Listen – Grow – Share…

There is great need for listening at this time as we come out of Lockdown. When we listen we learn. But things should not stop there. When we learn things, when we find truth, there is an imperative to now make necessary changes, there is a challenge to grow.

Let’s look at growth…

I have always subscribed to the description of growth by the author Robin Sharma. He repeats again and again: Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. It is not an easy process and we are bound to get things wrong. There is a need for flexibility and experimentation. If we want to bring about change there must be an openness and willingness. Things will go against the grain, things will go wrong. Some things will have to go back to how they were before change started, but some things will be new and exciting.

This growth is not an abstract theory or dream, it is something real, but the “we” will only change if the ”I” can make the changes first. Changing my life and ways is the only way to help others to change too. One thing is certain, although it often does not seem this way, change in one person changes the whole of a community.

Soon we will celebrate Good Friday. That day we remember the sacrifice that God is prepared to make to bring about change in a world he created.

This pandemic has show how capable we are of change in our society. We can work from home, we can school from home, we can deliver food to a neighbour, we can make sacrifices for the good of others, we can volunteer, we can get the help we need from a food bank started by someone from another faith… I could go on…

Let’s not let things go back to “normal”, let’s keep and develop the good changes that we have learnt to live with as we help each other up and out of lockdown.


God Bless

Fr Andrew

Continuing the Journey…

I don’t know about you – but life has been very different for me over the last year. Drastically different. This has meant that there were many new lessons, challenges and opportunities to learn from. Everyone is going through things and it has been apparent how challenging this has been for all.

We live in a world that judges quickly, in binary terms and despite our diversity we shield ourselves from one another by keeping “ourselves to ourselves”. This pandemic and its isolation has highlighted how much we need each other. Also look and see how many examples there are in our community of how help and support has come from some unexpected places. It came because some people can “really” listen.

In order to learn we must listen. Listen to our own hearts and to each other. I am talking here about real listening. Not the background noise of Social Media, TV and radio, but the real listening one person to another, of one community to another. We need to come out from behind our phones, screens, and homes, look each other in the eyes and really listen.

We will soon be in Holy Week – Easter. In this week we celebrate a Triduum – three major feasts. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It was at the first of these feasts that we are challenged by Jesus to lead lives of service. He washed his Disciples feet. An important example as we move out of this pandemic. Can we break a cycle of selfishness and self-centredness that plagues our world.

For many the goal is to move on from the turmoil and tragedy and put it behind them. For me there is a need to identify and understand the lessons of this pandemic. One lesson being that we need to learn to really listen to one another if we want a blessed world for all.

God Bless

Fr Andrew

Dare to Dream…

God spoke to Joseph in dreams… Do we dare to dream today…

I don’t know whether you have heard already, but the Pope has called on us to celebrate a year of St Joseph. The Church often calls these years to focus on a particular attribute of God – we had the year of the Word for example – or on a Saint or other aspect of our life of faith that can help us, through our focus, to take steps of faith.

Pope Francis has a great devotion to St Joseph. Soon into his pontificate he made sure the name of Joseph was spoken after the naming of Mary in our Eucharistic prayers. We have heard the story many times now of the little statue of Sleeping Joseph that he puts prayers underneath for safe keeping.

But why call on Joseph now….
– We are experiencing a time of great danger (not just in terms of a pandemic), our faith is challenged and our Church questioned. God entrusted his Son into Joseph’s care and they fled to Egypt. Joseph is the protecter of the Church.

– Pope Francis wants to encourage us to dream. We can get so lost in the difficulties of life it is hard to look beyond the horizon. God spoke to Joseph in dreams 5 times. Joseph can help us listen to the voice of God, but above all to act on what we hear.

– Joseph was known as the worker. There is dignity in work. Many of the social and economic models that exist today do not reflect the dignity of human life and work. St Joseph stands not as a theoretical argument, but as a shining example of how a life of family and work can form the basis of great happiness…

– We could go on…

We are lucky at St Vincent’s to have a beautiful statue of St Joseph given to us by the Sisters of Marcy, Werneth Convent. In this year let us look to Joseph to help us build our community from the experiences and challenges that this last year has brought. 
We can dream…
We can take action…
We can help one another through the uncertainties going on in the world….

God bless


Fr Andrew

To download this weeks newsletter – CLICK HERE

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

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

Progress

The Parish Council will be meeting today- one of our bimonthly meetings to look ahead and make sure we are making progress in the areas we wanted to grow….

First Holy Commonion

It is fantastic each year to celebrate the “Source and Summit” of our life as Catholic’s – the Eucharist. Five children this year will celebrate their deepest encounter with Christ. As a community it is good that we come together with them to celebrate and mark the occasion. To that end – a new initiative. After mass on Sunday there will be a little “Garden Party” with something to eat, something to drink and lots of things for the children to do – do celebrate with us – the sacred and the familial…

Action:

  • Come along and celebrate with us
  • Pray for all children receiveing their First Holy Communion

Live broadcast.

This year we started streaming the mass on Friday (for the sick) and on Sunday on Youtbue. This found a lot of resonance – especially with those restricted to their homes due to age or health – but also with some who were on holiday and could not get to a Church. We were simply broadcasting from a phone at this point. Unfortunately, YouTube changed their user policies and we can no longer stream live directly from a phone until we have 1000 subscribers – so we are going to have to adapt.

Am hoping for the gift of a computer in the coming weeks – but there will be a need to purchase some equipment – we can stream through a browser or browsing program….

Will keep you up to date ast to where we are going with this…

Action:

  • Could you sponsor some of the equipment we need.
  • Am looking for people to operate the equipment on a Sunday….

Fish and Chip Friday

There are a number of events coming up from our Social and Fundraising Team. The first of which is our Fish and Chip Fridays. We are going to go one step further this year and we will be having entertainment after the meal – the first week – Bingo…..

Action:

  • Look out for the tickets on sale shortly….
  • We are looking for sponsors so we can keep the price down….

There is lots more ongoing and coming up. Will be trying to blog every two weeks – you can find info on our website www.stvincentsbolton.org – follow us on Facebook – and look out for our “Live at Five” program every other week….A

Word for the Day

21 April 

Easter Sunday

In every situation may the Holy Spirit cause us to contemplate history in light of the risen Jesus (Gaudete et exsultate 139).

John 20:1-9
“He saw and believe.’

We pray and beg our Lady so often: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. What did Christ promise? He promised the Holy Spirit. What has the Holy Spirit to give us? What did our Lord say? He should introduce us into all that he (Jesus) had said (cf. Jn 14,26). … So we may expect the coming of the Holy Spirit in a special way. “Send forth your Spirit and everything will be re-created”. We want to be transformed inwardly, to become genuine human beings, real men, real women, but at the same time completely supernatural.(26 May 1958 – JK)

#lent #holiness