Mgr Gerard’s Announcement – 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

You will need to book a place for Mass at all our Churches on a Saturday/Sunday Mass as we are limited to 100 places at St Mary’s Cathedral (Sunday at 12 midday), and 45 places at St Francis (Sunday 10.30am), and 50 places at St Clare’s (Saturday 6pm). To do this you can telephone FRIDAY ONLY 9AM – 12 MIDDAY

Tel: 01642 597750.

OR email your request: parish@middlesbroughrccathedral.org

Please note that you can, however, arrive for any weekday Mass at the Cathedral without booking, however we will require your name and contact details due to the Government requirements of Test and Trace.

All the usual procedures must be adhered to, and please remember that the obligation to come to Mass is still suspended for the Sunday, and we continue to live stream our Mass at 10am every day.

  • You will need to wear a face covering at Public Mass, and due to the test and trace system we will require your name and contact details for this purpose only.
  • Every Saturday after the 12 midday Mass at the CATHEDRAL ONLY there will be confessions available.
  • We are noticing that the demand for the 7pm Mass is less than for the 12 noon Mass as the numbers have barely reached double figures, so from the 1st August there will mainly be a 12 midday Mass at the Cathedral throughout the month of August, except for each Thursday which remains at 7pm.
  • From the 1st of August the Holy Rosary will only be prayed and livestreamed every Friday at 3pm
  • I am sure we would want to congratulate Fr Phil Cunnah on his new appointment as Parish Priest of St Paulinus in Guisborough. Fr Phil will take up his appointment in September.
  • Rev Ken Senior our Permanent Deacon, will be retiring here at the Cathedral. He has been a great support to me and indeed to the Parish and I am sure at some stage we will want to say a huge Thank You to him and Maureen for their help over the years. They will continue to come to the Cathedral and attend Mass.
  • If anyone would find it helpful to receive a food or craft bag over the summer holidays, we have SVP funds to provide these. Please ring 07885599810 to arrange this.
  • “Friends of a Rainbow” postcard project. Through Ageing better Middlesbrough we are taking part in this postcard exchange project which gives encouragement at this time by enabling older and younger people to share messages of joy and kindness in a postcard delivered anonymously with food parcels. Children from our local schools have designed some of the postcards. If you or anyone you know would like to take part by sending a message of hope to a family, please ring 70885599810 for more information.
  • Finally, it is important to know that we are not back to normal, we are trying to work within all the guidelines to help people with their faith and spiritual well being please bear with us during this time.

We still have very few Mass requests, so if you would like Mass to be said for a loved one or a particular special intention please fill in the Mass request envelopes and hand them into Monsignor Gerard.

God Bless and Keep Safe: Mgr Gerard, Mgr Dasey, Rev Ken.

Mgr Gerard’s Announcement – 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Our temporary Mass schedule continues this week last Sunday we re-opened St Francis Church for the 10.30am Mass. We are only able to accommodate 45 places so you need to book your place, and this coming Saturday on the 1st August we shall also re-open St Clare’s Church for a Saturday Vigil Mass at 6pm.

You will need to book a place for Mass at all our Churches particularly on a Weekend as we are limited to 100 places at St Mary’s Cathedral and 45 places at St Francis and St Clare’s. To do this you can telephone FRIDAY ONLY 9AM – 12 MIDDAY 01642 597750.or email your request: parish@middlesbroughrccathedral.org

Please note that you can, however, arrive for any weekday Mass at the Cathedral without booking.

All the usual procedures must be adhered to, and please remember that the obligation to come to Mass is still suspended for the Sunday, and we continue to live stream our Mass at 10am every day.

  • You will need to wear a face covering at Public Mass and due to the test and trace system we will require your name and contact details for this purpose only.
  • Also, every Saturday after the 12 midday Mass at the CATHEDRAL ONLY there will be confessions available.
  • We are noticing that the demand for the 7pm Mass is less than for the 12 noon Mass as the numbers have barely reached double figures, so from the 1st August there will only be at 12 midday Mass at the Cathedral throughout the month of August. There will be no further evening masses at 7pm from that date.
  • We also notice that the numbers that we are livestreaming to for the Holy Rosary have decreased too, so again from the 1st of August the Holy Rosary will only be prayed every Friday at 3pm until further notice.
  • I am delighted to welcome Mrs Jo Nicholson and Mrs Charlene Dunning who are both teachers at St Augustine’s Primary School and they are being received into the Roman Catholic Church this Sunday by Bishop Terrence. Sorry for the delay, but I am delighted that this can now happen.
  • If anyone would find it helpful to receive a food or craft bag over the summer holidays, we have SVP funds to provide these. Please ring 07885599810 to arrange this.
  • “Friends of a Rainbow” postcard project. Through Ageing better Middlesbrough we are taking part in this postcard exchange project which gives encouragement at this time by enabling older and younger people to share messages of joy and kindness in a postcard delivered anonymously with food parcels. Children from our local schools have designed some of the postcards. If you or anyone you know would like to take part by sending a message of hope to a family, please ring 70885599810 for more information.
  • Finally, it is important to know that we are not back to normal, we are trying to work within all the guidelines to help people with their faith and spiritual well being please bear with us during this time.

We now have no Mass requests, so if you would like Mass to be said please fill in the Mass request envelopes and hand them into Monsignor Gerard.

God Bless. Mgr Gerard, Mgr Dasey, Rev Ken.

Mgr Gerard’s Announcement – 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Our temporary Mass schedule continues this week and for the rest of July. This Sunday we re-open St Francis Church on the Sunday for the 10.30am Mass. We are only able to accommodate 45 places so you need to book your place.

You will need to book a place for Mass at both Churches as we are limited to 100 places at St Mary’s Cathedral and 45 places at St Francis. To do this you can telephone FRIDAY ONLY 9AM – 12 MIDDAY 01642 597750.or email your request:

parish@middlesbroughrccathedral.org

Please note that you can, however, arrive for any weekday Mass at the Cathedral without booking. All the usual procedures must be adhered to, and please remember that the obligation to come to Mass is still suspended for the Sunday, and we continue to live stream our Mass at 10am every day.

You will need to wear a face covering at Mass and due to the test and trace system we will require your name and contact details for this purpose only.

Also, every Saturday after the 12 midday Mass at the CATHEDRAL ONLY there will be confessions available.

Finally, it is important to know that we are not back to normal, we are trying to work within all the guidelines to help people with their faith and spiritual well being.

From the Bible society:

“The role the Church is playing in dealing with the impact of Covid-19 is a wonderful testimony to the love and compassion of God. This is what it means to be salt and light. Even so, there is an urgent need for church leaders to prepare Christians for the challenges and opportunities that are coming. In the decade ahead there is no question that the Church will have a critical role in addressing poverty issues such as housing, hunger, debt, welfare and despair. As the pandemic has shown, the Church is well placed in civil society to meet these challenges. The Covid-19 crisis has affected every aspect of society and has made people re-evaluate what is truly important to them. However, we must keep in mind that though the crisis has been terrible, it has paved the way for a fresh opportunity. It is up to the church to foster the sense of togetherness and care for one another which has been so powerful throughout lockdown, and in doing so point towards God.”

We now have no Mass requests, so if you would like Mass to be said please fill in the Mass request envelopes and hand them into Monsignor Gerard.

God Bless. Mgr Gerard, Mgr Dasey, Rev Ken.

Mgr Gerard’s Announcement – 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

We started to celebrate Public Masses last Sunday at the Cathedral, and so far all have gone well. As time moves on we will get use to some of the changes, but it is good to celebrate Mass again in public. From next Sunday (19th) at the CATHEDRAL ONLY, at our Sunday Mass, there will be a cantor and keyboard, but no congregational singing. The next stage is to re-open St Francis Church, and a group of volunteers are meeting this Monday afternoon to plan the Church and put the risk assessment in place. I hope to celebrate one Mass per week starting on Sunday 19th July at 10.30am.

You will need to book a place for Mass at both Churches as we are limited to 100 places at St Mary’s Cathedral and 50 places at St Francis. To do this you can telephone FRIDAY ONLY 9AM – 12 MIDDAY 01642 597750.or email your request:

parish@middlesbroughrccathedral.org

All the usual procedures must be adhered to, and please remember that the obligation to come to Mass is still suspended for the Sunday, and we continue to live stream our Mass at 10am every day.

You will need to wear a face covering at Mass and due to the test and trace system we will require your name and contact details for this purpose only.

If there are any willing volunteers that can help in stewarding, that are under 70 with no underlying health issues please let me know. This is for all our Churches including St Clare’s.

Also, every Saturday after the 12 midday Mass at the CATHEDRAL there will be confessions available.

Finally, it is important to know that we are not back to normal, we are trying to work within all the guidelines to help people with their faith and spiritual well being.

We now have no Mass requests, so if you would like Mass to be said please fill in the Mass request envelopes and hand them into Monsignor Gerard.

Also, at the Cathedral you can bring your collection envelopes or cash donation for either the Cathedral or St Francis or St Clare’s, as well as collecting your new box of envelopes for the Churches.

To all our Schools, I have visited them during these past few weeks, especially the year 6 group who have their final week, I want to wish you all well, and to look forward with great hope and give thanks for all you have been given. To all the teachers and staff, a huge thank you and I hope you have a good rest and break before September.

Finally, we have some funding from the SVP to provide food parcels for families affected by the long lockdown due to Covid. If we can help by providing these for you ring: 07885599810 or 01642 597750 and we will arrange to get this to you safely. For the Feast of Fun this year as we will not be able to hold the usual activities and hot meals, we plan to supply activity packs and food parcels to help families in these challenging times. If this would help or you know of a family who would benefit through this summer, please contact: 07885599810 to register ASAP.

God Bless. Mgr Gerard, Mgr Dasey, Rev Ken

July 6th 2020 Abortion Vote

From Mgr Gerard:

I urgently draw your attention to the vote taking place in parliament happening this Monday effecting Abortion regulations/human life in England and Wales, our dioceses. The biggest vote on abortion since 1967 is this Monday (6 July). This would introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28-weeks – along with many other extreme changes. 

Please help stop this by emailing your MP now asking them to oppose. It only takes 30-seconds here: https://righttolife.org.uk/StopExtremeAbortion/

Mgr Gerard’s Announcement – 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Starting from Sunday 5th July there will be a daily public Mass celebrated at St Mary’s Cathedral.

The Mass will be at 12 midday and the rota for the week will be:

Sunday 12 midday

Monday 12 midday

Tuesday 7pm

Wednesday 7pm

Thursday 7pm

Friday 12 midday

Saturday 12 midday

You will need to book a place for Mass as we are limited to 100 places and to do this you can telephone FRIDAY ONLY 9AM – 12 MIDDAY 01642 597750.

You may, however, be able to arrive during the week for Mass without booking.

You will need to wear a face covering at Mass and due to the test and trace system we will require your name and contact details for this purpose only.

It is important to remember that the obligation to come to Mass is still suspended and we will also continue to live stream our 10am Mass every day.

Also, every Saturday after the 12 midday Mass there will be confessions available.

At this moment in time, I will only be opening St Mary’s Cathedral for public Mass each day. St Clare’s and St Francis will remain closed for the time being, however I will be working on opening both Churches later in the summer.

Finally, it is important to know that we are not back to normal, we are trying to work within all the guidelines to help people with their faith and spiritual well being.

We now have no Mass requests, so if you would like Mass to be said please fill in the Mass request envelopes and hand them into Monsignor Gerard.

Also, at the Cathedral you can bring your collection envelopes or cash donation for either the Cathedral or St Francis or St Clare’s, aswell as collecting your new box of envelopes for the Churches.

Finally, we have some funding from the SVP to provide food parcels for families affected by the long lockdown due to Covid. If we can help by providing these for you ring: 07885599810 or 01642 597750 and we will arrange to get this to you safely.

For the Feast of Fun this year as we will not be able to hold the usual activities and hot meals, we plan to supply activity packs and food parcels to help families in these challenging times. If this would help or you know of a family who would benefit through this summer, please contact: 07885599810 to register ASAP.

God Bless. Mgr Gerard, Mgr Dasey, Rev Ken.

Bishop Terence Patrick Drainey’s Letter

Dear Brothers and sisters,

The Metropolitan Archbishops of England have written a pastoral message to us all regarding the announcement made by the Government that Acts of Public Worship may be held in a limited way as from 4th July. First of all may I take the opportunity to express my joy and gratitude that so many of our Churches have opened for private prayer already. This in no small part is due to the hard work and commitment of priests and people who have formed the teams of stewards so that our Churches are safe places.

You will note from the tone of the letter that follows that there is still an atmosphere of caution as we take these small steps forward to celebrate the Eucharist and the Sacraments. As I write to you, we are still awaiting clarification and endorsement from from Public Health England regarding the Bishops’ Conference guidelines for the celebration of acts of worship in our Churches. It will depend on what these guidelines entail as to when and how we will be able to celebrate the liturgy with public participation. So, although the date of 4th July has assigned as the day when Public Acts of Worship can be celebrated, it may take longer for this to happen in your particular Church. Please be patient. If you are able, perhaps you might consider joining the teams of stewards so that the work of making our Churches safe places can be made easier and more accessible. Yours in blessed hope, Bishop Terry.

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England

Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

On Tuesday we heard the announcement that, from the 4th July this year, places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services. We welcome this news with great joy. Since the lockdown began, members of all faiths have faced restrictions on how they have been able to celebrate important religious festivals. Our own experience of Easter was unlike any other we have known. Now, in our churches, and with our people, we can look forward again to celebrating the central mysteries of our faith in the Holy Eucharist.

The recent reopening of our churches for individual private prayer was an important milestone on our journey towards resuming communal worship. Our churches that have opened have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus transmission are minimised. This includes effective hand sanitisation, social distancing, and cleaning. We remain committed to making sure these systems of hygiene and infection control meet Government and public health standards.

We want to thank everyone within the Catholic community for sustaining the life of faith in such creative ways, not least in the family home. We thank our priests for celebrating Mass faithfully for their people, and for the innovative ways in which they have enabled participation through live-streaming and other means. We are grateful for the pastoral care shown by our clergy to those for whom this time of lockdown has been especially difficult, and, in particular, towards those who have been bereaved. We recognise too the chaplaincy services that have played a vital role in supporting those most in need. Gaining from the experience of all that we have been through, and bringing those lessons into the future, we must now look forward. With the easing of restrictions on worship with congregations, we tread carefully along the path that lies ahead. Our lives have been changed by the experience of the pandemic and it is clear that we cannot simply return to how things were before lockdown. We remain centred on the Lord Jesus and His command at the Last Supper to “do this in memory of me.” We must now rebuild what it means to be Eucharistic communities, holding fast to all that we hold dear, while at the same time exploring creative ways to meet changed circumstances.

It is important to reaffirm that, at present, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended. A significant number of churches may remain closed as they are unable to meet the requirements for opening for individual prayer. Fulfilling these requirements is a precondition for any church opening after the 4th July for the celebration of Mass with a congregation. Please be aware that there will be a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches. This will determined locally in accordance with social distancing requirements. We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going ‘back to normal.’

We ask every Catholic to think carefully about how and when they will return to Mass. Our priests may need to consider whether it is possible to celebrate additional Masses at the weekends. Given there is no Sunday obligation, we ask you to consider the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday. This will ease the pressure of numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for more people.

Moving forward, there will still be many people who cannot attend Mass in person. We therefore ask parishes, wherever possible, to continue live-streaming Sunday Mass, both for those who remain shielding and vulnerable, and also for those unable to leave home because of advanced age or illness. When we return to Mass there will some differences in how the celebration takes place. For the time being, there will be no congregational singing and Mass will be shorter than usual. None of this detracts from the centrality of our encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. We ask everyone to respect and follow the guidance that will be issued and the instructions in each church.

“As I have loved you,” said the Lord Jesus, “so you must love each other.” (Jn 13:34) The lockdown has brought forth remarkable acts of charity, of loving kindness, from Catholics across our communities as they have cared for the needy and vulnerable. We have seen love in action through charitable works, and through the service of many front-line keyworkers who are members of our Church. Now we can begin to return to the source of that charity, Christ himself, present for us sacramentally, body, blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion. As we prepare to gather again to worship, let us, respectful of each other, come together in thanksgiving to God for the immense gift of the Holy Eucharist.

Yours devotedly in Christ

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This letter is addressed to the Catholic Community in England; the opening of the Catholic Churches in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Assembly who are still evaluating their position on opening Places of Worship.

Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

Malcolm McMahon OP , Archbishop of Liverpool

Bernard Longley , Archbishop of Birmingham

John Wilson Archbishop of Southwark

Finally, we have some funding from the SVP to provide food parcels for families affected by the long lockdown due to Covid. If we can help by providing these for you ring: 07885599810 or 01642 597750 and we will arrange to get this to you safely. For the Feast of Fun this year as we will not be able to hold the usual activities and hot meals, we plan to supply activity packs and food parcels to help families in these challenging times. If this would help or you know of a family who would benefit through this summer, please contact: 07885599810 to register asap. If you would like a Mass to be said please send the Mass envelope to the Cathedral, you can also collect your envelopes during Private Prayer time at the Cathedral, these are also for St Francis and St Clare, please note Private Prayer time is Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon 12-2pm and Tues 7pm-9pm. God Bless. Mgr Gerard

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the Gospel Jesus calls for witnesses, that is, people who are nor afraid to be seen to be followers of his out there in the midst of a sceptical and sometimes hostile world. Fear is one of the things that keeps Christians from a bold and generous witnessing to the gospel. We should not be afraid to show our faith. Faith is not a comforting illusion that all is well. It means that life is full of risk, full of insecurity, but we can also rejoice in this, because this is the essence of faith. God watches over us, gives us strength and hope especially in times of difficulty and danger.

This weekend the Cathedral Church is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12 midday – 3pm with exposition. l would love more volunteers who are under 70 with no health issues to help with the cleaning and stewarding during the time the Church is open. As you find in supermarkets and other places, there are strict rules upon entering and I hope you understand the logistics of how things will work. I will also be looking for volunteers for St Francis Church. There is a risk assessment for this on the websites. If you are able to help please contact me: 01642 597750

Finally, we have some funding from the SVP to provide food parcels for families affected by the long lockdown due to Covid. If we can help by providing these for you ring: 07885599810 or 01642 597750 and we will arrange to get this to you safely.

For the Feast of Fun this year as we will not be able to hold the usual activities and hot meals, we plan to supply activity packs and food parcels to help families in these challenging times. If this would help or you know of a family who would benefit through this summer, please contact: 07885599810 to register asap. God Bless and Keep safe.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Corpus Christi Sunday

Today we celebrate a Feast that we are not fully able to, at this moment participate. The Eucharist which we share is a liberation, a journey, a feast which draws us closer to each other and to God. We pray that soon we are able to receive the Eucharist, the food that sustains us, helps us and nourishes us, transforming us to become what we receive, Jesus Christ to others.

I have mentioned about the reopening of our Churches. I am currently working on opening the Cathedral Church this coming Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12 midday – 3pm. I am very grateful to the volunteers that have agreed to help steward and clean. l would love more volunteers who are under 70 with no health issues to help with the cleaning requirements, stewarding, during the time the Church is open. As you find in supermarkets and other places, there are strict rules upon entering and I hope you understand the logistics of how things will work. I will be looking aswell for similar volunteers for St Francis Church in in to come. There is a risk assessment for this on the websites. I would be grateful for any volunteers to help each week. If you are able to help please contact me: 01642 597750

Finally, we have some funding from the SVP to provide food parcels for families affected by the long lockdown due to Covid. If we can help by providing these for you ring: 07885599810 or 01642 597750 and we will arrange to get this to you safely. For the Feast of Fun this year as we will not be able to hold the usual activities and hot meals, we plan to supply activity packs and food parcels to help families in these challenging times. If this would help or you know of a family who would benefit through this summer, please contact: 07885599810 to register asap. God Bless and Keep safe.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Trinity Sunday

Today is Trinity Sunday. We think of God as our Father, a Father who loves us deeply. We think of Jesus, the Son of God as our Brother. He leads us to the father’s house. We think of the Holy Spirit as the one who helps us to live like Jesus, and who binds us together as brothers and sisters in a community of love.

Last week I mentioned about the reopening of our Churches. At the moment the government and the Religious task force are talking of possible dates but it will purely be for private prayer. I am currently working on opening the Cathedral Church only, not St Care’s and not St Francis. There are very strict guidelines that must be followed, l need volunteers who are under 70 with no health issues to help with the cleaning requirements each time a Church is opened, stewarding, being in attendance during the time the Church is open. I am also currently working on signage, the type you find in supermarkets and having a way in and a way our with sanitizers in place for all who attend. This involves a lot of work, people and costs, so that is why I am only looking at opening one Church. I hope those in St Clare’s and St Francis understand this situation.

I would be grateful of any young volunteers to help each week at the Cathedral, and if you are able, please contact me: 01642 597750. I am looking to have a meeting in two weeks time to meet all volunteers so far who have agreed to help to talk/walk through what we will need to do, I will put a date together next weekend.

Finally, we have some funding from the SVP to provide food parcels and craft bags for families affected by the long lockdown due to Covid. If we can help by providing these for you in any other way ring: 07885599810 or 01642 597750 and we will arrange to get this to you safely. God Bless You all, and stay safe.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Pentecost Sunday

Today is the feast of Pentecost, Jesus offers us the help we need to keep trying. He sends us out to proclaim the good news of God’s incredible love, but we do not go alone. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he says. From this day forward, we will never walk alone. The Christian messenger does not simply bring Christ to others, but identifies the Christ who is already there. Where there is goodness, there is forgiveness, it is his forgiveness. We show people where Christ is already at work in their midst, and in this way, as working with the Holy Spirit, we build up the body of Christ.

In the next weeks newsletter, I will be informing you of the action plan that I am currently working on to open the Cathedral Church in Middlesbrough towards the end of June, as directed by the Government., and the Bishops of England and Wales. There are very strict guidelines that must be followed, like cleaning requirements each time a Church is opened, sanitisers, having very definite signage etc. At the moment, and in agreement with the Bishop, I am looking at opening the Cathedral for private prayer only, and next week I will be explaining how that could work.

Finally, Fr Albert will be leaving us on the 10th June. He is taking up an appointment as the Priest in Charge of Bridlington. The current Parish Priest, Fr John Wood was involved in a serious accident before the New Year, and has now retired. The Parish needs a Priest and the Bishop has asked Fr Albert to move earlier than usual to prepare the Church for possible reopening. We wish him well as he moves back to the coastal area of our diocese, and thank him for his brief time with us since October 2019. God Bless You all, and stay safe.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Seventh Sunday of Easter

During the 9 days between the Ascension and Pentecost the apostles, with Mary in their midst assembled in the upper room to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Their preparation for receiving the Spirit was prayer. This is the oldest and most important novena in the Church. We too must try to make these days, days of prayer. Each Pentecost renews the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

On a different note, there are now opportunities to have a Mass celebrated by one of the Priest’s please send in your Mass request to me here at the Cathedral (the address is at the top of the newsletter) and we can get your Mass celebrated in the new few weeks.

Also, many people have asked what they are to do regarding the collection and the envelopes. My advice is to hang onto your envelopes or money and when we are back open, then that can be brought to the Church, but not to worry at the moment.

We also must be aware of the bigger picture, we need to consider the local foodbanks, many people in our area are going hungry, there is a reliance on the community’s support to ensure that food is still donated. You can check this site that can give updated information on foodbanks, giving items urgently needed, and you can also give a cash donation:

https://middlesbrough.foodbank.org.uk/location/

Give help by donating money, big or small, every gift helps transform lives.

I am also aware that CAFOD have launched an emergency appeal and again you can check out their website for info: Cafod.org.uk/coronavirusappeal

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Sixth Sunday of Easter

The message is very simple this week, if we love Christ we will listen to his words and try to put them into practice in our lives. Often, we think we are good simply because we are not conscious of doing any great evil. But what about the things we fail to do?

At the end of our life, we will be judged not on our fear of hell or hope of heaven, but on active Christian love.

On a different note, there are now opportunities to have a Mass celebrated by one of the Priest’s please send in your Mass request to me here at the Cathedral (the address is at the top of the newsletter) and we can get your Mass celebrated in the new few weeks.

Also, many people have asked what they are to do regarding the collection and the envelopes. My advice is to hang onto your envelopes or money and when we are back open, then that can be brought to the Church, but not to worry at the moment.

We also must be aware of the bigger picture, we need to consider the local foodbanks, many people in our area are going hungry, there is a reliance on the community’s support to ensure that food is still donated. You can check this site that can give updated information on foodbanks, giving items urgently needed, and you can also give a cash donation:

https://middlesbrough.foodbank.org.uk/location/

Give help by donating money, big or small, every gift helps transform lives

I am also aware that CAFOD have launched an emergency appeal and again you can check out their website for info:

Cafod.org.uk/coronavirusappeal

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Fifth Sunday of Easter

Trouble and heartache come to everyone in this world, we could be suffering from that today due to lockdown. Sadly in our world, there are issues of injustice, where people do not receive their share; issues of violence, issues of human relationships where dishonesty and trust can drive families apart, issues of bereavement, where people suddenly lose their loved ones. Certainly today, many families are affected by COVID 19 and sadly are having to deal with their loved one’s death, and we send our deepest sympathies to them.

The words of Jesus, spoken first to his disciples at the Last Supper, are repeated to us today: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” The Lord himself is the reason why we are not to lose hope.

On a different note, many have asked what they are to do regarding the collection and the envelopes. My advice is to hang onto your envelopes or money and when we are back open, then that can be brought to the Church, but not to worry at the moment

We also must be aware of the bigger picture, we need to consider the local foodbanks, many people in our area are going hungry, there is a reliance on the community’s support to ensure that food is still donated. You can check this site that can give updated information on foodbanks, giving items urgently needed, and you can also give a cash donation:

https://middlesbrough.foodbank.org.uk/location/

Give help by donating money, big or small, every gift helps transform lives.

I am also aware that CAFOD have launched an emergency appeal and again you can check out their website for info:

Cafod.org.uk/coronavirusappeal

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Jesus the Good Shepherd is a beautiful Symbol. The reading from John urges us to follow the voice of this Shepherd for our own protection, that we may be nurtured in safe pastures. In the world we live in today, it can be difficult to follow the Good Shepherd’s voice, as there are hundreds of other “shepherds” calling our names, wanting our attention and needing our support. We are offered a happier life through more money, more possessions and we believe that they can solve all our problems… but eventually we know that is not true!

In the midst of the confusing clamour of voices today, the voice of the Good Shepherd beckons us with his vision. He is the “way, truth and the life”. It is especially important during this pandemic to listen to the Good Shepherd, pray to him to keep us all safe.

These are challenging times so we seek God with all our hearts.

We pray for the sick in our communities, for their families, for health care workers, and for leaders who are diligently working to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Together, we are checking on our neighbours, “attending “ Mass on line, and living as disciples of Jesus Christ.

We pray for each other, and I hope you pray for all Priests and our Bishop during these trying times because this is really hard on all of us as we encounter challenges that Priests have not seen since 1918.

God bless you all. We miss you. If you have a computer don’t forget our livestream Mass every day at 10am and rosary on a Mon, Wed & Fri at 3pm. On your computer google in: diocese of Middlesbrough YouTube Keep Safe.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Third Sunday of Easter

The story of the journey to Emmaus is essentially a story about heart. As the two disciples made their way homewards, they were talking about Jesus. He had filled their lives with meaning, hope and joy, but now they felt haunted by his absence since his crucifixion.

It was when Jesus joined them on their journey that he then opened up the word of God to them, showing how it was foretold that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory.

The Emmaus story gives us a model of how we can relate to Christ. We bring our everyday experience, our hopes and our disappointments and fears before God in prayer.

We pour out our hearts, holding nothing back, telling God exactly how we feel. Then we ponder God’s word, proclaimed in the liturgy, spoken to us through others, and in scriptures we read them ourselves. Perhaps something stirs within us as we sense the presence of Christ in us.

We then walk with people as they journey, listening to them, helping them, encouraging them and being a witness to our faith. The main thing that comes across to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is that Jesus loved them. It is that what made their hearts burn. The story shows the goodness of God which is to be shouted out from the rooftops.

God bless you all. We miss you. If you have a computer don’t forget our livestream Mass every day at 10am and rosary on a Mon, Wed & Fri at 3pm. Go to the parish or diocese of Middlesbrough website to see the link. Keep Safe!

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Second Sunday of Easter

What matters more than being filled with the occasional fear and doubt is that we can accept how we feel. When we accept our feelings instead of denying them and criticising ourselves for having them, we are able to move on through these feelings.

We’re not paralysed by them and stuck in our tracks. We are alive with our options about how we will proceed. Thomas was afraid and couldn’t believe his eyes and yet he did not let this stop him from taking a step from doubt and fear to faith. Seeing is believing to Thomas.

He reaches out to touch Jesus’ hands and his side as invited by Jesus who no doubt knew Thomas well, and as he does, he is moved to profess My Lord and My God!

Doubting Thomas became a believer. What counts is that we too move through doubt and fear to what we dare to believe. The story of doubting Thomas brings home to us just how fragile the human container in which the gift of faith is carried. At this moment, trying to live with the pandemic, faith is tested and doubt does raise its head in all forms.

We must live in the light of faith rather than in the darkness of doubt. We must be people of courage and of hope, believing that things will be better and life will move forward. Let our prayer today be “O God, I do believe. Help my unbelief.”

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Easter Sunday

Easter reminds us that there is hope, that people are good, that faith is still there and that faith is personal and nobody can take our faith away from us, not even Covid-19. It is a reminder that, as Archbishop Tutu said, “Every act of kindness enhances the quality of life”.

Easter says there is hope despite the fear and despair.

Easter says that love is pulling us out of our tombs of despair.

Easter helps us to recognise the love of God in the person who cares for us.

Listen to the prayer in today’s Mass: ”Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit.” Look what is told to us in the Exsultet : ”This is the night that dispels all evil…the night that brings mourners joy…the night when heaven is wedded to earth and when we are reconciled with God”.

Easter reminds us to roll away the stones and rocks that seal our hopes and dreams in the tombs of despair and cynicism. We must try to be Easter people, people of faith, people of love, people of hope demonstrating our actions of our belief in Jesus Christ.

This past week, I gathered all the many Eggs that we had at all of our Churches and have donated them to a food bank that will distribute them to many children who would not get an Easter Egg this year. Thank you for so many donations of Eggs, and I know they will be well received. I hope you are ok and safe, isolation is not always an easy situation to be in, and also not being able to come to Church, but I hope you are able to receive the live stream every day at 10am. Happy Easter and God Bless You all.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Palm Sunday

What an interesting Holy Week this is going to be for all of us. We are in some ways in unchartered waters, but through this week’s journey to the Cross familiar territory. It has been a crazy few weeks, our Lent has certainly been interesting, and whether we have given in, given up on Lent, we find ourselves at the beginning of Holy Week, and what a week it will be for you and me and Jesus Christ. Jesus week, gets off to a good start with a hero’s welcome – coats, palm branches spread in his path. Messiah! Several days later, their cheers turn to jeers. Crucify him! Suddenly the crowds turn on him, wanting him dead. Not at all loyal, not really friends. But then look closely at Jesus’ “real friends”. In a matter of hours, Jesus enjoys time with his disciples. He dips his hand in the same bowl with the man who’ll betray him with a kiss. Jesus washes the feet of Peter, James and John, who won’t even stay awake to pray with him. In the courtyard, while Jesus is being mistreated, Peter hears a cock crow and denies knowing his friend. At this time of isolation, dealing with a pandemic, there is no better way than to contemplate the passion of Jesus, as we take up our crosses, the very real burdens of our own lives and walk through these days with Jesus.

What weigh us down at this moment in our lives?

What are my fears?

How can I take up this cross in such a way as to lighten the burden of someone else?

The gospel is about all of us who have followed Jesus this Lent, struggling to draw closer to him. The closer we are to him, the more we will live in his life. But, we are all capable of betraying him, and we all have reasons for repentance.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – 5th Sunday of Lent

How are you doing? It is interesting when we are suddenly confined to our homes how difficult it is to surrender ourselves to what is being asked of us. However, it is all for our own good and protection. I hope you are coping and have managed to put some structure into your days. Just to remind you that we are live streaming daily Mass at 10am everyday and this week we will also be praying the rosary on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3pm.If you have a computer you can go to the Diocese of Middlesbrough website and click on the link for live steam Mass. This will be the same link for the rosary too. All our Priests are well and we celebrate Mass daily for the above intentions. You are always in our thoughts and prayers. This week we have three funeral Services, Michael O’Brien, Margaret McGeown and Eileen Anderson, may they rest in peace. There is just one more week before we begin Holy Week. In our Gospel today, Jesus releases Lazarus from his tomb, he tells others to untie him of his linen bandages. We are all called to share in the redemptive work of Jesus. Jesus calls us as he called Lazarus: but the difference between now and then is that the voice of the Lord speaks to us through the voice of others. I am sure this week we have all had a friendly phone call and even a neighbour putting a message through the letterbox encouraging us to call if there is anything we need. Jesus, through the work of others, is always helping and supporting us, particularly through these difficult times. He does not want us to be entombed, trapped, bound together. It is through each other that we will survive this as stronger disciples of Christ, don’t give up! God Bless Mgr. Gerard, Mgr. Dasey and Fr Albert.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – 4th Sunday of Lent

I was telling a friend about a woman with lung cancer. He asked, “How long did she smoke?” Actually, the woman has never smoked, but I understood the question. There’s something scary about having an element of random chaos in our lives. Never has there been so much as we face today with COVID-19. We like our world ordered and reliable, a world where virtuous non -smokers don’t have to worry about lung cancer. The Pharisees in today’s gospel like an orderly, reliable world too. They see blindness as the result of sin. So when Jesus gives sight, their worldview is threatened. The blind man, however, seems to be living with random chaos. He is blind, and it’s nobody’s fault. And then Jesus walks by… It’s a powerful contrast. The Pharisees, clinging rigidly to their ideas, move deeper into darkness. But the beggar’s eyes are open, literally and figuratively. He moves through stages towards faith and becomes a sign of the works of God. The same with us. God comes to us in the random chaos of our lives and touches us with grace. But we have to open our hearts and minds to him. This is when we see Jesus at work in our lives and become like him, especially during this difficult time, where people are self -isolating, the elderly are housebound, parents are coping with children at home. We all need to look out for one another, random acts of kindness, even a phone-call to check people are coping. We must be aware of our neighbour, stop panic buying and be kind and thoughtful towards others.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – 3rd Sunday of Lent

: Firstly, thank you for all the well wishes. I am improving but I am still suffering from asthmatic problems, so I am still not back at work. This weekend we hear in the gospel of the Samaritan who met Jesus at the well and their meeting changed her life forever. Her life was in a shambles having had five husbands, potentially working on her sixth, and yet Jesus’ eyes don’t criticize or condemn. His gaze invited her to say words that released hurt and loneliness in the woman and those words brought some healing and restoration to her. Most of us have learned to adopt an “I can do it myself” attitude and we often find it difficult to tell others we need their help. In today’s world we hurt inside, we too often put on a plastic smile, one that says we’re at peace but actually we’re not. Caring people are there to get inside our worlds and see beyond our masks. They break down the hiding places we have built brick by brick. We need people like this in our lives who are there to build bridges and share our problems. People who have that attitude help things get better. It’s time to lift our head and see who is waiting to see into our eyes. Today can also be a new healing for us if we open our heart to someone. In this time in which we live with coronavirus and isolation it is even more important that we care and share. Lent challenges us to measure our willingness to care even if it’s a simple phone call to make sure people are ok. That’s the Christian thing to do.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – 2nd Sunday of Lent

There are no plans for the Transfigurations that enrich our lives. We just need to let ourselves be caught up in the moment and be lost in the experience. God is hard to capture but we keep trying. In our Gospel Peter represents all of us. He’s saying let’s stay here, let’s make this permanent, let’s make it last forever. In a sense put God in church, in a box, in a tabernacle. That way when we need God we know where to go. But that’s not how it works. Our problem is that as soon as we come down from the mountain and run into the reality of life our faith easily fails us and like Peter, we can start to deny Christ. Prayer is the key. It is only prayer that shows God has not abandoned us. He is present in our every walk of life. At all times, especially in times of difficulty, remember what St. Paul said, “God is on our side” and with God on our side we can face anything.

Fr Albert’s Reflection – 1st Sunday of Lent

The Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent, sets before us the narrative of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. The devil seeks to divert Jesus from the Father’s plan, that is, from the way of sacrifice, the love that offers itself in expiation. He offers him instead an easier path, one of success and power. The duel between Jesus and Satan takes place through strong quotations from Sacred Scripture. The devil, to divert Jesus from the way of the cross, tries to set before him false messianic hopes:

1) Easy economy. A Messiah that provides economic well-being, indicated by the ability to turn stones into bread. This reminds us of the temptation to become rich through no effort at all, instead seizing hold of goods destined for all, to use only for “my own self.” That is, taking “bread” earned by the toil of others, or even at the expense of their very lives. That is the bread that a corrupt family, or society, gives its children.

2) Vanity. To be a “celebrity style” Messiah by pursuing the futile chasing of those fifteen minutes of fame. Satan proposes to Jesus the idea of throwing himself off the highest point of the Temple in Jerusalem, to be saved by angels. This will provide him with Celebrity exposure

3) Power. A quick, easy shortcut to power and dominion in exchange for an act of adoration to Satan. Betraying your own nature, identity and dignity in pursuit of quick power.

As humans, we are continually bombarded with these three temptations. Evil tries to corrode, destroy and extinguish the joy and freshness of doing God’s will within us. These temptations lock us into a cycle of destruction and sin. Jesus decisively rejects all these temptations. He reiterates his firm resolve to follow the path set by the Father, without any kind of compromise with sin or worldly logic. Jesus overcomes temptation by refusing to enter into dialogue with Satan. Instead, Jesus chooses to take refuge in the Word of God and responds with the power of God’s Word. For this reason, it is important for us to know Scripture, because otherwise we do not know how to combat the snares of the Evil One. Lent is the appropriate time for us all to make a journey of conversion. Let us renew the promises of our Baptism. Let us renounce Satan and all his works and seductions, in order to follow the path of God and arrive at Easter in the joy of the Spirit. (based on Pope Francis reflections of the 9/03/2014; 14/02/2016)

Fr Albert’s Reflection – 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Teaching about revenge, (An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth) the Old Testament might seem somewhat vindictive. However, we need to keep in mind that this Old Testament law was to prevent people from inflicting undue punishment upon one another. It prevented retribution from being greater than the offence which evoked it. Jesus’ Gospel teaching on forgiveness runs counter to all that we feel in our hearts concerning how to relate to others. Jesus came to fulfil the law and the prophets, and not to abolish them; “Be perfect …as your heavenly Father is perfect”. This perfection has to do with our ability to be like Jesus and to love as he loved. Only in Jesus can the wall of hostility between people be broken down. In all this, how do we fare? Have we hurt dear family members? Do we love and respect those in authority? Do we hold grudges and resentment? Do we make cutting or cynical remarks? Do we love those who are our neighbours and those in the neighbourhood of the world? How about the poor and the helpless? Those who cannot defend themselves? Do we love those of different religions, of racial groups, nationalities or social classes? When we are wronged, our first response must be to say in our hearts that we believe Jesus died on the cross for everyone; that his victory is stronger than our hunger for revenge. We can then ask God for the grace to forgive, to return good for evil. The more we live this out, the stronger will the love of God grow within us.

Fr Albert’s Reflection – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Choosing wisely and living by the values of the Kingdom are the key phrases that help us to focus on this Sunday’s message. The opening verse in the first reading says, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments, they will save you.”

God gives us both freedom and responsibility. The wise choose life, not death. They choose love, peace and forgiveness not hate and revenge. Choice is always before us. We choose to relate with others wisely by respecting boundaries. St. Paul, in the second reading, describes this choice in terms of either opting for human wisdom or God’s wisdom. If we choose God’s wisdom, we become the best version of ourselves; we live by the values of the kingdom. When we choose human wisdom, we end up being foolish and blaming ourselves.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses several moral issues. On the issue of murder, Jesus calls us to choose to be persons of peace and compassion. It means being a person of forgiveness. Unless one forgives, anger continues to build up until it erupts.

Another issue that Jesus addresses is the new law of marital relations. Jesus calls us to make the choice to live married relationships in fidelity. For Jesus, marriage is part of God’s plan, reflecting God’s fidelity to the chosen people. A married relationship is to be a place of safety, nurture and honour, not a place of violence, dishonesty and destructiveness. By forbidding divorce, Jesus calls for a reconciled relationship between husband and wife, instead of living in a situation of submissiveness or warfare.

Fr Albert’s Reflection – 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

We must be Salt and Light. Salt adds flavour, while light illuminates. Both salt and light should be there for others, not for oneself: salt does not give flavour to itself and light does not illuminate itself. Jesus here is referring to the quality of life, or goodness, that flows from within me. My goodness must never be self-serving. It should never be a put-on thing in which I seek to bring glory to myself. The greatest danger facing us Christians today is that we can totally become absorbed by the world and the crowd around us. We become no different from other people, so we become tasteless and darkness. The true follower of Christ must have something special to offer, some light to shed, some flavour to add, some hope to bring. If not, then she or he is not only redundant but also useless. We all know what is done with useless things. For how long can Salt and Light last without running out if we continue to give of ourselves relentlessly? That’s where the power of God comes in. We become Salt and Light to the World as a gift that is given to us by God through Baptism. This is a gift that never ends. One may not be able to become a massive beacon of light, but if one has even a little goodness, and try to be true to it, then one can at least be a humble candle which sheds precious light in its own immediate vicinity

Fr Albert’s Reflection – The Presentation of the Lord

Today, the 2nd of February, we interrupt our progression through the Liturgical year, to stop and meditate on the Solemnity of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. Traditionally, we refer to this feast as Candlemas, because of the blessing of the candles at the beginning of the Mass. The blessing of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the True Light, ‘the light to enlighten the Gentiles’ (Lk 2, 32). In the Eastern Churches, this feast is referred to as the Feast of the Encounter, where the Messiah encounters His people for the first time. Jesus’ solemn encounter with His people of Israel happened in the Temple of Jerusalem when he was still only 40 days old. Animated by the desire to fulfill what was prescribed by the Jewish Law, the newlywed parents, Mary and Joseph, took Jesus in their arms to the Father’s House. At the Temple, they are received by two elderly people, Simeon and Anna. Simeon and Anna are both described as advanced in years, thus representing the history of the People of Israel. What is new is that both Simeon and Anna are at the Temple because they were led there by the Holy Spirit. But Jesus is the centre of this encounter between the Holy Family and these two representatives of the Holy People of God. It is Jesus who moves everything, who attracts one and all to the Temple, which is the House of His Father. Jesus brings together young people full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord and the elderly, full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observance and prophecy, where the young are the observers and the elderly are the prophets. In reality, the observance of the Law is animated by the Spirit himself, and the prophecy is moved in the way traced by the Law. Today’s Gospel presents us with the encounter between youth and old age; between the Old Testament and the New Testament; between hope and fulfilment; between birth and the Resurrection. From the very first moments of his life, Jesus is making his way to his glorious death in Jerusalem. As a result, the presentation calls us to spend our life living fully for God, devoted to the will of the Father. The presentation of our complete gift of self, out of love, leads us in faith to the hope-filled assumption of eternal life.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

One of the most common responses to the call to be evangelisers is that we are not ready, prepared or worthy. That may be true, but worthiness is not part of the gospel’s demand. In fact, to be aware of our frailties and weaknesses is a key dimension of our spiritual journey. It helps us stay humble with our feet on the ground. The gospel speaks of the sudden invitation to come follow Jesus and become fishers of people. The call may come out of the blue and of course we don’t feel ready or prepared and we can have too many excuses to put off what God’s will may be expecting of us. I am sure the fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John, when asked to follow Christ, could have come up with many, many excuses but they took the risk and their mission was to capture the hearts and minds of people. We are all asked to do the same. We cannot be part-time Catholics. To follow Christ is a lifestyle change and we show example by the way we live our life and how we look after brothers and sisters. It’s through how we live our life in this world that people will want to be part of who we are and what we are about. Such was the lives of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and the apostles. Proclaiming the good news, healing and teaching. We pray we may have the courage to respond to the needs of this world with Jesus’ love and compassion.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Our Gospel this weekend really does show the character of John the Baptist. He has spent months, maybe years, encouraging people to listen to him, follow him, to be part of his group. People like him, they like what he has to say and are impressed by what he does. It was good to be part of his group even if it was challenging and demanding. And then someone else comes along and John the Baptist actively encourages the people who have been following him to leave him and go with this other person. Yet John the Baptist does just this. He sees Jesus, recognises him for who he is, the Messiah, and immediately withdraws. John is not concerned with popularity. He is not interested in being the centre of attention. John the Baptist has dedicated his life to preparing for the arrival of Jesus Christ and now it is time for him to ‘decrease’ so that Jesus can ‘increase’. His friends trust John enough to leave him and follow Jesus. But whatever was said and done in that time together, it was enough for all of them to understand this was no ordinary man. This was indeed the Messiah.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – Baptism of the Lord

We are called to grow in wisdom and grace. It took Jesus thirty years to reach maturity and to acquire wisdom. It will take us a lifetime to grow to maturity and to ripen as human beings and children of God. The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus reminds us of our own baptism and provides us with an opportunity to commit ourselves to the Christian life which essentially is a life of service. There are many people that understand this but there are sadly many that don’t. We are not called to save the world or to solve the problem, nevertheless each of us has our own unique calling in our families, in our work, in our world. We need God’s help to be faithful to that call. Faithfulness for everyday tasks is our way of responding to the problems of our time and participation in the work of Jesus. Baptism is like the planting of the seed. It will take a lifetime for this seed to grow and ripen.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – Epiphany of the Lord

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. The word Epiphany means ‘manifestation’ so we celebrate Jesus manifestation of himself to the gentile world. Some countries celebrate it more solemnly than they do Christmas. The manifestation of Jesus means that we must continue to proclaim the good news that Jesus the Son of God lived among us and came for all people. This is a practical message of the Feast of the Epiphany. We are called to proclaim this message. There is a beautiful message written by an unknown Christian author that sums up in a beautiful imagery the practical message of the Epiphany: “When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the Kings and the princes are home, when the shepherds are back with the flocks, the work of Christmas begins, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoners, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among our brothers and sisters, to make music with the heart.” May I wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – Feast of the Holy Family

Pope Francis wrote in his recent exhortation that the family is “where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another.” That very belonging to each other is what today’s readings are about. Our lives are complicated and families don’t always consist of two parents. But Paul’s letter to the Colossians offers all of us the tools we need to care for each other: heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. I can guess that Paul was intimately connected with family as he notes other important family skills, like “bearing with one another” which seems like an apt phrase on the harder days. When we share a home, we not only have to forgive each other, but to be aware that we need forgiveness from each other, prompted by the example of God’s deeply loving forgiveness for us all. The Gospel is Matthew’s story of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt in fear of Herod, who was searching for their son. They left their homeland and lived in a country they did not know, with languages and customs not their own, separated from their family. When they could finally return to Israel, fear of Herod’s successor forced them to go not home, but to Galilee, where they would be less likely to be found. But despite the stress of their situation, I picture them as holding onto each other even more closely. That seems to be our human reaction to tragedy – we want to gather our loved ones together and hold onto each other. Even with the people who drive us crazy. But they are family and they belong to us and we belong to them; because family is not about perfection but fidelity. As Pope Francis says about families, “We remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to ‘bear one another’s burdens.’” Being part of a family means being faithful to our everyday lives, to loving each other on our best and worst days.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 4th Sunday of Advent

The birth of the baby we’re about to celebrate is like no other birth because he was like no other baby. Yes, the child was special because through the power of the Holy Spirit he was born to Mary, a young girl, but he was also special because of his life because he was Emmanuel which means God is with us. God comes to share our life so that we could be saved from sin and death and this amazing wonderful story just has to be told over and over again each Christmas. Just like your own family traditions of Christmas, the stories we tell every year, the decorations we hang, the foods we eat and gestures we make all remind us who we are and what we value the most. So it is in the Christian community, we gather together in church to hear about Jesus, who he was, why he came. We remember that he shows us the human face of God’s love, saves us from sin and offers us a share in the divine life. So this wonderful story needs to be told again and again because each time we hear it we come a little closer to the source that is God with us. We are changed by hearing, by believing, by responding in gratitude to what God has done and reaching out to love one another.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 3rd Sunday of Advent

At the time of today’s gospel John the Baptist had been arrested and was sat in a prison cell. He became impatient and he sent some of his visitors to ask Jesus why the delay. Had John been wrong in thinking that Jesus was the one to come? We often hear the same kind of query in our world. Is Jesus really the saviour of the world? If he is, how do you explain the sad state of the world? You hear this asked about our church. Why doesn’t the church leadership do this or that? Jesus answers John’s questions by pointing out the reign of God was in progress and we are not yet at the end. Jesus tells us his friends “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. (John 16:12). He then spoke about the Holy Spirit who he would send from the Father, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you all into the truth. He will take what is mine and declare it to you”. The Holy Spirit is not often thought of during the Christmas season but today would be good to reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit and the role the Holy Spirit plays in in my life.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 2nd Sunday of Advent

This week our country calls us to vote. We have had various political parties making incredible promises in a very nice and heart-warming way. But today we meet someone who is no politician, whose words were challenging and uncompromising. He uses strong language as the Pharisees and Sadducees discover in todays gospel. He told his listeners to repent, to turn their lives around, to become new people. He told them to get ready for the coming of the reign of God. Now the extraordinary thing is that rather than being put off by this tough talk the people welcomed it. In fact, they journeyed out into the inhospitable desert to listen to him. They stepped forward to confess their sins and be baptised in the Jordan. They saw that unlike other religious leaders and politicians, John spoke with real authority. He was not interested in promoting himself but only in promoting God’s word and in pointing people towards God. So, they took his message on board. They listened to him, they heeded him, they were baptised and turned their lives around. John the Baptist’s uncompromising message is directed to each one of us today. We must repent, change whatever in our lives need changing, so that we will be ready to celebrate Christmas well.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 1st Sunday of Advent

Advent is a real challenge for parents. Why? Because it has been turned upside down by our culture and only the church continues to remind us that this is not a commercial time (to overspend, to party, to be exhausted, to pile up presents) but rather a very sacred time and so four weeks before Christmas the church begins the season of Advent. This word from the Latin ‘Adventus’ meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’. Advent reminds us that Jesus came among us in history, is even now among us in mystery (spiritually) and will come again in glory at the end of time. We start to unpack the nativity set we carefully put away last year when the Christmas season was over, we start to think about Christmas trees, decorations and even now singing along to Christmas songs and carols. It is good to remember Jesus’ birthday in this way, but Advent is a time to do more. The Advent season is all really to do with preparation, preparing our homes and preparing our families and preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas. Besides the fun way of all these preparations we must remember our own personal preparation to give time to what the birth of Christ means in our lives. Perhaps to refresh ourselves for the celebration by going to confession and to renew ourselves of the Christmas story.

Fr Albert’s Reflection – 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, brings to an end the Liturgical year. We are presented with the kingship of Jesus which is revealed to us in a very surprising way. “The Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King” (Lk 23:35,37) appears without power or glory: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver. Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading, that in Jesus we find redemption and forgiveness. The grandeur of Christ’s kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things. This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, fear and death. However, it would mean very little, if we believed that Jesus was King of the universe but did not make him Lord of our lives. Today’s gospel presents us with an encounter between Jesus and a THIEF, who begs the Lord: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). This person, simply looking at Jesus, believed in his kingdom. Though crucified because of his errors, sins and troubles – this man still turned to Jesus. He asked to be remembered, and he experienced God’s mercy: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Throughout his ministry Jesus shared his forgiveness; he dies breathing it. He died as he lived, reaching out to the distressed on either side of him. In the midst of his agony, he still had time for others. This is the gospel image of royalty – the king and the criminal who go together into paradise. This is the King we celebrate and whose values we try to live. May His kingdom come.

Fr Albert’s Reflection – 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

The end of the liturgical year reminds us of the approach of the end of time at the second coming of Christ. This must be a central desire to our faith. We profess in the Nicene Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” After the Consecration, we profess, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.” The Theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin tells us “we must renew in ourselves the desire for the great coming.” Our fear should be of putting false pretences in things that are perishable. The people of Israel put their trust in the beauty of the Temple. They witnessed its destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70AD. Luke, writing his Gospel just after this event happened (around the year 80AD), wanted to tell Christians that the destruction of the Temple did not signal the end of the world. He cautioned the people not to listen to anyone who claimed to know the time of God’s visitation. Since Luke’s time, many people have claimed to know when the end of the world will come. Some claim a special revelation from God or Mary, and others claim to have calculated it from the Bible. All such claims should be ignored. We should not allow ourselves to be misled by claims or speculations that the end is near but must maintain a constant watchfulness. Before God’s final advent, there is life to be lived and struggles to be endured. Luke’s Gospel offers hope and encouragement in the face of conflict, persecution and family division. Jesus himself was about to experience a violent rejection by his own people and he prepared his disciples for the persecutions that they were to experience as they brought His message to the world. As disciples of Jesus, we trust in God’s mercy and protection, even when we are facing difficulties. Luke presents persecution as an opportunity for the followers of Jesus for “It will lead to your giving testimony” (Luke 21:13). In persecution, God’s wisdom and power will prevail. Perseverance in the face of persecution will lead to our salvation.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Looking around us in the world we live in you must surely be aware of the horrors, the violence, the lack of respect of human beings and God’s creation continues to be an ongoing presence which is hard to ignore even if we are not immediately involved. It is always interesting to read about heroic responses by ordinary people that stand up for those caught up in such difficulties such as things related in the first reading this weekend (2 Maccabees 7). Seven sons and their mother to stand against being forced to break the law. Their mother urged them to remain faithful at all costs. One son in particular is mentioned who cried out, “Heaven gave me these limbs; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again.” This also reminds us of all those who have died for what they believe in on this Remembrance Sunday. We remember all who died in the wars in our country fighting for peace. We remember those martyrs who died for their faith and we remember those who have also died in helping those on the edges of society, the lost and unloved in caring and supporting them. We will always be judged by our loving God on how we have loved our neighbour, cared for our world and loved God. Consider that phrase, “Where your treasure is, your heart is also.”