Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 275 (2020/19)
Tuesday 12th May 2020
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Welcome from Bishop Philip
Dear Friends,
Welcome to e-News for this fifth week of Eastertime. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all the sick and those who care for them, and also with those who have died and their families. As we are in the joyful month of May, let us especially call on the prayers of the Blessed Mother for a speedy end to the coronavirus crisis and a restoration of a 'new normal' of daily life. This week, the Prime Minister has adjusted the lockdown arrangements allowing a bit more freedom: sadly, this has not included the reopening of our churches and it’s important we pray for this intention. Humans are not just ‘bodies’ to be protected or repaired: we are spiritual beings too, with mental, psychological and emotional needs. We need our churches (safely reopened) in order to commune with our Creator and to receive the saving sacraments through which Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour shares with us the gifts of eternal life. In the Diocese, we are now actively thinking about what is needed in order safely to open our churches, at least initially for private prayer. It will require us all, clergy and faithful, to work together generously to enable this. More anon. Meanwhile, my thanks to Deacon Craig for his expert editorship once again – and may God bless you all and keep you safe over these next days. 

Daily Mass with the Bishop

Please join me in the mornings for Eucharistic Adoration, Morning Prayer and Mass in my private chapel in Bishop’s House, Portsmouth. I am live-streaming the Liturgy over these days. The liturgies are simple and I (or Fr. Philip, Bishop’s Secretary) usually offer a short message, inspired by the daily Readings. At the Mass, you are invited to make a Spiritual Communion. Details of how to connect are given on the special page on the Diocesan website here. This is the schedule for the next days: 
Read more and tune in...
Bishop's Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter

Here is the homily I preached last Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, at the 12 noon Mass in the Cathedral.
Friday’s celebration of VE Day, in which we thanked God for the self-sacrifice of those who fought for our freedom, reminded me of Viktor Frankl, a young medic, an Austrian Jew sent to Auschwitz, where for 3 years he endured unspeakable horror and cruelty. In his autobiography The Search for Meaning: Experiences in a Concentration Camp, he describes how it was through reflecting on his sufferings, he developed logo-therapy, a revolutionary new form of psychology.... 

Bishops Respond to Government Plans to ease Lockdown

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales made this statement on Monday 11th May in response to the Government’s plans going forward to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has responded to the government’s document released today, 11 May, titled ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’.

Please continue to...

We appreciate that many of our parishioners may be struggling financially at this time and we keep you in prayer, asking for Our Lady’s intercession that you may receive the support that you need. We are also very grateful to the many people across our parishes who are stepping forward helping in a variety of ways as needed. Thank you.

At this time, we are receiving numerous enquiries from the lay faithful who would like to continue to give financially when we are not able to attend our parishes in person. This is extremely generous of you! You have been enquiring how you might give:

Most of our income is held in bank accounts so standing orders or direct debits are the easiest options for regular giving and you will no longer need to worry about having the right cash on a weekly basis when we are back in our parishes. ​

Regular giving is the financial bedrock of your parish. It also minimises risk and costs the parish less to manage, so your money goes further. If you have online banking you can set this up online, or you can print the Standing Order or Direct Debit form and post it to your bank or parish. If you require a Standing Order or Direct Debit Form please contact us to request a form either electronically or in the post. We can also provide instructions as to how to set this up. You can get in touch by contacting us at or by calling us on 023 9421 6465.

Donations can be made to specific parishes, the diocese centrally or other areas such as the Clergy Training Fund - all of whom will be most grateful for your support. For one off giving opportunities, you could visit  our website and donate using our general or seminarian focussed online giving page.

Thank you for your generosity.

Next Sunday's Gospel

Next Sunday is the Sixth Sunday of Easter and the Gospel is John 14:15-21. You can read Scott Hahn's Sunday reflection here

Deacon Martin writes...

Deacon Martin continues to explore the Sunday Lectionary’s first readings, from the Acts of the Apostles…

Over the last few weeks, I have been looking at the first readings during the Sundays of Eastertide, taken from the Acts of the Apostles – examining what they can show us about how to be the Church today.  The first reading this coming Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Easter (year A), is from Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; it describes the proclamation of Jesus Christ to Samaria.
Jennifer Geach reflects...
Jennifer Geach reflects on how Our Lord came not only to show us the fulfilment of the Law, the most perfect keeping of it, but also ‘that [we] may have life, and have it superabundantly’...

Join us for the Wednesday Webinar

In this week's Wednesday Webinar we shall see how Jesus presents to his disciples the mystery of the Trinity and exhorts them to keep his commandments as their way into this communion of love.  

Read more

Listening to the God who Speaks in Lockdown

Sr Hyacinthe OP, Leader of the Formation for Mission Teams shares news of some useful lockdown resources...

The Dominican sisters invite you to join them everyday (except Sundays!) at 4pm, for a time of sharing and prayer on the Word of God. Each day, we read and ponder together the Gospel given to us in the liturgy of the Word at Mass. Join us by clicking here each day at 4pm.
Also check out the God who Speaks national website for resources for Ascension and Pentecost.

Tomorrow: Our Lady of Fatima

This feast commemorates the visions of Our Lady seen near Fátima in Portugal in 1917 by three shepherd children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The visions occurred on the 13th day of each month from May to October, and by October huge crowds were gathering at the site of the visions and reporting visions and miraculous occurrences themselves.Pope John Paul II was devoted to Our Lady of Fátima and attributed his survival of an assassin’s bullet on 13th May 1981 to her intervention; the bullet is now in her crown. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who died in the great Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919-20, were beatified on 13th May 2000. Relics of them visited our cathedral in 2017, the Centenary Year, along with the National Pilgrim Statue seen in the photograph.

Don't forget to pray the Holy Rosary including the Fatima prayer: O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy and the extra prayers the Holy Father has asked us to say throughout this month.

19th May 1882: Foundation of the Diocese 

Next Tuesday, 19th May, marks the 138th anniversary of the formation of our Diocese of Portsmouth, as we celebrate the feast of the Dedication of our Cathedral Church of St. John the Evangelist. It was on that day in 1882 that Pope Leo XIII created the Diocese of Portsmouth from the western portion of the Diocese of Southwark (founded in 1850). Southwark had become too large for one bishop, extending as it did from London to Bournemouth, and from Oxford to Dover and to the Channel Islands. 

Read more
20th May 1990: Beatification

20th May marks the 30th anniversary of the beatification of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati by Pope St. John Paul II. In this picture he is seen with his sister, Luciana. Luciana, then 87 years old, attended the beatification Mass, together with her six adult children (including Wanda Gawronska) and her many grandchildren. It was the faithfulness and devotion of this sister to her brother that made that day possible. Luciana always believed in her brother. In 1950, Luciana published a book of letters - the English edition is called Letters to His Friends and Family - written by her brother to family and friends, which she sent to Pope Pius XII asking him to further the cause for canonisation. 

Read more
Marriage Week

Paul & Annette O’Beirne from Sacred Heart Fareham write... 

This week 11th-17th May is Marriage Week.  A focus for couples and those who support marriage to enable all couples to have those meaningful conversations.  The theme for Marriage Week is an invitation to reflect on your relationship now, to take stock, to ask where it’s going and what the future might look like whether you’re married or in a relationship.  They have written about Marriage Week, the effect that Teams (Equipes Notre Dame) had on them and about the Marriage Enrichment programme “From This Day Forward”.  This piece which you can read here was originally written for the Diocese of Westminster Marriage and Family Life Ministry.

Outreach to the Unaffiliated

Bishop Robert Barron encourages us all to watch this excellent 25-minute film Outreach to the Unaffiliated. It was produced by the USCCB's Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, of which he serve as the chairman. In the video, you'll hear from expert evangelists and sociologists, as well as young people who don't affiliate with any religion. Bishop Barron is convinced that outreach to the "nones" remains the most pressing evangelical task of our time, and hopes this video sparks new conversations, insights, and ultimately hope around this important task.

Pilgrimage to Oberammergau

Yvette Harrington shares news of the re-arranged pilgrimage to Oberammergau...

Our diocesan pilgrimage to Oberammergau has been postponed until May 2022 because of the pandemic. This has opened up a few places, with both single rooms and double rooms available. If you would like further information please send an email to If you are interested please do not delay getting in touch as our 2020 pilgrimage was fully booked a year in advance and it is likely that the postponed 2022 trip will fill quickly too.

Seminarians in Lockdown

Canon Gerard Flynn shares news of how Parish Priests across the Diocese have been gracious in accommodating our seminarians while their seminaries are closed. The students are able to share in the Mass, the Sacraments and the Prayer of the Church, which are so much part of their daily lives....

Read more
Dominican Sisters in Lockdown

Sr. Veronica OP, share news of the Community at Sway in lockdown...

For nearly 2 months now we have been self isolating (mainly to protect those vulnerable members of the community like Sr. Rosaleen, undergoing chemo and Sr. Margarita who has had a stroke). Effectively we have become enclosed nuns for the duration. But we have a clear routine of prayer, work, fellowship, recreation and study to keep us on track spiritually and mentally... 

Read more
News from Abingdon

Barbara Habayeb, a parishioner of Our Lady & St Edmund, Abingdon shares news of how the parish is spreading the gospel and developing faith using modern technology...

In the early years of the Church, the disciples had to travel many miles, largely on foot, to spread the Good News around the world. Often they faced hardship and persecution – but they didn’t give up...!

News from Bracknell

Mary McNabb, from St. Joseph and St. Margaret Clitherow parish, Bracknell, emailed me the other day about some of their parish initiatives during this time of lockdown. I asked her if I could mention some of the things in Enews …
“Good evening Father, I hope that you are well! Happy VE Day! Such strange times we are living in, aren’t we?  But although our churches are closed, the church is alive! There are so many wonderful initiatives taking place in our parishes to support and unite us all during this time...

CAFOD Appeal
Jo Lewry asks you to support CAFOD’s Coronavirus Emergency Appeal...

We have launched an urgent appeal to respond to the unprecedented global challenge of tackling the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
Urgent Food Donations Needed
Kevin Gallagher, Director of Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth writes about the Caritas Insight Food Project – St. John’s Cathedral and appeals for food donations to support the project...

Over the years the Caritas InSight group has been an amazing success. Operating on a Tuesday at the St John’s Cathedral Discovery Centre, it regularly sees around 30-40 people attend the group on a regular basis. The group offers support, a safe place to socialise and a hot meal, all at no cost. The volunteers behind the group consist of a strong caring passionate team dedicated to supporting vulnerable people in the community.

News from St. Mary’s, Southampton

Fr Michael Peters, Chaplain at St Mary's Independent School in Southampton shares the latest lockdown initiative from the school...

2020 has been made International Year of the Nurse to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth on 12th May. She founded modern nursing and pioneered infection control, and we should show our recognition of the extraordinary work that they  are doing in the fight against coronavirus. She is also famous for her lamp. The inspiration behind my display was that we are asked  by our nursing leaders to ‘shine a light’ to mark International Nurses Day on Tuesday. Why just one  light when so many can shine out, all with one central message: THANKS FROM US TO U ALL (plus 4 stars).

The photo (click it for the full image) shows the ‘White House’ home of the Brothers of Christian Instruction since 1900 and now our Administrative headquarters. They founded the school in 1912.   

News from English Martyrs, Reading

Catherine Doberska, Headteacher at English Martyrs Catholic Primary School, Reading shares how the school has been overcoming barriers to celebrate their Feast Day during lockdown...

In normal times, we would take the whole school down to church to celebrate the Feast of the English Martyrs with our parish community. These are not normal times, with the church doors closed and only a small group of children in school each day. Celebrating our feast day in the normal way was clearly not an option!

Ecclesia Domestica in Lockdown  

Aba Shields, a parishioner of Holy Family Southampton and our Diocesan Marriage and Family Life Project Worker, reflects on the new way of worshipping during the lockdown in Ecclesia Domestica, the Domestic church... 

Families are praying together daily. Self- giving love is on tap. Daily Mass with our Bishop, the Gospel of the day followed by a reflection, the different mysteries of the Holy Rosary around the family altar, Divine Mercy at 3pm, connecting with the schedule of the Sisters of the New Forest plus the 54-day Rosary Novena with the Friars of Gosport - the family is ‘spoilt’ for choice... 

Hymn of the Month for May

Julia Courtney, a parishioner from St Patrick’s Church, Sandown, IoW brings us the latest instalment of her monthly feature for 2020...

The privations and anxieties of lockdown have been accompanied by unexpected blessings. Wildlife is venturing into our cities, traffic noise has been replaced by birdsong, and those of us with gardens are appreciating them more than ever. And in these times of uncertainty, every new day of life and health  is a cause for thanksgiving. Since early times the Church has welcomed the dawn with prayer and praise: as John Keble expressed it in 1822:
New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove.
Through sleep and darkness safely brought
Restored to life and power and thought.

e-Book Recommendation

Here is a book I can recommend by Dr. Stephen Bullivant of St. Mary’s University, Twickenham and it’s FREE! It’s called Catholics in the Time of Coronavirus and is available for free download from the Word on Fire website. It comes with a Foreword by Bishop Robert Barron. Bullivant argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has been, for countless people around the world, a great and unexpected trial. But for Catholics, this trial is not only economic, social, or medical — it is spiritual. Plunged into a time of darkness and separated from the Sacraments and their parish communities, the faithful are feeling isolated, disheartened, and uncertain about what the future holds. This eBook is an insightful and encouraging analysis of the coronavirus, shedding light on the Church’s present moment by referring to similar crises in the past, such as the plague that ravaged Milan during the time of St. Robert Bellarmine and how the Church responded then.  Bullivant also looks to the immediate future and the challenges we will face when our churches will reopen and the public celebration of the liturgy is resumed.

From the Archives
This week we feature the old Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church Hungerford. If you click on this picture from 1945, you can see how it looked in 2009 and click here for a photo of the last Sunday Mass held there  on 12th August 2012 before closure and demolition of the old church. These images are all from the excellent parish history Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church Hungerford: An Illustrated History by Hungerford parishioner Dr Chris J. Carlon, published in April 2020.

[We invite readers to send any photos they have of specific memories from the past. Ed.]

And finally...Who is this?

We continue to feature some of the best known and best loved clergy of our Diocese of Portsmouth – but in their younger forms. But who did this little boy grow up to be? (Click on the picture for a fuller version.) Just e-mail your answer to Deacon Craig by Friday for a mention. Don't forget to send in any photos of clergy from years gone by from your own collection to feature in a future issue!

The mystery priest in issue 274 meeting Pope St John Paul II was Monsignor James JoyceCongratulations to Canon Simon Thomson, Canon Gerard Flynn, Fr David Quarmby, Fr Tony Pennicott, Fr Patrick Tansey, Deacon Nick Reynolds, Mary Holland, Georgina Shipman, Maria Wilman and the Dominican Sisters at Wokingham who correctly identified him. See how you get on with this week's mystery cleric. 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. The daily intentions for May can be found here.    

Please Pray for...

Please pray for these intentions.  

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

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 Powerhosue of Prayer) to pray for.

Donate to the Diocese of Portsmouth

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:
  • Submission of copy does not guarantee publication of an article. 
  • Publication does not necessarily reflect the views of either the Editor or 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 by Friday for consideration for the following week's issue to Deacon Craig Aburn:

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 19th May.
Deadline for submission of items for consideration is
Friday 15th May 2020.
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