In his address Pope Francis said “The life of a family is filled with beautiful moments: rest, meals together, walks in the park or the countryside, visits to grandparents or to a sick person… But if love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus always gives us that love: he is its endless source and he gives himself to us in the Eucharist. There he gives us his word and the bread of life, so that our joy may be complete.”

The Pope reflected on the icon of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, He highlighted that it depicts three generations that come together to fulfil a single mission: the elderly persons represent faith as memory, they have the wisdom and he reminded us of his affection for his own grandmother. Mary and Joseph are the family, their lives enriched by the person of Jesus.

He stated firmly that there are three words every relationship needed; Please, Thank you and Sorry. He stressed that these needed to be said everyday and accepted with a good heart. He acknowledged that life is not easy and we all have problems in our relationships but insisted that if we used these phrases well we would be at peace with each other and could continue to grow in love.
He concluded that the Lord is the fountain of all love and if you are short of love, His love and love for another, then your lives are poorer.

The crowds gathered again for Mass on Sunday and the Pope repeated his theme of the importance of families. He said “Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well... True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world; it is the leaven of society.” Full texts of the pope’s speeches can be found at

His recognition of the importance of the family has resulted in him calling an extraordinary synod in October 2014. Everyone is invited to participate in putting forward their views by going to

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Farewell and Welcome at The Good Shepherd Parish, St Leonards-on-Sea

Fr Ian (left) with Canon Tom (right) cutting the cake
The parish of The Good Shepherd recently wished a fond farewell to Father Ian Byrnes and a warm welcome to Canon Tom Treherne. Fr Ian had been with us for seven years, latterly guiding us through the choppy waters of the amalgamation of St Thomas of Canterbury and Holy Redeemer communities. Canon Tom was welcomed as our new spiritual leader to enable our growth as the parish of The Good Shepherd. Fr Ian is off on a sabbatical year, full of travel to both pastures old and new.

The mass was celebrated in St Thomas of Canterbury Church and the main celebrant was Bishop Kieran Conry. Many of the altar servers from both churches played their parts and Bishop Kieran commented that he had never seen so many servers! The joint choirs sang joyfully including the African Alleluia ‘Wamuka Muponesi’. As requested by Fr Ian, many wore their national dress which was beautifully colourful.

Bishop Kieran joked that he was not popular with Fr Tom’s parish for taking him away and his only recourse was to give them the one of the youngest parish priests in the Diocese. Canon Tom officially accepted his appointment and the documents were signed, followed by applause of welcome.

After mass, which ended with more spontaneous applause, everyone made their way to Concordia Hall where Barbara Okoliko and the Community Development Team had organised a buffet, including two large decorated cakes made by Pat Lee. Presentations were made to Fr Ian with speeches of gratitude and farewell, including some humorous memories from Ian Moon. After much eating and chatting, Fr Ian and Canon Tom jointly cut the cakes (pictured) - which were enjoyed by all.

The whole community wishes Father Ian well during his current Sabbatical year; he shall be missed. We also welcome CanonTom as our new spiritual leader, and look forward to working alongside him as we continue to grow in God’s strength and love.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Feast of All Saints

Albrecht Durer - The Saints in Heaven in presence of the Trinity
Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints.

We give thanks for all those many saints unknown to us who dwell with the Father in Heaven and  who are joined with us here on earth in the great communion of saints and ask them to pray for us here on earth.

You can find details of Masses for the Feast Day in the Diocese on the website.