All posts by Parish Priest

Dominican Friar; Parish Priest, St Cuthbert's Durham

Meet a Columban Missionary

We are delighted to have received an invitation from the Columbans in Britain to join a virtual encounter with Marjorie Engcoy, a Columban Lay Missionary from the Philippines assigned to Fiji.

This event will happen on Zoom on WEDNESDAY 16th SEPTEMBER 2020 at 19:00, and is open to everyone.

Before joining the Missionary Society of St. Columban, Marjorie was an English teacher for five years. Growing up she met a number of Columban missionaries; priests, nuns, and lay. Their presence in her community helped to ignite her desire to become a lay missionary and establish her personal relationship with God. In mission, she has been involved in various different ministries such as youth, children, women, liturgy, evangelisation, leadership and JPIC. Marjorie looks forward to explaining some of these ministries in more detail and how through her mission work overseas she has experienced God’s love and His promise; “I will be with you, always.”

The webinar will include prayer, a short introduction and then time for questions. You will need a laptop, tablet or phone and a good internet connection. To take part, please register your interest here:

Please pray

Please pray for the repose of the soul of James McAloon, who died recently, and for his family. His funeral service will be celebrated at St Cuthbert’s on Saturday 15th August at 10.00am. Please note that due to Government regulations, attendance at the funeral service is limited to family members and invited guests. Please join with us in prayer at the time of the service, rather than attempting to attend.

Broadcast of Mass by the BBC

BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship will broadcast Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Nichols in Westminster Cathedral, on Sunday 14 June at 8.10am. As an accessible radio broadcast, this is good news for the Catholic community. Please share news of this broadcast with any isolated parishioners who may not have access to the internet and therefore have been unable to attend online Mass services. For more information click here.

CAFOD Coronavirus emergency Appeal

CAFOD launched its coronavirus emergency appeal on 30 April. The effects of coronavirus on developing countries where CAFOD works are likely to be devastating. Families without enough to eat and without access to clean water and healthcare are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. The poorest and most marginalised communities will be pushed further into poverty. Your prayers and gifts are needed now more than ever to help protect the lives of those in poor communities.

You can find out more about CAFOD’s response to the coronavirus emergency, and donate online, here.

A Message from the archbishops

The Archbishops of England and Wales have written to all Catholics on behalf of their brother Bishops. The Archbishops encourage us to continue observing the lockdown restrictions in solidarity for the common good, and to pray and prepare for the moment when our churches can safely be reopened. You can read the full text of the Archbishops’ letter here.

Masses for the Sick and their Families, NHS Front-Line workers and those working in Social Care

Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone, special Masses will be celebrated for the sick, their families, care workers and NHS staff. These Masses will be celebrated each Thursday at 7pm, by a different Catholic Bishop in his cathedral. This Thursday, 7th May, Mass will be celebrated by Rt Rev Marcus Stock in Leeds Cathedral. You can watch the Mass on the cathedral’s Youtube channel:  

You can find out more, including how to watch the live stream of the Masses, on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference website, here.

Church Is no longer Open

Following the latest announcement from the Prime Minister on the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, we are no longer able to open the church for people to call in and pray. This is a necessary measure to protect us all.

Please keep in touch as we find other ways to support each other and to pray together over the next weeks and months.

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle are live streaming Mass, and this can be found on the Cathedral’s YouTube Channel and The Tablet has put together a useful summary of resources you can use.

Supporting one another during the coronavirus outbreak

Many of our parishioners are elderly, or at risk of infection because of an existing condition. Some are self-isolating, in accordance with NHS advice. If you would be able to help with shopping for food and medicine for a housebound person, or if you are in need of such help, please contact Fr Andrew on,uk or 0191 384 3442.

We already have a number of volunteers, both parishioners and students (some of whom have been unable to travel home and are staying in Durham), who are ready and willing to help, so please do get in touch.

Suspension of public acts of worship

In accordance with the statement issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales, there will be no further public acts of worship at St Cuthbert’s after Sung Vespers on Friday 20th March, until further notice. This decision has been taken by the Bishops in line with official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS. The celebration of Sunday and weekday Mass will take place without a congregation.

An excerpt from the Bishops’ statement:

‘Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day. We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the ‘serious reason’ why this obligation does not apply at this time.’

You can see live streams of prayer and worship on the Durham Martyrs Parish Facebook page and at

St Cuthbert’s Church will not close, but will continue to open as a place for prayer and reflection. We will need stewards to watch the church during opening hours. If you are able to volunteer to steward for an hour or two, please contact Fr Andrew on or 0191 384 3442.

Please watch the parish website and Facebook page, and our e-bulletin, for updates. You can read the statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference here.

Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has now moved to Stage 2 guidance in its guidance to parishes. This means that, as from now, Holy Communion will not be administered from the chalice, and communicants will be asked to receive the host in their hand. There should be no physical contact at the Sign of Peace, and the holy water stoups will be emptied.

You can read the full guidance here.

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 ( know. Students are eligible too. It means studying in the narthex rather than the chaplaincy for a while.

Calling keycard holders…

Due to a fault the electronic lock on the gate to the passage behind the church has been changed. Holders of keycards will need to have their cards re-enabled for the new lock. Simply pop into the Parish Office with your keycard during office hours.

 Monday 8:30am – 4:00pm, Tuesday 9:15am – 2:15pm
and Friday 8:30am – 3:00pm.


Mgr Denis Edwards RIP

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Monsignor Denis Edwards, who lived and ministered at St Cuthbert’s in 2007-8 as the first St Cuthbert’s Visiting Fellow in Catholic Theology. Denis died on Monday 4th March after suffering a stroke. He was a priest of the Archdiocese of Adelaide and a distinguished theologian: a Fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion, a member of the International Methodist-Roman Catholic Commission and of the national Australian Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission. He was made a Monsignor by Pope Francis, held the Medal of the Order of Australia, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Fribourg. During his time at St Cuthbert’s, he formed a lasting friendship with Fr Tony Currer, who shared his love for jazz, cricket and Karl Rahner. RIP.

A full obituary for Fr Denis is shown here on the website of Australian Catholic University.

Book of Remembrance

Each November we traditionally bring to mind those who have died and pray for the repose of their souls. Our Book of Remembrance will be open at the font all month from All Saints Day for you to write the names of your departed family and friends. We invite all who have been bereaved in the last few years to a special Mass at 10am on Saturday November 17 which will be followed by light refreshments. Also, our 10am Mass on November 11 (Remembrance Sunday) will be a sung Requiem Mass for the souls of all who died in the World Wars and other conflicts of recent years. Of course, in this centenary year of Armistice Day 1918 the day will have an added poignancy and our Parish Roll of Honour will be displayed.

Phoebe loses (most of) her hair – for a good cause

Phoebe Sowerby, one of our parishioners, writes: In July, I am going with a team of ten other girls to Sri Lanka to volunteer in two schools, one Kandy and one in Colombo. We will be providing resources such as textbooks, exercise books and writing implements. These will help the children to learn and develop their understanding of the English language, as well as this we will also be funding wall murals for the classrooms which myself and the team will be painting. We want to try and raise as much money as possible for this project to support these children. I have decided to have 9 inches of my hair cut off for the Little Princess Trust, so that it can
be made into wigs for cancer patients. In the end I had 14 inches off !

If you want to find out more about the project that Phoebe will be taking part in, or to support her on her trip, please speak to Phoebe at Sunday Mass, or contact the Parish Office.

See Phoebe’s “before and after” pictures below. We think her new short style looks great…IMG_1708






New Lectio Divina – TODAY

This Sunday afternoon, you’re invited to try “New Lectio Divina” – a shared session of immersion in Scripture, which guides participants to a profound experience of the Word of God. New Lectio Divina is a way of praying with words and voice, a purposeful journey into the profound messages embedded in the Bible. Professor Kate Burke of the University of Virginia Department of Drama will introduce us to new ways of entering into the Word, and experiencing the power of God’s desire to speak to us, his people. The session is based on techniques developed in training actors at the Royal Shakespeare Company (but don’t worry, no acting is called for!) The session aims to draw the group together in praying God’s Word.

The session will begin this Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm, in the Chaplaincy Room, and will last about 90 minutes. Everyone is welcome. You can find out more about New Lectio Divina at