Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 288 (2020/32)
Tuesday 8th September 2020
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Welcome from Bishop Philip
Welcome to our diocesan e-News, today 8th September, the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s also the Season of Creation, and our thanks to Anne and Peter Dodd helping us to keep this season special. In fact, it is said that in this anniversary year of Laudato Si, the Holy Father is currently preparing an Encyclical - rumoured to be called Fratelli Tutti – which will be speaking in more detail about human fraternity in the post-COVID era. Closer to home, I have a few thoughts of my own on the current pandemic and I have written a Pastoral Letter to be read this coming weekend at all the Masses. There are a number of events related to evangelisation to draw your attention to this week: the summit Fr. Mark Hogan mentions, the Youth 2000 novena, the Auschwitz Challenge, the Spiritual Conference from Hook and the Alton Day of Renewal. There is also an update on the Diocesan Pastoral Council which has been offset by the pandemic. Meanwhile, may St. Ambrose Barlow and Blessed Pier Giorgio pray for us all during these days ahead. God bless you always.
Some Reflections on the Pandemic

Last weekend, we held one of our regular Dialogue with Cultural Sectors team meetings. During it, I shared some personal thoughts about the pandemic and the ways forward for the Diocese. There was a lot to take in – but here is a short extract from the paper.
“There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic is the gravest “national emergency” of a lifetime. Currently its devastation continues, and will continue, until an effective vaccine is invented. Yet plagues, epidemics and catastrophes have been a feature of human history ever since the Fall. For many, COVID has interrupted daily life and demonstrated its fragility. It has made people review where their priorities lie. It has raised questions about values, life and death, and the role of religion. It has presented on both a global scale and at the very local level in our families and among our friends both human tragedy and also human courage. Many have fallen sick; some have lost their lives; others, especially medical staff and key workers, have responded with selfless generosity and courage. Yet in the welter of public discourse and news items, little has been said about the impact of COVID on people’s spiritual lives. This is where the voice of the Church on a national level is needed in order not only to safeguard the spiritual dimension of humans but more positively to proclaim the redemptive role of religion in human living...


Face Coverings in Church

Just a reminder that, unless you are exempt, the government asks us to wear face-coverings in church. This of course is now obligatory in shops, on public transport and in other social settings. Our diocesan guidance has encouraged the wearing of face coverings especially if it has not been possible to maintain a two-metre distance. However, government advice has now made this compulsory. As the Prime Minister said, the wearing of face coverings is necessary in “indoor settings where you’re likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet” including cinemas, museums and galleries. “We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings.” In response, let us work to make our churches truly safe. This will also help each one of us to feel more secure when attending Mass. I know that many have been following Mass online and, recognising their hunger and thirst for God, have found all sorts of new ways to be close to the Lord. But online is not the same as ‘inline’ and being there. It’s not the same as actually receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. It’s not the same as participating in the eucharistic community. The sacraments are central to our faith. If it means wearing a face mask, then that is surely a small price to pay in return for meeting our Lord and Master Jesus Christ and receiving His grace in the holy sacraments.

New Document on Interreligious Dialogue

Bishop Patrick McKinney, the Bishop of Nottingham, (above) has been appointed to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCIRD). We offer him our prayers and congratulations. Meanwhile, the Pontifical Council have just issued a document called Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond. The document is the result of a collaboration between the PCIRD and the Office for Interreligious Dialogue of the World Council of Churches. Click on the photograph to read it.

Today is Our Lady's Birthday

Mary was born to be the Mother of the Saviour of the world, the spiritual mother of all men, and the holiest of God's creatures. Due to her Son's infinite merits, she was conceived and born immaculate and full of grace. Through her, Queen of Heaven and of Earth, all grace is given to men. Through her, by the will of the Trinity, the unbelieving receive the gift of faith; the afflicted are tendered the works of mercy; and the members of Christ grow in likeness of their Head. In Mary all human nature is exalted. We rejoice in her birthday, as the Church has done from the earliest times. This is one of the three birthdays in the Church Calendar: the Birth of Jesus (25th December), the Birth of John the Baptist (24th June) and the Birthday of Mary today. All three were born without original sin, although Mary and Jesus were conceived without sin, and St. John was cleansed of original sin while in the womb at the Visitation of Mary.

Next Sunday's Gospel

Next Sunday is 24th Sunday of the Year and the Gospel is Matthew 18:21-35. You can read Scott Hahn's reflection on the Sunday readings here.

Join us for the Wednesday Webinar 

In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness continues with the parable of the unforgiving servant. How often should we forgive? Jesus’ answer of seventy-seven times calls on the Biblical language of completion and perfection, and its deepest meaning is opened up for us in his use of a parable. This tale of a servant liberated from debt by the abundant mercy of his king, and yet unable to show that same forgiveness to his fellow-servants, takes us to the heart of what forgiveness is: not an exclusive secret to be guarded and protected, but a calling to pass on to others what we have received from the forgiving God.

Thought for the Week
“Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air, amply spread around everywhere, question the beauty of the sky, question the serried ranks of the stars, question the sun making the day glorious with its bright beams, question the moon tempering the darkness of the following night with its shining rays, question the animals that move in the waters, that amble about on dry land, that fly in the air, their souls hidden, their bodies evident, the visible bodies needing to be controlled, the invisible souls controlling them. Question all these things. They all answer you, ‘Here we are, look; we are beautiful!’ Their beauty is their confession. [Yet] Who made these beautiful changeable things if not One Who is beautiful and unchangeable?” (St. Augustine Sermo CCXLI, 2; PL 38, 1134).
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Online Diocesan Evangelisation Event

Fr Mark Hogan, Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation, invites you to join a new Evangelisation Animation Team...

Several of us in the diocese have been engaged with the New Evangelisation Summit.  This has been an annual event with fantastic speakers presented every year since 2015 in Ottawa.  It has been live streamed across Canada and the USA to local parishes.  Last year it was replayed across the world with seven events in the UK.  This year, we had planned to have 3 replay events in October in Portsmouth Diocese.  As we can’t yet hold face-to-face events like this, we would like to see if an online Evangelisation event in the diocese would work.  Paul and Annette O’Beirne from Fareham are offering to work with me to coordinate.  We invite others, (lay, religious and clergy) from across the diocese to join an animating team.  We need enthusiasm for Evangelisation, a range of skills and all ages.  If you are interested please ask for more details by emailing

Youth 2000

Youth 2000 is an international spiritual initiative established to draw young people to a deep and lasting union with Jesus Christ, placing the Eucharist - “the source and summit of the Christian life” - at the centre of its mission.Youth 2000 is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year and their Mission Team invite you to join them in praying the Novena to Our Lady of Walsingham, beginning next Tuesday 15th September, in support of thier mission...

Youth 2000 is powered by prayer. Our young mission team meet each weekday to pray the rosary for everybody connected to Youth 2000. We know that every single prayer over the past 30 years has contributed to the many conversions, vocations and friendships that have come out of this organisation. So in thanksgiving for the past thirty years, and as we look forward to the next thirty years, we would like to invite you to join us in praying a Novena leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. Sign-up for the Novena here.

Auschwitz Challenge

Deacon Paul O'Connor from the Archdiocese of Birmingham shares news of an online pilgrimage beginning next week, not to one of the usual popular places of pilgrimage but to Auschwitz, aimed at people of all ages, both laity and clergy alike...

Over the summer there have been online pilgrimages to the Holy Land and the Camino de Santiago in Spanish that I have taken part in, but now they have ventured into an English version of the Auschwitz Challenge. It is very thought provoking and gives an opportunity for prayer and reflection as well as understanding aspects of the holocaust and significant people involved. For example in the first couple of days there is reference to Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and the Angel of Budapest, Ángel Sanz Briz. 

The basis of it is a trip from Rotterdam to Auschwitz over 15 days in the presence of Etty Hillesum, whose diary I must admit I knew nothing about and so is a learning exercise for me. The pilgrimage begins in English on 15th September. Details are on the poster and sign up is at

Praying Through the Storm

Sacred Heart church in Hook invite you to join them for a free online Spiritual Talk on 24th September...

These are difficult times and people are searching for answers. In light of the present crisis, we ask the same questions as the disciples: Where do we find hope? To whom do we turn? Where do we find help? In this one hour talk, Fr. Liam and Fr. Yamai, Carmelite priests, explore these questions, drawing insights from Carmelite Spirituality and the guidance of Saint Teresa of Jesus, teaching us how to pray through the storms of life. See the poster for more information and how to sign up.

Alton Day of Renewal

The next Alton Day of Renewal (ADoRE) will be held on Saturday 19th September from 10.00am-12.45pm, including a mini conference for spiritual renewal with Mass, Adoration, praise, prophecy, and an inspiring talk “Here is your mother” from Fr John Seddon, Please register in advance for Zoom here. For more information visit the ADoRE website.

Holiness Despite your Circumstances

I recently received an email from Christine Wohar, the Executive Director of Frassati USA (pictured visiting Luciana Gawronska), which I give below. Christine did an interview with The Catch in which she talks about how she met Luciana, Pier Giorgio’s sister, and how that led her to devote her life to promoting his canonisation. You can listen to this by clicking on the photo. 
Dear Bishop Philip, After my mother’s sudden and unexpected death, my father began visiting her grave every day after Mass. The cemetery was just a few minutes from our home, so this easily became a part of his morning routine and lasted almost 15 years until he went to join her. He would always thank her “for 49 years of Christian marriage” and, using words from his favourite Scriptures, he would pray that she “be in a place where there was no sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4)…where eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and the mind of man cannot imagine what great things God has in store for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). I was blessed to have parents so committed to living the Catholic faith. Early in their marriage, they consecrated our family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and began praying 15 decades of the rosary daily. They sacrificed to put all 10 of us through 12 years of Catholic education. They taught catechism classes, served in various church organizations, and led many people to a deeper relationship with Christ...

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Dr Dudley Plunkett, former Senior Tutor at the Maryvale Institute and parishioner of the Immaculate Conception, Southampton believes that we need the merits and prayers of our martyrs for the revival of the faith in our country. It was this idea that inspired his recent book, The Noble Martyr: a spiritual Biography of St Philip Howard. Here he offers us the latest instalment in his monthly series offering a brief biography of, Here he offers us the latest instalment in his monthly series offering a brief biography of one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales as we approach their feast-day. This time we feature St Ambrose Barlow... 

Though raised a Protestant, he was reconciled to the Church at 22, and professed as a Benedictine monk with the name Ambrose at St Gregory’s Douai in 1614. He returned to England as a priest three years later and worked very fruitfully for 24 years in north-west England...

Diocesan Pastoral Council Update

Fr Mark Hogan, Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation, shares an update in relation to the Diocesan Pastoral Council held last Autumn and what is planned next...

Last autumn we celebrated our first Diocesan Pastoral Council for many years, on the subject of “Reaching Out to Catholics who no longer regularly practise their faith”. It was a great success and offered some wonderful hope for moving forwards. I had wished that by now we would already have long since produced a response, drafted by the council’s core team, with the final version written by Bishop Philip. Little did I, or anyone, know of the events which were about to unfold. I’m afraid that the pandemic has blown us off course somewhat in terms of our timeline and it will now be, God willing, some time this autumn before we’re able to share with you the fruits of that Council. The pandemic has also, however, offered food for thought in terms of our welcome, especially in the digital arena and with new opportunities for us to engage with people outside the normal Mass-going congregation, through our live-streaming as well as our personal and communal acts of kindness in reaching out to our neighbours. I will be meeting with the core team shortly and we will also start looking into our next Council meeting, originally planned for this autumn but to take place some time in 2021. Please keep the Council and its work in your prayers.

Reflecting on Discipleship

Joanna Azavedo-Parker, a parishioner from St Swithun Wells Parish offers a personal reflection on what it means to be a disciple...                   
I’ve been thinking about this word and what it means.  Jesus was made man and lived among us, died for us and asked a handful of people to go out and spread his word.  This isn’t really a difficult concept, but it seems to be difficult right now, in our lives today.   I am a disciple and therefore I need to follow the “rules” of discipleship which to me mean serving rather than being served...

Celebrating the Assumption in Earley

Evelyne Brooks, Catholic Women's Association (CWA) UK President  shares news of joyful celebrations of the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady in Our Lady of Peace parish in Earley, Reading...

The Feast of the Assumption (15th August) this year fell on a Saturday, which we thought would be a great day for a procession. Although Solemnities that land on Saturdays and Mondays are transferred to the Sunday, we still wanted to hold a Votive Mass. Our priest, Fr Stan Gibziński, invited the Catholic Women's Association (CWA), and some Marian devotees, to give this day special honour, including a procession after the Mass. It was wonderful that this idea was so enthusiastically supported by the CWA, and others, who helped make this day so special and enjoyable...

Catenian Corner

Vince Kelly, Publicity and Youth Officer for Portsmouth Catenians brings us the latest news of the virtual  activities of the Portsmouth Circle...

Portsmouth Catenians are continuing to hold Circle meetings and Council meetings on Zoom, which allows all brothers to keep in touch and up to date. Another Quiz was held on Tuesday 18th August, the far- reaching topics included questions on History, Geography, Animals, British Monarchs, and Poetry! The eventual winner was a guest, Harry Harrison, a member of Southampton Circle, which also runs quizzes which are currently alternating with those of Portsmouth. A choice bottle of wine was delivered to Brother Harry (pictured) by the Portsmouth President Nigel Miller, of St Joseph’s Parish Havant, Portsmouth's present Quiz Master...

CAFOD Harvest Fast Day

Jo Lewry invites you to an online meeting to find out about CAFOD’s Harvest fast day in October…

Do join us for an online Harvest fast day meeting on Saturday 12th September from 3pm to 4:30pm. At this meeting Kayode Akintola, who is CAFOD’s programme officer for Sierra Leone will talk about the impact of coronavirus in the communities that he works with and how CAFOD has been supporting them. He will also explore the long-term needs of these impoverished communities. We will also look at the resources for Harvest Fast Day and discuss the creative ways that parishes can fundraise during this pandemic. To register for this meeting please email

There will also be a Regional Meeting for all dioceses in the South East including Arundel & Brighton, Brentwood, East Anglia, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster. This will be on Zoom from 10:30am to 12 noon on Saturday 19th September.  At this meeting Maria Gonzalez, CAFOD’s Head of International Development will talk about her role and give an update on how the money donated to the Coronavirus appeal is making a difference to communities overseas.
Please book through Eventbrite for this meeting

I look forward to welcoming you to one of our online meetings.

Season of Creation 

As we continue the celebration of the Season of Creation which runs from 1st September - 4th October, we continue with a new series of articles to heighten our awareness of Laudato Si' Year, celebrating the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' Encyclical on Care for the Common Home. In this fourth instalment, Anne Dodd from Our Lady's Abingdon considers how this year's season can be celebrated in unusual times...

Coronavirus has altered or cancelled so many plans and arrangements for us all this year and that applies to the planning of how our parish, in Abingdon, marked the Season of Creation which runs from 1st September to 4th October, the feast of St Francis of Assisi. With only 30 parishioners socially distanced at each of the two Sunday Masses, no offertory procession, no singing and no events in the Parish Centre, it was difficult to see how we could use some of the many resources – liturgical and otherwise - available this year...


Mgr. Tom McGrath

This autumn, we bid farewell to Mgr. Tom McGrath, another of our best-known and best-loved priests, who is retiring. Mgr. Tom was an especial support and personal help to me in my early days here in Portsmouth as he was one of the Vicars General, a post he held from 2005 until 2013. It was always good to tap into his wisdom, knowledge and long experience. Tom comes from Ballycotton in Co. Cork and was ordained from St. John’s Seminary, Waterford in 1968. He has served in our Diocese of Portsmouth since 1969...

Eileen Read R.I.P.

Recently when I was visiting Fr. Tom Kleinschmidt omv at St. Boniface’s Shirley, he spoke to me about a well-loved parishioner whose funeral he had just celebrated, Eileen Read.  Here her nephew speaks about her life. May she rest in peace...

Eileen was born in Andover in 1928 and had three brothers. Her father worked for the Post Office, so the family had to move around with his job – to Warminster, Cirencester, Newquay and finally Lymington where he was Head Postmaster until 1959. Eileen left school at 16 and worked initially as a shorthand typist in Cirencester. When the family moved to Newquay in 1946 Eileen left home to attend St Paul’s College in Rugby for teacher training. She spent five years teaching in Walsall and Birmingham then came south to join her parents in Lymington and spent the rest of her teaching career in and around Southampton. When her father retired in 1959 they moved to Shirley, Southampton, where Eileen lived until recently. So began Eileen’s long and happy relationship with the community of Southampton...

Book Recommendation

Can Christians still pray the Our Father in the twenty-first century? We can and we must, according to Gerhard Lohfink, emeritus professor of New Testament at the University of Tübingen, in this new primer on the Lord’s Prayer (Collegeville, Liturgical Press: 2019 [ISBN  9780814663592] pp. 115). Lohfink breaks open its strange phrases like ‘hallowed be thy name’, its off-putting language like ‘Father’ and ‘kingdom’ and its apparently harsh demands like ‘forgive us as we have forgiven those who hurt us’ - all to shed light on Jesus’s original words and their meaning. In eleven short chapters that probe what the prayer meant for Jesus and his first disciples in their world, Lohfink calls us to allow the Our Father to break open our own minds and hearts to its infinite invitation and challenge for our time and for all ages. An ideal book to use for reflection, a chapter a day!

And finally...

We continue our fun feature for you to try and identify some of the clergy of our Diocese of Portsmouth but in their younger forms or from unusual angles... 

Last week's mystery baby was e-News' very own Editor Deacon Craig Aburn when he about six months old. Congratulations to Vickie Chandler, Grania Egan, Maria Burns, Gerry Penfold, Chris Smith, Deacon Stephen Morgan and (thankfully!) Barbara, Nicki, John and Victoria Aburn who all correctly identified him!

This week we test your powers of observation with another visit to our baby vault - but who is this? Just e-mail your answer to Deacon Craig by Friday for a mention next week. 

Please remember to send in any photos of clergy from years gone by or challenging angles from your own collection - and please encourage your own clergy to offer photos of themselves so we can continue this fun feature. Ed.

Diocesan Prayer Intentions

Each day of the year the liturgical calendar gives us a variety of seasons and celebrations of saints. These are outlined in the Diocesan Ordo along with a daily prayer for a diocesan intention. I would like to encourage you to add these intentions to your daily prayers. You can find the daily intentions for September here.

Please pray for the Renewal of the Diocese

During 2020 the Year of the Word and 2021 the Year of the Eucharist, please pray each day the following prayer for the spiritual renewal of all the members of our Diocese of Portsmouth, bishop, clergy, religious and people...


Please pray for...

Please pray for these intentions.  

Click here if you have a prayer intention you would like our Diocesan Intercessory Prayer Team to pray for.
Click here if you have a prayer intention you would like the Sisters at the Adoremus Centre in Alderney (our Powerhouse of Prayer) to pray for.

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Job Opportunities in the Diocese

St John’s Cathedral is seeking a Director of Cathedral Development
(Full time, 35 hours per week)
Competitive salary
(Closing date: Friday 25th September, 12 Noon)

Fleet & Church Crookham Parish is seeking a Parish Secretary
(Full time, 35 hours per week)  
(Closing date: Friday 18th September 2020)

Catholic Home Care is seeking a Part time Assistant Coordinator
(15 hours per week - initial 9 month contract) based in Southampton.
(Closing date: Friday 18th September 2020 at 13:00)

The Grail Community is seeking to appoint a bookkeeper
(Approx 10 hours per week, self-employed) based in Winchester.

Full details of the above vacancies can be found here

Diocesan schools vacancies can be found here.

Share your Good News...

We like to share news of what's happening across the diocese and try to include a broad range of news and reflective articles, but please note:
  • The Editorial Team reserve the right not to use submitted copy. Publication of submitted articles is not guaranteed. 
  • Publication does not necessarily reflect the views of either the Editor nor of the Bishop.
  • The Editorial Team reserve the right to edit any articles prior to publication.
  • Due to space, articles may not be published immediately and may be held in reserve for future use.
Please e-mail all news items and forthcoming events to Deacon Craig Aburn: by Friday for consideration for the following week's issue

Please send news as plain text and images as attachments rather than embedded in a document. Thank you.

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With all good wishes and an assurance of my prayers, 

In Corde Iesu

Bishop of Portsmouth
The next issue of e-News will be on Tuesday 15th September.
Deadline for submission of items for consideration is
Friday 11th September 2020.
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