I wrote to you in June assuring you of my best wishes and prayers during the pandemic. I continue to pray for the people of the Diocese during this time. As we emerge from the loss, suffering and uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus, we hope in the reality of the risen Lord and continue to respond to His command to St Francis and each of us to ‘Rebuild His Church’.
Pope Francis reminds us of the priority of placing the needs of others before our own. We have seen this being expressed in so many ways during this time of pandemic.
Over the past few months, I have seen all around the Diocese a lot of energy being invested in encouraging “spirituality and prayer at home”. Thank you for all you are doing. There was the remarkable opinion poll result recently that stated that, prior to the pandemic, 4% of the nation attended religious services and now it is about 25%, using electronic means. If that is true, we may well have a wonderful challenge of welcoming newcomers to our churches as they re-open.
After a period of reflection, and when the time is right, we will launch Stage 4 of our Hope in the Future journey, focussing on ‘Proclaiming the Good News’. During this Stage we will be reflecting on how we can develop links between our Schools and Parishes whilst accompanying families. We will consider how we can help everyone to experience the Good News of Jesus Christ who come into contact with our parishes through the celebrations of baptisms, weddings, funerals, RCIA, Christmas and Easter Liturgies.
Hope in the Future Holy Hour:
Hope in Difficult Times
On Sunday 4th October, the day we would usually launch the new stage of Hope in the Future, Bishop John led a Holy Hour from Salford Cathedral which was livestreamed via Churchservices tv.
The theme of the Holy Hour was Hope in Difficult Times, with the hopes that the Holy Hour would provide parishioners from the top to the bottom of our diocese with an opportunity to reflect and to take stock of the last few months.
The focus was not on moving to stage four of Hope in the Future, but rather reflecting on the presence of the Lord all through lockdown and as we continue on our journey. The Lord has, in a very real sense, answered our prayer and stayed with us on our journey. We need to pause, draw breath, grieve where we need to grieve but also be grateful where we can be and allow ourselves to be renewed.
During his Homily, Bishop John called on us to have hope and encouraged us in times of worry, to pray - remembering those in refugee camps or those who are persecuted for their faith, and thinking about our global neighbours who share our common home. He referred to Pope Francis's new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, which was published on the same day.
During Benediction, Bishop John gave a blessing to those virtually attending the service as well as moving outside to the Cathedral Piazza to bless all people in our diocese, offering us all hope through these uncertain times.
A new document called 'Rebuild my Church' has been published by the Department of Formation which is full of resources to help us through this period of reflection. You can view this by clicking here.
This World Homelessness Day, Patrick O’Dowd of Caritas Salford reflects on the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on people who are homeless.
Lack of suitable housing and access to safe, permanent and secure accommodation is a social problem which is deep rooted and complex to resolve. But the recent pandemic and the immediate accommodation of 15,000 people as part of the ‘Everyone In’ emergency programme has demonstrated the possibility that we can put an end to this problem.
In our own diocese, Caritas Salford has continued to play its part throughout lockdown. At the height of the pandemic staff and volunteers at Cornerstone, the Lalley Centre, (Manchester) and Red Door (Bury), provided on average 400 lunches or food packs each week to those who are homeless or affected by insecure or poor accommodation. Providing food is only a limited part of the answer and the importance of giving high quality information, support and assistance is critical to securing opportunities for housing and long-term personal security. The pandemic has offered us the chance to deliver intense personalised, socially distanced but face-to-face support for those needing advice, increasing the number of people who accessed accommodation or benefits more quickly. It has also accelerated our engagement with the local authority and enabled collaboration with other charities across the diocese to ensure effective support.
The challenge, however, is still great and as the lockdown regulations are ever-changing, it creates difficulties for those who are already vulnerable. Homeless charities, including Caritas, are also worried about the impact of the huge blow to the economy and how this will affect funding. We are still not able to invite all our generous volunteers back to our services because of social distancing and caring for their health and welfare.
In 2015, Pope Francis reminded us that ‘the Son of God came into this world as a homeless person’, the ‘Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head. With his reminder, please continue your prayers for those affected by homelessness and insecure accommodation and remember our staff and volunteers as they continue to respond to this need.
This World Homeless Day we must realise that the pandemic itself presents a ‘circuit breaker moment’ and an opportunity for positive change. We should not be afraid to recognise and seize the opportunities to stand up for those affected by homelessness and do everything possible to avoid society ‘snapping back’ into previous patterns of behaviour.
Theologian, historian and volunteer Adam Brocklehurst writes about his experience of the Heritage Open Day at Church of the Holy Name in September.
Rising like a graceful beacon high above Oxford Road, the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ first opened its doors in 1871 and for nearly a hundred and fifty years has been the locus for Catholic worship not only for many native Mancunians, but also for a large and diverse immigrant population and due to its proximity to the university, a changing community of students.
The annual Heritage Open Day was founded in 1994, as an opportunity to view historic properties rarely open to the public. On Saturday the twelfth of September with Charlie Booth of Manchester Histories (and her team of excellent volunteers) and Jane Hellings of the Jesuits, supported by the permanent community of Jesuits, the Holy Name opened its doors to visitors. While the church is open regularly (nearly every day of the year in pre-Covid-19 days) this gave visitors a rare opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the building, and to explore parts of the church normally off limits.
Joseph Hansom’s masterpiece is a building of national historic and architectural importance, historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner described it as “a building of the highest quality”.
The only grade 1 listed Catholic church in Manchester, this magnificent gothic-revival building speaks as much of the confidence of English Catholicism at that time as it does of Manchester during the Victorian era. And it also speaks eloquently of the city’s enduring investment in technology (all the light and space we take for granted was only possible through the utilisation of cutting-edge industrial production and engineering methods).
The current social distancing rules presented some challenges; however, the church is enormous (186 feet long by 112 feet wide), the largest in Manchester, with a capacity for 800 when not under current restrictions. There was therefore more than enough space for the day’s visitors. And for an added dimension of safety, tours were given by Jane and myself (I’m a historian and theologian by training, a member of the chaplaincy, congregation and a regular volunteer) to small groups and church architect Mark Pierce gave several well-attended talks on the Holy Names’ famous ‘pot vault’ and the restoration of the church in light of climate change, in the spacious east transept.
The day was a great success and brought some respite during the austerity of our current situation, and perhaps provided a model of how our historic buildings might remain open for visitors in the future.
Planning Permission Submitted to Launch Phase One of Laudato Si Centre
The Laudato Si Centre at Wardley Hall has entered the next stages of its journey as planning permission has been submitted in a bid to launch the first phase of building at the site.
The completion of the first phase will see a converted reception area with the hopes of being able to welcome the Centre’s first visitors next Spring.
All buildings and conversions at the Laudato Si Centre will be completed to be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. Initially, visitors to the site will be able to explore the walled garden which is home to beehives, greenhouses, and a sensory wild garden, all designed to be accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
The Centre, which is housed in the grounds of the Bishop of Salford’s residence at Wardley Hall, was created following Pope Francis’s challenge in Laudato Si for us all to care for our common home. The encyclical explores the interconnectedness of all things, highlighting the importance of a care for all of creation and encouraging all people to undertake an ecological conversion.
Do you have an eco group in your parish or school?
We'd love to hear about what you're doing in your parish to live Laudato Si.
Let us know by emailing email@example.com
Caritas Covid19 Bereavement Support Group
Caritas is now able to offer bereavement support to individuals and families who have experienced the death of a loved one due to Covid19.
This support is unique because it will enable those participating to share their story in their own way with others who have “walked in their shoes”, not only in terms of their loss but in sharing the added pain of not having been able to follow the rites and rituals of the Catholic Church in the usual way, which is such an important expression of Faith and brings so much comfort to the dying and their families.
Meetings will initially be offered via video conferencing whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place and will be professionally and sensitively facilitated by Bernadette O’Neal, a qualified psychologist and bereavement counsellor with a deep understanding of the Catholic Faith.
A video created by the Catholic News Service to mark the signing of Pope Francis's new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti
On 4th October, Pope Francis published his enyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on human fraternity and social friendship.
The first words of the new letter come from St Francis of Assisi – whose name Pope Francis chose when he was elected in 2013.
It takes its inspiration from St Francis’ Admonitions 6 – Of the Imitation of the Lord.
“Let us all, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross.
The Bishops’ Conference website has created a page with useful links to the text of Fratelli Tutti, a shorter and longer summary, and commentaries on it which can be found by clicking here
The Holy See’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development has produced an online book with the texts of Pope Francis’ weekly catecheses on Healing the World: responding to the pandemic (from his General Audiences in August and September) together with questions for group reflection and discussion which could be helpful and form a useful guide to online parish discussions. Click here for the link to that document.
Around our diocese, people are preparing to virtually support CAFOD’s Family Fast Day which will this year take place on Friday 9th October.
This is a Harvest like no other as families around the world face chronic food shortages, malnutrition and poverty as the result of coronavirus.
Asal, 32, is a mum of five. She was living with her husband in Afghanistan, when he caught coronavirus.
Asal’s husband died of coronavirus. This terrible virus left her two little girls and three boys without a father. Her husband was the main provider, so when he died she lost the simple comfort of knowing her children would have enough to eat each day.
No mother should have to worry about her kids getting enough to eat, especially after such a terrible loss. Let’s stand alongside the poorest and most vulnerable communities and help them to rebuild their lives.
Sign up for a Eucharistic Celebration with Bishop Peter Brignall, a Global Family Food event, a quiz, Prayer and Reflection with Bishop John Arnold, an online assembly, Children’s Liturgy and an update from international experts by clicking the link below
Earlier this year the Holy See published the new Directory for Catechesis. In many parts it is not an easy read. But it does provide us with the opportunity to look at our catechetical endeavours in the light of changing times, demonstrated, of course, by the lockdown and the journey to a new and undetermined normal.
Over the next year Fr Paul Daly, Episcopal Vicar for Formation, will be summarising the Directory, with some suggested pointers for reflection. A summary is, by its nature, subjective. Fr Paul will try to include the sections that he feels has most to say to ourselves and our parishes and communities at this time.
Each week we will update our website with the next insert. Please feel free to share with parish catechists, sacramental programme coordinators, parish leadership team members; in fact anyone who wants them!
St Jerome on a laptop: Intricate mosaic honours Bible translator for the digital age
Artist Pete Codling discusses his work 'Little Bits of God'
A major new artwork commissioned to mark the astonishing achievement of St Jerome is to be unveiled on the 1600th anniversary of his death on 30 September.
Jerome (c.AD 347–420) translated the Bible from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into Latin, the first scholar to do so systematically. His 'Vulgate' translation became the standard biblical text of the Roman Catholic Church and is still used today.
Now a mosaic commissioned by Bible Society and the Catholic Church in England and Wales is celebrating his achievement. Created by Portsmouth-based artist Pete Codling, 'Little Bits of God' tells the story of the Bible using the smalti mosaic technique developed in ancient Byzantium.
Jerome himself is depicted in the mosaic with the traditional symbols associated with him of a lion, a book and a skull. But, says Codling: 'In this contemporary mosaic the book pages on his desk blend into a computer keyboard and his stylised quill pen, or stylus, remind the viewer that Bible reading, learning and studying also now take place online via the internet. The Bible speaks now through the digital as well as the printed text.'
Another modern reference that picks up the theme of mortality and suffering is the depiction of three-year-old Syrian refugee boy Alan Kurdi, drowned in 2015 as his family attempted to leave Turkey.
Biblical figures including Jesus, Mary and St Matthew are also represented.
The mosaic stands on a pedestal which is an integral part of the work. It is over two metres tall and is formed of ten panels created from thousands of pieces of coloured glass. It is currently housed in St John's Catholic Cathedral, Portsmouth. Next year it will begin a tour of England and Wales.
We are 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.