Evening Prayer (Solemn Vespers)

To mark the First Sunday of Advent, Solemn Vespers will be celebrated at 4.30pm on Sunday 1st December in St. Cuthbert’s Chapel, Ushaw College.

The Finchale Partnership will be co-ordinating the celebration of this service, which also marks the launch of ‘The God Who Speaks’, a Year of the Word, proclaimed by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Vespers will be celebrated simultaneously at four other locations across the diocese.

Mince pies and mulled wine will be available afterwards and everyone is welcome.

God in Africa

Modernity, Christianity and Africa’s Futures. The annual Alan Richardson lecture, given by Fr Stan Chu Ilo, PhD, Research Professor in World Christianity and African Studies at DePaul University, Chicago. Here at St Cuthbert’s on Monday 2nd December; drinks reception at 5.30pm, lecture at 6.00pm. Admission is free, but you need to book online at centreforcatholicstudies.eventbrite.com or by telephoning 0191 334 1656.

Financial Briefing to the Parish

This time last year I was reporting on a financially stable year. However, this year has been more challenging with our balances about to be at their lowest level for some years.

We are not in serious trouble and your generosity continues at its usual high level. The issue is that we have had, and continue to have, a year of unusually high expenditure in maintaining the fabric of our beautiful church.

I think it is worth looking at the major items:

  • Boundary Wall  £25K 
  • Electrical Repairs £5K
  • Passage Lights Upgrade £5k
  • Drains Repair £4K
  • New Sound system £2K


Within the last few days we have been notified that the cost of upgrading the Presbytery Fire Alarms for multi occupancy will be at least £10K. This upgrade is a mandatory requirement as we want to be able to continue having visiting priests and religious to live in the Presbytery and be part of our community.

This work will take place over the next few weeks.

This gives a total of about £50K and it is this which has depleted our balances to the predicted level of £14K in the current account and £30K in our deposit account. In our experience the age and condition of our church and the possible need for urgent repairs requires that these predicted balances are the minimum acceptable level. The balances I reported a year ago were £22K and £63K respectively – this is a drop of £41K.

In addition we have one big project waiting in the wings. This is the repair to the presbytery stonework, this will be a six-figure sum, a challenge for future years.

In the year ahead we need to rebuild our balances and develop a strategy to raise the £100K for the stonework. I know we can depend on your continued generosity and a special thanks to those of you in the Gift Aid scheme. This raised nearly £10k in the last year. If you are a taxpayer and have not joined the scheme I would encourage you to do so; it is not too bureaucratic and all personal date is protected. Please see Andy Doyle or check our website to see how to join.

In addition, if you have a standing order with the Parish, it may be worthwhile to see if it has been de-valued in any way by inflation over the years.

 Also, as you know, under the diocesan development programme, ‘Forward Together in Hope’ we have started to work more closely in partnership with neighbouring parishes. A Partnership Finance Committee continues to operate with an annual budget of £5K for which our contribution will be £950 per year, based on an affordability calculation as specified by the Diocese. As well as giving financial advice to the Partnership, this committee reviews any project above £10k and advises the Diocese as to whether a project fits in the overall needs of the partnership. This is particularly important right now because of the ongoing property review by all members of our Partnership. The year ahead will see these new processes continuing to unfold and become an important part of our Parochial life.

In conclusion, the year ahead will present us with continuing financial challenges and more changes as we work within the new Partnership framework. I feel sure that your continuing generosity will see us through.

John Marsland

Chairman of the Parish Finance Council

November 2019

Justice and Peace Refugee Project

Our parish collects biscuits and toilet rolls to help provide basic supplies to asylum seekers in the diocese. These are collected regularly, on the first Sunday of the month. If you would like to donate items please remember to bring them to Church next Sunday 1 December and place them under the bench in the narthex ready to be collected.

The centre is always very grateful for our supplies and with the holiday period coming up they would welcome an even bigger stock of things to draw from. Please give generously.

Youth Sunday

Today, on Youth Sunday, we celebrate the gift of young people in our Church and renew our commitment to encourage and support them. Please pray for the young people in St Cuthbert’s parish and in the University Chaplaincy community, and for those who work with them; and please give generously to today’s collection for the Youth Ministry Team, our diocesan youth service: www.ymt.org

A Crucified King

As Jesus is dying on the Cross, he is mocked by the religious leaders, by the soldiers who crucify him, and even by one of the criminals who is being executed with him. And yet, the titles that they give him in cruel mockery are all true. Jesus really is the Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King of the Jews and of all nations. He shows us a different kind of kingship. Jesus is a King who comes to seek out the lost, to heal the sick and to forgive sinners. He welcomes the outcasts and upholds the dignity of the poor. He even forgives those who nail him to the Cross. Jesus’ authority was such an affront to the Roman and Jewish leaders that they had to crush him utterly.

Only the ‘good thief,’ the repentant criminal hanging on his own cross alongside Jesus, recognises him as King, with power to forgive sins. His act of faith wins him the promise of paradise. Today’s feast of Christ the King reminds us that we are citizens of a kingdom that is not of this world. We have put our faith in the crucified King.

Events at Ushaw

Day of Reflection with Sr Rosarie Spence RSM, Ushaw, Wednesday 27th November, 10.30 am – 3.30 pm. An opportunity to step aside, experience different ways of praying and enjoy a time of personal prayer, all in the beautiful surroundings at Ushaw. The cost is £10 per person, including tea/coffee at the beginning and end of the day. Lunch may be purchased in the Refectory. Booking should be made at www.ushaw.org

Ushaw Christmas Tree Festival: Ushaw’s 2019 Christmas Tree Festival will be bigger and better than ever – with a display of 100 Christmas Trees! Official launch is on 29th November.

A Solid Foundation

The Second Temple in Jerusalem was a magnificent building, constructed under King Herod the Great. Jesus’ disciples would never have seen anything so impressive. But Jesus foretold the destruction of the Temple; and by the time Luke came to write his Gospel, the prophecy had been fulfilled. The Jewish uprising against Roman rule, which began in 66 AD, ended in the year 70 with Jerusalem besieged by the Roman legions and the Temple destroyed by fire. It was a catastrophe for the Jewish people; and yet, they found ways to continue their worship of God and to maintain their identity as a nation. Jesus warned his disciples that the destruction of the Temple would be followed by even greater disasters; wars and earthquakes, plagues and famines. They would face persecution for their faith in him, but God would keep them safe. As we look around at the turmoil and suffering in the world today, Jesus’ words remind us that all earthly power and splendour will pass away. The only solid foundation for our lives is our faith in Christ.

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