How quickly we are arriving at Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Season of Lent. I had hoped that we might have seen the end to lockdown restrictions but, although there may be some changes during Lent, we will not have churches open to their full capacity and our Holy Week will be as difficult as last year. But the pandemic must also invite us to think differently about Lent and to see how we are challenged in a different way because of the circumstances.
There will be a pastoral letter from me to everyone next weekend and a variety of resources available on the website which I hope you will find useful for your Lent at home. Even in these very strange and difficult times, there is a great deal of good work and ministry being done.
And, as always, we pray “Stay with us, Lord, on our Journey”
Youth Videos Share Tips on Bringing Faith Alive throughout Pandemic
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.
Our youth team have created a resource which asks, how can I keep my faith alive in a time of pandemic and a series of other questions which may help you through this time.
While the videos are aimed at young adults, anyone may be able to benefit from the series which also ask questions about feeling a part of the universal Church and how best to participate in livestreamed Mass.
World Day of the Sick “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8)
In his letter to mark the 29th World Day of the Sick on 11th February 2021, Pope Francis has called for us to remember those who continue to suffer the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. In his message, he expressed his spiritual closeness and reassured all the poor and marginalised of the Church's loving concern for them.
In his letter, Pope Francis said: "Dear brothers and sisters, the commandment of love that Jesus left to his disciples is also kept in our relationship with the sick. A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love. Let us strive to achieve this goal, so that no one will feel alone, excluded or abandoned.
"To Mary, Mother of Mercy and Health of the Infirm, I entrust the sick, healthcare workers and all those who generously assist our suffering brothers and sisters. From the Grotto of Lourdes and her many other shrines throughout the world, may she sustain our faith and hope, and help us care for one another with fraternal love. To each and all, I cordially impart my blessing."
This World Day of the Sick, may we pray for the many people around our diocese facing ill health and sickness due to Coronavirus and other long-term health conditions. As we move through the pandemic, may we not forget the lessons we have learned about our care for others, about building community and remaining connected with those facing sickness and disability.
'Let us Dream' - Lent Course from the Diocese of Salford
LET US DREAM -- Our Lenten Journey with Pope Francis, guided by Austen Ivereigh.
Over the Wednesdays of Lent we will explore Pope Francis’ book, Let us Dream, with the assistance of Austen Ivereigh, who worked closely with Pope Francis on the book.
Let Us Dream is the first book by a pope in response to a specific crisis, and offers us Pope Francis’s spiritual guidance for humanity in the throes of the Covid crisis, helping us to seize the opportunity for conversion and change — as individuals and as a society.
The course will begin with an Introductory presentation by Austen on Wednesday 24th February at 7pm.
Every Wednesday from 2nd March until 31st March we will meet 7pm-8.30pm, again with an opening reflection from Austen, to explore the book in five sections, share our thoughts, ask questions and deepen our understanding of the Lord’s call to us, to our Church and world through the teaching of Pope Francis.
This is a wonderful opportunity and the Bishop and Diocese are very grateful to Austen Ivereigh for making this possible.
Usually at this time of year, engaged and recently married couples from across our diocese would be gathering in the Cathedral for the Blessing of Engaged Couples and a joyful celebration of their marriages led by Bishop John.
Though this year that couldn't happen, Bishop John has written a message to be shared with engaged couples.
"I imagine that the word “disappointment” is fairly common to you in these days. Planning your wedding has to be so different because of all the restrictions concerning the number of guests at the wedding ceremony and then there is the probability that there cannot be the usual reception, nor the travelling on honeymoon. Long term planning has probably just been frustrated. But your love for one another is real and perhaps even strengthened because of the focus on a wedding in such strange and difficult times. What an important moment for you to make a commitment in love for one another – together you are facing the future, with all its possibilities and opportunities, many of which are still unknown and unseen.
"I wish you well. I wish you much happiness. I hope that there will always be a sense of God’s love in your love for one another. Keep God close to you and He will guide you and strengthen you in all that you hope to achieve together."
We wish all the couples getting married this year in the diocese every blessing.
Altar Servers Retreat Hosted by Vocations Team
On Saturday 27th February 2021 the Vocations team will lead an online retreat for Altar Servers.
The retreat will be open to all servers between the ages of 8 – 17. According to age, we have split the sessions into two; one for those aged between 8-11 (10am-12pm), and another for those aged 12-17 (1pm-3pm). However, if you are a Server aged 18 and over, please email the address below for more information.
The day includes a keynote speech from Bishop John on the ministry of serving during this time and in the future. You will have the opportunity to attend all three virtual workshops on: The ‘Challenges & Opportunities’ for an Altar Server, ‘Prayer – A Friendship with Jesus’, and ‘Called to Serve’. Following the workshops you will have a time of prayer and Bishop John will recommission you as an Altar Server for the Diocese of Salford.
Those who attend will be able to meet other altar servers from around the diocese and discuss the opportunities of serving God and our neighbour in the everyday. There will also be times of prayer for attendees to deepen their relationship with God and discern how the Lord may be calling to serve Him. In addition, attendees will be given the skills and resources to grow as disciples in prayer at home in their own time, which will be especially helpful during the pandemic when their ministry may be on hold and access to churches limited.
Although 2020 was a year like no other, the start of 2021 has been a clear reminder to us all that re-emerging from the pandemic is indeed a marathon and not a sprint. For charities like ourselves, the challenge to maintain all of our diverse services and meet the increasing needs of those who find themselves on the margins, is both constant and complex, especially at a time when our ability to fundraise has been severely impacted by Coronavirus restrictions. Despite this the demand for our services has gone up and our dedicated team of staff and volunteers have risen to the Covid-19 challenges by ensuring that essential such as food get to those who need it most. Food banks, advice and support services and just staying open so that no one is left behind has been our goal throughout this pandemic and will continue to be until it’s over. Put simply charities including Caritas are definitely Covid-heroes!
THANK YOU. It is against this backdrop that I wish to thank everyone who has supported or contributed in any way to our recent Caritas Sunday ‘Who Is My Neighbour?’ appeal. Particular thanks go to Bishop John who very kindly outlined the importance of the work of Caritas in his recent Pastoral Letter and to all our clergy who held a Special Collection or communicated the various ways to donate to their parishioners through their parish newsletters or social media. To those of you who were able to make a donation, either through your parish collection, private donation online or by setting up a direct debit for regular giving, perhaps in response to a request you received through direct mail - a “first” for Caritas, we express our sincere gratitude on behalf of all the individuals – our neighbours – who we are able to continue serving as a result.
IMPACT. We recognise that it is very important to communicate to our supporters and the wider community the real difference your donations make and so I wish to share our 2020 Impact Report with you, which gives a very clear and concise overview of just what our services were able to deliver over the last year with your help. Please click here to read the report.
PRAY-FAST-GIVE. As Lent approaches, we invite you all to join us in prayer by accessing our daily Prayer For The Day slides which will be available on our Caritas website and on social media throughout Lent. We are delighted that many of the prayers are being written by pupils in our schools. Our annual Lenten St Joseph’s Penny appeal is seeing some changes too. The famous penny boxes are being rested for this year due to the pandemic and being replaced by online donation options and text giving. Learning resources are being provided for schools so that our young people will understand our Diocese’s long history in helping to transform the lives of the poor and be inspired to rise to the challenge of being our next generation of social activists and fundraisers. Many parishioners will remember filling their St Joseph’s Penny boxes themselves as children, so we would of course welcome the support of our parishes and wider community in our 2021 St Joseph’s Penny appeal.
THANK YOU AGAIN!
Going forward, there is no doubt that we are in for a challenging year but we will do everything in our power to continue to serve those most in need and live out our mission to put Caritas – Christian Love for humankind - into practical action and at the heart of the Church in our Diocese. Thank you to all who support Caritas, parishioners and priests, religious, teachers, pupils and volunteers for all that you have done to support our services across the diocese, as well as works of caritas in your local communities: We are proud of the impact we have made on the lives of the most vulnerable in an extremely challenging year for all.
Make your Mark - Share your Experiences of Churches & Covid
All in our diocese are invited to share their experience and insights in a new survey which is a partnership between the Historic England, the Church of England, the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance, the National Churches Trust, and the University of York. An initial survey was launched in September 2020. It attracted over 2500 responses which have already helped to shape decision-making and guidance.
This new, very-focused survey is for all churches. It should only take 5 minutes to complete but will make an important contribution to planning for the future. It concentrates on:
Obtaining a snapshot of the levels of church and community needs and challenges at this point in the pandemic
Identifying the ways in church buildings and activities have continued to support communities
Churches' plans for the remainder of the crisis period and for recovery
The resources and support which will be needed (especially from government) if churches are to mobilise their unique assets and maximise their contribution to rebuilding lives and communities
Young Artists, Get Involved!
One Week Left to Enter Laudato Si Logo Competition
We are calling on young artists from schools around the diocese to get creative to draw, illustrate or paint the Laudato Si Centre’s new logo.
The Diocese of Salford is home to the Laudato Si Centre, which, when open, will welcome visitors to learn about protecting our planet, and will encourage us all to share actions and ideas ’to protect our common home’ following on from the letter that Pope Francis wrote to every person on the planet – ‘Laudato Si’.
You must attend a Catholic school in our diocese to enter. We will have three age groups. There will be three prizes: two runner ups and one overall prize. Each prize winner will receive a bookshop voucher for £15 and the overall winner’s logo will be digitally transformed and turned into the Laudato Si Centre logo.
• Key Stage 1
• Key Stage 2
• Key Stage 3
We would like you to draw a logo based on what the Laudato Si Centre means to you.
We would like you to paint/draw/colour what you think our new logo should look like. Please note that this should not be produced digitally.
The winning design will be transformed into a digital design which will be front and centre at our Laudato Si Centre.
On February 8th each year, Pope Francis calls an International Day of Prayer for Awareness Against Human Trafficking. This day is recognised on the Feast Day of St Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 7. After she was freed in Italy years later, she became a Nun and has since emerged as a patron for all victims of trafficking. St Bakhita’s legacy remains in the work undertaken by the local anti-trafficking groups around the world.
This has been a year like no other. The Covid19 pandemic has put a strain on everyone but the UN states that “while at first sight, these enforcement measures and increased police presence at the borders and on the streets seem to dissuade crime, they may also drive it further underground.”
Measures relating to Covid19 are said to disproportionately affect certain categories of people at risk of exploitation, with undocumented migrants and seasonal workers facing more precarious working and living conditions which leave them at a greater risk of falling vulnerable to criminal networks.
In 2014, Pope Francis described Human Trafficking as “An open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity”.
Here in the Diocese action is being taken by the Caritas Anti-Trafficking project which was inspired by an initiative in the parish of Our Lady of the Valley which works with East Lancashire Police in raising awareness on the issue. The project also links more widely with Greater Manchester Police, the Medaille Trust and the Santa Marta Group in Westminster.
As we continue moving through this time of pandemic, let us remember the suffering of all victims and be aware of the signs to look for in our day to day lives and in our own communities.
If you are a victim of modern slavery or concerned about anybody who may be, the Modern Slavery Helpline continues to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – 08000 121 700.
Global Healing: Care for Our Common Home this Lent
On Thursday 18th February, Bishop John will launch a series of speakers, prayers and discussions based on the film-based resource, “Global Healing”. The talks will take place each week from the 18th February throughout Lent, with our Head of Environment Dr Emma Gardner sharing her own knowledge and experiences with us on Thursday 4th March’s event.
We all have our own part to play in responding to the environmental crisis our world is facing and Pope Francis has called each of us to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
The “Global Healing” documentaries will inform and challenge people to respond to Pope Francis’ call to Care for Our Common Home. The films are suitable for all who are concerned about what is happening to our world and who want to take action, or those who want to learn more about the issue.
The films will take place over six Thursdays, from 18th February – 25th March 2021, between 7.30pm – 8.30pm and are hosted by the Global Catholic Climate Movement Laudato Si’ Animators in the UK.
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.