News

BIG THANK YOU

A great BIG THANK YOU to all who made my 70th (surely some mistake!) birthday such a wonderful occasion. The amount of cards, presents, phone calls and good wishes were quite overwhelming. As you can see from the above Igor worked his magic as usual. Thank you to the pupils and staff of St Thomas More School and St John Fisher School for the huge cards and the videos. The videos were very entertaining and the staff of STM did a very good impersonation of Elvis Presley! My sisters and brothers had planned a big celebration for me that obviously had to be postponed but I don’t feel I missed out. I am truly blessed to have the love and support of so many people.

With every good wish

Fr Michael

Clergy update

I and Fr John have continued to celebrate Mass and pray the Divine Office daily for all parishioners. We have both been telephoning vulnerable and alone parishioners. If you know of any parishioner that would appreciate a call, please let us know. Some meetings such as Diocesan Trustees and School Governors are still being held virtually, funerals are being held at gravesides and a considerable amount of sorting and administration has been achieved during lockdown. Lockdown has provided many opportunities for us all and many people have told me that their gardens have never looked so good. So in spite of lockdown there is plenty to be done. The painting of St Thomas Church and Parish Rooms is now complete and the sound system at Oadby has been completed and tested. So even though we have not seen one another for some weeks we have been kept very busy within our respective presbyteries during lockdown. We continue to pray for you all and hope you continue to pray for us.  

Words of encouragement from Fr Michael

As many of you know, this Saturday 6th June would have been First Holy Communion Day at St Thomas More Church , Sunday 14th June at Immaculate Conception Church and Confirmation for both parishes would have been on Friday 19th June. The necessary postponement is a sadness not only for the young people and their families but for the whole parish community that we feel very deeply. I have reassured them that these celebrations will eventually take place and they are continuing their preparation at home. Meanwhile I would ask that we keep them in our prayers as we would normally when we would gather as a community at this time.

I have taken the opportunity while the St Thomas More Church is closed to have the Church redecorated and various maintenance tasks carried out. Also the sound system at Immaculate Conception is being upgraded. Both projects should be completed this weekend. Please can I have some volunteers to help move benches at Knighton once the decoration is finished. Please ring me for further details.

Welcome back to the children who have returned to school this past week. Our schools have not closed even over the Easter holiday and half term as they remained open for children of key workers. A huge thank you to all staff who have been very busy both providing online lessons for our children and caring and teaching for those children who have attended school over this lockdown period. Special thanks to our wonderful head teachers, Mrs Crosse, Mr Gallagher and Mrs Conaghan for their outstanding leadership and commitment in these challenging times.

With every blessing, Fr Michael

Jubilarians 2020

The following priests will shortly be celebrating their Jubilee of Ordination. Please keep them in your prayers at this time. Addresses are provided from the Diocesan Yearbook should you wish to send congratulations to them.


DIAMOND JUBILEE
Rev Brendan O’Callaghan 5th June 1960
Knockanure, Moyvane, Listowel, Co. Kerry, Ireland


GOLDEN JUBILEE
Rev Canon Michael O’Donoghue 14th June 1970
Holy Trinity Presbytery, Boundary Road, Newark, NG24 4AU

Message of his holiness Pope Francis for the 54th World Communications Day

“That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2) Life becomes history

 

I would like to devote this year’s Message to the theme of storytelling, because I believe that, so as not to lose our bearings, we need to make our own the truth contained in good stories. Stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together. Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.

  1. Weaving stories

Human beings are storytellers. From childhood we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food. Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, songs, news, even if we do not always realize it. Often we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own. Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behaviour. They can help us understand and communicate who we are.

We are not just the only beings who need clothing to cover our vulnerability (cf. Gen 3: 21); we are also the only ones who need to be “clothed” with stories to protect our lives. We weave not only clothing, but also stories: indeed, the human capacity to “weave” (Latin texere) gives us not only the word textile but also text. The stories of different ages all have a common “loom”: the thread of their narrative involves “heroes”, including everyday heroes, who in following a dream confront difficult situations and combat evil, driven by a force that makes them courageous, the force of love. By immersing ourselves in stories, we can find reasons to heroically face the challenges of life.

Human beings are storytellers because we are engaged in a process of constant growth, discovering ourselves and becoming enriched in the tapestry of the days of our life. Yet since the very beginning, our story has been threatened: evil snakes its way through history.

  1. Not all stories are good stories

“When you eat of it … you will be like God” (cf. Gen 3:4): the temptation of the serpent introduces into the fabric of history a knot difficult to undo. “If you possess, you will become, you will achieve…” This is the message whispered by those who even today use storytelling for purposes of exploitation. How many stories serve to lull us, convincing us that to be happy we continually need to gain, possess and consume. We may not even realize how greedy we have become for chatter and gossip, or how much violence and falsehood we are consuming. Often on communication platforms, instead of constructive stories which serve to strengthen social ties and the cultural fabric, we find destructive and provocative stories that wear down and break the fragile threads binding us together as a society. By patching together bits of unverified information, repeating banal and deceptively persuasive arguments, sending strident and hateful messages, we do not help to weave human history, but instead strip others of their dignity.

But whereas the stories employed for exploitation and power have a short lifespan, a good story can transcend the confines of space and time. Centuries later, it remains timely, for it nourishes life.

In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in deepfake), we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories. We need courage to reject false and evil stories. We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles. We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life.

 

  1. The Story of stories

Sacred Scripture is a Story of stories. How many events, peoples and individuals it sets before us! It shows us from the very beginning a God who is both creator and narrator. Indeed, God speaks his word and things come into existence (cf. Gen 1). As narrator, God calls things into life, culminating in the creation of man and woman as his free dialogue partners, who make history alongside him. In one of the Psalms, the creature tells the creator: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth” (139:13-15). We are not born complete, but need to be constantly “woven”, “knitted together”. Life is given to us as an invitation to continue to weave the “wonderful” mystery that we are.

The Bible is thus the great love story between God and humanity. At its centre stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfilment both God’s love for us and our love for God. Henceforth, in every generation, men and women are called to recount and commit to memory the most significant episodes of this Story of stories, those that best communicate its meaning.

The title of this year’s Message is drawn from the Book of Exodus, a primordial biblical story in which God intervenes in the history of his people. When the enslaved children of Israel cry out to Him, God listens and remembers: “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew” (Ex 2: 24-25). God’s memory brings liberation from oppression through a series of signs and wonders. The Lord then reveals to Moses the meaning of all these signs: “that you may tell in the hearing of your children and grandchildren… what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord” (Ex 10:2). The Exodus experience teaches us that knowledge of the Lord is handed down from generation to generation mainly by telling the story of how he continues to make himself present. The God of life communicates with us through the story of life.

Jesus spoke of God not with abstract concepts, but with parables, brief stories taken from everyday life. At this point life becomes story and then, for the listener, story becomes life: the story becomes part of the life of those who listen to it, and it changes them.

The Gospels are also stories, and not by chance. While they tell us about Jesus, they are “performative”[1]; they conform us to Jesus. The Gospel asks the reader to share in the same faith in order to share in the same life. The Gospel of John tells us that the quintessential storyteller – the Word – himself becomes the story: “God’s only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (Jn 1: 18). The original verb, exegésato, can be translated both as “revealed” and “recounted”. God has become personally woven into our humanity, and so has given us a new way of weaving our stories.

  1. An ever renewed story

The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely. It shows us that God was so deeply concerned for mankind, for our flesh and our history, to the point that he became man, flesh and history. It also tells us that no human stories are insignificant or paltry. Since God became story, every human story is, in a certain sense, a divine story. In the history of every person, the Father sees again the story of his Son who came down to earth. Every human story has an irrepressible dignity. Consequently, humanity deserves stories that are worthy of it, worthy of that dizzying and fascinating height to which Jesus elevated it.

“You” – Saint Paul wrote – “are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3). The Holy Spirit, the love of God, writes within us. And as he writes within us, he establishes goodness in us and constantly reminds us of it. Indeed, to “re-mind” means to bring to mind, to “write” on the heart. By the power of the Holy Spirit, every story, even the most forgotten one, even the one that seems to be written with the most crooked lines, can become inspired, can be reborn as a masterpiece, and become an appendix to the Gospel. Like the Confessions of Augustine. Like A Pilgrim’s Journey of Ignatius. Like The Story of a Soul of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Like The Betrothed, like The Brothers Karamazov. Like countless other stories, which have admirably scripted the encounter between God’s freedom and that of man. Each of us knows different stories that have the fragrance of the Gospel, that have borne witness to the Love that transforms life. These stories cry out to be shared, recounted and brought to life in every age, in every language, in every medium.

  1. A story that renews us

Our own story becomes part of every great story. As we read the Scriptures, the stories of the saints, and also those texts that have shed light on the human heart and its beauty, the Holy Spirit is free to write in our hearts, reviving our memory of what we are in God’s eyes. When we remember the love that created and saved us, when we make love a part of our daily stories, when we weave the tapestry of our days with mercy, we are turning another page. We no longer remain tied to regrets and sadness, bound to an unhealthy memory that burdens our hearts; rather, by opening ourselves to others, we open ourselves to the same vision of the great storyteller. Telling God our story is never useless: even if the record of events remains the same, the meaning and perspective are always changing. To tell our story to the Lord is to enter into his gaze of compassionate love for us and for others. We can recount to him the stories we live, bringing to him the people and the situations that fill our lives. With him we can re-weave the fabric of life, darning its rips and tears. How much we, all of us, need to do exactly this!

With the gaze of the great storyteller – the only one who has the ultimate point of view – we can then approach the other characters, our brothers and sisters, who are with us as actors in today’s story. For no one is an extra on the world stage, and everyone’s story is open to possible change. Even when we tell of evil, we can learn to leave room for redemption; in the midst of evil, we can also recognize the working of goodness and give it space.

So it is not a matter of simply telling stories as such, or of advertising ourselves, but rather of remembering who and what we are in God’s eyes, bearing witness to what the Spirit writes in our hearts and revealing to everyone that his or her story contains marvellous things. In order to do this, let us entrust ourselves to a woman who knit together in her womb the humanity of God and, the Gospel tells us, wove together the events of her life. For the Virgin Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2: 19). Let us ask for help from her, who knew how to untie the knots of life with the gentle strength of love:

O Mary, woman and mother, you wove the divine Word in your womb, you recounted by your life the magnificent works of God. Listen to our stories, hold them in your heart and make your own the stories that no one wants to hear. Teach us to recognize the good thread that runs through history. Look at the tangled knots in our life that paralyze our memory. By your gentle hands, every knot can be untied. Woman of the Spirit, mother of trust, inspire us too. Help us build stories of peace, stories that point to the future. And show us the way to live them together.

Rome, at Saint John Lateran, 24 January 2020, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales

 

Franciscus

Words of encouragement from Fr Michael

It is wonderful to witness and hear about the community spirit that is very evident at this time, with people checking on our elderly parishioners and keeping in touch with one another. We also have a list of volunteers that can help with shopping. Please let me know if you need some help in this regard. Myself, Fr. John and Ministers of Holy Communion are regularly telephoning our housebound parishioners, as are many of our parishioners.

Especially for our First Communion and Confirmation Candidates… We do not know yet when First Communion and Confirmation will take place but that does not prevent each day being an opportunity to deepen our friendship with the Risen Christ and to do what we can to treat each other with kindness.

  • For our First Communion Candidates, continue with our preparation with the help of your parents. You will by now received an email with some suggestions of how to use your First Communion books. The Rosary will be prayed for you on Tuesday 19th May at 12 noon and we hope you will be able to join with the prayers of our parishioners also especially on that day.
  • For our Confirmation Candidates, may I suggest that you tune in to NDCYS (Nottingham Diocese Catholic Youth Service) new “You Tube” Channel, NDCYS Live! on Mondays and Fridays. Tom Baptist and the Briars Team are truly inspirational with what they have to offer and will also enjoy it. The Rosary will be prayed for you on Thursday 21st May at 12 noon and we hope you will be able to join with the prayers of our parishioners also especially on that day.May the Risen Lord continue to bless you and all that are dear to you. May He grant us peace in mind and hearts and as these restrictions continue may He give us above all patience.

Fr Michael

Director of Adult Formation for Mission

Diocese of Nottingham seeks to appoint a Director of Adult Formation for Mission to work with the Bishop of Nottingham and the Parishes of the Diocese to lead the creation and delivery of opportunities for adult formation, promoting the Diocesan Vision and Mission and the three themes of Encounter, Discipleship and Missionary Discipleship. This would suit a committed Catholic, qualified in theology, catechetics, evangelisation or pastoral ministry, experienced in leading catechesis and evangelisation and with a passion for the mission of the Church. Salary: £45,000 – £50,000 dependant on qualifications and experience.

For more information and an application pack email: office@dioceseofnottingham.uk. Closing date 25 May 2020. Post is not being collected during this time, please email or call 0115 9531162

Parish Finances

Thank you to those who have been in touch regarding Parish Finances during this time regarding their weekly contributions. Your concern and generosity are very much appreciated. We also realise that the current emergency is affecting many people’s income and they may not be able to continue their level of offerings. If this is the case, we fully understand.

The Diocese has currently advised that for those who give cash, please continue to put aside and we will gratefully receive them, along with your Easter Offering, when normal Mass celebrations resume. Please do not put envelopes through the Presbytery letterbox as we have no means of banking at this time. This advice is constantly being reviewed and we will update you on any changes as soon as we are aware.

If you would like your new supply of envelopes posting to your home address or would like to change to standing order, please contact Fr. Michael by email or telephone and we will arrange this for you.

Community Spirit

It is wonderful to witness and hear about the community spirit that is very evident at this time, with people checking on our elderly parishioners and keeping in touch with one another. We also have a list of volunteers that can help with shopping. Please let me know if you need some help in this regard. Myself, Fr. John and Ministers of Holy Communion are regularly telephoning our housebound parishioners, as are many of our parishioners.

We thank the children of keyworkers still in school for their drawings and words of support that have now been posted out to all our sick and housebound. Your kind words and beautiful drawings were very much appreciated. A special thank you to our teachers and school staff supporting our young people at this time either by their presence in school and/or with providing online learning for parents educating at home.

May the Risen Lord continue to bless you and all that are dear to you. May He grant us peace in mind and hearts and as these restrictions continue may He give us above all patience.

Fr Michael

Words of encouragement from Pope Francis

STRONG IN THE FACE OF TRIBULATION

The Church in Communion: A Sure Support in time of trial

The Vatican has released this free book of Pope Francis’ homilies and prayers for difficult times and is available to download in English – search for the title “Strong in the face of Tribulation” The book is 192 pages so think before you print!

Here is an extract from the forward –

For many members of the faithful, the impossibility of participating in the liturgy and partaking of the Sacraments aggravates this condition of uncertainty, discomfort and confusion, even though the Church invites us to renew our faith in the Risen Christ, who conquered death, and made it the place of the sure encounter with the loving face of the Father.

The present difficulties have stimulated the creativity and inventiveness of many priests, who by using the new means of communication, make themselves present in the life of their communities and families confined to their homes in semi-deserted cities. The evidence of what is happening demands that we to live this time for the benefit of all, especially for those most at risk, in the solitude of our homes, hospitals and nursing homes. Of course, the questions of faith remain, for not even as believers have we been educated recently to live through such crises, to experience ecclesial communion in spite of separation and distance, without yielding to the temptation of an entirely personal devotion.

It is useful to remember that it is certainly not the first time that humanity, and Christians, have found themselves facing these types of events. Christian faith, lived daily in its essential elements, generates an outlook on reality. It provides the possibility of glimpsing the hand of a God who is a good Father and who has loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son for us.

The Church thus bears in the treasury of her living tradition, a treasury of wisdom, of hope, the opportunity to continue to experience – in solitude or even in isolation – that we are truly “one” thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit.

This book is intended to be a little help offered to all, so as to know how to discern and experience God’s closeness and tenderness in pain, in suffering, in solitude and in fear. Of course, faith does not eliminate pain; ecclesial communion does not eliminate anguish. Rather, it does illuminate reality and reveal that it is pervaded by the love and hope based not on our abilities, but on the One Who is faithful and never abandons us.

 

Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.

You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful.

But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.

Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter,

“cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf 1Pet 5:7).

Along with prayers and intercessions there are Pope Francis’s words and messages from Homilies, Angelus and Regina Coeli beginning on 9th March 2020 through to the Second Sunday of Easter. An inspiring and comforting read.