Thursday, 30 January 2014

A Day On The Farm

Members of the Farm Community sorting vegetables
St Mary of the Angels Worthing parishioners recently enjoyed a day out at a farm. Not that unusual a visit, but this is a farm with a big difference. The farm in question is the Catholic Worker Farm in Hertfordshire. What makes it different is that the farm is home to destitute women and children, often refugees entitled neither to benefits nor work permits. Founded by Maria and Scott Albrecht, members of the Catholic Worker Movement (CWM), the farm has received over 170 women since 2006, offering accommodation and advocacy. As Joanna Moorhead wrote in her “Guardian” article of January 2013 “the ethos of the arm is that everyone is part of the family”. The community also take an active part in the peace vigil outside Northwood Military Headquarters. Oh yes, and there is some agriculture too – a variety of fruit and vegetables grown as part of a green revolution for the community’s table.

So, what is the CWM and how did it come about? Founded in the USA in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, by Dorothy Day, its’ aim was to “explode the dynamite of Catholic Social Teaching” and thus bring about a “revolution of the heart”. Dorothy Day sought to change the world one heart at a time and make it a place where it is easier to do good. The work began with the publication of the ”Catholic Worker” newspaper in May 1933, followed by the establishment of houses of hospitality for the poor and homeless. The movement spread across the USA and then became international. There are now 213 communities worldwide committed to non-violence, voluntary poverty, prayer and hospitality for the homeless. This can be summed up by the concept of Christian anarchism elucidated so clearly by Tom Cornell in the May 2013 edition of the Pax Christi newsletter “Justpeace”.

There are four communities in the UK. The London Catholic Worker (LCW) community developed from Jubilee Ploughshares in 2000. Its’ works of hospitality seek the face of Christ in challenging situations by the application of the Gospels through the seven corporal works of mercy. The work was given concrete expression by the opening of houses of hospitality and feeding the destitute and marginalised in the capital. One such beacon of hospitality is Guiseppe Conlon House in north London. Opened in November 2010, the house, as the LCW website states, “acts as a centre for the ‘works of mercy’, especially for our work with destitute refugees”.

Banner Showing Corporal Works of Mercy

Our Lord reminded the faithful that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40) and promised rest for the weary and burdened (Mt 11:28). The CWM took these words and applied them literally in a harsh modern world. The work begun by Dorothy Day continues and grows and finds practical expression in many ways – including a day at the farm.

If you wish to find out more information about the CWM and, perhaps, show your support, you may do so by logging on to The farm also has a website which may be found at

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Medals all around at Redhill and Reigate

Bishop Kieran and Pat Conroy and his wife
Before Christmas Bishop Keiran presided at the main Mass at St. Joseph’s, Redhill and presented both a Papal Bene Merenti and a Diocesan St Philip Howard Medal. The Bene Merenti was given to Pat Conroy in recognition of his many years of service up to his recent retirement. He joined the finance committee in 1972, soon becoming chairman, a post he held until May this year. During this period two major projects were achieved; the building of the ‘new’ church in Ladbroke Road to replace the original one on the Brighton Road and the recently opened Parish Centre. He was also a Founding Governor of St. Bede’s School which was created through the amalgamation of St. Joseph’s Secondary School, and Bishop Simpson Church of England School. He is also an active member of the Catenians.

The St. Philip Howard Medal was awarded to Joe Welsby. He has been a stalwart of our Parish for many years, reliable and conscientiously being a sacristan and key holder of St Joseph’s church for 20 years. In 2010 he stepped down as his physical infirmity and impaired vision developed but he is still the leader of the Advent Group, a group providing opportunities for senior citizens to meet and socialise.

It was a pleasure to welcome back for the occasion Fr. Laurence Quin Morris, former Parish Priest, now living in Canada.
Joe Welsby with his wife Fr Laurence and Fr Chris Spain current parish priest

Earlier in the month at Holy Family Church Reigate there was a surprise presentation to Mrs. Marion Harris in recognition of 18 years service as local secretary of Missio. The certificate signed by Archbishop Vincent Nicholls and Canon James Cronin, National Director of Missio and the Superior General of the Mill Hill Fathers, was presented by Mrs. Eileen Tomkins. Marion was recruited by her predecessor; she thought she was taking on the role of Promoter and only discovered it was a bigger job when files were handed over!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

New Bishop Ordained for the Diocese of Plymouth

Bishop Mark O'Toole
Pope Francis recently appointed as the new Bishop of Plymouth, Monsignor Mark O’Toole, until now Rector of Allen Hall Seminary in London. His episcopal ordination took place at 2pm on Tuesday 28 January 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface in Plymouth. He will succeed Bishop Christopher Budd, who has been bishop of Plymouth since 1986. Bishop Kieran Conry from this Diocese of Arundel & Brighton was present at his ordination in Plymouth Cathedral.

Mgr O’Toole said:
“I am deeply humbled that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed me the new Bishop of Plymouth. Recognising that I am a sinner who experiences the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus, I embrace with my whole self this deeper call to service in His Church. I know that the example and witness of Pope Francis will continue to inspire and shape my ministry as Shepherd to all in the Diocese, especially to serve the poor, the weak, and those who feel alienated from God, as I work alongside fellow-Christians.

“This part of the country is known for its outstanding natural beauty, and this is mirrored in the gracious welcome shown to the newcomer by its people. I look forward very much to putting down firm roots in the Diocese and making my home in Plymouth. I know I can count on the prayer, co-operation and support of the people, the religious and especially the priests of the Diocese who are renowned for their quiet heroism, fidelity and dedication. You will all show me what it means to be your Bishop. I am grateful, too, that Bishop Christopher will be nearby so that I can draw on his wisdom and experience.

“My own priestly heart has been formed in the Diocese of Westminster and I have been richly blessed by the faith and witness of many – bishops, priests, seminarians, religious, and lay men and women. I look especially to the outstanding leadership of my three Archbishops - Cardinal Basil Hume OSB, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Each of them has taught me so much. I am deeply grateful for the friendship and love of so many in the Diocese and I ask their continued prayer. I will miss especially everyone at Allen Hall. I have seen how essential the vocation of the priest is for our Church and our society. I hope I can continue to make its promotion a priority in this new mission.

“I entrust the whole Diocese of Plymouth, and myself, into the loving care of Mary, our Mother, as we set out on this journey together, seeking also the intercession of St Boniface and our diocesan saints, especially St Cuthbert Mayne.”

Bishop Budd said:
“I am delighted to welcome Mgr Mark O’Toole as my successor as Catholic Bishop of Plymouth and I am grateful to Pope Francis for sending him to us. He is coming to a lovely community of Priests, deacons and Religious and people of God who make up the Diocese. I know he will receive a warm and loving welcome. May the Lord bless his Ministry among us.”

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said:
“‘It is in giving that we receive.’ These words come to mind as we, in the Diocese of Westminster, welcome the news that Mgr Mark O’Toole is to be the next Bishop of Plymouth in succession to Bishop Christopher Budd.

“Mgr Mark has fulfilled many roles in our Diocese, best known as Rector of our Seminary, Allen Hall, and as Secretary to Cardinal Cormac for six years. He is a dedicated, gifted and experienced priest who will become an excellent Bishop of Plymouth and a valued member of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“We shall miss him but always hold him in our prayers especially as he prepares to take up this new mission, given by the Lord. He will go to Plymouth fully supported by the love and esteem of everyone in this Diocese.”

Monday, 27 January 2014

Catholic Charity Wins Major Award

The SVP are delighted to announce that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has recognised them with a Big Society Award. He said:
“The St Vincent de Paul Society turns concern into action. The Society’s incredible number of volunteers build on a 200 year history of lending a practical hand to support those in need.
“I’m delighted to recognise all 10,000 St Vincent de Paul volunteers, and the staff who support them to do their vital work, with this Big Society Award.”

You can read the full story on their website.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

CAFOD Arundel & Brighton Invite People to Understanding CAFOD Day

You are warmly invited to find out a little more about us, to be inspired by Catholic Social Teaching and to ask any questions you may have about CAFOD.

Do you have questions about CAFOD you’d like to know the answers to? Have you ever wondered what CAFOD stands for, where we work or how we try to change lives around the world? Would you like to find out exactly how you can get involved with CAFOD and help make a difference? If so, then come along to Understanding CAFOD Day.

The one day workshop will take place between around 10:00am and 4pm, on Saturday the 1st of February at Amigo Hall (next to St George’s Cathedral), 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 6HU. For more information and to book a place, contact CAFOD A&B by phone on 01483 898 866 or by email at

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Eucharistic Adoration in the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton

The Arundel and Brighton Diocesan Adoration Committee are members of the worldwide Apostolate of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration . The mission is to assist parishes to establish and maintain viable weekly Eucharistic Adoration and witness to the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. To achieve this it is good to keep the words of William Ward, a Baptist missionary, in mind as we endeavour to plan purposefully, prepare prayerfully, proceed positively and pursue persistently. This we have been doing since our initial formation in October 2012, and under the spiritual guidance of Canon Tom Treherne and the discerning eye of our current chairman Anthony Calway we are visiting the next cluster of parishes in our Diocese.

The work has not been without its setbacks, but God helps us meet the challenges with the power of the Holy Spirit and as the original presenters from Ireland reminded us during our training, “It is God's work not ours and He will achieve His purpose.”

Although this extended period of Adoration is lay-led, it requires the support of, and agreement from the parish priest. Following a request for us to visit the parish, a presentation talk is given at all the weekend Masses. Meetings take place before and after the presentation, in which the local parish team are helped to collate the information provided by those parishioners who have committed to an hour of weekly adoration. A weekly rota is drawn up and a Mass is planned to signify the start of this new parish initiative. The parish team needs to keep a vigilant eye on the rota to ensure that there are sufficient people keeping watch with the Lord at any given hour. The Diocesan team commits to supporting the Parish team to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

So what are the benefits of weekly Eucharistic Adoration? On a personal level that is perhaps for each of us to discover. The mere fact that we take time out at a specific time each week to spend an hour being with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is in itself a prayer of great faith and the Lord does not fail to give us what we need.

Ann, a working mother with three children says; “I couldn't do without this time with Jesus. The peace and tranquillity help me connect, I can pray”.

For Kate: “My Lord and God is in the room with me present in a small piece of bread and I can at last pray without any distractions”.

Jesus, full of grace and truth, makes us new; He forms our character, conquers our vices, increases our virtues, consoles us when we are troubled, strengthens us when we are weak, invites us to imitate Him and fills us with His love to bring to everyone we meet. “Do you want the Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often” (St. John Bosco)

In our local communities our churches can be open when a nucleus of faithful parishioners commit to an hour of Adoration and I have personally known passers by come in for prayerful support in a time of crisis. So let us pray for the conversion of our country for surely then we would have men and women drawn to serving Christ through the ordained ministries of the priesthood, religious life and diaconate.

If after reading this article you would like a presentation in your parish please speak to your parish priest and then contact our secretary, Rosemary Westcott either by email: or mobile: 07905 565395.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Slow Down and Engage - Pope on Communications

The Vatican released Pope Francis' first message for World Communications Day. In line with the main themes of his pontificate, the focus is on using modern methods of communication to build "authentic encounters.”

With the Internet and social networks dominating the way people reach out to others, the message calls on people to go beyond just connecting with each other.

Msgr. Claudio Maria Celli of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications:
"There is an avalanche of communications: messages, sounds, everything. And it's sometimes hard for humankind to decide which of these messages can best serve them in their search for the truth.”

The message conveys two central concepts. The first is proximity, or being neighborly, with one another. In his message, Pope Francis uses the parable of theGood Samaritan to explain how it applies to the way we communicate today.

He said that, just like the Good Samaritan took responsibility for the wounded person, it is not enough for people to connected, but that "connections need to grow into true encounters.”

Msgr. Claudio Celli of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications:
"The Pope says our sole presence is not just to walk along the digital highways in today's world. But to take on this responsibility of becoming close to each other, of sharing. At this point, the Pope tells us communication turns into neighbourliness.”

The second concept revolves around the missionary role of the Church. In his message, the Pope calls on people to be a Christian witness in the way they live their lives.

That doesn't mean bombarding people with religious messages, the Pope added. But to engage in dialogue with others.

Msgr. Claudio Celli of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
"Many online users on social networks are disciples of the Lord, and the Pope invites all these people to be witnesses to the authenticity of their lives.”

Overall, the take away message the Pope conveys is to use communication tools not just to connect with people, but to actually establish meaningful relationships that go beyond the computer or phone screens.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Catholic Knights Caring for those in Need Overseas

Children from one of the Projects School

The Knights of St Columba (a Catholic men's organisation) in the Worthing area recently raised through one of their Race Nights in Worthing several hundred pounds of which £500 was sent to the Kanji Project.

The Kanji Project is a small UK charity run entirely by volunteers. It raises funds to give poor children in India the chance to have a good education and provides a safe place to live for destitute children. The charity also works in the community, helping very poor people to improve their living conditions. On average, 95% of the charity's income is used to support this vital work.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Visiting and Supporting the Sick

Afternoon Tea at Sussex Heritage Centre
The Sussex Heritage Centre, Arundel, hosted a New Year's Tea for 30 of St Richard's, Chichester parishioners on the afternoon of January 9th. Sandwiches, home made scones and cakes were enjoyed by all in the spacious, bright and airy dining room.

St Richards Church have a Visiting and Support Group with a team of people who regularly visit the sick and elderly in their parish and help each other to grow in the love of God. They hold a regular monthly Event where a light lunch is provided followed by a varied programme of interesting and entertaining talks. Coffee mornings, and visits to local attractions and tea outings are arranged, like the one on this occasion, at the Heritage Centre.

Fr Paul Turner and Fr Andrew Moss actively support the group, arranging healing masses with the group for the sick and visiting parishioners in the many local Nursing and Care Homes and offering Holy Communion.

Maria and Dominic Whitehouse, recently set up the Centre to offer people the opportunity to enjoy the spiritual, cultural and wonderful natural history of the area. From heritage holidays, retreats, B&B, to varied function facilities, this is a marvellous place to stay, standing in partly wooded gardens with the valley rising up beyond the Centre.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Bexhill Honours 'Champion' Parishioner

Peter Champion cuts his cake
Twenty-seven years ago one of the Rosminian priests at St Mary Magdelene's Parish, Bexhill asked Peter Champion if he could be Master of Ceremonies at St Martha's Church "for a week or two". He has just retired from this position!

The Parish recently celebrated Peter's contribution to the Parish as he was on the Governing Body of St Richard's Catholic College for 20 years, most of this time as Chairperson, and he was on Diocesan Appeals Committees for many years which involved a lot of travelling. 

The Mass was celebrated for Peter and the hall was packed afterwards for refreshments and presentation of gifts.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

New Programme for 2014 at St Cuthman's Retreat Centre

St Cuthman's Hall and Gallery with roaring fire

St Cuthmans’ Programme 2014

Individual Retreats
We have the ideal haven for your Individually Guided Retreat, which can be booked at anytime throughout the year.

• Taking time to reflect, pray, meditate and experience God in a beautiful, restful,
positive environment
• Offering you a listening ear with a Spiritual Director
• Spending time alone in silence, getting in touch with deeper facets of life
• Leisure time to read by the fire, rest and be creative
• Healthy living with restful sleep, good food, walks through the forest and
countryside and around the lake

Reflection Days and Retreats
A weekend with St. Cuthman of Steyning
Led by Fr. Charles Jeffries & Mary-Jane Burkett
Friday 7th – Sunday 9th February
A weekend retreat occurring over the feast of St. Cuthman, reflecting upon the life of this little known Sussex Saint; “The Boy with the Cart”, who listened and followed God’s call. We will be reflecting upon his life, the call of the Gospels and where God is calling us in ours. The weekend will include led sessions as well as periods of communal and individual prayer, silence and reflection.
Cost: £185

“The Other Vatican Documents”
Reflection Day led by Bishop Kieran Conry
Saturday 15th February
A chance to the explore, with Bishop Kieran Conry, documents from the Second Vatican Council that are not currently being looked at as part of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton Jubilee preparations. The day will be held in our Garden Room.
Cost: £25

Reflection Day using Creative Calligraphy
Led by Judith Maynard & Sr. Sue Haddock RSM (12 People maximum)
Saturday 1st March
Come and enjoy a day learning how to combine several areas of creativity with calligraphy in order to present inspirational and personal prayers. The day will include demonstrations using collage, basic watercolour and wax resist techniques upon which we will then write out our chosen words in a variety of scripts. Many of the materials (paint, papers, glue paints) will be provided, but if you have any of your own materials you would like to bring along, please feel free to do so. Cost £35

Ash Wednesday led by Father Charles Jeffries
Wednesday 5th March
Cost: £25

"A day of prayerful reflection on the Way of the Cross”
Led by Sr. Anne Dunne
Wednesday 16th April
Using Sr. Anne's clay sculpture models that depict the painful journey of Jesus, we will take the time to slow down and ponder the Journey of Jesus Christ to Calvary. What meaning does the cross hold for us in our own life, and how do we deal with our pain crisis and failure".
There will be times of input, sharing and prayer.
Cost: £25

The Easter Triduum
Thursday 17th April- Sunday 20th April
Led by Fr. Charles Jeffries
Easter is a wonderful time for reflection and renewal. Come away to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week within the beautiful surroundings of St. Cuthman’s. There will be time for silence and reflection as well as sharing & celebration. Cost: £260

St. Cuthman’s Open House:
Monday 21st – Thursday 24th April
A wonderful opportunity for those who have not been to St. Cuthman’s before, or old friends who would like to come back, to come and explore the St Cuthman’s grounds, pray in our
Chapel or be shown round our beautiful historic retreat house. There will also be an opportunity for those who wish to be accompanied in prayer or have spiritual direction by prior booking. Refreshments will also be available. Cost: Donations

And many more days in the months ahead which you can see here

Friday, 17 January 2014

Bishops Call for Leaders of Hope

Bishop Kenny presides at Mass in Gaza
The Catholic Bishops Holy Land Co-ordination Group has just completed its visit in support of the local Church in the Holy Land and the cause of peace

The Christian community of Gaza was the focal point of this year's visit to the Holy Land by Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa in support of the local Christian communities and the pastoral work of the Church at the service of all in the Holy Land.

The visiting Bishops make up the Holy Land Co-ordination, mandated by the Holy See, focusing on prayer, pilgrimage and advocacy for justice and peace with the aim of acting in solidarity with the Christian community there and sharing in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences intense political and socio-economic pressure. This year it met from 12 January to 16 January, 2014.

The Christian community of Gaza is made up of around 2,500 Christians, of whom Catholics number just under 200, out of a total population of over 1.5 million. After celebrating mass with the Holy Family parish in Gaza and meeting the parishioners, the Bishops met with Religious Sisters and Christian agencies, visiting projects for the disabled and deaf and vocational training of young people. They also offered their support to the Christian schools and hospitals at the service of all in Gaza.

Time and again, the Bishops were thanked for their visit to Gaza as the people urged Christians across the world not to forget them, to pray for them and support them however they could.

In their final communique, the Bishops, called for an urgent resolution to the situation, describing Gaza as a man-made disaster:

"Gaza is... a shocking scandal, an injustice that cries out to the human community for a resolution. We call upon political leaders to improve the humanitarian situation of the people in Gaza, assuring access to the basic necessities for a dignified human life, the possibilities for economic development, and freedom of movement”.

Following the two day visit to Gaza, the Bishops met with representatives of Israeli civil society in Tel Aviv before going on to Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem. There they heard from senior Palestinian negotiators on the peace process before meeting with students from Bethlehem University. There they listened to the young people's experiences of day-to-day life in this divided land, following the encouragement of the Mayor of Bethlehem to all Christians to come on pilgrimage and meet Christian families, "the living stones" of the Holy Land.

On Wednesday 15 January, the Bishops visited Schmidt School in Jerusalem, which educates Palestinian girls, and heard about projects focusing on youth empowerment. They also visited the Cremisan Valley where the planned route of an Israeli security wall threatens the land and livelihoods of 58 Christian families based in the Bethlehem area. Families who will lose their land as a direct result of this wall, called for urgent intervention with building scheduled to start imminently. Their testimony brought home the fragility of their continued presence in the Holy Land and the urgency of their pleas for international support.

Following meetings with His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal and the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, mass was celebrated for the Golden Anniversary of Catholic Relief Services.

The Holy Land Co-ordination concluded with a visit to the Armenian Patriarchate, following prayers and mass.

The group included Bishop Declan Lang and Bishop William Kenny from England and Wales.

For the Bishops' full communique:

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Deacon is One Hundred Not Out

Deacon Ted
It was with great joy and thanksgiving that Deacon Ted celebrated his 100th Birthday on Saturday 11 January 2014. The church of SS Peter & John, Camberley was filled with family, friends, parishioners and well-wishers who all came to celebrate Ted’s hundred year mark at a special Mass celebrated by parish priest Monsignor Richard Madders and arranged by Ted’s son, Dave Connelly.

At 100 years, Deacon Ted still retains a strong, uplifting voice and confidently proclaimed the Gospel at Mass with a voice that spoke of a lifetime of devotion to the Word of God and service of the Church. After Mass a special lunch was held in the adjacent church hall where Deacon Ted received many cards, gifts and words of affection, appreciation and thanks. The traditional ‘telegram’ from Her Majesty the Queen was shown and admired.

Ted Connelly was ordained a ‘permanent deacon’ on July 9th, 1976 becoming one of the very first to be ordained in England & Wales. Following the completion of training and formation at Heythrop College, 1975-76, he went on to serve as a deacon at the parish of Our Lady Queen of Heaven at Burnham, Bucks in the Northampton Diocese until he retired at the age of 90. After a few years he came to live with his family in the Camberley & Bagshot Catholic Parish, Arundel & Brighton Diocese.

Permanent Deacons today are regularly providing an important ministry of care and support in many Catholic parishes in England & Wales. They preach the Word of God, lead services, bring Holy Communion to the sick, baptise, marry and provide funeral liturgies. The permanent diaconate was common in the early Church but over the centuries fell out of use as the other two major orders, those of bishop and priest, became the norm for ministry. It was the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s that restored the ancient ministry and today across the country there are many permanent deacons serving the needs of the Church in a variety of ways.

You can find out more about the Diaconate in this Diocese on our website.

Deacon Ted with Mgr Richard Madders, Deacons Roy Waters and Douglas Denny

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Pope Francis Speaks on the Family, Abortion, War, Refugees and Environment

During his address to ambassadors to the Vatican, Pope Francis laid out the issues he wants to highlight on an international scale. The first is the family, but he also took time to speak out against unemployment, hunger, and the throw away culture, where he specifically cited abortion.

"It is frightful to simply think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; and children being bought and sold in that terrible form of modern slavery which is human trafficking, a true crime against humanity.”

The Pope said he's also concerned about divided families, and the tough living conditions many of them are forced to live in, without the means to improve their conditions.

Pope Francis then highlighted the life and death situations many refugees escapefrom, particularly those who migrate to North and South America, and also people from Africa and the Middle East who seek refuge in Europe.

"Unfortunately, there is a general indifference in the face of these tragedies, which is a dramatic sign that marks the loss of a 'sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters,' on which every civil society is based.”

The Pope called for governments to take courageous decisions that lead to peace and dialogue, especially when it comes to armed conflicts like the ones taking place in theMiddle East and Africa. He also called for peace between South and North Korea, and the possibility for Christians to worship freely in Africa and Asia. He also called for the respect and protection of the environment, citing a popular argument in the process.

"God forgives always, we forgive sometimes, but nature, Creation, never forgives when it's abused.”

The Holy See has official diplomatic ties with 180 countries, among the most recent is South Sudan. It doesn't have any ties with Saudi Arabia, China or North Korea, but still it reaches out to them through international governing bodies like the United Nations.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Marriage Care brings guidance to newly engaged couples in Crawley

With the rise of engagements over the festive season; Marriage Care offers Marriage Preparatory courses in DABCEC, 4 Southgate Drive Crawley RH10 6RP. It is offered to all couples getting married in the year of 2014, around Sussex and Surrey. Marriage Care also offers support to those people who have had relationship difficulties over the Christmas and New Year.

According to Brides Magazine, the most popular month to propose is December with 18% of couples getting engaged within this time. According to the Office for National Statistics between 75 and 80% of couples live together prior to getting married; this is recognised by Marriage Care as part of normality and courses are allowable for people in different situations. Marriage Care accepts that this is the normality in today’s society. The actual figure for Catholic’s marrying is 3.5% whereas 50 years ago it was 12.3%; this shows that there is a decline in marriage in Catholic Churches.

Marriage Preparatory Course Facilitators often have the situation where one person is Catholic and the other is non-Catholic and caters for couples in this situation. Most of the Marriage Preparatory course uses scientific theories alongside tried and tested methods to help couples prepare themselves for lifelong marriage and the future issues that can occur.

Keith Henesey, the Head of Centre says that “Many of our couples are very intrigued to find that our course content uses a relationship model designed to question the couple’s ability to deal with upcoming issues during a marriage. Also Catholic content is also contained so the couples are able to see how the Catholic Church Marriage Sacrament says that the couple are giving themselves 100% to the other person and are prepared to follow God’s values”

You can find Marriage Preparatory Course Dates for the Crawley area in 2014 and elsewhere here.

If you are getting married in the next year and would like to attend a marriage preparatory course, please call 0800 389 3801 or visit to book your course.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Match of the Day (Year!)

Many thanks!
Match of the Day or rather Match of theYear:
No we're not talking football, we're talking about the amazing result of the Lent 2012 CAFOD - UK Government matched funding initiative.

A truly inspiring amount of £18.6 million was raised by the simple method of the Government doubling your really generous donations. One major focus was on water and sanitation projects . We thought you'd like to know what was achieved with the money.

Lives have been changed from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe but let's look at a couple of very specific achievements.

In Zimbabwe, community volunteers have helped to dig an 11km trench for a water pipeline and a dam which provides much-needed water for a hospital and a school. “If this dam dries up, the hospital and the school are going to be closed,” explained one of the village leaders working on the project. "We are coming here to do the work at the dam because we want to protect our natural resources for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.”

Rainwater is free and good to drink, yet often goes to waste because it’s hard to collect effectively. In South Sudan and Bangladesh we’ve installed tanks for homes, primary schools and secondary schools which collect and store rainwater. This means that over 3,000 pupils and 78 teachers now can access clean, safe water at school.

This is what CAFOD’s International Director Geoff O’Donoghue has to say. “Communities need water to drink, to stay healthy and to give to the animals they rely on to make a living. In the last eighteen months, we have been busy working with local organisations across Africa, Asia and Latin America, who are best placed to know the needs on the ground. Thanks to their hard work and ingenuity and your support, more of the world’s poorest people can now access clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene education.".

This was a match that both sides won - you the ever-generous givers and the world's ever-grateful disadvantaged.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Secret Singers are a Secret No Longer

The not so secret 'Secret Singers'
Penny Richardson from Our Lady Queen of Peace parish reports:
"Around two years ago, Shoreham-by-sea parishioner, Antonia Hyatt introduced the idea of forming a 'Secret Singing Club' the idea being that there were probably many people in the parish who would love to sing informally but were afraid to join a choir in case they didn’t sound good or in case they had to read music! At first just a few people came quite nervously (myself included) and found that it was actually great fun, we didn’t feel silly and didn’t need to read music. They have a tremendous repertoire ranging from Hallelujah, to John Lennon’s Imagine to Beyonce’s Telephone Song and even a few more sacred numbers!

So just before Christmas the group arranged a sing-along for the parish. Around 50 people came along and joined in with the 'Secret Singers' and sang a variety of Christmas songs as well as listening to the Singers perform some of their more elaborate pieces really beautifully. I am sure that many people were encouraged to come along and join in the weekly sessions after realising that singing makes you feel so good.

Coffee, tea and mince pies were provided and there was a raffle raising funds for the SVP.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Christmas Traditions Old and New

Fr Aaron Spinelli and children of parish pray the Angelus
“Christmas Tradition” is the surprising answer to the question “What connects Lichfield Cathedral and a Canadian parish, to St Teresa’s Church in the village of Merstham. Two years ago a new tradition began, developed from a televised Christmas Eucharist from Lichfield Cathedral in 2011. There people with various roles within the community were seen placing gifts in the manger. One was Harriet Hunter from Merstham, wife of the Cathedral organist Martyn Rawles. Quick enquiry disclosed the gifts were flowers and herbs. Now in Merstham children bring small pots of flowers to the crib. With Mass ending around noon, this year Fr Aaron Spinelli led everyone in the Angelus.

The older tradition is massed poinsettias, usually on the sanctuary, given by parishioners in memory of departed loved ones. This idea was collected by Joan and Bernard Hodge when visiting family in Canada. In early January a Mass is offered especially for the repose of their souls.

The Parish of the Nativity of the Lord as a whole began a new tradition three years ago – Open House on the Feast of the Holy Family at the Presbytery at St. Joseph’s Redhill. The event marks both our patronal feast on 25th December and the patronal feast of The Holy Family Church at Reigate. Drinks and nibbles late morning to early afternoon; tea and cakes at teatime, naturally! The different church communities take turns as being hosts.

Text Ann Lardeur. Photo Janet Franklin

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Coming Home at Christmas

Christmas Cooks Tara and Rachel
At Sacred Heart Church, Hove there was plenty of room at the inn this Christmas. Beds were erected in the Parish Room, a Christmas tree glowed in the corner, books and newspapers were set out and there were crackers and small gifts for the expected guests. In the kitchen onions were being chopped for the beef stew, pots bubbled, dumplings simmered and the air was filled with inviting smells and gusts of laughter.

Outside, the cold rain poured down, the wind blew hard. At 8.00 pm the first guests trickled in, cold, hungry and tired. A couple of hours later, warmed and full of good food, they tackled the Christmas quiz, puzzling over capital cities, famous personalities and film stars.

At 11.30 pm three of the homeless men joined us for carols and midnight Mass. It was a sung Mass and an organist, two string players and a dozen choristers squeezed into the choir gallery. On the stroke of midnight the music died away as Father Kevin and five servers processed slowly up the aisle of Sacred Heart Church in Hove.

Early next morning, Christmas Day, the men prepared to leave. The rain had stopped momentarily and I asked the quiz winner whether he had opened his prize, a large box of chocolates. He preferred to talk about last night’s Mass, the first he had attended for nearly forty years. He spoke of how moving it was, searching for words. “The choir singing was really, really beautiful” another man offered, shouldering his rucksack.

As they left, volunteers were busy tidying stuff away, stacking chairs, clearing the tables and cleaning the toilets. Even Father Kevin was busy, vacuuming the floor, his usual chore. I thought how, just a week earlier, on his 77th birthday, Pope Francis had invited four homeless men to join him for breakfast. If he hadn’t been otherwise occupied in Rome, I’m sure he would have loved to join us in doing the washing up.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Fair Trade, Economics and the Doctrine of the Church

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga is one of eight cardinals on Pope Francis' advisory board, but on a recent visit to Rome, he didn't talk about reforms or the Pope, rather, he talked about the economy and fair trade.

He says "Right now, everyone is focusing on China. But why not talk about Italy, Europe or Latin America?”

His new book titled, 'Between Ethics and Business: Humans at the Center' delves into the topics of economics through the prism of values.

But it goes well beyond words. In fact, the cover, has an image of the Pope's ferula or pastoral cross. It was designed by Italian Maurizio Lauri, with resources from Honduras...all gathered, purchased and shipped through fair trade.

The Sculptor says "So I received the caoba wood in a slab. I had to sculpt and mold so it would fit into the metal frame. The bronze and also the silver also came from Honduras.”

Cardinal Maradiaga has a deep interest in economics, but that interest came about under less than ideal circumstances back in 1991, when he was assigned head of the economics committee for the Conference of Latin American Bishops.

He says "I contacted different economic institutions and they refused to talk to me. They said, priests don't know anything about the economy. I told myself, 'this is the last time they do this to me.' So I decided to study the topic on my own.”

And so he did. Back in 1995, he says John Paul II asked him to address the debt third world countries owe to major international institutions which led him to discussions with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

When it comes down to it, he says getting out of the economic crisis is about much more than just business, first and foremost, he says it's about never forgetting the common good.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Feast of the Epiphany - The Coming of the Magi

The Journey of the Magi by T S Elliot

'A cold coming we had of it, 
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:'

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Still Celebrating Christmas

Thomas Merton - Trappist Monk
A Christmas and incarnational reflection:
"In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers….There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Thomas Merton - Monk and Mystic

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Mary, Mother of God - Celebrating the Meaning of Christmas

1st January - The Feast of Mary, Mother of God 

"God became man, so that man might become god.” 
Athanasius of Alexandria