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 FEAST OF SS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES

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!

JUNE – MONTH OF THE SACRED HEART           June is dedicated to pondering the immensity of divine humanity – God with a human heart Who loves us beyond the breaking of His Heart. God is at least as vulnerable and tender, open to experiencing our pain (such is the depth of His love) as He is all-powerful. He is both creator and pain-bearer. The Sacred Heart of Jesus calls us to enter into His opened, pierced Heart and find there our home, the source of our poor loving, and the woundedness that will heal every wound of our hearts and lives. Not only does His love pour out like water of life on the dry ground of our desert love-less Earth, but He invites us to come and enter in to His own pain-bearing, ever forgiving and peace-making Heart and become a flame of His love cast upon the Earth, a co-worker with Him in the endless task of re-shaping the world and our sisters and brothers in the gentle power of the Divine Love in us and through us! ALLELUIA!!

ST NICKS OPENING FOR PRIVATE PRAYER We welcomed one family group and 4 individuals to our time of private prayer on Saturday. Next Saturday we will again open the church for private prayer of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 10.00 to 11.30am. We must abide by social distancing (2 metres at the time of writing). We are having to re-arrange seating in the church to accommodate 15 people at a time. ANYONE WITH A TEMPERATURE OR A PERSISTENT COUGH, ANYONE WHO IS SHIELDING, THE ELDERLY, AND THOSE WITH UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS MUST PRAY AT HOME AND NOT COME TO THE CHURCH FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY AND THE SAFETY OF THE WHOLE COMMUNITY. Depending on numbers coming, time in the church may have to be limited (possibly a maximum of 10-15 minutes) to allow as many as possible entry within the time limit.  Hands will need to be sanitised both before and after coming to the church. You are asked to abide by the stewards guidance.  Thank you for understanding – and please do join in the Mass live-streamed daily as well as the talks each day – Parish Face Book Page – ‘St Nicholas of Tolentino RC Church Bristol’.

ST NICKS OPENING FOR PUBLIC MASS – SUNDAY JULY 5th From next Sunday we will be able to come together for Public Worship – to celebrate Mass together. This period of isolation during the pandemic has meant for so many a deepening of our hunger for the Word Proclaimed and the Bread that is Broken, as well as the Community of the Body of Christ. This is the positive redeeming Grace of God that has come to us in the midst of the struggles we have encountered during this period. HOWEVER IT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WE ARE NOT YET BACK TO NORMAL – THERE WILL BE MANY RESTRICTIONS – e.g. ON NUMBERS ATTENDING TO ABIDE BY SOCIAL DISTANCING, NO SINGING BECAUSE SINGING PROJECTS DROPLETS  MORE THAN 2 metres THAT CAN CONTAIN THE VIRUS, NO SOCIAL GATHERING AFTER THE MASS. RIGOROUS SANITISING AND HYGIENE MEASURES WILL HAVE TO BE ENFORCED. Also all those who are ‘shielding’ – our elderly and all with underlying health conditions should not attend the Mass, neither should anyone who is feeling unwell (eg a temperature or a cold). The ‘obligation’ to attend Sunday Mass continues to be suspended – ie the Christian responsibility to safeguard public health overrides our responsibility to attend Mass.  Our parish Pastoral Council will meet on Zoom together with our medical advisers on Tuesday 3-4pm to put in place all necessary measures and these will be emailed to all on our parish email list and also published on our Parish Website and parish FaceBook Page. The challenges continue and the danger is that given that restrictions are being eased we will ignore the need to act responsibly to keep each other safe and healthy. This is a critical time and we all need to to do all we can to avoid a further wave of this potentially lethal virus. We also need to be aware that research has shown that the BAME community are most at risk – and that is about 85% of our community – PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES AND EACH OTHER!

LIVE-STREAMING MASS FROM THE CHURCH   From Sunday July 5th, both Sunday and weekday Mass will be celebrated in the church. Before Covid-19 the Parish Pastoral Council had decided to arrange for the Sunday Mass to be live-streamed for those unable to attend Mass because of age, work or illness. We did not have the opportunity to act on this decision before the church had to close. However we have live-streamed daily and Sunday Mass throughout the Lockdown. Daily Mass attracts between 35 and 55 ‘viewers’ and Sunday Mass at least 250, usually 350 and even reached 970 one Sunday! People from around the world have benefitted from these live-streamed services. Clearly there is a new ministry developing here! We are arranging for the equipment to live-stream Mass effectively (especially the sound reproduction) as soon as possible.  This will cost about £2000 – and we invite donations. Thank you!

FOODBANK NEWS! Thanks to the Gubay Foundations Covid Grant of £10,000 which our parish has received (with the support of our bishop), we have purchased a ‘container office’ to be placed in the forecourt of the church which will house the FoodBank – because we can no longer house the FoodBank in the Assisi Centre as it comes back into more normal use in the coming months. This should be in place in the next couple of weeks. There will however be extra expenses to service this expanded long-term mission to the poor of our community – adapting fencing, equipping internally with extra fridges and freezers, shelving etc. We will need to re-site the bicycle racks and the refuse bins – all of which will cost money! We are so grateful for all who have supported the rapid expansion of the Food Bank – volunteers working there and donations of money and food supplies.

We hesitate to ask for more support, but we do need to ask for help in raising a further £2000 to carry out the necessary ‘works’ to enable the FoodBank to continue serving impoverished families and individuals. This is part of our parish’s ‘Covenant with the Poor’, inspired by the Gospel and our Patron Saint – Nicholas of Tolentino. 

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.

PARISH MINISTRY CONTINUES
[1]  The Parish Office and Parish Foodbank will be open from 10am to 3.00pm Monday to Friday so that our ministry of care and support, especially for the poorest who need our Food Bank and Caritas Fund, can continue. Please phone the parish office (0117-9090419) during these times or myself at the presbytery (0117-9098810 – at any reasonable time) with your questions, concerns or need for any kind of support.
[2] The Parish Office and members of the Parish Pastoral Council will co-ordinate care and support for those who are in isolation or are vulnerable in any way. Volunteers to help from those able to do so  are very welcome. We must care for one another as well as pray for each other.
[3] Apologies, but a word about Parish Finance! We are anticipating a marked increase of calls on our Caritas Fund and Foodbank as the health crisis increases and many more people will find themselves with little or no income. We are committed to meet this need as far as we possibly can – as Pope Francis says ‘we are the Church of the Poor, the Church for the Poor’. But we need your continued help and generosity! We are dependent upon our weekly collections but if no Public Mass there is problem! We ask you to continue your weekly offering: either by making a standing order to the parish account or filling in the Diocesan Standing Order and Gift Aid Form (email for details); or by giving you money offering  and donations to the Food Bank to the Parish Office during Office hours.
[4] Finally, this is a call to prayer and care to a new sacrificial level. May the Holy Spirit lead us and empower our prayer and care for one another and our mission of love to our wider community where God has placed us.

REFLECTING TOGETHER ON THE FUTURE [1]  A number of us have been sharing that we need opportunities to ‘unpack’ the experience of the Covid-19 lockdown so as to recognise what God might be saying to us through this experience and to learn from it. In this sharing we can also receive healing of the wounds this experience might well have inflicted upon us and our families and loved ones.
[2] Also some have shared that we need to come together to reflect more deeply upon the Black Lives Matter Movement and how we should respond.
I support these suggestions and we will discuss with our Parish Pastoral Council at the earliest appropriate moment how we might engage in this ‘deeper thinking’ so that it becomes a ‘rethinking of the future’. I and the PPC welcome your ideas and suggestions – PLEASE!

PRAYER FOR THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST, THE HORN OF AFRICA AND INDIAN SUBCONTINENT 

 “Heavenly Father, we pray today for peace in the world, especially in the Middle East.
By your heavenly grace, strengthen the faith and hope of Eastern Christians.
May they be blessed with peace and prosperity in their lands.
And may we be inspired by their devotion and witness to the Gospel,
by their love and compassion for all in their communities,
and by their courage, their endurance and self-sacrifice against oppression.
Through their charity, tolerance and friendship, bring peace and reconciliation
to those troubled lands, where Christianity was born and first spread.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

CORONAVIRUS EPIDEMIC – A CALL TO PRAYER AND CARE Please take a copy of the prayers issues by our Bishops and use it daily in your own homes – support the sick, all medical staff caring for them, those caring in our nursing and elderly people’s homes and countries without our sophisticated health service. Let us all care for the vulnerable in our neighbourhoods, especially those who are self-isolating? Prayer and Care.

FOODBANK – UPDATE We have been providing food to at least 100 people each day, more than 500 each week. Thank you to those organisations that are providing us with fresh food – meat, vegetable and fruit (especially Fareshare and the Wild Goose Café) – but we do need more non-perishable items. Pasta, tins of meat, soup, fish, fruit, vegetables, rice pudding, custard, jars of coffee. Also squashes and fruit drinks. Bars of chocolate and chocolate biscuits are also very popular. – THANK YOU FOR SO MANY GENEROUS DONATIONS!

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!

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.