Issue 5 | FREE
The magazine of the Roman Catholic parish of Bognor Regis & Slindon
rish: Online Alpha
Bognor & Slindon RC pa
In this edition ... Our Covid response
Why are you a follower of Jesus?
THE CATHOLIC PARISH OF BOGNOR REGIS AND SLINDON We are followers of Jesus, on fire with his love, sharing that love with each other and with the world.
Saturday: 5.15pm Our Lady of Sorrows Sunday: 8am Our Lady of Sorrows 9am St Richard’s 10am Our Lady of Sorrows (live-streamed) 11am St Anthony’s 4pm Our Lady of Sorrows (Polish) 6pm Our Lady of Sorrows
Money Matters: 2020 Finance report
While social distancing measures are required please pre-book your seats via the parish website or office.
CONFESSIONS The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available every week for both English and Polish language speakers. Please visit the parish website for this weeks confession times.
1867 - 2017
The Reynolds family on an outing circa 1880
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3 - Living the extraordinary normal 4 & 5 - Our Covid response 6 & 7 - Why are you a follower of Jesus? 8 & 9 - Fostering has helped me to understand God as Father 10 & 11 - St Mary’s Catholic Primary School 12 & 13 - St Philip Howard Catholic School 14 & 15 - Welcome Caroline 16 & 17 - Fall on me - Notes from Youth Cafe 18 & 19- Moments to treasure
20 & 21 - Regina Pacis and SPH 22 & 23 - Why fast? 24 - Leadership Team update: “See I am doing a new thing!” 25 - Money Matters - Financial Report 26 - In the works 27 - Welcome Abby
Living the extraordinary normal You can have your cake and eat it! At least, that’s the impression that one could easily get from television shows like “Eat Well for Less”, “Shop Well for Less”, and the one I heard of this morning, “Going green: Save money”. What’s not to like? (In fairness, some of them do carry a question mark that allows the discerning viewer to know it’s not quite as simple as it seems…) These shows usually follow a similar format – a family are challenged by a team of experts or celebrities to live differently for a couple of weeks and at the end of the period are usually amazed at the savings they could make without incurring as much pain or difficulty as they might have imagined. This is usually a financial saving, but the last mentioned also has a saving in terms of our ecological responsibilities. The shows are very popular, not least because we’re allowed, indeed invited, to have a good look around someone else’s life – and home! I think another reason that they’re popular is because they tap into the desire we all have for change. They affirm change is possible. They proclaim a message that the world can be a better place.
Change is possible. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have had to endure great changes. We’ve seen changes at every level of our lives from the reduced social interaction we depend on at a personal level, to the ways our schools operate at a community level, and, at a national and international level, the pressure put upon our National Health Service and the economy, to name but a few. How many of these changes, people ask, will continue after the pandemic is over, once we are finally out of lockdown and/or can finally say the virus is under control? What will have changed permanently? What will have changed for good? What will the “new normal” look like?
“Change is possible. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have had to endure great changes. We’ve seen changes at every level of our lives…”
Of course, it’s not just a simple win-win. First of all, it takes time. You can’t change habits that have sometimes been years in the making, overnight. And it takes co-operation, a working together of all the members of the household – and that’s not always an easy sell. And there is a cost. Even though there is often a financial incentive, the cost is to our habits, the way we view the world, what we consider important. We’ve always shopped there / no brand could be as good as the one we always use / I can’t make a difference on my own… The very wholesome message of this type of programme is that if we are willing to make a sacrifice, then good can come of it.
We might ask, what’s “normal” anyway? If we look in the dictionary, with the exception of the ways the word is used in mathematical or scientific terms, we’ll find something along the lines of usual, typical and expected. There’s a clue here for us, and a challenge. What normally goes with jelly at a birthday party? Everyone knows it’s ice cream! The combination of jelly and ice cream at a child’s party is normal (usual, typical) because lots of people do it. But just because lots of people do
it, it doesn’t make it right. And here we come to the sense of normal as in expected. But from where is derived the expectation? (We’re talking about more than ice cream, here.) As followers of Jesus, he is our answer. What does Jesus expect of us? To love God with all our heart, soul and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is our normal, and since Jesus’ message of the Good News is offered to all, this double commandment of love is normal, and normative, for the whole of humanity. There is always, therefore, reason to hope. Like those who take part in the TV shows, we are involved; we can be part of the change if we’re willing to take the time, engage our friends, families and neighbours, and make the sacrifice. In the book of Revelation we read, “See, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are the instruments of re-creation, the means by which we receive adoption as children of God. So yes, there’s a “new normal” to which we are invited, in which we are called to share, for the establishment of which God has made us his co-workers. So let’s invite people in, and let’s go out (as and when we can!) so that others can see how God helps us to know, and love, and live, his normal.
Fr Chris Bergin
Our Covid Response... Since March 2020 we’ve all been witness to a sea change in how we as people on planet earth live our lives. Yet as followers of Jesus who are on fire with his love, our great commission to share that love with each other and the world remains. Here are just a few examples of how we, as a parish have responded to the global pandemic.
Worship, fellowship and evangelisation moves online
Sunday breakfasts for those who are homeless
Through the good and the bad, our worship of our Father continues and, from the start of the first lockdown, Mass has been live-streamed from Our Lady of Sorrows church. Before many of the other RC parishes across the diocese and wider UK were able to organise live-streaming, up to 4,000 people were viewing Sunday Mass from Our Lady of Sorrows. Now most have access to a live stream or in-person access to Mass at their local parish, online and numbers have reached a new normal. Many of the discipleship groups in the parish have moved online and are growing in size, from the Discussion Group which now reaches over 100 people each month, the Connect Groups, and the Knights of St Columba just to name a few. Alpha has continued, with the latest cohort preparing for their next steps in their journey from spring 2021.
Since 2019, parishioners have been taking it in turn to wake up early and open up the Parish Centre in Bognor to serve freshly cooked breakfasts to people who are homeless. The vast majority are supported by Stonepillow (the homelessness charity appointed by Arun District Council), who manage night shelters, supported accommodation and other interventions to help those who do not have a home get back to a more stable path. However, many parishioners who chat with those receiving support kept hearing that there was less support on Sundays, and practical things like access to food were not available. Sunday breakfasts have been consistently popular and, as well as a nice filling meal, these sessions provide an opportunity for those affected by homelessness to sit
and chat with parishioners and build relationships. The government’s commendable “Everybody In” scheme enabled every person sleeping rough or in insecure housing in the Bognor Regis area, to be housed in a range of hotels and other accommodation provided by leisure companies and other providers, where they could sleep safely. For some, this support continues today. However, at the beginning of the pandemic, the Stonepillow Day Hub and many local homelessness support services closed, and some remain closed, owing to social distancing measures. Thankfully, the Sunday breakfasts out of the Parish Centre continued, but in a new way. Food has been takeaway only since March 2020; some eat nearby suitably socially distanced from one another. This allows for opportunities for parishioners to keep showing care for service users by continuing to chat with them before they leave. Several team members had to temporarily step down owing to the need for over-70s to stay at home without exceptions. Those remaining had the challenge of working out how to maintain social distancing in the relatively small space of the kitchen in the Parish Centre. The Brennan family are especially owed a note of thanks for their work during this period. As a family bubble, they kept the Sunday breakfasts going for several months while the logistics of how to enable the rest of the kitchen teams to serve were ironed out. This service is funded by our central parish fund and a small number of one-off cash donations from generous individuals, and a small number of regular food donations. Sunday Breakfasts always need support: through donations of money (put cash in an envelope marked FAO Sunday Breakfasts, posted by hand to the letterbox of the parish centre; or contact Caroline in the parish office for bank details) food (the food drop-off point is in the lobby of the parish centre) and giving your time (email email@example.com to step forward). Above all, please pray for this work – for those who roll up their sleeves to cook and talk with our service users, for the benefactors of this work, and for those who find themselves in need of this support.
SVP Bognor Regis Like with all parish groups, the Society of St Vincent de Paul hasn’t met in person since March 2020, but the work of the SVP continues. The Trussell Trust foodbank run from Bognor Methodist Church has seen an increase in demand; the SVP here in Bognor now makes regular cash donations to this work from their previous fundraising activities. The SVP and the parish via the parish office can also provide foodbank vouchers for those in need. The SVP has also been working with Grandad’s Front
Room, the community interest shop on Bognor High Street. Grandad’s Front Room upcycles furniture, which is free for those who are without access to money and are in need of furniture. It’s a great place for nice, reasonably priced pieces of furniture for those who can pay too. Money from SVP and furniture from Grandad’s Front Room both helped to furnish an empty housing association house for a family from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. The bedrock of SVP ministry across the UK is visiting the sick, the isolated and the lonely. A great deal of thanks is owed to the group of people who make up the SVP here in Bognor & Slindon; throughout the year, they tirelessly care for a number of people on the margins of our society. Even though visiting in person hasn’t been possible, through the now well-known means of Zoom and the telephone, these relationships have continued.
Supermarket vouchers A grant from the Albert Gubay Foundation has enabled all English & Welsh Catholic diocese to fund the distribution of supermarket vouchers for those in need. Here in Arundel & Brighton, Albert Gubay awarded £170,000 which parishes can call upon to funding food support for those experiencing hardship. Here at Bognor & Slindon parish, we have been offering Morrisons’ vouchers. So far as a diocese, we have distributed more than 9,000 food vouchers to 43 of our schools, including St Mary’s primary and St Philip Howard, 44 parishes have distributed vouchers so far, and refugees and asylum seekers have received this support through the charity Voices in Exile. The pandemic, especially in the early phase prior to further government and broader community support, has severely affected some families. Though only a stopgap, these vouchers have been providing vital breathing space for families and individuals in the area. The vouchers are available to all, regardless of one’s connection to the parish, by request. Please contact Caroline or Fr Chris via the Parish Office.
Can I help? leaflets The words to the title song in Neighbours “That’s when good neighbours become good friends” has increasingly become a reality for many of us since spring 2020. One simple activity that many across the parish did was print off the “Can I help?” leaflet on the parish and A&B website. This simple tick box printout enabled many to offer help, in an unassuming and non-pressured way, to our neighbours, offering practical support like picking things up from the shops. Above all, it triggered conversations that have enabled relationships to flourish.
Why are you a follower of Jesus? It’s a question we’ve all been asked. Here mother and daughter, Jackie and Siobhan share their testimony.
So, Jackie, why are you a Catholic? “I grew up in a Catholic family in Ireland; I was born on a Sunday and baptised the following Sunday. My Grandmother, also my Godmother, who lived with us, always spoke openly about her faith and how important it was to her. I remember her returning from Mass and her great delight at the introduction of the sign of Peace. At that time, in the late 60’s, how the Mass was celebrated changed. She really was a big influence and I still call to mind her wise sayings and her stories of her encounters with God in her life. Growing up in the rich Christian
culture in Ireland at that time also helped to establish a living faith in me”. For many of us, there are times in our lives when we take a noticeable step closer to God. Can you recall some of your key stepping stones? “I moved to England when I was in my twenties, and when Tony and I got married, we moved to Hertfordshire. It was a nice place to be, close enough to travel into London regularly but far enough away to step out of the hustle and bustle. Our Parish Priest at the time
had a profound impact on how I related to Jesus; his deep love of the Mass and Scripture radiated for all to see. I was a new mum, and having children helped me realise how important my faith was. Having children makes you realise what’s important; my greatest desire was to share this precious gift with them. For them to know that there is a God, and He is interested in us all; He wants us all to know him as a friend. He loves us. Having Children also deepened my faith as children also teach us parents about God. I saw that as parents, we were the first and most important teachers
of the faith to our children. And from personal experience, I know grandparents have a very important role too! While the children were still young, I joined an Alpha course run by a local Baptist church. I loved Alpha, the way the videos explained so simply the key parts of the Christian faith, the opportunity to eat and share with others also exploring the questions of life”. That’s a story many of us can relate too; what happened next? “Alpha all those years ago helped me see with renewed clarity what being a Christian was all about. I made this journey outside of the Catholic church. I have always had admiration of the fellowship and house groups present in some other Christian churches and I have always had deep friendships with non-Catholic Christians. However, my deep love of the Mass and the Sacraments has always convinced me that my home is in the Catholic church.
a fantastic opportunity to get to know others in the parish, and in a practical way (cooking food and doing the dishes), help others take their next steps on their pilgrim journey. Alpha helped me make a big step towards the Lord, and it’s my prayer it helps others do the same here today!” That’s a nice segue to your story Siobhan, like your Mum, you too were raised in a family in which Jesus, church, faith were just part of growing up. Your Mum has shared some of her stepping stones on her journey so far. What’s been going on with you?
So, where are you now?
“I have been a Catholic since birth, educated by church schools, and to be honest, I thought I knew the general arguments around the Christian faith. Mum has always been frank about how Jesus sustains all that she does, and going on an Alpha course was a big part of that. The ongoing pandemic has led me to be living at Mum and Dad’s place here in sunny Middleton-on-Sea; I saw the advert for Alpha online here in the parish (strategically placed on the kitchen worktop). There’s contention between Mum and me on who invited who, but either way, as Covid has almost stopped my social life, I unenthusiastically agreed to join the first Alpha session with my Mum. The people were lovely and the conversation interesting, so I joined the following week, and the week after, and the week after that. What started as a begrudging favour to my Mum, bloomed into a unique opportunity to open my heart.
“We moved to Bognor Regis in 2016, and Tony and I are so happy to have landed in such a faithfilled parish. Almost as soon as we started worshipping in the parish, the call went out asking for help to launch Alpha here. Before Covid moved Alpha online, I was part of the kitchen team at Alpha here in Bognor & Slindon. For me, it’s
A place to share my views and experiences and listen to and learn from others doing the very same. The questions led to conversations about love, death, forgiveness and joy (all with a sprinkling of laughter and zero judgement). These were questions I had many times asked myself but rarely asked my friends. I was prayed for, an experience I found
In 2002 our Diocese started a programme of small house groups meeting during Lent and Advent. These house groups transformed our parish! Parishioners got to know each other, became friends, and I loved being able to chat with others about the scriptures and pray together. With the fellowship of others, perhaps for the first time in this intentional way, my faith grew: praying with others allows you to hear God’s voice in a whole new way”.
profoundly moving in a quietly powerful way. And as we shared and laughed and watched the movies (albeit sometimes jealous of the presenters’ jet setting lifestyle), I found myself having a renewed reverence for Christianity. I give thanks for my upbringing, I wouldn’t want to change it, but If I’m honest, church, Catholicism, following Jesus has been something I’ve become distant from. I do not want to pretend that I’m now at a level of relationship and faith like Mum has, but something has changed. Alpha has helped me to say out loud those questions that were, for too many years, buried in my heart. Alpha is the place to share your heart’s questions with kind and wonderful humans in a loving and open space. That, to me, is priceless. Let’s see what my next stepping stone will be”.
Alpha runs in the parish throughout the year. Visit www.bognorcatholicparish. co.uk/alpha for more information.
Fostering has helped me to understand God as Father Paul has seen so much about how God works and why he loves vulnerable children through becoming a foster carer. I’m a bit slow. It took at least two years of hearing phrases like, “Shall we become foster carers?” and “We could do fostering” before the penny dropped. “You’re serious, aren’t you? I thought you were joking!” So began my exploration. I needed time. I walked my usual walk along the beach, trying to make sense of the idea, trying to think through
the implications and trying to find where God was in all of this.I remember clearly the day that I prayed honestly to God about my reservations. “It’s not important enough for me!”, I admitted. As soon as the exclamation came out of my mouth, I knew I was in trouble. God began to show me why vulnerable children should be hugely important to me. I started a journey of discovering why fostering was God’s agenda for us as a family.
From May through to August, he pursued me – newspaper articles, documentaries, films, music, books, conversations, all part of opening my eyes to why fostering was so important to God and, therefore, to me. We went on holiday in August, and every day I awoke at 5am and I felt God show me over and over why it made perfect sense for us to become foster carers.
For many years I have been passionate about the part of our faith that shows God as “father”. My own journey had shown me how
“It is through this process of trying to do the best we can for them that we have learned so much more than we could have imagined about God, His love for vulnerable children and how He works through us”. powerful it is to know that God is like a father to us. I sensed that there was no greater way to respond to God’s love for me than to become a foster carer.
In December 2013 we were approved to be short-term foster carers for our local authority. In January 2014, the first two little ones arrived, and we were crashing into a world of pain and darkness that I had never touched before. It is now years later. As I write in the early hours of the morning a seven-week-old baby is asleep in her pram. She is the 11th child we have welcomed into our home, the ninth baby. Three have returned home to birth parents, and we still see one occasionally; the first two are in long-term care; five have been adopted. That is the plan for this little baby too. Amazingly, we still see the five who have been adopted. We are treated as family, and the unfolding of their stories continues to amaze us and fill us with awe at the grace and kindness of God.
Being a foster carer is without doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. It is so much more than a job. It is also the most rewarding thing I have ever done. To see little lives plucked from the pain of their challenging starts and see the beginnings of restoration as we try to love them with all that we have has been such a privilege and a joy. It is through this process of trying to do the best we can for them that we have learned so much more than we could have imagined about God, his love for vulnerable children and how he works through us and the many other people in each child’s life to bring about change.
Paul and Teresa Cook were fostering for six years up to February 2020. Paul is now working on a project called “The Papa Journey” to encourage others to discover the Father Heart of God. His blog is thepapajourney.com.
St Mary’s Catholic Primary School After Christmas we had a very different half-term from normal and, despite reports in the media that “schools are closed”, this was far from the case! We opened for keyworkers’ children and vulnerable children and our attendance has averaged around 100 children per day (32% of children on role). We were delighted to receive 13 laptop computers from the DFE recently and these have been distributed to families without computer access at home. All children were expected to engage with our home learning offer which included two Zoom lessons each day as well as recorded assemblies, maths content and online games and quizzes. Our teachers have learned new skills in delivering remote learning and have worked very hard to produce engaging and purposeful lessons – not an easy task when you have a virtual class of 60 children! Our parents have been amazing and have earned their stripes as temporary teachers as their lounges became classrooms. Almost 100 parents completed our Home Learning Survey before half-term. The results were very positive and indicate that the length and content of online learning is
right. I have been privileged to observe online lessons and have been impressed by the children’s participation and enthusiasm. A computer will never be as good as a learning environment with a teacher and classmates, but I am very proud of how the teachers are making lessons interesting and interactive and how well the children are responding! We have added plenty of resources to our website so children at home are reminded that they are part of St Mary’s community. As we enter the season of Lent, children can download the Mission Together Lent calendar from the website which provides lots of ideas from liturgies to Cafod’s Walk for Water campaign and Lent Fast Day on Friday 26 February. We started Lent with a focus on almsgiving with Express Yourself Day on Thursday 11th February. We raised over £250 in school for the hardship fund which exists to help school families with unexpected bills and fuel costs.
Peter Edgington Headteacher
Messages from around the school
Y5/6 Hotham, Regis and Wheatland Class
During the first part of this spring term, we have greatly enjoyed welcoming between 50 and 70(!) children onto Zoom for online lessons. Mrs Hogan-Hussein, Miss Breese and Mr Mortimore have all loved having a chance to work with both the children in school and those studying at home and we’ve been amazed at the children’s conscientious attitudes to their learning. We have all had to add new skills to teaching tool belts but have been aided by children who often know more than us when it comes to online skills! We have been able to offer English lessons every day and the children have become pros at using different ways of communicating their learning through chats, hands up and annotations through Zoom, whilst those in school have followed the same lesson offerings. The children have really enjoyed following the story of Bradley Chalkers and Jeff Fishkin as we work our way through “There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom” and we’d encourage the children to continue reading this through the PDF on the school’s website. In our topic work, the children’s existing knowledge on some of the people who have changed our world for the better – including Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Emmeline Pankhurst and Greta Thunberg – has astounded us, and we hope they have been inspired by this focus on “Global Citizenship”. Through our science lessons, the children have learnt more about the inner workings of our amazing bodies, particularly the heart, and this included some heavy exercise as we tried to raise our pulse rates and record this as data!
Y3/4 Marine, Hotham and Craigweil Class
Y1/2 Beach, Ocean and Seagull Class
Well done to all the children this half-term on some fantastic learning both in school and at home. It has been great to see some of the fantastic ideas that you all have and it has been lovely to see lots of this work being sent to us via email. Some of our highlights this term have been the amazing homemade musical instruments and seeing lots of you “rock out” with them. You even helped our staff band “Eyres Rock” to soundproof our studio which the neighbours will be pleased with. It was also great to see lots of fantastic writing over the half-term; this has included your own animal story, instruction writing and a diary. Well done on a fantastic half-term of work and we want you to know we are proud of every single one of you! KS1 would like to celebrate the effort that all children have put into their learning in school and at home. We are so proud of how much outstanding work we have seen this half-term, considering the circumstances. It was lovely to see the children growing in confidence and asking and responding to questions on Zoom. We would also like to celebrate all your investigations and creations linked to our science lessons. The windsocks, rain gauges and meteorologist reports were a joy to see and try. I think we have some budding weather presenters in our midst! We have been really impressed with all the children in Early Years both in school and at home.
Reception Shell and Starfish Class
The engagement of families to participate in Zoom lessons has been fantastic, with almost perfect attendance. Adults and children alike have joined in enthusiastically and continued to use some of the activities as they play and learn at home. The children at school have coped fantastically with being in a tiny group and have enjoyed more time to follow their interests such as volcanoes, giants, snowflakes and dancing. Well done everyone!
St Philip Howard Catholic School, Barnham Lockdown 3.0 has been a struggle for us all, but there are glimmers of hope and joy that we at St. Philip Howard have been clinging onto throughout the year so far. The majority of students and staff have, once again, taken their education online, with daily lessons in all subjects being delivered in creative and encouraging ways through the wonders of technology. And although everyone here can definitely feel the effects of “screen fatigue” from time to time, it has been a real blessing to be in touch with our students on a daily basis even in these strangest of times. There are so many wonderful things happening through the efforts of our hardworking teachers that it’s difficult to name only a few! From the art competitions to PE couch to 5k challenge, the community spirit of the school will definitely not be damaged due to the pandemic As a Chaplaincy Team we have been busy supporting our students remotely through our small groups’
programme where students across the school come together with others in their year group to unwind, chat, play games, and explore what a relationship with Jesus looks like and how they can seek this in their lives. The students love these catchups and love chatting with each other about their week – even when we can’t provide the hot chocolate and snacks! The lockdown hasn’t stopped us from sharing the Good News through our days of reflection either, with our scheduled retreat days moving online this term too. Although we’ve had a strange few months, we most certainly haven’t let it slow us down in our outreach to the students at SPH. Here at SPH we’re nearing the end of our first cohort of chaplaincy apprentices. This training programme is collectively funded by the Catholic parish of Bognor Regis & Slindon, the other parishes in the Cathedral deanery, and SPH school. Our three apprentice chaplains have been ministering mainly at SPH
and, as much as Covid has allowed, through the cathedral deaneries’ primary schools. The aim of this on-the-job training, accompanied by academic formation at either Maryvale College or St Mary’s University, is to grow more evangelists to share the Good News in our Catholic schools and further afield. As Joe, Mary and Bethan prepare for a new mission, we have started the recruitment process to find others discerning a vocation in chaplaincy, who need some support in the early stages of their career. Each member of our current Chaplaincy Team will now share some insight into how they have found their time at SPH so far.
Joe Farrell My time on the Chaplaincy Team at St Philip Howard has been like an extension of my time there as a student; full of development and opportunities, but rather than an educational focus, my aim over the past months has been to develop my skills and knowledge in School Chaplaincy. We, as chaplains, have been given so much trust to do what we felt was necessary to increase the spiritual life of the school. I believe that the introduction of a team was amazing, and allowed us all to think differently and gather perspectives of our fellow chaplains, widening our skill set tenfold, and providing engaging content for all our students. With the supporting Youth Ministry and School Chaplaincy foundation degree I have been working towards, I hope to take my academia further, to develop into a full-time chaplain in the future.
Mary George I’m in my second year on the chaplaincy apprenticeship at St Philip Howard Catholic School and I have loved getting to know the students and working as part of a team. The role is very varied and each day is different, so I’ve done everything from leading assemblies and planning days of reflection, to mentoring and working with small groups of students. It’s great to have had the opportunity to gain experience of providing pastoral care to young people, particularly as I am hoping to train as a counsellor when I leave SPH at the end of this academic year.
Bethan Townsend I joined the Chaplaincy Team after having been part of the Wellspring Community in Brighton. Being a past-pupil of SPH, it was all quite familiar coming back into the school and the welcome back I received from fellow staff was incredible. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the team so far, building up my confidence working with the staff and students in the school. My highlight of my time on the team is my small group which I meet with each week. We talk about and share our experiences of the Christian faith, and pray together too. With the experience and skills that I have gained during my time on the team, I hope to find a full-time position as a school chaplain from September 2021 and the leadership at SPH has been doing all they can to help me achieve this goal. It has been wonderful to spend this time working as part of a team, but I now feel well equipped to use the experiences and skills I’ve gained in a chaplaincy role elsewhere.
Theresa McNamara, School Chaplain
Caroline Phillips – and husband Bern, moved into the parish about five years ago, and have been involved in various parish activities, including Alpha, and now help with the leadership of Alpha. Caroline has recently joined the Parish Leadership Team, and here she shares with Fr Chris (and with all of us!) a bit more about herself and her faith. Fr Chris: Welcome, Caroline! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Caroline Phillips:I was born in Weymouth, Dorset, one of six children and we moved to Byfleet in Surrey as my Father was appointedthe Headteacher of St Dunstan’s Catholic Middle School in Woking. We were a practising Catholic family – I remember the lovely little church, St Thomas More at Byfleet and some of the priests who served there. I went to school at the Marist Convent in West Byfleet – Sr Ninian was a very special person who used to give out prayer cards! – so I suppose religion was part of my life from an early age. By profession, I have worked in Human Resources in Hospitality & Retail (although I began in Catering, and then Hotel Management) and now I am working as a Psychological Fitness Coach and what I love about the job I do now is helping people to discover their gifts and be the best they can be in the world.
FrC: What has your journey of faith been like? How has your faith changed over the course of your life? CP: My early years were quite typical – celebrating First Holy Communion and Confirmation, going to Mass with the family. I’ve moved around the country quite a lot with my work and attended Mass but found it quite difficult to get to know people and become part of the community. Later on, I moved to Leicester and here I began going as a young, single woman to the local church and I made wonderful lifelong friendships with people in the church and was able to share my faith with them. That’s how I first got involved in Children’s Liturgy of the Word catechesis, and then I followed a course very similar to what we now call the CCRS (Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies). About this time, too, I attended an Ignatian Retreat, and this was a real turning point, because it deepened my relationship with Jesus as a friend. (I have to admit that as a child of the
late 1960s and 70s there was still a bit of a stern image of God within me.) But to know the specialness of my relationship with God was great, and that’s helped me keep a love of my faith. When we moved to Billingshurst, I was responsible for running the First Communion programme, and then when we moved to this parish, I wanted to continue being involved in the church. FrC: What do you think are the challenges we face as a church in 2021? CP: As individuals, we need to keep growing, and growing together. I know from my own experience that there’s a yearning in many people, a desire to be connected, and that’s not always seen, so we need to help people know they’re part, an important part, of the community. And as a community, we know what we’re about, but we have to convey that message; we’re on fire with God’s love but we need to open
ourselves up to those who don’t share our faith, or who have little experience of faith. FrC: What is the message, would you say? If I give you six to eight words to sum it up… CP: “Come and discover the boundless love of God!” I remember a retreat, one Bern and I made together, with the Chemin Neuf Community at Sclerder Abbey in Cornwall – and this was so powerful – I want people to know what it’s like, when the heart opens up, and we experience the love of God in us. FrC: You’ve mentioned retreats several times; they’ve clearly been an important feature of your journey… CP: Yes, I like to get away. When I throw myself into something, I can get carried away and really immerse myself in it, but going on retreat helps me to regather my energy, and find strength for all the things I want to do. It’s so important.
FrC: Talking about your work in Human Resources, you said you like helping people to find their gifts. What are your gifts, and what are you looking forward to offering as part of the Parish Leadership Team? CP: I knew of the Parish Leadership Team, but didn’t know a lot about it, and I really appreciated being asked to be part of it. Margaret rang me and said we’re looking for someone to join us and we talked a bit about what I could bring to the team. What I’d like to do is share faith, and help build our faith community. One gift I can bring is listening, and also creativity; I can listen and be part of a rich and robust conversation, but also I can think outside the box and make suggestions to bring in different ideas. This invitation has come at a significant moment in my life, as I’ve been reflecting recently on the need, or my desire, to move more towards faith activities.
CP: I love walking, and reading, and exercise like Pilates. And any claims to fame? Well, I did once meet Robert Powell and asked for his autograph… FrC: You have the signature of Jesus of Nazareth! How come?! CP: I do! He was at a Celebrity Cricket match in Byfleet when we were younger and so I just asked for his autograph! FrC: Thank you so much, Caroline, for sharing these thoughts. We look forward to you helping people in the parish and beyond build friendships in faith, and know their specialness to God.
FrC: You are a very busy person – what do you do to relax? Do you have any claims to fame?
Fall on me:
Notes from Youth Café Jump forward many years to just before Christmas 2015. Picture, if you will, the scene: Our Lady of Sorrows, largely dark, and a group of 20 to 30 young people kneeling in the Sanctuary, candles burning, the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the Altar. Fr David King has written a song that afternoon especially for the occasion and we sing together:
Fall on me When I was in my early 20s I had a sudden urge to attend daily Mass. There was no obvious reason save, I suppose, the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It was easy in those days, when priests were plentiful, to go to daily Mass as there was a 7.30am Mass which meant there was just time to grab a bite of breakfast before getting to the office by 8.30am. After I had been going for a few weeks a sister came up to me and said, “Is something troubling you?” “No,” I said. She persisted. “Are you unwell?” “No,” I said. “Is your dear mother unwell?” “No,” I said. We both went on our way; she puzzled. I got the point, of course: it was very odd to see a young person at Mass, even then. A while later I mentioned this encounter to a priest thinking that he would see the funny side
but he said with a twinkle in his eye, “Well, why are you here?” I was taken aback: surely just being there was the thing; it felt like where I was supposed to be. Why did I have to think about why I was there? He smiled benignly and posed another question: “What do you think happens at Mass? What does it mean to you when I [The Priest] say, ‘The Body of Christ’ and you say, ‘Amen’? Go away,” he suggested, “and think about it. Do you believe that you are receiving the Body of Christ? Is your Amen a genuine Amen? A yes? An ‘absolutely’ to Christ truly present before you, because that’s the point.” Well, I did go away and think and I believe it took a while but, by the grace of God, I did come to understand the wonderful truth of Jesus Christ truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity, when we receive him in Holy Communion.
Jesus I’ve come to know That you are with me as I grow. Jesus I’ve come to see That you will never stop loving me. This Christmas Eve, Jesus, help me believe, You are here right in front of me. This Christmas night Fill my heart with your light Oh Lord let your glory fall! Fall on me, on me Fall on me, on me. © 2015 DJK This has become our regular preChristmas event ever since and, this last Christmas, you may have seen a small group of socially distanced Youth Café singers singing “Fall on me” at our virtual service of readings and carols.
St. Teresa of Calcutta said: “We must not separate our life from the Eucharist. The moment we do so, something shatters. People ask us: ‘Where do the sisters get the joy and the strength to do what they do?’ The Eucharist contains more than just receiving: it contains also the satisfaction of Christ’s hunger. He says: ‘Come to me.’ He hungers for souls.”
Youcat (the Youth Catechism) says: “We are not Church because we get along well, or because we happen to end up in the same parish community, but rather because, in the Eucharist, we receive the Body of Christ and are increasingly being transformed into the Body of Christ.” (YC211)
These are truths that we are exploring at Youth Café. Let us pray that, in 2021, many more of us will be able to gather at the Table of the Lord to receive the “Gift beyond price”. We continue to meet as Youth Café during lockdown through Zoom and Instagram supporting each other as we journey together in our following of Jesus.
Tony Lucas, Youth Ministry team
Moments to treasure:
Receiving the Eucharist for the first time
When the shepherds visit Mary, Joseph and the new-born baby Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem, and recount to them the glorious vision of angels and the message of Good News that sent them scurrying from the hillsides into the city, Luke tells us that “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). This line is repeated, almost word for word, after the visit of Jesus, at the
age of 12, to Jerusalem, and his being lost in the Temple for three days before being reunited with Mary and Joseph: “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). This tells us something about the dedication of Our Lady to Jesus, but it also speaks of the joy parents find in the significant (even challenging) moments of their child’s life. Perhaps, if you’re a parent, you can remember your child’s / children’s first steps? Was someone on hand to
record the moment? Or maybe you can recall the moment vividly in your mind’s eye? Thinking about these moments parents treasure, and the significance of a child’s steps, can help us think about the approach we take in this parish with regard to helping parents prepare their children to celebrate the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist for the first time. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s
called parent-led catechesis and celebrates parents as irreplaceable role models in the life of faith, and their position as first educators of their children. Parents and children spend time together reflecting on material presented in a colourful and attractive booklet, which enables them to share faith and each to grow in their relationship with Jesus. These steps on the journey of faith are moments to treasure, and sharing the time of preparation deepens the celebration.
First Holy Communion programme, a significant number, reflecting on this experience, said things like we valued the time spent with our children; we were daunted at first, but got used to it; we learnt things as well as the children. You can see how readily this experience leant itself in support of our desire to further deepen our parent-led catechesis. So this year, we have 37 children from 34 families sharing this exciting and momentous step on their journey of faith. They have the booklets at home as the basis or start for discussion, and each week is begun with a Zoom meeting with catechists whose role is to
This is the approach we were taking in the academic year 2019-2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us into lockdown and many of our plans into “In all families the Good News a rethink. One of the most needs to resound, in good noticeable impacts was that our Celebration of First Holy times and in bad, as a source Communion had to be pushed of light along the way. All of us back from May to the autumn. should be able to say, thanks to We had hoped that, by October the experience of our life in the 2020, we would have been back to celebrating Mass in family: ‘We come to believe in the manner we’d been used the love that God has for us’” to – engaging and uplifting (1 John 4:16). music, a large gathering of friends and family etc., but this was not possible. Our encourage and support the children celebrations were lower-key in many and their families, to give witness ways, but the simple joy of children about their own faith, and to pray for receiving Jesus in the Eucharist them. for the first time shone through as the most important consideration In his 2016 Exhortation, Amoris – and despite the difference, it was Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope clearly a wonderful moment for Francis speaks often, and fondly, of these families to treasure. (A couple what the Second Vatican Council of children received their First Holy called the “domestic church”. He Communion at one of the Sunday says: Masses, and the presence and prayers of the parish around them In all families the Good News needs was a great joy.) to resound, in good times and in bad, as a source of light along the Of course, another impact of the way. All of us should be able to say, COVID-19 pandemic was that many thanks to the experience of our life parents found themselves teaching in the family: “We come to believe their children at home, supported in the love that God has for us” (1 by contact with teachers from John 4:16). Only on the basis of this school and other methods of remote experience will the Church’s pastoral learning. When we met with families care for families enable them to (by Zoom) to begin our preparations be both domestic churches and a for this year’s First Reconciliation and
leaven of evangelization in society. (AL, 290) Let us pray for our First Holy Communion families, for all the families of our parish and for our catechists, in the words of the Holy Father: Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic churches.
Fr Chris Bergin
A growing partnership during Covid: Regina Pacis and SPH COVID-19 has reached every corner of the globe; the community and Catholic parish attached to Regina Pacis School in Virunga Valley, Rwanda has been no exception. St Philip Howard School, Barham has an ongoing partnership with Regina Pacis enabled by the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms initiative. Here Kevin Finniear, former Head of English at St Philip Howard Catholic School, provides an insight into the impact of Covid on our link diocese and partner school in Musanze, Rwanda. Nestled in the Virunga Valley in Rwanda, Regina Pacis is a Catholic school in the city of Musanze. You may be familiar with the area from images of David Attenborough rolling around with mountain gorillas in Life on Earth. The Virunga National Park, in pre-Covid times, certainly attracted its fair share of tourists with visitor numbers rising sharply to over 10,000 per year in 2017.
It’s an incredible place: welcoming people, enthralling markets, vibrant churches and hills… lots of hills. In fact, Rwanda itself has the nickname The Land of the Thousand Hills and as you drive the three-hour journey from the capital Kigali to Musanze, you’ll see why. For several years, St Philip Howard has participated in the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms initiative, enabling SPH and other West Sussex teachers to work in partnership with their Rwandan colleagues on projects ranging from musical productions to “The Forgiveness Project”, exploring forgiveness across cultural contexts. SPH sixth formers have also benefitted from yearly visits to our link schools, most recently in November 2018. A planned trip in 2020 was, of course, cancelled along with just about everything else in our diaries last year.
Musanze is overlooked by five dormant volcanoes and a 1,600-seat Catholic Cathedral, one of the most peaceful places in what is otherwise a bustling town. Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa and Musanze is its third biggest city with around 60,000 people.
The Covid stats suggest that Rwanda has not suffered from Covid on the same scale in terms of numbers of cases or deaths, and swift responses from the government have indeed enabled the country to keep the outbreak largely under control but lockdowns have been required to keep the virus at bay.
I spent a year in Musanze with my family from 2016-17, working in three schools during a sabbatical.
As in so many other countries, the lockdown has also hit education in Rwanda. All schools were closed
nationally for around eight months from March until November 2020. Evariste Musirikare, Head teacher of Regina Pacis, says, “The school tried its level best to teach the children remotely through Google Classroom but very few could access it due to lack of digital devices or Internet connection. From that point on, all parents stopped paying the school fees for their children because they were not studying. As the school’s only source of funding, this resulted in the school being unable to pay the wages of its staff.”
“Last year SPH and the parishes of Bognor & Slindon, Arundel and Chichester collectively donated over £2,000 in response to the needs of the Regina Pacis community during lockdown. You made a big difference to families when they needed it most. Thank you!” And that’s where Evariste stepped in. Working with others in Musanze and with links at SPH’s local parishes and beyond, he was able to provide vital supplies of beans, rice, flour and sugar. Not just those who work at the school but hundreds of other families in the local community were provided with food to help them to cope during the months when they had suddenly been stripped of their monthly income.
Regina Pacis School, at nursery, primary and secondary levels, provides education to hundreds of Catholic families in the area. Opening its doors in November 2006, the school was established in response to the wishes of parents whose children had previously had to walk many miles to get to school. The classrooms are full of hardworking children keen to learn whatever it takes to bring success to their families and their country. One thing that struck me when I worked in Rwanda was that when you spoke to students about the future, their ambitions would never centre around themselves but always focused on what they could do for others. They wanted to contribute to the economy, help their siblings to an education or sustain a stable future for their nation. If their work ethic is anything to go by, Rwanda’s future leaders could well come from Regina Pacis. Academically,
the school is also one of the highest achieving in the country. SPH sixth formers were impressed by the students’ ability to sing with considerable musical prowess in four languages – Kinyarwanda, English, French and Swahili – at a mass on our arrival on our last visit! (Our rendition of Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons” was heartfelt, certainly, but perhaps not quite so aesthetically impressive.) Last year SPH and the parishes of Bognor & Slindon, Arundel and Chichester collectively donated over £,2000 in response to the needs of the Regina Pacis community during lockdown. You made a big difference to families when they needed it most and your ongoing support through prayer, giving, and maybe even visits when Covid allows, would be fantastic.
in “contributing to regional, national and international development through an education based on spiritual and human values”. It’s certainly in safe hands. So please join me in praying for Evariste, Principal Fr Jean and all the teachers and pupils at the school. Over the coming year they are hoping to equip the new science laboratory, increase the number of computers and provide psychotherapy to some of the children and teachers suffering from mental health issues as a result of the prolonged lockdown. In the longer term, the dream is for a school chapel.
Evariste’s vision for Regina Pacis is for the school and the students to excel
Food distribution to the local community funded by SPH and the parishes of Bognor & Slindon, Arundel and Chichester.
Fasting before feasting In the early days of Christianity, Lent lasted for just two days. Yes, two days before Easter were dedicated to fasting, prayer and almsgiving. However, at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the Church reflected on certain scriptural events and led by the Holy Spirit extended the period of Lent from two days to 40 days. The following are the scriptural events alluded to above. The Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 years (Num 32:13; Josh 5:6). This period of 40 years wandering enabled them to discover their identity as well as deepen their
relationship with God. Moses stayed on the mountain of God for 40 days (Exod 24:18; 34:28) at the end of which he received the Ten Commandments. The spies were in the land for 40 days (Num 13:25). Elijah travelled 40 days before he reached the cave where he had his vision (1 Kings 19:8). Nineveh was given 40 days to repent or face destruction (Jonah 3:4). The Ninevites sat in sackcloth and ashes and experienced conversion. Most importantly, prior to undertaking his ministry, our Blessed Lord spent 40 days in the wilderness praying and fasting (Matt 4:2; Luke 4:2). Exegetically, 40 days does not
need to be understood literally. “Forty” here denotes a considerable amount of time, fullness of time, enough time. The Church, being the new Israel, feels called to also take out a considerable amount of time, like the Israelites but, above all, like Christ, for prayer, fasting and almsgiving before the feast of Easter which is the greatest feast in the Church. The purpose of Lent is to better prepare us for the feast of the resurrection and dispose us for a more fruitful reception of the graces that Christ merited by his passion, death and resurrection. According
to the instruction of Pope Paul VI, in revising the Church’s laws of fast and abstinence, “The time of Lent preserves its penitential character and it is binding on every Catholic” (Paenitemini, III, norm II). It is a time of intense prayer and silence. When a Christian applies himself or herself to the prescriptions of Easter, s/he will certainly experience the joy of the resurrection.
us an example. His life, death and resurrection speak eloquently to us at this time.
The celebration of Easter is possible because Christ is risen. Prayer is possible because Christ has risen. Faith is as a result of the resurrection of Christ. Liturgy is possible because He is risen. Our life has meaning because Christ is alive. This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14: “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.”
The experience of God’s love is truest when it is too deep for words. The picture of Christ’s love is too deep for comment. You do not need to say to your pet: I love you before the pet perceives that love. If pets can perceive love how much more human beings! Often true love is not expressed in words but in action. A story is told of a diver who picked a tablet from the bottom of the sea and on it was inscribed the following words coming from a lover to his beloved: “Having given you my heart there is nothing more I could give.” This is what God has accomplished in Christ. Having given us His Son there is nothing more he could give. If we are Christians, we are supposed to imitate Christ in his selfless love.
When we celebrate the passion and the resurrection of Christ as Christians, let us bear in mind that wherever we may have to go, Jesus has been there. Jesus was wrecked, mocked, deserted and forsaken. In him, therefore, we learn how to face our own sufferings and hardships. This is why Peter says: “…Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Pet 2:21). So, even as we go through one national lockdown after another, as we go through this pandemic, it is a difficult time for many of us but let us remember that Christ has suffered for us leaving
In giving us his Son, God has said it all, once and for all and he has no more to say. God has become mute because he has no more to say. What he used to say partially through the prophets, he has now expressed fully in his Son (Heb 1:1-2).
In John’s Gospel, the fruit of Jesus’ resurrection is the following command: “Abide in my love” – remain in my love, stay in my love, be with me in my love (John 15:9). If we have experienced God’s love through his passion and resurrection, we should be influenced by that love.
We should remain in that love and live it out. While ending the year for Consecrated Life in Rome, Pope Francis asked: Who is the first neighbour of a religious person? They are members of his/her religious community. The same can be said of a Christian. Who is your first neighbour? They are members of your immediate family. The Pope frowned at those who are so caught up in ministering to others outside but they forget that charity begins at home. Many Christians are doing great work in various ways in various places but their families lack spiritual oxygen that gives life. The love of Christ must be shared with people around us beginning with the members of our immediate family and reaching out to others outside. So, the Lenten fast is meant to help us deny ourselves some comfort so that we can bring relief to others. In this way we join in sharing the selfless love of Christ. We participate in his passion in order to share in his resurrection. Our Lenten fast, prayer and almsgiving are meant to lead us to experience something of Christ’s death and resurrection. As we share in Christ’s passion during this Lent, may we share in his resurrection! May the joy of the risen Christ be yours!
Victor Onwukeme, msp
“The Lenten fast is meant to help us deny so … in this way we join in sharing the selfless love of Christ. Our fasting, prayer and almsgiving are meant to lead us to experience something of Christ’s death and resurrection”.
Leadership Team update: ‘See, I am doing a new thing!’
Where do we begin? There’s so much to talk about, Alpha, liturgy, people and pandemic… As a Parish, our mission is to bring others to an encounter with Christ and to walk with them on their pilgrimage journey of faith. With the focus of our Parish vision statement, which says; ‘We are followers of Jesus, on fire with his love, sharing his love with each other and with the world’, we hope to build a culture of evangelisation. We have begun this building, but it is an ongoing journey. Let’s rewind back to the beginning of 2020. Before lockdown, as a Leadership Team, we began to welcome people who worked in various different ministries to open meetings, to enable conversations about our mission, looking at where we have come from and looking ahead to where we hope to go. These open meetings were fantastic but could only take place for a short while before the first lockdown came into place. But it was a start! Alongside these open meetings, we gathered together as a Parish for Scripture Saturdays, led by Kathleen O’Gorman and David Beresford, a great initiative which has been able to continue with the joys of Zoom! These are very popular and continue every month. And the Alpha course was another way in which we had for a while, been building a culture of evangelisation. And this we have also been able to continue! We ran our first online Alpha course which was a great success! Some of the groups within the Parish have also adapted and moved online, such as the Discussion Group Youth Café, Connect Groups, and the Knights of St Columba to name just a few. Although at the start of this pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty and there still is, we have been able to adapt and to continue in new ways, building a culture of evangelisation. The Sunday experience has seen many changes over the last year. In the past when we gathered for Mass on a Sunday, we would begin by turning to the person next to us and tell them our names or offer to pray for them during the Mass. A simple gesture of welcoming each other into the House of God. But of course, we have had to adapt rapidly to the restrictions and regulations due to the pandemic, we haven’t been able to continue with this way of welcoming each other. Instead, when we come into the church, we are greeted by a welcomer. With many thanks to our Welcome Coordinators, Mike and Miren O’Brien, we now have a team of people who welcome those coming into the church. A new way of welcoming but one that has potentially become so important, especially as we have been so limited
(Isaiah 43:19) on being able to see others. Other ways in which the Sunday experience has changed is that jump to live streaming Mass. For the first lockdown, this was the only way of accessing the Mass. We now have the option of going to Mass in person, but for many people who may be vulnerable etc., live streaming is still their only way of being able to engage with the Mass and with the community of faith. And for those who are without the internet, there are amazing volunteers in the Parish who help people to access the Mass via a phone call. The words within Eucharistic Prayer No. 3 come to mind; ‘you never cease to gather a people to yourself’. The Lord will always gather His people together as a community. And it is within the community that from time-to-time, we see people come and go. One of our members of the Leadership Team, Martha Myers stepped down from the Team at the end of last year, to focus her time on her work and commitment within the L’Arche Community. She has brought so much to the Team; I have been particularly inspired by her enthusiasm and love for others! Thank you, Martha! And so, we welcome Caroline Phillips to the Leadership Team who you will hear more about in her article in this magazine, in which she introduces herself and shares her faith story with us. We also mustn’t forget Fr Victor! Fr Victor joined our Parish at the beginning of October, and is with us for this year whilst on sabbatical. Fr Victor, you are very welcome! It is a challenging time to move into a new community. We hope you have been settling in well! So, what’s on the horizon? We continue to build the culture of evangelisation which I mentioned at the beginning, particularly through conversations with different leaders within the ministry of the Parish, sharing the Parish vision with them. Formation opportunities such as the Scripture Saturdays continue, becoming involved within the Diocesan Mission ‘Invited’, as well as a few exciting changes within the fabric of Our Lady of Sorrows. Of course, lots of things have had to be put on hold or adapted as we entered into the Covid-19 pandemic, and also as we continue to live within this time of restriction. As a Leadership Team, we have certainly learnt a lot and have had to make changes in the way we work, particularly how we meet together. It’s a continued journey, with lots of exciting things to come! Let’s look forward in hope with the words from the Prophet Isaiah; ‘See, I am doing a new thing!’ (Isaiah 43:19)
Bethan Townsend, Parish Leadership Team
Finance Report 2020 The story of 2020 will largely be written in terms of things you can’t put a price on, but which nevertheless have been of immense value. We think naturally of the dedication of NHS and care workers, for whom the Clap for Carers was just one way of expressing our appreciation. Or we might think of those in education who gave generously of their time, even holiday time, to provide for vulnerable children and children of key workers. There is also the large number of ways, the details of which we may never know, in which people reached out to family, to friends and to strangers, to offer hope and support. Within the parish, I am immensely grateful to all those who continued to serve and volunteer at different times and in different ways during the year. However, 2020 must also be reckoned in terms of its numbers and that’s the purpose of this Finance Report. The bottom line looks like this:
Surplus / (Deficit) (£)
To put a little bit of context behind these figures: on account of the pandemic, our income dropped significantly. For instance, in broad terms, offertory income was down by £25,000, and other income (eg donations and legacies) down by £15,000. On the expenditure side, general pastoral costs were down by £5,000, payroll by £9,000, property and grounds expenditure by £18,000. (These are the standout figures – for a complete set of figures for the year, please ask Caroline in the Parish Office for further information). So although the figures for both income and expenditure were down, and the difference between 2019 and 2020 was quite small, we still ran a deficit of £24,000. This is clearly not something we can sustain. To help improve our financial position, we have been looking to hire out St Peregrine’s Hall, but there hasn’t been a viable expression of interest to date. The Finance Committee have also recently invested some of our capital, treading a prudent path between a desire to make the most of the opportunities investment offers, but also aware of the volatility of the market at this time. What can you do to help? As always, we are very grateful for all the ways in which people contribute, in financial terms and in terms of offering their time and talents. We’re grateful, too, for the innovative ways in which parishioners did manage to get their donations through – sending cheques through the post, dropping envelopes through the letterbox etc. If you haven’t been able to
make your contributions this year, perhaps you could send a cheque to the parish as a one-off contribution? However, the Finance Committee is also deeply aware that there are many financial pressures on people and families at this time and so we’re taking the unusual step (for this year) of not asking for more money. What we would really like you to do is this: set up a Standing Order for your contributions and/or complete a GiftAid form, if you haven’t already, and consider leaving the parish a gift in your will. These ways will make a really significant difference. The next steps on how to do this can be found at www.bognorcatholicparish.co.uk/donate or ask Caroline in the Parish Office for a paper forms. 2020 also saw changes in personnel. Anthony Jenkins stepped down as Parish Administrator after nearly five years in the role, and Abby Leggatt has been appointed as our new Administrator. Very many thanks to Anthony for all his hard work and commitment over the years, and best wishes to Abby as she settles in to her job. Our parish is a wonderful community of faith, of service and commitment. This is down to you, and we thank God for it. You are truly rendering unto God according to the gifts he has given. Don’t forget, we also have to render unto Caesar, and so appreciate your time in reading this!
Angela Liu, Chair of the Finance Committee Fr Chris Bergin, Parish Priest
A significant proportion of our annual expenditure is spent on our buildings. Here Abby Leggatt updates us on the current fabric renovations of our buildings.
There has been quite a lot of work and expenditure at Our Lady of Sorrows over the last few months.
There is some damaged brick on the walkway between the parish centre and church. It will be replaced once an appropriate replacement has been sourced. This will involve a scaffold and will temporarily close access between the car park and the parish centre/ back door to the church. This should only take one day.
We have had challenges to ensure the church is Covid secure and meets the government guidelines. Using designated prayer spaces, hand sanitiser, limited numbers and appropriate face coverings, this has been successful. In addition, we have purchased a machine which sanitises the church thoroughly each day. A scaffold has been erected, and the lining of the roof has been replaced; this took some co-ordination between our builders at Sussex React and their scaffolder. This was inevitably delayed by Covid but the work has been completed by the team now.
One of the emergency lights needs some repair – which came to light when our smart meter was installed. Peter Buckland will complete this as soon as possible. We have some damage to a stone lintel; currently, we are getting quotes from several stonemasons.
Unfortunately, wind in the wrong direction has not been as helpful: we lost some vent covers in the high winds recently. Our builders using a ladder and some creative thinking immediately replaced two. Unluckily the third cover was smashed when it hit the floor and required a scaffold. This was covered by our insurance policy, so only the excess will be paid by the parish.
We have suffered some theft of lead from the roof at St Anthony’s. It appears the thief was caught in the act as they abandoned a pair of gloves and some lead. An eagle-eyed parishioner alerted us to the theft very quickly. This was lucky as the theft exposed the roof to potential rain damage. Initially, an emergency tarpaulin was put in place pending insurance approval.
PAT testing is now being carried out by a professional PAT tester on advice from the Health & Safety team at Bishops House. We are using a company called Mr. PAT and he will also be testing St. Anthony’s, St Richards; the Parish Centre; OLoS; Priory and Haltwhistle cottages.
The work has now been completed, with the lead being replaced by cladding to match the lower part of the building.
Emergency boiler repairs were carried out on two of the boilers – good work by Arundel Group, who attended and fixed the problem on the same day. A smart meter has been installed in the church, which provides accurate readings and monitors our usage to enable us to see the immediate cost and where we can potentially make savings.
We have had some electrical problems at St Anthony’s: the wiring for the outside light was damaged. This caused “nuisance tripping” inside as well as the light not working outside. The light has now been rewired and is working properly.
Abby Leggatt is our parish’s new Parish Administrator at Bognor Regis & Slindon Catholic parish. She succeeded Anthony Jenkins, who retired in December 2020. The Parish Administrator is a paid, part-time role, giving support to the Parish Priest, managing building maintenance, security, health and safety, and overseeing the management of the parish office.
Welcome Abby In December Anthony Jenkins stepped down after several years of hard work as our Parish Administrator. On behalf of everyone in the Parish, thank you Anthony for all your work keeping the admin, fabric, and coordination within the Parish going! When you see her, please welcome Abigail Leggatt, who was appointed to this vital role in enabling us to share God’s love with each other and the world. Over to you Abby: Hi! My name is Abigail Leggatt, and I am the new Parish Administrator. I have been a Parishioner since 2006 when I met my then-future husband Christopher and he enticed me to move to Bognor Regis from Beckenham in Kent. We were married at St. Richards, in Slindon, and both of our children were baptised there as well. My background is retail management for Thornton’s and Team leader for Southern Railway. There is a lot of crossover from these jobs that I can apply to the role of parish administrator. Unfortunately, the chocolate isn’t one of them, but that is more than made up for by how rewarding it is to work for the Parish.
lot of time on his boat: The Abigail. Less so as crew in my case – more relaxed passenger. I am a keen party planner, having organised family weddings, birthday parties and lately Zoom parties. I look forward very much to the end of lockdown and am already planning the celebration party. I bake a lot of cakes and biscuits; where I lack skill I make up for in enthusiasm. In my role as Parish Administrator, I’m here to coordinate and plan the day-to-day building maintenance of all our sites, the associated Health & Safety obligations, and administration. Every one of us has a role (many of us have more than one) to play in further enabling our Parish to be even more of a community that is on fire with the love of Jesus, and that shares that love with each other and the world. I’m thrilled to be able to play my part by keeping the necessary admin shipshape!
My husband is a very keen amateur sailor; thankfully a small boat is a bubble in itself, so we’re able to spend a
www.bognorcatholicparish.org.uk Telephone: 01243 823619 Bognor Regis & Slindon Roman Catholic parish is part of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. Charity number: 252878 Our Lady of Sorrows, Clarence Road, Bognor Regis St Anthony of Viareggio Gossamer Lane, Rose Green St Richard of Chichester, Top Road, Slindon. Parish Office, Hislop Walk, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, PO21 1LP
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