Good news from the Mauá community.

An agreement has been reached between the housing department and the owner of the building for the purchase of the Maua building for around £4.6 million (20 million reais). Community leader Neti Araújo and APOIO’s Coordinator Heluiza Soares da Silva have confirmed there will be NO eviction this week!

The news is a great relief for the Mauá residents, who for the last few months have lived in fear of being forced from their homes and uprooted from their lives, jobs and schools. It means families will have a roof over their heads for Christmas.

It is also a landmark victory for community organisation, resistance and solidarity. The news gives hopes to many other poor and homeless families in favelas and other poor urban areas across the city who are fighting for their right to decent housing and campaigning for better living conditions, security of tenure, and improved access to basic services.

We have been overjoyed to see such fantastic support for our petition to Brazilian authorities to stop the eviction of the Mauá community, which received 4.055 signatures. These were handed in to authorities last week and to the Mauá families with all your messages.

We look forward to continuing to stand in solidarity with the Mauá community and other homeless and vulnerable families experiencing urban poverty and fighting for housing justice in São Paulo.

Please see the news item on CAFOD’s website with some lovely video and quotes.

Signatures do count. Thanks to those who supported this campaign

Private William James O’Dell 100th anniversary 6th November 1917

Fr Andrew O’Dell’s uncle William was killed in action in the first World War and died 100 years ago.

Fr Andrew has a picture of his grave in Poperinge, Belgium. He was  a boy from Hitchin and his name is also on the war memorial in Hitchin. We thank him for his sacrifice so that we might live in peace.

Eternal rest give unto him, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

Kawasaki Disease – Spread the news – become aware

Posters are available on the table in the church porch which have been compiled Lucy Patterson.  Her son was diagnosed with the little known Kawasaki disease and as a result of the lack of understanding of the disease has suffered life changing effects which may have been prevented if more had been known about it. She wants to bring it to the notice of the world so that other children will not suffer what her two year old son, the Kawasaki Kid, is having to go through. Please to take one to display wherever you can. She has a blog which can be followed and also has been in the Comet and 3 Counties Radio.

Understand, Implement, Prevent: tackling poor mental health in schools

For those who have children in secondary schools this might be of interest. All secondary schools in Hitchin will have implemented similar measures.

23 June 2017 on prevention, wellbeing, guest post, The Priory School, Katie Southall, school, mental health in school

Welcome to our 2nd Guest blog takeover:

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 30; self-harm in teens has nearly doubled since 2007; in 2015 more than 1 million people were in touch with mental health services; nearly 80,000 teenagers are suffering with depression; 26% of teenagers in the UK experience suicidal thoughts; access to Childline counselling services has increased by 116% since 2010. What do these statistics tell us? That the mental health of our young people is declining, and we need to do something.

I am an Assistant Headteacher at The Priory School and my main role is to have the strategic overview of student wellbeing and mental health. Having been at this school for 8 years with a background as a head of year, I have had many dealings with students and parents. Over the last few years, I have seen a significant pattern shift. Whereas previously, I would speak to students and parents about behaviour, organisation, friendship issues and homework; now, I am working with families dealing with depression, self-harm and anxiety. As a result of this shift, as a school, we have needed to respond.

We are following the “understand, implement, prevent” model which I launched at our recent mental health conference for local secondary schools in October 2016. We all need to ensure that we understand mental health at a much greater level – that includes, staff, students and parents to ensure that we can respond to the changing needs of our young people.

How did we do it?

  • We have upskilled our key staff with “Mental Health First Aid” training and we now have 16 fully trained staff members
  • Annual self-harm training for all staff
  • Awareness weeks on wellbeing and mental health for staff and students
  • Annual wellbeing conference for 3 of our main feeder primary schools
  • LGBT and sexuality support training for all staff from the charity Brook
  • Parent portal – a section on our website with a range of excellent resources around mental health and wellbeing readily accessible by parents
  • Half termly meetings with our CAMHS link worker to ensure we understand changes being made within the NHS

Once we have a better understanding of mental health and wellbeing, we can begin to implement appropriate strategies to support staff, students and parents.

What are we doing?

  • We have employed a full time counsellor to work with students with a high level of need
  • We are a placement school for level 5 trainee counsellors
  • Peer mentoring for Y7 students to support transition into secondary school
  • PENN resilience training for Key Stage 3 students
  • LGBTQ+ drop in group
  • Shelf Help – reading intervention in conjunction with the Reading Agency
  • RSPH Health champions and an “emotional wellbeing committee” which is led by our health champion students
  • Student directory of services to promote self-help and resilience
  • Phase – in house mentoring and self-harm support group
  • Parent support – we are in the process of working with Phase to launch a series of parent support groups, online parent resources like “ted talk” style video and a parent newsletter to give hints, tips and guidance on dealing with all things mental health and wellbeing related
  • Bereavement support network for students

These are just some of the interventions what we offer our students, as well as delivering awareness assemblies, awareness weeks, form time sessions, our citizenship curriculum, annual wellbeing surveys for students, wellbeing sessions such as yoga and mindfulness colouring in and much much more!

What’s the point?

As a school, of course, we still have a wide range of mental health needs that we have to deal with, and in our experience the need is growing. But, over the last 2 years that we have been building this model around mental health and wellbeing, we feel much better equipped and prepared to be able to support students with these complex needs.

We are continuing to focus on early intervention so that we can prevent poor mental health from manifesting itself in the first place. But, if it does, we are secure in the knowledge that we have the skills, resources and necessary tools to be able to respond effectively.

As Steve Mallen the CEO of MindEd recently said “…We need to work together to give the NHS less to do!” – This is certainly something that we want to achieve for the young people of The Priory School, and together, I believe that we can.

Katie Southall


Phase is a charity which is dependent on donations. Text MAKE05 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 and help us provide support to young people

Encyclical on Environment and Human Ecology

Pope Francis Launches Encyclical on Environment and Human Ecology

On 18 June, Pope Francis launched Laudato Si’ – On the Care for our Common Home, his Encyclical Letter on the environment and human ecology. Pope Francis challenges us to consider the kind of world we want to leave to those who come after us. It’s not just an ‘environment encyclical’, it leads us to ask ourselves about the meaning of existence and the values at the heart of social life: ‘What is the purpose of our life in this world? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us?’

To read the full text of the encyclical, please click HERE.

Fr Christopher Burgess AA memorial bench

Father Christopher’s memorial bench was installed at Hitchin cemetery on June 17th.  It was  bought by his family for him with thanks to the parishioners who tend his grave so lovingly.

Fr Christopher FrChrisBurgess-memorialbench (1)

Below the view of Father Christopher’s grave as seen from the bench.


Holy Week and Easter in our Church

Here are some pictures from our Holy Week and Easter services

Altar of repose Maundy Thursday

Altarof respose

Final Cross from Stations of the Cross Good Friday Evening

Stations of the Cross





















Easter Sunday flower displays

I am the resurrection Tabernacle
Consecration candle flowers Holy Water

Fr Christopher Burgess AA anniversary Mass


Fr ChristopherThe First anniversary of the death of Fr Christopher Burgess was celebrated yesterday in our parish. With over 50 parishioners attending we celebrated with hymns from his Requiem Mass.  This was followed by a moving service of blessing at his gravestone in St John’s cemetery. Despite the chill wind that blew, the sun of the day and the memory of his loving smile kept us warm.

Click the link for a copy of the Mass service sheet which includes a homily by Fr Tom O’Brien AA and another by Fr Robert Henshaw AA.  Fr Chris anniversary Mass

Fr Chris Grave blessing

Fr Tom O’Brien and Irma Shipman (who along with her husband Derek, has been tending to the grave with love)