Below are a few interesting news items from this week’s Bulletin. To download the full version of our latest Bulletin, please go to our Bulletin page. Thank you.
THOUGHT FOR THE FEAST OF THE JESUS CHRIST, UNIVERSAL KING YA
King? or Servant? or Shepherd? or Prophet?
This is a King without ‘subjects’ for He wants no-one inferior to Him. That is why is comes as a servant, even a slave! That is why He spends His time healing and encouraging. That is why He gently guides and leads as a Good Shepherd and lays down his life for His flock – us! That is why He challenges all in authority to be servants and not dominators, serving the Divine Reign of radical justice, courageous peace and revolutionary love!
So how do we share His Reign? By being like him – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, healing the sick and visiting the prisoner. This is a King who radically redefines Kingship! This is a King who enters the human heart and works a revolution of love in the one place that no ideology and power can ever reach – the still centre-point of our being where we are most God-like!
This King is a shepherd, a servant, a prophet: this King alone is worthy of out total allegiance – that is how we are set forever free!
SYNOD ASSEMBLY 2023 REPORT Our parish made a very considered contribution to the Global Synod Process (and are embedding ‘synodality’ into our parish’s discernment and decision-making). Today the official Synthesis of the Assembly deliberations is being brought up in the Offertory of the Mass, and you can read/download the Synthesis Report with this link: https://www.synod.va/content/dam/synod/assembly/synthesis/english/2023.10.28-ENG-Synthesis-Report_IMP.pdf
ISRAEL-PALESTINE WAR – A CALL TO PRAYER AND HUMANITY The horror of this war between Israel and Palestine is increasing with the population of Gaza (2 million people) on the verge of starvation and only one hospital functioning at even a minimal level. THIS MUST STOP NOW! Thankfully there is a brief respite in the fighting – let us pray that this might develop into a full scale cease fire providing the opportunity for a peace settlement that might last! World leaders must act to bring this horror to an end. The overwhelming number of victims on both sides are women and children. Each side are conducting war crimes. PLEASE PRAY AND ACT FOR PEACE IN THE LAND WE CALL ‘HOLY’!
CALLING PARENTS OF CHILDREN TO PREPARE FOR FIRST EUCHARIST IN JUNE 2024
Parents seeking the First Eucharist for their children are asked to register their child (need to be 7 years old before May 2024) and attend a parents meeting on Thursday 6th December at 6.00pm in the Assisi Centre. Registration forms back by Monday 4th Dec at the latest.
PROPOSED AREA HOUSE MASSES With work schedules, distance from St Nick’s church and traffic congestion in Bristol, attendance at weekday Mass has fallen considerably. Yet the Eucharist is the heart of our community and the source of energy for our Mission. It is the praying foundation supporting all we do and are as a Parish Community. We recognise that we are a very dispersed parish community many if not most living some distance from our church. This can undermine our sense of community. So the PPC proposes that we have regular House Masses (eventually one each week in a different part of Bristol), to gather parishioners in that part of Bristol and build community and sharing around the Eucharist. The development of the database and also completing the location ‘dots’ on the Map in the church will help in developing this pastoral initiative. If you are willing to host a House Mass in your area, inviting other parishioners living locally, please let Margaret or Richard know.
A SERVICE OF CAROLS AND READINGS WITH BRISTOL’S LBGTQ+ COMMUNITY On December 10th at 3.00pm St Nick’s is hosting LGBTQ+ Christians in the Bristol coming together for a Service of Advent Carols and Readings including the Sunday Eucharist, followed by refreshments. All are very welcome to share this event.
BAPTISMAL PREPARATION FOR PARENTS Our next Baptismal Sunday will be the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 14th January. Parents seeking the baptism of their child on that day please contact Eustace Tameh or Richard soon as possible.
FUNERAL MASS FOR CAROLINE PRICE RIP Caroline had requested that her Funeral Mass be at St James Priory (by the bus station) and will be at 12.30pm Friday Dec 1st. It will be a very ecumenical celebration. Her burial will be at a place she greatly loved – Llanmadoc in the Gower, South Wales. She also requested that after the Mass at St James we share food and memories together. All are most welcome.
THE PARISH DATABASE The Parish Pastoral Council seeks to create a comprehensive database to include all our parish members. Today forms will be distributed asking for some essential information – names of all family members, address with postcode, telephone and email contact details etc.The purpose of this is to enable effective pastoral care, community building and effective communication. The information given will be used solely for internal parish and pastoral reasons and will not be divulged to any other party. Please sign the forms giving your permission for us to hold your details on our database – this is essential for compliance with GDPR (Data Protection legislation). THANK YOU!
CAFOD WORLD GIFTS THIS CHRISTMAS Why not give a friend or family a gift that benefits the poorest of our world. Jesus is not honoured by lavish gifts to each other – when you give someone a CAFOD World Gift, you are giving to Jesus who identified himself with the poor who benefit from your Gift. ‘Whatever you do to the least of my sisters and brothers you do to me!’ The catalogues for these CAFOD World Gifts are in the porch.
IMPORTANT CHANGES TO PARISH CAR PARKING AND FUND-RAISING
On Tuesday 17th October, the company ‘YourParkingSpace’ is installing a car registration recognition camera at the entrance to the parish and Dunstan centre car park, together with signs giving full instructions of how to pay digitally for daily or weekly parking. Those who are already contracted with the parish for parking are not affected, but all others who wish to park there will need to comply with the instruction panels. There will be fines issued to those who park without paying or a contract with the parish. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT PARISHIONERS NOTE THE FOLLOWING: This system operates from Monday to Friday 24 hours, but does not operate on Saturdays and Sundays. Also all parishioners parking because of attending weekday Mass, parish meetings, volunteering or coming to the parish office or presbytery will be exempt from parking charges or fines – provided they register their car number plate in the church or parish office. We have no intention of charge parishioners for parking here on parish business or for worship.
JOURNEY OF FAITH We will not be meeting until the New Year and we hope to negotiate away and time that is better suited to participants. We continue to invite all who wish to consider becoming Catholics to come to this meeting (and contact Richard before hand); together with those who wish to explore their faith more, Catholic adults who have not been confirmed in the Holy Spirit and all who desire a ‘renewal’ of faith and commitment.
ST NICK’S SCHOOL NEWS Reception Class September 2024
Are you looking for a place for your child in Reception class in September 2024, or know of anyone who is, then please do come along to our Reception open mornings. This is a chance for you see our caring and inclusive school in action. If you are unable to attend on the dates below, please do call the school office (01173772260) and book a convenient time – every day is an open day!
Thursday 7th December 9.30am – 11.30am
STARTING SCHOOL? If you have a child born between 1 Sept 2019 & 31 August 2020, now is the time to apply for a place at a primary school for admission from September 2024 onwards. You must complete an application form available from the school admissions team of the Local Council (Bristol/North Glos, Banes etc). If your child has been baptised and you are applying for a Catholic school, you must also provide a copy of the baptism certificate to the school. Please ensure you apply by the closing date of 15 January 2024.
GOD’S CALL TO SERVE THE LIFE AND MISSION OF YOUR PARISH It is very clear that our parish, together with all churches and voluntary organisations around the country, has not yet recovered fully from the effects of the Covid Pandemic and the restrictions placed upon our meeting together during that time. A significant number of our community are not coming to Mass here for a variety of reasons. It is a joy to welcome new families and individuals who have found their way to St Nicks. However there has been great difficulty in drawing members of the parish into being part of the many ministries and tasks of the parish. Whether it is the SVP, the welcoming Ministry, Church Cleaning, the Foodbank, Catechists, too few are doing too much in support of the parish’s life and mission. We are all called by our baptism to serve and build the Church as a mission community. We are all called to sacrifice time and energy to build our parish community and supports the Mission of Christ entrusted to us. I realise only too well that many have heavy commitments caring for children or elderly family members and juggling work and family. They are indeed serving Christ in these ways. But I do ask everyone to reflect whether some time can be given to sustain the parish’s life and mission as we move towards a lay-led parish. This will be a great challenge for all of us. Please pray about this urgent need in building the future of our unique parish.
ST NICK’S AND COMMITMENT TO ‘SYNODALITY’ We have played our part in contributing to the Church’s world-wide ‘Synod’, as last year we gathered in different groups to listen to one another and share our thoughts and feelings about being part of the Catholic Church. The result was a 60 page report (which remains on our parish website for all to read) which we sent not only to our Bishop but also to those overseeing the Synod in the Vatican in Rome. But this is only the beginning! For the first time the ‘International Synod of Bishops’ in October in Rome will include 70 non-bishops (clergy, religious, lay men and lay women) with full voting rights. This is a very significant step forward – but there is a long way to go yet! But what is equally important is that your Parish Pastoral Council is committed to finding ways of embedding ‘Synodality’ in the life and ‘governance’ of our parish community – prayerful listening to one another in order to discern what the Spirit is saying to us in our parish about the way forward into a future different from the past yet fully alive with Prayer, Community and Mission. The Synod’s working document emphasises that those who experience being excluded from church life “are bearers of Good News that the whole community needs to hear” and that “whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God.”
WHAT IS OUR COVENANT WITH THE POOR? In preparation for the great Millenium of year 2000 the Bishops of England and Wales asked every parish to draw up and make a ‘Covenant with the Poor’. As part of our parish’s Covenant we pledged to pray regularly for Justice & Peace, to serve the homeless and poor who come in increasing numbers to our extensive Food Bank and the Wild Goose Café and to encourage parishioners to volunteer time and energy to work in the Food Bank and the Wild Goose Café; and also to give non-perishable food (especially rice, pasta, tinned fruit and tomatoes, tinned fish and meat etc) and/or money (in special envelopes) to be used for the poor. This food and money goes to support our ministry among the poor of our area. During Lockdown this as greatly expanded and very many people inn Bristol are supporting us, in addition to our parishioners. We also founded and developed our Borderlands Charity (‘from exclusion to belonging’) to serve our asylum & refugee community that has remained serving throughout the periods of Lockdown. In normal times, the Offertory Procession at Mass regularly sees gifts to be shared with the poor and vulnerable, carried to the Altar (restoring the ancient meaning of the Offertory Procession). So the Covenant with the Poor that we renew solemnly at each Patronal Feast of St Nicholas of Tolentino (early September) has continued to grow and develop and as such has shaped the life, mission and witness of our parish community. The development of the ministry of the Parish Office has enabled us to develop our ‘Option for the Poor’ in obedience to the Gospel Let us praise God for such rich grace and love poured out upon our community, and though our community to many in their need.
FOODBANK There is a significant increase in demand for our Parish Foodbank since teh cost of living crisis kicked in. Please deliver your gifts either during Mass on Sunday or to the Parish Office at the Assisi Centre. What kind of things? Long-life milk and juices, small jars of coffee, tins of meat, fish, vegetables, tinned tomatoes baked beans, soups, custard and fruit; packets of rice, pasta, cereals; jars of pasta sauce, ketchup, mayonaise, packet soups; toilet rolls, bars of soap, toothpaste, and other toiletries. You are helping us to meet a vital need, making practical in these difficult times ‘love of our neighbour’ and ‘God’s Option for the Poor’. Please be as generous as you can. Thank you in the name of all whom we are serving.
LOVE THE CHRIST OF THE POOR – WORDS OF ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM “Would you honour the Body of Christ? Do not despise His nakedness; do not honour him here in church clothed in silk vestments and then pass him by unclothed and frozen outside. Remember that He who said ‘This is my Body’ also said ‘You saw he hungry and gave me no food’. I am insisting that nothing can take the place of care for the poor. What use is it to adorn the altar with gold cloths and deny Christ a coat for his back? He would be outraged!”
MEN AND WOMEN EQUAL IN MINISTRY There are many charisms and ministries in the Body of Christ – each one of us, young and old, male and female, lay and clergy, and whatever our gender identity – all of us are ‘beloved children of the Father’, each of us is gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve, to proclaim, to build the missionary Body of the Christ and to transform the world. In our parish we are moving towards a parish community led and served by predominantly lay ministry, served and supported by the ordained ministry including a part-time (non-resident) priest. We are committed as a parish to promote, empower and train many different forms of ministry. The ministry of women and men are equally valued, the ministry of lay people and ordained deacons and priests are equally valued. All of us over 40 years old have almost certainly grown up in a church that has neglected and minimised the ministries of lay people. We are still in a clergy (and therefore male) dominated church and this has caused major problems while being unfaithful to the New Testament. Some ministries are denied to women (and not just ordained ministries) … therefore there is an urgent need to enable voices of women to be heard, their gifts to be recognised and their ministries to be released, for the good of the whole Church and its Mission and witness. This is to correct the imbalance and injustice that has been the norm for centuries. Please do not misinterpret this as diminishing or demeaning the ministries of our brothers, lay or ordained. We are all called to work together for the Kingdom as equal partners in the Lord’s work.
IS GOD CALLING YOU TO FOSTER OR ADOPT A CHILD? 109 children are taken ‘into Care’ each day in this country! 109 children everyday looking for security, for a home where they can belong and thrive. Also there is an increase in the number of unaccompanied child refugees arriving in this country (which will increase with the Afghan Exodus). I know from my own personal experience how important adoption is to give a child a new start in life. Many children are from the BAME community and there is a great need for more fostering and adoptive families from these diverse ethnicities. Could God be calling you, your family, to this healing vocation for a child in care? Contact CCS Adoption (tel: 0117 935 0005 or email email@example.com) or ‘Home for Good’ (firstname.lastname@example.org )
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE IN HOSPITAL: Can I remind everyone that when a Catholic goes into hospital, the patient or their family MUST request a visit from the Catholic Chaplain – data protection and confidentiality rules in hospitals prohibit the passing on of information to chaplaincies otherwise. The Chaplain will not know of your presence in hospital and cannot visit a patient without the patient’s prior request and permission.
SCRIPTURE SHARING GROUP We meet on Thursdays at 5.30-6.30pm: come & share reflections, questions, insights on the Scripture Readings used at Mass on the following Sunday: ideal for all of us, but especially for Lay Readers Ministers of the Eucharist, and Catechists. Contact John Flannery (email: email@example.com) for the Zoom link.
POPE FRANCIS ON HEALING THE PLANET ‘Laudato si’, o mi Signore’ (Praise be to you, my Lord). In the words of this beautiful canticle, St Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us : ‘Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs’. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of all with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’
PRAYER FOR ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Loving God, we praise Your name with all you have created.
You are present in the whole universe, and in the smallest of creatures.
We acknowledge the responsibilities you have placed upon us
as loving stewards of Your creation. We know we are called to live in a communion of love and justice
with all the creatures of the Earth, with the forests, seas and land.
We are called to purify and protect the air we breathe, the water we drink.
May the Holy Spirit inspire us all
to embrace the changes needed to heal our Common Home, the Earth.
Give courage and wisdom to political leaders to fulfil their promises
and take decisive action to care for the Earth and bring true justice and equality to the poorest and most vulnerable. Guide us to commit our and all nations to the care of our Common Home.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son…AMEN!
CALL TO ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The teenager Greta Thunberg said: “It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make change possible.”
David Attenborough said “ We need to fall in love again with the earth”
Pope Francis said “ God of Love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth” and “teach us to care for our common home.”
Our children and young people took to the streets of Bristol to demonstrate and challenge our generation to not just speak, BUT ALSO TO ACT – DECISIVELY – NOW!
PARISH PRAYER FOR THE SYNOD
We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
You are the wisdom that guides us,
You, are the love that unites us
You are the divine energy that empowers us.
Come, lead us into all Truth liberating us
to become Your Church, the sacrament of God’s Loving for our 21st Century world.
Come speak to your Church through the voices of the silenced, the hurting, the wounded.
Come so that we may listen with love to unfamiliar voices for through them You speak
healing and hope to the People of God, renewing and reforming us in love.
Teach us the way we must go, what we must change
Show us new ways to be Your Church
and make this Journey of Synod Your own!
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place, person and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.
POPE FRANCIS WRITES: “Breakthrough comes about as a gift of dialogue, when people trust each other and humbly seek the good together, and are willing to learn from each another in a mutual exchange of gifts. This is an ‘overflow’ of love, breaking the banks that confined our thinking and causes to p[our forth answers that formerly we could not see. As Pope I want to encourage such ‘overflows’ by reinvigorating the ancient practice of ‘Synod’. The term comes from Greek and means ‘walking together’ and its goal is to recognise, honour, and reconcile differences on a higher plane where the best of each can be retained: differences are expressed and polished until you reach, if not consensus, a harmony that holds all together. Therein lies its beauty: the harmony that results can be complex, rich and unexpected. In the Church the One who brings about harmony is the Holy Spirit.”
POPE FRANCIS ON NUCLER WEAPONS Pope Francis stated the following last November: ‘Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession… genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian effects of any employment of nuclear devices and the risk of accidental detonation as a result of any kind of error, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned. They exist in the service of a mentality of fear.’
POPE FRANCIS CALLING US TO PRAYER AND SOCIAL FRIENDSHIP
‘The Bible says that whoever finds a friend has found a treasure. I would like to invite everyone to go beyond their groups of friends and build social friendship, which is so necessary for living together well.
We especially need to have a renewed encounter with the most impoverished and vulnerable, those on the peripheries. And we need to distance ourselves from populisms that exploit the anguish of the people without providing solutions, proposing a mystique that solves nothing.
We must flee from social enmity which only destroys, and leave “polarization” behind.
And this isn’t always easy, especially today when part of our politics, society and media are bent on creating enemies so as to defeat them in a game of power.
Dialogue is the path to seeing reality in a new way, so we can live with passion the challenges we face in constructing the common good.
Let us pray that, in social, economic, and political situations of conflict, we may be courageous and passionate architects of dialogue and friendship, men and women who always hold out a helping hand, and may no spaces of enmity and war remain.’ Pope Francis
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