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Sunday Message from Fr Peter

Sunday Message from Fr Peter on the Feast of Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

“The Feast of Christ the King always heralds the end of the Church’s year, which means, indeed, that the following Sunday IS the Church’s new year – the First Sunday of Advent…. So, in the world of our Catholic Faith it will be time for New Year’s resolutions; not just general things but specifically FAITH resolutions… Now that has got you thinking hasn’t it ?!?!

Just like “worldly” new year’s resolutions, it is probably best not to start with anything impossible or things you feel are beyond your abilities.. no, start simple, but truthful.

What about reflecting, with your soul’s eye, on a sort of “Faith” M.O.T.? Just like with all the different parts of a car, seeing how they are all reliant on each other, go back to basics. E.g. Is there any petrol in the tank? Is there any petrol (Grace?) in your spiritual tank? Grace is God’s gift but we can always waste it or refuse it – perhaps there’s a sort of “leak” where God’s Grace is seeping out of my life – perhaps an urgent repair is needed? If so, thinking of my childhood, it may be that this is the time to get the “puncture kit” out of our saddlebag. It is a simple operation, it just takes a little effort and then we will be back on the road of our Faith; that repair is called “forgiveness” and God offers us an unending amount of it if we but ask.

So, spend some of this Sunday thanking God for the Kingship of Christ our Lord, and then spend some of the coming week preparing your New Year’s Faith resolutions, for example: more time in prayer (never too late to start); greater kindness to others (much needed at the moment); always remembering to say thank you” to God for all His blessings in your life, both obvious and sometimes, less obvious. BUT, above all else, at least TRY!!”

God bless,

Fr Peter

Cleaner vacancies at St Joseph’s Catholic School

Cleaner Vacancies

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School are looking for cleaners to join their team in January 2021, 7.00am to 9.00am and/or 3.30pm to 5.30pm weekdays, term time only with possible overtime during school holidays. Please contact Nicola McManus 01279 652576 sbmanager@stjosephs207.herts.sch.uk for an application form.

The school is committed to safeguarding children and young people. All post holders are subject to a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and two satisfactory references.

Sunday Message from Fr Antonio on 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Most of us have read the parable of the talents many times, and more likely than not we think of the talents referred to as representing our own gifts or abilities and that we should use them not for our benefit but for the good of others. A less common interpretation — equally valid and arguably more profound — is that the talents represent the priceless gifts of mercy and love that God so readily gives to us. And those gifts of mercy and love grow and multiply the more we use them and not when we hide or grow indifferent towards them.
We can understand this better with the aid of the first reading from the book of Proverbs about the “worthy wife”. She is like the servant in the parable of the talents who doubled his five talents by using them. She works busily within her household and does so “with loving hands” (Proverbs 31:13). Instead of stopping there, she goes on to “reach out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy” (31:30). In other words, she does not bury the love and mercy that she receives from God. Instead, she gives them away to anyone who needs them.
God’s precious gifts of mercy and love are given to everyone. This means that we all have the responsibility to open our hands and hearts to give them away to those around us. We receive love and so we should give love. We are shown mercy and so we should show mercy. And we should never think that we have given away enough love or mercy. We must keep sharing these gifts so that our circle of influence will grow larger and larger, just as the two men in the parable multiplied their talents by trading. Let us be inspired by Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She never tried to eradicate poverty, at least not by herself. The mission she set herself was to be with one person at a time. And, as we all know, her circle of influence affected the whole world, inspiring countless others to spread the gifts of love and mercy.
Fr Antonio

There but not there…..

As we remember the Holy Souls during the month of November, we once again pay tribute to and pray for those parishioners who died during WW1 and WW2.  As part of the ‘ There but not there’ project our Church pews are filled with the silhouettes of eight young men who lost their lives.

At a time when we are not able to be physically present for the celebration of Mass, we can be comforted that those who walked before us, remain in the Church, to represent us once again.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen

Introducing Fr Antonio

Introducing Fr Antonio…

It is unfortunate that I arrived in Bishop’s Stortford just a week before the national lockdown kicked in. It meant that I got the chance to meet just a few of the parishioners before, once again, we were told to “stay at home and save lives”. But I can at least introduce myself now in the newsletter and on the website.

My name is Fr Antonio Pineda, born a Filipino and bred a Londoner. I moved from the Philippines to England when I was very young and I did most of my “growing up” in Greenford, west London. I had a sense of being called to the priesthood from a very young age but, because I wanted to experience the world first, I did not think seriously about applying to enter seminary until I was in my late 30s. I was sent to Rome for my priestly training and I was there for seven years. I was ordained in July 2018 in my home parish of St George’s Church in Sudbury, Wembley. My first parish assignment was Borehamwood where I stayed for two years until Cardinal Vincent sent me here in your lovely parish in Bishop’s Stortford.

When I am not doing priestly things like praying or celebrating Mass, I turn to my hobbies to keep me inspired. These include books, both reading and collecting them. I am particularly into the classics and fantasy fiction. I like to escape to Narnia and Middle-Earth now and again! I also love IT. I enjoy using technology to make life easier and/or more enjoyable. I love being creative with my computer by designing websites and publications as well as editing photos and videos.

Before entering seminary, I had media related jobs including a communications officer for the Royal College of Nursing and a website editor for Brunel University.

I am very much looking forward to getting to know all of you and serving the parish. Please be assured of my prayers and I ask that you pray for me too as I begin my ministry in Bishop’s Stortford.

 

In Christ,

Fr Antonio

Update to the Lockdown Restrictions as of 5th November 2020

Unfortunately due to the further COVID-19 restrictions and  lockdown,  we are no longer able to gather for public worship  from Thursday 5th November until 2nd December 2020 however…

Fr Peter and Fr Antonio Mass will continue to celebrate daily and weekend Mass at St Joseph’s behind’closed doors’ albeit without a physical congregation being present. Mass will be live streamed on http://www.churchservices.tv/bishopsstortford so please do join us ‘ virtually’. Regretably Mass will not be celebrated at Holy Cross or Most Holy Redeemer.

Mass Times at St Joseph’s via the live streaming 

Monday- Friday Mass will be broadcast live at 9.30am 

Saturday Vigil Mass will be broadcast live at 6pm 

Sunday Mass will be broadcast live at 9am and at 11am with music and Cantor.

All of the Masses will be recorded and can be viewed at any time after the time of broadcast.

 

We also hope to open St Joseph and the English Martyrs Catholic Church and Holy Cross  for private prayer  initially during restricted hours which are subject to change.

A Steward/s will be in attendance to ensure that our Churches continue to remain COVID secure. Please observe the social distancing measures in place, using hand sanitiser and wearing a face covering ( unless exempt)  when visiting the Church. We ask you to respect also the capacity limits of 38 individual persons from separate households at any one time at St Josephs and 32 persons at Holy Cross. Our track and trace measures will continue, but there is no requirement to book a place for private prayer at this time. We have a QR Code on display for those with a phone app or we will ask for your name and contact details upon arrival so that individuals can be notified in the event of any suspected Covid-19 case.

Your details will be securely kept for 21 days  to enable us to provide details to the trace & test system should an outbreak occur.

Full details of the Privacy Notice can be found at http://www.rcdow.org.uk/privacy-policy

 

Private Prayer time at Holy Cross

Sunday 8th November between 2.30pm – 4.30pm

 

Private Prayer time at St Joseph’s

Monday 9th November – 10am – 10.30am

Tuesday 10th November- 8.30am-9am

Wednesday 11th November- 8.30am-9am

Thursday 12th November – 8.30am-9am

Friday 13th November – 10am -10.30am

 

Thank you for your patience, prayers and understanding at this difficult time. 

 

Statement from the President and the Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference on the National Lockdown

Today, Parliament passed into law the Regulations governing many aspects of activity in the whole of England until 2nd December.  These Regulations prohibit the gathering of people for communal worship in churches and other religious buildings.

Churches remain open and in use for activities other than communal worship, including personal prayer and support for those in need.  Funeral Masses and funeral services may be held. Please refer to the Regulations (for places of worship see paragraph 18) and associated Guidance.

Despite profound misgivings it is important that we, as responsible citizens, observe these Regulations, which have the force of law: ‘Remind them to be obedient to the officials in authority; to be ready to do good at every opportunity’ (Titus 3:1).  We do this in solidarity with so many others on whom are being imposed restrictions which impact severely on their lives and livelihoods.

It is also important to recognise that these Regulations are not an attack on religious belief.  However, they do demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the essential contribution made by faith communities to the well-being, resilience and health of our society.

At this difficult moment, we ask that, as a Catholic community, we make full use of our churches as places of individual prayer and sources of solace and help.  We must sustain each other in our patterns of prayer, joining a national shared moment of prayer each day at 6pm, and observing the Vigil of Christ the King (21st November) as a day of prayer for the ending of this pandemic.  And we encourage you all in your practical service and support of each other and those around you in need.

This pathway of prayer and service is the royal road we are to take as a gracious witness in our society today.

 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols                                         Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
President                                                                     Vice-President

Statement of President and Vice-President of Bishops’ Conference on Prime Minister’s announcement of further lockdown

On Saturday 31st October, the Prime Minister announced further widespread restrictions in England beginning on Thursday 5th November.  The Government has published its New National Restrictions Guidance on its website here.  Whilst there was no formal announcement on Places of Worship by the Prime Minister, there is clear guidance on this website that places of worship will be required to end all acts of collective worship, except for funeral ceremonies. In response the following statement is issued by the President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference.

The announcement of a new ‘national lockdown’ in England will, we know, bring hardship, distress and suffering to many.  We must hope and pray that this is an effective strategy against a growing pandemic which has tragically taken so many lives already and threatens so many more.

Faith communities have played a vital role in sustaining personal, spiritual and mental health and encouraging vital charitable activities, which support hundreds of thousands of people in all sections of the community, especially the most vulnerable.  That critical service towards the common good of all is created and sustained by communal worship and prayer.  Part of this selfless giving has been a strong ethic of responsibility in the way in which we have reopened our churches so that essential worship has been enabled.  Our communities have done a great deal to make our churches safe places in which all have been able to gather in supervised and disciplined ways.

It is thus a source of deep anguish now that the Government is requiring, once again, the cessation of public communal worship.  Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the Government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combatting the virus.  We ask the Government to produce this evidence that justifies the cessation of acts of public worship.

To counter the virus we will, as a society, need to make sustained sacrifices for months to come. In requiring this sacrifice, the Government has a profound responsibility to show why it has taken particular decisions.  Not doing so risks eroding the unity we need as we enter a most difficult period for our country.

The Prime Minister has stated that the draft legislation will be placed before Parliament on Monday 2nd November.  Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to discuss the issues and vote on the proposed national restrictions.  In this short timeframe, questions can be raised with our elected Members of Parliament regarding the cessation of public common worship. They are in a position to require the Government to publish the data that drives the decision to cease public worship under these restrictions.

 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols                                         Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
President                                                                     Vice-President

Talk Money Week 9-13 November 2020

Accessing Affordable Credit
– Monday 9 November 12 – 1pm
  • 8 million people in the UK are estimated to use credit to cover everyday expenses.
  • The average credit card bill this August was £2,241 – if only the minimum payment was paid this could take almost 27 years to pay off.

Most of us rely on borrowing of one form or another, be it loans, credit cards or mortgages.
A lack of access to credit that is affordable puts many households at risk of becoming trapped in a cycle of debt. We want to ensure that households are not forced to pay a premium for credit .

In this session we will explore the different types of credit, their true cost and impact, to help you choose wisely.

Target: – Public

Please share details/register your clients, service users and members.
Registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/accessing-affordable-credit-tickets-127356355287

Guiding People to Free Debt Advice
– A Signposting Workshop

 Wednesday 11 November 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Many people in debt don’t know that free debt advice is available and instead turn to those they already know and trust for help – a carer, community leader or key worker, their church.  Many community organisations are also finding that debt has become an increasingly prevalent issue amongst the complex needs of their client. – While all may not have debt management expertise, all individuals and organisations are in a position to offer an empathetic ear and signposting advice to those that do.

In this session we will explore:
·   The causes of debt problems.
·   How to respond when someone tells you they’re in debt.
·   Signs that someone may need debt advice.
·   Signposting or referring someone to the appropriate support.
·   Helping someone prepare for advice.
·   The debt advice process.

Target:  Public, Community Organisations, Faith Groups & Schools

Registration Link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/guiding-people-to-free-debt-advice-debt-awareness-signposting-workshop-tickets-122993531965

Dealing with Loan Sharks
– Thursday 10 November 12 – 1pm
Loan sharks are illegal, unregulated lenders who often target low income and desperate families who may feel they have no other option. They might seem friendly at first but victims often find themselves caught in a web of infinitely  spiralling interest and debt with no end in sight.

In this session you will learn how to recognise and assist your clients who may have fallen victims to loan sharks.

Target:  Public, Community Organisations, Faith Groups & Schools

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dealing-with-loan-sharks-tickets-127359952045

Managing Your Fuel & Utility Bills This Winter
– Friday 13 November 12 – 1pm
Winter always provides an additional challenge for those struggling financially and this year’s challenges  will be unlike any other.

In this session you will learn about the energy discounts and schemes, fuel vouchers, dealing with utility arrears and the recent Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards legislation and how your landlord may be obliged to make your home cheaper to heat.

Target:  Public, Community Organisations, Faith Groups & Schools

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/managing-your-fuel-utility-bills-this-winter-tickets-127360395371

For further information contact:
Pat Fernandes
Financial Inclusion Manager – Advicer4Renters
0207 971 4580
Pat.Fernandes@Advice4Renters.org.uk

The Bishops Stortford Food Bank Revervse Advent Calendar

THE BISHOP’S STORTFORD FOODBANK REVERSE ADVENT CALENDAR 🎄

I’m sure many of you will of heard about a ‘reverse advent calendar’ – where you donate an item to a charity or a Foodbank in the lead up to Christmas.

This is something the Food bank are really excited about doing…however they are going to start this from 1st November.
There are a few reasons for this…
1. If you collect all your wonderful donations throughout December and then come to donate to them on Christmas Eve…they won’t be there  and they wouldn’t want all your hard work to go to waste.
2. They actually need your donations at the beginning of December, allowing  time to sort, organise and donate them to who they need to go to.

So with this in mind, they have put together a plan for November! This is just to give you a rough idea of the kind of items that they would love to receive. You do not need to stick to this list at all.

So grab a box and each day over the next month see if you can fill it with 24 items.

They will be putting a reminder out everyday of what could be put in the Reverse Advent Calendar.

If you have any questions then please message them.

Thank you so much 🎄🎄🎄

https://www.facebook.com/bsfoodbank/

The Sunday Message from Fr Peter for All Saints Day

Fr Antonio has just arrived, luckily with others to carry his things up to the second floor ! It made me reflect on new beginnings….

I THINK I remember starting secondary school. I do remember that for the first year we had to wear shorts, ‘cos we were the juniors !

Then it was long trousers…. A blazer and a cap made us smart we thought.

I remember going for my first job interview – and I got the job.. in publishing, in a Company on the edge of the old Covent Garden. I thought I was the bee’s knees; my Mum bought me a suit and a hat (with a tiny feather in the hat band) – all from Dunne and Co… Out of my £10 a week I paid my daily train fares up and down to Waterloo from Epsom, bought lunch in the tiny subsidized canteen and paid my Mum £5. The wages came round every Friday in little brown envelopes with a pay slip, all in cash.

I remember starting my first teaching job – I loved it and made great friends amongst the teaching staff; and then a few years later applying for a Head of Dept at another school and thinking how much I would miss my friends, (just like going from junior to senior school…)

Of course it was the same when I became a priest and found myself moving Parishes on each of the four times I have done so…

AND YET…. each time the good Lord looked after me and each time I was very sad moving on.

Let’s all pray that just the same is true for Fr Antonio now that he is amongst us, and lets have a sneaking aspiration that when he does come to move on, he’ll miss us more than the others !!!

 

Fr Peter Harris

Fr Peter in action!

It’s not a scene from ‘Ghostbusters,’ but Fr Peter helping to keep St Joseph’s sterile and clean with our new ‘ fogging machine’

Photo courtesy of DJ

Update on Parish Finances

The Parish Finance Committee (PFC) held its regular quarterly meeting by Zoom on Tuesday 27th October 2020

Our finances have suffered significantly this year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and also due to the cost of the replacement of the Central Heating in St Joseph’s, which we had just committed to before the lockdown in March.

The cost of the Central Heating was £220,000, although we will recoup £37,000 of this through VAT Refunds. This is significantly higher than the original estimate of £140,000, due largely to unexpected costs such as the provision of a new electricity supply from the other side of Windhill!

Both general income and expense have been hit by the Church closures, with significant reductions in Catachetics costs, Liturgical Expenses, Candles and Repository, Parish Activities and Parish Centre Income. Unfortunately the Utility bills, Office, Administration and Housekeeping costs remain the same!

The effect on Offertory Income, which is our main source of income, has been particularly severe. Whilst 60% of our Offertory comes from Standing Orders, which have increased slightly, if the current situation continues, as we expect, to the end of the year loose plate will be down by £31,000 to £11,000, and Envelope contributions will be down by £13,000 to £18,500.

Overall we are now looking at a deficit for the year of £207,000, compared with the budget of £162,000. Overall our finances are still relatively healthy and we do meet the diocesan guidelines of having one year’s expenses in our reserves, however we have had to (temporarily) transfer £75,000 from our Building / Savings account to the Parish Current Account to avoid this becoming overdrawn. We plan to start repaying this once we receive the VAT refunds for the Central Heating.

Whilst this update is NOT an appeal for funds and we do understand that many parishioners are living on reduced incomes, it may be that some parishioners could consider changing their method of contribution from Loose Plate or Envelope to Standing Order, putting a contribution in one of those envelopes that are still sitting in the box and dropping it in or posting it to No. 3, or making a donation either on-line or by cheque through the post.

We look forward to seeing you back in Church before too long and to a financially healthier 2021.

Chair of the Parish Finance Committee

Please support the Sick and Retired Priests Fund

 

Next weekend is the annual collection for sick and retired priests in the Diocese of Westminster. There are more than 80 sick and retired priests who receive support after a lifetime of service to their parishes. By 2025 the number of priests in retirement is set to double.

Most priests offer their resignation as a parish priest at the age of 75, but many continue to serve in our parishes, schools, hospices, and hospitals. At this time, they are dependent on the Diocese for their care – for essentials like housing, any health needs and other essentials.

These priests have baptised us. They have welcomed us, and our families, into the Church. They have counselled us at times of crisis, sat with us through grief and sorrow, and shared in times of joy. They have given to us all and now, in their old age or sickness, they need us to give back.

By giving to the Sick & Retired Priests’ Fund, you can ensure our priests are cared for. You can take a donation envelope as you leave Church today, but the envelopes and posters feature a ‘QR Code’ that you can scan with a phone camera to give online, reducing the risks to everyone of handling cash or touching the envelopes. Please continue to pray for all our clergy: active, retired or ill. Thank you.

Good bye Fr Carlos..

At the weekend we celebrated our last Mass with Fr Carlos and presented him with gifts from the Parish. We send our love and prayers with Fr Carlos as he departs for St Joan of Arc in Highbury. We shall miss you very much!

Photos courtesy of Bernadette

Parish Message for the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am afraid to say that this is the end – it is the last weekend here in the parish.

As I finish tying loose ends in the office and presbytery, I have had the opportunity to reflect in the past three years in Bishop’s Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, and Much Hadham. I remember coming in, fresh off the Cathedral floor, ruddy behind the ears. I’m sure that you too were worried. You just had Fr. Fortunato serving here for two years, and then, gone. A 27 year-old-priest was on his way.

But then we hit it off altogether. Sure, it took some time. Perhaps I was serious looking and unpredictable; but, as many of you have mentioned, we met each other at ground level. You encountered a priest who can reach to you, can make mistakes, and can have a sense of humour – in short, you found a human priest.

And in discovering this human priest, you encountered one who can approach and speak to. The visitations to your houses were a great resource for me, as I got to know you and your families better. Some of you managed to catch a glimpse of my dance moves at parties. Perhaps you enjoyed ‘Soaking the Father’ at the Summer Fair, promenading at the Barn Dance last year, or listening me to ask questions during the Quiz Nights.

I often think what constitutes the mission of the priest. Is it the theology he has learned, the liturgy that he practices, or the projects he carries out? Sure, these things make the characteristics of each priest, but that is not the mission. I believe the mission is simple: to be present for his people. To be present does not necessarily mean that he agrees all the time: his duty is to counsel, warn, and even admonish at times; but the presence of a lending ear and union of his formation and experience helps a parishioner know that a priest is not someone who lives on a different plane from everybody else, but lives in the same world as his people do. Speaking with you in the past few weeks, I believe that I have completed my mission of service in the Parish.

As you know very well, no priest is perfect. Therefore, I ask for your forgiveness for my weaknesses, misgivings, or even moments that I have caused you any inconvenience – moments in which I may have not been charitable or just plain old harsh. I hope you have accepted a 30-year-old, hot-blooded, American for who he is.

I think you can agree with me: I did not expect my first three years of ministry to happen the way it did. Obviously, I cannot have served you with the best of my ability with your help. I cannot forget to offer my gratitude firstly to Fr. Peter and to Debbie. Fr. Peter has helped me to embrace the beginnings of priestly ministry – to go all out and enjoy it and to embrace the many pastoral responsibilities that a Parish holds.

Debbie can best be described not only as a fountain of great resources but also a lending ear. I owe my gratitude to them in helping me in these past three years.

The list to thank is exhaustive, but I take an opportunity to offer my gratitude for the many people who have helped in one way or another in the past three years. I thank the Parish Council, Church Committees, and Financial Committee for their support in the development of all three Churches. I thank those who have helped me in the preparation for Baptism, First Reconciliation and Communion, and the RCIA Programmes. Many thanks to those who helped me to reach out the housebound and those in care homes. Thanks to those who help clean the Churches, prepare the flowers, and organise the music and service at the altar. Many thanks to Bishop’s Stortford Across for the two pilgrimages we enjoyed and even to those who signed up for the Holy Land Pilgrimage. Many thanks to the staff and students at St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s Schools for allowing me to serve their pastoral needs.

Finally, I thank each and every one of you, both present here today and even those who have now gone before us. It has been a pleasure to see those of you who have passed by to say goodbye. Many thanks for the trinkets that you have left behind for me to enjoy. But I ask you for the greatest gift – pray for me that I may continue to be faithful in the Lord’s vineyard I set off to pasture’s new in Highbury. I am sure that some of you are sore about my new appointment because it is in Gunners’ territory… I’ll do my best to not to let that interfere with my ministry.

As I now end this message (or should we say, letter), let us all remember the Law that Christ reminds the Pharisee in this Sunday’s Gospel: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … [and] your neighbour as yourself.

For the last time:

In Christ,

Fr. Carlos

P.S.: Here are the details of my new parish:

St. Joan of Arc

60 Highbury Park

London

N5 2XH

Landline: 02072 260 257

Parish Message for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time from Fr Carlos

Dear Parishioners,

Because my mother had to go to work, I spent my summer holidays at babysitter’s house. She was an elderly, Puerto Rican who had three grown children. I can attest that she was a very stern yet loving babysitter.

I mention stern because she also looked after a child who was five years younger. He had a bit of a temper, but I believe it was also because he had certain learning difficulties (it was not so obvious then). Whenever he would have a tantrum, my babysitter would calm him down with a phrase: Hágase tu voluntad. (Let your will be done). You wouldn’t believe it, but it did calm him down.

It would seem that my babysitter was patronising him, but perhaps she knew that she had let the child be. God does the same with us when it comes to one’s will. He is such a gentleman that he allows us to do our will; but perhaps it is necessary for us to contemplate what God really wants from us. St. Augustine reminds us that we have the freedom to do whatever we want; but true freedom would then mean that we would seek to what is good and perfect in our lives.

Obviously, no human being can say that they have lived to this maxim. But perhaps God says to us, ‘Let your will be done,’ in order for us to realise that we should be doing his will, not ours.

Let us look to Christ who lived in total obedience to the Father because he realised that his obedience is a fruit the love he has with his Father – a love we are able to share today.

As in this Sunday’s collect says:

Almighty ever-living God,

grant that we may always conform

our will to yours

and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen

Fr. Carlos

Safe Spaces

As you may be aware, Victim Support (VS) has been awarded the contract to manage the new flagship project: Safe Spaces, a joint Anglican and Catholic Church project to provide a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse. Although the churches have funded the service, it is run independently by the charity Victim Support, who are one of the leading charities providing specialist support to survivors of abuse in England and Wales. We work towards a world where people affected by crime or traumatic events get the support they need and respect they deserve.

Service
Safe Spaces is a free and independent support service, providing a confidential, personal and safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with either the Church of England or the Catholic Church of England and Wales. Safe Spaces comprises a team of trained support advocates who have undergone specialist training in supporting survivors of sexual violence and who have received additional specific training in how the churches respond to abuse cases, the way in which faith and church-related settings have been used to carry out abuse, and the particular issues affecting people who have had or still have, a relationship with the church. The team are based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, but it is a national service providing remote support through our helpline, live chat service and website. Remote support is provided for as long as the survivor needs. This can be advocating for the survivor, giving them support, providing information (including information on church and police procedures), understanding individual needs and jointly working on individual support plans. If face-to-face support is also required, contact and referrals will be made with appropriate local organisations depending on need.

Eligibility
Safe Spaces is for anyone who feels they have experienced church related abuse of any form in England or Wales.This may have been in relation to the Church of England, Catholic Church in
England and Wales or the Church in Wales.

By ‘church related’, this may include:
• Abuse by a church officer. A church officer is any person, ordained or lay,
paid or voluntary, who holds a role in the church.
• Abuse that is linked to participating in a church-led activity or group.

The service is for people who live in England and Wales. If someone lives outside of England and Wales, but suffered abuse by a Church Officer from the Church of England, Catholic Church in England and Wales or the Church in Wales, we will endeavour to provide support but this may be limited due to the support available outside of England and Wales.
It is for people aged 18 or over, but the abuse can have happened at any time in the past. If support is required for someone younger, we will endeavour to find appropriate local support.

Survivors do not have to have reported the incident to the Church authorities or the Police in order to access support. You do not need to be a current active member of the church in order to access support.
It is for people who’ve experienced any kind of abuse – this includes (but is not limited to) sexual violence, inappropriate sexual behaviour, physical abuse, financial abuse or exploitation, psychological abuse (including spiritual abuse), domestic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour.

Service Start Date
The Safe Spaces service is available from Tuesday 29th September 2020.

Opening Hours
Our dedicated Safe Spaces team are available through our helpline and live chat service between Monday–Saturday 10am-6pm, apart from Thursdays when the service is open 12-8pm.

Safe and Secure Referrals
Safe Spaces aims to reduce re-traumatisation at every stage of support, as such we will ask for details of the survivor, their personal circumstances, any related support needs, and the nature of the abuse. We ask for these extensive details to reduce the requirement for the survivor to repeat their experience, and to ensure that we make safe and appropriate contact, matching specific skills-sets of our Advocates whenever possible.

As an overview you will be asked for:
o Survivor’s personal and contact details – including safe contact arrangements and language requirements.
o Offence details – including any current or anticipated Police or Church reporting.
o Offender details, where known.
o Any significant factors in the case which will affect support – for example children in the household, concerns with regards to mental well-being,domestic abuse.

Safe Spaces can receive referrals via the telephone, or by completing a pro-forma referral document.

The security of the personal and sensitive data of survivors is vital, therefore, to ensure that you are able to share the full referral details required, we only accept referrals shared via secure email.If you wish to refer using the pro-forma document please email safespaces@victimsupport.org.uk and you will be sent a link to create a secure Egress account. This allows you to communicate with Safe Spaces securely, in accordance with GDPR requirements. Safe Spaces will then forward a copy of the pro-forma, to be returned via Egress.
Our team will make contact within 48 hours of reviewing a referral (72 hours at weekends).

Contact Details
You can contact the Safe Spaces team using a variety of methods, according to the needs and preferences of survivors:Phone us on 0300 303 1056 (a voicemail facility is available outside of opening times)
Email us at safespaces@victimsupport.org.uk
LiveChat with our team, or access service information, at www.SafeSpacesEnglandandWales.org.uk

Good News! Holy Cross to re open for a new Sunday Parish Mass on 18th October 2020 at 5pm

We are pleased to announce that we expect to re-open Holy Cross at St Andrews, Much Hadham for a new Sunday Parish Mass on 18th October 2020 at the new time of 5pm.
Due to the regulations the Church will only be able to hold 32 people (from individual households) on 16 available pews with two persons per pew.
However please be aware there will be strict rules in operation and, for the time being, coming to Mass may not be quite how you remember it.
In order to comply with both Government and Diocesan COVID-19 regulations, there will be strict limitations on the number of people that are allowed in the Church at any one time and therefore, as with the other 2 Parish Masses, we will be operating a ‘Booking System’ for attendance at each Mass via our website or a telephone call to the Parish Office during working hours (9am – 3pm). The Church will have to be thoroughly cleaned after each Mass and closed afterwards ready for the next Anglican service.
The obligation to attend Mass on a Sunday is still suspended. We, therefore, encourage people, if it is possible, to consider attending Mass on one of the weekdays at St Joseph’s as this will free up more places for those unable to travel to Bishop’s Stortford
The online Booking System will be open daily for booking your slot for Mass. You can only book for one individual Mass. You cannot block book for Masses. This is to encourage everyone to have a fair chance to attend Mass at least once a week. If you do not book your slot for Mass, and your name is not on our list, you will not be able to attend the Mass.
Places will be made available for a coming week up to 10 days in advance and will close at 3pm on the Friday before to allow time for the ‘ Guest list’ to be printed out in the Parish office ready for Father to take to Holy Cross.
Why do I need to book to attend a Mass?
In line with the latest Government and Diocesan Guidelines, it is most important that we can ‘track and trace’ everyone who comes to Mass in the event that someone tests positive for COVID-19 at the Mass which you have attended. It will help us to ensure that we have the number of people permitted in the Church at any one time and keep both our Priests and Parishioners safe. Therefore, you must inform us beforehand by ‘booking’ your place via our website or telephone if you are asking to attend to a particular Mass. You cannot ‘just turn up’ as you would have previously done. If your name is not on the list, you will not be able to enter the Church. Please understand that this is for your wellbeing and that of others.
How do I book to attend a Mass ?
If you have access to the internet, then visit the ‘Events’ page our Parish website: https://parish.rcdow.org.uk/bishopsstortford/events/
Here you will find a list of Mass dates and times for both Holy Cross and St Joseph’s. You must not book a place if you are feeling unwell or have COVID-19 related symptoms.
To start with, we shall initially release 24 ‘ single seats’ and hold back 8 seats ( 4 pews) at Holy Cross for those Parishioners without the internet, who will need to telephone, or for those who wish to book a ‘Household pew’ which will seat more than 2 people from the same family all together in their own ‘bubble’ allowing potentially more people to attend Mass.
Choose the Mass date / time / Church which you wish to attend and click on ‘Book Ticket’.
You will then be led through a short screen requiring you to enter your name and a contact telephone number for the particular Mass you wish to book. Once submitted, your details will be registered on the parish ‘guest list’ so that we are aware as to who will be attending.
Your name will be checked off by one of the stewards when you arrive. Please arrive at least 20 minutes before the starting time of Mass to allow time for sanitising your hands and being shown to your place before the Mass begins. Your details will be kept for 21 days following each Mass to enable us to provide details to the ‘track & trace’ system should an outbreak occur.
Full details of the Privacy Notice can be found at www.rcdow.org.uk/privacy-policy
If you wish to book for a family or a household ‘bubble’, please do not use the website booking but phone the office (01279 654063), Mon to Fri, 9am – 3pm, to make your booking directly with Debbie in the Parish Office
What if I do not have access to the internet ?
Please contact the Parish Office on 01279 654063 ( Mon- Fri 9am-3pm)  and your details will be entered manually onto the Booking System by Debbie so that you appear on the guest list if there are free places. If you have not supplied your details before hand you will not be able to attend the Mass.
Parking at the Church
 
There is no ‘Church car park’ at Holy Cross, so please park on the High Street and then walk down Church Lane. There is very limited parking available on Church Lane between the High Street and the Church itself, but please keep well tucked in and park considerately.
What happens when I arrive at the Church ?
• Entry to Holy Cross will be through the large west doors ONLY . There is a strict One-Way system in operation in the Church and the central aisle is part of the One-Way route.
• Please try not to bring lots of bags, children’s toys, belongings etc. with you as space will be limited in the Church.
• Please wear a face mask in Church to help to protect yourself and others unless you are exempt. Volunteer Stewards and Cleaners will be provided with gloves and masks.
• You will be greeted by Volunteer Stewards who will have the ‘Guest list’ for that particular Mass. This list gives your name and the number of places booked only and not your contact number. As long as your name is on the list you will be invited into the Church. If your name is not on the list regrettably you will not be able to enter the Church.
• You will be asked to ‘sanitise’ your hands with the hand gel provided upon entry and shown to your seat. It will not be possible to sit in a particular seat. People will be seated from the front of the church in the order in which they arrive. Each seat will be at a safe distance from the next.
• There will be NO Holy water as you enter and NO hymn books provided as sadly singing is not permitted. We will also not be providing weekly Mass sheets either. If you wish to print out your own Mass sheet, and bring it with you and take it home afterwards, this will be available on our website as it is currently. Please remember to take your printed copy home with you.
• The Toilets will be closed. No Exceptions!
• There will be NO requirement for Readers, Eucharistic Ministers or Servers to assist at Mass at the current time. The Sanctuary area and the Sacristy will be restricted and accessible only to Fr Peter and Fr Carlos, and from the end of the month, Fr Antonio.
• There will be NO physical sign of peace by shaking hands.
• At the end of Mass, Communion will be distributed under one kind by Father into your hand only. Parishioners on each pew will be called up in turn. Please take all of your belongings with you at that time as immediately after you have received the Blessed Sacrament you will not be permitted to return to your place but will be requested to leave the Church following the one-way system exiting down the side aisles and through either the North or South doors. The main doors are for entry only, however, any Parishioners with mobility issues or who require to leave via the entry door upon request will be assisted by the Stewards.
• Please sanitise your hands again before you leave with the hand gel provided.
• Collection baskets will be provided near to each exit point for your weekly donations under the eye of the Stewards.
• Immediately, when the Church is empty, the Stewards / Cleaners will sanitise each pew, door handles, sweep and wash the floor. Disposable aprons, gloves and cleaning equipment will be provided.
• Collection money will be ‘bagged’ by the Stewards and given to Father to be kept in the safe for 72 hours before counting and banking.
• Any rubbish (including paper, gloves, masks and aprons) will be ‘double bagged’ and disposed of in the appropriate black bin.
• Any ‘found property’ left in the pews will be double bagged and if not collected will be disposed of.
As the current situation is anticipated to continue in the months ahead, we still need more volunteers to make all this work.
We need more people to act as Stewards each Sunday that the Churches are open, and also more people to help with the cleaning of the Churches after each Mass.
If we cannot recruit enough people then we will not be able to open as often as we have said we wish to.

If you can help, please do contact the Parish Office or Juan Salinas, for Holy Cross, who is very kindly coordinating the Holy Cross rota. Thank you very much! 🙂

Sunday Message from Fr Peter on 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

It is a sunny Autumn day as I sit in my study typing this.  Yesterday it was raining and I thought it was supposed to today as well !?!? Why is the weather so changeable.  Ask a weather forecaster I guess !  When I think of the changeability of the weather it always makes me think of our relationship with God, because, in the way that we chop and change, and our ability to be good and bad, often it seems for little reason, I have a feeling that God sees us a bit like e see the weather!  “Oh”, says God, “I see Fr Peter is being a bit rainy today, shame, I sent sunshine but Fr Peter seems to have changed it in his life today!”

How grateful I am, always, for God’s patience with me – rain or shine.  It gives me a spiritual “warm” feeling on every rainy day.

I went up to the Church roof yesterday and the sky was dark, but beautiful, so the person with me took a photo – here it is.  It seemed to be just as beautiful as a sunny day, but different.  I am glad that God sees me as beautiful even when I am “raining”.

 

Fr Peter

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Admissions

ST JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL ADMISSIONS  2021-22– If your child was born between 1st September 2016 and 31st August 2017, you can apply for a Primary School place to start in September 2021.  The application process opens 2nd November 2020 and closes on 15th January 2021. The school will be hosting an Open Day for parents applying for a Reception 2021 school place on Friday 23rd October, as well as remote meetings for prospective parents.  To register for the Open Day or remote meeting, please see the school website or copy this link into your browser-https://tinyurl.com/y6ybwgv7
CERTIFICATE OF CATHOLIC PRACTICE-Applicants for St Joseph’s School for RECEPTION places in 2021/22 should download an application for a Certificate of Catholic Practice ( see below).
 Once completed it should then be posted through the letter box of No 3 Windhill marked for Fr Peter’s attention with a stamped addressed envelope please.The Certificate will then be posted to you. No personal collection of the certificate is permitted. The School deadline is 15/1/2021

PDF version

Certificate of Catholic Practice enquiry form GDPR compliant 

 

Word version

Certificate of Catholic Practice enquiry form GDPR compliant

 

School Estate Officer Vacancy at St Mary’s

M2 POINT 37 – 40 (£40,876 – £43,857)
Full-time
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.

The Governors of St Mary’s Catholic School are looking for a highly skilled person to take the lead on all site matters. The successful candidate will line-manage the premises team and report to the
Deputy Headteacher, Headteacher and Governors. This is an important role which includes responsibility for all premises, health and safety and site compliance and management.

Working at St. Mary’s is an extraordinary opportunity. Our Surveys this year showed that 96% of staff enjoy their work at St Marys, 97% agree that leaders do all they can to ensure a motivate and
respected staff, 100% of students enjoy their learning and believe that behaviour around the school is good, and 97% of parents would recommend St. Mary’s to other parents. We are passionately
committed to developing staff and managing workload to ensure that colleagues enjoy their work and recognise St. Mary’s as an almost-uniquely positive place to teach and enjoy their careers.

Added to this, the school is also at an extremely exciting juncture in its future. Demand is high, and owing to intense oversubscription, we are 4 years through expansion to 6FE. We have also won
over £7m in capital bids in the last 5 years and are enjoying brand new cutting edge facilities as a result. The school faces an extremely strong and positive financial future.

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people, and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. A DBS disclosure is required for all
successful applicants. St Mary’s is committed to the equality of opportunity for all applicants, and we reserve the right to interview on a rolling basis, therefore an early application is advisable.

Apply in writing using the forms available on our website http://www.stmarys.net/aboutus/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: Monday 9th November 2020 at 10 a.m.
Interviews: Week Beginning 16th November 2020