College Mass – St John’s

St Johns ChapelThe first college Mass of term takes place at 7:00pm on Wednesday 18 November in the Chapel of St John’s College (i.e. the Church of St Mary the Less on South Bailey).

All parishioners and University members are welcome and warmly invited to the Mass.

Because of the college Mass there will be no “holy half hour” of Vespers, exposition and confessions at St Cuthbert’s that Wednesday evening.

One God, the Father Almighty

Baptism of the LordTaken in isolation, reference to the all-powerful God might be frightening rather than comforting. After all, in the contemporary world power is suspect, and absolute power all the more so. But God’s power is not corruptible, and it cannot be considered in isolation from three truths about the divine.

Firstly, the one in whom we believe, ‘God, the Father Almighty,’ is the Lord who is slow to anger and rich in mercy, near to the brokenhearted, and the saviour of all those who are crushed in spirit. God is love — boundless love that surpasses all we can imagine. Secondly, the power of the Almighty is the power of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We have seen this power: Jesus shows us the Father (John 14.8-10). He shows us compassion and love, and he makes use of the divine power in laying down his life and taking it up again, for our sake. God’s power comes to us in the eternal mercy this Father shows his eternal Son.

Finally, ‘Almighty’ means that God’s power is unique, unrivalled and beyond our comprehension. The emphasis on the oneness of this God in the creed reflects a theme Christians inherited from their Jewish origins (Deut 6.4), and it shows us that above and beyond all power in this world is that of the Father Almighty. But this power is something that exceeds our capacity to imagine. The greatness of this power is in its ability to love and to give life without loss, to create and recreate. Yet, far from being a stony and distant strength, the almighty power of God has drawn near to us in Christ and remains with us in the Holy Spirit. As nothing exists that could challenge the Almighty, that makes us very safe indeed.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

Prisons Week: 15-21 November

Parish Seeks to offer support to prisoners and their families in a
number of ways. On Sunday 22 November we will be having our annual
collection of toys, puzzles, coloured pencils etc. for children to
play with whilst visiting family members in prison. Please leave your
items under the bench in the narthex. 

Policing in the 21st Century

Inspector Dave CoxonDixon of Dock Green? The Sweeney? Cuffs? Come and listen to Inspector Dave Coxon’s presentation on the subject of real modern policing. Hosted by St Cuthbert’s Catholic Church on Tuesday 17th November at 7pm, this talk is one of Churches Together in Elvet & Shincliffe’s occasional series looking at the many facets of the world in which we live.

Responding to Laudato si’

Laudato si'The first Catholic Social Thought and Practice Lecture of 2015/16 will take place on Thursday 19 November:

Professor Peter Scott (Manchester University)
Responding to Pope Francis’ ‘Encyclical on the Environment’ 

Time: 4.00pm-6.00pm
Venue: Pemberton Rooms, PG21, Palace Green, Durham

If you wish to attend the lecture please email or call 0191 334 1656.

Your Money or your Afterlife

SunsetA Public Forum at the Prior’s Hall, Durham Cathedral, Thursday 19 November 7:00pm-9:00pm on the subject of gift and offerings in Judaism, Islam and Christian denominations. How religious institutions are supported, how this is connected to conceptions of the afterlife, and what the place of money is (or is not) within religious and spiritual life will be explored.The following day, Friday 20 November10:00am-4:00pm, there will be a workshop in gifts in the Christian Middle Ages.

For more information contact:

Hope and rebuild

It is providential that the readings for Remembrance Sunday this year speak of two widows: the Sidonian widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:10-16) and the widow putting two copper coins into the temple treasury (Mark 12:41-44).We do not know how these two women came to be widows: it may or may not have been through warfare. But certainly we know the immense human cost of war through the ages on those who are made widows and orphans. How should the Christian respond to such tragedy?

The stories of these two widows perhaps give us some guidance. The Sidonian widow, bereaved and believing that starvation is just round the corner, shares what little she has with the Prophet Elijah and receives from him a message of hope from the Lord for the future. In the face of warfare we must continue to hope for a better future, both in this world and the world to come.
The widow at the temple gives “all she had to live on” to the temple; we too should give our all for the building up of God’s temple: not so much the physical edifice, but the communion of faith, charity and peace which is the Church. After the destruction of war, we rebuild for a peaceful and faithful future.

We hope, and we rebuild: and thus show a world of despair and destruction a better way.

Catholic Theology Research Seminar

Dr Eduardo Echeverria (Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit) will speak on “Predestination, Election and Reprobation in Balthasar’s Theology of Hope” at the Catholic Theology Research Seminar on Tuesday 10 November.

5.15pm for drinks; seminar 5.30pm-7.00pm
Venue: Dun Cow Cottage Seminar Room.

A group will share a meal afterwards at a local restaurant.

All are welcome to attend. Please email or call 0191 334 3952 if you wish to attend, noting whether or not you wish to dine afterwards.

Café Lumière

During the Lumière festival Thursday 12th – Saturday 14th November the church will be open and we hope to serve soup and refreshments from 6:30pm until 9:30pm. We are seeking volunteers who would be able to welcome festival visitors and prepare refreshments during this period. If you are able to help please contact Andy Doyle on 0191 378 3660 or

Update: Bishop Dunn Memorial Lecture

Prof Eamon Duffy, FBADue to ill health, Cardinal Walter Kasper is unable to come to Durham to deliver the Centre for Catholic Studies’ Bishop Dunn Memorial Lecture. We wish him a speedy recovery.

In his place, Prof. Eamon Duffy, FBA, Emeritus Professor of the History of Christianity at Cambridge, will deliver the lecture prepared by Cardinal Kasper entitled Church, Mercy and the Signs of the Times. The lecture is part of The Tablet‘s 175th Anniversary Conference.

The lecture takes place at 8:00pm on Tuesday 3 November at the Arnold Wolfendale Lecture Theatre in the Calman Learning Centre. 

Tickets are £12 with concessions (free for students) available: contact Theresa Phillips ( or 0191 334 1656).

Following the lecture (c. 10:00pm), Compline will be celebrated at St Cuthbert’s Church – all are welcome.

Chair: fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP (Blackfriars, Oxford)
Respondent: Prof. Janet Soskice (Cambridge)

Saints in the Creed

Most of what the Creed says is about God: we say, “I believe in one God”, and then say lots of things about that God in whom we believe.

But the Creed also relates these truths about God to humanity. It emphasises that what Jesus does is “for us men and for our salvation” and “for our sake”. And it ends by recognising our “baptism for the forgiveness of sins”, our “resurrection from the dead” and our “life of the world to come”.

The Creed may be mostly about God, but it is for humanity. We are sinners who need the forgiveness of baptism. Conscious of the mortality of our bodies, we look forward to resurrection. Recognising that this world is finite and imperfect, we hope for the next.

That hope is expressed in a special way this week. On All Saints’ Day, 1 November, we joyfully celebrate those whom Christ has made holy: those countless people, most of whose names have been forgotten by us, who nevertheless show us the way to God through their prayer and example. They show us hope. Then, on All Souls’ Day, 2 November, we show hope by praying for those others who have died in Christ still needing to be purified in order to come to the fullness of holiness.

The Creed expresses the faith of the whole Church, those who have passed beyond this life as well as those still walking this earth. As we remember them all in coming days, may the whole of the Church be bound ever closer together in expression of the unchanging faith.

Soup lunch

A simple soup lunch will be available after the 12:15 Mass on Friday, 6 November. Donations requested for the Parish’s international development work.

If there is sufficient support it is hoped this can become a monthly “First Friday” event once again.

Jubilee of the Order of Preachers

The Dominican Friars will be celebrating 800 years from their approval by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 2016, preceded by a year (and a bit) of jubilee celebrations. At St Cuthbert’s we open the Jubilee with Mass at 2:00pm on Saturday 7 November for the Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers. All are welcome and warmly invited to this celebration, which also forms part of study day organised by the Dominican Youth Movement.

Please note that because of this jubilee celebration there will be no 9:15am Mass on 7 November.

The Tablet – Public Lectures

As part of The Tablet‘s 175th Anniversary Conference, there are two public lectures taking place shortly:

On Monday 2 November, Prof. Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University (named “America’s Best Theologian” by Time magazine in 2001) will deliver a lecture on The Spirit and the Church. Prof. Karen Kilby (Bede Professor of Catholic Theology) will chair, and Prof. Paul Murray (Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies) will respond.

On Tuesday 3 November, Cardinal Walter Kasper (former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) will deliver the Bishop Dunn Memorial Lecture on Church, Mercy and the Signs of the Times. fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP (Blackfriars, Oxford) will chair, and Prof. Janet Soskice (Cambridge) will respond.

Each lecture takes place at 8:00pm at the Arnold Wolfendale Lecture Theatre in the Calman Learning Centre. Tickets are normally £12, but concessions are available, including a limited number of free concessionary tickets for students: contact Theresa Phillips ( or 0191 334 1656).

Following Cardinal Kasper’s lecture on Tuesday 3 November there will be a celebration of Compline (Night Prayer) at St Cuthbert’s – about 10:00pm – all welcome.

Why do we need Creeds?

Council of NicaeaWhen we say the creed each Sunday, we proclaim the faith into which we were baptized. Although we are not entirely certain where creeds come from, we know that catechumens in the early Church had to learn answers to a series of questions about the core beliefs of the Church. They repeated these publicly as part of their baptismal ceremony to attest to their belief. Creeds may have originated in part as a condensed version of these answers, and would have varied locally (one of the most famous surviving examples is known to us as The Apostles’ Creed – it was actually the local creed used in Rome). The Council of Nicaea produced a Creed in 325 and later in the same century the Council of Constantinople (381) produced another which it said expressed the faith of Nicaea, and it is this we use today. Bishops had to sign up to this creed when they were ordained, and gradually, over many decades it came to be used in the liturgy and in catechesis.

Catechumens professing the faith at their baptism did need to have a basic grasp of the creed, but not perhaps for the reason you might think. Gregory of Nyssa, a bishop who was present at the council of Constantinople, worried that a false conception of the Trinity would undermine the Christian at the very beginning of his or her new life in Christ. Why? Not because we have to understand in order to for God to save us, but because we do develop ideas about God in our imaginations. The ideas in the creed help us to develop our faith, hope, and love. Doctrine is not a barrier to keep out those who have difficulty comprehending it (such as children, for example, whom Jesus said we ought to be like), but a gift to keep our imaginations faithful.

Part of a series on the Creed by Medi Ann Volpe

Forward Together in Hope – Individual Questionnaire

Please give us your views about the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle – and ask as many other people as you can to do the same.

As part of Forward Together in Hope – the Diocese’s three-year programme for renewal – a short on-line questionnaire has been developed that provides the opportunity for anyone to offer comments about the present and the future of the Catholic Church in the Diocese.

We are inviting as many people as possible, people of all faiths and none, to offer their views. We want to look at our Church through your eyes, to see ourselves as others see us. We want to learn from you, and we appreciate any help you are able to give us.

Please publicise the link – as widely as you can – for example through forwarding it to friends, through newsletters, websites, schools, social media etc.

Visiting Preacher

fr. Nicholas Crowe OP will be preaching at Masses on Sunday 25 October. fr. Nick is based at St Dominic’s Priory, London; he is the Vocations Director for the Dominican Friars and Director of the Dominican Youth Movement.

Want to become a Catholic, get confirmed, or find out more?

Are you interested in being baptised or becoming a Catholic? Or perhaps you’ve missed out on Confirmation, or just want to find out more about the Catholic faith? If so – or if this applies to somebody you know – then you need to know that this year’s Journey in Faith (“Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” or RCIA) programme begins on Thursday 29 October at 7:00pm, with meetings each Thursday evening during Michaelmas and Epiphany terms in which we will explore the riches of the Catholic faith. To find out more, please contact fr. Ben or Andy Doyle (

The Creed

Have you ever wondered why we say the creed each Sunday? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that ‘Communion in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith’ (CCC 185). The creed is a gift, and an essential part of what constitutes us as a community. When we say the creed, we accept the gift of faith that is the Church’s faith, and we put our trust in the One she names as Lord and Saviour. 

Do we need to understand every word of it in order to proclaim it? No. A child learns to say ‘I love you’ long before she really grasps what love is, and yet she speaks truly. So also we say ‘I believe’ as we grow in understanding of the commitment we make together. Nor do we come to understand it in the order in which we speak it. We may feel we grasp more clearly the statements of the second article of the creed, those which remind us of the narrative of Jesus’ incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection—and so we should. The tender love and compassion of ‘God the Father Almighty’ who might seem rather distant as ‘maker of heaven and earth’ shows forth in all its gentleness and forbearance in the life of Christ. 

The creed offers us a chance, week by week, to meditate upon the faith we have received, and to make it our own.

This is the first in a series of thoughts on the Creed by Medi Ann Volpe.

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