Highlights of the Week

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 pageThank you.

THOUGHT FOR FIRST EUCHARIST SUNDAY

                              EUCHARIST – CENTRE OF OUR LIVES

Every few years the Church gathers for a great International Eucharistic Congress: why? To celebrate Mass! To sit in silence before the Lord of the Eucharist! To ponder this ‘most wonderful sacrament’! We do not gather to make policies, to discuss church politics, to make church appointments. We gather simply to pray, to do together that which is most important in our lives – come to Jesus in the Eucharist.
Today we bring our children to Jesus in this vulnerable gift of all His Love in the poverty of bread and wine. This is one of the most important days in the lives of our children because the Eucharist is the most important gift and activity we can engage with, the richest food we can ever offer our children. Let us share with all our children our love for the Jesus we meet in this Sacred Banquet, hand on to them this amazing gift which is above all others!
Let us bring them and ourselves week by week to this Sacrament of Infinite Love that will transform their and our lives!

THOUGHT FOR ELEVENTH SUNDAY OF YEAR

                                      Be Seeds of  the Dynamic Kingdom!

So often Jesus speaks of the Reign of God, the Kingdom of God in the images of dynamic growth. From the tiniest seed, hidden int he cold earth comes the great shrub of salvation and hope! From the smallest seeds of love    faith that we sow into the field of the world, the Holy Spirit, Who renews the face of the Earth, waters them and gives growth and they become a great harvest of compassion, justice and freedom!
Let us be such a Church, dynamic in compassionate love, prophetic in courageous witness so that the broken and wounded can find shelter, humanity, hope among us – like the birds coming and sheltering in our branches.
Let us be Christians, who like Jesus, sow the seed of our own lives as gift to the world and its poor, so that justice can grow, peace can flourish, healing can liberate. We are His seeds ready to become His Saving shrub, His harvest of Hope! What a privilege!

 THOUGHT FOR TWELFTH SUNDAY YEAR B

                                         Jesus is found in the eye of the Storm!

We can feel very close to God when in a place of tranquillity and peace, a place of beauty and stillness.  But when life buffets us, when the storm rages we can feel alone, deserted by God. God can seem like He has gone asleep not caring about us.
But faith can trust God in the very heart of the storm. God’s hands never stop holding us – we stop feeling them, we stop trusting Him! There is never a moment of our lives when we are not cherished in God’s heart, held tenderly in the palm of His hand.
It is in the raging storm that we meet Him as the Saviour, the Rescuer, the ever faithful One who carries us. Whether it is the storm of terminal illness, or painful relationships, failed hopes – these are all moments for the growth of faith, to encounter the Living God as never before. The storm is the privileged place of meeting Him in a maturing faith. Nothing separates us from the Love of God!

THOUGHT FOR THE FEAST OF SS PETER & PAUL        

                                                  Two very different brothers!

Such different characters! Peter, ill-educated but skilful fisherman, impetuously generous but also weak, cautious; Paul, intellectual man of letters, visionary and adventurer with courage to break new ground! One a compassionate shepherd who knew his own weakness; the other a fearless prophet who knew his strength in the Lord. Both are foundation stones of the Church, both witness to Christ with their blood in the powerhouse of Rome.
One has the keys to open the gates of God’s mercy and healing; the other wields the incisive sword of the Word that penetrates to the heart and converts! It is not always easy to be both gentles shepherd and courageous prophet – but that is the challenge for the Church of every age and place!
Let us be Christians, who like Jesus, sow the seed of our own lives as gift to the world and its poor, so that justice can grow, peace can flourish, healing can liberate. We are His seeds ready to become His Saving shrub, His harvest of Hope! What a privilege!

DISCERNING ‘COMMUNITY STEWARDS’ AS THE PARISH CHANGES, AN UPDATE  We have all had the opportunity to take part in discerning (or prayerfully selecting) ‘Community Stewards’ as we transition to increased Lay leadership and ministry with a team of 7 including our non-resident parish priest (Fr Richard). 35 sheets and emails with suggested names were prayerfully considered and nine parishioners are now reflecting upon this call to serve. Richard  will remain our parish priest while living outside the parish but in Bristol, not retiring (health permitting) until 2028, when he will be 80 years young! From September he will reduce his workload and share more fully responsibilities with the Team of ‘Community Stewards’ (a provisional name). Richard moves out of the presbytery September 9th – Feast of St Nicholas of Tolentino. We hope to commission our ‘Community Stewards’ at our Patronal Feast

DO YOU WANT TO VOLUNTEER TO SUPPORT THE PARISH MISSION?   Arising from the recent Parish Forum on the future of our parish, the Parish Pastoral Council is delighted that many    have expressed the wish to offer some time and energy in support of the life and mission of St Nicks. So the PPC is establishing a ‘Volunteers Whatsapp’ to let people know the needs and opportunities for volunteering either on a long-term or an occasional basis. Some cannot commit themselves to a regular slot or programme but could volunteer from time to time and for limited periods. If you would be willing to join such a team of volunteers on this Whatsapp Group, then please contact the Parish Office or Patience Bird (07411406411) and give your mobile no. Thank you!

WEEKLY PARISH EMAIL:  To improve communications among our diverse parish community, we will begin to send weekly a brief Parish News Email, highlighting key news or issues that we all need to be aware of. Please check your emails for the Parish Update!

DIOCESAN DAY ON THE JUBILEE OF HOPE 2025 All are invited to join in the Annual Diocesan Day on Saturday 6 July at St Bernadette’s Secondary School, Whitchurch, Bristol. The focus of our day will be on Hope – especially in relation to the Jubilee Year ‘Pilgrims of Hope’. All are invited to join Bishop Bosco as we explore the theme of Hope together. We will look at where our hope lies, as well as our experiences of pilgrimage and where we might journey as a Diocese in 2025. The Day will start at 9.30am with refreshments and will include Mass as a central part of our day. Please bring a packed lunch. We will finish by 4pm. Everyone is welcome but places are limited, so please book early. To register for the day please click the Eventbrite link: https://cliftondiocesanday.eventbrite.co.uk You will be most welcome.

CALLING ALL CATECHISTS GROWING SEEDS OF HOPE
The Adult Education and Evangelisation Department of the Diocese write: We are delighted to let you know that the Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph will lead us in our exploration of how we form people in the Faith. Their knowledge and practical experience will help to guide and inspire us in our ministry as catechists. We hope anyone who may not yet be a catechist but who cares about the formation of children, young people, and adults, will think seriously about coming to this day. Do join us if you can on Saturday 13 July at St. John the Baptist parish centre, Trowbridge. Refreshments from 9.30am. Please bring a packed lunch. The day will end at 4pm. Registration is essential for this event, please let us know if you would like to attend by emailing  adult.education@cliftondiocese.com  Please let Mary Hopper or Richard know if you are able to attend. It is very important that some from St Nicks take part in this training session. Thank you.

GLASTONBURY PILGRIMAGE – 14th JULY – Our new Bishop, Bp Bosco, will be leading our annual pilgrimage, ‘Mary, Woman of Prayer’. We cannot organise a coach because of expense but we do encourage as many as possible to take part especially as this will be first time our new Bishop will lead the Pilgrimage. Exposition, Confessions and healing Prayer from 12noon until 3.00pm; Healing Prayer 12 noon to 3.00pm; Rosary Procession at 2.15pm; Mass at 3.30pm. Please see poster for more info.

DIOCESAN PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES Join some of our diocesan family on the Annual Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in southern France. Friday 23rd August to Friday 30th August. Accommodation in 3/4* hotel, full board including transfer from Toulouse Airport to Lourdes. Single rooms from £680 and shared rooms from £510. Pilgrims to arrange own flights (Bristol-Toulouse on EasyJet) and travel insurance – information available from email:  lourdes@cliftondiocese.com or Alexander House on 0117 902 5590

ALL ARE WELCOME IN THIS PLACE’ It is our privilege to host here at St Nicks the Diocesan Ministry among the LBGTQ+ community. It would be a great sign of welcome, valuing ‘Gay’ Catholics, if more parishioners would come sometimes to our 3rd Sunday a month Mass with our LGBTQ+ friends. Do try to come occasionally and share with us.

CALLING SISTERS AND BROTHERS WHO FEEL ALIENATED FROM THE CHURCH
There are so many who have been hurt by their experiences in the Catholic Church and many reasons for that hurt. A particularly destructive hurt has been abuse especially by priests and religious. Yet Christ calls us to be a welcoming, safe and healing community. 

Here at St Nick’s we seek to offer an unconditional welcome and a safe and respectful place to be and to speak your voice. We seek to echo the words of Jesus: ‘Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you peace’. So we want to welcome you, be a community where you can if you wish speak your pain, voice your hurt and anger, or just come and be. We understand that for many it is impossible to trust the Church again, and we do not expect or deserve that trust. But we do want to earn it and so offer to share your journey and make together the safe space that is your right. ‘Our community currently includes those who have expressed some of their own experience of this particular hurt. They, particularly, would like you to know:  “If you come to see us you won’t be alone – it isn’t easy but we do seek to journey together gently.”We understand it may be difficult for some to enter the Church. If you wish to make contact please tell us what might help to make things easier for you.

CHURCH CLEANING – FRIDAY MORNINGS Thank you to those who have been serving the parish in this way each Friday morning from about 10.00am onwards. Some have found work so we urgently need more volunteers who can commit once or twice a month to come. Please Contact Eddie or Richard to volunteer for this ministry, this act of service to God and the whole community. Thank you!

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!

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.

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 info@ccsadoption.org) or ‘Home for Good’   (clare.walker@homeforgood.org.uk )

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: j.flannery@btinternet.com) for the Zoom link. 

ARE YOU STRUGGLING AFTER AN ABORTION EXPERIENCE?  Do you know where to turn – who could help you? I hope as a parish community we are open and caring and healing in a way that you could entrust your pain to us. But also (and very importantly) there is an organisation that could help you – British Victims of Abortion. Call them on their helpline 0845-603-8501 between 7pm and 10pm seven evenings a week.