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Welcome from Bishop John
Below is an excerpt of Bishop John's Pastoral Letter which was read in parishes on 13th/14th February

“There is no doubt that the sense of celebrating “Church at Home” has appealed to many people during this past year and borne fruit for a more personal spirituality, without losing the sense of the parish community. If our personal prayer is strengthened during this difficult time, the sense of community can be the stronger as we emerge from lockdown and other restrictions. I remain very grateful for all the initiatives taken to maintain good contact and communication, especially with the housebound and isolated members of our communities.

There are the three signposts for our attention during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. These are themes for self-examination. Can they be the means for challenging ourselves, particularly in the experience of the Covid-pandemic, for re-setting our priorities, and stimulating action and change?

Prayer:

I would like to encourage a sense of freedom in prayer. We have, of course, our important formula prayers such as the Our Father and Hail Mary, and all the prayers of our liturgies, but I wonder how free people feel about prayer as a conversation, a chat, with God or with the saints? I wonder, too, how we feel about where we pray? Do we realise that we can effectively pray at home, in the street, at our workplace? Prayer does not have to be in church. We can talk to God in prayer at anytime, anywhere. There are lots of resources online these days, for example Pray as You Go, which can help us to pray on the way to work or when out walking or in a quiet place at home. You can find the website easily enough; PRAY AS YOU GO (www.pray-as-you-go.org)

Fasting:

Fasting has its role in all the major world religions. It promotes a sense of self-discipline and can be a means by which we prepare for prayer or some form of spiritual exercise. In our own context, living as we do in one of the most prosperous countries in the world, we might employ fasting to recognise just how much we have in comparison to so many of our brothers and sisters. Please remember the CAFOD Family Fast Day this year on Friday 26th February. Even if you cannot pick up one of the CAFOD envelopes from church, do please fast in some way and give the money you save to help CAFOD help others. Once again, the CAFOD website is easy to find; (www.cafod.org.uk) – and you might even want to sign up for this year’s CAFOD Walk for Water initiative.

Almsgiving:

Our understanding of fasting might well help us to be aware of the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor in our world. Even in our advanced technological age we are failing to care for one another, and we see the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. 1% of the world’s population has 50% of the world’s wealth. There can be no justification for that, especially when so many people in that 99% live in abject poverty, dying of starvation. Almsgiving helps us to begin to right this wrong. It is not a matter of us being generous to those in need but beginning to tip the balance in the right direction We need to recognise also that we do not have to look to the distance to acknowledge poverty, it is very evident in the streets of our own cities and towns. In this year dedicated to St. Joseph, I commend to you the work of Caritas Diocese of Salford, known to many of you from your school days as St. Joseph’s Penny. If you can, simply look online for Caritas Salford (www.caritassalford.org.uk)

Lent, of course, means springtime. The new life is beginning to break through the soil all around us. May we, after all these months, prepare to celebrate the new life of Easter.

Lent must be different this year because of the pandemic and the restrictions imposed on our ability to meet together. Let us take the opportunity to consider Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving in a new way and give time to the challenges that these present to each one of us”


To read Bishop John's Pastoral Letter in full, Click Here
To listen to Bishop John reading the message, Click here

Resources to Sustain your Prayer Life this Lent

Prayer as a Conversation
Fasting

Since the pandemic began in March, there has been great disruption to how we live out our faith. Many of us have successfully built Church at home, but for others this has been a challenge. Mass, for a period of time, went from being an in person experience to being livestreamed online, but it's important that we continue to express our faith as we move through this time of pandemic and the Season of Lent.

We have compiled a PDF of resources - along with a page on our website - to help you sustain your prayer life this Lent. From retreats to journals, videos and reflections, and with resources for individuals and families, there's something for everyone.

To access the Lent in Lockdown resource as a PDF, click here
To access our webpage, please click here
Bishop John launches "Guardians of Creation" ecological project

The Diocese of Salford has launched a research project that Bishop John Arnold hopes will spearhead the efforts of the Catholic community in England and Wales to tackle the current ecological crisis, by paving the way to a sustainable carbon neutral future. The research team will collaborate with other dioceses, parish communities, industry experts, theologians and other groups to develop carbon accounting and environmental management tools that will lead to an implementation framework that can be used in other dioceses.

The two year pilot project aims to involve over 100 parishes and over 200 schools, alongside religious communities and other Catholic properties, and hopes to provide a model that other dioceses will be able to adopt. The study is part of the church’s response to what Pope Francis has described as the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’ The project will reduce the diocese’s carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency and generation, and facilitate greater involvement from parishioners and local communities.

Dr Emma Gardner, our Head of Environment, said:“We need to take urgent action today to ‘protect our common home’.  This project will help provide ways to address the ecological crisis through practical solutions and positive change.  The Diocese of Salford is looking forward to working with other Dioceses and organisations so we can play our part together.”

In 2019, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales set out their commitment to engage in this urgent issue in their statement “Guardians of God’s Creation” in which they pledged to avoid the worst consequences of this ecological crisis by engaging now and over the next decade on what they described as this ‘long path to renewal.’ Bishop John Arnold has responsibility for environmental matters at the Bishops’ Conference, making his own Diocese of Salford the perfect place to begin.

Bishop John added: The Catholic Church recognises the ecological crisis we are living through and is keen to play its part in delivering the UK net-zero strategy. We are looking to deepen our understanding of how to put a Catholic diocese on the path to carbon neutrality, and this collaborative research will tell us what needs to be done and what structures must be put in place to support this. I hope that the findings will assist organisations and institutions beyond the Church both here and abroad.”

Our diocese is collaborating on the project with St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, Oxford, and is supported by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Other partners including the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester will be involved as the project progresses.

The Vatican has been promoting awareness of the Pope’s ecological message contained in his encyclical Laudato Si’ and has called for communities around the world to become environmentally sustainable. Pope Francis has called for an ‘ecological conversion,’ whereby the effects of encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in our relationship with the world around us.

The project will take an ‘integral ecology’ approach at all levels, meaning that it will not just be limited to questions of carbon, but will consider wider social and environmental sustainability objectives. Integral ecology is a way of looking at the world that connects at depth our human life with God, each other and the natural world. By doing so it affirms human dignity and the special worth of each and every creature that God has made. It therefore informs our action at different levels, the individual, the family and society.

The Laudato Si’ Research Institute in Oxford will help develop this understanding of integral ecology as applied to sustainability and carbon neutrality. Celia Deane Drummond, Director of the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, Campion Hall, said: This is an exciting project that has the potential to pave the way for a systematic transition to more environmentally sustainable practices in the Catholic Church. The Laudato Si’ Research Institute is delighted for the opportunity to support this pilot study as a partner, and to work collaboratively to address one of the most pressing ecological issues of our time.

For more information, please contact the project team at decarbonisation@dioceseofsalford.org.uk or visit our webpage

Virtual Retreat success with over Fifty Altar Servers Recommissioned

On Saturday 27th February 2021, over 50 altar servers took part in the online retreat organised through the Vocations Team. The theme for the day was: Serving God and Neighbour in the everyday.

The day began with Fr David Featherstone thanking the altar servers for accepting the invitation to take part in the online retreat.

Following the Opening liturgy, Bishop John spoke to the altar servers and thanked them for what they do. He asked them to think of three things throughout the retreat:

Service - He reminded them that their service is close to the heart of the Gospel.

Gratitude - During these challenging times, we all need to be grateful and show gratitude for the many good things in our lives.

Prayer – When we pray, we should speak to God as a friend.

The young people had the opportunity to visit 3 workshops based on the ‘Challenging and Opportunities for an Altar Server’, ‘Prayer – A friendship with Jesus’ and Called to Serve’ which were led by the Vocations Team and supported by Mark and Carmine (Seminarians) and Alex (Salford Young Adults Co Ordinator)

A time of prayer (Adoration) was livestreamed from the parish of The Good Samaritan, Burnley and thank you to Fr Damien, Mike and Daniel from the parish for leading the Adoration.

During the recommissioning of the altar servers, Bishop John asked them two questions:

  • Do you promise to grow in your personal friendship with Jesus Christ through being faithful to the Gospel?
  • Do you also promise to carry out your role as a Server within the Diocese of Salford by being reliable, reverent and growing in understanding of the Mass?

The altar servers responded with a resounding ‘I do’.

The day finished with the altar server’s prayer and a blessing from Bishop John.

Fr David shared his highlights from the day: "The best part of the day for me for was hearing  the children and young people who serve at the altar in the parishes across the Diocese of Salford, speak proudly and enthusiastically about this important role."

Our thanks to all the altar servers for taking part in this retreat and for their parents/carers for their support and for those who helped to make this happen.

Altar Servers Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for inviting me to serve at the altar in my parish within the Diocese of Salford.

May I always carry out my duties as an Altar Server with respect and love for you.

Help me to remain faithful and reliable as I serve your people in the Church.

May being close to you at the altar allow my friendship with you to grow more deeply each day.

Through Christ Our Lord.

Amen

St Joseph inspires Caritas to be “creatively courageous”.
In his Apostolic Letter on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2020, proclaiming the start of ‘The Year of St Joseph’, Pope Francis describes St Joseph as “a tender loving father…who is creatively courageous”. Caritas can have no more fitting a patron than St Joseph, the tender loving foster father of Jesus, for several of its services including, Service for Older People, Service to the Deaf Community and of course for its annual schools’ Lenten charitable giving appeal, St Joseph’s Penny.

Drawing their inspiration from St Joseph, being “creatively courageous” has certainly proved to be a key factor in Caritas’s ability to adapt and sustain its services and fundraising activities during the last year of restrictions due to the pandemic.

The famous St Joseph’s Penny collection boxes are being ‘rested’ this year during #LockdownLent, to comply with a need for safer ways to donate including online and text giving. Our schools have stepped up to the challenge however by creating their own collection boxes and jars, setting up Just Giving pages linked to the campaign, in some cases setting a fundraising target of £1904 – the year of the very first St Joseph’s Penny school collection and setting whole school community fundraising challenges such as collectively running the equivalent length of the Camino de Santiago, to name but a few examples. Using social media to reach their wider school communities and share ideas and successes has proved invaluable.

Other schools have contributed to Caritas’s Lenten Pray-Fast-Give resources by providing daily prayers written by pupils on the themes of Catholic Social Teaching, bringing the wider community together in prayer each day. Caritas is very grateful to all our schools for their continued commitment to the campaign in very challenging circumstances.

Times may have changed but the willingness of children to help other children and families in need has clearly not diminished since the day the first St Joseph’s Penny campaign was launched in our schools in 1904 by Bishop Herbert Vaughan, who was the Bishop of Salford at this time.
Bishop Vaughan was a man of great vision who cared deeply about the growing number of cold, hungry children without parents and living on the streets, who were also being drawn away from the Catholic Church. He sought the help of religious sisters to care for such children, including Alice Ingham from Rochdale. As a young girl Alice felt called by God to care for the poor children of the town and as an adult, she followed her vocation and became Sister Mary Francis from the Order of the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph.

Together with Bishop Vaughan, she set up homes for orphaned children. As a result, in 1886 the Catholic Children’s Rescue Society (CCRS) was founded to continue this vital work but how could it be paid for? That’s when Bishop Vaughan, came up with the “creatively courageous” idea of the St Joseph’s Penny Appeal, asking all the children in all the schools to donate one penny. The first collection in 1904 raised 55,217 pennies. This amounts to around £230 today.

We like to think Bishop Vaughan and Alice Ingham would approve of how the St Joseph’s Penny schools’ appeal has continued to stay in our hearts and evolve to meet changing needs and in this Year of St Joseph and as we approach the Solemnity of St Joseph on the 19th March, let us give grateful thanks for the tender loving father figure who humbly continues to inspire us all to be, as Pope Francis so aptly puts it, “creatively courageous”.

 
To access St Joseph’s Penny learning resources, weekly prayers and ways to donate, please go to https://www.caritassalford.org.uk/service-view/sjp2021/
Over 500 Entries to Laudato Si Logo Competition!
Thank you to everybody who entered our Laudato Si Logo Competition! We received more than 500 brilliantly creative and are currently going through the judging process and hope to announce the winner very soon!

EMPOWERED Confirmation Programme sees successful Zoom Launch

On Tuesday 2nd March, Catechists from around the Diocese and beyond gathered on Zoom for the launch of a new Confirmation programme called ‘EMPOWERED’.

Bishop John welcomed and thanked all those who were involved in preparing candidates for the Sacrament. There was an overview of the structure of the programme which is based on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit with extra sessions on the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the rite of Confirmation and post Confirmation.

It was explained that the sessions are designed to be used online, in person or a mixture of both. Each session is designed to last around one hour and can be downloaded as PowerPoint or PDF files. Each session is complete but can be adapted by those delivering the sessions. Attendees had chance to see one of the sessions in action along with some safeguarding guidance and chance to ask any questions. If you missed the event, you can watch back the recording above and view the presentation here

All the latest information about the Sacrament of Confirmation can be found here 

If you have any feedback about the programme, please email formation@dioceseofsalford.org.uk.

An Eco Thought for the Third Sunday of Lent

We have been sharing weekly eco thoughts along with video reflections from clergy around our diocese on our social media channels.

Don't forget to join us over there for regular updates and reflections!

 
Donate 

We have been receiving enquiries from parishioners who have asked us how you can continue giving to your parish during the pandemic. Parishes still greatly need your support, even more so with their weekly congregations and visitors affected.

We do recognise that many parishioners may be in a different financial position than they were previously or struggling financially, and there is no expectation to give where you are unable to do so.

If it is appropriate for you to consider now you can donate to your own parish by clicking the link below or at a later date via the diocesan website. 

In the search function just search for your parish.


Donate Now


Thank you to all of you who have continued to donate to your parish and other agencies of faith at this time.

Our website will be continually updated over the coming weeks and months
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