All posts by Parish Priest

Dominican Friar; Parish Priest, St Cuthbert's Durham

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

Iquitos Report

Many will remember that earlier in the year we helped raise funds to enable Patrick Laing to go as part of a group from St Leonard’s School to  build three classrooms in a deprived area of Peru known as Iquitos, following on from a 2011 project in which a clinic, classroom and toilet block were build.

Patrick has now returned from Iquitos and will make an illustrated presentation to the Parish over tea and coffee after the 10:00am Mass on Sunday 18 September. Do come and see and hear what Patrick and his group, with our help, has been able to achieve.

Valete in Domino!

The day I was installed as Parish Priest of St Cuthbert’s, the gospel recounted Christ’s injunction to James and John: “Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all.” (Mark 10:43-44); in this way, one who is called to Christian leadership must imitate Christ the servant.

It is not for me to judge my service here in Durham; that I must leave to you and to the Lord. But I must thank all in Durham – in the parish, the diocese, the University and the city – for the warm welcome given to me and to my Dominican confrères over the past four years, and for the support you have given us as we have sought to serve you and Christ in this place. I hope that together we have been able to advance the mission of the Church in making the Kingdom present; and for our failures and shortcomings I ask your forgiveness.

Ultimately, however, we are called to be servants not merely of one community, but to be “slaves to all“. The Church calls us elsewhere, and we follow Christ’s call: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also” (Luke 4:43).

In this Sunday’s second reading, St Paul reminds Philemon, on sending back his slave Onesimus, that the bond of Christian fraternity is much greater than that of slavery. The Dominican friars may no longer be serving you here in Durham, but we remain your brothers in the Lord. Please keep us in your prayers, as we will you, and may God continue to bless this community.

Your brother in Christ,

fr. Benjamin Earl OP
Parish Priest

If only you knew what I was offering you

If only you knew what I was offering you is a day of reflection for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. It is led by Pat Kennedy and takes place at St Thomas Aquinas Parish Hall, North Road, Darlington, DL1 2PU on Saturday 1 October 2016, 10.30am – 3.30pm (refreshments from 10:00am). Cost: £7.50.

This day fulfils the undertaking made by Extraordinary Ministers to attend an annual day of recollection. To book a place contact Ciara in the Parish Office on by Monday 19 September.

Lighting works in the church

After an abortive first attempt in July, work will start on Monday 5 September to replace the halogen church lighting with more modern LED fittings. These will be cheaper to run, provide better light, and require less maintenance – very significant as it costs the best part of £1,000 to change a light bulb due to the need for scaffolding.

Apart from times of liturgy, it will not be possible to open the church to the public on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 September.

Do you give by Standing Order?

Do you feel left out or self-conscious when the collection basket goes round and you don’t put anything in because you’re already giving by Standing Order? By popular demand, we have a solution!

There are now special “banknotes” available for you at the back of church. Pick one up as you come into Mass, and drop it in the basket when it comes round to show your support; or perhaps you can give them to your children to drop in the basket.

If you don’t yet give by regular Standing Order, do take one of the notes away with you and get in touch with the Parish Office (contact details on the back). If you are a UK taxpayer, don’t forget to ask about Gift Aid – this enables us to claim back from the government an extra £5 for every £20 you give.

Thank you for your generous support of the work of St Cuthbert’s!

Heritage Open Day and Steeplechase

hods-logo-182On Saturday 10 September, between 10:00am and 4:00pm, our church will be taking part in the national Heritage Open Day and Northumbria Historic Churches Steeplechase. The church will be open to visitors, a small exhibition will be in place and light refreshments will be available. If you could help staff the church for 30 minutes or more during the day, then please sign up on the list on the noticeboard or contact Andy Doyle (