PRISONER’S SUNDAY – Today marks Prisoner’s Sunday and is the national day of prayer and action for prisoners and their dependants as marked by the Catholic Church and across the Christian denominations. It is a day to direct our thoughts and prayers to prisoners, their families and children. Prisoners’ Sunday is the time to reflect on how we as individuals, as a Church and as a community are serving those affected by imprisonment. Prisoners’ families, prisoners and people with previous convictions often find themselves on the margins of society due to the social stigma associated with imprisonment. They are often forgotten or come lower down on the list of causes to ‘hold a hand out to’. But the gospel of Matthew 25: 36 reminds us of our duties towards them: ‘I was naked, and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.’ Pact’s work embodies the Christian value of mercy and belief in the innate dignity of every human being. Through this campaign we ask you to engage with a core element of Catholic social teaching and put our faith into action. You can donate at email@example.com.
MAINTAINING & IMPROVING ST PATRICK’S CHURCH Our church was built as a Victorian charity school in 1848, is grade 2 listed and has been a church for approximately 75 years. The original building was modified for industrial use (first as a glove factory and then, during the war, producing gas masks) in the 1940s and then into a church between 1950 and 1965. The church originally consisted of the current main part of the church in front of the altar with 2 additional rooms on the carpark side. It was extended in the 1960s by partial opening up of the internal walls and building the extension that is now the flower sacristy beside the car park door. While the church space was increased the internal layout was not changed as the altar has remained directly under the aesthetically attractive gothic style main window. As a result, many parts of the church have poor sight lines to the altar. These various modifications have, unfortunately, compromised the structural integrity of the original Victorian building. The roof drainage has been disrupted and leaks into the building, the fire escape and associated door are aesthetically disappointing and have caused structural damage to that part of the church, the upper floor is poorly attached to the walls and has been ordered out of use because of structural and fire safety concerns, and the flower sacristy is falling away from the main building and has severe rainwater leaks. There is also a need to increase Mass capacity due to the reduction in weekend masses that will be caused fewer priests in the diocese. The Parish Finance Committee is working with the Diocese to appoint an architect to establish the current state of the building and to identify how it can be improved to increase capacity, improve the liturgical layout, and to prepare it for another 75 years of church use. Tender responses from architects invited to carry out a design study are between £10,000 to £15,000. These early discussions with architects have led to the realisation that the total bill for refurbishment of the church could be in the order of £500,000.
We have been advised that the Diocesan Finance Committee and the trustees would be unlikely to support a request to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a design study without addressing how the full building cost can be met. We would potentially be wasting a large sum of charitable money if the full project could not proceed. We have therefore asked our potential architects to amend their proposals to reduce the level of detail in their plans and to include an investment appraisal looking at the whole of the current church site. In the meantime, we have a legal obligation to preserve this listed building but are struggling to achieve that due to a reduction in our income resulting from the pandemic. There is a backlog of urgent weatherproofing repairs to the roof and the window which need to be funded from our weekly offertory giving which still falls far below pre pandemic levels, partly due to a move away from cash and our inability to hold a cash collection each week. We will therefore be making appeals to you all in forthcoming weeks to recover our level of income using standing orders, card payments in the church, gift aid, and to ask for an increase in the level of giving. (Vic Steadman – Parish Treasurer)
OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM is England’s national Marian shrine. According to legend, Our Lady appeared in Walsingham to the Saxon noblewoman Richeldis de Faverches, in 1061. In three visions, Richeldis was taken by Mary to be shown the house in Nazareth where Gabriel had announced the news of the birth of Jesus. Mary then asked her to build an exact replica of that house in Walsingham. Throughout the centuries, Walsingham became one of the most popular shrines in Europe. Many pilgrims returned from their visit healed in body and spirit. Walsingham received visits from King Henry III, Edward II, Edward III, Henry IV, Edward IV, Henry VII and Henry VIII, who finally brought about its destruction in 1538. In 1897, the first official Catholic pilgrimage after the Reformation took place at the restored 14th century Slipper Chapel, which is now the centre of the Roman Catholic National Shrine. In the 1920s the Anglican shrine began growing in the remains of the original Priory and now has its own church, housing a copy of the original statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and a replica of the Holy House. There is also now a Russian Orthodox chapel in Walsingham. Walsingham came to be known as ‘England’s Nazareth’. During lockdown a small statue of Our Lady of Walsingham has been a focal point of our Marian devotion at St Patrick’s, and many have lit candles before this image of Our Lady. Mass will be celebrated at 12noon on Friday 24th, the feast day of Our Lady of Walsingham. Do come along and give thanks to Our Lady of Walsingham for blessings received.
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION Father Michael met this week with lead staff from St Patrick’s School regarding first Holy Communion. We had hoped to celebrate this on the Solemnity of Christ the King. This would however have necessitated a shortened course and we feel that we will not be able to prepare the children adequately in this time for both the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. As some of the FHC children have not yet had the opportunity to return to Mass, we are now proposing to wait until early January to begin a full course for all children looking to FHC. This also gives us the ideal opportunity to begin a new 18-week course, leading to FHC at Corpus Christi (Sunday 19th June). Please do not hesitate to contact Fr Michael or Mrs Courtney if you have any questions. Application forms for the 2022 FHC are available in Church. Please return asap to Fr Michael.