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 THE SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

                               DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU!

According to the profound if non-historical story of the origin and reality of sin in the world we find in the Book of Genesis, trouble always begins we are too proud ‘to do whatever He tells’ us. ‘Don’t eat the apple’ and of course that is all we want to do.
Imagine a world where we heed His words and lovingly obey (to obey means ‘to listen together’). Christians would be known by our love for one another and we would be so One that the world would be inspired to believe and to love. Nations would beat swords into pruning hooks, spears into ploughs, missiles and bombs into health-care and food for all. Peace would reign and the Church would be united.
Mary is mother of Jesus, mother of the Church and mother of all the world (Queen of Peace) – she knows what she is saying when she tells us – ‘Do whatever He tells you!’ She lived these words faithfully and so brought the world saving hope and healing love – her Son and our brother Jesus – so will we if we do likewise!

WOMEN’S GROUP MEET TO SHARE IN THE GLOBAL SYNOD     This is an important first meeting, ensuring that women’s voices are heard, loud and clear, in the Global Synod process: to be heard in our parish, in  our diocese and in the Universal Church. Facilitated by Jennine and Minette on Saturday 22nd January, please arrive promptly at the Church at 10.00am – it will finish in time to share in the Mass at 12noon for all who can stay on after the Synod meeting. All contributions will be anonymous and faithfully recorded and become part of the Parish Report to be submitted to the Diocese.

ST NICK’S AND THE GLOBAL SYNOD    Will all facilitators of the groups please gather your groups and be ready to hold at least three meetings between Christmas and February 5th, then submit the conversations to Richard in a digital form (email), to be collated (by Maggie Vickerman and Reagan d’Mello). The document we shall submit to the Diocese will come before the Parish Assembly later in February for approval. Prior to that it will be published on the Parish Website.  We have the following groups and facilitators:
Young People – Samantha Masenyama, Rutendo Chipato, Verina Muteve
West African Communities – Eneyi Pemu, Eustace Tameh
Zimbabwean Community – Christopher and Epiphania Chipato
East African communities – Eva Achoch, Fanuel Olala
Elders & Housebound Community – Andrew Bent
Womens Group – Jeninne Oldis, Minette Semper (first meeting on Saturday 22nd 10.00-11.45am)
LBGTQ+ community – Diarmuid White, John Flannery
Journey of Faith Group – Richard McKay, Mary Hopper
Spanish Speaking Group – Jackie Chenier
The Deaf Community – Sherrie Eugene-Hart
Facilitators Group – Richard McKay, Mary Hopper
Open Group -Marta Bolognani, Mary Hopper (first meeting 15th January at 10am)
Thank you to all who have agreed to facilitate these Synod Groups. If other groups wish to form, please contact Richard

SACRAMENTAL PREPARATION PROGRAMMES
[1] The FIRST EUCHARIST PROGRAMME begins on Thursday 20th January at 4.00-5.00pm (hopefully) in the Assisi Centre. There will also be a parents meeting at the same time, also in the Assisi Centre (again hopefully).
[2] THE FIRST RECONCILIATION PROGRAMME begins with a Parents only meeting on Tuesday 18th January at 7.00pm in the Assisi Centre (after Mass at 6.00pm). It is very important that  all children who have celebrated their First Eucharist in the last two years (or earlier) are now prepared for First Reconciliation. Enrolment Forms are now available – please see Mary Hopper. The First meeting for the children will be on Friday 4th February at 4.00pm in the Assisi Centre.

HEALING MASS FOR WORLD DAY OF THE SICK – FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11th   Come to this special Healing Mass for the World Day of the Sick in this Diocesan Year of Prayer here at St Nicks on Friday 11th February at 7.00pm. To offer or receive Healing Prayer is a very special experience, as Jesus touches another with healing love through you (or to you through another). Jesus’ Word of Healing is an event of transformation as we pray with and care for the sick and housebound, the troubled and anguished. We become the Father’s Mercy reaching into the wounds of humanity with wine of compassion & peace. Come yourself and bring others to Healing Prayer in the name of Jesus and let Him change you!

BISHOPS NEW GUIDANCE: WORSHIP FOR THE RENEWED COVID MEASURES
The Bishops of England and Wales have written to all parishes:
Practical Guidance for Churches
With respect to the current situation with the Omicron variant it is important to ensure the following points are followed in our churches:
[1] That people displaying any symptoms of covid-19 should stay at home and not travel to church or participate in person.
[2] That hand sanitiser is available to those attending the Church.
[3] Face coverings must be worn by those attending public acts of worship unless there is a genuine exemption or the person is leading worship or participating in a role that requires the mask to be removed for a period of time.
[4] That there is good ventilation and air throughput in the building; in this case, because of climatic conditions, it would be important to remind people to wrap up well in church!                                                                                                                      [5] There is now very strong evidence to support that the main mode of this variant’s viral transmission is through aerosols, and that the risk from surface and touch transmission is very small indeed. As such, the strict regimes of church cleaning that were recommended at the beginning of the opening of churches for public worship are no longer necessary. General church cleaning is sufficient.
[6] That a positive message encouraging people to get vaccinated and have the booster jab when able is delivered whenever possible (bearing in mind that the 40+ age group can apply for the booster vaccination, and that the period between 2nd dose and booster is reduced to 12 weeks).
[7] That people who are engaged in a form of pastoral ministry which involves ministry to the housebound, sick and vulnerable, should take regular lateral flow tests to ensure they are safe to do so. These are free from the NHS. 

UPDATE ON THE SYNOD IN OUR PARISH     The Parish Pastoral Council ask all those who have agreed to be act as facilitators of  the various ‘Synod Groups’, to gather their groups and arrange for them to meet as soon as possible. We have to submit our findings to the Diocese by mid February. We realise that the latest renewed government Covid restrictions will mean that most groups are likely to be on Zoom or some other IT platform, and while this is not the best way to conduct the Synod, we need to do all we can to make it work well. If you need assistance in setting up a Zoom meeting for your group, please contact the parish office.

BISHOPS STATEMENT ON RETURNING TO SUNDAY MASS The Bishops of England and Wales have issued a statement reminding us all that we need to come together as a community of love around the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist in our churches. While watching live-streamed Mass helps us when we are truly unable to come to mass (because of essential work or caring for the sick or our vulnerability to illness or because of age and frailty), it must not become an easy alternative to coming together and sharing together as a community of Mission the Living Word and the Body and Blood of Christ in the Mass. Now is the time to return to Mass in church unless serious issues prevent us.  

JOURNEY OF FAITH    Because of the renewed Covid Restrictions, the Journey of Faith Group have decided to meet on Zoom until Government Guidance changes – each Friday at 6.00pm. New members – please send Richard an email address so he can send you the ‘Zoom Invite’. This is for all who want to discover more about the Catholic Faith we share, or who may be thinking of becoming Catholic Christians. Suitable for those who want to renew their faith or have been away from Mass for a long period, and for Catholic adults who have never been Confirmed. Who will you encourage to come and discover more about  Christ Jesus and the joy and beauty of Faith?

TRAINING NEW ALTAR SERVERS   There will be a pre-Christmas practice for ALL ALTAR SERVERS (new and old!) on Saturday 18th December at 10.15am (prompt). The training will last approximately one hour. It is hoped that our newly trained Altar Servers will serve on Sunday 19th Dec for the first time.

CHRISTIAN PRIDE CAROL SERVICE All are welcome to share in this inclusive Carol Service held at John Wesley’s New Room Chapel (in Broadmead) BS1 3JE on Saturday 18th December at 4.30pm.Free Tickets from Eventbrite – or contact John Flannery  

SCRIPTURE SHARING GROUP – CHANGE OF DAY    We meet on Fridays 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. 

CAFOD WORLD GIFTS Once again I encourage us all to include in your Christmas gift shopping at least some of these gifts that benefit the poorest and most disadvantaged of our world. I prefer to receive these gifts more than any others, because they express the real love we are to give to the world this Christmas. Please see: www.worldgifts.cafod.org.uk 

VOLUNTEERS NEED FOR THE MINISTRY OF THE PARISH OFFICE    We have an urgent need to increase the size and capacity of our Parish Office Team. We need the following: Rental Car parking admin; Health and Safety officer (with basic computer skills); Welcomers in the parish office; administration (telephone and computer usage); Hall and Room bookings admin. A number of these tasks can be done from home rather than the office, but the Parish Office needs two people present Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 1.30pm. If you can help, please contact Richard, Mary or Margaret as soon as possible.   

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!

NOVEMBER – A MONTH TO REMEMBER AND PRAY FOR THE DEAD  We remember not only the dead of the wars that have been the scourge of past 100 years, but in this month all the Faithful Departed, all ‘who have gone before marked with the sign faith’ and indeed all of deceased humanity for all are precious in God’s eyes. Please take a Memorial Sheet today and fill in the names of all whom you want to be prayed for and remembered at every Mass celebrated in the parish this November. They are with the Bulletin this week. Our prayer for them becomes part of God’s loving them into the fulness of their lives!

                      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 BEGINS THE TWO YEAR GLOBAL ‘SYNOD’ This weekend marks one of the most important moments in the history of the Modern Church, as Pope Francis inaugurates the Two Year Global Synod to serve the renewal and the reform of the church in our time. For the first time since the early Church, all God’s People are called to speak their voice and help shape decisions that will affect the whole Church and its future development. That this takes place on the Feast of St John Henry Newman is significant, for with prophetic vision and open mind and heart he wrote famously ‘On Consulting the Laity on Matters of Doctrine’.  WE ARE ALL CALLED TO BE INVOLVED AND HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO SPEAK OUR VOICES. 

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.”

UPDATE ON THE SYNOD IN OUR PARISH   Our Parish Pastoral Council met this week to lay plans for our participation in this hugely important process of listening and discerning ‘what the Spirit is saying to the Church today’. A number or people representative of our diverse communities are being approached to gather groups together to listen to one another, speak their voices, journey together. There will be an information session with these group facilitators to guide them in this. The ‘voices’ from all the groups will be gathered together by the end of January and there will be a ‘Full Parish Assembly’ to explore this and formulate our parish contribution to the Diocese and the Global Church. I cannot emphasise too much how important this process is for the future of our parish, our diocese and the whole Church. PLEASE PLEASE take part generously. Further information soon.

JOURNEY OF FAITH    2021/2022    Journey of Faith meets each Friday at 6.00pm in the Assisi Centre. This is for all who want to discover more about the Catholic Faith we share, or who may be thinking of becoming Catholic Christians. Suitable for those who want to renew their faith or have been away from Mass for a long period, and for Catholic adults who have never been Confirmed. Who will you encourage to come and discover more about  Christ Jesus and the joy and beauty of Faith?

PARENTS BAPTISM PREPARATION COURSE   Seeking the baptism of your children? please inform Eustace Tameh or Christopher & Epiphania Chipato or Richard. 
The next Baptismal Sunday with be on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday 9th January 2022

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.’

URGENT APPEAL FOR BAME BLOOD DONORS The NHS has issued an urgent call for more Black people to give blood to meet increasing demand for Black African, Black Caribbean or mixed ethnicity donors. Some 16,000 new donors from these ethnic groups must be recruited this year as demand rises for life-saving transfusions for people with sickle cell disease, according to the health service. Sickle cell is the fastest growing genetic disorder in the UK, affecting 15,000 people with around 300 babies born with the blood disorder each year; the illness can cause organ failure, stroke or loss of vision, sometimes even leading to death. The disorder is more common in Black people and, as such, people from this ethnic group are more likely to have the rare blood sub-group Ro that many Black sickle cell patients need. The Church strongly encourages blood donation as a life-saving gift to others. PLEASE CONSIDER BECOMING A BLOOD DONOR – ONE PINT OF BLOOD CAN SAFE UP TO THREE LIVES! To become a blood donor today, register today and book and appointment by visiting www.blood.co.uk, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app or calling 0300 123 23 23.

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

LOV VERBUM DEI – A LECTIO DIVINA ON ZOOM   This prayer initiative has grown up in Bristol and reached Catholics all around the world since the pandemic began. The group is open to anyone (clergy, lay, religious, non-religious) – and now has members throughout the UK and in many other countries around the world.  LOV Verbum Dei family began in Bristol at the start of the pandemic in 2020, bringing together Catholics worldwide for daily scripture, podcasts and weekly online prayer gatherings. Through intercessory prayer, meditations, and sacred music, we strive to fulfil our founding principle of the meaning of LOV: To read-To pray-To live daily the Word of God in our lives. To know more and get involved in this very special ministry please use this link: https://linktr.ee/lov_verbumdei

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 of deacons and 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 priest 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 interpret this as diminishing or demeaning the ministries of our brothers. We are all called to work together for the Kingdom as equal partners in the Lord’s work.

YEAR OF ST JOSEPH         150 years ago Pope Pius IX declared St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church (St Nicholas of Tolentino was regarded in this role for many centuries before). Pope Francis, to celebrate the anniversary, has appointed 2021 as the Year of St Joseph. Francis highlights Joseph as a role model as ‘a beloved, tender father … one who welcomes the will of God … a creatively, courageous father, example of love … a father who teaches the value, dignity and joy of work .. a father “in the shadows” centred on Mary and Jesus … a man of prayer.’ Highlights of Pope Francis’s teaching on St Joseph (together with the Litany of St Joseph and Pope Francis’s prayer) are available after Mass with the Newsletter or can be downloaded from the parish Website (Home Page).

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.

TALKING AND LISTENING GROUP – the group now runs every Thursday from 4pm to 5.30pm and offers a safe place for people to come and talk about the issues which are effecting them and listen to others. The group supports those with low mood, lack of self-esteem and anxiety as well as those struggling with, for example, bereavement, isolation, guilt, serious illness and relationship issues. One to one sessions over the phone or social media are available. Confidentiality is assured. For more information contact Robert on 07767 706 163 or robertvh@hotmail.co.uk. Or, just come along.

CLIFTON DIOCESAN NEWSLETTER   Sign-up for this useful round-up of news, views, events and other information from around our diocese.  It is easy to do, just go to our website www.cliftondiocese.com, click on the newsletter icon and register your email address.

WHAT IS THE 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 me 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!”

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE GRATEFUL TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY MADE STANDING ORDERS IN FAVOUR OF THE PARISH – WE ARE NOT ABLE YET TO NOTIFY YOU IN OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER OF THE SUM GIVEN AS OFFERTORY BUT WILL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Please find ways of continuing to support our parish with your offerings (perhaps by making a Standing Order, GiftAided if possible – details from Robert at the Parish Office) – we are supporting so many people as those unemployment are increasing in at this time. THANK TO ALL WHO HAVE BEEN SUPPORTING OUR FOOD BANK WITH DONATIONS OF FOOD OR MONEY.

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.