Vaccination…

It is so refreshing that the narrative around us is beginning to change. Of course, the high number of deaths is and remains shocking, but, the perspective is shifting to a time where there is no threat from COVID – this will take time – but the prospect is visible and tangible.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself in a certain sense of limbo. We are not at the thrilling beginning, the Christmas rush is over, and we are poised for something new. I certainly experience a sense of tiredness. Everything has been so “different” and that has been challenging.

Openness to what is new – what the Holy Spirit will guide us through this experience is key. It could be that we want things to “just go back to how they were”, but what can be “new?”

We will soon begin the season of Lent, a season of conversion that leads to the mystery of new life in the Risen Christ. I pray that this time of conversion will not only be key to us as individuals but also to us as a community as we are “lifted up” out of the experiences of the last year, to a newness of life only God can offer. (It will also be nice to get out for a coffee!!!)

How can we prepare for the newness God always wants to give:
1. Get a vaccine. Until it is safe we need to persevere with all the things that need to be done to protect each one of us and our communities.
2. Take time to think and pray. Don’t forget to dream. Ask God to show you what he wants you to give and to receive.
3. Share your thoughts and your prayer with others.
4. Smile. Where there is life there is hope….

To Downlad this weeks newsletter – CLICK HERE

God bless


Fr Andrew

WOW, WHAT A YEAR…

Every year is different – none as different as this one…

Wanted to write a few words of thanks and of hope at the outset of our celebration of Christmas. In one sense everything is different – but so much is the same in different clothing. Our focus at this time of year is the presence of the new life of Christ born again in our midst. If you think about it – that is the focus of the whole life as a Church all of the time – keeping Christ present in our lives, our homes, our Church and our world. On the journey of the past year we have been asked to learn a lot.
 
What does it mean to be community.  We have never been so separated “physically” from one another – and yet community has been ever more important. Not just our Sunday community – but our whole life of Caritas, receiving people into the Church, first Holy Communion of our children, our social life…. and so much more.  I believe we have grown stronger as a community.

How do we communicate with one another.  We are so used to meeting together physically and sorting things out in passing. There was so much to learn about keeping people up to date – more than that – the challenge of involving people when they are separated from us physically.  We were in a good position as we were already up and running with live  streaming – but a lot of work was done to improve and develop that side of our parish life and not enough can be said about each individual phone call that passed from one to another. It was amazing to see how many people took the plunge and became involved in social media for the first time… This also brought with it a virtual parish community – an additional group of people who had no access to their own Churches and found a home in ours…. We are one Church…

Not everyone is online. How do we keep those who do not have these tech possibilities in the loop. A new beginning for a parish SVP  (that’s my understanding) was a great answer and response – lets see where that exciting development takes us.

There has been a great sense of perseverance. The world has changed and we are still there for one another and God is there for us all. So much of what was taken away has only emphasised the great gift that our faith and our Church is – but also challenged us to be open of the Spirit of Change – God’s Spirit….

What is the meaning of Eucharist for me and for you.
We have grown in so many ways… Our Online presence and possibilities have taken on a new life. These once peripheral tools have become integral parts of our life and open up great new exciting opportunities…. We are a different community now – but one made up of the same people (with a few added and a few sadly who are no longer with us on our earthly journey). This external event has forced us, but freed us up to find and embrace new ways of doing things – an attitude and skill that will be of great help going forward. A crucial theme for me is how Eucharist and community belong together… This is a powerful truth that motivates me moving forward.

I enter this Christmas celebration with a great sense of gratitude for the new life in us and with great hope as we move forward as God’s family…. 

 Apart from that I am shattered….

Have a blessed Christmas and may God  continue to guide us in the New Year.


God Bless

Fr Andrew

Advent or Lent…

Those of you who know me well know that I get the seasons mixed up on a regular basis. When it’s Lent I have the tendency to talk about Advent – when Advent then Lent – Happy Christmas can easily become Happy Easter… On the one hand I am feeling more confused than ever. I really can’t remember having celebrated Easter this year and it seems just days ago since we were together for Christmas.

Thankfully there is a common denominator – Christ.
The challenge for us is to focus on him. There is so much to see and learn, so much to change and to improve. These festivals of faith are of course about remembering the person of Christ, his life, death and resurrection – but they are more about the continuation of his mission – the salvation of the world. Focusing on faith and the action that it calls us to is what we want to focus on this week. Moving from back to basics to “belonging” with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.

Quick notes and reminders:
– Remember to book your Christmas Mass – 07508 831238 –  Monday to Friday between 9am- 5.00pm…
– You can now get your raffle tickets – CLICK HERE
– We are still collecting for Caritas and for our Crib Collection
– We have an Advent Service on Wednesday…
– We are out of Lockdown and have Masses with congregation on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday…

God Bless

Fr Andrew

Restrictions…What Restrictions?

These last months have been mad – to say the least. Testing certainly!  But also a chance to open ourselves to lots of new ways of doing things, of reaching out to each other, of supporting, of praying. Lockdown 2.0 will come to an end on December 2nd. We will return to communal worship from Saturday, 5th December – The Second Sunday of Advent. After that our normal rhythm of Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday Mass being for the public and online. The other days will be online only.

This newsletter brings our Advent and Christmas Program. For me this marks the beginning of a new season. A new chance to open myself to the plan of God. Amidst all the planning take time to step back, give thanks, praise God and embrace the challenge of living the faith today. I know many want to just go crazy this time of year – can we go crazy doing the right things for ourselves and for others.
I hope it brings us all great joy…

Please download our Advent and Christmas Flyer – CLICK HERE….


Christmas Masses – Please BOOK – !!!!! Important !!!!! 
For our Christmas Services, you will need to BOOK by calling the telephone number below from Monday, Nov 30th onwards.

To make a booking – Call 07508 831238 
Monday to Friday between 9.00 am-5.00 pm.

Crib Visits
As well as the Christmas Masses – Church will be open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of Christmas Week from 2-4 pm. For those who are not yet comfortable coming back to a service – you can come and visit the crib – you can pray quietly – I will also be available in Church to distribute Communion and give a blessing.

I wanted to get that news out front and centre. But I would ask that you don’t forget – it is not Christmas yet – it is Advent – a really special time of the year. Don’t let this time pass by without paying attention to your heart and to God!

God Bless

Fr Andrew

Different Times – Different Responses…

What can you do in this time of Advent.

We are living through uncertain times. I am certainly feeling it right through to my bones. The difficulty with this is that a lot of things we would like to be “normal” to offer us a sense of control, are also not achievable….
This run up to Christmas will be very different. We are planning as best we can – but we will need to wait for Government guidance on what is possible or not.
We continue to stream live – and we will add lots of stuff for Advent and Christmas…
We can’t have our Fair – a real shame. But we can continue to help others through our actions…..

Advent and Christmas Action
We are collecting in Church and in the Presbytery for three things:

1) Christmas Raffle
We are asking for donations for the Christmas Raffle. 5 prizes will be put together from what we gather…
1 A TV….
2 A food hamper
3 A drinks hamper
4 A smellies hamper
5 Some high street vouchers.
Anything we don’t use for prizes will be used for Caritas – locally and on a Diocesan level.

2) Our Caritas Collection
We are collecting to support the Diocese of Salford Caritas
They need the following items….
• Cereals
• Tinned Soups and Stew
• Pasta, rice and pasta sauce.
• Tinned meat or fish, beans and frozen vegetables and fruit.
• Long life milk or natural fruit juices.
• Liquid hand soaps, sanitisers and personal hygiene products.
We will make sure we make provision for local families before passing on the goods to Caritas.

3) Our Crib Collection
 We are collecting money donations for three Charities we support every year at this time. Frances House, Derian House and the Mother and Baby Unit close by.
This will be a crib collection. You can donate in the collection bucket at the crib, we have envelopes you can use – or you can donate online on our website.

Please give what you can – we will do the rest…… Just dump it on our doorstep…

God Bless

Fr Andrew

Are we essential…?

It was certainly a shock to me – as I imagine it was to many of you – when we were forced to close our doors for common worship again in this second national lockdown. We had worked hard to make our Church COVID – Secure – and I think we had done a great job. Those of you who know me, know that I do tend to compliance. This time it was hard.

The key for me was the solidarity with many other organisations whose closure and whose sacrifice, to bring down the number of infections and consequent deaths, was really necessary. I certainly had no wish to be moving to the “celebration” of Christmas with a death toll higher than it normally would be at this time of year…
For us life is sacred.
This is not a political post, or a rant. 
There is a definite need for dialogue within society about the role of Churches. On the other hand there is need for dialogue amongst ourselves about what role faith plays in our daily lives. For me two major focuses on what is “essential” for us – and what makes us essential to society at large – are Eucharist and community.
Of course we know the Mass going population has been decreasing over the last years – but Eucharist is “essential”. The same can be said of our social life and social action – but community is “essential.”

There is a great opportunity as we move toward the greatest festival of the year to share with one another and to learn the lessons of an incredibly different year. With that we too may experience a “new birth” of our faith in the love of the Eucharist and the joy of belonging to a community.

God Bless

Fr Andrew

November Talks…

We are moving into the month of November, traditionally a month where we “remember”. 

The month begins with the feast of All Saints. We raise our eyes to heaven and look to the example of those lives that shine a light on the way of life that we are all called too. There is of course the diversion of Halloween – that comes from Hallow or Holy and certainly is to do with more than ghosts. 

All Souls is one of the most emotive days of our calendar. We think of the souls in heaven or on their way, our prayer for them and their prayer for us. God places people in our lives, they all mean a great deal and it is good to take stock. 

This of course has the twofold call for us to look at how we are living our lives, and a reminder that each day counts.

November also sees us remember the fallen of the wars, Remembrance Sunday. The playing of the Last Post is something that demands reflection and gratitude. That Last Post will not be missing from our celebrations amid all the external restrictions that we are living through right now.

Conversation

I think November does talk to us in a special way – but it is a reminder to make our conversations count. Life has great meaning. How important is it for us to speak to and support one another on our journey of life. To rise to the challenges and to be reminded that we are not alone.

We have wanted to ensure faith and not fear is the guide for us on our journey through this pandemic. A key to this is to take time away from the noise of the news and turn to activities that can help us deepen and broaden that faith – a faith that can be challenged. 

We want to have a conversation with each other and with the Gospels of this month of November. Two great sources for us to find what faith is all about in these times. The Bible and our faith community. 

Join us in that conversation – or have that conversation with  friends and family….

God Bless


Fr Andrew

We are blessed…

It certainly does not always feel that way – but we are blessed. It’s really important for us to check our perspective again and again. I don’t know about you, but I certainly get moved off track by the noise of the current situation – but we are blessed. Certainly in our little community there are intentions upon intentions for people in really difficult situations – but we are blessed.

We are blessed that we have this community of sharing and caring.
We are blessed that we can practice our faith.
We are blessed because we have the resources to reach out and help.

Evening Blessing
Am not sure if you are aware, but there is a growing group of people that check in very quickly with each other at 9 pm Tuesday to Sunday. They gather on Facebook and Youtube for a quick evening prayer and blessing. It’s great, especially at the end of the day to wind down and turn once again to God. It’s great at the end of the day to be reminded that no one needs to be alone – even in these most difficult of times.

Join us on Facebook 
– @stvincentbolton
– @schoenstattfamilyengland
– @frandrewpastore….

As the tech gets better – so do we. Over the next few weeks I will be inviting other priests to join me and share their blessing with us all….

Adult Formation
Each year we have two blocks of evening sessions to deepen our faith. This year we are not going to follow a specific program, we will turn simply to the Sunday Gospel. Each Wednesday from 7-8pm in November, you are invited to join me in a conversion about the Gospel of the coming Sunday. Sharing our impressions and delving deeper into what this Gospel is saying to us today. All welcome.

Meetings will be held on Zoom on Wednesday 4, 11, 18 and 25 November 7-8pm.
Contact Fr Andrew for the Zoom invitation: fr.andrew@stvincentsbolton.org  

Remember – Let faith and not fear be your guide…

If you are looking for our November List – CLICK HERE

God Bless

READY FOR NOVEMBER?

Prepare for November and send us your November list to remember your loved ones…

The first two days of November set the tone for the month. All Saints and All Souls. Our focus on these darker days shifts to the heavenly home ready to welcome all of us. This comes just before the season we celebrate the New Life that comes into the world for our salvation.

We celebrate the saints that have been marked out for the way of living that led them to heaven and highlights them as examples and as guides for us to live our life to the full.  We remember all souls too. We remember those we have know that have “gone before us with the sign of faith”, we rely on their continued love and support. We accompany them in prayer, believing in God’s mercy that he will “gather them all unto himself”. November is known as the month of the dead – but reminds us of the gift and importance of life.

November Lists
During the month of November each day at mass, we bring forward the lists of names of those we remember. Our family and friends, parishioners and especially those who have been buried from this Church in the last year. You can send a list into Church to be included in our celebration. If you are able, we would ask that you make a donation to the Parish Community with your mass intentions.

1. Prepare your list
– Download our November List – [CLICK HERE]
– Just write the names of those you wish to remember on a piece of paper or in an e-mail

2. Put your list in an envelope with your donation

3. Send your list to Fr Andrew, post it through the Presbytery letter box or drop it off at Church
–  Address – St Vincent’s Presbytery, 40 Newbrook Road, Over Hulton BL5 1ER
 – E-Mail Fr Andrew: [fr.andrew@stvincentsbolton.org]


Donations
We are aware of the challenging times that we find ourselves in. If you are in need of assistance – please do not be afraid to reach out. We are facing the challenge of maintaining our parish and expanding our support for the community at the same time.

Here are ways you can make a contribution.

1. Look out for the initiatives of the Friend’s of St Vincent. All activities are to help develop our community and raise money for the Parish at the same time.

2. You can always drop off cash or cheque donations at Church or through the Presbytery letterbox. Cheques are payable to St Vincent de Paul Over Hulton.

3. Make a bank transfer or set up a standing order:
TSDT St Vincent de Paul Over Hulton
Account Nr.: 40620122
Sort Code: 20-55-34
 SWIFTBIC: BARCGB22
IBAN: GB94 BARC 2055 3440 6201 22

4. Visit our Online Donation Portal – [CLICK HERE]

Thanks for all your support….

God Bless


Fr Andrew

St Vincent’s AGM 2019

Report on our Annual General Meeting in October 2019

This year we tried something new….

In past years we have had our meeting around the feast of St Vincent de Paul. The meeting has been on a Thursday evening – it was always useful. There was great feedback and those who took part could take away a greater knowledge of what was happening and who was involved in the various activities and responsibilities.

The issue was – attendance was very low.

How do we reach a great number of people and so include more parishioners in the stewardship of the parish community. It is about being informed, but more – it is also about having a voice and becoming involved.

In the Parish Pastoral Council we decided to anchor the meeting to our Sunday masses (a captive audience :-)). There were challenges of course. How long? What form? Getting people to join in…..

A feedback form was sent out 3 weeks before the meeting. We had 18 responses and looked at what was there and how we could respond.

We wanted the meeting to make visible the members of the council and showcase important themes and the way ahead.

So it was decided.

As we could not talk on all subjects we would present an annual report. As far as possible all members of the council would take part. This meant that we did not need and “open mic” – we had the feedback forms and in case of clarifications people would be encouraged to speak with he appropriate person and seek clarification.

Included in the report is the 5 year plan – our planning to develop both our buildings and our spirit over the coming years.

As well as a report we would also publish a calendar of events for the coming year. Together with this I laid out the 3 priorities for moving forward. The priorities come from our ongoing work as a council and stem from our away day at the Schoenstatt Shrine in August.

The priorities are:

  • Being a welcoming parish
  • Looking for and engaging the missing young adult section of our community
  • Developing our channels of communication

There was a bit of tense apprehension as we began these meetings. But the response was very positive. In a very short period of time we passed on a lot of information. More importantly we demonstrated by our actions how much we want to involve as many as possible in the development and challenges of our parish community.

Many thanks to all council members and parishioners involved in the many activities and responsibilities involved in helping a parish community to grow and develop. I would like to especially thank Jackie Solomon – the Parish Council Secretary for her work in collating our annual report (amongst other things!).

Now it is time to get on with he work….

These documents are available for you to download:

Fr. Andrew