Sunday, 31 August 2014

25th Anniversary of Depaul UK and its work with Young People

A Nightstop host volunteer welcomes a young person to stay for the night. Photo: Courtesy of Depaul UK 
Twenty-five years ago, the charity Depaul UK was set up in response to the growing number of young people sleeping rough on the streets across the country. A thanksgiving mass will celebrate the charity’s anniversary at 2pm on 27th September 2014 - the feast day of St Vincent de Paul - at Westminster Cathedral, presided over by the charity’s patron Cardinal Vincent Nichols. 

An unprecedented rise in youth homelessness has caused demand for Depaul UK’s services to increase by 300% in just 12 months in some parts of the country. In order to meet rising demand, Depaul is calling on households across the Catholic community who have a spare room to consider making it available to a young homeless person.

The charity supports a network of 40 safe emergency accommodation services across the UK, called Nightstops, placing homeless young people aged 16-25 in the homes of over 740 volunteer hosts approved by Depaul UK. The scheme sees volunteer hosts provide a room, evening meal and listening ear to a young homeless person for one night or for up to two weeks. Once engaged with Nightstop, staff can then work with the young person in partnership with local agencies to help them address issues that caused them to become homeless, providing family mediation and securing longer-term settled accommodation.

Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive of Depaul UK, said:
“The thanksgiving mass is a great opportunity to thank the Catholic community for the invaluable support and commitment that has helped the charity transform the lives of so many young people who are homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged.

“But recent times have been tough on young people, with an estimated 80,000 becoming homeless or sleeping rough last year in the UK and demand for our services rising so fast we are having to turn young people away. This is forcing more and more to sleep in unsafe places, vulnerable to exploitation and harm.

“Nightstop is a unique and increasingly vital service made possible by the generosity of inspirational people, many from the Catholic community, with a spare room and a desire to help young people in crisis.”

Depaul’s journey began over 400 years ago in a small village in the Pyrenees where St Vincent de Paul was born in 1581. And since Depaul UK was founded in 1989 through the partnership of three Catholic charities and the vision of the late Cardinal Basil Hume, the values based Vincentian charity has continued its strong links with the Catholic Church.

Since 1989, the charity has helped over 80,000 children through a national network of youth homelessness projects in the UK and now also operates in Ireland, France, Slovakia, the USA and Ukraine. Conflict in Ukraine is driving many displaced families to Kharkiv and Odessa where Depaul projects have been offering a vital lifeline, providing hot meals, first aid, shelter and support for those living on the margins of a society in turmoil.

If you would like to sign up as a host family, visit to find your local Nightstop. Alternatively contact us via Twitter and we will put you in touch with the right project: @DepaulNightstop

Friday, 29 August 2014

Supporting and Praying for the Ukraine

Rt Rev Hlib Lonchyna (see picture), Holy Family Eparch of London for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain has written:
"The letter of the Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is a heartfelt appeal for prayer and support for the Ukrainian people of all faiths in this most dangerous and volatile situation, as well as a plea to be wary of many forms of misinformation coming not only from government sources (the media), but - regretfully - even from the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych (see picture), Primate of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

Kyiv, August 21, 2014
Prot. N. 14/370
To the Catholic Episcopal conferences
То the World’s Religious and Political Leaders
To All People of Good Will

For nine months Ukrainians, have been on an arduous pilgrimage from post-Soviet fear to freedom and God-given dignity. Traumatized by twentieth century World Wars, brown and red totalitarianism and genocide, they seek a just society and a democratic, European future. With patience, endurance, and great human sacrifice they overcame in February the brutal regime of Viktor Yanukovych. This moral triumph was answered in March by Russia’s territorial annexation of Crimea. Now, for months the country endures foreign supported destabilization, separatism, and terrorist activity in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, in one word: war. Tragically, as became manifest in the criminal shootdown of Malasian Airlines Flight 17, the Ukrainian trial affects the global community.

All of the Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine stood together against the violence of the Yanukovych regime, the annexation of Crimea, and the division of the country. On the Maydan-Square for months, every day, and hourly in the night, in common prayer they insisted on respect of civil rights, non-violence, unity of the country, and dialogue. This civic ecumenical and inter-religious harmony and cooperation has been an important source of moral inspiration and social cohesion in Ukraine.

In annexed Crimea and in the Eastern war zone some of the Churches and religious communities have been targeted for discrimination, enduring outright violence. In Crimea the most exposed have been the Muslim Tatars. The Tatar community as a whole is in daily danger. Some of its leadership has been exiled, barred from their homeland. The existence of Greek and Roman Catholics ministries, Orthodox parishes of the Kyivan Patriarchate, and the Jewish community in Crimea has been variously menaced.

In April violence was instigated in eastern Ukraine. According to Ukrainian authorities some 1000 people, including international journalist and peace monitors, were kidnapped or detained; dozens were tortured or killed. The anti-terror operation launched by the Ukrainian government faces a foreign aggression that co-opts local rebels and local and international criminal delinquents. As a result today there are over thousand civilian casualties in the densely populated cities, with the number rising by 50 deaths or more daily, not to mention the 298 victims of MA Flight 17. The infrastructure of the cities including roads and bridges, electric substations, coal mines, and industrial installations are being destroyed to cripple the economy and future reconstruction that will become the responsibility of the Ukrainian state. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee the warfare that has been brought into the heart of the cities by the so-called separatists.

Amidst the horrors of war the tiny Ukrainian Greek and Roman Catholic minority experience oppression on the territories controlled by the “separatists.” Three Catholic priests were kidnapped: Pawel Witek and Wiktor Wąsowicz (Roman Catholic), Tykhon Kulbaka (Greek Catholic). The later was kept in captivity for 10 days and deprived of medicine he needed. The episcopal residence of the Greek Catholic bishop in Donetsk was robbed and sealed, depriving him of his chancery and all documentation. The Cathedral yard was hit by “separatist” rocket fire damaging the building and windows with shrapnel. The bishop and almost all Greek Catholic priests were forced to leave the environs of Donetsk. Armed representatives of separatist regime entered the church and desecrated the sanctuary. They “allowed” priests to stay and conduct services but put them on travel restrictions. Terrorists blackmail the clergy by threatening to harm their parishioners.

Most recently, on Saturday, August 16, the small monastery of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Donetsk was seized and violated. The sisters who generously and humbly served the community and who were on a summer retreat or at summer camps for children outside of Donetsk cannot now return to their home now being used by the “separatists.”

Protestants are targeted by pro-Russian terrorist groups and have suffered the gravest violence: two sons of the pastor of the Evangelical Church “Metamorphosis” Alexander Pavlenko and two deacons of that church, Victor Brodarsky and Vladimir Velichko were taken from a church service, tortured, and killed by the terrorists. Their bodies were exhumed from amass grave in Sloviansk.

Unfortunately, the beleaguered Ukrainian Catholics, Greek and Roman, faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate and Protestants in the east of Ukraine are further endangered by the rhetoric of the Orthodox leadership in Russia, which is becoming increasingly similar to the propaganda of Russian political authorities and media.

In recent documents issued in Moscow at the highest level of the Russian Orthodox Church, particularly in a letter to the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, Greek Catholics and the Ukrainian Orthodox of the Kyivan Patriarchate, disrespectfully called "Uniates" and "schismatics”, are defamed. They are held responsible for the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine and are accused of generating the warfare, especially the violence against Orthodox clergy and faithful endured as a result of military operations. Russian Orthodox leaders spread libelous information about Greek Catholics and other confessions thereby putting them in danger from the separatist militants who identify themselves as warriors for Russian Orthodoxy.

We strongly reject these claims and accusations. The Ukrainian military is not structured as a denominational entity. Therefore, chaplains of various denominations serve in the zone of the Antiterrorist Operation. Chaplains are not permitted to interfere in the life of local religious communities. Accusations that chaplains of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have committed acts of violence against members of other churches and religious groups are not true.

The tragedy that Ukraine is experiencing today, due to military aggression, is a tragedy for all peoples, believers of all faiths, and all social groups. Buildings, churches and monasteries of all religious and ethnic groups are being damaged or destroyed. Clergy of all faiths who exercise their pastoral ministry in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and Crimea have suffered, some risking their own lives. Two Orthodox priests who were killed in the region are among more than a thousand civilians killed during the conflict and their terrible deaths are not connected with their religious beliefs. They were accidental victims of shelling.

We pray for all the innocent victims and for peace in Ukraine. And our Church is doing everything to bring peace and alleviate the suffering of those affected by this terrible conflict.

Ukraine needs the effective support of the global Christian community and support of all people of good will. In a media context rife with propaganda we ask you to evaluate information critically. We need your prayer, your discernment, your good words and effective deeds. Silence and inaction will lead to further tragedy. The fate of MA Flight 17 is an example of what may happen if the terrorist activity is allowed to continue.

Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych
Primate of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

50 Years of Service Celebrated

Sr Zita with Deacon Seamus Mahon (L) and Fr David Maskell (R)
Sisters from The Towers Convent in Upper Beeding, West Sussex celebrated Sr. Zita’s 50 years of service to the community at a joyful mass in Corpus Christi Church, Henfield, along with parishioners and visitors from far and wide. 

Sr. Zita’s brother and his wife travelled all the way from Ireland for this milestone celebration. The church was filled to capacity and many past parishioners came back to celebrate in the spirit of a true extended family. In his homily, Fr. David Maskell, parish priest called on the congregation to recognise and witness Sr. Zita’s commitment to the faith, the community and to her responsibilities and praised her for her ‘staying power’.

Mass was followed by a party in the Church Hall at which Sr. Zita cut the proverbial celebratory cake.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Coming to Festival 50 - Timothy Radcliffe OP

Coming to Festival 5 - Fr Timothy Radcliffe O.P.
Former Master General of the Dominicans
Amex Stadium, Brighton - Sunday 5 July 2015

Friday, 22 August 2014

40 Years of Permanent Diaconate in Arundel & Brighton Diocese

Bishop Kieran, Deacons, Family and Friends at Arundel Cathedral
On Sunday 10th August, the Feast of St Laurence, Deacon and Martyr, the deacons of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton with family and friends gathered at Arundel Cathedral with Bishop Kieran for Evening Prayer followed by a celebration in the nearby Cathedral Hall. It was the occasion to give thanks for 40 years of the Diaconate in the diocese, restored during the Second Vatican Council 10 years before.

Eric Kilminster was the first man to be ordained for the restored permanent diaconate in Arundel & Brighton Diocese on 11th August 1974 by Bishop Michael Bowen, though his initial ministry was in the Gulf state of Bahrain. He was the first deacon for Arundel & Brighton and second ever in England and Wales. Although Eric has since died his widow is still living in retirement in the West Country.

The diaconate formation process in the diocese did not, however, begin in earnest until 1981 when four men began training of which three were to eventually be ordained. Hilary Parson, one of these three, is still alive, living in retirement in Portsmouth Diocese. He celebrated his 30 years as a deacon this year on 29th June, the Feast of SS Peter and Paul. This was recognised on the day when he was presented by Bishop Kieran with an icon of Christ washing the feet of the disciples during the Diocesan Festival in Crawley on that day.

Deacon Hilary with Icon

Since Eric’s ordination the place and role of the diaconate has grown and deepened in the diocese. At the time of the silver jubilee of the diocese in 1990 there were 10 deacons. As we approach the golden jubilee of the diocese in 2015 there are four times that number. Currently there are 38 active deacons in the diocese with 9 retired deacons and 5 men in training.

Bishop Kieran gave thanks during Evening Prayer for all that deacons had given to the Church in this diocese over the 40 years, but challenged the deacons present to reach out to those on the edge of the Church and draw them in more fully into the life of the Church through gentleness and mercy.

The 40th Anniversary of the Diaconate in Arundel & Brighton Diocese will continue to be celebrated during the year especially as it coincides with 50th Anniversary of the Vatican II document on the Church, Lumen Gentium which at paragraph 29 speaks about a restored permanent diaconate.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Supporting the People of Iraq - Catholic Church in England and Wales Acts

Christians and Yezidis collect aid from CAFOD partners CRS and Caritas Iraq
CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development is at work through its partners in Iraq helping those who are vulnerable and in need. It says:

How is CAFOD responding?
Since late 2012, we have supported a massive humanitarian programme in response to the crisis in Syria, providing aid to people in urgent need in Syria itself, as well as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and northern Iraq. Our Church partners in Lebanon and Jordan are now doing everything they can do to support Iraqi Christians as they flee their country.

We have also committed £25,000 to our Church partners in Iraq so that they can respond to the urgent needs of families forced from their homes in this latest emergency. Our partners have already provided humanitarian relief to 3,500 displaced families in Ninewa and plan to respond to the needs of 30,000 families over the next six months.

Is CAFOD only supporting Christians in Iraq?
No. Our partners in Iraq are providing aid to people in need, regardless of their faith or political allegiance.

What does CAFOD think about the current crisis in Iraq?
We wholeheartedly support the recent statement by Cardinal Vincent Nichols:

“I have followed with deep sadness the unfolding disaster in Mosul, in Sinjar and Qaragosh, and in other towns and villages across northern Iraq. This is a persecution of immense proportions in which Christian, Yezidi and other communities have been targeted by ISIS and forced to flee their ancestral homes in the Nineveh Plains in search of temporary safety. All they are doing is trying to escape certain death.

“Today, I add my voice to those of the Church leaders in Iraq as well as all the Bishops of Oriental Churches who met in Beirut yesterday alongside the Apostolic Nuncio. (They have since met in Erbil with the refugees). Along with Christian and Muslim leaders in Wales and many others we appeal for help and protection for these persecuted communities facing a threat to their very existence in their biblical homelands. It is imperative that the international community ensure the physical protection of all communities in Iraq, their human rights including the right to religious freedom. I urge Her Majesty’s Government to lead the efforts in the face of such a human calamity in order to help restore these shattered communities, provide them with urgent humanitarian aid and work with others to ensure their long term security in the land of their birth.

“I encourage our own Catholic community to continue to give generously to our agencies working to support the people of Iraq. Above all I invite all people of faith to turn to God in prayer and seek for our world the change of heart and the gift of grace that alone can bring us peace.”

We need to both pray and assist all those in need in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East through CAFOD and Aid to the Church in Need.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

As Four Men Start at St John's Seminary - Diocese is Praying for Vocations -

Four men are about to start training for the priesthood at St John's Seminary, Wonersh near Guildford for Arundel & Brighton Diocese. We need many more men to come forward to the priesthood and prayer is at the heart of promoting such vocations.

It is good to know that the brothers of the Catenian Association celebrate a Mass for Vocations somewhere in the world each day of the year. In Sussex (Province 18), they recently celebrated a Sunday parish mass for Vocations to the religious life at the prestigious Worth Abbey. It was both spiritually and organisationally a great success and if God hears the pleading, many more young men and women will respond by devoting themselves to service in the Church.

Some 80 Catenians and ladies of the Province were in attendance and those who missed the Mass missed a really rewarding celebration.

The mass was concelebrated by the many of the community of Worth Abbey led by the Rev. Dom. Philip Gaisford and they were joined by Fr. Terry Martin, Diocesan Director for Vocations, 10 priest in all. Fr. Terry has been greatly encouraged by the Province’s support for his work financially and spiritually (£1000 was raised last year).

Ten priests concelebrated the Worth Abbey Mass for Vacations

The words of encouragement to the congregation to pray for vocations and the very well-crafted homily, which included reference to the subject while fully exploring the readings of the day, was exceptional. The whole mass was spirit filled and an entire prayer in itself.

To contact Fr Terry Martin about vocations see the website.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Opening of Woodland Walk Sculpture Trail

Bishop Kieran next to the deer sculpture
Earlier this year the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Kieran Conry accompanied by members of Cranleigh DFAS (Decorative Fine Arts Society) to visit St Joseph’s Specialist School and College to join staff and learners for the official opening of the Woodland Walk Sculpture Trail. DFAS provided sponsorship for the deer sculpture, created by Alison Catchlove, a local artist. Work began on the metal sculpture during Arts week in Autumn 2013; when learners from St Joseph’s Specialist School & College were taught how to beat and shape the metal panels used to make the deer, they also chose it’s name - Spartacus Uhu, (Uhu is Farsi for deer).

A Green Man can also be found along the route of the woodland walk. Principal, Mary Fawcett told guests: “The Green Man was only installed last week, so we are delighted that already a bird is making it its home and building a nest. It is our intention that the trail will continue to be added to over the coming months and years, to provide a multisensory experience for all our learners to enjoy.”

The refurbishment of the Woodland Walk and Nature Trail has been made possible by help during Grounds Days from staff, learners and their families and other volunteers. Bishop Kieran said “The finished pieces are fantastic and a real delight to see.”

Monday, 11 August 2014

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Gaza disaster prompts Friends of the Holy Land to launch first Emergency ‘Family Support’ Appeal

Friends of the Holy Land (FHL), a UK-based charity committed to supporting Christian people and communities in the Holy Land, has launched an Emergency ‘Family Support’ Appeal to include remaining Christians in Gaza. Conditions in the Gaza Strip have become exceptionally difficult as a result of the destruction of homes and infrastructure, and FHL is increasingly concerned for the welfare of remaining Christians. The Appeal will concentrate on providing funds for the needs of individual families, whether medical treatment, house refurbishment, education or to ensure day to day survival.

‘The Christian population of Gaza has been small in number for some years, and we now believe it’s no more than 300 families, some 1,300 people’ said Peter Rand FHL’s Vice Chairman. ‘For this small minority, conditions have always been difficult, but as we all know from recent media coverage, Gaza's citizens are now living in conditions few people have experienced in the last sixty years. FHL’s role is to support and help Christians in the Holy Land, to ensure a Christian presence remains there. In the long term this requires sustainable employment and housing projects, but there’s a huge immediate need to address the day-to-day challenges of Gaza’s broken economy and infrastructure.’

'When I visited Gaza earlier this year I was very impressed with the work of Christian institutions there and the resilience of the population. Howeve

'We also ask all Christians to remember them in their prayers, to be as generous as they can, and to ask their parish and community to support our Appeal.’

FHL is a non-political, ecumenical, registered charity. Online donations to the appeal can be made via, or directly to FHL at 2 Station Rd, Kenilworth, CV8 1JJ.
r, the impact of the current disaster in Gaza is being felt in the West Bank too, creating concern and uncertainty for the future and a deterioration of the economic situation with increased unemployment and shortages of basic medications and other resources. While the situation is truly horrific for those in Gaza, FHL Emergency Family Support Appeal will deliver help to the most needy families identified by clergy on the ground and FHL's other partners across the West Bank and Gaza. We only deliver funds where we know that the most needy in the Christian community will receive them, and with our limited resources it is important that they are targeted as accurately as is possible in the circumstances.'

Monday, 4 August 2014

Bishops' Conference England and Wales Calls for Day of Prayer for Iraq

Iraq Prayer Appeal
As the Chairman of International Affairs at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, I invite you to join with many people from across Iraq in praying for an end to the violent persecution that threatens to extinguish the ancient Iraqi Christian community.

Church leaders in Iraq have selected Wednesday 6 August – the Feast of the Transfiguration – to be observed as a universal day of prayer. It is one of the major feasts in the Chaldean Catholic Church calendar.

In addition to this global day of prayer, we would also encourage you to pray for Iraq's Christians on Sunday 10 August.

Events in Iraq over the past few weeks have been disastrous. Christians have been systematically driven out of Mosul. A community of 60,000 before 2003 has dwindled over the years and is now down to almost nothing. For the first time in 1,600 years, no Masses are being celebrated in Mosul. Many Christians have fled to the surrounding Nineveh Plains and into Kurdistan as militants from the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of the Levant (ISIS), threaten those who do not subscribe to their fundamentalist ideology.

We are witnessing today an act of religious and ethnic cleansing toward Christians as well as many other communities such as Sufis, Shabaks, Mandaeans, Yazidis, Turkmen, let alone Shi’is and Sunnis, as extremists drive people out of the lands that have been their home for thousands of years; some churches have been converted into mosques, ancient monasteries lie abandoned and the homes of Christians have been daubed with signs that would mark them out as a target for the extremists.

I call on our government and those of other states to prioritise action to save the Christian and other persecuted communities of Iraq and to offer them the help and support they need urgently.

I invite you to support Aid to the Church in Need as well as all other Catholic charities offering emergency and pastoral support to Iraqis at a time of great crisis.

Most important of all, I appeal for your prayers so that God may show the people of Iraq his infinite mercy - comfort the mourners, bind up their wounds and heal the broken-hearted in those biblical lands that have been a cradle of civilisation.

Rt Rev Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton and Chairman of the International Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Bidding prayer suggestion: “We pray for Christians and other faith communities persecuted in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq. We pray that their faith may help them in their tribulations and in their search for sanctuary, so they may then receive compassion and care."

t. 020 7901 4800