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ChristTheKing

StMarys

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Previous Thoughts for the Week

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Beginning 24th June 2024

 

Reflecting on the litany of different ministries and roles prayed for during the Parish thanksgiving Mass at St John’s on Saturday 6 th January, I next come across those who provide administrative support. In our parish, there are various people those who do a variety of various tasks “behind the scene”. There are lots of different tasks that ensure the wheels of the parish machine run smoothly. We are also very blessed to have a lady who voluntarily comes from the Manchester area and “breaks the back of the weekly administration” that are part and parcel of parish life. She enters the various Mass intentions received, she pays all the bills, and using an on line diocesan system called “Xero” keeps the parish accounts up to date. We are fortunate to have all the help that we get in this area of parish life that many people are probably not aware of. May the Lord bless the people who help us with their volunteering as regards parish administration. We give thanks to the Lord.

On Sunday, we had the “Summer Sizzler” at St John’s, which was just a really relaxing afternoon, enjoying, good food, fun, chatting and listening to good music, all finished off by a sing-a- long session. Fr Job loved being the goalkeeper in the “Beat the Goalie” activity which was on the grass in front of the car park. A number of people have subsequently told me they were rubbing their eyes in disbelief when they spotted me playing football when driving along ! Well I did not really score at all, but enjoyed just entering into the spirit of the occasion! I am grateful to the hard work, enthusiasm and love that went into putting on such an amazing event.

On Monday we had a lovely Mass to celebrate the birthday of St John the Baptist, one of the patronal feasts for our parish. In the Mass I homed in on the extraordinary circumstances, when 8 days after his birth, the child was dedicated to the Lord and given the unusual name of John. Zechariah His father, who had not been able to speak throughout Elizabeth’s pregnancy, expressed his desire for the child to bear this name. As soon as he did this using a writing tablet, his power of speech returned, and he regained his power of speech. His first words, after the long silence were words of praise to God; “Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, he has visited his people”. These beautiful words are daily recited universally as the “Benedictus” prayer which forms an essential part of Lauds, the morning prayer of the Church.

On Tuesday evening, we again hosted the Deanery Confirmation service which was another beautiful occasion when the parish united strongly in order to provide a memorable celebration of the Sacrament for our young people. It is always an honour and a privilege to welcome Bishop John, who is very easy to work with and puts everyone at ease including the young people.

Thanks for reading this reflection which I hope you find helpful. Have a blessed few days leading up to the great Feast of St Peter and Paul which we celebrate this coming weekend.


Fr David

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Beginning 17th June 2024

 

On Thursday we celebrated the Feast of St Anthony of Padua who was born in the twelfth century in Lisbon and in his native land is known as St Anthony of Portugal. A lot of people have a devotion to this holy Franciscan monk remarkable for his love for the poor and being an eloquent preacher.

He is also well known for his intercession when things are lost and is often credited in finding things for us that are out of our reach. I am reminded of a diocesan pilgrimage for priests to Fatima in which I participated a few years ago. During this wonderful week, one free afternoon, I joined a couple of the other priests on a coach trip to Lisbon. Among other things, we concelebrated Mass in the church built on St Anthony’s family home, with a group of Italian pilgrims. It was a memorable experience that broadens my understanding of this well-known saint, and one I will always treasure.

On Monday, I was invited into Blessed Trinity Catholic College to answer questions about the priesthood from a class of year 8 students. Among the numerous good questions, in a very enjoyable lesson, one young man was very keen to know where I had been to on pilgrimage; they all had fun trying to guess how many times I had been to Rome, which is more than you might think! A young lady (perhaps thinking of St Anthony) asked if I have ever considered becoming a monk; I replied that our way of life is definitely a vocation and that I had never felt called to live in community. As you know I like quizzes, so I then went on to ask the class to guess how many out of my (almost) 31 years as a priest have involved me living with another priest; the answer surprised them. I shared with them that despite the answer to that question, I strongly believe that it is healthier for a priest to live with another priest. It is remarkable what young people want to know these days!

On Sunday we celebrated the first of this year’s First Holy Communion Masses at Christ the King. These both went very well and all the parents and children involved all seemed very happy with them. These will span all three churches over the next two weekends. I am still convinced that celebrating them in small groups at the Sunday parish Masses makes this significant encounter with Christ in the lives of these children more personal and intimate.

As I look upon the litany of thanksgiving used during the Prayer of the Faithful at the Parish Mass at St John’s on 6 th January, I next come across those who organised a lunch on Christmas Day for those who would otherwise have been on their own. Last Christmas was the second year running that we had tried to host such an event. This year it was held in the Parish Rooms at St Mary’s and all the food and drink had been donated by parishioners. Although the uptake was relatively small, I think that those who came really appreciated the hospitality they received. It was an enjoyable occasion, with good banter, dancing, a gift for everyone who came as well as a traditional Christmas turkey meal followed by a choice of delicious desserts. I was really amazed at the generosity of the 7 strong team of helpers who sacrificed being with their own loved ones to offer hospitality to others. The other wonderful thing about this well-planned event was that the seven of us all worked as one unit and willingly stepped in to do what was required; we all put our different gifts and experience to good use. At the end of the day, most of us were really exhausted after our endeavours of the day, but at a “reunion” team meeting in January, we all agreed it had been very worthwhile and we were really up for doing it again next Christmas. We give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings that comes from this now annual event.

Thank you for reading this reflection, which I hope you find interesting and helpful.


Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Beginning 10th June 2024

 

The whole of month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart so on Friday we had a lovely Mass to mark the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which
included lovely hymns such as Sweet Heart of Jesus and To Jesus’ heart all burning”.

On Monday, Fr Job returned safe and sound from his Scottish Sojourn, which he really enjoyed. I was pleased he got among other places to go to Craig Lodge in Dalmally, a house of prayer from which comes the beautiful music I often play at Mass.

On Monday we also had our final session for the preparation of young people for Confirmation which went well. It was a “catch up” session for those who had missed one of the main sessions and although the numbers were small the session was great fun. We gave some input about different aspects of Confirmation and the young people engaged really well in this. They were generous as they have been throughout the Programme in how they engaged and generously shared aspects about their faith and their lives. It all culminated in a time of Adoration in church which was encouragingly well received by those present. I am very grateful to the great support and generosity of our wonderful team of Confirmation catechists without whom this programme would not have been possible. I am also grateful to the support of Fr Job and the other priests of the Deanery for their encouragement and involvement throughout this programme. We are really looking forward to the Confirmation with Bishop John at St Mary’s on 25th June.

By chance on Tuesday lunchtime I happened to go in the Parish Rooms at St Mary’s just as the weekly Bingo was about to start , so I couldn’t resist having a go at Calling the numbers for the first time ever. The whole experience was great fun!

This week we are having the final sessions with children and parents in preparation for First Holy Communion which will be celebrated at the Sunday Masses in all three churches over the next few weekends. We have made the decision to continue to celebrate them at Sunday ParishMasses in all three churches. For each of them to be a celebration with a group of a small number of children at a time. We hope that this makes this landmark moment in the children’s lives a bit more personal and intimate. I also think it is good that our regular parishioners get to be part of these special occasions. We also look forward to the Thanksgiving Mass for the Sacramental Programme on 7th July.

On Wednesday Fr Job celebrated his 14 th anniversary of priestly ordination with leading the morning concelebrated Mass at Christ the King. We then both took part in the monthly Clergy hike which I usually get to lead. It’s a chance for the priests to get together for a catch up, get some exercise and see some beautiful countryside in which our area has in abundance. We are usually hosted before we go walking, at a different presbytery for a brew and a chat. This week we were hosted by Fr Peter Hopkinson, the Vicar General who remembered fondly his time in Burnley. For this month’s walk we were blessed with good weather in the Holcombe area above Ramsbottom which led us to Peel Tower from which the views were stunning. As one of Fr Job’s friends said, what better way could he have marked his anniversary than a day with his brother priests! I think I am inclined to agree with him.

As I look upon the list of the roles and ministries prayed for during the Litany of Thanksgiving at the Mass at St John’s on 6 th January, I next come upon those involved in the Lenten and Big Picture Courses. These are largely DVD based sessions produced by an organisation in the Church called CAFÉ which strives to promote and encourage evangelisation in the Church. It also includes opportunities for sharing in groups and a time of prayer. The Scripture course has encouraged us to read the Scriptures a bit more widely and very importantly to take time to reflect on what the Lord is saying to us through the verses. We are pleased that a number of people are committing themselves to be involved in these events and seem to be helped in their journey of faith by them. We are very grateful for these opportunities that have been presented to us in the parish the last year or so and for those who facilitate them.

With grateful thanks for reading this reflection which I hope you find interesting, insightful and helpful.

 

 


Fr David

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Beginning 3rd June 2024

On Friday we had another Deanery Strung Sung Supper at St Peter’s church hall in Newchurch in RossendaIe. It was well attended locally and a fair crowd also came over from Burnley to support us. I feel very humble to be surrounded by a very talented group of musicians on these occasions. These events are a great “old fashioned” way of bringing people together to sing, to chat and to enjoy food and fun together. I first got involved in doing these at St Dunstan’s in Moston, Manchester in 2005, so they have been going for quite a long time now, which has proved that the original format of it being live music~ song sheets ~ food, travels quite well in the different parishes of the Diocese.


I have to say I really enjoy the Feast of Corpus Christi which we celebrated on Sunday. We had lovely Masses in the parish each culminating in a Blessed Sacrament Procession around the church. The Eucharistic procession is something that is strongly encouraged by the Church as a good thing to do to mark Corpus Christi. It was great to see much delight from a number of people after the Mass. It was suggested that it would be great to have Quarant’ore, which is 40 hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which I think best suits Corpus Christi. I think it would be best to let it run over 4 days and culminate with a Procession on the Sunday of the feast. Let us put this in the plans for next year.


On Tuesday we had the last of the preparation sessions for Confirmation. Our Young people have joined in really well with the preparation. In our Final session we talked largely about the logistics of how the Deanery Confirmation service with the Bishop on 25th June will go. I am grateful to the strong, experienced team of catechists who have worked with the young people and been supportive and encouraging of the young people. We have also have had really good support from some of the local priests who have popped in to support us. Their presence has been positive and helpful. We look forward to their Confirmation as well as the reunion that have planned to take place the week after the event.


As I look on the litany of thanksgiving that we used at the Mass at St John’s on 6th January, I next come across the role of the parish Safeguarding Representatives. Again, with a lot of the roles within the three churches, we have a great team in this important ministry across the parish. It is a role that requires initial and regular Diocesan training in order to be familiar with basic and current procedures and practises. It is essentially about ensuring that our parish activities are safe for our children, young people and vulnerable. The Parish Reps work closely with the Parish Priest and the Diocesan Safeguarding Office to ensure that all volunteers working with these groups of people in some capacity, have applied for and received a DBS certificate. They are essentially there to ensure that guidelines are followed so that all parish activities can take place with everyone involved feeling safe and comfortable. May the Lord bless our fine parish safeguarding team and their invaluable and sometimes challenging work.


Thanks for reading this reflection, As we approach the great Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, may you be filled with the Lord’s love and compassion.


Fr David

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 27th May 2024

 

On Wednesday last week, we had a practise with the band for the forthcoming Deanery Strung Sung Supper at St Peter’s, Rossendale next Friday. The practise was held at St Mary’s Presbytery and it was nice to fill the big house with sound. It was enjoyable getting the group together and in between the songs and the usual frequent requests for me to slow down, we had some fun and some laughs. At practises we always have a break for food, so I had prepared some salad and new potatoes, followed by lemon tart. As one of the group later said, the food was a chance for us to do a bit of healthy “bonding”. As you know I am a big believer in there being a social side to most events. After all you can’t beat sitting round a table and have a good natter!


On Thursday, we celebrated in England and Wales the Feast of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest. At Mass we focused on the gift of the sacred priesthood to the Church. I reflected on the fact that all priests are firstly called by Christ the High Priest to share in his ministry. In calling others, as he has continued to do for 2000 years, to share in his sacred ministry, Christ is being faithful to “his Bride”, the Church. At the heart of priesthood is sacrifice and commitment, and so we thanked the Lord at Mass for all the priests living and departed who have served our Diocese and local area over the years.


On Monday we hosted the Pro-Life sponsored walk organised jointly by the KSC and the Catenians, that I had the honour of leading. It was great to be joined by Fr Joseph Ojekobi, the fairly new Parish priest at St John II parish, based in Padiham. We were also joined by our own Fr Job Zirra, for the second year running. We began the walk with prayers for the dignity of human life at the grotto to Our Lady in the church grounds at St Mary’s church. It was fitting to entrust ourselves and our intentions to the care of the Mother of God. The day had begun with rain but by the time we set off, the rain had cleared and during the walk the sun came out. As well as being served drink and fruit at points during the walk, we were warmly welcomed back to the parish rooms with tea, sandwiches and cake, which had been kindly prepared for us. Thanks to all who were involved in organising, sponsoring and supporting another enjoyable event.


As I glance on the litany of thanksgiving for those with a role or a ministry in the parish, prayed during the Parish Mass at St John’s on January 6th, I next come across those who prepare the parish accounts, administer Gift Aid and are members of the Parish Finance Committee. These are all “behind the scenes” roles and therefore those who carry them out are only known to a few parishioners. As regards preparing the parish accounts, these are now done meticulously by volunteers using a system called “Xero”, which is fostered and monitored by the Diocese: all items coming through the Parish Bank account are to be entered and verified. Those who do our Gift Aid administration have to record the amount received in the envelopes each week as well as monitor the amount coming in by standing order. This work reaps rewards because the parish are able to reclaim the tax that the donors had already paid on their offering. It is very simple but significant fundraising for the parish. Canon Law requires each Parish Priest to have a Finance Committee, members of which basically give advice to the PP as regards his stewardship of the parish resources. Our current parish Finance Committee is now well established and effective and consists of representation from all three churches. So we give thanks for the generosity and experience of all involved in these roles in our parish.


Many thanks for reading this reflection, as we approach the celebration of Corpus Christi this weekend, may many blessings come upon you and those you love.


Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 20th May 2024

On Thursday I planned to go to the evening Memorial Mass in Bolton for Fr Billy Molloy which I wanted to attend because Fr Billy was a classmate of mine at Ushaw College in Durham. I set off in good time however I didn’t get to the Mass as I got a puncture on the M65 near Junction 5 for Blackburn and have no spare wheel and knew it needed a new tyre. I had never broken down on a motorway before but like most people always dreaded it happening. In trying to give my location on the App my mobile phone to my breakdown company,

It started very slowly to download a new Application so effectively jammed my phone for half an hour which is not ideal when you are on the hard shoulder which cars whizzing by. The highway police kindly came to check on me just as my phone unlocked and I was able to call the breakdown service. The breakdown service driver came pretty soon after I called as I was seen as being a risky location. The considerate driver put on the emergency wheel and followed me back to Burnley. The tyre company kindly replaced the punctured tyre that same evening. Every cloud has a silver lining; and although I am disappointed to have missed the memorial Mass, I am blessed to be looked after by kind and helpful people.

On Saturday we had our Parish Pentecost Vigil at St John’s. I am a believer in trying to make something of the season of Easter, so I have been hoping to put another one of these on for a few years now. It coincided with the Synod gathering at Bolton, so we seized the chance to connect the two events with prayer. We began with some good discussion in groups in the parish rooms about how reflecting on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Lord been at work in our lives. After a welcome tea break, we then had a reflective time in church with adoration and Reconciliation. This led into an upbeat prayer and praise celebration of Evening Prayer. After a lovely well- attended concelebrated Vigil Mass, the event concluded with delicious home-made soup and cakes prepared and served by some of the ladies of St John’s.

As I glance at the litany of ministries and roles prayed for during the Parish Mass of thanksgiving on 6 th January at St John’s. I next come across those who arrange flowers and seasonal decorations. One of the things I always appreciate about those who do the flowers in church is their attentiveness to the Church’s liturgical year; for example knowing the custom to not have flowers in Lent and the significance of celebrations such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, when more elaborate displays are needed. This is one of the “behind the scenes” roles where those who carry out the role do it quietly without anyone really knowing about; this is very much in the spirit of the Gospel about our good works being done for the Lord. We have a dedicated team who lovingly exercise this ministry across the three churches in the parish for whom we are very grateful. You might have noticed in the newsletter that we are currently asking for anyone interested in flower arranging to join the team for St Mary’s church, so please consider if you are interested in being part of the parish team.

Thank you for reading this reflection, and as we head for Trinity Sunday, may the Lord continue to bear much fruit through your life.

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 13th May 2024

 

 

I thought last Thursday’s “Parish in Council” meeting went really well. There was good attendance from across the three churches in the parish. There was also a real spirit of togetherness and unity. For those who were not present I said at the meeting that this was something that I had done annually in all the parishes where I had been Parish Priest. Therefore, I would intend to have another such meeting in March/April next year. I do believe in transparency and openness, and I was glad to be able to be open about where we are as a parish community. There were three main parts to the meeting which began and concluded with prayer. I gave a review of some of the events of the last 16 months, which took up a good thirty minutes of the meeting. I mainly focused on new or revised events and I realise I didn’t include the parish Christmas Day lunch which as well as being very much in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, although relatively small in number, was another great example of team work and unity. Peter, one of the parish Finance Committee then gave an overview of parish finances which like many households in the past year or so, “has been on a journey” but is now a lot more stable than this time last year. I also shared a few thoughts for the future which included a need to look afresh at what we offer to the bereaved. I am very grateful for all those who came all of whom have active roles or ministries within the parish.

Over the years here, I have regularly attended the successful quiz nights organised by the KSC at the 110 Club up to its closure in January. As you may have noticed since March, this has now transferred to St Mary’s parish rooms and is co-organised by the KSC and the parish and enjoying some success. I think that one of the great attractions of our Quiz is there are a variety of different Quiz Masters which means each one is different. I like to join a team and take my turn in preparing and leading the Quiz. There is still room for a few more people to join us but now it is once more a regular fixture, we hope it will continue to flourish. Our next quiz is at the usual time of 8pm on Monday, with a brand new Quiz Master, so I hope to see you there.


As I glance at the litany of different roles and ministries that we prayed for at the parish Thanksgiving Mass at St John’s on 6th January, I come across those who belong to Apostolic groups who operate within the parish/area. We are blessed to have in the parish a number of those who are members of such groups and organisations which promote Apostolic life in the Church. These groups include the Legion of Mary, for which we have a local group known as a Praesidium who meet weekly on Monday mornings at St Mary’s parish rooms, as well as being a powerhouse of prayer, they quietly go about their work in bringing people closer to the Lord through the guidance and example of Our Lady. It was their initiative to provide tea and toast on Monday mornings after Mass at St Mary’s. We also have the Knights of St Columba (KSC), mentioned above, who continue to meet monthly at St Mary’s, where they continue to plan to do great charity work and put on events such as the Quiz Night and the forthcoming sponsored “Pro-life walk”, as well providing support to the clergy. We also have a well established parish Conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), who meet weekly at St John’s and do great work with the poor and needy in the spirit of their founder St Vincent de Paul; on Saturday I celebrated a Mass (followed by lunch) for the housebound at St John’s which the SVP organise regularly. We also have a number of Catenians in the parish who are part of the Burnley Circle of the Catenian Association, which is a network of Catholics who meet regularly to enjoy each other’s company and to help and support each other throughout the world. If anyone wants to know more about any of these groups, please get in touch with me. We are very grateful to have these groups and may the Lord continue to bless them in their enrichment of Catholic life in Burnley.

Thank you for reading this reflection, as we look forward to the celebration of Pentecost this weekend, may the Holy Spirit continue to be alive in each of you.

 


 Fr David

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 6th May 2024

 

 

I write these words on the eve of the feast of the Ascension and marks a major milestone in our Easter journey. It is usually celebrated 40 days after the Lord has Risen from the dead on Easter Sunday.

During the month of May, we try to give a higher priority to the place of Our Lady in our lives, because May is the month of Mary. We can do this by perhaps praying the Rosary a bit more often or even just thinking about Mary more regularly. One of things I try to do during the Easter season is to daily pray the Regina Caeli, which means the Queen of Heaven. The Church asks us to pray this devotion in place of the Angelus during the Easter season. The Angelus prayer is centred on the dialogue between Mary and the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation whereas the Regina Caeli centres on the Resurrection, the fruits of which are enjoyed by Our Lady.

On Sunday we were privileged to host in the parish, the Golden Jubilee of Canon Tony McBride who was ordained in St Mary’s church on 5 th May 1974. Because of the very nature of such an occasion, our parish was “on show” to the Bishop, to visiting priests and people from all over the Diocese and elsewhere. I was very proud of the way that people from across the three churches in the parish got involved in the event. Everyone rose to the occasion and it turned out to be a great example of us working as “one” as a parish. There was great involvement in the Mass from stewards, sacristans, flower arrangers, servers, readers, musicians and singers and others. Then afterwards there was great help from across the parish to put on tea, coffee and cake for the large number of invited guests in the parish rooms as well as in the specially erected parish gazebo.

A long-standing friend of mine from Manchester who had never previously been to any event in Burnley before, said to me afterwards; I now know why you are so happy here, David!!

Looking down the litany of thanksgiving from the parish Mass at St John’s on 6 th January, I next come across those who provide refreshments regularly and occasionally. As you know I love a cuppa and I am rather partial to a slice of cake. I also like to see people come together to chat and catch up over a brew. We do this at least once a week in each of the three churches within the parish. The teams that regularly put on Sunday refreshments after Mass have to organise a rota, agree who is buying the milk, tea, coffee, biscuits, cake etc. They also have to arrive in good time, to set out the room, put on the water boiler, and then be ready with a smile to serve their fellow parishioners with a welcome brew. Then when everyone has gone they have to wash up, wipe down the tables and out everything away afterwards. So, like with many of the other roles within the parish there is a bit more to it than first meets the eye. As well as the regular Sunday refreshments we also have other regular and occasional events with refreshments which require organising which include: Lenten breakfasts and lunches, Monday tea and toast, Christmas and Easter refreshments and a good number of other occasions. For all those who provide such excellent refreshments in our parish, we give thanks to the Lord.

Many thanks for reading these reflections and continue to celebrate the build up to Pentecost.

 


 Fr David

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 29th April 2024

 

 

On term time Mondays at 8.30am, I go into the “Staff Briefing” meeting at Blessed Trinity Catholic College in order to present a spiritual input on the school’s theme of the week. This week’s theme is; “seeing Jesus in others”. It got me to think how all Christians have the Holy Spirit within them through their baptism, so we should all be striving to do be Christ-like. In the parable of “the sheep and the goats” in St Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that to have done an act of kindness to anyone who was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, sick, cold or in prison is to do it to him. Jesus identifies himself with the outcast perhaps because he was born in a stable as an outcast because there was no room available for him, and although innocent, died as a criminal on the Cross. I think that to see Christ in others we also need to see others through his eyes. When we do this, we see others without seeing their sins, their weakness and failures but instead recognise their goodness, their love, and their potential.

On 1 st May we celebrate the memorial of St Joseph the Worker. It’s a lovely opportunity to reflect on human work and how work is good because it enables us to earn a living and provide for our needs and our families. The feast was set up in 1955 by Pope Pius XII to give Christians in St Joseph a perfect example of a patron of work. In the Gospel for the feast day Jesus goes back to Nazareth, but he doesn’t find much faith there as they can only see him as “the Carpenter’s son”. There is truth in this description of Jesus of course and we are pretty sure that Joseph passed on many of his skills and craftsmanship with wood onto Our Lord. The feast of St Joseph the Worker is surely a day to emphasise the great example of work, dignity, humility, and faith that St Joseph was for Jesus. It’s also a day to reflect on the skills, gifts, talents, sacrifices and commitment that are part of the world of work. The feast day also got me to reflect on how essential “downtime” away from work is for the human being. The time away from work at weekends, days off and holidays are so vital to allow the mind and body to recover and be refreshed before and after the pressures, challenges and exigences of work.

As I look upon the list of different ministries and roles we mentioned in the Litany of Thanksgiving at the Parish Mass at St John’s on 6 th January, my eye catches the role of the catechists for baptism. Over the last couple of years or so, we have operated as a single group of dedicated and enthusiastic catechists who work across the three churches in the parish on a rota basis. Roughly every 6 weeks on a weekday evening, one of the 2 teams will meet at John’s church with one of the priests of the parish and work with the invited parents of the children who are to be baptised and have committed to coming to Sunday Mass over a period. The sessions with parents involve priest-led input and prayer at the beginning and end. For most of the session, the catechists individually work in different rooms in St John’s presbytery with one or two families each. During this time, they go through the Rite of Baptism with the parents and answer any questions the parents might have. Running the preparation in this way, seems both enjoyable and a way of putting the parents at ease. We thank the Lord for our splendid team of parish catechists for Baptism and feel very blessed to have a united and dedicated group.

Many thanks for reading this reflection, may you continue to celebrate in this Holy Season of Easter.

 


 Fr David

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 22nd April 2024

 

 

A highlight of last weekend was a lovely visit I received on Sunday afternoon from a family who were all former parishioners of mine in my last parish in Urmston, Manchester, which is where I was serving as Parish Priest for the four years prior to my arrival in Burnley in July 2018. One of the family is about to celebrate their 21 st Birthday next week, so I was really touched to be included in his week of celebrating such a milestone. I share a love for reading with another member of the family and we chatted about our favourite books, especially the ones we had both read and enjoyed. It was so lovely that they wanted to come and share their time and their conversation with me. It was great to just spend some time laughing, listening, and enjoying the moment. It is very affirming to be remembered and appreciated by those you have known and served as a priest.

On Thursday we had the celebration of God’s Word at St Mary’s church, for all the children and families currently on the Parish Sacramental Programme. It was the first time this year that we have had all the familie on the programme come together for an act of worship. To enable us to totally on the Word of God found in Sacred Scripture we arranged for it to be a Service of the Word rather than a Mass, and it involved all the children in a variety of ways. We had the First reading highlighted by colourful posters, designed and held up by children, which displayed some of words about what Love really is from the letter of St Paul to the Corinthians. The Psalm was sung by the children and the response to the Psalm; “Your Words are Spirit, Lord and they are life”, was animated joyfully with movement and percussion instruments. A lively new Gospel acclamation “alleluia” was introduced by several children. For the actual Gospel, we had the parable of the Good Samaritan beautifully and enthusiastically mimed by children who were in partial costume: with masked thieves, a specially made signpost indicating the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a child in a donkey costume. Towards the end of the service, the children were each presented by Fr Job and me with their own copy of the Gospel of St Mark, which is because we are currently in the year of St Mark. It was a memorable occasion and I really hope that like myself, some hearts of those present were lovingly touched by the Lord through the joyful involvement of the children.

As I cast an eye over the list of the roles and ministries included in the Litany of Thanksgiving, used at the Parish Mass at St John’s on 6 th January, I pertinently come across the role of Confirmation Catechist. I say it is pertinent because on Tuesday evening we began our parish programme of preparation for Confirmation, using the school chapel at Blessed Trinity Catholic College. It is a smaller group of young people than in the last two years and are also using a new programme this time which I feel is more straightforward and less complicated than the last one. We have a good team of parish catechists of a variety of ages, who have now become very experienced and confident in working with our young people. They are called to be present at all the preparation sessions, lead group discussions, present feedback from the discussions to the whole group, as well as join in all the activities including icebreaker games and prayer time. They also willingly come to the actual celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation with the Bishop which this year will take place on 25 th June. I am amazed at their courage, dedication, reliability, and commitment to the young people with whom they are working. We are indeed very blessed, as we are with so many of the roles in our parish to have such joyful service from our parishioners. We give thanks to the Lord for our Confirmation catechesis team.

Thanks so much for reading this reflection. May you continue to be full of Joyful hope in this Easter Season.

 


 Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 8th April 2024

 

In recent years I have come to try to make the Easter season special. There are always loads of activities going on during the 40 days of Lent in preparation for Easter but we don’t do as much as a Church to celebrate the 50 days of Easter. You can imagine by delight then at attending the lovely “Easter Eggstravaganza” at St John’s on the Octave Day of Easter last Sunday. It was a lovely fun way of bringing people together to mark Easter. I am very grateful to all who organised and supported this lovely way of highlighting the season of Easter. We are also hoping to organise something to mark Pentecost which falls this year on Sunday 19 th May, which was my mam’s birthday, so please look out for details of this event.

On Monday we celebrated the deferred feast of the Annunciation which is normally celebrated on the 25 th March, which this year fell on the Monday of Holy Week. It’s a lovely feast day when we get the Gospel of the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary in order to tell her the news that she was to be the Mother of the Lord. One of the key features of the Mass on that day is that we do something unusual during the recitation of the Creed. Instead of bowing as we usually do at the words; “and by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man”, on this feast alone we kneel during these words in honour of the Incarnation. The Church is so enriched by all these lovely little rituals that really help to highlight key aspects of our faith.

In the next couple of weeks, we are starting our preparation programme for the young people preparing to be confirmed by Bishop John on 25 th June at St Mary’s. I have assumed the role of leading the preparation this year and have recently been working on revising and simplifying the content of the course. For the last two years we have followed the structure of the Diocesan programme which was designed to be used online. This was based largely on the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. To give us a little more flexibility as well as looking at the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are also going to look at the reasons for being confirmed: A session on prayer, seen as a conversation with God: The significance of the Eucharist as well as a session on how Confirmation is to be celebrated. We are also going to end each session with a sacred time for communal prayer. Please pray that this revised programme will help our young people in preparing to the receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit on their Confirmation Day.

As I glance through the list of those roles and ministries, we prayed for during the Thanksgiving Mass on 6 th January, I next come across the role of Apparitor. Again, like many of the other roles already mentioned in previous reflections, we are blessed to have loyal people in all three churches who week in week out take the collection at the offertory part of the Mass. They then combined with the bring forward of the gifts of bread and wine bring the gifts from the people and present them to the Celebrant. They always do so with kindness and appreciation and it’s a traditional role that in a simple way symbolises trust and loyalty to the Church and the parish. I have always thought that those who do this role show great humility, loyalty, and commitment in carrying out and facilitating this essential task with great dignity. Let us thanks the Lord for all our Apparitors across the three churches in the parish.

Thanks for reading this reflection, may the Risen Lord continue to bless you in this Easter Season.

 


 Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 25th March 2023

 

 

As I glance at the litany of thanksgiving from the Parish Mass on 6 th January, I next come across those who maintain our buildings and our grounds and who form the Parish Property Committee. This Committee now meets every two months and enables us to keep on top of the state of our 8 parish properties: three Presbyteries, three churches and two parish halls. Salford Diocese encourages the establishment of such a committee and ours was formed almost two years ago now. As well as attending regular meetings, the volunteers ensure that the properties are well maintained and that the required reports and inspections of items such as fire extinguishers and PAT testing of electrical appliances, and health and safety records are carried out in a timely and regular fashion. We are very grateful to all those who help maintain the property in our parish, they do a great job and so indeed it is right we give thanks to the Lord for them.

On Wednesdays I try to get out for a walk just to get out of town for a few hours to recharge my batteries. Like I sometimes do, I just jump in the car and end up somewhere from which I can start a walk. I did this on Wednesday, but it back-fired on me: I drove to the Gisburn area but as I did not have the right guidebook nor the right map so I didn’t get very far! The need for guidebooks and maps teaches me that no-one is an island, and that we need help from others wiser than us. When we try to be too independent, we can end up like I was, literally walking in circles, and muddy ones at that! I hope I will learn from the experience.

When I didn’t get very far with the walking, I decided that rather than coming home early, I would go and visit a friend of mine who was in hospital in Blackburn. I ended up having a lovely chat with my friend and it actually did me a lot of good. Every cloud has a silver lining! I love events that bring people together from across our parish: Thursday evening was one such occasion, when at St Mary’s church, we invited a good few priests for the First Reconciliation for the children of the parish. It was lovely seeing catechists and families mixing in together for the same purpose. I am looking forward to the Triduum for this reason as it brings people from across the three churches to worship, pray and after the Easter Vigil Mass to socialise a little too.

On Friday I was privileged to celebrate Mass at Blessed Trinity High School, with the chaplaincy teams from most of the 15 schools which are now part of the Romero Catholic Academy Trust. This of course includes our three parish primary schools as well as Blessed Trinity Catholic College. They had gathered for “Romero Day” which focused this year on Catholic Social Teaching (CST). It originally was meant to take place in January, but got rescheduled to March 22nd , which turned out to be very close to the Feast day of the Trust’s patron St Oscar Romero, who was killed on 24 th March 1980, while celebrating Mass in El Salvador, where he was Archbishop. I used the prayers of the Mass for this courageous martyr. He strongly spoke out against the corruption and injustices taking place in his country and for this he was killed. I was very encouraged by the enthusiasm of our young people who today face new challenges in becoming young prophets for our time in flying the flag for our faith in an increasingly secular climate.

As I write these words we are now well into Holy Week, may I wish you all a Blessed Triduum. Thanks for taking the time to read this reflection.

Fr David


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 26th February 2023

 

Lent is well under way now with its extra activities such as Early Morning Masses, Stations of the Cross and the Deanery Station Masses. They are all richly rewarding despite the little bit of sacrifice involved in putting them on.

Last Wednesday, I had a band practise for the forthcoming Strung Sung Supper that is scheduled to take place at the Community Centre at St Catherine’s in Disbury in Manchester. This is the parish where I feel that my vocation to the priesthood was encouraged and nurtured by the priests and parishioners. It is where I first got involved in parish life by helping at a Christmas Fair with my brother; then becoming a Reader: being a member of the Parish Council, and involved in organising Youth activities.
Significantly it is the church where I was ordained to the priesthood in 1993. I am really looking forward to going there back so that I can tell them in the banter between the songs something of the crucial impact that St Catherine’s had on my life.

Last Saturday afternoon, I went along with a few parishioners to St Thomas More church in Alkrington, Middleton, Manchester, which is the parish where Bishop Brain has retired to. We went to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the ordination Bishop Terence. There were over twenty priests present and of course Bishop John too. It was a simple but beautiful celebration of Mass. Bishop Terence preached and spoke of how at a young age he had been inspired by a missionary priest who visited his school and gave him the idea of wanting to go to serve as a priest in Africa. He went onto to talk of the significance of his mother’s influence in shaping his vocation, which of course did not lead him to Africa but to teaching; serving as Archbishop’s secretary and then as a Bishop in Birmingham and Salford. He was emphasising of the significant role of faith fostered through the family. I had done a long placement as an Acolyte and Deacon in the early 1990’s at nearby St Peter’s church in Middleton, so a number of people who had been at my ordination at Didsbury were present at the Bishop’s Jubilee. I had not seen them since my ordination so it was a really lovely occasion to be reunited.

As I scan through the “litany of thanksgiving” from the Mass on 6 th January, I next come across those who clean the altar linen. This is one of those “behind the scenes” roles that we could easily be inclined to take for granted. We are blessed to have someone in each of our three churches who lovingly and painstakingly takes on the role. They separately and respectfully wash the sacred linen used at Mass, dry and press them, so that we have a continual supply of beautifully presented clean corporals, purificators, lavabo towels for use in our liturgy. The spirit of Lent is to give, fast and pray privately so that our generosity is known to God alone. I occasionally get an insight into this role when I hear them talking about things like starch and the temperature of the iron! Those who faithfully carry out this task quietly and lovingly give us a great example of the spirit of Lent all year round.

Thank you for reading this reflection and I wish you every blessing on your Lenten journey.

 

Fr David


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 12th February 2023

 

I was invited to a surprise birthday celebration at the weekend. I have not seen too many people’s reactions at first hand, to the shock of a surprise being sprung; the natural reaction is disbelief. After the initial feeling of deception has dissipated, the realisation of the love that people feel for you in coming together to celebrate with you, begins to dawn. It all went very smoothly and was much appreciated by all present.

I told you last week about my friend, Fr David. He has had a bit of a turbulent week with his health, but the waters are calmer now. He still needs your prayers as he prepares for treatment and subsequent convalescence. Casting an eye over the “Litany of Thanksgiving” used at the Parish Mass on 6 th January, I next come to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. We are blessed in our parish with a good number of Ministers in all three churches who assist with Holy Communion at Sunday Mass as well as take communion to the sick and housebound. It is without a doubt a privilege and an honour to carry out this role, because they are entrusted with the Body of Christ himself and to bring the Lord Jesus to the faithful in order to nourish them and bring them closer to Him. As we thank the Lord for those who faithfully and humbly carry out this ministry, may the Lord continue to fill them with many graces.

Talking of the Blessed Sacrament, if you see me in the coming days with my head in a book, it’s because I have been invited to give a catechetical talk in a parish in Salford next week. I have to explain the concept of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. I have no problem at all in believing and showing my faith in this essential doctrine of the Catholic Church, however explaining it in depth is another matter. I am not accustomed to give such talks and I am not really convinced that I am the right person to be doing this, but please pray that I come up with the right things to say and that it is a bit helpful to those who come.

Lent begins on Wednesday and many people have said to me. It has come along very quickly this year. I like Lent as it’s a time when everyone is trying a bit harder to be kinder, more thoughtful, less selfish and more forgiving. Lent is really a time of preparation: When organising a meal for guests you have to start in good time ahead of the event, plan what food and drink you are going to serve, go shopping for it, then prepare the food, set the table, cook and serve.

Lent is the time for preparing for the celebration; it’s a time to think, reflect, and using the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and giving to make Christ more central in our lives so that we can joyfully celebrate the Resurrection at Easter.

Thank you for reading this reflection, I hope the season pf Lent is fruitful and joyful as you prepare for Easter.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - 12th February 2023

 

I was invited to a surprise birthday celebration at the weekend. I have not seen too many people’s reactions at first hand, to the shock of a surprise being sprung; the natural reaction is disbelief. After the initial feeling of deception has dissipated, the realisation of the love that people feel for you in coming together to celebrate with you, begins to dawn. It all went very smoothly and was much appreciated by all present.

I told you last week about my friend, Fr David. He has had a bit of a turbulent week with his health, but the waters are calmer now. He still needs your prayers as he prepares for treatment and subsequent convalescence. Casting an eye over the “Litany of Thanksgiving” used at the Parish Mass on 6 th January, I next come to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. We are blessed in our parish with a good number of Ministers in all three churches who assist with Holy Communion at Sunday Mass as well as take communion to the sick and housebound. It is without a doubt a privilege and an honour to carry out this role, because they are entrusted with the Body of Christ himself and to bring the Lord Jesus to the faithful in order to nourish them and bring them closer to Him. As we thank the Lord for those who faithfully and humbly carry out this ministry, may the Lord continue to fill them with many graces.

Talking of the Blessed Sacrament, if you see me in the coming days with my head in a book, it’s because I have been invited to give a catechetical talk in a parish in Salford next week. I have to explain the concept of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. I have no problem at all in believing and showing my faith in this essential doctrine of the Catholic Church, however explaining it in depth is another matter. I am not accustomed to give such talks and I am not really convinced that I am the right person to be doing this, but please pray that I come up with the right things to say and that it is a bit helpful to those who come.

Lent begins on Wednesday and many people have said to me. It has come along very quickly this year. I like Lent as it’s a time when everyone is trying a bit harder to be kinder, more thoughtful, less selfish and more forgiving. Lent is really a time of preparation: When organising a meal for guests you have to start in good time ahead of the event, plan what food and drink you are going to serve, go shopping for it, then prepare the food, set the table, cook and serve.

Lent is the time for preparing for the celebration; it’s a time to think, reflect, and using the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and giving to make Christ more central in our lives so that we can joyfully celebrate the Resurrection at Easter.

Thank you for reading this reflection, I hope the season pf Lent is fruitful and joyful as you prepare for Easter.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 5th February 2024

 

As part of the Parish Sacramental Programme , we arrange to have “one to one” meetings with each of the children with myself or Fr Job. These gatherings are facilitated by the catechists and have been taking place over the last couple of weeks at St Mary’s presbytery. The child is of course accompanied by their parents/carer, but I love the fact that nearly all the children take up our offer of a drink of juice and biscuits which they are bring into their meeting with the priest.

We explain to the child that the Programme is called “My Journey with Jesus” because they are preparing to receive two Sacraments, which are encounters with Jesus. We then remind the child that they already know Jesus whom they will encounter in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. They know Jesus from the accounts of him in the Gospels. The priest and the catechist then share one of their favourite stories from the Gospels and explain why they like it. The child is then asked '''to share their favourite story and say why they like it. We hope this helps the families to focus on the journey that lies ahead for them in the coming months.

My long standing friend, Canon David Ryder, who is a now a retired priest of the Diocese is currently staying with me at St Mary’s presbytery. He is a bit under the weather at the moment so I offered him a room for a few weeks and he accepted. He stayed with me a few months in 2009 so my untidiness clearly did not faze him. Thanks for all the offers of help and kindness that we have received in the last few days; it is very touching. Please keep him in your prayers.

Glancing through the “litany of thanksgiving” from the 6 th January Parish Mass , I notice the ministry of reader of the Word of God. Our readers are very important because they are channels of God’s living word. Everyone has a unique voice and it is one that they lend to the Lord whenever they fulfil their ministry. In our parish we have a lot of really good readers who take the role very seriously. When training readers in the parish, I encourage readers to pause with some short silences at the beginning and end of the reading in order to allow time for the listener to prepare and the reflect on the message that has been proclaimed. Good preparation results in better understanding, , speaking loudly enough, reading at the right pace are all factors which help the listener to receive the message that God wants to communicate through the reader.

Being a reader at Mass, was the first ministry I undertook in a parish as a layman. I did this at St Catherine’s church, Disbury in Manchester. As I was unaccustomed to speaking in public as well as lacking self-confidence, after the priest had agreed to let me become a reader, I asked if I could build up gradually by firstly reading at a Wednesday evening Mass. On the very first occasion, I remember feeling sick and nervous all day at work and such feelings getting worse as the day drew on. I managed to get through it and remember the second time was a little less traumatic for me. Let us be grateful to the Lord to all our readers and give thanks for their dedication, preparation, commitment and courage.

Thank you for reading this reflection, with my apologies for the slightly later “uploading” this week.

Every blessing

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 29th January 2024

 

On Saturday we had our coffee and cake event organised by the small parish Youth group. It was great to see our young people working together with adults as a team in order to create a lovely event that everyone who came seemed to really enjoy. The young people planned the event in a very mature way: they got the raffle tickets and sold tickets for it, they made or brought cakes, they helped pour out the tea/coffee, they welcome everyone on arrival, they mixed with all who came, and they exuded such joy throughout the event.

The event raised a nice amount for parish funds which is secondary to the way that the youth group conducted themselves. I was amazed at the commitment and enthusiasm of our young people who seemed to really love the responsibility that they were entrusted with. It is very encouraging for the parish to have young people showing such care and dedication.

A homeless man came to the door on Saturday evening to admit that he had let my tyres down on my car for a prank on Thursday evening, and had discovered it had been left unlocked by mistake and had taken some of my walking gear from the boot. He returned my rucksack but did not give me back a jacket and a fleece. It did amuse me that someone should openly admit what they had done so it took the sting out of the “offences”. I had had all of the gear a good number of years so were well past their best: so, I just took it as an opportunity to replace my walking jacket. Despite the inconvenience of this happening there was something refreshing about the courage and honesty of the man’s non-sacramental “Confession”!

Scanning down the “litany of thanksgiving” from this year’s 6 th January parish Mass, I next come to those who build our Christmas Cribs. This might seem a bit “out of season”, however I have noticed that a number of churches keep their cribs up until 2 nd February, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This is following the traditions of the old liturgical calendar. Nevertheless, in season or not, we are grateful for those annually build our cribs in each of our churches as well as the outside one at St Mary’s. The first ever crib was a “live” crib with a real baby, organised by St Francis of Assisi in the 13 th century in order to help people recognise the significance of the Incarnation in an immediate way. The Christmas scene looks cozy and serene to our “accustomed” eyes but to someone seeing it for the first time, it would surely be seen as shocking that the only place suitable for the Son of God to be born was a stable.

As you know, I go into Blessed Trinity College on a Monday morning to share a reflection about the chosen theme of the week. This week I spoke about humility. The root of the word comes from the word “humus” meaning “earth” or ground. Humility is therefore about always keeping our feet on the ground and overcoming our pride so that we give credit to God for our gifts, talents and achievements. It also means that we strive to not think we are better than anyone else. Jesus was of course a great example of humility, even though he was divine he humbled himself to become human. In Monday’s Gospel, Jesus has healed the “Gerasene demoniac” by sending the multitude of demons into a huge heard of pigs who drown in the lake. As result the people urge Jesus to leave the district, and with great humility he obliges. We all like to see humility and are never really impressed with “show-offs”. It is important to be aware of our strengths and gifts as well as our weaknesses and failings. I often feel as awkward when I get complimented but was recently told the best way is to simply accept them and say thanks. Equally in humility we should take criticisms but not allow them to chip away at our self-esteem.

Thanks for reading this reflection, wishing you every blessing in the coming
week.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 15th January 2024

 

Just before I went away for my post-Christmas break, on Saturday 6 th January we celebrated, our annual parish “Thanksgiving Mass”. At this Mass we give thanks to the Lord for all those who have a role or a ministry across the three churches within the parish. This year we were hosted by St John’s church and everything went really well.

I liked the strong responses throughout the Mass and the joyful singing of carols around the feast of the Epiphany. In my words after the Gospel, I mentioned the Christmas season lends itself well to thanksgiving because the Magi brought thoughtful gifts to Jesus. We are grateful for the many gifts our volunteers give to Jesus by serving him in a variety of different ways by what they do in the Church, day in day out. I also mentioned that in generously giving their time, gifts and energy to the Lord, they are building up the Body of Christ, the Church.

One of the special parts of the Thanksgiving Mass, is the post- Communion “Litany of Thanksgiving” where before the crib and the altar we thank the Lord for all the different ministries, which totalled in excess of 60 this year. The first group of people for whom we thanked the Lord, at the Mass was for those who faithfully keep our churches and other buildings clean. This is probably not the most glamorous role or ministry however as they say that cleanliness is next to Godliness, this ministry is at the very heart of what Christian service is all about. Our cleaning teams go about their role when no one else is about, so they serve the Lord quietly and humbly. They clearly do it out of love for the Lord and in service of their brothers and sisters. We all benefit from this ministry and for these and other reasons I like to put this role as first in the Litany of thanksgiving. Our uplifting Mass was followed by lovely pie and peas in the Parish Rooms, washed down by tea and lots of home-baked cake.

At the Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Monday 8 th January, I was honestly unsure where I was going for my break. The floods in Oxfordshire had planted a seed of uncertainty in my head about the wisdom of going there, but after Mass I decided we would go ahead with our plans. It turned out that walking on paths was not possible, unless we travelled into the nearby Gloucestershire Cotswolds, which are very beautiful too.. Like a lot of people, last week I also contracted a flu-like virus in the middle of the holiday. This meant I needed a day in bed to rest, which enabled me to recover more quickly and so be able to go out again the next day. This is something I have never previously done during a holiday, but it did the trick! Despite the challenges we faced last week, we had a lovely few days away. I enjoyed our walks and tours of the Cotswolds with its thatched cottages and gentle hills. I also loved the visits via “Park and Ride” into the centre of Oxford with its spires and academia. I feel more rested than I was prior to going away and it is really good to be back with you.

Wishing you good health and happiness in the coming year. Thanks
for reading these reflections.

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 1st January 2024

I enjoy how quiet parish life goes in that period between Christmas and New Year but note today (Tuesday) that the phone is a bit busier now as people return to work. The Christmas season is also a chance for priests to catch up with family, friends, films, reading and sleep!

Across the three churches in our parish we currently have 19 Altar Servers, and at least half of them are in their first year of serving. They are very reliable and enthusiastic and I always feel that Servers are special because they have been called by Jesus to carry out their ministry so close to where Christ comes present on the altar, at Mass. If you know a child who has made their First Holy Communion, who could be interested in this important ministry, you could perhaps consider mentioning it to their parent/guardian. Their patron is St Stephen and I like to put on an activity for the Servers of the parish as close to 26 th December as is possible to mark the feast of St Stephen. So, on Thursday we had our annual trip to the MFA, Ten Pin Bowling in Burnley with 11 of our servers. I love to see people doing something for the first time and see them overcome the initial fear of doing a new activity and how it transforms into fun. This happened not only with most of the Altar servers who came but also one of our adult helpers and Fr Job who both loved it too. As we left the Bowling Centre at the end of the afternoon, Fr Job simply said: “when are doing this again?

On Wednesday I am going back to my former parish of St Dunstan’s in Moston, where I served as Parish Priest for almost 10 years. I am going to celebrate the funeral Mass of a man called Chris who has always kept in touch with me since I left there in July 2014. I mentioned above about what it is like doing something for the first time, but as I have now not celebrated Mass in that church for a number of years now, I am feeling a bit nervous and about it as it feels like something new.

On Tuesday we celebrated the feast of Ss Basil and Gregory, two significant 4 th century saints who were very close friends. It’s a feast that always falls in the Christmas season and so I call it the feast of friendship. Christmas often gets you to think more about those who are close to you and especially family and friends. It is obvious that family are a gift to us from God, but also so are our friends. Its not always easy to work out why you gel with some people easier than with others. It takes to work out who are your real friends and who you can trust. I do believe that friendship comes from God and friends have a gift to give you from God. I am very blessed to have a number of close friends, some of who I have known for over 40 years. I don’t have much in common with some of my closest friends but I find that sharing common interests isn’t as important as treasuring the bond which as at the core of all friendship.

I was curious to discover that people read these reflections from as far afield as Manchester. So wherever you live, as we begin this New Year, I wish you good health, happiness and peace as we journey in faith with Our Lord.

Every Blessing

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 25th December 2023

I am sure you will forgive me for the later than usual posting of this reflection.

One of the joys at Christmas for me, is seeing children and young families come to Mass with their parents and siblings. Family is at the heart of Christmas because God chose to come into the world as a child as part of a family, and so sanctifies all family life. It is good therefore to celebrate the start of this great season by converging round the altar as the family of the Church in order to acknowledge our gratitude for the enormity on humankind of the Incarnation. One of the other joys is singing Carols so I make no apologies for singing Carols throughout the Christmas season at the Masses up to and including Monday the 8 th January when we mark the Baptism of the Lord.

Our parish Christmas Day lunch went off well, not everyone we expected was able to make it and a few people simply asked to take a Christmas Dinner and desert home with them. All the food and the items we used were effectively donated or loaned by people from the parish. I think all those involved really enjoyed the experience. The most striking thing for me about the event was the way the group of volunteers, including Fr Job and myself, worked as a team. Such unity seemed to emanate from a desire and determination to share our time, energy and love with all those who came. After having limited sleep, the night before, like the rest of the team, I was pretty tired at the end of afternoon, but I felt uplifted by the humble generosity that evoked the spirit of Christmas.

On Tuesday, on the feast of St Stephen, we celebrated a Mass at which we prayed for our 19 parish altar Servers, because their patron is St Stephen. I have always tried to encourage this important ministry in the Church. The Servers are invited to share in their patron’s closeness to Christ, through sharing their faith and their time. It is important to remember that behind every Altar Server is usually a supportive parent or sibling who transports and makes it possible for the young person to fulfil their ministry. My brother Paul was an Altar Server when he was younger and I tried in my own way to support him and encourage him.

Providentially after the Mass, I was invited on 26 th December to my brother Paul’s in Buxton to spend the day with him and his family. In the afternoon Paul took me and Alice on a lovely walk round Buxton but did not tell us the route we were taking. Among other places he took us up the road and past the where we lived for 13years up until January 1980. I had not been past our old house for a good twenty years. It brought back happy memories of the families and friends who lived in the neighbourhood, most of whom have died or moved away. I loved this opportunity to remember what it was like growing up in that house with the magnificent view looking out onto the Paek District National Park.
Looking at the house that was once our family home, got me to remember words my mother often used: “Everything is on loan to us, nothing belongs to us!” My mam used this phrase to get us to appreciate what we have and to remind us that everything belongs to God.

After the excitement and energy round the build-up and celebration of the start of the Christmas season, parish life usually slows down for a few days and gives us all a chance to catch our breath as we gratefully ponder the grace-filled mystery of Emmanuel, God among us.

Every Blessing to you in this Christmas Octave.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 18th December 2023

I am continuing to enjoy the reflective Masses we have been having during Advent which create more opportunities for silence and reflection than usual. Silence can be seen as threatening but also essential in our busy world which often leaves us as Bob Dylan would say with; “no time to think”.

I particularly like the second part of Advent (Advent II) which began on 17th December, with its focus on the build-up to the birth of John the Baptist which richly parallels the account of the birth of Christ. Two figures who feature prominently in the Gospels at Mass during Advent II are Zechariah and St Joseph. Zechariah is a priest, the husband of St Elizabeth and the father of St John the Baptist. We hear during Advent II of Zechariah’s encounter with the Angel Gabriel when the birth of John is announced to Zechariah. Because Elizabeth is past child-bearing age, Zechariah doubts the words of the Angel and as a result loses his power of speech right through the pregnancy and he only regains it at the presentation of John, 8 days after his birth, St Luke tells us that first words spoken by Zechariah after this long silence, will go on to be the words of the Benedictus, a prayer that is said and sung each day by millions of people as they make this song of praise to God as part of the Morning Prayer of the Church. Zechariah teaches us honesty in his expression of doubt but also humility in accepting that miracles can and do happen as they did in the case of his son, who of course comes into the world for a great purpose. Zachariah is also a great model for us in growing in faith and how we can pit our doubts behind us if we trust in God’s grace and guidance.

I know many of you like myself have a devotion to St Joseph. He has a pivotal part to play in the build up to the birth of Christ .The angel appears to Joseph in a dream to tell him who Mary’s child really is and to guide him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Joseph takes heed of the angel and marries Mary, and being from Bethlehem will enable the fulfilment of the prophesy that the Messiah would be from Bethlehem. Being of the house of David, Joseph will also enable Jesus to be called “Son of David”. Joseph is a man who trusts God and puts service of God before his own needs. For me, Joseph is the epitome of humility that we should all strive for. No words of his are recorded in the Bible yet the actions of his life speak volumes. He teaches us that often actions speak louder than words. Advent II also offers us in the Magnificat antiphon for evening Prayer each day one of the “O antiphons”. These are all titles of Jesus and include; “O Adonai”, “O key of David” and “O Emmanuel”. As well as emphasising the longing the people had for the coming of a Messiah, they also emphasise our own yearning for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

I hope you are able to find some time for silence and prayer in these remaining days of Advent and especially that you can see the events of Christmas through the eyes of Zechariah and St Joseph.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 30th October 2023

On Wednesday, the craftsmen from York completed the repair of the stained glass windows at St Mary’s church, following last year’s spate of vandalism. There has been scaffolding in church for the previous few weeks, making movement during Mass quite difficult, especially at Communion. I was very relieved that on request, that the scaffolding firm very kindly came early on Thursday morning, at short notice, to remove most of the internal scaffolding; meaning that the lunchtime wedding at St. Mary’s was able to go ahead without restrictions.

On Friday tea-time, I received a request to help out with a young adults event the following day. The event was a walk in the Ribble Valley and an extra pair of hands was needed. As you know, I don’t often decline an opportunity for a walk in the beautiful Lancashire countryside! Even though it disrupted my plans, I was glad I agreed to help out, as I found the company of the young adults really encouraging and uplifting.

I was in St Mary’s school on Tuesday answering questions from year 6 children about my role as a priest. I have to say the children were brilliant. Among the many questions, I was asked a lot about my favourite Bible excerpts: a quote from Scripture, my favourite Parable, my favourite chapter of the Bible, my favourite Book of the Bible I am glad that because of the “Big Picture” course we are doing in the parish, I am a bit more focused on Scripture than I usually am. I was asked about what the most important thing I do as a priest and I answered that it is to be a man of prayer, so that we have a good relationship with the Lord. I was also asked about my favourite saint, to which I replied that it was St Cuthbert, the patron saint of my native Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

St Cuthbert was very holy and was thus at one with nature and most sought after for his wisdom, but he always yearned to spend time with God in prayer; he is a great reminder to us of the need for a good prayer life. One other question I was given was if I wasn’t a priest, what job would I do? I replied that the only thing I have ever wanted to be was a priest, so I can’t imagine being anything else. On being pushed for an answer I replied that I might like to work in hospitality. I found it very encouraging that throughout the hour of questions, the children were all very well behaved and were very attentive.

Fr Benjamin returned to the parish on Tuesday after his short stay of helping out temporarily at St Bernard’s, Burnage. He is now back with us for another three weeks until he returns to Burnage to take up a permanent appointment there. We are blessed to have him around for another few weeks and will enjoy having him back in Burnley.

Thanks for your continuing feedback about these reflections. I am very glad you are finding them helpful.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Week Commencing 23rd October 2023

I have been encountering a few things from my past these last few days who have given me an opportunity to reflect.


On Monday I travelled to the Northeast to be present at the Induction Mass of my good friend Fr Martin Morris as Parish Priest in the Washington area. I was asked to read out the letter of appointment from Bishop Stephen Wright. This letter states the names of the churches that fall under the Parish Priest’s care. One of the churches in his care is St Joseph’s, Birtley which is where we lived for 7 years and it’s the place of my first school, and where I made my First Confession and received my First Holy Communion, so it has great meaning for me. It felt quite poignant reading out the name of this parish which is very near “the Angel of the North” statue that you may have seen. All this brought back happy memories of our time living there on the railway station at Birtley prior to the need to uproot and move to Buxton. At the reception afterwards one of those present sought me out to tell me that her brother lives in Buxton and is friendly with my own brother Paul who still lives there. All this made it a thoroughly special occasion and I am so glad that I made the journey back up to my native land.


Tuesday was the feast of St Anthony Mary Claret, born in 1807 in Spain and became the founder of the Claretian Fathers which is a missionary order. During my time at Ushaw College in Durham (1988 to 1993), I encountered the Claretian fathers as they were in the nearby village of Langley Park. It got me to remember the retired couple who lived in Langley Park whom I was assigned to visit each Monday during my first year at Seminary. Thus, it was good day to reflect on our role as missionaries of the Gospel Like with the Vincentian Fathers who worked with us in the parish, I am in awe of those who are willing to follow the Lord to serve and minister in a far away country often with a very different culture to what is familiar to them.


My first parish priest after I was ordained as a priest in 1993 was a lovely man called Fr Humphrey MacMahon. We served together in St Herbert’s, Chadderton near Oldham for just over a year because he sadly and unexpectedly died on 24th October 1994 aged 59 years. I remember him at the altar and thank the Lord for the example of his priesthood he gave to me as well as the kindness and gentleness he showed to all. May he rest in peace.


Every blessing and with continuing thanks for the lovely comments I continue to receive about these reflections. 

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Wednesday 19th October 2023

 

I am writing this on a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the Middle East. Against the backdrop of the terrible suffering going on in Israel and Gaza, it seems strange to be reflecting on the daily occurrences of life. In early November, we have agreed to host in the parish, on behalf of “Churches together in Burnley”, an hour of prayer for all who are suffering because of this conflict. This is at least something constructive and positive we can do in the midst of so much suffering and pain in the world.

When I am leading a group on a hike, I always do a “recy” walk as part of the necessary “risk Assessment” required by the Diocese. Wednesday is my main chance to do such a “recy”, but I have to go regardless of the weather. Last Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s parish hike, was really rather wet, so I got soaked, but it was all worthwhile because Sunday turned out to be a lovely day and those who took part loved it.

Last Thursday evening I went to a concert by an American singer called Kristin Hersh in a church in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. My brother Paul had invited me to come with him to the event. I really enjoyed the evening but perhaps the best bit was sitting after the concert outside a chip shop in the city centre munching chips and enjoying my brother’s company. Some of the simplest things in life, like spending time with your family, are simply the best.

On Friday I helped lead the second session of our parish Bible course : “The Big Picture” . I am quite excited by the enthusiasm of the participants and reflected that I see this course as a pilgrimage with the Lord at our side. Like many pilgrimages this also promises to be life-changing for us if we engage in it properly and put in the time that is requested to read the required extracts from the Scriptures. As a priest I tend to concentrate on the Daily Scriptures given to us in the lectionary for Mass. I see this as a rather “vertical” way of reading Scripture, whereas this course gets us to see the “bigger picture” by reading the Scriptures in a more “horizontal way”.

Tuesday was a day of training on Safeguarding for priests , which was held near Longridge. It was for the priests of our own Deanery as well as for the clergy of the neighbouring St John Southworth Deanery. The training itself was very useful and essential but was also so good to spend time with priests that we don’t often see. Thanks to our Parish Safeguarding Reps who do such a great job as well as to all of you who will attend the safeguarding “clinic” to renew your DBS which we are holding at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Please continue to pray the beautiful Diocesan Synod prayer as we approach the time for the Big Listen, being facilitated by our Synod reps next week in the parish. It is prayed daily at every Mass in the parish so when you do pray you are part of the praying parish community. Please also try to come along to one of the two sessions to which everyone is welcome.

Thanks for the continuing feedback from those who read these reflections, it is greatly appreciated.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week - Wednesday 11th October 2023

 

On Wednesday I managed a shorter walk than usual as I needed to get my walking boots repaired. They are now repaired and ready to use again. I am really looking forward to the parish hike on Sunday, as this will be the first one since 2020. A few people are talking about it and I hope this can turn into a monthly event.

On Friday afternoon Fr Job and myself accompanied Fr Benjamin to St Bernard’s parish in Burnage, Manchester where he is helping out for the next few weeks, prior to receiving a new appointment when this comes to an end. This was parents’ parish and it was also where Fr Pat Keane went to after leaving St John’s, Burnley in the 1980’s. He was a much-loved priest and was very kind to my mam and dad, when he was at St Bernard’s. With these lovely connections, I am sure Fr Benjamin will enjoy his time there.
We hosted the Legion of Mary Vigil at St Mary’s on Friday night and although the numbers were not large, it was a very prayerful and reflective occasion. It began with Rosary at the Grotto and ended with Benediction in Church at the end of a period of prayer and reflection. I particularly enjoyed the periods of silence, because I think that silent prayer in the presence of others is so powerful.

On Sunday, there seemed to be a buzz around the parish: young people wanting to join the singing group at Mass for singing and making music with instruments: other young people responding to the invitation to come to the new young people’s group for teenagers: more children asking to become altar servers. They might only be very small things but they are evidence for me that the Holy Spirit is at work in the parish.

There is scaffolding again inside and outside at St Mary’s, to enable the workmen to repair and restore the glass and stained-glass windows that were broken during the 2022 spate of vandalism on the church. It is causing a bit of disruption to Mass especially for funerals and for the distribution of Holy Communion, but I am relieved that everyone seems to be just accepting it and taking it in their stride. It is a blessing that the church can remain open during this time. They have now begun their skilled work but I imagine it might take a few weeks as the workmen are travelling over from York.

We are continuing to pray about the Diocesan Synod at Mass each day. Please keep up the prayers and look out on the Parish web site and Newsletter for imminent news of how you can get involved in the Synodal journey On Friday we resume our monthly course called the “Big Picture” which is about getting those taking part to get to know the Bible better. It is essentially an opportunity to reflect on the Word of God and to see what impact it has on our lives.

Thank you for you reading this reflection and for the encouraging feed back I continue to receive about these reflections.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

Thought for the week Wednesday 4th October 2023

 

I am sorry there was no reflection last week, this was because I was on holiday in Mid-Wales. A holiday is a time to slow down and with the newly introduced 20mph speed limit in residential areas throughout Wales, we literally were slowed down. It did feel a bit strange travelling so slowly but as a pedestrian trying to cross the road, it felt much safer than usual. However, we had a great time and really feel the benefit of the break from the routine and for the change of scenery and to the pace of life.

For Sunday Mass I joined the community of the nearest RC church to where we were staying. I often do that rather than concelebrating on the Lord’s Day when I am away, as its good to every now and then be reminded of what sitting in the pews is like. I got to the very small church quite early and after sitting in prayer for a few minutes, someone asked me to move because I was sitting in their usual seat! I politely smiled and obliged but did feel like saying, that I wasn’t aware of any reserved benches. I think we can all become creatures of habit but there’s a risk that some habits can lead to possessiveness that can make people feel excluded or left out. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable experience and I learned a bit of a lesson.

I arrived back on Friday, and on Saturday morning at St Mary’s we had the Reception into Full Communion and Confirmation of a young man into the church alongside the baptism of his 5 year old son. It was an uplifting and encouraging experience to ease myself back into parish life after my lovely week off. It was especially lovely to celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit at work in this young family.

On Saturday afternoon, I received a message from my good friend Fr Martin, reminding me that it was the 35 th anniversary of the day I started my formation as a priest at Ushaw College in Durham. Friday 30 th September 1988 was also the day I first met my friend (Fr) Martin. As I believe that all friendship is a gift from God, it’s always good to acknowledge the work of the Lord for such an important and enduring friendship.

Monday was the feast of the Guardian Angels; I reflected at Mass on how God has throughout my life, lovingly guided me and protected me through his Holy Angels. I think of the friends I have been blessed with, as well the times I have been enabled to find strength when life was challenging and given direction when the right course of action to take was quite confusing and unclear.

Thanks for the positive comments about this new feature and I hope you continue to find them helpful.


Every blessing, Fr David

 

 

 

Thought for the week Wednesday 20th September 2023

 

Last Wednesday we were blessed with good weather for the hike with priests which we hosted here in Burnley to mark the 30 th anniversary of the Diocesan Clergy Hikes. We walked from St Mary’s along the canal to Rowley Lake where we enjoyed our packed lunch. The route then took us into Towneley Park where we enjoyed an ice-cream in the late afternoon sunshine. Mass was celebrated at the convent for which we were joined by the sisters. At the Mass we remembered by name a number of departed priests who had either walked with us or hosted our hikes over all those years. The first reading from Isaiah spoke of the banquet of rich food the Lord of hosts will prepare on his mountain which is a foretaste pf Heaven but also a foretaste of the supper we would later enjoy in the presbytery.
The response to the Psalm said If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear ~ in his homily Fr John Hitchen (the co-leader of the group with myself) joked that the “valley of darkness” reminded him of the times I had led the group astray through poor navigation! The Gospel was the road to Emmaus where two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem on Easter Sunday and the risen Jesus walks with them. This reminded us that the Lord has blessed us over these thirty years and that the clergy hikes have been all about getting together because time spent with our brother priests is always time well spent. We then went back to the presbytery for that banquet of food that Isaiah prophesied earlier!

Our prayers were also answered on Sunday afternoon when we had our garden party in the presbytery garden at St Mary’s. A wonderful team of people from the across the parish worked tirelessly to prepare everything and create a lovely atmosphere for all those who came along. There was an abundance of delicious food all donated and lovingly prepared by the enthusiastic team of helpers. As well as it being relaxing it was also great fun especially with all the games such as target ball, tombola and children’s darts. “Knock the cans” took me back to my childhood in the late 1960’s when we played this game as part of little fetes which put on for our friends we put on in the playing fields near our home at Buxton. “Spot the Ball” was a throwback to the early 1980’s when my brother Paul invented this guessing game which he and myself presented at Christmas fairs over a number of years at St Catherine’s, Didsbury, Manchester. Sincere thanks to all who made it a wonderful and memorable occasion.

I note that since we packed up the stuff from the garden party, it has not stopped raining. I see this as a great blessing upon us. Have a blessed week.


Every blessing, Fr David

 

 

 

Thought for the week Wednesday 13th September 2023


I was very pleased at the way the Mass with relics of the saints of Scotland went on Thursday. It was great to focus on our prayer through three diverse saints. I am grateful for the wonderful Knights of St Columba for facilitating a tour of England with these sacred relics, which include their beloved Patron St Columba, There was a very special atmosphere at the Mass and I thought the extended sacred silence after Communion was particularly powerful. I was pleased at the number who came to the Mass and that St John’s school brought some of their pupil chaplains to the Mass. It was good that different generations prayed together in the presence of different generations of Saints.
Friday saw the start of our new “The Big Picture” DVD course which will get us over the next twelve months to reflect on how God speaks to us through the Scriptures. It will allow us to get to the know the Sacred Scriptures more deeply and to experience them more prayerfully. The course will also give the opportunity to share with each other how our journey with the Word of God is going. There is still time to join this course, so just come along to the next gathering on Friday 13th October at 12.30pm.
Monday saw a small gathering at St Mary’s parish rooms, of some young people who had been part of our Confirmation group earlier this year. We discussed the parable of the Good Samaritan and I was amazed at their understanding and appreciation of this powerful and very important parable for our parish. I pray that others may choose to join us at our future meetings, the next of which is on 2nd October at 6.30pm.
On Tuesday of this week we had a well-attended planning meeting for the forthcoming parish garden party. I was encouraged by the willingness of those present to cooperate with each other and everyone left the meeting with a particular task and a clearer idea of what they would be doing. It was interesting to note that even though this is an outdoor event, no-one mentioned the weather for Sunday! We will leave that in the capable hands of Our Lord.
I am looking forward to a hike on Wednesday with some of my brother priests the Diocese which will be followed by a special Mass at the convent and a supper in the presbytery. I will let you know how it goes next week.
Every blessing, Fr David

 

 

 

Thought for the week Wednesday 6th September 2023

 

I hope the new week is going well for you. The week began with the feast of St Cuthbert, my favourite saint. He is the patron of my native Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. I like him because he was very much at one with nature and with all of creation. He started off as a shepherd boy looking after sheep and later became a bishop to whom people turned to for his guidance and wisdom. Although he was good with people as a pastor and a shepherd, he was most at peace when alone with the Lord. I also admire his love for John’s Gospel which he carried with him on his journeys. He had learned all the Psalms by heart so as he travelled, he would recite them and remain close to the Lord.

On Mondays of term-time I go to Blessed Trinity Catholic College to present a reflection on the theme of the week to the staff as part of their weekly “Briefing” gathering led by the Head Teacher. On the first day of the new academic year, I spoke to them about “Mission”; I reflected that our mission as Church is to bring a message of hope and love to those in our care. In reflecting on the Gospel of the day where Jesus had gone to Nazareth and equated the words of the Prophet Isaiah with his own mission: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has sent me to bring Good News to the poor”. We are also to bring Good News to people: the good news is that faith in Jesus tells us that all of us matter to God and that is a message surely worth sharing.

On my walk back from school, I overheard a couple of pupils heading for their first day back; one of them said “I hope I don’t get Mr this year!”. This made me chuckle because it took me back to the similar conversations I would have had as a pupil on the first day of a new school year and got me to reflect on those important years. How strong were my opinions about the relative merits of the staff at my high school; how serious was their impact upon our young lives. I reflect on the teachers I had in my school days and the lasting impact they have had on me. Let us pray for all the staff of our Catholic schools that they may be enabled to give their best in this new academic year. May students be generous and appreciative of the staff who work with them and always look for their strengths and qualities.

I am looking forward to Wednesday evening as I am receiving a family into Full Communion with the Catholic Church at Mass at St John’s. Conversion is a big step in peoples’ lives, and it is a privilege as a priest to share the journey. It is also sign that the Lord is alive and well and continually at work, guiding and encouraging us to find the pearl of great price. I have just finished re-reading for the 7 th time “The Woman of the Pharisees” by Catholic author Francois Mauriac. What I love about this book is one of the characters who is a priest called Abbe Calou. He suffers greatly in the novel but his goodness and kindness as well as his awareness of his weaknesses have always greatly inspired me.

Fr David