All posts by Parish Priest

Dominican Friar; Parish Priest, St Cuthbert's Durham

If only you knew what I was offering you

If only you knew what I was offering you is a day of reflection for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. It is led by Pat Kennedy and takes place at St Thomas Aquinas Parish Hall, North Road, Darlington, DL1 2PU on Saturday 1 October 2016, 10.30am – 3.30pm (refreshments from 10:00am). Cost: £7.50.

This day fulfils the undertaking made by Extraordinary Ministers to attend an annual day of recollection. To book a place contact Ciara in the Parish Office on office@stcuthberts-durham.org.uk by Monday 19 September.

Lighting works in the church

After an abortive first attempt in July, work will start on Monday 5 September to replace the halogen church lighting with more modern LED fittings. These will be cheaper to run, provide better light, and require less maintenance – very significant as it costs the best part of £1,000 to change a light bulb due to the need for scaffolding.

Apart from times of liturgy, it will not be possible to open the church to the public on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 September.

Do you give by Standing Order?

Do you feel left out or self-conscious when the collection basket goes round and you don’t put anything in because you’re already giving by Standing Order? By popular demand, we have a solution!

There are now special “banknotes” available for you at the back of church. Pick one up as you come into Mass, and drop it in the basket when it comes round to show your support; or perhaps you can give them to your children to drop in the basket.

If you don’t yet give by regular Standing Order, do take one of the notes away with you and get in touch with the Parish Office (contact details on the back). If you are a UK taxpayer, don’t forget to ask about Gift Aid – this enables us to claim back from the government an extra £5 for every £20 you give.

Thank you for your generous support of the work of St Cuthbert’s!

Heritage Open Day and Steeplechase

hods-logo-182On Saturday 10 September, between 10:00am and 4:00pm, our church will be taking part in the national Heritage Open Day and Northumbria Historic Churches Steeplechase. The church will be open to visitors, a small exhibition will be in place and light refreshments will be available. If you could help staff the church for 30 minutes or more during the day, then please sign up on the list on the noticeboard or contact Andy Doyle (andydoyle1066@sky.com).

Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS)

Anyone keen on deepening their understanding of the Catholic faith and passing it on, and in particular aspiring teachers interested in teaching in a Catholic school in the future should consider the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS). The certificate is also very useful for those engaged or interested in youth work or catechesis.

The CCRS is awarded for successful study of eight modules offered by various dioceses and distance-learning centres part-time over two to five years; attending individual modules without proceeding to the certificate is possible and may be helpful.

Details of the modules offered by the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle are available at www.edurcdhn.org.uk/courses/courses_ccrs.php and information about the CCRS nationally is available at www.brs-ccrs.org.uk.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about the CCRS programme is welcome to attend the free CCRS Information event at St Cuthbert’s House, West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 7PY on Monday 12 September 2016, 5:00pm-6:30pm. Please contact Eamon Diffley (eamonn.diffley@diocesehn.org.uk) to book a place.

From Parish to Partnership

Following the Open Meeting on Wednesday 27 July, when we gathered to look at the feedback from the Diocese on our parish submission and looked at what is meant by “area partnership”, there will be a further meeting on Wednesday 17 August in the Parish Room after the 7:00pm Mass.

At this meeting we will begin our work in approaching “area partnership” – which local parishes we would be working together with, how we imagine work together and what changes would be necessary. Fr Andrew Downie, who will join us as Parish Priest and University Chaplain in September, will be present for this meeting.

All members of our worshipping community are warmly invited.

More information is available on the Diocesan website hope.rcdhn.org.uk and our parish website at www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk/ftih.

Fortnightly bulletins

During the school summer holidays, bulletins are being issued fortnightly instead of weekly: i.e. the bulletin for Sunday 14 August will also cover Sunday 21 August. Weekly bulletins will resume on Sunday 28 August. Please make sure any items for the bulletin reach the Parish Office by the Friday morning preceding publication.

For the most up-to-date information please refer to the parish website, www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk.

Events Group

The Parish “Events Group” will meet after the 10:00 Mass on Sunday 31 July 2016, over tea and coffee in the Parish Room: if you have ideas for social events or can give a little of your time to building up our community together, please come along.

Visiting Friars

In advance of taking up his new role as Procurator General of the Order of Preachers, fr. Ben is away at the Order’s General Chapter in Bologna until 5 August. Please keep him and the members of the Chapter in your prayers.

While he is away, in addition to fr. Tony and fr. Becket, we welcome fr. Euan Marley of St Columba’s, Glasgow. Masses on Sunday 31 July by fr. Euan.

Diocese becomes Living Wage Employer

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is pleased to announce that it is now an accredited Living Wage Employer. This means that every diocesan employee earns not just the minimum wage but the Living Wage.

The Diocese perceives the commitment to the Living Wage as upholding the Common Good and the dignity of work and ensures that people have quality time to spend for themselves and with their family. This development is a response to Pope Francis’ call to be a ‘poor Church for the poor’ (Pope Francis, Audience with Journalists, 16 March 2013).

The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living using the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK. Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; it is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet. The Living Wage is £1.05 per hour above the National Living Wage which was introduced by the Government in April 2016.

You can find out more about the Living Wage by visiting www.livingwage.org.uk or contact Katherine Nugent on 0191 243 3301 or katherine.nugent@diocesehn.org.uk

Deanery Reflection and Prayer for Vocations

You are invited to come along to Ushaw College on Thursday, 14th July, for a deanery evening of prayer and reflection for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. The evening will begin with coffee at 7.00pm and be finished by 8.15pm. Please give this event your prayers and support. For further details contact Fr Shaun O’Neill (Diocesan Vocations Director) or Fr David Smith (Diocesan Vocations Promoter) on vocations@rcdhn.org or see the poster at the back of the church.

New Parish Priest

Fr Andrew Downie

Bishop Séamus has appointed Fr Andrew Downie as Parish Priest of St Cuthbert’s and Catholic Chaplain to Durham University in succession to fr. Ben. The formal handover will happen later in the summer.

Fr Andrew is a native of Sunderland; he studied Natural Sciences at the Cambridge and later qualified as a solicitor. He trained for the priesthood at the Venerable English College, Rome, where he gained a Licence in Fundamental Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Ordained priest in 2002, Fr Andrew is currently parish priest of St Patrick’s and St Pius X, Consett,  having served in the past as Vocations Director for the diocese and Chaplain at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumberland.

Fr Andrew has a special interest in the teaching of Vatican II, and in the encounter of faith with contemporary culture, and is studying for a PhD part-time in the University’s Department of Theology and Religion.

From fr. Ben…

To all at St Cuthbert’s:

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is the task of all Christians – and in a particular way members of the Order of Preachers – to proclaim the Good News we have received. It is never pleasant for us to have to give or receive bad news.

I am therefore particularly grateful that our Prior Provincial, fr. Martin Ganeri OP, came to Durham last weekend to tell mass-goers at St Cuthbert’s personally of the decision of the Friars’ recent Provincial Chapter to withdraw the community of friars from Durham (as well as Glasgow and Newcastle). The decision was made in order to strengthen the communal life in a Province that has become increasingly stretched in recent years, and there is more information on the Province’s website, www.english.op.org.

Since the announcement, many people have spoken to me or written to express their emotions: sorrow, dismay, distress, surprise, perplexity; even devastation and anger. I understand those emotions and have shared in many of them; this was not the way I had hoped, planned or expected to leave Durham. But I am grateful too for the understanding, sympathy and promises of prayers expressed by so many.

I thank the Diocese and to Bishop Séamus for the generous welcome and the trust placed in us four years ago when St Cuthbert’s Parish and the University Chaplaincy were entrusted to the Order. I am desperately sorry that this charge is being returned after such a short time. The Bishop clearly understands the vital importance of the Church’s ministry in and around Universities, and is appointing a dedicated and experienced Parish Priest and University Chaplain in the person of Fr Andrew Downie. I know he will receive a warm welcome from all here when he comes in the autumn.

There will be opportunities in the coming months for me to express my thanks to all at St Cuthbert’s for their support and welcome, whatever anxieties there might have been about these strange friars, and to ask forgiveness for my faults, failures and shortcomings.

I will be in Oxford on Sunday 10 July for the Ordination of three of our young friars: frs. Matthew Jarvis and Oliver Keenan to the priesthood and fr. Jean-Baptiste Régis to the diaconate. These occasions are signs of hope for the future of the Church; please keep these brothers in your prayers. At the request of the Master of the Order, I will then be in Bologna 15 July – 5 August providing canonical support to our General Chapter. I expect to be back in Durham for the Sundays of August.

Whatever bad news, disappointments or farewells may come our way, we must never forget our Christian mission to preach the Good News: that Christ is the first-born from the dead, and that everything in heaven and everything on earth is reconciled through him and in him when he made peace by his death on the cross (cf. Col 1:18, 20). Let us pray for each other at this time, that our dedication to proclaiming that joyful truth may be renewed.

fr. Benjamin Earl OP
Vicar, Parish Priest and Chaplain

The kingdom of God is at hand

The gospel passage for this Sunday makes clear the challenge of proclaiming the gospel. Christ sends out the seventy-two disciples with nothing but the Good News that the “kingdom of God is very near” (Luke 10:9).

There must have been tremendous uncertainty among those seventy-two about how they would even survive, with no guaranteed food or lodging; most likely they had had little chance to plan. Yet they are given confidence that the Lord’s message is true; the Lord himself is to visit the places his disciples prepare.

We face uncertainty in the future too: the Diocese this weekend launches the next stage of the Forward Together in Hope process, which will inevitably mean change in many places. St Cuthbert’s parish and the University Chaplaincy too will inevitably face change and uncertainty in coming months.

But amid all this we must remember that we are disciples; the Lord is with us. The message we proclaim is true and is good news, and where we are faithful in proclaiming him, the Lord will come – and we will have cause to rejoice, not in our achievements, but in the promise of the kingdom.

Forward Together in Hope

There is a pastoral letter from Bishop Séamus for Sunday 3 July, and a new leaflet detailing the progress so far in the Forward Together in Hope renewal process across the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

Please take copies of both when you leave Mass, and keep the future of our Diocese, Parish and Chaplaincy in your prayers as we continue together to work out how best to serve and proclaim Christ in Durham and across the North East.

More information about the process is available on the Diocesan website at hope.rcdhn.org.uk, or on the Parish Website at www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk/ftih.

Durham Miners’ Gala, 9 July 2016

This year’s Miners’ Gala is on Saturday 9 July, and as usual we will be selling refreshments to raise money for charity. If you can help on the day itself, or with preparations beforehand, please sign up on the list at the back of church.

We are also looking for contributions of quiche and of cakes. Please sign up on the list if you can help, so we will have some idea of how much we may need to buy.

And, of course, if you are visiting the Gala, do drop in to our little oasis of peace and (relative) quiet!

Ministries at Sunday 6:30pm Mass over the summer

During the long summer vacation (i.e. until Sunday 2 October) the Sunday 6:30pm Mass becomes a much quieter affair as many students leave Durham. We need people to take on those ministries normally looked after by students during term time: to welcome into the church, to read, to help with the collection and (if qualified) to act as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. You can voluteer whether you are a remaining student, or a longer-term resident; whether you are a “regular” at this Mass, or at another.

If you can help, please sign up on the list at the back of the church, or get in touch with Ciara (Parish Secretary) on office@stcuthberts-durham.org.uk, noting how you can help and when you are available. Thank you for your generosity!