This week we have celebrated the Feast of the Ascension, marking the return of the Lord to live with the Father in heaven until He returns again to earth at the end of time. Jesus' earthly work is complete but He has promised us the gift, the guidance and support of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. We spend these 9 days preparing for and awaiting His coming at Pentecost.
If ever the gifts and qualities of God's Holy Spirit are needed now, they are in the Holy Land. Land, it's use and ownership, is so often a cause of strife between human beings. Let us all pray particularly for violence to end, as well as the mindless destruction of lives, homes and property, and for dialogue to be renewed, allowing some sort of normality to return, which follows the path of justice and fairness.
"Normality" is a word we often hear and use in this Covid Pandemic. Let us be grateful that our restrictions ease next week, but also be aware of our need to be cautious and think of many in the world who continue to be stricken.
In our parish please pray for the repose of the soul of Margaret (Madge) Martin, formerly Connolly, wife of Mike. She died on Monday 3rd May in Gloucester hospital following a sudden stroke the day before. Madge had been at Saturday night Mass with her husband Mike. He is very grateful for prayers and sympathy and we extend them to him and Madge's family. Madge's Funeral Mass will be at St Thomas More on Thursday 27th May at 10am followed by Cremation. May she rest in peace.
Let me end on a sporting note! Congratulations to Cheltenham Town on winning promotion this season! I was so relieved my lot were not relegated that I did not even mention them in the "Parish Notices" last week! Mind you, if Birmingham City had been relegated there would have been a near local derby to look forward to next season! You must all be so disappointed about that!
Finally, in the Catholic tradition May is the month of Our Lady. She has many titles. As we honour her and show our devotion as our Mother perhaps we might pray especially to her as Queen of Peace, Comforter of the Afflicted, and Help of the Sick.
There will be global online events taking place each day leading up to Pentecost, the 6th anniversary of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si', On Care for Our Common Home. The Pope invites us to 'Prepare the future', celebrating the progress the Church has made on its journey to ecological conversion, and reflecting on what the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us. To learn more about the Week's planned events, go to www.laudatosiweek.org.
CCP transforms people's lives every day, by tackling the causes and effects of homelessness, family breakdown and exclusion. Your donation will make a difference for vulnerable children, young people, adults and families. Just go to www.ccp.org.uk and follow the instructions to make a donation.
In Uganda, schools have reopened and Frs.Charles and Denis have asked us for help to fund solar lighting and power for St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, so that students can do their homework after dark and to power computers. We need to raise about £5000. More details are available on the St Gregory parish website via the 'Our Parish' menu, 'Supporting Others' item. Donations may be made in the Parish Projects envelopes, marked for Angal. Contact: Lindsay Read on 01242 525592.
We have heard from the Rector of the sanctuary that due to the unfortunate new lockdown in France, they are still not able to accept pilgrimages. So, until visitors from outside the local area are allowed, the chaplains will be offering Masses and Rosaries throughout the day which can be viewed either on their website https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/tv-lourdes/ or on their You Tube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/LourdesWebTV or on your smart TV You Tube app. The rector is inviting all our intentions and petitions which again can be requested through their website https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/. This is a difficult time for all of us, but please pray for the local people of Lourdes, along with the Chaplains and those who serve at the shrine. The Rector assures us of his prayers.
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.
This School in Stroud is seeking to raise £1.5 million to build Quentin House, a specially-adapted residential home-from-home for some of its children. Saint Rose's is unique within our diocese for the help it gives children and young people with complex physical and other needs to fulfil their potential and achieve their ambitions. Quentin House, named after Sister Quentin, the former long-serving, dedicated and inspirational headteacher, will help Saint Rose's continue its mission. For more information about this project and how to donate or fundraise please visit https://stroses.org.uk/quentin-house/ or contact the appeals office (01453 763793 ext 225 or email@example.com).
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.
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 except in cases of urgent need [i.e. medical team predict imminent death].
The latest St Thomas More risk assessment can be viewed HERE.
Bingo in the church hall on Thursday evenings is cancelled until further notice.
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.
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