A consultation with the clergy in the Deanery has taken place to consider the situation where the number of active diocesan priests is going to decline over the next few years. The likelihood, as per figures given to deans previously, is that there will be only two diocesan priests in the Deanery under the age of 70 in the next few years. We are however fortunate to have two active religious and an Ordinariate priest in our deanery. On the debit side it is also the case that Fr Alan intends to retire and move to WSM this summer. The situation following on from Covid and the above situation regarding the number of clergy, does in a positive way allow us to take the opportunity of putting in place a plan that should allow the Deanery to function and hopefully flourish. The arrangements for the northern part of the deanery will be considered at a later date. The following plan has been approved by the Bishop and is now being put into effect.
I hope that these new arrangements will enjoy your support and I do believe that they are the best way forward for the Deanery.
I sometimes compare trying to make a new year resolution or two, to doing something for Lent. I will not mention my success rate! Bishop Declan suggested in his Pastoral letter to us the Sunday before Lent begins, that one action we might consider listening more before we speak.
Whatever we choose let us all do some positive action, or giving from Ash Wednesday onwards as well as the right kind of denial or small sacrifice that will result in benefits for others. Fasting, almsgiving, prayer. Traditional ways of approaching Lent.
Recently, I represented the parish and concelebrated the Funeral Mass of Margaret Ellis in Wroughton, near Swindon. The principal celebrant was Canon Richard Dwyer, former Parish Priest here and one of three priests to whom Margaret was a faithful housekeeper. The family thank you for your prayers and sympathy. Please continue to pray for Deidre Turner, following the death of her husband John, and for those who are ill, living alone, or troubled in any way.
Please do phone if you feel like a chat or may need some help. The Presbytery number is 573128 and my email address is : email@example.com.
Let us pray that by Easter we may be more free than we are at the beginning of this Lent.
Finally, thanks to Steve Wright for keeping our website up to date, to our sacristans, flower arrangers, cleaner and all who help with cleaning after Mass as per Covid restrictions. About 10 people are attending Thursday Masses, and Saturdays vary from about 30-45.
(Resident priest in St Thomas More Presbytery, Tanners Lane)
Stations of the Cross will be said in St Gregory's Church at 17:00 every Sunday in Lent. These will also be streamed to the St Gregory's Parish website.
As Lent begins, we can pray, fast, give, make small changes and talk about them, make our voices heard for real change to protect the planet. One way is to say Grace before all Meals. In Laudato Si the Pope asked us to revive the tradition of saying Grace before and after meals. We could extend the grace to a global gratitude, for the fertility of the world and the precious soil which produces the food, for the animals, insects and birds who helped its growth, for the rain, wind, sun, darkness, cold and heat which allowed it to grow, for the stability of the atmosphere and weather, for the farmers who planted, tended and harvested the food; we can ask forgiveness for the exploitation of the earth through overuse of pesticides, monoculture and overproduction, the industry which crosses the globe, and which stores and packages the food, and for the way our food is unequally distributed, leaving many hungry, who are homeless, jobless, refugees fleeing famine and conflict, and those who are too ill to eat. We thank God heartily that we have food and ask blessing and provision for all those who do not.
A program of scriptural studies, focusing on four key questions: What is the Bible, Where does it come from? What is it's purpose? How should Catholics read the Bible? Each Monday evening in Lent contains a video and time to discuss our reactions to questions that they will raise. You will also need to watch and reflect on a second video between each session. There is no charge although you can purchase optional additional materials if you wish. Further details on the St Gregory Parish website: https://stgregorys.org.uk/lent-study-program/.
Bishop Declan invites each one of us to take time during Lent to reflect on the life of our Diocese as we move forward out of the pandemic. Inspired by the writings of Pope Francis, 'Dare to Dream' encourages us to think about God's invitation to each one of us to shape the future of the Church, particularly in this corner of the world. Each reflection is accompanied by a video which we encourage you to watch before engaging with the scripture offered. This resource can be used by individuals, by families or by already established on-line parish groups. Each session has a similar framework to follow. The reflections and videos will appear on the Diocesan Website under the banner 'Dare to Dream'. We are encouraged to read the accompanying resource before we set out on this journey through Lent and later onwards to Eastertide. Each new video and reflection will be available on the Friday before each Sunday of Lent. Taking time during Lent will enable all of us to contribute more fully to the conversations that every deanery will be having to discern how we grow our parishes to be places of mission, serving the poor and responding out of our abundance to the needs of the local community and the wider world.
Are you interested in working with young people in your parish but feel you haven't the knowledge or skills to do this? If so, then this course may be of interest to you. Equally if you would like to brush up on your skills or hear how others are doing the work then this course may also be of interest to you. It's an online course so no travel required! Cost £48 for 10 sessions with highly skilled speakers experienced in Youth Ministry. It starts on Tuesday 16th March. See https://www.castleriggmanor.co.uk/engage.
A signed Mass for the deaf is broadcast from St Nicholas of Tolentino in Bristol on the first Sunday of the Month. See poster HERE.
Clifton Diocese is seeking to recruit people to serve on school governing bodies. If you believe in Catholic education, have enthusiasm and commitment, then you can make a valuable contribution to the governing body of a Catholic school. It also provides the opportunity to use your life/work skills and experience, for the benefit of the children in our schools. Please visit www.cliftondiocese.com/news/could-you-be-a-school-governor/ for more information and to complete an online nomination form or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07710 094976 - he would be delighted to hear from you. Your support for our schools would be much appreciated.
It is with regret that we announce that there will be no Diocesan and Catholic Association Pilgrimage to Lourdes this year. The Pilgrimage, which was scheduled for 21-27 August 2021 has been cancelled in light of the on-going effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we will be announcing a schedule for special virtual events throughout 2021 and the virtual Pilgrimage programme very soon. We understand how disappointing this decision will be for many of our past pilgrims and those hoping to travel to Lourdes this year. Over the last number of years, we have offered an 'online presence' and 'Virtual Pilgrimage' experience whilst in Lourdes, where everyone is able to follow the Pilgrimage daily and experience the Homilies and reflections with those in Lourdes, at home. This year we are busy planning some special moments for 2021 that will enable us to still celebrate the miracle of Lourdes. We look forward to welcoming you all to our 'virtual Pilgrimage' once again and to our events programme throughout the year.
A patient's right of access to the Sacrament of the Sick [when the medical team predict imminent death] is permitted as part of the Gloucestershire Hospitals 'End of Life' policy. ALL requests for visits within the hospital must go through the Chaplaincy office or the switchboard at the hospital, ring 03004 222 222 and ask for the oncall Chaplain. Sadly, less urgent need and visit requests will be dealt with on the next working day by the in-house chaplaincy team, external visits by priests are not permitted.
Newspapers and magazines will no longer be sold in the Church. However, you may have them delivered direct to your home every week, post free. Please go to www.thecatholicuniverse.com or call them on 0161 820 5722 and this will be arranged for you. Special offers: 3 months for £25; 12 months for £99 or digital copy 12 months for £55.
The latest St Thomas More risk assessment can be viewed HERE.
Bingo in the church hall on Thursday evenings is cancelled until further notice.
It is important that on admission to hospital, a patient (or his/her carers) inform the admission staff that they are Catholic. The hospital will not ask for this information, it is up to the patient to make it known and to make sure that a note is made. As of September 2018, Gloucester NHS no longer employ a catholic chaplain in an emergency. Please ask the nusing staff to contact the Chaplaincy Office at the hospital (or ring 03004 222222 and ask for the Catholic Chaplain). At this time ALL requests for visits within the hospital must go through the Chaplaincy office or the switchboard at the hospital (PLEASE NOTE: COVID-19 protocols at the hospital still do not allow priests to go into the hospital if they are contacted directly). Thank you.
For those who are housebound or find it difficult to get to daily/Sunday Mass; there are a number of Masses daily on the website www.churchservices.tv as well as on EWTN television which is Channel 589 on Sky. The EWTN Mass is usually at 8.00am, 1pm and 6pm.
You can also find streamed Masses via the internet on the following sites:
www.cliftondiocese.com (Mass from the cathedral)
https://mass-online.org (masses timed throughout the day)
During Streamed Masses, or indeed during times of prayer, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament, you can make an act of Spiritual
Communion whereby though not physically receiving Holy Communion you can nevertheless participate in the Eucharist. The following prayer is ideal
for this purpose:
Prayer for use for Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in this Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love you above all things and I passionately desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come spiritually into my soul, so that I may unite myself wholly to you now and forever. Amen.
Anyone wanting to receive a copy of the Cheltenham Catholic Newsletter by email, please email Paul McCloskey at email@example.com.
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