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Sunday Message for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time from Fr Carlos

Parish Message for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

‘Uno pone y Dios dispone’

In a literal translation, it means ‘One sets, and God (re)arranges.’ This was something that my Mother used to say when something didn’t go to plan. It may seem like a cop-out, as if one is passing the blame to God for our misfortune. The reality, however, makes us realise that the order of this world and all its beings, even our plans, has its rhythm and order in God.

I am sure that many, if not all, of us by now have been deleting or erasing all the events from your diary due to the current situation. But I think God perhaps has allowed life to come to a pause so that we can see what we were really lacking in life.

I have witnessed that some good has come from lockdown: families who have come together after all the obstacles have been taken away; parents have been able to fully enjoy a long maternity/paternity leave with their newborns and infants; newlyweds married before lockdown have had a ‘longer’ honeymoon; we appreciate those whom we look up and hold esteem; and so much more. To sum it up, we have rediscovered the beauty of our fragile humanity and world. That I think is God ‘disponiendo’ (changing the plan).

Now that it seems that the lockdown is easing more and more, let us remember what the Lord has offered to us in this time and invites us to be participants of his will, as we hear in the First Reading this Sunday:

‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’

Fr. Carlos

P.S.: You might think that some Spaniard or Hispanic thought of my mother’s phrase centuries ago. It, in fact, comes from Proverbs 16:1.

Job Vacancy at St Mary’s Catholic School

Day-time School Cleaning Operative

£9.30 p.h.*

*subject to approval of National Employers pay award (currently under consultation)

Term Time Only 5 days a week

9.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m. 27.5 hours per week (*Some flexibility available on hours)

Start Date: 1 September 2020

We seek applications from those of the Catholic faith, all faiths and of no faith but who are supportive of our Christian values and ethos.

St Mary’s Catholic School is seeking to employ additional school cleaning operatives to work during the school day, 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m., 5 days a week. The post is Term Time only. In the first instance this would be a one-year temporary post.

This role will involve cleaning and other related tasks across all areas of the school including classrooms, toilets, school canteen, staff offices etc. Duties will include all aspects of cleaning such as emptying of bins, sweeping, mopping, dusting and cleaning of toilets to ensure that school standards are met and all government guidelines are adhered to. The candidate should be hard working, reliable, self-motivated, have a strong attention to detail, and enjoy working in a small busy team.

St Mary’s Catholic School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people, and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. A DBS Disclosure is required for all successful applicants.

Apply in writing using the forms available on our website http://www.stmarys.net/about-us/vacancies/ Support Staff Application Form, Rehabilitation of Offenders Form & Recruitment Monitoring Form. Please note only applications on St Mary’s forms will be accepted. Please contact Recruitment@stmarys.net to submit an application or for more information.

Closing date: midday 15th July 2020

Interviews: 12th – 21st August 2020

Sunday Message from Fr Peter

Dear Parishioners,

As I write this the whole country seems to be buzzing with “re-opening” and many people have cheered up a great deal. It seems very different to the last 15 weeks and the terrible tragedy of the deaths of nearly 44,000 people in our country directly through the Covid 19 virus.

Amongst many new moves from the government has been the news that Churches and other religious places of worship may re-open, under very strict conditions, for limited numbers of people to attend services. Last Saturday morning one of our parishioners rang me to ask “does this mean there will be the usual Sunday Masses tomorrow?” The answer I had to give was “No”.

On last Friday I had a ZOOM video call with the other Deans of the Diocese meeting with the Cardinal, and there was much discussion of the practicalities of how re-opening would happen and the Cardinal gave us much background to these latest moves from HMG. He was emphatic that we must not see this as a return to normal, for, sadly, we are still a long way from “normal” at the present time. These new possibilities are another stage of the journey that we are all on. The worrying pictures of people flooding the beaches at Bournemouth and other places the other week are, frankly, frightening.

The Catholic Bishops have negotiated very specific “guidelines” with HMG and also Pubic Health England. They are all aimed at protecting all who might attend Mass in the weeks to come. Preparing any building for this is a considerable task and volunteers will be key. Without volunteers we cannot open, it is as simple as that.

For the moment, St Joseph’s will not be open for, probably, another 3 weeks. We have managed, thanks to a small group of volunteers, to open both Holy Cross (St Andrew’s) at Much Hadham and Most Holy Redeemer at Sawbridgeworth for private prayer and it has been good to see small numbers of people coming to pray privately and quietly.

I chaired a meeting of the Deanery priests last Tuesday and we spent much time in discussion and information sharing. Some of our Churches will be open for Masses this weekend. Others need more time to prepare and hope to celebrate some public Masses the week after. The biggest unknown is what numbers of people will want to come. The capacity of all our churches will be considerably reduced by the 2 metre rule which we are all adhering to. For instance, Most Holy Redeemer will only be able to seat about 14 or so people at any one time. How will we cope if too many people turn up to one of our churches and have to be turned away? This is just one example of the problems that we are trying to work through.

The way forward that the Cardinal suggests is to remind people that there is still NO SUNDAY MASS OBLIGATION but that there will be times when people can come together for the celebration of Mass. Thus we all hope that many people will take the pressure of numbers off the Sunday Masses and make a special effort to come to one of the weekday Masses that will be celebrated. If everyone spreads out then there should be no problem. The Diocese have also developed a simple online “booking” system that will be of help to us all.

It is becoming clear that not every Church will resume public Masses this weekend, some clergy are extremely anxious as they fall into the “at risk” category through age or underlying medical conditions and are very worried about coming into contact with people. Many of you may feel exactly the same anxiety. I would like to assure you all that we are doing our utmost to keep you safe at this time. No one should feel compelled to return to public worship right now, the live streaming of Mass will continue daily for those who wish to remain at home and you will continue to be prayed for daily

It is early days for all this and time is needed to get things ready and up and running. It does not help that our largest church is out of action. However, we have been able to get most of the work done at St Joseph’s in the last two months, whereas we had planned to have to close the church for 12 weeks or more before the virus struck us.

So, please keep your eye on the website, make an effort to tell anyone who does not have the internet what is happening – perhaps print this off and give it to them ? Ring up friends who can’t access the site and bring them up to date as well. As more news comes in and decisions are made we will do our best to spread the news.

Bishops John Sherrington, one of our auxiliary bishops, wrote to all the priests just a couple of days ago and we should particularly note his words…

Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions.
Individuals who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.”

I hope to write again to you all again before the end of next week to update you. Meanwhile, Fr Carlos and I continue to remember you all in our prayers and at our Masses and ask that you continue to do the same for us.

If you are under 70 years of age please do spend some time this week seriously considering whether you can offer yourself as a volunteer “steward” at one or more of our future open Masses, Sundays or weekdays ! If you can, please ring Debbie in our Parish office (01279 654063) to let her know of your important offer.

With love and prayers,
Fr Peter

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for July is for Families

 

Let us pray that today’s families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance, and especially, that they may be protected by the State.

Pope Francis – July 2020

The family ought to be protected.
It faces many dangers: the fast pace of life, stress…
Sometimes, parents forget to play with their children.
The Church needs to encourage families and stay at their side, helping them to discover ways that allow them to overcome all of these difficulties.
Let us pray that today’s families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance, and especially, that they may be protected by the State.

A Message from Fr Peter read out at all Masses this weekend

You may have heard that Her Majesty’s Government, in partnership with Public Health England, have agreed to allow us to celebrate Mass with parishioners present, but only under very specific and rigid conditions. This is not a return to normal Sunday Masses at all, but only another stage as we go forward with the presence of the Covid 19 virus still among us.

The obligation to attend Mass on a Sunday is still suspended and does not apply. But it will now be possible to attend a Mass, not necessarily on a Sunday, and to receive Holy Communion. We will be spending the next few days working out how best this will be possible for us here in our joint parish of Bishop’s Stortford. There will also be a special local meeting of priests on Tuesday with Bishop Paul, our assistant Bishop for Hertfordshire and myself as the local Dean. At that meeting the priests will all learn more and be better able to go forward in their Parishes with decisions for this next stage of things.

These public Masses will be subject to the usual very limited seating arrangements of 2 metres apart etc., will have no singing at all, no sign of Peace, only receiving the Host at Communion, have fewer readings and no Bidding Prayers. It is seen as important that people stay in the restricted space of the Church for as short a time as possible at the moment. As we move on in the next few months I am sure things will continue changing and becoming easier, but for the moment the rules are still going to remain very strict.

So, please, don’t just turn up for Sunday Mass, at the usual old times thinking the church will be open, until we know for sure what is happening. The streaming of weekend and weekday Masses will continue since, at St Joseph’s, we still have around three weeks of work to do for the installation of the new heating.. As I said, this is not a return to normal but simply, for the moment, another stage on the journey out of this viral pandemic.

Nevertheless it will be wonderful, in due course, to be able to celebrate Mass with some of you present and to be able to distribute Holy Communion.

Fr Peter

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England

Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday we heard the announcement that, from the 4th July this year, places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services. We welcome this news with great joy. Since the lockdown began, members of all faiths have faced restrictions on how they have been able to celebrate important religious festivals. Our own experience of Easter was unlike any other we have known. Now, in our churches,and with our people, we can look forward again to celebrating the central mysteries of our faith in the Holy Eucharist.

The recent reopening of our churches for individual private prayer was an important milestone on our journey towards resuming communal worship. Our churches that have opened have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus transmission are minimised. This includes effective hand sanitisation, social distancing, and cleaning. We remain committed to making sure these systems of hygiene and infection control meet Government and public health standards.

We want to thank everyone within the Catholic community for sustaining the life of faith in such creative ways, not least in the family home. We thank our priests for celebrating Mass faithfully for their people, and for the innovative ways in which they have enabled participation through live-streaming and other means. We are grateful for the pastoral care shown by our clergy to those for whom this time of lock down has been especially difficult, and, in particular, towards those who have been bereaved. We recognise too the chaplaincy services that have played a vital role in supporting those most in need. Gaining from the experience of all that we have been through, and bringing those lessons into the future, we must now look forward.

With the easing of restrictions on worship with congregations, we tread carefully along the path that lies ahead. Our lives have been changed by the experience of the pandemic and it is clear that we cannot simply return to how things were before lockdown. We remain centred on the Lord Jesus and His command at the Last Supper to “do this in memory of me.” We must now rebuild what it means to be Eucharistic communities, holding fast to all that we hold dear, while at the same time exploring creative ways to meet changed circumstances.

It is important to reaffirm that, at present, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended. A significant number of churches may remain closed as they are unable to meet the requirements for opening for individual prayer. Fulfilling these requirements is a precondition for any church opening after the 4th July for the celebration of Mass with a congregation.

Please be aware that there will be a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches. This will determined locally in accordance with social distancing requirements. We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going ‘back to normal.’

We ask every Catholic to think carefully about how and when they will return to Mass. Our priests may need to consider whether it is possible to celebrate additional Masses at the weekends. Given there is no Sunday obligation, we ask you to consider the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday. This will ease the pressure of numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for more people.

Moving forward, there will still be many people who cannot attend Mass in person.We therefore ask parishes, wherever possible, to continue live-streaming Sunday Mass, both for those who remain shielding and vulnerable, and also for those unable to leave home because of advanced age or illness.

When we return to Mass there will some differences in how the celebration takes place. For the time being, there will be no congregational singing and Mass will be shorter than usual. None of this detracts from the centrality of our encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. We ask everyone to respect and follow the guidance that will be issued and the instructions in each church.
“As I have loved you,” said the Lord Jesus, “so you must love each other.” (Jn 13:34) The lockdown has brought forth remarkable acts of charity, of loving kindness, from Catholics across our communities as they have cared for the needy and vulnerable.We have seen love in action through charitable works, and through the service of many front-line key workers who are members of our Church. Now we can begin to return to the source of that charity, Christ himself, present for us sacramentally, body, blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion. As we prepare to gather again to worship, let us, respectful of each other, come together in thanksgiving to God for the immense gift of the Holy Eucharist.

Yours devotedly in Christ

✠ Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
✠ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool
✠ Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham
✠ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark

This letter is addressed to the Catholic Community in England; the opening of the Catholic Churches in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Assembly who are still evaluating their position on opening Places of Worship.

Sunday Message from Fr Carlos – 28th June ‘St Peter and St Paul’, Apostles

Parish Message for Sts. Peter and Paul 

Dear Parishioners, 

This past Wednesday, I celebrated three years of my Priesthood. There was great joy, but it was involved with a great deal of stress. Guests were arriving from the UK, the US, Europe, and even as far as my uncle who managed to come from Cuba. Surely there was a lot of preparation for the big day – from the Liturgy of the Ordination and First Mass and Receptions, my appointment to Bishop’s Stortford, and even the time to spend with my family. I can remember the generosity, support, and prayers of so many people who have helped me over the years. I can also recall of the great generosity, support, and prayers for those who have supported me as priest here, especially when I celebrated my first anniversary. 

You don’t realise that many people are there for you until you see it: 

At the Cathedral: 

My First Mass in The Annunciation, Burnt Oak: 

 And even the following day, meeting Fr. Peter and Debbie for the First Time: 

 

But there was a greater preparation, even in a time no one expected. The clue is found in the First Reading from the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist (24 June – the day I was ordained): 

‘The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm’ (Isaiah 49:2-3) 

The Lord had it prepared for me to become a priest. It took time (27 years of life and 9 years of seminary formation), it involved moments of joy and sorrow, preparedness and resilience, and certainties and fears – even seeing the protection of God in a car accident in Italy. I was encouraged by my family, friends, fellow seminarians, parishioners in the parishes I served previously as a layman, seminarian, and deacon. With what the Lord has given me, I am called to offer it with gladness, humility, and joy (though I’m sure that there have been moments that my weaknesses outshine my strengths).  

Looking at these three years of priesthood (as of 23/06/2020) – 1074 Masses, 69 Baptisms, 9 Weddings, 146 Children prepared for First Holy Communion (and 74 more for this current year), 3 children for Reception to the Church, and many innumerable visits to the housebound, infirmed, families, couples in need, and so much more – I must say that I do not find myself worthy to boast about it, but rather humbled for the Lord to help, strengthen, and even use me to be his servant, his forerunner, his messenger of Good News. 

I am sure that there won’t be a monument, a book, or some big display of who I am – in fact, I am not looking for that – but I see day by day how God uses this earthenware jar in order to give himself to those in need. 

Encourage the call of the priesthood to your sons, grandsons, nephews, cousins, and friends. It’s true: the pay is not great and you’re not fixed to one place; but when you see the smile of a parishioner when their loved one is remembered at Mass or prayed for, receiving a Sacrament, being forgiven and absolved of their sins, blessing the exchange of vows at Marriage, anointing and giving spiritual comfort in an hour of illness, or even consoling at the hour of a one or loved one’s death and funeral – that is the wage of the labourer at the vineyard. 

Although I will not always be here, I know that you are always there for me, as you have had for my predecessors at Bishop’s Stortford. Pray for us priests and pray for vocations, that we may have the spirit of John the Baptist and Saints Peter and Paul, whom we celebrate this Sunday – to go with great zeal and announce the Gospel both in word and deed to those who need it. 

 

St. John the Baptist, pray for me. 

Ss. Peter and Paul, pray for me. 

Fr. Carlos  

 

An update re collective acts of worship

As you will have heard by now, the government has announced today that, from 4th July, we can resume our public liturgies. We welcome this good news that will allow us to gather once more with parishioners to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments.

We await further guidance from the government and from the Bishops’ Conference, which will be distributed as soon as it is available.

Below you will find the Cardinal’s statement about this welcome news.

I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister earlier today, that places of worship are now able to resume collective acts of worship from 4 July. This is welcome news for members of all religions in England. I thank all who have worked hard to bring this about, not least my fellow religious leaders.

As Catholics we now look forward to being able to celebrate Mass together again from 4 July. We have waited with patience and longing for this moment, understanding the importance of protecting the health of people in our society. Now we are full of anticipation that we will be able again to take part together in the Eucharist, which lies at the centre of our faith.

It is important that we continue to abide by the guidance, given by the Government, on appropriate social distancing and the other measures to avoid all unnecessary risk. Our own detailed guidance will be distributed around dioceses and parishes so everyone can be confident that they may come to Mass securely and understand the part they are to play in protecting each other from any remaining risk of infection.

The past few months have been a time of fashioning new patterns of prayer, new ways of exploring and enriching our faith and vigorous ways of reaching out to those in need. We can build on these, forgetting nothing of the graces we have been given. Yet now, with the experience of opening our churches for individual prayer already gained, this return to the more normal patterns of worship will be of great importance to all Catholics.

This time of our ‘Eucharistic fast’ has made our hearts grow in longing for that moment when we can come together and receive again the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. That moment is now very near and for that we thank God.

 

 

Sunday Message from Fr Peter

I was looking at the readings for this Sunday’s Mass and, as always, it’s the little snippets that shout out at me and stick in my mind.

As you can see from the first reading, Jeremiah is going through a pretty bad time but in the midst of all his fears he says, ‘But the Lord is at my side’. Now, that is a nugget worth hanging on to. It is short, simple and direct. There is no misunderstanding it, no quibbling with it – it is simply the bottom line, as far as Jeremiah is concerned.

In the second reading, the letter to the Romans has a short phrase amidst so much, ‘divine grace …came …as an abundant gift’. Gifts are gifts, they don’t have to be earned, they are freely given by the giver, no strings attached. We don’t give someone a gift and say you can only do this or that with it, do we ? The moment conditions are put on something it ceases really to be a gift.

And, in the Gospel, full of beautiful images, Jesus says, ‘Why, every hair on your head has been counted …So there is no need to be afraid’. God knows us that well, he even knows how many hairs there are on our head; both when it was thick and luxurious and also for those who at this time of their lives are a bit thinner on top ! This is about intimacy, about God knowing us through and through, AND still loving every hair on our heads and our whole selves so that we do not need to be afraid.

So, be encouraged, this is the God who is at YOUR side, who gives YOU the abundant gift of grace and who has counted every hair on YOUR head.

As I celebrated my 26th ordination anniversary on Friday it is these kinds of words, these ‘snippets’, that give me comfort and strengthen me for the years ahead.

I hope they do you too !

Fr Peter

Updated photographs from the Underfloor heating project

Please see the latest photographs taken on 18th June 2020 of the inside of St Joseph’s taken by Fr Peter, some of which have a similar resemblance to that of a Roman hypocaust and our own Terracotta army..

 

 

Welcome to ‘ Carel’ 🙂

 

The ‘ Boiler free’ Plant room

Most Holy Redeemer to open for private prayer from Thursday 25th June 2020

Following a site visit and meeting yesterday,our plan is that we will open Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Sawbridgeworth for private prayer only from 12pm to 1pm every Tuesday and Thursday, hopefully starting on Thursday 25th June 2020.

St Joseph’s will remain closed whilst our building work continues and so will Holy Cross at St Andrews, for the present time.

This will give us the time required to sort out all the required signage, for there to be a thorough clean of the church, and for the last few items of required PPE still awaited to be delivered.

The latest guidance that we had from the Diocese  advised that members of the team should be deemed healthy and fit for work prior to commencement of work. At present, this excludes those who are deemed vulnerable ( over 70 years and/ or with certain pre- existing health conditions, self- isolating or shielding). This however may change.

So please do think about whether you could spare an hour on either a Tuesday or Thursday. It might not need to be every week – if we have enough volunteers, we will be able to set up a rota system.

If you are able to help, please may you kindly email the office with the following information.

  • Your Name and Contact details
  • Your availability to help ( i.e days of the week)
  • Which volunteer role you wish to help with i.e. Steward/ Cleaner or Both

This could be your chance to be ‘ that person’ to help , so please don’t be shy in coming forward! Many hands together make light work for the benefit of all Thank you.

 

Thank you to Alan Hodgson( also present) for taking a ‘ caption worthy’ surveillance photograph  of our meeting before we moved the pews (!)

Job Vacancy at the Food Bank

Would you like to join the friendly Food Bank team in Bishop’s Stortford? We are expanding and adapting to meet the demands of the Coronavirus situation, and are hoping to employ a Part Time Administrative Assistant/Secretary to help us in our work.

As Administrative Assistant, you would be based at the Methodist Church in Bishop’s Stortford, where you will provide administrative support for the Bishop’s Stortford Food Bank Co-ordinator. In addition, you will act as Secretary to the Food Bank Trustees, attending trustee meetings and taking notes.

This is a paid post (£10 per hour), and is for 9 hours a week (Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10am – 1pm), with a possibility of further hours as agreed. You would also be paid for the time required to attend trustee meetings (which usually take place in the evening) approximately four times a year. The post is fixed term for a 6 month period, to assist the Food Bank through this challenging period.

For further details of the position, please see the attached job specification If you feel that you are the right person for this role, please contact bsfoodbank.coordinator@gmail.com for an application form. Visits to the Food Bank prior to interview would be warmly welcomed. If you would like to call us for more information, please ring Jane Towns on 07747 181813.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Please visit our website www.bishopsstortfordfoodbank.com

Job Specification below

BSFB Administrator Requirements

St Theresa of Lisieux is open for private prayer

As we are still unfortunately not in the position to be able to open because of our building works, we wish to advise you that St Theresa’s in Stansted is open for private prayer.

Two of the slots, Monday and Thursday 11:00am-12:00 noon are set aside for those who are shielding (those over 70 and/or those with underlying medical conditions).

These will be strictly limited in numbers of attendance at any one time for obvious reasons, please do leave these slots available for those who need them, as all the others time slots are available to everyone.

See St Theresa’s web site for more info..

Home

 

A Corona Virus Appeal Message from CAFOD

These are difficult times. Many of us here in the UK have suffered terribly because of coronavirus, coping with grief, anxiety and hardship. In the world’s poorest countries, health care systems are not coping with the coronavirus and families are going hungry because people cannot go out to earn money. CAFOD is helping protect and improve the lives of our sisters and brothers during this global emergency. If you are in a position to support our Coronavirus Appeal, you can donate at cafod.org.uk/coronavirus. Thank you

Sunday Message for Corpus Christi from Fr Carlos

Parish Message for Corpus Christi

Dear Parishioners,

This week I celebrated the 4th Anniversary of my Ordination to the Diaconate. I’m sure I would have loved to celebrate this moment with you face to face and at Mass. The current situation, however, has changed things. I guess that I can invite you to raise a glass this weekend for the anniversary, if desired.

Reflecting on the Solemnity that is to be celebrated this Sunday, I was thinking of the days that led to my Diaconate – the preparation, the arrival of the family, the stress in organising the event, and, most importantly, the fact that I was getting ordained! I had returned from my retreat and suddenly it hit me: in two days I will be a deacon – not only to serve at the altar but also to imitate the life of Christ as a deacon, soon to be a priest the following year.

After two sleepless nights and a nervous moment, I remember that all I could say is: ‘I’m ready to give myself to you.’ After the imposition of the Bishop’s hands and the Prayer of Ordination, I became a deacon; and all my fears were allayed. It was as if I knew that God had answered my call.

What was even more joyous was the fact that for the first time, I was able to serve at the altar and be able to raise the chalice along with the celebrant. I felt close to see that the Eucharist is really the call to be like Christ – to give my life in service for the other. This is the experience we all have as Christians, just like he did before they were at supper: washing the disciples’ feet (which was the icon used for my Ordination Card. When we receive the Body of Christ again (hopefully soon), let us remember to be Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve (Mt 20:28).

Fr. Carlos

Important – Hoax email purporting to be from Fr Peter in circulation

Please be aware that there is a new ‘ hoax email entitled ‘ Blessed be God’ using the email address parishpastor1373@gmail.com in circulation.

Subject: Blessed Be God

Hi,Hope you are having a nice day?
i need your help with a very important errand.
Email me as soon as you get my message.

Fr. Peter Harris

Please DO NOT respond to any such email but please consider forwarding on to Action fraud as a phishing attempt via the address below for their information.

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing

As the email originates from Gmail, it can also be reported to them also using the link below and you can add the address to your blocked sender list.

https://support.google.com/mail/contact/abuse

Any emails sent from Fr Peter, Fr Carlos or myself will always use an authorised and approved Diocesan email account which is monitored and kept secure by our ICT department in Westminster and not a Gmail account or anything similar.

If you are ever in any doubt that any email purporting to be from Fr Peter, Fr Carlos of the Parish office is not a genuine one , please contact the office by telephone  to double check.

Thank you very much

How to be with grieving friends as we come out of lockdown

As we emerge from lockdown, how can we best support friends who are grieving for loved ones who have died during the coronavirus pandemic?

Helping people cope with bereavement and grief in the wake of the pandemic

Dr Lynn Bassett, a retired healthcare chaplain, looks at some of the challenges to be faced in dealing with grief and bereavement as we slowly begin to emerge from lockdown following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

As lockdown begins to lift

As schools and shops reopen there is some sense that we can begin to get back to normal. However, for many of us things have changed; it is not so much a case of going back to the old normal way of life as finding our way out into a new normal.

This is particularly true for the tens of thousands of people, in this country alone, who have lost loved ones during the pandemic. Whether their friends or relatives have died from COVID-19 or from some other cause, the sadness and suffering of bereavement may have been magnified by the suddenness of the death and by the fact that it has not been possible to say goodbye in the ways that we would normally expect: hospitals and care homes have been forced to close their doors to visitors; funerals have been restricted to a minimum number of mourners; places of worship are closed.

Add to this the isolation and other difficulties of lockdown and the healing process of normal grieving has, perhaps, been put ‘on hold’; just too much to deal with at this time. A loss which is totally personal seems to have been caught up in the great tide of loss and grief which is sweeping our country, taking away its unique individuality, making it feel like just another statistic.

Each is individual, a person with a story, family, friends, connections and memories

We have been reminded tirelessly, by health professionals, that no death is a mere statistic. Each is individual, a person with a story, family, friends, connections and memories. Indeed, this is the source of the pain that we know as grief or bereavement.

Feelings of loss are often closely interwound with experience of love; the more we have loved, the greater the sense of loss. We need time and space to acknowledge the reality of our loss, to endure the avalanche of symptoms of grief which can be physical (such as stomach cramps and insomnia), psychological (such as intense sadness, tiredness and depression) and spiritual (such as loss of personal meaning, purpose and sense of how I fit into the world).

These symptoms descend in no predictable time frame or order, often when and how you least expect them, so that some people have said, ‘it feels like you’re going mad’. The reassurance is that you are not losing your mind, these are normal manifestations of grief.

Grief has been frozen, put on ice

Grief encountered during the coronavirus pandemic can be even more complicated because it has somehow been ‘frozen’, put on ice.

As we emerge from lockdown and the ice begins to melt, like numbed hands returning indoors on a winter’s day, the pain of grief may begin to intensify. It will set its own agenda.

What can we do to offer comfort, warmth and hospitality?

Coming in from the cold of a bleak winter’s day is perhaps an analogy for the place that family members, neighbours and work colleagues, who have lost someone dear to them in the last 3 months, will find themselves.

The setting seems familiar and yet, bewilderingly, everything has changed. What can we do to offer them comfort, warmth and hospitality?

It is time to step up and be there for those we know who are suffering from loss at this time

Bereaved people sometimes notice how people cross the street rather than face that awkward moment of talking to them. “I just don’t know what to say” is generally the reason given. As we emerge from this pandemic, with so many bereaved, and counselling services already stretched, it is time for us to step up and be there for the people we know who are suffering from loss at this time.

Bereaved people tell us that it is not so important for you find exactly the right words, rather that you acknowledge their loss in a genuine way. They may not want you to say much at all, simply your presence, your willingness to be with them, if only for a minute or two, to share something of their pain.

Rather than talking, they might prefer you to listen, to hear the story that they need to retell, over and over, in order to heal. Allow them to talk about their loved one and try to mention him or her by name yourself, share your own personal remembrance of that person where it is affirming and helpful. This is what keeps their memory alive. Someone said, “Coming to terms with loss is not about leaving loved ones behind, it is bringing their memory with you into the life that you continue to lead.”

Offers of practical help are a good way to show a grieving friend that they are not forgotten

Keep in touch, do not wait for a person who is grieving to call you. A brief phone call to see how they are may be appreciated but give them the opportunity to tell you if they would prefer you not to call again.

Similarly, offers of practical help are a good way to show a person who feels lost in grief that they are not forgotten. Small acts of kindness, like a card through the door, a home-made cake, companionship on a walk or promise of prayers, often mean more that you can imagine.

Often just being there is enough

Try not to offer advice, to attempt to ‘fix’ their problems or offer platitudes to help them feel better; though it is tempting. Do not be too quick to make efforts to cheer them up when tears flow. Rather, follow their lead in the conversation and allow them to tell you how things really are for them.

The situation may be different from one meeting to another because of the intense waves of emotion such as anger, guilt and sadness that accompany grief. Sometimes it may seem like they are going backwards or round in circles; this is normal, the grieving process is not linear.

Gently reassure them that they are not going mad but, if you do sense serious problems, encourage them to seek professional help. Being with another person, listening in an open and non-judgmental way can help them to work through some of these feelings for themselves. Where you can, allow silent pauses; these give the other person time to think. Often just being there is enough.

Commit to being there for the long haul

Bereavement is normal and grief takes time. Grief from this pandemic may take much longer to begin to heal than we think. Try not to expect your family or friends to be over it and back to normal after a few months. Accept that these losses have changed their lives for ever and it is going to take time to adjust. Commit to being there for them for the long haul. Do whatever you can, but don’t take on more than you can or you will not be able stay the course.

Take care of yourself, because helping to carry the burden of grief for another person is uncomfortable, heavy and tiring – there is no other way. Take time to relax, to breathe, to exercise, to do something each day that gives you joy. This is not self-indulgence, it is the sensible the way to be kind to yourself so that you can continue to be with grieving friends in a compassionate and meaningful way.

You can find more help and advice at:

You can also read more about coping with bereavement and grief on our website.

Don’t Forget Me: Accompanying people with Intellectual Disabilities as they face death and bereavement

An online course that helps participants learn how best to accompany people with intellectual disabilities as they face death and bereavement.

22 June to 2 August 2020

Online Only

This online course, provided by the University of Roehampton and created by Cristina Gangemi from the Kairos Forum, helps participants learn how best to accompany people with intellectual disabilities as they face death and bereavement.

Talking about death and loss is never easy. Over time, approaches to palliative care and bereavement have resulted in some very useful resources for people to read and reflect upon. But what if the person who is ill or bereft has an intellectual disability?

Why is there so much to support ‘typical’ forms of communication but so little for people who need a more creative approach as they face death? This course, Don’t Forget Me, grapples with these important dilemmas.

Participants will also learn how to engage in the creative, practical and spiritual accompaniment of people with intellectual disabilities, as they travel through experiences of palliative care, death and bereavement.

Case Study

Appropriately, the course focuses on COVID-19 as a case study, with some practical suggestions for accompaniment in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Interested?

The course is provided online and runs from 22 June to 2 August 2020 – there is no requirement to travel you can complete the course from the comfort of your own home.

estore.roehampton.ac.uk/short-courses/

Fees / Bursaries

The full course fee is £170 but generous bursaries are available for students on a low income, please email catherineofsiena@roehampton.ac.uk to request an application form.

Advice from Carmelites for this time of Confinement

Ten suggestions from an enclosed religious order on how to get through these days in confinement and not perish in the attempt!

1. FREEDOM OF SPIRIT

First and most fundamental of all is your approach, the way you interpret the situation, your awareness that it is not defeat. Paradoxically, now can be your chance to discover the greatest, most genuine freedom of all – inner freedom that no-one can take away from you, the freedom that comes from yourself. It’s true that the Government is compelling us all to stay at home. But being free means doing so because you choose to, for the greater good. You’re free when you are able to take on a given situation because you want to do what is right. You’re not imprisoned in your home if you freely choose to stay there.

2. PEACE MEANS THE SOUL CAN EXPAND

Look inside yourself. The place where there’s enough space to spread out and be happy is in your own heart. You don’t need physical space around you; what you need is to walk at ease in your inner world. Make room for creativity, listen to your own inspirations and find the beauty you are capable of. Perhaps you haven’t yet discovered that life springs up from peace of mind, peace of soul. Life creates more life, life gives joy and love. When you learn to live inside yourself, you’ll stop wanting to live on externals.

3. DON’T NEGLECT YOURSELF – PEACE HAS TO BE NURTURED

Exercise virtues that require concentration and self-knowledge, the virtues that we generally don’t have time for because we’re busy with the thousand and one things we have to do. You can live in heaven or in hell – it just depends on how you face up to your own emotions and thoughts, how you manage your own senses and passions. Observe yourself, and learn self-mastery, because once you let yourself be ruled by fear, sadness or apathy you’ll find it hard to break away, as there are not many turnings off that route. Keep your heart under your control, and when you realise a particular line of thought is not doing you any good, throw it out. Try and tend towards whatever you find gives you peace of mind and inner joy – harmony has to be worked on, peace has to be nurtured.

4. LOVE

The red-hot topic when living shut up together with others is how to get on with each other without friction or conflicts. Plenty of us may be more touchy or irritable than usual because of the pandemic. Achieving harmony takes a lot of patience and common sense. We’re all different, and for many reasons we each have different sensitivities. Accept and respect other people’s opinions and feelings. When everyone is at home it’s very common for each person to want to impose their ideas on the rest, to somehow get the others under their control. Recognize it in yourself, and try not to do it, because it causes endless arguments and frustration. Learn to treat differences of opinion as unimportant, and build on points of agreement. The only sphere that really does belong to you is your own self, your thoughts, words and feelings; don’t control other people, control yourself. Your love for the others will give you understanding, empathy, a desire to give, and gratitude for what you receive. Respect; be welcoming to other people’s weaknesses; pour oil on troubled waters; live and let live.

5. DON’T JUST KILL TIME

There is nothing as demoralizing and ultimately sickening as wasting time. Time-wasting is a serious enemy that can rob you of your peace of mind and even initiate depression. Make a plan for these days, and try to follow it in a self-disciplined way. Resting and keeping yourself occupied are not polar opposites. Use this period to rest by doing things you find relaxing or fun. Take your time over the little details: fry the onions to just the right point, get the cake exactly the right consistency, cook the casserole in a slow oven to bring out its full flavour… for once, there’s plenty of time! Even if you spend two hours cooking a meal, enjoy every minute of it. But make sure that the things you do, however simple, are worthwhile things, with a purpose. Don’t ever waste time pointlessly; “killing time” means killing your own life.

6. BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS

How often we complain about all the things we never find time to do! Well… now we have time! The book you got three Christmases ago and haven’t yet read, the book you haven’t returned to its owner because you stopped halfway through… If you like music, look for new performers, branch out into new kinds. Fancy travelling? Think of some exotic destination and learn about its culture, language, traditions… that’s what the internet is for. If you are a person of faith and prayer, perhaps you don’t know what prayers to say because you’ve said everything already. How about trying the Liturgy of the Hours? Download it onto your phone, get into the writings of one or two of the saints, and you’ll find plenty that fills your soul with new lights. Don’t be satisfied with what you’re already familiar with. Now you have the time, open up to new things that can be a source of deeper wisdom and happiness.

7. FOR THE MORE VULNERABLE

Let’s face it, we can’t all manage our feelings and emotions successfully. Some people’s psychology makes enforced confinement much harder to handle. Our emotions don’t depend only on ourselves; they’re also influenced by what we see and hear and touch. That means we need to be selective about what we receive from the outside, otherwise we risk getting into vicious circles that trap us in desperation or make us lose control. Things to avoid as far as possible are: pessimistic conversations, arguments, gloomy looks, information overload, horror films or suspense films, and a messy house. As there are not many opportunities for distraction, everything that enters our minds is going to stay there longer than usual, so we should take care not to get obsessed with things, and not to allow a negative thought or idea to take root within us. Watching too much TV or internet can also be harmful, because it over-stimulates the brain and leaves us jumpy and irritable. We need to get enough sleep, but too much sleep can produce a sense of failure or defeat. One of the best ways of channelling our energy and relaxing is dancing. Put on some good music, have a laugh while dancing for a good long while; there’s nothing like laughing to re-set the system.

8. YOU’RE NOT ISOLATED

It’s important to understand that you have no reason to feel lonely, because you’re not alone. Your family’s and friends’ love and affection is still there, even without physical contact. This is an opportunity to communicate on a deeper, more personal level. Spend time talking at length with the other people at home, listen to them, hear them out, and let conversation increase trust and mutual confidences bind you together. Say what you never have time to say, tell the things you’ve always wanted to tell, talk about everything and nothing, but do it affectionately, because that is what makes it all sink in. Reply to the Christmas card you never thanked the sender for, or the letter that moved you and that you put aside until you could think of how to answer it, or the email from an old friend. Look for the right words, try and give expression to your highest or deepest feelings. Speak straight from the heart and create much deeper ties with family and friends. Like that, you’ll find that distance doesn’t mean absence.

9. DAY OF REFLECTION

One way of not getting overwhelmed by it all is to create times of silence and solitude. Include spaces for personal “oxygenation” in your time-plan for these days. I’ve heard so many people saying “How I’d love to go away to a monastery for a few days on retreat!” Well, now you have the chance: at home. Life generally goes at such a rate that we spend all our time keeping up, and never get to assimilate what we are experiencing properly. We hope for real changes in society – “This can’t go on” is something else you often hear. Now we have a chance to withdraw into a cocoon like a caterpillar that’s going to change into a butterfly. Reflect, think, meditate. What can I change in myself so as to be a better person after all of this is over? Being separated from the things we are normally immersed in can help us to see whether we really focus on the things that matter, what are the things we can do without, what things are really indispensable, and so on. Discerning where to improve will make this period a time of growth. At the end of it, many men and women will emerge renewed.

10. PRAY

The only thing that can sustain life in every situation, including adversity, is prayer. St Teresa of Avila said, “Even though I come to it last, it is the main thing.” Praying means opening up to the Other who can support me when I need help; but when I am fine, prayer also means supporting others who need my help. Prayer is the most universal experience of Love. Pray, talk with God; the time will go by without your realising it. Talk to him about everything, he never gets tired of listening to you. Pour out your heart to him whenever you need to, and… let him pour out his heart to you! He is your Father, your Brother, your Friend. Put your faith and trust into action. If the last time you talked to God was when you made your First Communion, try it again now, when you have the time and opportunity to have a conversation with him. Perhaps you don’t believe it because you’ve never tried. Why not give it a go now?

Advanced Notice of a Temporary Change to Daily Mass Times at St Joseph’s

As from Monday 15th June 2020, the time of daily Mass at St Joseph’s will be changed temporarily from  9.30am to 5pm via our livestream for 2 weeks.

This is to enable the contractors currently working on the new underfloor heating system from Monday to Friday, to continue their work and not have to stop what they are doing  mid way during the morning, which should prove more time efficient.

We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause and thank you for your understanding.

There will be no changes to any Mass intentions . The only change will be the time of the Mass.