Category Archives: Announcements

The Spirituality of the Benedictines

The Finchale Partnership and the University Chaplaincy have organised a series of events on the Spirituality of the religious orders. The events take place on Zoom.

The third event in our series is The Spirituality of the Benedictines.

Speaker: Scholastica Jacob was a nun of Stanbrook Abbey, and is now living as a Benedictine in Durham, conducting research at the Centre for Catholic Studies on the experiences of English Benedictine nuns in the early 19th century.

Date: Thursday 26th November at 7.00pm

Details of how to join the session are available in the parish Facebook group or by contacting

The picture is a statue of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino.

The greatest gift

A ‘talent,’ in Jesus’ time, meant a huge quantity of precious metal – 50 pounds or more of gold or silver. It was more wealth than Jesus’ disciples could imagine. So the rich man in today’s parable is trusting each of his servants with a huge sum of money. Two of the servants repay the master’s trust; they work hard and make money for him. The third servant hides the wealth that was given to him in a hole in the ground. When the master comes home, he is punished for his lack of initiative.

What is the message of this parable? Is Jesus really teaching us to make as much money as we can? That doesn’t seem to fit with his teaching in other Gospel stories, where he describes money as a ‘tainted thing,’ and warns the rich that they can’t take their wealth with them when they die. 

The most precious thing that Jesus gives to his disciples is their faith in him. Our faith is given to us as a gift; a treasure that is not meant to be hidden away, but to be shared with others. Every disciple is called to witness to their faith, and to let others know about God’s love for them. The third servant acted in the way that he did because he was afraid of his master. His fear stopped him from taking risks; it prevented him from being brave and creative. If, instead, we trust in the God of love, we can do amazing things with the gift of faith.

Statement regarding the publication of the IICSA report

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), has published its investigation report into the Catholic Church in England and Wales today. This is based on the main public hearings held in October and November 2019.

Bishop Byrne CO and the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle fully support the response from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which you can read here.

You do not know either the day or the hour

Today’s parable reflects the wedding customs of Jesus’ time. The bridegroom would arrive at the bride’s house with his attendants, and the bride, together with her family and friends, would join the party and make a ceremonial entrance to the feast. So the bridesmaids had an important role in the wedding celebration, accompanying the bride to the banquet. They had to be ready, whenever the bridegroom arrived.

In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was often described as God’s bride. Jesus’ parable recalls the way that the love of husband and wife was used as a beautiful symbol of God’s love for his chosen people.

We know that our life on earth will end, but, as Jesus says, we ‘do not know either the day or the hour.’ When the Lord calls us, he wants to find us ready, with our lamps lit. We keep our lamps burning by following Christ’s commandments to love God and love our neighbour; by living a life of prayer and good works. This week, Remembrance Sunday reminds us of the sacrifice of those who died in two World Wars, and in many other conflicts. Their light was snuffed out before their time. As we remember them, we pray for peace in our world today.

Like the wise bridesmaids, the members of the Church should support one another, helping each other to keep our lamps alight. When the time comes, in God’s mercy, we will be invited to share in the wedding feast in the kingdom of  heaven.

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA); A message from Bishop Robert

On Tuesday 10 November, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will publish its investigation report into the Catholic Church of England and Wales. Dioceses have been advised that all media enquiries will be handled centrally by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW). More information will follow once the report is published. I would ask that we keep all victims of abuse in our prayers and ask God’s forgiveness for these terrible crimes.


Sadly, and as a result of the new COVID restrictions, our Mass of Remembrance scheduled for Saturday 7th November is not open to the public. Names of deceased family and friends can still be added to our Parish Book of Remembrance by e-mailing Andy Doyle (

Our Online Gospel Reflection on Sunday 8th November will begin with a two minute silence in memory of those who fell in two world wars and the many subsequent conflicts.

Lockdown @ St Cuthbert’s

The Government has announced a four-week lockdown in England, starting today. During lockdown, there will be no public worship. However, St Cuthbert’s Church will be open for private prayer this week, at the following times:

Saturday 7th November 9.30-10.30am.

Tuesday 10th November 12 noon – 1.00pm

Thursday 12th November 5.00-6.00pm

Saturday 14th November 10.00-11.00am

Morning Prayer of the Church will be celebrated on Zoom, Monday-Friday at 8.00am.

Virtual Parish Coffee Morning: Saturday at 10.30am.

Online Sunday Gospel Reflection: Sunday at 11.00am.

For details of how to take part in these online events, and for information about the opening of the church for private prayer, see the ‘St Cuthbert’s Parish Community’ Facebook page, or email Fr Andrew on

We hope to begin the live streaming of Masses from St Cuthbert’s soon, but in the meantime, you can find a list of churches in our diocese which are live streaming here.

During this new lockdown, it’s important that we all keep in touch and look out for one another. 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 on the email address above, or on 0191 384 3442. Or if you know of someone else who might need contact or support, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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.

You can read a statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on the new lockdown here.

Lockdown restrictions begin Thursday 5th November

The Government has introduced lockdown restrictions from Thursday 5th November. Public acts of worship are forbidden from that date, and all Masses from this Thursday onwards will be celebrated privately.

Churches can still open for private prayer. This week, St Cuthbert’s will be open at the following times:

Thursday 5-6pm; Friday 12-1pm; Saturday 9.30-10.30am.

Watch the website and the parish and chaplaincy Facebook pages for details of future opening.

How happy are the poor in spirit

The Gospel reading for today’s Feast of All Saints comes from the beginning of Jesus’  Sermon on the Mount. He goes up the hill and sits down, with a crowd of people waiting to hear him, and he sets out his teaching.

Our first reaction to Jesus’ words may be that his teaching is unrealistic. Jesus says, ‘Happy are the poor in spirit… happy the gentle… happy the merciful.’ But surely, that is not the way that the world is. It might seem more true to say ‘Happy are the rich… happy are the powerful… happy are those who fight to get what they want.’ Those are the values of the world.

But does it have to be that way? We have all known people who lived by the values that Jesus teaches us. We know people who are gentle, kind and merciful. There are people who are happy and contented, even though they seem to have very little. Those people are an example and an inspiration to us. They show us a better way to live.

Today, the Church remembers all the saints who are not canonised – those who are not famous, or even known. We celebrate the parents, grandparents and friends who taught us about Jesus, and who gave us an example of the Christian way of life. They lived by the values of the Beatitudes. The First Reading describes the gathering of the saints in heaven: ‘a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language.’ Everyone is invited into God’s kingdom, whoever they are and wherever they come from. There is a place there for each one of us.

Mass and Private Prayer at St. Cuthbert’s

St. Cuthbert’s is now open for public Mass throughout the week as well as on Sundays.

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.

You will be asked to give contact details and we have a QR code displayed if you are using the NHS COVID-19 Test & Trace App.

Face coverings became mandatory in Places of Worship from Saturday 8th August 2020. All those who are attending churches must wear a face covering unless they are exempt from doing so.

Sunday Mass: Mass will be celebrated on Sunday 1st November at 10:00am and 6.30pm, and Sunday 8th November, at 10.00am and 6:30pm. The capacity of the church is limited to 36 people under the diocesan Risk Assessment. If you wish to attend Sunday Mass, you must request a place, by emailing or telephoning 0191 384 3442. If you come to church without having booked a place at Mass, you may be asked to leave. If there is a high demand for places at the 6:30pm Mass, priority will be given to students.

Masses during the week. You can attend without prior booking, but you will be asked for contact details. Church will be open for an hour each time there is Mass and you are very welcome to come into church for private prayer immediately before and after Mass.

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, hold your arms at “full stretch” so that there is a good distance between you and the priest, with hands, palms upwards, one of top of the other, extended as flat as possible, consume the Sacred Host and then replace your face covering before moving back to your pew.

Volunteers are needed to act as stewards, and to clean the church after each opening. You must not volunteer if you are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, and if you are in the clinically vulnerable group, you should consider carefully your safety before deciding to volunteer. If you do wish to help, please get in touch by telephone or email, as above.