Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 289 (2020/33)
Tuesday 15th September 2020
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Welcome from Bishop Philip
Welcome to e-News for this week – and thanks to Deacon Craig for assembling it. “Come back to me, says the Lord” is the title of the Pastoral Letter I sent out this last weekend: you can read it below - and by following the video, even see and hear me delivering it! The message is very similar to that of Cardinal Robert Sarah in his letter to Bishops. The Year of God’s Word continues and there are opportunities to grow in our knowledge love for the scriptures in the Wednesday Webinar and by reflecting on Scott Hahn’s commentary on next Sunday’s Gospel. Let’s not forget too that this is currently the “Season of Creation” and this week Maureen Thompson from Havant parish has a few pointers to help us. Our prayers for Deacon Pat O’Connell as he retires and our congratulations to the Sisters at Sway. Finally, who is that baby? May God bless you over the week ahead, and especially today on this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
‘Come back to me’ says the Lord

Last Sunday, I released a Pastoral Letter to the Diocese addressed to all baptised Catholics, including those not practising, to encourage them, if they can, to come back to Mass and the Sacraments. Our parishes are COVID-safe and whether we attend on a weekday or a Sunday, what is really important, especially during the crisis of this pandemic, is that we are nourished and strengthened by the grace of the Lord in His Sacraments and by the witness of the Eucharistic community. Attending online is a huge bonus but it is not the same as actually participating in the Liturgy with our brothers and sisters and receiving Holy Communion. In the Letter, I also appealed for helpers to ensure our churches can be kept open for prayer and for the Liturgy. I wrote too to our clergy to thank them and their parishioners for all their great work in keeping the churches open and safe, and to encourage some creative thinking (e.g. with Mass times) on how to make it possible especially for young families to return. Click below for the text of the Pastoral Letter or above to watch a video recording. Let us pray for a speedy end to the pandemic, for the sick, for medical staff and for the invention of an effective and ethically-sourced vaccine. 

Read the Pastoral Letter here...

The Rule of Six

How are our churches affected by the recent government guidance on the ‘rule of six’? From Monday 14 September, we are not allowed to meet socially with people from other households in groups of more than 6. This applies indoors and outdoors, including in private homes and gardens. The change is meant to simplify and clarify the rules on social gatherings, to make them easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce. Our churches meanwhile are COVID-19 secure venues, and so can host larger numbers and operate as before. Weddings and funerals are still be able to proceed with up to a maximum of 30 participants. Sacramental programmes, ministry to the sick and housebound and the use of our parish halls for children’s liturgy and welcome activities can also continue but they will need to be re-thought to ensure they fit within the COVID-safety requirements and the new guidance. Our diocesan Support and Administration Service is currently in touch with parishes to answer questions and to offer the appropriate advice. Updated guidance is also being sent to parishes. 

Mass of St. John Henry Newman

Earlier this year, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales petitioned the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments to elevate the memorial of St. John Henry Newman (9th October) in England and Wales to the rank of a feast. This request and the recognitio for the new texts has now been granted. You can read and pray through the new texts promulgated for use at Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours by clicking here. (Note the splendid summary of his life for the Liturgy of the Hours and the fine extract from one of Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons for use at the Office of Readings.) The optional memorials of St. Denis and Companions and that of St. John Leonardi normally assigned to 9th October are now transferred in our National Calendar to 10th October. Meanwhile, here is the Collect from the Mass to pray now: O God, who bestowed on your Priest, Saint John Henry Newman, the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fullness of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Letter from Cardinal Robert Sarah

Last week, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, wrote a letter to the Presidents of all the Episcopal Conferences of the Church, called “Let us return to the Eucharist with Joy! Letter on the Celebration of the Liturgy during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.” In it, he encourages everyone to return to church, to our Eucharistic Communities and above all, to Christ.
Click here to read this impressive letter

Prayer for Today

Today, Tuesday 15th September, is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Click on the picture for Cardinal Vincent to lead us in the following prayer:
O most holy Mother, Queen of Sorrows, who followed your beloved Son through all the Way of the Cross, and whose heart was pierced with a fresh sword of grief at all the stations of that most sorrowful journey, obtain for us, we beseech you, O most loving Mother, a perpetual remembrance of our Blessed Saviour’s Cross and Death, and a true and tender devotion to all the mysteries of his most holy Passion. Obtain for us the grace to hate sin, even as he hated it in the agony in the garden; to endure wrong and insult with all patience as he endured them in the judgement hall; to be meek and humble in all our trials as he was before his judges; to love our enemies even as he loved his murderers, and prayed for them upon the Cross; and to glorify God and to do good to our neighbour, even as he did in every mystery of his suffering. O Queen of Martyrs, who by the Dolours of your Immaculate Heart on Calvary, merited to share the Passion of our Most Holy Redeemer, obtain for us some portion of your compassion, that for the love of Jesus crucified, we may be crucified to the world in this life, and in the life to come may, by his infinite merits and your powerful intercession, reign with him in glory everlasting. Amen.

Stabat Mater

Today, Tuesday 15th September, is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows and at Mass, a ‘sequence’ can be (optionally) included before the Gospel reading. The sequence is the Stabat Mater, a 13th-century hymn in honour of Our Lady that portrays her suffering as Mother of Christ during the Crucifixion. Its author is traditionally said to be the Franciscan friar Jacapone da Todi (1230–1306). The Stabat Mater has been set to music by various composers including Palestrina, Vivaldi, Haydn and Pergolesi. It is familiar to many of us from the Stations of the Cross during which we sing a verse or two as we process between each station. Click on the picture to hear it sung in the version from the 1961 Liber Usualis (as in the picture), a version perhaps less familiar to many. It is sung by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Maurice et Saint Maur de Clervaux. (For a recent poetic translation by Desmond Fisher, see here)

Second Collections

I am conscious that many people in the Diocese wish to donate to the good causes that usually come before us by means of a Second Collection at Mass. This year, many of these charities and groups have suspended their appeals because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, a special page is being developed on the Diocesan website to facilitate donations for those who wish. Jo Lewry from CAFOD is keen to remind us that this year CAFOD Harvest Family fast day  has moved to Friday 9th October with the weekend for the collection being the 10th and 11th October. She says “During these times when our people and parishes could be struggling, it can be easy to forget our brothers and sisters in the wider and poorest parts of the world.” Please do support this appeal and pray for those in need. There are also three appeals from the Holy Father. The first is for the Holy Places of Palestine. This would normally have been taken on Good Friday, but the pope postponed it this year to the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, 14th September, and so it is due this week. Then on 4th October weekend, there is the Peter’s Pence appeal to support the Holy See, and on 18th October, World Mission Sunday when a collection is to be taken for Missio, the Pontifical Mission Society. To make things easier we will be developing some online giving pages focussed on each of the second collections. The first of which will be available on the website this weekend. In advance, thank you for your generosity.

Next Sunday's Gospel

Next Sunday is 25th Sunday of the Year and the Gospel is Matthew 20:1-16. You can read Scott Hahn's reflection on the Sunday readings here.

Join us for the Wednesday Webinar 

In next Sunday's Gospel Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the labourers in the vineyard as an illustration of the abundant, though often mysterious, grace of God. God’s ways are not our ways, the Prophet Isaiah tells us – and the parable of the labourers in the vineyard certainly seems to be proof of that. Jesus tells us that the last will be first, and the first last, because God’s generosity in the plan of salvation is limited neither by time or by human notions of justice. Those who have been labouring for the least amount of time in the vineyard are paid the same wage by the landowner as those who have been labouring for the longest: not because the landowner is unfair, but to show that the gifts of God are to be given abundantly to all who seek them.

Read more here...
The Year of the Word continues 

In the Diocese we are currently keeping special these years (2019-2021) as a time of spiritual renewal. This first year following the national initiative is being extended into 2021. It is devoted to the Word of God, the God Who Speaks. It’s a ‘Year of the Bible,’ when we are encouraged to promote the Bible and renew the place of the Word of God at the very centre of our Catholic life and mission. It is up to each parish, community, school, family and individual to decide how best to celebrate this Year of the Word. In the Diocese, the Year forms the first phase of a period of spiritual renewal to be followed next year by a ‘Year of the Eucharist.’ Soon we will some details and pointers for a Year in which we are invited to renews our love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, as the Source of our mission and service. I am especially grateful to the Dominican Sisters and the Formation for Mission Team led by Sr. Hyacinthe, for their work supporting us. Click on the picture to connect to the special page on the diocesan website which gives us many ways to engage with the Year of Word. There are a number of resources and events being planned. You might like the “Fish with Mark” and “Whistlestop Tour of Mark” posters. Moreover, with all the necessary adaptations needed to keep safe during the pandemic, Sr. Hyacinthe is still running the popular Readers Workshops.

Thought for the Week
“In parishes and dioceses, we measure output, all the things we are doing. We often talk positively about the activities and works in which we engage. Unfortunately, we rarely stop to ask ourselves if we are effective. What are the outcomes? Does what we do make a difference? Are we moving the ball down the field when it comes to our fundamental mission: making missionary disciples?” (Fr. James Mallon Beyond the Parish).
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Have you considered Alpha?

Liz Eastham, Alpha Coordinator in the parish of St Peter and the Winchester Martyrs invites you to join them from Monday 21st September as they take the Alpha Course online whilst social distancing remains a necessity...

At some stage of our lives, everyone wrestles with the big questions of life. Questions about hope, purpose, meaning, love… Alpha is a series of sessions, typically over eleven weeks, designed to explore the basics of the Christian faith in a relaxed and interactive way. The course creates a space online or in person where ‘friends bring friends’ to a conversation about faith, life and God which is authentic and unforced. Each session includes the welcome, a talk, and small group discussions. As we are online, everyone is invited and all are welcome to join from wherever they find themselves. Click on the image for more information.

40 Days for Life

Fr Philomeno James, one of the Gosport Friars, encourages us to support 40 Days for Life...

Ave Maria. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we see the immolation of Jesus Christ on Calvary. This is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where innocent blood was shed, the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What would you say if we said that there was the shedding of innocent blood and thousands of crucifixions on our door steps every day? We speak of the modern day Calvary, the centres where our brothers and sisters, the unborn are sacrificed on the altar of convenience and choice. This is the irony today, where those who advocate choice, deny the choice of the mother to change her mind in a crisis pregnancy and decide for life. We also know that in the UK, Calvary has now moved to the domestic homes with new barbaric laws which allow DIY Abortions, which see the mothers scarred emotionally for life. Just a few weeks ago we heard about the death of two mothers who died as a result of DIY abortions.

Read more here...
Fr. Mike Schmidtz on the Fear of Coronavirus

Click on the picture for a brief video message from Fr. Mike Schmidtz. In it, he addresses the fear that is very much around at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Wearing masks, not wearing masks” he says, “and all the mixed emotions that have come with the coronavirus reveal that—as a society—we lack freedom from the fear of death. Maybe you know someone who has died from the virus, or someone who lost their livelihood due to the lockdown. Many are wondering when they can safely go out again, or when they can they go back to Mass. In fact, the coronavirus is revealing the fear of not just death, but also the fear of loss, uncertainty, and insecurity. In these strange times, it is encouraging to remember the One who conquered death. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read: ‘Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage’ (Hebrews 2:14-15). In a world without Jesus, death ought to be feared because it is a separation from life and everything good. But Christ has transformed life and death. This does not mean suffering and grief simply do not matter, but in our suffering, we have hope that death is not the end. Living life is risky. But the meaning of life is so much more than avoiding death. Frankly, some things are worse than death and some things are more important than our lives on earth. We are called to embrace the risks of life and to live in hope … while still taking reasonable health precautions.”

‘Lift-Off’ at Sacred Heart House 

Last Saturday, I went over to Fareham to see how our new students at Sacred Heart House are settling in. Here they are: John, Francis and Nathan, pictured with Fr. John Cooke. The students arrived last Tuesday (8th September) and so are still finding their feet. Everyone has been amazingly generous to them. Three of our priests have kindly donated copies of the three-volume Divine Office for them to use and the parishioners have given a warm welcome. Please pray for them. The students are at Sacred Heart House in order to undertake a year of spiritual preparation before admission to the major seminary. The Church expects this first stage of formation “to provide a solid basis for the spiritual life, including acquiring an initial and overall familiarity with Christian doctrine by studying and by developing the dynamic of self-giving through experiences in the parish setting and in charitable works.” The parish setting at Fareham is ideal. Last year, three of our seminarians spent their first months doing all this at Mater Sacerdotum, the house of formation attached to Shrewsbury Cathedral. Canon Gerard Flynn, Vocations Director, will be the Formation Director of this new programme and Fr John Cooke, Vocations Promoter, the host parish priest. Other laity and clergy of the Diocese will be working with our Vocations Team to support the new men. Please pray earnestly for them, for all our seminarians and for an increase in vocations.

How can we reach out to the Non-Religious?

How as Catholics might we reach out with the Gospel to the non-religious, the many people in our society today who say they are indifferent or not interested in religion? Recent surveys suggest that almost 50% say they do not believe in God. What are the reasons for this? Is there any way we can fan a spark of faith into a flame thus bringing the Gospel of Christ? I am currently a Bishop Member of two departments of the Bishops’ Conference: the Department for Education and Formation (responsible for Catholic schools, promoting Catholic education and encouraging vocations) and the Department of Evangelisation and Discipleship, responsible for mission, catechesis and the new evangelisation. In this latter Department, I am the Chair of the Mission to the Non-Religious Team. We met last week and benefitted from an excellent presentation on youth ministry from none other than our own Sarah Keogh, the Chaplain to Oaklands School. Sarah is one of the Team members, a panel of experts who study trends in religious practice and the reasons given for non-religion, agnosticism, atheism and indifference. The ultimate aim is to develop new means and strategies of mission, projects and outreach to the 'nones'.The Team seeks to support Catholic individuals, schools, parishes and dioceses in sharing good practice in proclaiming the Gospel to nones from the experience of local initiatives and groups already working in this field. Please pray for the work of this group – and for the Holy Spirit to be given abundantly in our society that many more people may reach Jesus Christ through His Church.

The Caritas InSight Project

Last week, I called in on the Mental Health Project InSight, which has been a great success, running in the Discovery Centre here at the Cathedral for the last four years. The project has been supported by our diocesan Caritas. InSight offers support and friendship for anyone who is feeling isolated, lonely or suffering mental health problems. All are welcome. It offers a safe place to relax, enjoy activities, meet new friends and share a meal. The meeting takes place every Tuesday. Pre-COVID, it ran from 10.30 am til 1 pm, offering a range of activities including art, craft and board games, plus the opportunity to chat. The meeting concludes with a popular two-course hot lunch. Because of the pandemic, though, the morning group activities are not taking place, but lunch certainly is. There were almost 40 people there last Tuesday – it was a roast dinner! - including a number of homeless. The meal was served for eating outside or for taking away. In the picture are some of the helpers, including Kevin Gallagher, Director of Caritas and Sue Cregan, the organiser. If you wish to know more about InSight or would be willing to volunteer, email the Caritas Team.

Zooming with Jesus and with Others

Fr Tom Grufferty, until recently Bishop's Personal Chaplain to Headteachers and Principals shares news of how a group from the diocese and beyond gathered for virtual prayer during lockdown. He writes...
For 23 Sundays a group of us have met for a Liturgy of the Word. It was clear from the first meeting that a community of Catholics was being formed in prayer, in fellowship and in love. The foundations of this community were chiefly based in the Parish of Havant and Emsworth where most of the members lived. For most meetings there were over 25 households on Zoom with sometimes over 40 participants. Members ranged mostly in the over 50’s but we had young people as well, including children taking a full part in the liturgies. We had people from Basingstoke to Goring-by-Sea in West Sussex and even a granddaughter from Birmingham!

News from Christchurch

Matthew Betts, a parishioner of St Joseph’s Church in Christchurch shares news of a new book he has edited: ‘God in the time of COVID-19’ ... 

The Carmelites in Britain have published a new book called ‘God in the time of COVID-19’, which is now available to order. This little book of articles and reflections is offered as a way of maintaining a connection and of nurturing the interior life. The reflections were originally written online, but many of these articles are now available in this book. There is a wide range of styles, content and approaches to suit the widest range of readers and all tastes. Writers include Deacon Hugh Parry, and also, Fr Kevin Alban, O.Carm; Fr Brendan Grady, O.Carm; Fr Nicholas King, SJ; and many more.  Perhaps in future months and years it will remind us of what we were doing and reading in 2020.
Order your copy today online. Members of Portsmouth Diocese ordering via the online shop will receive 10% off the book and any other items purchased by using the code ‘1593’ at the checkout. Alternatively you can order by sending a cheque for £4.50 (incl a donation for P&P) to PO Box 289, FAVERSHAM, Kent, ME13 3BZ or you can call 01795 539 214 and donate with a credit/debit card.

CAFOD's Cancel the Debt Campaign

Maureen Thompson CAFOD Portsmouth Campaigns Volunteer Coordinator explains how you can get involved in the Cancel the Debt campaign...

We can a join together and take action by supporting the  latest campaign #CancelTheDebt. This campaign is not a direct response to the plundering of the world resources but much of the injustice the Pope is highlighting are the reasons the countries are poor, and now more than ever they need help to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Many of the world’s poorest nations are struggling with the double impact of the global health pandemic and its economic impact. Many are facing a potential crisis as they struggle to pay their debts owed to financial institutions and richer nations...

Live Simply Award

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. This week, Maureen Thompson from St Joseph and St Thomas Parish in Havant and Emsworth tells us about the Live Simply Award...

In this 5th anniversary year of Laudato Si', the Pope is calling for a “Jubilee” time for the Earth, for humanity, and for all God’s creatures. We have been dwelling on this for some time, but this devastating pandemic has shown us even more the connectivity of the earth and all humanity- it’s time to focus on “ecological conversion” in “action”.


Deacon Pat O’Connell

This autumn, Deacon Pat O’Connell from St. Joseph’s Basingstoke is retiring from active ministry. Deacon Pat, who is married to Cherry and has two children, came originally from County Kerry in the Republic of Ireland. A qualified psychologist, he underwent formation for the permanent diaconate at St. John’s Seminary Wonersh and was ordained here at the Cathedral by Bishop Crispian on 24th June 2007. He has ministered principally in the parish of St. Joseph’s. Since 2010, he has been an invaluable member of the Diaconate Formation Team as the advisor and psychological assessor of aspirants. In 2015, he joined the Bishop’s Office for the Support of the Clergy and has been working with Canon Paul Townsend VG and Vicar for Clergy as the coordinator of pastoral supervisors. Grateful for his service of the Lord and His Church, we wish him every grace and blessing in the years ahead, with better health and much joy. Deacon Pat is retiring within the Diocese, at least for the immediate future, and will continue to assist in various ways, so we look forward to seeing him often in the times ahead.

Congratulations Sisters!

Sr. Marie Dominic and Sr. Máire Cooey, the two new Dominican Novices at St Joseph's Priory in Sway reflect on their recent clothing ceremony...

Sunday 6th September was an occasion of great joy for the Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph, Sway, as their two Irish postulants, Lorraine Buckley and Cíara Fowler, started their canonical novitiate by being clothed in the habit of the Order of Preachers and were given the religious names of Sr. Marie Dominic and Sr. Máire Cooey...


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 Fr Paul Leonard, Priest in Charge at Sacred Heart Hook. Congratulations to Maggie Wood who 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)

The Diocese of Portsmouth is seeking a Financial Controller (12 month contract)
(Full time, 35 hours per week, Monday to Friday) based in Portsmouth
£45-50,000 per annum depending on experience plus contributory pension
Closing date for applications: Tuesday 29th September at 1300 hrs

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 22nd September.
Deadline for submission of items for consideration is
Friday 18th September 2020.
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