The Bishops of England & Wales have issued a paper reflecting on the way ahead for a return to a normal pattern of worship in our churches. You can read the paper here.
Nothing is more important than keeping in touch with the people we love. The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to find different ways of staying connected, and has made it seem more precious than ever. We need love and friendship to feel fully alive.
Jesus wants to stay connected with us, too. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ A branch can only grow if it remains attached to the tree. We can only be fully alive and flourishing if we remain connected to Jesus, the vine, and live in his love.
We connect with Jesus through prayer. In the Gospels, we often see Jesus spending time on his own, in a lonely place, praying. Jesus drew strength for his mission from the time that he spent alone with God the Father. He needed to connect with the Father who loved him, and we need to give time to connecting with Jesus.
We connect with Jesus, too, through the life of the Church. In today’s First Reading, we meet Saul, just after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. Saul would become St Paul, the greatest and most fearless preacher of the Gospel. But, in spite of the extraordinary call that he received from God, Paul didn’t try to preach the Gospel on his own. He worked together with the other apostles, and shared in their ministry. Jesus wants us to ‘bear much fruit’ for him. We can only be fruitful if we remain connected, to Christ and to his Church.
Day of Prayer for Survivors of Abuse: Tuesday 4th May. Information and resources at https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/our-work/safeguarding/day-of-prayer-for-survivors-of-abuse/day-of-prayer-for-survivors-of-abuse-2021/
As restrictions begin to ease we continue to celebrate Mass publicly, while maintaining the usual Covid-19 safety practices, and Mass at St Cuthbert’s will continue for the time being. Thank you to the volunteer stewards and cleaners, who have made it possible for us to continue celebrating Mass as a community.
The capacity of St Cuthbert’s church is limited to 36 places under the diocesan Risk Assessment, and members of a single household or support bubble can sit together. Please observe all of the rules, which have been put in place for everyone’s safety; socialising with anyone outside your household or bubble is prohibited.
If you wish to attend Sunday Mass, you must book a place, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 0191 384 3442, by 6pm on Saturday. You will be asked to give a contact telephone number or email address. If you come to church without having booked a place at Mass, you may be asked to leave.
For weekday Masses, you can attend without prior booking, but you will be asked for ‘Track and Trace’ details. We have a QR code displayed at the church entrance, which you can scan using the NHS Track & Trace app.
Please do not come to church if you are in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ group, if you are showing any of the symptoms of Covid-19, or if you have any concerns about your safety. The obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been dispensed by the Bishops until further notice.
All Masses at St Cuthbert’s are live streamed on our YouTube channel.
Volunteers are needed to clean the church after each opening, and to act as stewards. If you can help, please get in touch by telephone or email.
Receiving Communion: Please wait in the pews until instructed by the stewards to come forward to the priest for Holy Communion, always aware of social distancing in the queue. Please unloop your face covering and hold your arms at ‘full stretch,’ so that there is a good distance between you and the priest, with hands, palms upwards, one on top of the other, extended as flat as possible. Consume the Sacred Host and then replace your face covering, before moving back to your seat.
Please note that we are obliged to keep all the church doors open during Mass, for maximum ventilation, in order to prevent the spread of the virus. So remember to wrap up warm for Mass!
Everyone is welcome to join us at 8am, Monday to Friday. It lasts about 15 minutes. The Zoom details will be the same every day and you will always find them in the Announcements section of the St. Cuthbert’s Parish Community Facebook group or by contacting email@example.com
Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the Prayer of the Church – you’ll soon pick it up. We use Universalis and will share screens so you don’t need a Morning Prayer book to join us.
As lockdown restrictions are eased, members of our community could still be feeling isolated. If you are in need of practical help, or if you just want to chat, please contact Fr Andrew on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0191 384 3442. If you know of someone who needs support, please contact them, or let Fr Andrew know.
Parish bulletins and Catholic newspapers will be available for collection in a box outside the church door. Please pick up a copy of the bulletin and put it through the letterbox of a friend or neighbour who might not be able to get out.
The University Hospital of North Durham still has restrictions in place regarding visits to patients – see the hospital website for the latest information. However, the Catholic Chaplain is still able to visit patients, and can bring them Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know of a patient who wishes for a visit from the Catholic Hospital Chaplain, please inform Fr Paul Tully on 01388 818544 or email@example.com
For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.
The diocesan Emmaus Team are trained in listening skills and in supporting those who are suffering loss. If you feel that it would help you to talk with a member of the team, you can contact them on 07732 908 740, or speak to Fr Andrew.
A six-week online Listening Skills course to learn basic skills from counselling theory and practice, to help and support people experiencing difficulties in their lives. Tuesdays, 6.30 – 8.30pm, 11 May to 22 June (excluding 1 June.) Cost of the course is £120 per person and applications must be endorsed by a priest/deacon. For further details, contact the Diocesan Faith and Mission Team on 0191 243 3316 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to apply.
A series of virtual discussions, bringing together theologians, writers, spiritual directors and young scholars in conversation. Wednesdays 5, 12 and 19 May, 5-7pm. Hosted by Durham University Centre for Catholic Studies and the London Jesuit Centre. Everyone is welcome – suggested donation £15. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ccs-study-series-faith-and-thought-exploring-the-art-of-attention-tickets-133225512093?aff=ebdsoporgprofile
Black Saints and the Global Catholic Church, 1500-1750. Dr Erin Rowe (Johns Hopkins University, USA.) Tuesday 11th May at 6pm, online. Register at https://centreforcatholicstudies.eventbrite.com
The Challenge of Modernity. Presented by the Centre for Applied Theology, Monday 17th May at 7pm. Email email@example.com to register.
An online conference offered by Leeds Trinity University. Friday 28th May, 9am-3.30pm. Details and registration at https://www.leedstrinity.ac.uk/events/the-trinity-conference-2021-mental-health-in-education-a-catholic-approach.php
The Little Sisters of the Poor have launched a fundraising appeal in response to the increasing pressures faced by St. Joseph’s Care Home during the current pandemic. Details at http://www.rcdhn.org.uk/caritas/pdfdoc/2021/Diocesan%20Website%20Appeal%20April%202021.pdf
Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray, from Ascension to Pentecost, for more people to come to know Jesus. 13-23 May – details at https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/thy-kingdom-come/
Many of Jesus’ disciples lived by farming, and they would know that the life of a shepherd is a tough one. The shepherd is out in all weathers, caring for the sheep, keeping them safe and bringing them back when they wander off. In Jesus’ time, a shepherd’s job could be dangerous, too – there were thieves and bandits who would not think twice about killing the shepherd and stealing the sheep. A hired man, working for money, would run off at the first sign of trouble. But if the shepherd was looking after his own sheep, he would know each one and would take good care of them. So, when Jesus tells the people that he is a ‘Good Shepherd,’ he means that he has a real love and care for them. He knows them by name, just as a good shepherd knows each one of his sheep; and the people know him, and trust him. Jesus’ love for his sheep will be proved when he gives up his life for them on the Cross.
Today, the 4th Sunday of Easter, is ‘Good Shepherd Sunday,’ when we pray for vocations to the priesthood. The Church needs priests who will be ‘good shepherds,’ caring for the people with the same love that Jesus showed. And we are all called to be shepherds who care for one another. Every person that we meet is a member of the Lord’s flock, known to Jesus and precious to him. Jesus wants us all to hear his voice, and to be gathered together into one flock. No one is disposable.
Pray in May for Mary’s Meals. Details at https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/prayinmay
The next collection is Sunday 2nd May. Donations can be brought at any time and left in the box provided. Any of the following items are welcome, toilet rolls, tinned (tomatoes, fish, chick peas), biscuits, sugar, rice. Many thanks for your generosity.
Reader in Political Theology featuring Elizabeth Phillips (Westcott House, Cambridge); Anna Rowlands (Durham University); Amy Daughton (University of Birmingham); Vincent Lloyd (Villanova University); William Cavanaugh (DePaul University.) Chaired by Robert Song. Monday 26th April, 5.30-6.45pm, online. Details and registration at https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/catholic-studies/about-us/events/book-launch-political-theology/