Church Stewarding

The church is open apart from service times from 10 to 3 on Fridays and 10 –noon on Saturdays. This allows people to pop in and pray and gives visitors to Durham a chance to see inside a building of considerable beauty.

To enable this to happen there is a small but dedicated band of stewards. There are proposals to extend the occasions when the church is open but for this to happen we need more stewards. It is not an onerous task. It usually means sitting in the narthex and saying ‘Hello’ to people, keeping an eye on the place and answering, as best you can, questions visitors might ask. There is a folder containing information on just about everything to do with the church. It is possible that no one visits on some days so it is a chance to read the paper do a few lines of knitting or whatever.

If you would like to join this group please let Fr Andrew, Ciara or David Crookes (davidcrookes@talktalk.net) know. Students are eligible too. It means studying in the narthex rather than the chaplaincy for a while.

Complacency and Conversion

On the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist bursts onto the scene. John lives and speaks like the prophets of the Old Testament. He calls the people to repentance: a change of direction; a change of heart. The ordinary people of Israel flock to John, to confess their sins and be baptised as a sign of conversion. But the religious elite – the Pharisees and Sadducees – may be tempted to believe that their status as ‘sons of Abraham’ is a guarantee of their place in God’s kingdom. John wants to shake them out of their complacency. Everyone needs to repent, and to produce the fruits of repentance – a renewed faith and trust in God. The Baptist’s message is a stern and challenging one, but it comes with a promise; the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. In God’s kingdom, as Isaiah says, our worldly relationships of power and exploitation will be overthrown, and God will bring justice. John’s preaching challenges our complacency, too: he calls us to repentance in preparation for Christ’s coming.

Which Parish Charities, April 2020 to March 2021?

Each year, the proceeds from tea and coffee after Mass, the sale of refreshments at the Miner’s Gala and other parish events are divided between one international and one local charity. Currently these are St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham and the Adhanur Helping Hands orphanages and education project in India. The latter is also supported by Durham Martyrs Parish. In January 2020 we decide which two charities should be supported during the next financial year. Please offer some suggestions using the form in the narthex. You can opt to keep either or both of the current charities, or go for different ideas. Charities need to be UK registered and information about them needs to be provided to Father Andrew or the Parish Secretary.

Reach Out

St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle, welcomes everyone to find a moment of peace in a busy city. At Reach Out we will make an extra effort to invite people in, whether finishing or on the way to work, Christmas shopping, wandering the markets or about to meet friends. Everyone is welcome to stop for a few moments of quiet reflection, prayer or to light a candle.

Volunteers are needed to:

• reach out and invite passers-by into the Cathedral;

• welcome and guide within the Cathedral;

• provide hospitality;

• pray for all those we encounter.

Choose whatever you feel comfortable with and feel free to volunteer for all or part of the event.

The event is on Wednesday 11th December, 4.30-9pm, but you can come and go whenever you’re able to. If you’re interested please contact adult.formation@diocesehn.org.uk or speak to Fr Andrew.

Retreat in Daily life

A Retreat in Daily Life or Week of Guided Prayer brings the experience of an Ignatian individually guided retreat to you, fitting around your work and study commitments. Following our successful Retreat in Daily Life last year, we will be offering another for students and parishioners from 19-24 January 2020. Put the dates in your diary now, and speak to Fr Andrew if you’re interested.

Ushaw Lecture

Pope Pius XII’s Christmas Messages by Dr. Anna Rowlands of Durham University’s Centre for Catholic Studies. Tuesday 10 December; lecture from 6.00pm in the Exhibition Hall (drinks reception from 5.30pm), followed by mulled wine and mince pies at 7.15pm. Book online at Eventbrite or by telephone on 0191 334 1656.

A Time of Waiting

In the shops, it’s already Christmas. The tinsel is up and the carols are playing. In the world of commerce, the ‘Festive Season’ begins as soon as Halloween is over. However, before celebrating the birth of the Lord, the Church keeps the season of Advent as a time of prayerful waiting and preparation. We are invited to pause amid the Christmas shopping and reflect on the mystery of the coming of the Son of God into the world. Jesus tells his disciples that his Second Coming in glory will be unexpected. But at the time of Christ’s birth, no one was expecting that God would enter the world that he created as a tiny child, born in a stable to a poor family. This is the great, joyful surprise of our faith. The presence of God among us is not what we expect, nor where we expect – that’s how we miss it. God is present to us in those who are poor and marginalised; the homeless, the addicted, the lonely. As we begin the season of Advent, we are called to stay awake and stand ready, so that we don’t miss the amazing gift of God’s presence.

Fr Stan

Will celebrate both Masses today, and will give the Richardson Lecture at St Cuthbert’s on Monday, before leaving us this week. We thank Fr Stan for his contribution to the life of the parish and the chaplaincy during his Visiting Fellowship at Durham. Please remember him and his ministry in your prayers.

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