TWO IMPORTANT FEAST DAYS THIS WEEK
 On Tuesday 9th February we celebrate the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita. Born in Sudan, as a young girl she was captured, trafficked to Egypt and sold (and abused) as a slave. Eventually rescued by the Italian Consul and taken to Italy, she was baptised and heard the call of God to become a Canossian Nun in Venice. She lived simply, lovingly and humbly. She carried all her life the physical and emotional scars of her slavery and trafficking and during her last painful illness so often cried out – ‘break these chains’. She is the patron saint of all victims of slavery and human trafficking, which is horrifyingly on the increase. There are estimated to be at least 300,000 enslaved and trafficked people in UK today! About 30% are white British, about 30% are children trapped in ‘County Lines’ used to move drugs around the country and sell them, or deliver them to dealers. There has been an increase in trafficking through Portishead, in Weston-super-Mare, Highbridge and amy other part of our diocese. David Maggs and I currently represent the diocese of Bath & Wells and Clifton Diocese (respectively) on the ‘Avon & Somerset Anti-Slavery Partnership’. As a parish we look forward to working once again and more closely with the Clewer Initiative to combat slavery and trafficking in our own city of Bristol.
 Thursday 11th February we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick. Lourdes as perhaps the greatest Healing Shrine in the Catholic world is a prophetic sign to the Church that everywhere we are called to be a healing community, a healing presence in a world of brokenness, sickness and inner turmoil. We are called in the now famous words of Pope Francis to be God’s ‘field hospital’ – open and welcoming, holding and healing for the broken and wounded of our world. A place of belonging for the lonely and isolated, a place of patient listening and healing compassion, a place of faith in the wholeness of humanity. Let us pray for all health and care workers and researchers and all the sick.