Celebrating St Vincent and St Vincent’s

Don’t know about you – but I do have the feeling we are moving toward more normality. There is still some uncertainty in the air as to how things will progress – but on the whole – we seem to be getting there…

The month of September is the month we celebrate the feast of St Vincent – the month to celebrate our Parish life. Traditionally, we have also held our AGM in this month. As we get back to doing more things together I would like to hold our AGM as we did 2 years ago, after Mass on the weekend before the feast of St Vincent on the 27th September…. It will take about 15 minutes…

The AGM will be after Mass on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September – we will give you a brief report on what has gone on over the last year and a half. We will need to take time to share and catch up with one another after so much has happened, and we have not had the opportunities we have had now… The AGM will be the start of that process…

We are in a fantastic position. We are still here after a long absence, our community strengthened with the experiences that have shaped us the past 18 months. 

We have the chance to start again with a blank slate. Not only that, but we have made new and different experiences over the pandemic that can stand us in good stead moving forward. 

What do we want to get back to? 

What would we like to be different? 

What are new ways can we be community from now on?

With the reports, we will be letting you know about a couple of projects that are coming up on the horizon….

You are welcome to share your thoughts and impressions looking forward and looking back. Let’s see where God is guiding us…

You can contact me:

fr.andrew@stvincentsbolton.org

01204 436702

Let’s talk….

God Bless

Fr Andrew

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Back to School

Don’t think this is just for the kids…

That time has come. School is back!

These have been very different summer holidays.  Even though I, as well as many of you, are not in school any more, a lot of our lives are moulded by the rhythm of the school year. That is always a pointer for me. I don’t remember ever having to live with such prolonged uncertainty on a day to day basis. Good that we have our faith to guide and comfort, to encourage and challenge us. 

It is important for me at the moment to use every milestone – like schools starting up – to orientate myself. Through the pandemic time has stood still and accelerated at the same time. Being overwhelmed is an experience that is never too far from the surface.

It is a time where we are not just ploughing forward, but need to come together and listen to one another. Help each other heal and so be healthy for the journey ahead. This is not just true of our schools but for our places of work, our homes, our places of worship and in our dealings with one another in our town.

When the traffic builds in the next week – remember to not only slow down in the car – but in your life too.

God Bless

Fr Andrew

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Transition

Looking ahead to the next two months…

It has been a strange few weeks. We have been moving out of the restrictions slowly at Church and I think things have gone reasonably well. There is still some space for those who wish to social distance, but the body of the Church is now back to normal use. Durning the week, numbers have gone down as people become busier with other things. Sundays we are seeing new faces – but still have plenty of space…

It is going to take a while for us to get used to being around one another again – let’s give it some time – and some effort. Will try another experiment next week. We will be celebrating the Requiem for Joan Thomas, and we are going to try singing (with masks) and see if this is an improvement on humming (I love the humming).

September and October will see some more developments. We will have all our weekday Masses both live and online. When I am not around I am re-introducing Eucharistic Services led by our Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. 

As many of you are aware, in October there are two key moments for me. Firstly, I will be celebrating my Silver Jubilee of Ordination. Celebrating in the Parish on Sunday 3rd October, also with a Mass on the day of the Jubilee in the Church I was ordained, Mount Carmel, Blackley. To round things up, there is a celebration at the Shrine on the 16th October. Details will be circulated in due course. Thanks for all the well-wishes and greetings.

Secondly, I am heading back to University. I begin a course in Clinical Counselling in October. It is a part-time course that does not mean I will be leaving St Vincent’s. It does, however, mean I will need to make a few adjustments, one of which is that there will be no services from October on a Wednesday. Keep your eye on the Newsletter and on our Website.

As we move forward, we do so in faith. Let’s keep on asking for guidance from God. I am sure you have got many ideas moving forward – but let’s make sure we take time to stop and listen…

God Bless

Fr Andrew

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Drama

Its easy to know what others must do. The questioon is what is asked of me.

This week has been an important week in the history of our Amateur Dramatics Society. Like many organisations they find themselves in difficult circumstances after 25 great years of entertaining audiences twice a year. As with many other societies, and many parts of our Church, there is a challenge, not to find actors for the stage, but to find people to put out the chairs. This, of course, is a caricature, but it is also a challenge for us as we attempt to define a new normal.

We do live in a culture that provides services. This is a fantastic thing – especially if you are hungry for a Big Mac at three o’clock in the morning. But it does bring with it a culture of passivity and high expectation. As well as catching myself doing it, I attend many gatherings where I am informed in no uncertain terms what I “should” be doing. We love having an opinion on what others ought to be doing.

How will things go with Dramatics?… Well, I am pleased to say that a production is in the pipeline. Beyond that, time will tell. Be on the look-out for info and think whether you would want to get involved.

As we move to a new normal, please consider two things. 

Firstly, it is more important than ever that we have to learn to work together. In my experience, people want to know what they are meant to do and then get on with it without any bother. If we don’t learn to work together and spend time not just on the task, but on the community that that task is to serve, we have missed a trick. 

Secondly, even if you can only do something small here in the community – that thing is important!

What will the new normal be? Will it be the old repeated or something new and inspired, coming from the many new experiences and lessons of these past months?

I am hopeful for us, and for our Dramatics Society.

Fr Andrew

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What are we free for…

We have a purpose that we need to open ourselves too.

Football had a bit of a sad ending last week. It was a great achievement which should not be underestimated – well done team. Sadder than the loss was the fact of the troubles taking place around and outside the stadium. The racial abuse and the misuse of social media and the violent break-in of fans and the sight of all the litter left behind by the moving crowds.

When you listen in to the news, there are lots of phrases being banded about, like culture wars and wokeness. Influences on our culture by Social Media has been highlighted, but also after the pandemic – the challenges of clear messaging by the government.

Away from the superficial conversations, the main issues are being drowned out. There are massive inequalities in our society and the gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting ever bigger. A second issue is that so many live in fear. Wether real or perceived – it has the same effect – allowing a sense of insecurity to take root, which can provoke a response.

As a community, we can make a big difference. Looking out for one anther and those we can reach – doing what we can. We can also as a community help to replace fear with hope. Real practical, as well as moral support, is called for.

How does this fit in with our worship of God. The God we worship is a good of love who says to us, “Do not be afraid” again and again. A message we can pass on to others.

Fr Andrew

Freedom Day

Step by step we move ahead….

The big challenge for me at this minute is to remain calm in the midst of the perceived great insecurity. TV experts debate ad nausium about each aspect of the changes coming. You have to be careful not to be completely sucked in to the eternal debates and discussion.

The 19th July will mark a significant milestone on our journey through this pandemic. Although we have not received any direction from the diocese as yet, the key factors are clear for us moving forward.

  1. We still have the same mission we had before, during and after the pandemic.
  2. Rules on social distancing and other restrictions will change.
  3. We will respond as a caring community.

We have planned through to the end of July. There will be stewards in place for all masses, so we can calmly manage the transition. Our rhythm of public masses on Wednesday and Friday – the others online only – will continue.

The suggested changes are:

  1. We will remove the ropes to make all benches available and so be able to fit more people in.
  2. We will keep mass as it is now – people going to communion when called by stewards at the end and leaving immediately. There will be no singing.
  3. We want to keep the need to wear a mask to offer a sense of security to all.

It would be great if you could get in touch and let me know what you think…

God bless

Fr Andrew

Attitude

Gratitude is an important attitude. Scientifically it is known to enhance well being if nothing else. In our consumer, throw away age, we can take things for granted. It can become really hairy when we not only take things for granted – but when we take people for granted.

We started our recognition and learning last week with a group of volunteers that is very visible. What is important to note is that there are many groups that work invisibly to make sure that we can come to Church safely week after week. I would like to pick out one of those groups today.

Cleaners


A great team has been working extremely hard in the background. As you can imagine, with COVID there has been a great need for enhanced cleaning in our Churches. In fact we have had to clean after every use.
I am so grateful that we have not closed un-necessarily on any days that we were allowed by law to be open. This is due to the fact that we had a great team that covers these extra events and keeps us going. Thanks go especially to Susan Boddy and all those who worked along side her over those weeks and months….

Lesson

There are many people who do their part to support our parish whom you will never see. From experience, I know that many people volunteer for the great and the grand tasks and offices. But without these important, seemingly menial, tasks being taken up quietly in the background – we would literally grind to a halt. It’s amazing how much needs to happen in order for us to function….

Thank you all!

I would like to encourage everyone who comes to our Church to find. Little “hidden” task that they can help out with. It all adds up to the complete picture of who we are.

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

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