Pope Francis to visit Iraq from 5th – 8th March 2021

Pope Francis is about to make an historic Apostolic visit to Iraq from 5th – 8th March, a journey that his predecessor Pope John Paul II wanted to do when he visited the Holy Land and Egypt in 2000, the Jubilee year. Iraq is a sacred country. It is the place of the birth of the prophet Abraham; the father in faith of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He was born in Ur of the Chaldeans. It is also the place of the prophet Jonah, who lived in Nineveh, and preached repentance and the permanent return to God.

The Iraqi government is grateful for this visit, and has taken all necessary measures to make it historic and worthy of Iraq and the Iraqis. The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch has invited everyone to pray for the safety of Pope Francis and the success of the visit for the good of Iraq and its people.

When the papal trip was announced, the Iraqi government described it an “historic event”. “It symbolizes a message of peace to Iraq and the whole region,” the foreign ministry said. The Iraqi president, Barham Salih, had officially invited Pope Francis to visit Iraq in July 2019, hoping it would help the country heal after many years of strife.

We pray to God that the upcoming Apostolic visit will be successful and fruitful, as well as serving as a start for unity by urging the Iraqi people to turn over a new leaf, and to seek mutual forgiveness, so that this country will start the process of healing the wounds of the past and looking towards the future with hope and grace.

Prayer for the Apostolic visit:

Lord our God, grant Pope Francis health and safety to carry out successfully this eagerly awaited visit. Bless his effort to promote dialogue, enhance fraternal reconciliation, build confidence, consolidate peace values and human dignity, especially for the Iraqi people who have been through painful “events” that affected their lives.

Lord and Creator, enlighten our hearts with Your light, to recognize goodness and peace, and to realize them.

Mother Mary, we entrust Pope Francis’ visit to your maternal care so that the Lord may grant us the grace of living in full national communion, and to cooperate fraternally to build a better future for our country and our citizens. Amen.


A More Just Society

A More Just Society

In the midst of our suffering and hardship, we must keep sight of the “light at the end of the tunnel.” We know that Jesus is that light and that we must trust in that light the way Abraham trusted in God.

We are suffering voluntarily in our Lenten fast. We are also acutely aware in this season of the suffering caused by our sinfulness. Easter, however, awaits us, the hope of resurrection, because “God is for us.”

Many in our world are suffering involuntarily. They are the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the victims of oppression and war and other injustices. Is there “light at the end of the tunnel” for them? When will Easter come to them? Who is for them besides God?

Christians cannot allow the magnitude of social evils to overwhelm them. They must always live by the light of Christ and the hope of resurrection.

Christian hope is strong and resilient, for it is rooted in a faith that knows that the fullness of life comes to those who follow Christ in the way of the Cross.

In pursuit of concrete solutions, all members of the Christian community are called to an ever finer discernment of the hurts and opportunities in the world around them, in order to respond to the most pressing needs and thus build up a more just society.

U.S. Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 1986:126

Gerald Darring

Prepare the Word of the Lord

Preparing the Word of the Lord for Sunday Mass

28th February 2021           2nd Sunday of Lent Year B

First Reading:          Genesis 22: 1 – 2, 9 – 13, 15 – 18

Second Reading:    Romans 8: 31 – 34

Gospel:                        Mark 9: 2 – 10


7th March 2021                3rd Sunday of Lent Year B

First Reading:                    Exodus 20: 1 – 17

Second Reading:               1 Corinthians 1: 22 – 25

Gospel:                                   John 2: 13 – 25



Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross will take place in our Church on Tuesday evenings during Lent at 7.30 pm, immediately after our 7.00 pm mass. All are welcome, and we would ask you to book in for this service in the usual manner using the ‘Events’ tab on our parish website.

Our Parish Lenten Project to help our local Foodbank

As we all know, one of our Lenten Christian practices is ‘Alms-giving’. Once again, during this season of Lent we shall be collecting items of non-perishable food and toiletries to support the people who use our local Foodbank. For the Second Week of Lent we are asked to bring to mass a bar of soap and place it in the plastic container in front of the altar in our Church. For the Third week of Lent we are asked to bring a tin of potatoes. Each week during this season of Lent we will be invited to bring a different item each week to mass. So watch this space. Thank you for your usual generous support!


Lent – a time to deepen our relationship with God.

Here are three tips to deepen your relationship with God during the 40 days of Lent.

1) Participate in the sacraments.

2) Help those in need around you.

3) Sacrifice something that’s hard for you.


And remember that Lent is meant to be a joyful season! It is a gracious gift from God to us in which we await the sacred feast of Easter. Happy Lent!


Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2021



“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem” (Mt 20:18)
Lent: a Time for Renewing Faith, Hope and Love


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus revealed to his disciples the deepest meaning of his mission when he told them of his passion, death and resurrection, in fulfilment of the Father’s will. He then called the disciples to share in this mission for the salvation of the world.

In our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us remember the One who “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). During this season of conversion, let us renew our faith, draw from the “living water” of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God, who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. At the Easter vigil, we will renew our baptismal promises and experience rebirth as new men and women by the working of the Holy Spirit. This Lenten journey, like the entire pilgrimage of the Christian life, is even now illumined by the light of the resurrection, which inspires the thoughts, attitudes and decisions of the followers of Christ.

Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (cf. Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our conversion. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.

1. Faith calls us to accept the truth and testify to it before God and all our brothers and sisters.

In this Lenten season, accepting and living the truth revealed in Christ means, first of all, opening our hearts to God’s word, which the Church passes on from generation to generation. This truth is not an abstract concept reserved for a chosen intelligent few. Instead, it is a message that all of us can receive and understand thanks to the wisdom of a heart open to the grandeur of God, who loves us even before we are aware of it. Christ himself is this truth. By taking on our humanity, even to its very limits, he has made himself the way – demanding, yet open to all – that leads to the fullness of life.

Fasting, experienced as a form of self-denial, helps those who undertake it in simplicity of heart to rediscover God’s gift and to recognize that, created in his image and likeness, we find our fulfilment in him. In embracing the experience of poverty, those who fast make themselves poor with the poor and accumulate the treasure of a love both received and shared. In this way, fasting helps us to love God and our neighbour, inasmuch as love, as Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, is a movement outwards that focuses our attention on others and considers them as one with ourselves (cf. Fratelli Tutti93).

Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.

2. Hope as “living water” enabling us to continue our journey.

The Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus asks for a drink, does not understand what he means when he says that he can offer her “living water” (Jn 4:10). Naturally, she thinks that he is referring to material water, but Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit whom he will give in abundance through the paschal mystery, bestowing a hope that does not disappoint. Jesus had already spoken of this hope when, in telling of his passion and death, he said that he would “be raised on the third day” (Mt 20:19). Jesus was speaking of the future opened up by the Father’s mercy. Hoping with him and because of him means believing that history does not end with our mistakes, our violence and injustice, or the sin that crucifies Love. It means receiving from his open heart the Father’s forgiveness.

In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated (cf. Laudato Si’, 32-33; 43-44). Saint Paul urges us to place our hope in reconciliation: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others. Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain. God’s forgiveness, offered also through our words and actions, enables us to experience an Easter of fraternity.

In Lent, may we be increasingly concerned with “speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn” (Fratelli Tutti, 223). In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be “willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference” (ibid., 224).

Through recollection and silent prayer, hope is given to us as inspiration and interior light, illuminating the challenges and choices we face in our mission. Hence the need to pray (cf. Mt 6:6) and, in secret, to encounter the Father of tender love.

To experience Lent in hope entails growing in the realization that, in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses of new times, in which God is “making all things new” (cf. Rev 21:1-6). It means receiving the hope of Christ, who gave his life on the cross and was raised by God on the third day, and always being “prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet 3:15).

3. Love, following in the footsteps of Christ, in concern and compassion for all, is the highest expression of our faith and hope.

Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need. Love is a leap of the heart; it brings us out of ourselves and creates bonds of sharing and communion.

“‘Social love’ makes it possible to advance towards a civilization of love, to which all of us can feel called. With its impulse to universality, love is capable of building a new world. No mere sentiment, it is the best means of discovering effective paths of development for everyone” (Fratelli Tutti, 183).

Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity.

To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you” (Is 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters.

“Only a gaze transformed by charity can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be acknowledged and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture, and thus truly integrated into society” (Fratelli Tutti, 187).

Dear brothers and sisters, every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping and loving. The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father.

May Mary, Mother of the Saviour, ever faithful at the foot of the cross and in the heart of the Church, sustain us with her loving presence. May the blessing of the risen Lord accompany all of us on our journey towards the light of Easter.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 11 November 2020, the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours



What is Lent?

Lent is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday, 17th February 2021 and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday, 1st April 2021. It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. During the season of Lent, we as Christians seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but we are called to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully.

It’s this ‘inner conversion of heart’ that Cardinal Vincent invites us as a diocese to focus on this year in his Pastoral Letter for the Sixth Sunday of the Year. “This year I invite you to concentrate much more on this inner, spiritual movement than on its outward manifestation in the imposition of ashes.”

Due to the protocols necessary because of the Coronavirus pandemic, we will not be able to ‘mark our foreheads with ashes’ in church this year on Ash Wednesday. However we can ‘mark’ our hearts with a deep desire to return again to the practice of our faith, as we seek to follow Christ and his will more earnestly. The Cardinal’s invitation to us is an echo of the cry of the Prophet Joel  “Come back to me with all of your heart.” which we hear each Ash Wednesday. May this compassionate plea from the prophet, and the Cardinal’s invitation truly take root in our lives throughout the coming season of Lent, particularly during this Pandemic year; and let’s offer our Lenten sacrifices for the good and wellbeing of us all.

Lent is a time too, when we recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ. During this Lent, let us truly thank God for our Baptism, and seek to show our gratitude by how we live our Christian faith.

There are two days of ‘fast and abstinence’ during Lent; namely Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On these days in particular all Catholics over the age of 14 years fast and abstain from eating meat. Many of us also know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God’s gifts—not only through the distribution of money, and goods but through the sharing of our time and talents. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2446).

Pope Francis has some interesting things to say about fasting:

Fast from hurtful words, and speak kind words.

Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

Fast from worries and have trust in God.

Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.

Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.

Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Pope Francis.


May God bless us with his grace so that we may make a good and fruitful Lent this year.