Category Archives: Announcements

The Beginning of the Good news

Today’s reading comes from the very beginning of the Gospel of Mark. ‘The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ But before Jesus appears, we first meet John the Baptist. John seems a scary figure. He lived alone in the desert, he dressed in a camel skin, and he was fierce and fearless in his preaching. And yet, the people flocked to hear him. John’s message was good news for them. The ordinary people of Judaea and Jerusalem were poor and downtrodden, suffering under Roman rule and burdened with sin. John  called them to repent; to turn back to God. When John baptised the people in the river Jordan, it was a sign that they were leaving behind their sins, receiving God’s mercy and beginning a new life. His message was one of change and of hope.

The people flocked to John, but he didn’t seek glory for himself. He told his disciples that someone more powerful was coming – Jesus, the Saviour, who would baptise them with the Holy Spirit. The Jewish people knew the words of the prophets, and they recognised John as the messenger sent by God to prepare the way for the Saviour, just as the prophet Isaiah had foretold. The Lord was coming with power.

In the season of Advent, we look forward to Christmas, and we prepare ourselves to welcome the Saviour. We may feel downtrodden and burdened, like John’s disciples.  But with Jesus, there is always hope. We can always turn back to God, be forgiven and make a new start. There doesn’t seem to have been much good news in 2020; but the coming of Jesus is good news.

Public Masses at St Cuthbert’s

We are now able to celebrate public Masses again. The capacity of St Cuthbert’s church is limited to 36 people under the diocesan Risk Assessment, though members of a single household or bubble can sit together. Everyone is required to wear a mask in church, unless they are exempt. Durham is in Tier 3, and this means that socialising with anyone outside your household or support bubble is prohibited.

If you wish to attend Sunday Mass, you must book a place, by emailing 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.

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!

Hospital Visits

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 

For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.

Durham Winter Night Shelter

Durham Winter Night Shelter will be providing emergency accommodation for homeless people in the city on the coldest nights of the year. This year, the shelter has had to adapt in order to become Covid-secure. Please support Durham Winter Night Shelter with your prayers, and financially if you can, via  The shelter also needs volunteers – contact Fr Andrew if you’re interested.

Ushaw Lecture

Catholicism and Music. Presented by Sir James MacMillan, University of St Andrews. Sir James MacMillan is one of today’s most successful composers, and a Durham graduate. Wednesday 9th December at 6.00pm, online. See Centre for Catholic Studies website for details and registration.

St Cuthbert’s & the Chaplaincy COVID & Christmas Chat

At this time of year parishioners and students would usually be chatting over a glass of mulled wine after our joint Advent carol service. This year, we can catch up on Zoom.

Join us on Thursday 10th December at 7.00pm to hear from the student community about their experiences of university life during COVID, for all of us to share our thoughts on how we’ll be celebrating Christmas this year, and to plan how the parish and the chaplaincy can work together..

Details of how to join the call will be available in the ‘St Cuthbert’s Parish Community’ and the ‘Durham Catholic Chaplaincy Events’ Facebook Groups.

Parish Reading Group

The parish has a Reading Group which discusses all sorts of literature (not just theology, nor only Christian writing). All members of the parish are welcome to join, including undergraduates and postgraduates. The group is currently meeting on Zoom.

Our next meetings are not until the new year, but here is advance notice of the dates and the books we will be reading:

19 January 2021, George and Weedon Grossmith, Diary of a Nobody

23 February, Michael Sandel, The Tyranny of Merit. What’s Become of the Common Good?

Contact Margaret Harvey: email or phone 0191 3840080, if you would like to join the group.

Financial Briefing to the Parish November 2020

A short annual briefing on the Parish Finances from John Marsland, as chairman of the Parish Finance Council.

This time last year I was reporting on a financially difficult year, however, this year has been even more challenging with lockdowns and a closed Church for some periods.

You may remember that we spent about £40K on repairs and maintenance during last year. This year the equivalent figure is about £10K and most of this is for the fire alarm upgrade.

We expected to see a significant deterioration in our financial position following the closures of the Church and the restriction on the number of parishioners who could attend during services. However, as a result of the low spend on repairs and maintenance, our balances are in better shape than we expected. We have £34839 in the Parish account and £31145 in the deposit account with the Diocese.

As always, your generosity continues with many parishioners continuing to donate with standing orders or online even though they are unable to attend Church at this time. Many thanks for your continued contributions.

The next few months are shrouded with uncertainty and our stewardship needs to be sensitive to unforeseen demands and we will continue to depend on your donations even more as things unfold. We are also fully aware that our Church is an old building and significant repair costs can be incurred at any time.

With regard to the Diocese as a whole, the latest information is that the financial position is stable, for now the pandemic shock has been absorbed, however the future is still uncertain.

If you have not already set up a standing order or online donation and would like to do so please contact Andy Doyle for details, he can be contacted via the Parish Office for which the number is on the weekly bulletin.

A further significant contribution to our funds is made by the Gift Aid scheme, currently around £8K per year. This excellent scheme costs nothing to join with no complicated paperwork and is of considerable benefit to the Parish. If you would like to join, again, please contact Andy.

I hope and pray that my next annual report in November 2021 will report on a more stable situation, in the meantime, I will ensure you are briefed on any significant financial events if they occur.

Many thanks again for your support during the past year.

John Marsland

November 2020

Stay Awake

As we come to the coldest, darkest time of the year, the season of Advent begins; the season of waiting. In this season, we wait for the Son of God to come into the world. With the birth of Jesus, God’s plan of salvation will begin to unfold, bringing a new hope for all nations. A light will shine out in the darkness.

How should we spend the season of waiting? Jesus tells his disciples: ‘Be on your guard! Stay awake!’ As disciples of Jesus, we should be alert and watching out for his coming. The time of waiting is a time of preparation.

We prepare ourselves to welcome the Saviour by prayer and by repentance; looking honestly at ourselves and at our lives, to see where we need to change our ways and turn back to God. The prophet Isaiah, in today’s First Reading, speaks on behalf of the people of Israel. They have forgotten their faith and wandered away from God, and the prophet begs the Lord to turn back to his chosen people and restore their integrity. St Paul gives practical advice to the Christians in Corinth; God will keep them ‘steady and without blame.’ By living a good life, doing the simple things well, they will bear witness to Christ.

The time of waiting should not be time wasted. With God’s grace, the season of Advent can be a fruitful time, when we pray, reflect and repent. Then we will be awake and ready to welcome the Lord when he comes.

Keeping in touch

Many members of our community could still be feeling isolated. If you are in need of any practical help, eg with grocery shopping or collecting prescriptions, or if you just want to chat, please contact Fr Andrew by email, or by telephone on 0191 384 3442. If you know of someone who might need support, please make contact with them, or let Fr Andrew know.

Parish Reading Group

The parish has a Reading Group which discusses all sorts of literature (not just theology, nor only Christian writing). All members of the parish are welcome to join, including undergraduates and postgraduates.

The next meeting is on Tuesday 1 December at 8pm, when we will be discussing Paul Nurse, What is Life?

The group is currently meeting on Zoom.

Contact Margaret Harvey: email or phone 0191 3840080.