THE LIFE OF THE PARISH OF ST CHARLES & ST THOMAS MORE
2012 to 2019
MISSION STATEMENT OF THE PARISH
The Parish of St Charles & St Thomas More, illuminated by Christ and led by the Holy Spirit, seeks to bring that light to South Liverpool.
Nurtured by scripture, prayer and the sacraments, we journey together, seeking to come closer to God, so that we can proclaim His love, in our thoughts, words and actions, by striving to be a loving and welcoming community.
Father James Preston wrote in the parish newsletter of 9th September 2012,‘… Amidst the unpacking of boxes and moving into my new home, I felt it was important to let you know how pleased I am to be your new parish priest and I am looking forward to serving here for many years to come. It is a new start for us all as we continue to build one community from the great legacy of two parishes handed down to us here in Aigburth …’ Father James was officially inducted as parish priest on 4th November by Archbishop Patrick Kelly.
‘Many years’ has turned out to be only seven; seven which have seen many challenges, changes and new developments. Two parish communities, merged in August 2012 as a result of the Leaving Safe Harbours process, have been integrated. What follows is an account of those seven years, from September 2012 to July 2019. Then Father James becomes one of the spiritual directors in the seminary at Oscott, at the request of Archbishop McMahon. Father Ronald Johnson has been appointed as our next parish priest.
The newsletter of the 16th September included a message from Father George Russell. ‘… I left last week with a variety of mixed emotions mainly overwhelmed by the love and kindness you showed me … I cannot find the words that adequately express what I feel; I simply have to say THANK YOU for fourteen memorable years …’
Father George had retired for health reasons. Nevertheless, it was a shock when a Holy Hour was held for him in April 2013 because he was seriously ill. He died on the 18th April. His Requiem was at St Charles, as he wished. Father Emmanuel sent his sympathy, writing that ‘He was a great inspiration to me and fast became a wonderful friend and counsellor. Father George was a very hospitable, generous and compassionate man and I know he will be sadly missed by the many people who loved him.’ Statues of Our Lady and St Bernadette have been placed in the Memorial Garden in his memory.
Father James had extra duties from the start, helping the Archbishop and encouraging vocations. A Vocations Discernment Group meets monthly at St Charles’ presbytery. He was appointed Vocations Director in 2014 and in 2015the presbytery became a House of Discernment for men considering their vocations. The parishioners met many interesting people and the men gained a realistic idea of the demands made on the clergy. Five men have already spent a placement in the parish. In addition to the English seminarians who spent time in the parish Abbe Benoît d’Arras stayed here for six months in 2019 before his ordination. He worked with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in SeelStreet, helped in the parish at weekends and perfected his already excellent English. His priestly ordination was to have taken place in Paris in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. A Mass of Thanksgiving, followed by refreshments, was planned to mark his return to France.
Father James had also to visit the seminarians in England, Rome and Valladolidin Spain. There were seven Liverpool seminarians for him to support in 2019. A number of priests stood in for Father James when he had to be away; Father Strowbridge became well known to us and Father Emmanuel Quaegraine from Ghana made many visits, as he had done in previous years.
The parishioners prepared to celebrate the ordination to the priesthood of Thomas Clarke of St Charles Parish in July 2019. Father James remarked, ‘Poor Thomas Clarke, our own seminarian, not only am I his Parish Priest but also his Vocations Director!’
A week planned by the National Office for Vocations was run in the parish Inthe autumn of 2017 as a pilot scheme. It celebrated the different ways in which we go beyond the call of duty in our lives. Venues ranged from a parishioner’s home for the vocation of marriage to the Carmelite Monastery for the vocation of the enclosed religious life.
Father James offered house blessings and Masses in the parish and visited three schools, St Charles Catholic Primary, St Edward’s and Bellerive. As well as the usual round of services and sacraments, sick visiting, administration and meetings he held events and organised outings and picnics in the presbytery garden to bring together the two parish communities. He was ably supported byMrs Valerie Hogg, the parish office administrator. Val is a huge asset to the parish; confidential, sensitive and understanding, willing, and combining humanity with efficiency.
Pilgrimages have been led by Father James to Poland, Rome and Assisi, the Holy Land and Lourdes. In the Year of Mercy a very local pilgrimage was made to the Cathedral to enter through the Holy Door of Mercy.
We marked the tenth anniversary of Father James’ ordination in June, 2016. A Mass of Thanksgiving to celebrate his ministry at St Charles and St Thomas More, followed by refreshments, is planned for July 2019.
We have three deacons in the parish, Deacon Paul McNicholl, Deacon Jeremy Mitchinson and Deacon Paul Mannings. Paul Mannings is a parishioner but continues his ministry at the Cathedral. His son, Stephen, played the organ for many years, starting in St Thomas More’s by playing for part of the Children’s Nativity when he was nine years old. Paul’s wife, Sue, still plays an active part in the parish.
Paul McNicholl and Jeremy are also supported by their families. Both preside at baptisms and weddings. Jeremy works full time so usually Paul assists at Requiem Masses and presides at funeral services. Paul serves on the Bereavement Team and the Finance Committee and produces and distributes the rotas for Readers and Eucharistic Ministers. He visits families before funerals take place and helps them to plan the services. He also organises the team of Eucharistic Ministers who take Holy Communion to the housebound and to residents in care homes. We celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his diaconite inMay 2013.
Jeremy Minchison’s most visible contribution to parish life is his gift for making music and imparting his enthusiasm to others. The Music Group enhances our Sunday Masses; he has composed a Gloria and Holy, Holy for us and has trained choirs for special occasions with amazing results. However, much of his work is less obvious. For example, he chaired many of the PAWG meetings (Pastoral Area Working Group on Leaving Safe Harbours, about the future of our deanery), serves on the Finance Committee and, with Margaret Thelwell, worked to set up the Pastoral Area Ministry Team of which he remains an active member.
SACRAMENTAL AND SPIRITUAL LIFE
St Thomas More Church was still open in 2012. One Sunday Mass was said there until it closed in 2015, with another at St Charles, and with the Vigil Mass at St Charles. In December 2014 we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the first Mass to be said in the church. Archbishop McMahon celebrated theClosing Mass in January, 2015.
Now there are four Masses at St Charles; after consultation weekend Masses are at 5 pm on Saturday, and 9.30 am and 11 am on Sunday. The fourth Mass is celebrated in the Hall with the Neo-Catechumenal Community on Saturday evening at 6 pm and parishioners are welcome to attend. The average Mass attendance is about five hundred.
The musicians and singers of the two parishes, led by Stephen Mannings and Jeremy Mitchinson, had been cooperating since long before the merger was contemplated. The traditional pattern continued for the last two years during which St Thomas More Church remained open. St Charles had the long established choir and organ at the eleven o’clock Mass and the organ at the Vigil Mass. The music group led the music at the one Sunday Mass at St Thomas More. The Christmas Midnight Masses and the Easter Vigil Masseswere celebrated at St Charles with both parishes involved. The present pattern is that choir and organ and music group alternate at the two Sunday Masses,providing a choice for everyone. Choir members often sit near the music group so that they can be led by Jeremy. There is usually an organist at the Saturday Vigil Mass and sometimes members of the Neo-Catechumenal Community sing and play the guitar. A special choir is formed for Christmas and Easter with extra singers invited to join and to attend rehearsals. This has made the Christmas Carol Service a wonderful occasion with the enlarged choir addingits prepared contributions to the traditional congregational carols.
The Psalm is usually sung at Sunday Masses. Teams of Readers and SpecialMinisters of the Eucharist are recruited and trained. As well as taking Holy Communion to the house bound, the Special Ministers visit several care homes in the parish and are sometimes able to lead short services for the residents.
Both boys and girls serve on the altar. The exemplary way in which they play their part, including the younger children, even in the long Holy Week services, says much for the training they receive.
Daily Mass is celebrated as often as possible. Extra Masses are celebrated during Lent, with tea and toast available after the 7 am ‘Workers’ Mass’.
Special Masses have included those for the sick and housebound, and for healing and anointing, with a Mass for bereaved families each November. The Prayer Intention Book is available for requests and is offered to God at the weekend Masses.
Sometimes a wider area is involved such as Mass for the young people of the Archdiocese who had been to Lourdes, for Youth Sunday for the Pastoral Area,and until 2018 annually for members of the support groups for divorced and separated people, run for the Marriage and Family Life Department for the Archdiocese.
The young children in the congregation can attend a Children’s Liturgy at both Sunday Masses. They file out proudly behind their banner after their blessing and return gleefully to their parents, showing off their work. The parish attitude to their smaller siblings is made clear in a notice in the newsletter which begins, ‘Relax! God put the wiggle in children! Don’t think you have to suppress it in His house. All are welcome.’ It ends, after some suggestions, ‘The presence of children is a gift to the Church and they are a reminder that our parish is growing.’ Books suitable for young children are always available to be used during Mass.
Bambinelli Sunday was introduced in 2018. The children were asked to bring the ‘Baby Jesus’ out of their crib at home, have the little statue blessed at the start of the Sunday Mass, take it home, wrap it in Christmas paper and put it away until Christmas Day. Then it should be the very first present they open.
Many additional devotions take place, including Quarant’ Ore Devotion,Stations of the Cross in Lent, Holy Hour and Benediction, Marian Processions and Taize Services. An adaptation of the Tenebrae service was introduced on Good Friday 2018. The Sanctuary Candle, the Marian Candle and the Sacred Heart Candle can be requested for many reasons such as a dedication or an anniversary.
The Annual Romero Mass was celebrated in the pastoral area in St Clare’s in 2018, the year of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s canonisation. Liverpool is one of only two places in the world to have commemorated the saint every year since his death. The other is El Salvador.
Catechists train and deliver programmes of preparation for Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation. Marriage Preparation is organised by the Pastoral Formation Department in several venues, one of which is LACE which is usually used by our couples. The New Order in which children in Year 4 received the three sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation was introduced in 2012 but the more traditional pattern is now followed. Advice on making a good Confession is included in the newsletters and services of reconciliation are held at Lent and Advent, with visiting priests available. Archbishop Kelly presided at the Advent service in 2012. Families of children baptised in the previous eighteen months have been invited to a short service followed by refreshments to encourage continued contact.
A ‘Journey into Faith’ course is run for those interested in finding out more about the Catholic Church or about being received into it. This includes material from the RCIA course (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults).
Mgr John Walsh led a day of recollection in 2013, as did Father James in 2016.
A Parish Mission Week was held in 2014. Eight members of the Legion of Mary came to the parish and almost reached their target, which was to visit every home in Aigburth.
Local opportunities for sharing and deepening faith are publicised such aspresentations from the Pastoral Formation Department, Living Theology weekends at SFX church, TOOT (Time Out On Tuesdays) days at the Cenacle for those in any sort of ministry, events at Sandymount, those run by Irenaeus and the FCJ Sisters and St Wilfred’s Parish ‘Living Christ’ weekend retreats.Within the parish adult catechesis has been provided by a series of DVDs of talks about Catholicism and by CAFÉ resources about the saints and the Holy Spirit.
OTHER GROUPS IN THE PARISH
The St Vincent de Paul Society provides practical and financial help to people in need but, perhaps more importantly, members spend time with people who can’t get out easily, offering care and friendship wherever a visit is welcomed. They also visit some of the residential homes in the parish. Members sometimes say the Rosary with bereaved families on the vigil of a funeral if this is requested. All their work is strictly confidential.
The Bereavement Care Team supports families in the parish who have experienced bereavement. They can help with funeral planning and offer further support, before or after the funeral. They also help with the special Mass in November each year; this is open to all but personal invitations are sent to families bereaved during the last year.
The Youth of the parish are well represented in the Archdiocesan Annual Lourdes Pilgrimage. The ways in which the young people, aged 11 to 18, raise money themselves range from raffles to bag packing in a supermarket. They are also supported by parishioners, especially on the occasional Sundays when they serve bacon butties after Mass.
The Toddler Group at St Thomas Moor’s ended when the church closedbecause the people attending lived very near to the church and needed something close to them. A similar group started later in St Charles Hall. The Youth Group which was run weekly at St Thomas More’s transferred to St Charles. It was replaced by the Pizza and Prayer Group meeting monthly.This provides ‘sharing, discussion and friendship’ (and pizza!) for those in senior school since not all young people in the parish attend Catholic schools. The young people had weekends away at Castlerigg Manor in the Lake District in 2016 and 2018. A Young Adults Group (18-35+) meets monthly in the presbytery. The Junior Youth Group (years 3-6) meets weekly. In January 2017 Animate (the Archdiocesan Youth Ministry) organised a ‘night of adoration, praise and worship’ in the church open to the whole of the Archdiocese.
The Neo-Catechumenal Community meets twice weekly, Wednesdays to study the scriptures and Saturday evenings to celebrate Mass together. They evangelise by showing love and community. The age range of the group is from fifteen to seventy. Parishioners are welcome to attend the weekly Mass. John and Anne Filibe have recently moved into the parish. They are a Commission Missionary Family, commissioned by Pope John Paul II, and part of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. Their mission is especially to those no longer attending Mass.
A Scripture Conversation Group met for several years. After hearing the readings for the coming Sunday read aloud, members discussed them andrelated them to their everyday life.
The Parish Prayer Group meets monthly. It has been supported by other parishioners in a continuous reading of St Mark’s Gospel and at a presentation of a video of the keynote address at the Adoremus Eucharistic Congress by Bishop Robert Barron. His theme was ‘The Mystery of the Mass, the Source and Summit of Christian Life’.
The Mothers United in Prayer Group meets twice a month.
Messy Church is for everyone in our South Liverpool Community. It is fun, messy, inclusive and all about Jesus. The craft work and activities are greatly enjoyed by the children and the adults who accompany them and they follow the liturgical seasons. For example, the children made the Easter Garden on the Marian Altar and provide interesting displays in the Hall. The group meets monthly; lunch is provided. After the Messy Session there is an interactive Liturgy in church, which always involves a good story, some songs to sing along to, a tambourine to jingle and a chance to explore church, without having to worry about keeping still and quiet.
A new website for the parish was set up in 2019. The Jesuit Websites, Sacred Space and Pray as You Go, are given publicity in the newsletters. We have also been informed about the Archbishop’s initiatives and events run the PastoralFormation Department, Irenaeus, and at Sandymount and the Cenacle.
A newsletter in February 2019 carried a letter from Cardinal Vincent Nicholls asking for prayers for a meeting which the Pope had called to address the protection of minors in the Church.
St Charles’ Catholic Primary School
St Charles Primary School was rated ‘Good’ by OFSTED in 2017 and ‘Outstanding’ by the Archdiocesan Christian Education Department in 2018. The behaviour of the children, whether they come to Mass together on holidays of obligation or as a class at a time on Tuesdays, confirms these judgements. Mr Chris Davey was the head-teacher until July 2015. Mrs Mary Walker then acted as head-teacher until Mrs A M Roberts took the post in January 2016. Mrs R Dean has been appointed as the new head-teacher from August 2019.
COMMITTEES, SOCIAL ACTIVITIES, FUND RAISING AND CHARITIES
Parish Meetings are held and the minutes are published in the newsletters.
The Finance Group was established in November 2012. Annual financial details are published in the newsletter. A Responsible Giving Campaign was run in 2013 based on Christian stewardship and this increased the Sunday offerings by 40%. Gift aiding is arranged and encouraged.
The Shared Leadership Team, formed in 2019, meets monthly to coordinate activities and to make an opportunity to share resources and ideas.
The Liverpool South Ministry Team was formed in 2015 and includes lay people from all the parishes in that area and some clergy. It exists to enable networking and the sharing of resources and experience. Three newsletters have been published and distributed up to this time. These include the times of all the Sunday Masses in the member parishes. A website was introduced in May 2019. Helen Jones was appointed as the pastoral associate for what was Pastoral Area 2 in autumn 2018, one of five such appointments in the Liverpool Archdiocese. In January she wrote, ‘I have been at St Charles and St Thomas More this week, who have shown tremendous hospitality and a great commitment to shared ministry as their groups begin to work more closely together strengthening their own believing community’.
The regular commitment of some parishioners is visible; we appreciate the dedication of the young altar servers, Special Ministers of the Eucharist, and the Readers. Unsung heroes among the parishioners attend to the production of the newsletters (without which this account could not have been written). These give details of services and events but include extra material such as a welcome notice, a thought for the week and a contribution from Helen Jones, the pastoral associate. Newsletters are posted on our internet site which gives other information and a place on Facebook.
Others enhance the Masses; the church is cleaned and the brass polished, the sacristy needs are met, money is collected and counted, people are welcomed, a minibus brings those with mobility problems to church, a piety stall is availableand the flower team beautifies the church with arrangements; (we were proud to see the parish named on one of the floral displays in the Cathedral during the Adoremus Eucharistic Congress). The Garden of Remembrance which we pass as we approach the church is tended.
Many activities are possible only because of the work of the Parish Safeguarding Representatives. All parishioners having contact with children and vulnerable adults have to have DBS checks (Disclosure and Barring Service).
A Social Committee organises all sorts of happenings, bringing the members of the community together. Events have included Ceilidhs, a dinner dance and quizzes.
Money raising and social activities are intertwined in parish life. Often the social benefits of an event are as important as the financial contribution. Notably, the Spring, Summer and Christmas Fairs are a great opportunity for us to meet and chat while enjoying a cup of tea or queueing for tickets but they also make a considerable contribution to parish funds. Refreshments are available after many meetings and talks and the kitchen is kept well supplied with basic provisions.
The talents of the parishioners are numerous;, cake making, knitting bobble hats and twiddle muffs and even auctioning paintings. The Busy Bees Knit and Natter Group met for many years in St Charles Parish creating, among other things, beautiful crib sets, a joy for little children to play with safely.
The films shown in the Hall cater for a very wide range of interests and tastes and included ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’, part of which was shot in the parish. Tea and coffee are served after Mass, Friday night is Bingo Night,
Regular activities include the Parent and Toddler Group meeting weekly on Wednesdays, the Monday Pensioners Club and ‘Soup and a Roll’ after twelve o’clock Mass monthly. ‘Cuppa and a Chat’ was held in the morning weekly for some time but was replaced by ‘Afternoon Tea’ held weekly on Thursdays; this last group reports that its members come together to eat cake and have fun but they do contribute to charities and have organised coffee mornings for MacMillan Cancer Care. The Knights of St Columba (Council 9) meet in St Francis of Assisi hall but welcome men from our parish to join them. Their activities are promoted in our newsletters. We have enjoyed two visits from The Oriel Singers.
The Justice and Peace Group is very active. Among many activities, they run a Hunger Lunch every Good Friday including interesting speakers, they have made us a ‘Live Simply’ Parish, promoting the idea that we should live simply that others may live, they arrange for Christmas cards to be sent to prisoners of conscience, support CAFOD campaigns and have a Fair Trade Stall. Several members and parishioners attended the ecumenical weekend ‘Women, Peace and the Church’ organised by Hope University to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. Representatives of our twinned German city, Cologne, joined us. One parishioner was able to introduce herself to them as having visited Cologne in about 1954 in an exchange group of young peoplefrom a German youth group with sixth formers from Mount Pleasant, St Francis Xavier’s and St Edward’s, the first such exchange after the Second World War,seen as a gesture of reconciliation. Like Liverpool, Cologne had suffered heavy bombing during the war.
This group, working with other parishioners, has joined with other parishes in South Liverpool to bring a family of refugees from Syria to live here, and to help them to settle. This is part of the government’s Syrian Community Sponsorship Scheme and is a response to a suggestion from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, strongly supported by Cardinal Nicholls. It involves a great deal of work and training to satisfy the high standards set by the Home Office. The first meeting to introduce the scheme was held in January 2018. A house has been found for the family recently and a meeting with Home Office representatives to approve the proposal will take place in the near future.
The Friends of Assin Foso Parish and School Group was formed in 2016, following a visit by Father James to Ghana. Many social events contribute to the fund as does the Lucky Number Club. Father Emmanuel was parish priest there and had forged links with us over a number of years when he visited Liverpool. Their present parish priest, Father Okono, visited us in 2018, as did Father Collins, also from Ghana, in 2019.
BEYOND THE PARISH BOUNDARY
The newsletters have given details of many Archdiocesan initiatives such asTraining in Dementia Awareness at LACE, ‘Discerning God’s Plan for You’ at Lowe House and latterly at St Charles’, the Archdiocesan Assembly in 2012 on‘The Lord’s Day’, and Pope Benedict’s announcement of ‘A Year of Faith’ starting in October 2012, 50 years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
The newsletters also included the Bishops’ Conference encouragement to vote in the General Election and their suggested list of key issues and questions for reflection. St Thomas More Hall was used as a polling station for many years up to its closure.
Events run by the Marriage and Family Life Department at LACE are put in the newsletters. These have included the annual M&FL Mass at the Cathedral, a ‘Celebrate the Child’ Mass at Lowe House, courses for people who are divorced or separated, Dementia Awareness promotion and a conference on the challengein the home of the Pope’s book, The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)
We raised funds for PAPYRUS, a charity for the prevention of young suicide. It provides confidential advice and practical support, campaigns and offers training. Several members of the parish attended training at LACE.
The Women’s World Day of Prayer was held annually at St Thomas More. Several other local churches took part but St Thomas More was chosen as a regular venue because people liked the intimate atmosphere of the small building.
Support given for activities outside the parish have included the Red Boxes for the APF (Association for the Propagation of the Faith. Missio ), donations of clothes to Amnesty Link and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries in Seel Street, Christmas gifts for children of prisoners in Walton Prison, the Hope Food Bank,the Christmas Child Shoe Box Appeal, used stamps for Marie Curie, foreign money for the Nugent Society, and notification of an Autism Friendly Disco .
Assin Foso is not the first example of parish interest and support for Africa.Very few names have been included in this account as it would have been impossible to acknowledge everybody but it seems fitting to describe the work of two exceptional parishioners.
Sister Bernadette SND raised money for sick children in Africa by running stalls at boot fairs or any other venue she could find, with a special Christmas Fair here in 2013 for children affected by HIV. She knew from her own experience of thirty years in Africa how great the needs were. For example, she was in Biafra during the civil war, reorganising twenty hospitals that had been vandalised in the war zone. She was made a chief and given the name ‘The Healer’. In her retirement she was always available to anyone who needed a cup of tea and a sympathetic ear and she volunteered with SAHIR House which has been offering HIV support, information and training across Merseyside since 1985.
Professor Doctor Ann Merriman OBE set up Hospice Africa to care for victims of Aids and cancer. This grew from small beginnings to training staff in many African countries. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her book, The Audacity to Love, was made available through the Parish Justice and Peace Group.
ADOREMUS, THE NATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS
Representatives from the parish attended the main events of the Congress and details of the parallel programme were advertised. A great many happenings were open to all. We were also given details of the Youth Congress and of the services and events at the Cathedral, including the Blessed Sacrament Procession.
TOWARDS SYNOD 2020
The Synod is an important moment for the Church in Liverpool, which means itis an important moment for all of us. There will be opportunities for us to contribute our opinions, thoughts, hopes and ideas for the future of the church in Liverpool. To help us prepare for this great work that we will do together, during Eastertide we had some thought-provoking talks from visiting speakers, each on a different subject. Speakers include seminary lecturers in philosophy and scripture, chaplains to a prison, a hospital and the Maryton Carmel, the Rector of the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and the General Secretary of the Catholic Truth Society. ‘Listening’ meetings have also been held in the parish.
THE CHURCH BUILDING AND OTHER PRACTICAL ISSUES
St Charles Church opened in 1900; the parish was founded in1892. The expenses of maintaining the church and presbytery have been a drain on resources in recent years. The Parish Club closed in January 2013 because it was not financially viable. The area has been cleared and there are plans to build apartments on part of it and use the rest as a parish car park.
The church interior has been re-painted and the flooring in the aisles has been stripped and re-polished. A new nave altar was installed in 2018. It was made in Madrid and paid for by a generous donation. It was specially commissioned to complement the ambo (lectern) and highlight the link between the Altar of the Word and the Altar of the Eucharist. Archbishop McMahon celebrated Mass and consecrated it in May 2018. Part of the Moira Codd Memorial stained glass window from St Thomas More was installed in a light box in the church.
The Parish Hall has been considerably altered. The office was moved into the presbytery in 2014 making it possible to have two small meeting rooms next to the main hall. The main hall has been carpeted, with an area left at one end suitable for ‘messy’ activities. Security, both of church and presbytery, has been strengthened. Callers can be seen on screen in the office before the gate is opened for them. The large garden is very well kept and a memorial garden has been made near the church gate.
The main structure required major expenditure. A lighting and fire alarm update cost £35,000. Work on the sanctuary roof and repointing cost £74 000 and damage from water seeping in cost £8 000 to make good. A new boiler and heating system cost £15 500.
The realities of maintenance and adaptation to new needs must be dealt with but we remember also the words in St Peter’s First Epistle, ‘Set yourselves close to Him, so that you too may be living stones making a spiritual house …’
OUR PATRON SAINTS
Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) was Archbishop of Milan and a Cardinal. He was a leading figure in the Counter-Reformation and made many reforms. He stayed in Milan when there was a plague and helped a great number of his people to survive. He founded many seminaries, making him a very suitable patron for a parish with a House of Discernment.
Saint Thomas More (1478-1535) was a layman with a loving wife and family. He was a lawyer, an author and a statesman; a friend of King Henry VIII and made by him Lord Chancellor of England. He refused to acknowledge Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, remaining loyal to the Pope, and for this he was found guilty of treason and executed.
The Prayer of St Thomas More from the newsletter of 11th Jan 2015,
(Closure of church building).
Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humour to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows how to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I”.
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humour. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke, to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others.