Saturday, 28 February 2015

Proclaim '15

Friday, 20 February 2015

1st Sunday in Lent

"Stay with us Lord on our Journey"


Masses this week:

Mon – No Mass                   Tues – 9.30am Mass

Wed – 12 noon Mass followed by packed lunch

Thurs – 18.30 Stations of the Cross followed by Mass (about 7pm)

Friday – 7.30am Mass followed by breakfast

(Friday is Family Fast Day)


Please remember in your prayers

Sick and housebound: Beth Tomlinson, Paul Hughes, Mary O'Connor, William Cornwell, Christopher McCready.

Stop And Choose

In the hustle and bustle of life, it is important to have the courage to stop and choose. The season of Lent serves this very purpose. During Mass at Santa Marta on Thursday morning, 19 February, Pope Francis placed emphasis on the need to ask those questions, important for Christian life and to know how to make the right choices.


The Pope explained that "at the beginning of the Lenten journey, the Church makes us reflect on the words of Moses and of Jesus: "You have to choose". It is thus a reflection on the need we all have, to make choices in life. Moses, is clear: 'See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil': choose". Indeed "the Lord gave us freedom, the freedom to love, to walk on his streets". We are free and we can choose. However, the Pope indicated, "it's not easy to choose". It's more comfortable "to live by letting ourselves be carried by the inertia of life, of situations, of habits". This is why "today the Church tells us: 'You are responsible; you have to choose'". And thus the Pontiff raised some questions: "Have you chosen? How do you live? What is your lifestyle, your way of living, like? Is it on the side of life or on the side of death?"

Returning to the difficulty of choosing, Francis said he was aware that "we always have this habit of going where the people go, somewhat like everyone". But, he continued, "today the Church is telling us: 'stop and choose'. It's good advice. And today", the Pope continued, "it will do us good to stop during the day and think: what is my lifestyle like? Which road am I taking?"

After all, in everyday life we tend to take the opposite approach. Many times, he said, "we live in a rush, we're on the run, without noticing what the path is like; and we let ourselves be carried along by the needs, by the necessities of the days, but without thinking". And thus came the invitation to stop: "Begin Lent like this, with small questions that will help one to consider: 'What is my life like?'". The first thing to ask ourselves is: "who is God for me? Do I choose the Lord? How is my relationship with Jesus?" And the second: "How is your relationship with your family: with your parents; with your siblings; with your wife; with your husband; with your children?"

The Pontiff then asked "why do we hurry so much in life, without knowing which path we are on?" He was explicit about this: "because we want to win, we want to earn, we want to be successful". But Jesus makes us think: "What advantage does a man have who wins the whole world, but loses or destroys himself?" Indeed, "the wrong road is that of always seeking success, one's own riches, without thinking about the Lord, without thinking about family".

And to emphasize the concept, Francis explained that "it will do us good to stop for a bit — five, ten minutes — and ask ourselves the question: what is the speed of my life? Do I reflect on my actions? How is my relationship with God and with my family?". The Pope indicated that we can find help in "that really beautiful advice of the Psalm: 'Blessed are they who trust in the Lord'". And "when the Lord gives us this advice — 'Stop! Choose today, choose' — He doesn't leave us on our own; He is with us and wants to help us". And we, for our part, need "only to trust, to have faith in Him".

 "Today, at the moment in which we stop to think about these things and to take decisions, to choose something, we know that the Lord is with us, is beside us, to help us. He never lets us go alone. He is always with us. Even in the moment of choosing, let us have faith in this Lord, who is with us, and when He tells us: 'choose between good and evil' helps us to choose good". And above all "let us ask Him for the grace to be courageous", because "it takes a bit of courage" to "stop and ask myself how I am before God, how my relationships with family are, what I have to change, what I have to choose. And", Francis guaranteed, "He is with us".

Friday, 13 February 2015




To be read in all Churches on the weekend of 14/15th February, 2015, the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary time.

In Preparation for Lent

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

Rather than writing to you for the First Sunday of Lent, I wanted to write before Ash Wednesday itself which is, in my mind, a most important day as the starting point of the Season of Lent. You will get weary of my liking for new beginnings and fresh starts. For me, Advent, New Year and Ash Wednesday each present moments of particular freshness.

On Ash Wednesday many of us will receive the ashes on our foreheads, with the words: “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you will return” or “Repent, and believe the Gospel”.  They are not so much a stern reprimand, as a gentle invitation. I firmly believe that most of us, most of the time, are distracted by simply filling our lives with just too much activity. Even when we have a quiet moment we are likely to have the radio or television on somewhere in the background, we have some music on, or we make a quick call to a friend. We can fill any few moments of empty space with the little jobs and chores which, while perfectly good in themselves, keep us away from a time of deliberate silence and recollection. But it is precisely those moments of silence and recollection when we can learn so much about ourselves and get so many things in a better focus. It is in our moments of silence that we can actually stand, as it were, to one side and view our world and our lives from a different perspective. Too often it is in moments of stress or anxiety that we try to make too many decisions. If we can create moments of stillness then our decisions can be prepared in a place of calm.

Why am I talking about decisions? Well, I am all too aware that my new role as Bishop here in Salford must mean that I have to prepare myself to make lots of decisions. I do not want to make them alone and I want to gather the best information from people and priests and religious, all around the Diocese, to help me. I do not want to have to rush important decisions but rather to prepare well so that decisions are not made in haste nor come as a surprise or shock. This is not meant to sound as though terrible things are about to happen. All I have seen in the last ten weeks speaks of a great deal of life and energy in the Diocese. There are vibrant parish communities and many associations and projects that speak of the Gospel and witness to our Faith. However, we are all aware that the number of priests available for pastoral ministry is declining. The wonderful gift of a generation of priests from Ireland is coming to an end and many priests are approaching retirement and, indeed, continuing past the age of retirement. We will still have many good and dedicated priests, but not in the same number and we must plan so that they can be used in the best way to serve the communities and parishes. Priests must be able to dedicate themselves to priestly duties while other people take on different roles in catechesis, pastoral ministry and administration that they can do so well. All these things will need proper consideration by you and me, together, in the coming year.

These concerns are a firm invitation to me to find that place of reflection and stillness in my own life. No doubt you will have your own concerns, too. How can we use this Season of Lent to help us? I would suggest a simple and very practical first step. Find a place in your home; a corner, a chair, a space that you do not usually use and make that a dedicated space for your quiet moment. Know that, when you go there, it is for the specific purpose of spending a few moments in prayer. Find even ten minutes for your quiet time and go to that place and be determined to place yourself in the presence of God. In order to become still, I would suggest that we use that simple prayer “Stay with us, Lord, on our journey” as a simple phrase that we might repeat to ourselves quietly, and slowly. Be prepared to be surprised by the unusual but refreshing calm that you may discover. Give it a try.

I wish you a very peaceful and productive Lent. Let us pray for one another that we may do all that we have to do as well as we can, always being aware that the Lord works with us and through us. Let us also keep in mind all those men and women who are now preparing to become full members of the Catholic Church at Easter. They will need our welcome, our prayer and our example to sustain them on their own journey with us.

Be assured of my prayers, daily, for you as the family of the Church in the Diocese of Salford.

X John Arnold
   Bishop of Salford

6th Sunday of the Year

Weekend Masses Sat 18.30hrs & Sun 10.00hrs

Masses this week:

Mon – No Mass

Tues – 12 noon Mass followed by pancakes

Ash Wed – 12 noon Mass with distribution of Ashes (Day of Fast and Abstinence)

Thurs – 18.30 Stations of the Cross followed by Mass (about 7pm)

Friday – 10am Mass


Please remember in your prayers

Sick and housebound: Beth Tomlinson, Paul Hughes, Mary O'Connor.

Lately Dead:     

Anniversaries: Catherine Kehoe, Bill Moorhouse, George Clayton, Joe Duhan

Bishop's Pastoral Letter is available for anyone to read on the website



The rich resource of Lent is there for us to grasp and use to help us develop as both an individual and a community. How we get the best out of it depends on what we are prepared to put into it. It is easy to think that Lent is a time for giving things up, after all it is what most of us have been taught from an early age and we are often asked each year, "What are you going to give up for Lent?" But I feel that this is limiting Lent to only a very small area of what it is meant to be. A better question may be "What extra are you going to do for Lent?"

The Pope is calling on us to put the individual second to the community so let me ask a few questions about our community? How well do we each know someone else in the parish? People often say to me "I normally attend on Sunday morning but I went to the Saturday evening Mass, I didn't know anyone!" How can we get to know other people in the parish?

Bishop John said at a priests Requiem the other week that as we learn to live in a diocese where the Lord is asking us to work with fewer priests then how are we going to do that? For our communities to survive we will need to build them up and enable them to grow. Strong parish communities with Christ at the centre, through sacraments, prayer and community celebration is important.

If you do not build up community then it will die. This parish has a strong history of community but it is beginning to dwindle. The elderly are not being replaced by the younger element. Why is this? We need to address this problem soon or see our parish slowly decline to a small relic of what it was. This Lent, think and pray of how we can make our community stronger. A community built on love; a community built on faith; a community full of hope. If we achieve this then folk will be drawn into it. It will not just happen. Effort is required. How can we do it? Let us use this Lent to seek initiatives. Let our parish grow. Do not give it up.

Fr John

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Pope's Lent Message 2015

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Pope's Message for Lent 2015: “Make your hearts firm”
Vatican City, 27 January 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the Holy Father Francis' message for Lent 2015, entitled “Make your hearts firm”. The document was signed in the Vatican on 4 October 2014, the festivity of St. Francis of Assisi.
“Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a 'time of grace'. God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us'. He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure. Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I do not think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalisation of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.
When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalisation of indifference.
Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.
God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love. But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded.
God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.
1. 'If one member suffers, all suffer together' – The Church
The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realise that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have 'a part' with him and thus can serve others.
Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy'.
The Church is the communio sanctorum not only because of her saints, but also because she is a communion in holy things: the love of God revealed to us in Christ and all his gifts. Among these gifts there is also the response of those who let themselves be touched by this love. In this communion of saints, in this sharing in holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others. And since we are united in God, we can do something for those who are far distant, those whom we could never reach on our own, because with them and for them, we ask God that all of us may be open to his plan of salvation.
2. 'Where is your brother?' – Parishes and Communities
All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors?
In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways.
In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: 'I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls'.
We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.
In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people.
Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth. In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity.
Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!
3. 'Make your hearts firm!' – Individual Christians
As individuals too, we have are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?
First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The '24 Hours for the Lord' initiative, which I hope will be observed on 13-14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer.
Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organisations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.
Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.
As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart. A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realises its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.
During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: 'Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum': Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalisation of indifference.
It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you”.