Monday, 27 February 2017

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

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

Please see Alix's story below:

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

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

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

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

Donations can be made directly at : https://www.youcaring.com/alixmanders-756620

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

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

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Father Matthew Gerin – a remarkable French Priest


Dispossessed of his parish in the diocese of Lyons by an anti- clerical French Government, Father Matthew Gerin arrived penniless in England in the late 1880’s. He was taken in by the Woodroffe family at their house Frensham Place (now Edgeborough School) where he celebrated Mass for the family in their little chapel. Soon the family opened the chapel for Mass to the faithful of the neighbourhood, calling it the Chapel of the Holy Name.

With a steady increase of Sunday visitors, Father Gerin decided to found a mission in Farnham and with Bishop Butt’s encouragement and his offer of help with diocesan funds, he purchased the old police station in Bear Lane in the centre of the town. On 26th January 1890, the feast of St Polycarp, the new church was opened in the upstairs room.The following year St Polycarp’s school was opened in one small room downstairs.

In February 1905 Father Gerin met with an accident that put an end to his active life. One morning he was coming home from the workhouse (which later became Farnham Hospital) having said Mass for the Catholic inmates, when a car in the Borough skidded, mounted the pavement and threw him through a plate glass window. He sustained grave injuries to his legs. He never recovered and received no compensation, as in those days not all motorists were insured. He retired as an invalid in May 1907 and for a while lived at Fleet and then at Ash before moving to Littlehampton. His law suit failed and in 1916 he was declared bankrupt.

Father Gerin died in Littlehampton on 2nd February 1918 and was buried there locally in an unmarked grave. It was the time of the Great War. Recently, Patricia Knight, author of The Bear Lane Years of St Polycarp’s School, found the unmarked plot in Littlehampton cemetery. The parish of St Joan of Arc has purchased the plot and erected a memorial stone, recognising the parish’s debt to this extraordinary man, his work and precious legacy. On Monday 13th February Bishop Richard Moth led a graveside service of Blessing and Thanksgiving for finding Father Gerin’s grave.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Austen Ivereigh addressing the group on How to Defend the Catholic Church without Shouting
On Saturday 11 February over 65 people gathered at the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton Christian Education Centre for a day on 'How to Defend the Catholic Faith without Shouting' led by Austen Ivereigh, joint co-ordinator and co-founder of Catholic Voices.

In the first part of the day Austen outlined the method they had successfully adopted in  Catholic Voices in the run up to and during the visit of Pope Benedict to UK in 2010. He said the key action is to listen to what the other people are saying and rather than being defensive to seek the common ground and argue from there. Equally and at the same time to emphasise the compassionate nature of the Catholic faith as underlying all it does. In that way whilst you might not convince the other person it will give a clearer and better picture to others listening as to the reality of the Catholic faith and avoid a defensive shouting match which is usually to our disadvantage.

Austen believes that this is not just a tool for use on the media, but also for use by Catholics with their friends and family, and in the workplace. He his planning to bring this training in the near future. The people there were enthused by the day and many hope to do further training and take further steps to be better prepared whether round the water cooler at work or with local media.

If you are interested in learning more about this method then you can read Austen's book 'Defending the Catholic Faith without Raising your Voice.' Copies are available from the Diocesan Bookshop: bookshop@dabnet.org. 

If you would like to know more about the project and how the Diocese is involved then contact communications@dabnet.org.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Bishop Richard Moth Supporting Prisoners and their Families

Bishop Richard with one of the printing team at HMP Coldingley
Pact was part of a landmark visit to HMP Coldingley with Rt Rev Richard Moth to celebrate the publication of 'The Right Road, the Catholic Church’s approach to Criminal Justice'. The report, which sets out a vision for a prison system that rehabilitates offenders, supports victims and works for society as a whole, was printed at HMP Coldingley in their state of the art print workshop.

The print workshop employs around 50 prisoners and generates essential income for the prison to fund relationship and parenting programmes, family support services and one to one support services that are vital for rehabilitation, reducing re-offending and reducing anxiety and distress that can lead to self-harm, suicide and violence in prison. The Diocese of Arundel & Brighton recently printed its Refugee Newsletter with them and hopes to print further publications from them.

Pact will be providing a number of such services at HMP Coldingley, including:
Play Workers who offer a friendly, welcoming space and fun activities for children visiting a loved one in prison.
First Night and Early Days in Custody service which offers emotional and practical support to prisoners arriving in prison to reduce the high levels of anxiety and distress that are known to trigger self-harm and suicide.
A range of relationship, parenting education and family learning courses to improve personal resilience, empathy and communication skills, and to strengthen key family relationships.
Visitors’ Centre support to ensure that visitors receive a warm welcome, and are given the support, guidance and information needed to ensure that their visit is as positive an experience as possible, and that they are signposted to any additional support they may require.

Pact CEO, Andy Keen-Downs said: "We are pleased that the Church has a strong voice and clear message to policy makers when it comes to prison reform, and as a charity working within the criminal justice landscape, we know that justice must be understood as a process of restoration and healing, and prisons seen as places of learning and rehabilitation. We are proud to be working with HMP Coldingley and are encouraged to see the print workshop providing so many prisoners with the opportunity to learn new skills, and build confidence and self-esteem."

Bishop Richard is the Bishop with responsibility for prisons on behalf of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and also has pastoral oversight of this prison within the Diocese.

If you would like to find out more about the print workshop at HMP Coldingley please contact: Jane.Ashwood@hmps.gsi.gov.uk

To download 'The Right Road' please visit http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/Home/News/The-Right-Road