Category Archives: Announcements

Charity Concert at St Mary’s Cathedral

The Simon Bates Foundation is organising a Charity Concert to be held at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday 22nd October at 7.00pm. The concert features the Felling Male Voice choir, Glynwood Primary Choir, the Swing Bridge Singers and Flotsom and will be hosted by Paul Mooney. For concert tickets please contact Mick McCabe on 07969107791 – tickets £10 (under 16’s £5). Please see poster on the noticeboard.

The Parable of the Generous Father

Does love have a limit? The younger son in the parable believes he has reached the limit of his father’s love for him. He has abandoned his home, gone off to a foreign country and squandered the family’s wealth in the worst possible way. Surely there’s no way that his father will now have him back as a son? But perhaps there will be a place for him in the house as a servant.

The younger son has underestimated his father’s generous love for him. Not only has the father not rejected his wayward son – he’s watching out for him, anxiously waiting to welcome him back, and ready to throw a party to celebrate his return.

The elder son, sadly, has no grasp of his father’s generosity. He sees his work on the family farm as “slavery,” and his brother’s return prompts resentment rather than rejoicing. If the younger son represents the sinners who are seeking the company of Jesus, the elder stands for the “righteous” Pharisees and scribes.

This parable shows us the extravagance of God’s love for us. When we turn away from God’s love by choosing to sin, God seeks us out, ready to forgive us, and to celebrate our return home. God’s love and mercy has no limit.


We warmly welcome to Durham any students who have arrived early, whether as post-graduate or pre-sessional students, in advance of the start of the University academic year! We encourage all Catholic students to register on-line with the Chaplaincy – that way we know who you are and can keep you up-to-date with what is going on. See for details of the programme for the induction weeks and to sign up.
Not going to Durham? Most of our Universities and Higher Education Institutions have a dedicated Catholic Chaplain based in the university or the local parish. The Catholic Chaplaincy is a place for you to explore your faith as a young adult, to meet other young people with similar interests from a great range of backgrounds, and to get involved in activities and social outreach. If you already have a strong faith, this is a chance to deepen it. If you are full of questions and doubts, this is a chance to share them and search for some honest answers about life and faith. Everyone is welcome.

To find your local Chaplaincy, and for contact details of all the University Chaplains and Catholic Student Societies, visit the “CathChaps” website 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.

Welcome, Fr Andrew!

Fr Andrew Downie

Fr Andrew Downie moved in on 5 September 2016 to take up his new roles as Parish Priest of St Cuthbert’s and Catholic Chaplain to Durham University.

Fr Andrew is a native of Sunderland; he studied Natural Sciences at the Cambridge and later qualified as a solicitor. He trained for the priesthood at the Venerable English College, Rome, where he gained a Licence in Fundamental Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Ordained priest in 2002, Fr Andrew came to St Cuthbert’s in September 2016 from being parish priest of St Patrick’s and St Pius X, Consett. In the past he has served as Vocations Director for the diocese and Chaplain at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumberland.

Fr Andrew has a special interest in the teaching of Vatican II, and in the encounter of faith with contemporary culture, and is studying for a PhD part-time in Durham University’s Department of Theology and Religion.

We warmly welcome Fr Andrew to Durham and St Cuthbert’s!

Upcoming Justice & Peace Events

Find out more about Open Gate, a local charity that assists women released from Low Newton Prison by joining the Durham Martyrs and St Cuthbert’s Justice and Peace Groups at St Joseph’s Church, Gilesgate on Tuesday 20 September at 7:30pm after the 7:00pm Mass. Representatives from Open Gate will talk about their work. Everyone welcome.

The Justice and Peace group are holding a collection of unwanted / broken jewellery / watches to be recycled in support of Traidcraft. More than £16,000 has already been raised through this scheme which helps families in Bangladesh to grow tea and so provide themselves with an income that will feed their malnourished children for years to come. Please have a clear-out of old costume jewellery, gold, silver or watches that you don’t wear or need and bring them to church on Sunday 9 October.

Handover arrangements

We bade farewell to fr. Tony on Tuesday 30th; he is now based at St Dominic’s, Newcastle, but for the time being will continue to work at Durham Prison.

This Sunday, 4 September, is fr. Ben’s last at St Cuthbert’s will be Sunday 4 September. After the 10.00am Mass there is a barbecue to wish him well for the future.

fr. Ben will celebrate the 9:15am Mass on Monday 5 September – which will be a requiem Mass for deceased friends and benefactors of the Order of Preachers – before departing. After a break for a couple of weeks, he flies to Rome on 23 September and can be reached at:

Convento S. Sabina
Piazza P. d’Illiria, 1
00153 ROMA

Fr Andrew Downie will move in to the Presbytery later on Monday 5 September; he will celebrate Masses from Tuesday 6 September, and his first Sunday at St Cuthbert’s will be 11 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!

Fortnightly bulletins

During the school summer holidays, bulletins are being issued fortnightly instead of weekly: i.e. the bulletin for Sunday 14 August will also cover Sunday 21 August. Weekly bulletins will resume on Sunday 28 August. Please make sure any items for the bulletin reach the Parish Office by the Friday morning preceding publication.

For the most up-to-date information please refer to the parish website,

Foster Carers Needed

St Cuthbert’s Care fostering agency, Fostering North East, desperately needs more foster carers to provide stable, loving homes for children in the region.

If you think you could foster a child or are interested in finding out more about fostering, you can go along and meet the team for an informal chat at the Farmers’ Market in Market Square, Durham on Thursday 21 July between 10:30am and 2:00pm.

If you can’t go along on the day, but would still like to know more about fostering, please visit or ring Fostering North East Operations Manager Joann Gibson on 0191 2280111 or email

New Parish Priest

Fr Andrew Downie

Bishop Séamus has appointed Fr Andrew Downie as Parish Priest of St Cuthbert’s and Catholic Chaplain to Durham University in succession to fr. Ben. The formal handover will happen later in the summer.

Fr Andrew is a native of Sunderland; he studied Natural Sciences at the Cambridge and later qualified as a solicitor. He trained for the priesthood at the Venerable English College, Rome, where he gained a Licence in Fundamental Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Ordained priest in 2002, Fr Andrew is currently parish priest of St Patrick’s and St Pius X, Consett,  having served in the past as Vocations Director for the diocese and Chaplain at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumberland.

Fr Andrew has a special interest in the teaching of Vatican II, and in the encounter of faith with contemporary culture, and is studying for a PhD part-time in the University’s Department of Theology and Religion.

From fr. Ben…

To all at St Cuthbert’s:

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is the task of all Christians – and in a particular way members of the Order of Preachers – to proclaim the Good News we have received. It is never pleasant for us to have to give or receive bad news.

I am therefore particularly grateful that our Prior Provincial, fr. Martin Ganeri OP, came to Durham last weekend to tell mass-goers at St Cuthbert’s personally of the decision of the Friars’ recent Provincial Chapter to withdraw the community of friars from Durham (as well as Glasgow and Newcastle). The decision was made in order to strengthen the communal life in a Province that has become increasingly stretched in recent years, and there is more information on the Province’s website,

Since the announcement, many people have spoken to me or written to express their emotions: sorrow, dismay, distress, surprise, perplexity; even devastation and anger. I understand those emotions and have shared in many of them; this was not the way I had hoped, planned or expected to leave Durham. But I am grateful too for the understanding, sympathy and promises of prayers expressed by so many.

I thank the Diocese and to Bishop Séamus for the generous welcome and the trust placed in us four years ago when St Cuthbert’s Parish and the University Chaplaincy were entrusted to the Order. I am desperately sorry that this charge is being returned after such a short time. The Bishop clearly understands the vital importance of the Church’s ministry in and around Universities, and is appointing a dedicated and experienced Parish Priest and University Chaplain in the person of Fr Andrew Downie. I know he will receive a warm welcome from all here when he comes in the autumn.

There will be opportunities in the coming months for me to express my thanks to all at St Cuthbert’s for their support and welcome, whatever anxieties there might have been about these strange friars, and to ask forgiveness for my faults, failures and shortcomings.

I will be in Oxford on Sunday 10 July for the Ordination of three of our young friars: frs. Matthew Jarvis and Oliver Keenan to the priesthood and fr. Jean-Baptiste Régis to the diaconate. These occasions are signs of hope for the future of the Church; please keep these brothers in your prayers. At the request of the Master of the Order, I will then be in Bologna 15 July – 5 August providing canonical support to our General Chapter. I expect to be back in Durham for the Sundays of August.

Whatever bad news, disappointments or farewells may come our way, we must never forget our Christian mission to preach the Good News: that Christ is the first-born from the dead, and that everything in heaven and everything on earth is reconciled through him and in him when he made peace by his death on the cross (cf. Col 1:18, 20). Let us pray for each other at this time, that our dedication to proclaiming that joyful truth may be renewed.

fr. Benjamin Earl OP
Vicar, Parish Priest and Chaplain

Welcome to fr. Becket Soule OP

We are joined at St Cuthbert’s over the next two months by fr. Becket Soule OP of the Dominican Province of St Joseph in the United States. Fr. Becket is Professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical University Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio; he is in Durham as a visiting fellow at the Centre for Catholic Studies. A very warm welcome to fr. Becket!

A prayerful and thoughtful vote

The UK faces a momentous choice on Thursday 23 June: on that all sides of the debate can agree. While there isn’t an official Catholic position on whether the UK should remain in the European Union or leave, there are certainly important Catholic principles which should guide our decision.

When making moral choices – i.e. choices about how to act – we are called to make decisions in conscience. That doesn’t mean following some sort of gut feeling, but making reasoned and properly informed choices.

We should, of course, begin our deliberation in prayer: asking that we may be filled with the wisdom and prudence of the Holy Spirit as we weigh up the arguments and come to a decision.

We must make sure that we are informed about the arguments on both sides, and can separate the substantive reasoning from the unsubstantiated speculation and emotional manipulation which so often afflicts political campaigning.

And we must remember that we, the people, are given authority in this matter not just to serve our own individual ends, but in order to serve the common good: the good of the community, whether local, national, European or worldwide. Whether or not we remain part of the EU, we remain part of the communities of our continent and our planet. We must strive so that all these communities may flourish, not merely economically, but in justice, in peace, in solidarity and in everything that leads to true human fulfilment.

Prayer, careful consideration and the common good: these must lie behind our votes on Thursday.

Find out more at

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Easter Collections

Collections taken at the Easter Masses are taken for Parish Funds, in the same way as at Sunday Masses throughout the year.If you would also like to make a Easter gift to the Dominican Community of Friars which serves St Cuthbert’s, you may do so using one of the blue envelopes available on display in the narthex. Envelopes can be dropped into the collection basket or returned to the presbytery.

If you are a UK taxpayer, you can increase the value of your gift by completing the Gift Aid declaration on the envelope. Cheques should be made payable to “The Dominican Council”.

Thank you for your generosity both to the Parish and to the Dominican Community now and throughout the year – the Friars wish you a fruitful celebration of Holy Week and a joyous Easter!