Catholic Pic February 2024

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Issue 234 February 2024


2024: The Year of Families of Parishes INSIDE THIS MONTH

Jottings of a Lourdes Pilgrim

Fads & Gadgets

On Friday 9th February all staff across SJCMAT are attending our exciting Curriculum Inset. Throughout this day, all staff are focusing on Curriculum End Points from KS5, to KS4, to KS3, to KS2, to KSl/EYFS. This gives all staff across the Trust the knowledge of the full journey our pupils undertake as they learn each subject within our SJCMAT Curriculum. Our Professional Development is led by expert subject leaders, involves a review of exemplar pupil work and means staff are collaborating across phases as a whole Trust.

�-- St Joseph

Catholic Multi Academy Trust


From the Archbishop’s Desk The ancient Roman name for this month of February comes from a word meaning purification, plunging or purging. In the Christian calendar, we celebrate on 2 February the feast of Candlemas, the Presentation of the Lord, or the Purification of Mary. Candlemas refers to the candles that are lit 40 days after the feast of the Nativity to celebrate the moment when the Light of the Nations came into the world, as we are reminded by Simeon, the old prophet, when Jesus was presented in the Temple in Jerusalem, and according to Jewish custom Mary was purified after the birth of Jesus. This month then, far from being the last month of winter casting a late shadow of winter gloom, is a month latent with so much hope and promise. Early this month, I will baptise my most recent great niece and great nephew. What could be more appropriate. As they are plunged into the waters of baptism, the Holy Spirit comes down on them to make them members of Christ. They will be graced for what awaits them in the future. In the archdiocese, I believe we too are ready for new steps to be taken as we follow Christ and journey with him. As a result of our archdiocesan synod, we are exploring new ways of walking with Jesus. In this edition of the Pic, you will read about the development of ‘families of parishes’ which show that our way ahead is together and not apart. It does require ‘taking the plunge,’ but then as baptised Christians that should not be unexpected. Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP Archbishop of Liverpool

Monthly prayer intentions The Holy Father’s prayer intentions entrusted to his worldwide prayer network for the year 2023:

For The Terminally Ill Let us pray that the sick who are in the final stages of life, and their families, receive the necessary medical and human care and accompaniment.

Editorial Catholic Pictorial Magazine, St Margaret Clitherow Centre, Liverpool Archdiocesan Office, Croxteth Drive, Liverpool L17 1AA Tel: 0151 522 1007 Email: Advertising Sales team 0151 709 7567 Pictures Nick Fairhurst Alex Monkhouse, Website: Twitter: @PicCatholic Youtube: CPMM Media

4 Main Feature 2024: The Year of Families of Parishes 7

Sunday Reflections


From the Archives Fads and Gadgets

9 News News from around the archdiocese 14 Pastoral Ponderings


Editor Harriet Anwyl


15 What’s On What’s happening in the archdiocese 16 Profile Joe Wright 17 Cathedral Record 27 Animate Youth Ministry 28 Pic Extras Mums the word News from the KSC

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29 Nugent News Transforming Lives in Liverpool and Beyond 30 Dialogue and Unity

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2024: The Year of Families of Parishes Our goal is to make our parishes places where individuals and families can encounter Jesus anew, grow as disciples, work synodally and be equipped to accompany one another within our communities and beyond their boundaries.

Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Organisation and Synodal Implementation By Fr Philip Inch In November 2023, over 250 people came to one of the Family of Parishes Roadshows. People from all across the archdiocese joined in, both in person and on Zoom, to find out how we can join together to share our gifts and resources to best serve the community. The Pastoral Plan (Advent 2021) called us to be “bold and creative” in thinking of new ways in which we can, in our present situation, best accomplish the mission of the Church.

As part of being bold and creative, the vision of the Pastoral Plan is a commitment to create Families of Parishes. This will hopefully lead to brave decisions, which will then free up resources for evangelisation and for the work of the Church. It is not about church closures, but about financial and pastoral realities. What are Families of Parishes?

All parishes of the Archdiocese of Liverpool will join other parishes in new groupings called “Families of Parishes.” Families of Parishes are groups of


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parishes, generally three to six, sharing resources to advance the mission, including having multiple priests, deacons and lay people serving the Family of Parishes. This model will allow the priests, deacons, religious, and laity associated with each parish to better share their gifts and talents with the whole Family of Parishes.

Our shift to Families of Parishes is a response to the synod recommendations, which called for a renewal of the structures of our parishes to make them radically mission-oriented. Our goal is to make our parishes places where individuals and families can encounter Jesus anew, grow as disciples, work synodally, and be equipped to accompany one another within our communities and beyond their boundaries.

We have listened to the voices of the people of the archdiocese in the Synod recommendations and factored them into the creation of this plan. Our mission hasn’t changed, but how we approach that mission must shift in response to our circumstances. We must move forward together synodally











Deanery Boundaries for the region

with greater collaboration and better stewardship of our resources. How are Families of Parishes groupings chosen?

Amongst the first tasks of the newly formed Deanery Synodal Council is, in consultation with local clergy and parishes, to propose the Families of Parishes. This task must be completed by the end of February 2024. This will be done together with the DSC and archdiocesan personnel, including surveyors, before being brought to the Archbishop’s Advisory Board. This list would then be presented to Archbishop

Malcolm for his approval. The Families will then be formally established by the Archbishop in March 2024.

The discernment of these Families needs to be based on the reality of what makes the most sense for the future of the archdiocese when there will be fewer priests, people, and resources in many parts of the archdiocese.

The first criterion for consideration is collaborative working coupled with mission orientation. Initially, the families should remain within deanery boundaries. Decisions about Families of Parishes should consider their relationships

with schools, local councils, and other significant public bodies, and their actual and potential contribution to the common good. We should also try to ensure that ecumenical discussions and decisionmaking are part of any local engagement.

Financially, the Families of Parishes should be arranged and managed to make the best use of the available resources (including assets which have a realistic chance of generating income) and control costs so that each unit, or at least the deanery as a whole, is financially viable. This may require a deliberate policy of richer areas supporting poorer areas.

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What could a Family of Parishes look like? These examples give an idea of what could be possible. They are not definitive, but are open to creative and bold suggestions.

pool resources so that the work of evangelisation could happen in a new way. In this scenario, a shared parish office might be established. C 3 parishes, 3 churches, 1 priest, 1 deacon, 1 paid pastoral worker.

A 3 parishes with 3 churches, 3 priests and 1 deacon

This could be a model where 3 parishes become a Family, along with the 3 priests, the deacon and the parishioners. Volunteers and employed staff will begin to find new ways of sharing their resources. This might lead to discussions and eventual discernment about which places are best to do which activities. It may lead to a sharing of a parish hall in one parish by the others. B 3 parishes with 4 churches, 2 priests, 1 deacon, 1 paid pastoral worker

In this example, the 2 priests could minister together across the 4 churches, with the support of a deacon doing the same, along with a full-time pastoral worker to work across the 4 churches. In order to fund this post, it might become evident that this Family could

In this example, 1 priest and 1 deacon would work across 3 parishes with the support of parish volunteers and a fulltime paid pastoral worker. In order to fund this, it may be thought prudent (and “brave and courageous,” as per the Synod recommendations) to look at the number of buildings that the Family has and decide how best to use the resources at our disposal. These are examples only, to get all of us thinking and discerning in bold and creative ways. These are not set in stone, merely ideas to consider at this part in the process. What does setting up Families of Parishes mean? It is nothing complicated or especially onerous – all this means is that by the beginning of March, we want everyone to have stepped onto the road that will lead to new relationships and ways of working. Nothing has to be decided by that date, other than the proposed families. So what happens next? Very simply, the next task is to find ways of working together across the boundaries of the parishes in order to

begin to establish the identity of the “Family.” In some parts of the archdiocese, this is happening on the level of formation e.g., shared study days and joint formation initiatives. In other areas, the setting up of a new “Caritas” group brings together the social outreach imperative of the Pastoral Plan. In still other areas, days of recollection and pulpit swaps have taken place. The list is not and must not be restrictive. Find something that could work and have a go! Many of those who came to the November Open Meetings asked to be kept involved. So there are two proposed gatherings (or “think tanks”!) to hear what parishioners and clergy across the archdiocese think should be the next steps, and what help is going to be needed to put these into place. As you know, we are treading a new path in this area of archdiocesan life, so it is vitally important that we hear what people want - and need – so that we can explore new ways to move forward together. The first Think Tank will be at Canons Hall, St Oswald’s, Ashton in Makerfield, on Saturday 17 February 10.30am – 12 noon. (WN4 9NP). There is Mass at 10.00am at St Oswald’s on a Saturday morning and all would be made welcome. This think tank event will be repeated on Tuesday 20 February 7.00pm – 8.30pm at Holy Rosary Parish Hall, Altway L10 2LG. Please email ( if you wish to come and let them know which date is best for you.



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Sunday reflections

On a liturgical note One of the notable ‘weekday’ feasts kept by the Liturgy in the month of February is that of the Chair of Saint Peter on the 22nd of the month.

While celebrated with particular pomp here in Rome, it is a feast which affects all of us who are in communion with Francis our Pope because the day recalls the teaching and pastoral role which the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, has inherited through the centuries from Peter – ‘You must strengthen your brethren’ (Luke 22:32).

The cathedra or chair of Peter stands for that position of teaching and unifying which the Bishop of Rome has. It is not just a call to continuity with years past but a challenge and appeal in the present for a unity which can be so threatened in our fragmented world and society – and which is the unity of all God’s children within the one flock under one shepherd, Christ Jesus himself. Not only in our civic society but also sadly even within our own communities of faith, there can be sown a disunity which strikes at the very heart of the witness which the disciples of Christ are called to present to the world – to be strong and steadfast in Christ.

Sunday thoughts

So that our unity, our oneness, is not merely a nice ideal but something ‘real and active’ we need to actively maintain our unity of faith and of action. Sometimes the phrase ‘sentire cum ecclesia’ – to feel with the Church – is used. This means to have the love of the Church’s mission and ministry so deeply planted within us that all we say and do seeks naturally, almost as our second nature, to maintain and promote unity – be it within a family, a parish, a diocese or indeed the worldwide Church. In the Mass, there is a profound prayer for unity which sometimes can be a little overlooked or under-appreciated and it links the gift of peace with the gift of unity: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.’

May we be ministers of that peace and unity wherever we find ourselves.

Mgr John Devine OBE

The lives and reputations of hundreds of Post Office workers have been destroyed. This injustice is said to be of ‘biblical proportions’. This is literally the case.

During Advent we heard how the little people were routinely oppressed by the powerful. The hoped-for Messiah would be the one to champion the poor against a justice system which favoured the powerful. Consider the following: ‘I will make a virtuous Branch flow for David, who shall practice honesty and integrity in the land.’ (Isaiah 33)

‘He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.’ (Isaiah 11) ‘O God give your judgment to the king, to a king’s son your justice, that he may judge your people in justice and your poor in right judgement … In his days justice shall flourish … he shall save the poor when they cry.’ (Psalm 71)

‘Tyrants shall be no more … those who try at the gate to trip the arbitrator and get the upright man’s case dismissed for groundless reasons.’ (Isaiah 29) ‘In your midst I will leave a humble and lowly people. They will do no wrong, will tell no lies; and the perjured tongue will no longer be found in their mouths … Rejoice, exult with all your heart. The

Canon Philip Gillespie

Lord has repealed your sentence.’ (Zephaniah 3)

Injustice is also addressed by the prophet Micah: ‘From the innocent man you snatch his cloak … The women of my people you drive out from the homes they loved; their children you rob for ever. For a worthless thing, you exact an extortionate pledge.’ (Micah 2) The story told in Psalm 35 is as familiar today as it was 3,000 years ago:

‘Lord, who can compare with you in rescuing the poor man from the stronger, the needy from the man who exploits him. Lying witnesses take the stand, questioning me on things I know nothing about.’ In a civilised society, legal aid allowed the vulnerable to confront the injustice of the powerful on an equal footing; no longer. According to the Law Society of England and Wales, cuts in legal aid over the last decade have particularly impacted women. The Law Society says: ‘Legal aid can be the difference between a family staying in a safe home or being made homeless, having protection from domestic abuse or being trapped in an abusive relationship.’ Meanwhile, the law is rewritten by Parliament as a ‘deterrent’ against asylumseekers. ‘Lefty lawyers’ are attacked for defending them and judges ruling against oppressive legislation are condemned as ‘enemies of the people’.

Vulnerability, the way of discipleship Just recently, I was invited to a meeting to share the silence. When I arrived, there was a circle of people sitting. As we came in, we were given name badges and then we sat down. A bell was rung and the chatter stopped, and then each person introduced themselves and when that was done, a song was played and we entered into the silence together. As time went on, one man began to weep. He did not say why but others reached out to him and held his hand in the silence, and I felt a shift take place within as I realised that this was sacred ground and, even without words, his vulnerability was leading us deeply into the mystery of God.

The experience of Jesus shows us a vulnerable God, a God who is ultimately broken and weak, a God who suffers, a God who is a lamb. Somehow God is revealed as broken, vulnerable, compassionate and ultimately loving. We are invited to experience His way of loving, that way of vulnerability. Vulnerability compels us beyond ourselves. Whenever we see real pain and brokenness, most people find a depth of compassion within that causes them to want to act for the one who is broken and in need. I am sure that is why when our television screens and newspapers are filled with images of traumatised people, most of us want to try to heal the trauma.

I am reminded of the words from Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do it to me’. When we reach out to the broken and the needy, we are reaching out to the God who suffers in our midst. Through the doors of our centre come many suffering people. We meet those desperately seeking asylum, those who have no language to communicate their need other than the pain in their eyes. We meet those caught in the trap of addictions of many sorts. We meet the lonely and the frightened and the poverty-stricken. Vulnerability pushes us beyond the safe boundaries we create for ourselves to minister to them, and to the God who lives in us. And so I ask you what sort of God have you discovered, the God of law or the God who can be found in brokenness and vulnerability? Are you open enough to the spirit to allow the spirit to change your image of God so that you can witness to a God who stands with us in our brokenness and need and brings us life? Father Chris Thomas

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from the archives

Fads and Gadgets by Neil Sayer, Archdiocesan Archivist

Queen Victoria showed great interest in a demonstration of the entertainment offered by a stereoscopic viewer. A decade later, almost every respectable household had its own viewer and a collection of images. Sharing them with friends and family for education and entertainment was a familiar social activity in the Victorian parlour. Sadly, there isn’t a stereoscope in the Archives that will allow us to view the images as they were intended.

Father Murphy, about 1880 – in his parlour

It really isn’t far from a Victorian parlour to a Virtual Reality headset. Three-dimensional images have been around for a long time, and some are represented in the collections of the Archdiocesan Archives.

Photography was still in its infancy when devices were invented for taking and viewing images that reproduced a 3D effect. Using a specially mounted camera, two images were recorded of the same view, from slightly different angles. This was intended to mimic the way our left and right eyes see the world slightly differently. In place of the brain processing what we see to render depth and clarity, a stereoscopic viewer was used to look at the twin images. The lenses in this handheld viewer were arranged to combine the two separate images into one that appeared three-dimensional. As a novel form of entertainment, this led to a craze at least in well-off Victorian households. The popularity of the stereoscope is recorded in paintings and essays from the time. The stereoscopic images in our archives were collected by Father Patrick Murphy when he was Rector of St Anthony’s on Scotland Road, Liverpool. He visited North America on two occasions, in 1879 and 1883, and it must have been on one of those visits that he bought some views of tourist sites in Philadelphia and Washington DC. Such images are very much representative of the stereoscopic cards then available. Improvements in the techniques for developing photographs on paper meant that it was easy and cheap to make albumen prints for general sale. The stereographs, as can be seen here, were mounted next to each other on a piece of stiff card of a standard size to fit into a viewer. Subjects included portraits of public figures and what we might now see as photojournalism, of natural disasters and scenes of battle. However, the slow shutter speeds of most cameras still meant that it was easier to capture images of non-moving targets like buildings and scenic landscapes. The expense of the equipment meant that amateurs were largely excluded from the activity, and professional photographers were sent out by the companies that specialised in the business. Like Father Murphy, many people wanted pictures of far-flung parts of the world, either as a memento or an aspiration. Millions of images were produced and sold. The craze for stereographs lasted for about 30 years from 1850. In its early days, it was said to have been given a boost by the royal presence at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. Prince Albert had devised the exhibition at Crystal Palace as a showcase for technological and engineering progress in Britain, and he and 8

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Stereoscopic photographs were produced well into the twentieth century, though the fad was on the wane before then. Their popularity was challenged by other photographic formats such as cabinet portraits and postcards, both even more collectable than the stereographs. With the advent of moving pictures and radio, parlour entertainments like the stereoscopic viewer were pushed to the back of the cupboard. The concept, of course, survived: as television began to take over our viewing habits in the 1950s, 3D movies were promoted to offer something the new medium couldn’t, and still on occasion we will be encouraged to wear silly glasses at the local picture-house for the latest gimmicky blockbuster; and the Viewmaster children’s toy has been available as a plastic reincarnation of the viewer since the 1960s. The real successor as a solitary and social activity is the VR headset: how long will that last?

A paddle steamer on the Potomac river, Washington DC

A paddle steamer on the Potomac river, Washington DC

The House of Representatives, United States Congress

News diary

News diary If you’ve got any news from your parish that you’d like featured e-mail us with the details at:

St Teresa of Avila, St Helens – a Parish that made history in 1965 The Parish of St Teresa of Avila will celebrate its Centenary in Jan 2025. St Teresa’s School opened in 1898, with Fr Hearne of Sacred Heart Parish as Parish Priest of the area. He died in 1920 and it was 1925 before St Teresa’s was officially designated as a new Parish, with Fr Henry Fitzgerald tasked with developing the Mission Church in the Newtown area of St Helens. He began building a temporary church, which was opened in 1927, and the new Parish thrived.

As generations progress through the life of a Parish, many find work and make lives elsewhere, but still have treasured memories of St Teresa’s Parish. If you can help provide further material for this historical compilation to help celebrate the Parish Centenary in 2025, please contact Christine by emailing: or calling 01744 605087

Fr Fitzgerald continued to work tirelessly on fundraising for a new church. He died in 1952 and Fr Morrissey was appointed Parish Priest. Building began in Feb 1964, and in Sep 1964 the newly appointed Archbishop of Liverpool, The Most Reverend George Andrew Beck, blessed the foundation stone of this new church.

The new St Teresa’s Church was opened and Consecrated by Archbishop Beck in Jul 1965. History was made – the Consecration and Solemn High Mass for the opening of the Church was in English for the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in England.

This Solemn High Mass was celebrated by parish priest Fr. Francis Morrissey. For him, it was the end of many weeks of preparation; he translated the psalms, hymns, antiphons, and directions for the threehour-long service from Latin and Greek into English. The Parish has had over 30 priests over the last 99 years, including Bishop Tom Neylon and current Parish Priest Fr Martin Kershaw. Historian Christine O’Neill is compiling a history of the Parish from 1925 and would be most grateful for any photographs or written memories of any significant moments in the Parish’s history and how the Liturgical year was celebrated. People may have recollections of the many Sodality, Confraternity and parish groups which formed a great religious and social bond between parishioners.

Metanoia Presentation by All Hallows, Penwortham - SVP Conference Recently, David Fraser of St Mary Magdalens and St Teresa’s SVP Conference accompanied Jen Murphy of the Metanoia Project in visiting All Hallows Secondary School, Penwortham. David and another Conference member, Tim McKeogh, recently joined the Metanoia Project, helping the Conference reach the most vulnerable in our local community. The project, as one of its ministries, runs the Diakonos Service Ministry, a weekly drop-in for anyone in need in Preston. The pupils forming the St Vincent de Paul Conference at the school have been selling hot chocolate at school lunchtimes to raise funds to help the homeless. They presented Jen with a cheque for £100, plus bags of clothes, toiletries, and cakes.

Jen explained to the pupils that Metanoia means a total change of heart, a “spiritual conversion” and that Diakonos means “service”, in this case reaching out to those in need. The pupils learned how homeless people are invited into the church to receive items they need, but in doing so they receive an experience of Jesus; “we can give out items, but we must also give out Jesus”. Throughout the evening there was a chance for prayer, and every session ended with a group prayer. Jen expressed her thanks to the children and staff, saying: “We praise God for this group from All Hallows for selling hot chocolate for us and wanting to serve Jesus so beautifully. Your enthusiasm and desire to continue to help those in need is really encouraging. We look forward to hearing about your next venture and visiting you again soon. Thank you!”

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News diary

St. Mary’s, Astley celebrates the retirement of Brother John Dawson St Mary’s High School in Astley has said a sad farewell to Brother John Dawson at a celebration Mass in December. Br John retired after over 30 years of service to the school, working as school chaplain and assistant chaplain. Monsignor Des Seddon celebrated the Mass, along with clergy from the school’s local parishes, and Brother John’s community, the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Betharram. Mass was attended by staff at the school and many guests who had worked alongside Br. John over the years, all of whom were eager to ensure that he knows how valued he is by all in the school community. Br. John has been an example of gentle and faithful service at St. Mary’s and is known for his slogan, ‘Smile and remember God loves you’. He is well-loved by staff and pupils alike.

Denise Brahms, Headteacher, commented ‘‘Brother John is a shining example of all that is best in a life of vocation and faith. He is a model of humility, obedience, kindness, love and joy and our young people have been blessed by his presence.” “We will miss Br. John and wish him well for his retirement.”

Benemerenti for Tom Walsh MBE

Fr. Hugh Donleavy’s Inaugural Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Wigan

There was great rejoicing at St Patrick’s Church, Wigan, on Gaudete Sunday as Tom Walsh MBE received the Benemerenti Award. The Award recognises and celebrates outstanding service to the Church, and is awarded by Pope Francis.

Tom’s Benemerenti was in recognition of his long-standing and tireless dedication to the Wigan and District Catholic Men’s Society, along with his involvement in local Catholic history and service to Catholic Education; Tom has been a Foundation Governor for over forty years. The Award was presented by Parish Priest and Wigan CMS Chaplain, Father Ian O’Shea, to rapturous applause. Tom and his wife, Eileen, spoke of their shock and surprise at him receiving the Award and Tom recalled, with great fondness, a number of people who had helped him in his various commitments to the Church. Later, parishioners enjoyed celebrating with the couple and sharing memories. Tom’s Benemerenti follows his receiving of the MBE from the late Queen Elizabeth II in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for services to the local community.

St Patrick’s Church, part of St William’s Parish in Wigan, welcomed Fr. Hugh Donleavy with open arms as he celebrated his first Mass at his new home parish on Sunday 21 January.

Fr. Hugh, who was ordained on 1 December 2023, will shortly be taking up his first priestly appointment as the Parish Curate at St William’s Parish. After a wonderful Mass, parishioners invited Fr. Hugh to join them for a celebratory post-Mass coffee morning. This gathering provided an opportunity for parishioners to extend a warm welcome to Fr. Hugh in person.

Fr. Ian O’Shea, Parish Priest of St William’s Parish, along with all the staff, volunteers, and parishioners, welcomes Fr. Hugh to the parish and prays that his tenure here will be long and happy. 10

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News diary

Obituary for Sister Paulinus McMahon A Memorial Mass was celebrated just before Christmas for Sr. Paulinus McMahon OSC at Our Lady of Compassion Church, Formby.

Sister died on 22 November aged 90 years. Her funeral took place in her native Newry, Co. Down at St. Clare’s Convent with burial in the old convent graveyard on 25 November. For twenty-five years, Sister had worked in her retirement in the former parish of St. Anne’s Freshfield with Fr. Edmund Leahy and Fr. John Bradley, who delivered the eulogy at the memorial Mass celebrated by Monsignor John Walsh.

Prior to that period of loyal and devoted service in parish work, she had from 1968 been Headmistress of St. Lawrence’s School in Kirkby, where she will be well remembered by many former staff and pupils. Sister was part of a team from her order who lived in Bewley Drive and who worked among the schools and parishes of Kirkby from the very early days of its foundation and growth.

Sister Paulinus was born Martha Theresa McMahon on March 26th, 1933. One of 13 children to Patrick and Theresa in Grinan, Newry, Co. Down. Just one sister, Lily, now survives her.

Sr. entered the religious life in 1948 aged just 15 and made her final profession in 1954. She trained as a teacher in London before holding posts in Newry, Keady, Corby, and Leicester, before arriving in Kirkby. In June 2014, she returned home to Ireland, where she was cared for in periods of ill health by the staff and community of St Clare’s Convent. She enjoyed keeping in touch with her extended family and friends from Ireland, Merseyside, and Northamptonshire. A large congregation gathered in Formby to remember a gentle and prayerful soul with a wonderful laugh and sense of humour who will be greatly missed on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Ar dheis De go Raibh a anam dilis

Archdiocese employees take on 17-mile sponsored walk A group of five archdiocesan employees recently embarked upon a sponsored walk from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the church of St Oswald’s and St Edmund Arrowsmith in Ashton-inMakerfield.

The walk was to raise funds for former archdiocesan employee John Smith, who suffered life-changing injuries after an accident at home in 2020. John has spent the last three years between hospital and care facilities and is now set to move back home this year. His home is now undergoing work to facilitate his needs. In total, the walk was just over 17 miles, taking just over five-and-ahalf hours to complete, excluding breaks. The team consisted of; Head of Finance John McMahon, Accountant Michael Helbert, Finance Office Manager Sharne Kelso, IT Coordinator James Bainbridge, and Communications Assistant Steven Hughes.

They set off just past 8am from the bottom of the Cathedral steps. Just past 11am, the team reached St Aidan’s Parish Centre. Whilst there, Jackie, who is the manager of the parish centre, put on a tray of biscuits and refreshments, as everyone enjoyed a short 20 minute break. The group continued into St Helens, to Holy Cross parish centre, where Janet a volunteer at the parish, had opened the Parish Hall and took the group in. Whilst there, plenty of food was on offer, with sausage rolls, pastries, and other snacks, before the final leg of the journey to Ashton-in-Makerfield began.

Director of Finance Jill Boggan was also on hand at both parish centres, providing moral support and bringing food of her own. Steven Hughes commented: “We would like to thank both parish centres for their hospitality, and for allowing the team some muchneeded rest!” Having set off just past 8am, the team arrived at St Oswald and St Edmund Arrowsmith at just past 3:30pm. After a brief sit down, Fr John Gorman gave everyone a church tour, including a viewing of the Holy Hand.

Steven continued, “It was a nice end to what had been a very full day.”

You can still donate to the cause here:

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News diary

Commemorative Plaque unveiled at Our Lady of Walsingham Church, Netherton Late last year, the community at Our Lady of Walsingham Church in Netherton came together for a special Mass at 10:00 am, led by Father Gervaise. The occasion aimed to unveil a commemorative plaque in memory of the countless pilgrims who had visited the shrine at Walsingham, Norfolk over the years.

Following the Mass, a well-attended buffet was held in the parochial club. The event served as an opportunity for individuals to share their memories and experiences related to the Walsingham shrine.

In addition to the commemorative Mass, Our Lady of Walsingham Church actively participated in a charitable initiative on Thursday, the 28th. The community hosted a Macmillan charity afternoon that proved to be a resounding success, raising a commendable £556.20. The funds generated during this event will contribute to supporting the crucial work carried out by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The parish extends its sincere gratitude to all who attended the charity afternoon and those who generously supported the cause. A special acknowledgement goes to Maria, the manager of the parish centre, and her staff, whose unwavering support played a vital role in the success of the event.

First Annual Ecumenical LOUDFence Event Unites Community Against Abuse In a groundbreaking initiative, Liverpool is set to host the inaugural Ecumenical LOUDFence Event on Saturday 9 March 2024. This transformative event invites individuals from all walks of life to come together and raise their voices against various forms of harm and abuse. The day kicks off with a Non-Denominational Blessing and ribbon-tying ceremony at the Anglican Cathedral. Participants will then embark on a symbolic walk along Hope Street, culminating in another powerful ribbon-tying ceremony and Prayer Service at the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Open to everyone who has experienced any type of harm or abuse, including but not limited to domestic, faith-based, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse, the event stands as a beacon of solidarity. Whether you are a survivor or know someone who has faced such challenges, all are encouraged to attend and lend their support. By tying ribbons, attendees will symbolise their support for victims and survivors of abuse, fostering an atmosphere of understanding and compassion. The event aims to provide a platform for those who have suffered to share their experiences in a positive and supportive environment, assuring them that their voices will be heard and respected. For more information, or if you or your group would like to get involved, please email


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Catholic CatholicPictorial Pictorial 11



Pastoral ponderings by Paul Pimblett

In a previous piece, I wrote about the most common question I am asked regarding my time in seminary and what the best part is. The second most common question, or comment rather, usually revolves around the future of the Church and the priesthood.

Living Catholic Social Teaching and Becoming a Welcoming Parish By Pablo Guidi, Catholic Social Action Coordinator

One of the hardest things to ignore at the moment is the issue of numbers within the Church. The numbers of vocations and those in formation are often discussed and scrutinised. As a result, when people find out I am in first year seminary, I am usually asked questions or presented with comments that sound something like: ‘But what will the Church look like in six years if you are ordained?’ and ‘the Church is struggling’. I enjoy answering these questions and comments because it allows me to reaffirm my belief and call to discernment and, in particular, reminds me of the rich history of vocations in England and Wales before me.

Last year, I was privileged to study at the Royal English College in Valladolid, Spain. It was a truly enjoyable and deeply spiritual experience. I also followed in the footsteps of the many men who boldly left their homes hundreds of years ago to study in Valladolid for the priesthood. These men fled to Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy to seek refuge in the dark days of persecution of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. In most cases, these men all fearlessly returned to England, aware they were travelling to their deaths, but resolute to preach the true faith and spread the Gospel. They were executed brutally yet bravely for the faith and truly risked and gave all for the Church. Quite rightly now, they serve as wonderful examples and intercessors for us all today, especially those of us in formation. I was glad to develop a particularly strong connection to the martyr I was entrusted to last year, Blessed Ralph Corby. He was ordained at Valladolid and martyred in Tyburn, London, some three miles from where I currently study. To have walked in the corridors he walked and prayed in the same place was a surreal and incredibly moving experience. His example of fearless devotion to the Lord and his vocation provides great comfort and strength to me in my own journey of discernment whenever I experience any worries or difficulties. Bl Ralph Corby and the Martyrs of England and Wales, Pray for us.


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“My friends ask: ‘why do you go back to church?’”. Caroline pauses. “I often ask myself the same question”. When she first arrived to receive Mass, she thought people were simply too preoccupied to say hello. After attending five or six times without notice she began to feel like she was being avoided.

Caroline did not feel at home. This church is her nearest, and whilst she believes her reception was not deliberate, she still wants to be part of God’s community there: “I do look different to most of the parish – I am black - but I find it difficult to get my children to relate to my faith when there are no representations of people like them, on First Holy Communion cards or even around the church building.”

In the November edition of the Catholic Pic, Deacon Justin Malewezi spoke about how we are all made in God’s image and the need to celebrate diversity. He wrote about the International Table Mass at St. Agnes and St. Aidan’s which ended in the sharing of a meal. “Food brings us together... but it’s also a useful illustration of belonging to a community – a parish. There is nothing better than feeling that you have a place at the table”. This image of sharing a meal runs throughout the Bible and the stories of Jesus (for example, Luke 14:10). The

teaching of the Church has increasingly had more to say on this, including Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ where His Holiness quoted Saint John Paul II saying, “In the diversity of peoples who experience the gift of God, each in accordance with its own culture, the Church expresses her genuine catholicity and shows forth the ‘beauty of her varied face’”. Last month, the Church marked Racial Justice Sunday, and the Pastoral Development Department has been inviting parishes to hold conversations about what it means to be welcome. The result is a series of Becoming a Welcoming Parish events to broaden the conversation further.

A special online session will be held on the 13 March 2024 from 7pm where we will hear from our guest speaker Jennie Taylor, the Racial Justice Officer for Liverpool Anglican Dioceses, and consider how we become a more welcoming church for those of another culture and colour of skin. We will then use a variety of parish experiences to plan actions to move us forward together. If you would like to join this conversation contact Pablo on or register at events/he8uloch

what’s on Saturday 3 February

Saturday 24 February

Come and See The Irenaeus Project, Liverpool 10:30am - 4:00pm Christine Dodd will be leading an event on the Power of Art in Irenaeus’ second Come and See Day of 2024. Bring a packed lunch. For more information, contact or 0151 949 1199

Monday 5 – Thursday 8 February Heritage Week at St Thomas’ Church, The Irenaeus Project, Great Georges Road, L22 1RD Come along and discover more about the heritage of St Thomas’ Church and the local area!

Wednesday 7 February

Homes, Housing and Land: Social Action Workshop 7-8.30pm online At this joint event with SVP, you will hear from Housing People Building Communities on their refit of 2 disused archdiocesan churches, and discuss the current housing shortage affecting refugees. Book your place here https:// events/g3wy7lpj

Thursday 8 February

The Irenaeus Project, Liverpool Scripture Morning 10:30am - 12:00pm The Irenaeus Project will be hosting the first of four Scripture Mornings on Mark’s Gospel. All are welcome, and you can also join online if you cannot be there in person. For more information, email

Friday 9 February

Parish Choral Offering St Anthony of Padua, Mossley Hill 6:30pm The Choir of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral will be performing a Parish Choral Offering in Mossley Hill. They will sing choral classics like Panis Angelicus and Worthy is the Lamb. Admission is free with a retiring collection. All are welcome.

Wednesday 14th February

Walk of Witness for Peace, Repentance and Reconciliation. 1.15pm St Luke’s Church Liverpool L1 2TR. The walk starts at 1.30pm, with Stations of the Cross. Organised by Merseyside Pax Christi. Contact: Jan Harper


Thursday 15 February

The Irenaeus Project, Liverpool Scripture Morning 10:30am - 12:00pm The Irenaeus Project will be hosting the second of four Scripture Mornings on Mark’s Gospel. All are welcome, and you can also join online if you cannot be there in person. For more information, email

Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool Talk on ‘Another Fifty Catholic Churches to see Before You Die.’ by Elena Curti 11:00am Cathedral Friends will be hosting a talk on ‘Another Fifty Churches to See Before You Die.’ by Elena Curti in the Gibberd Room. Tickets, which are limited, are £12 to include refreshments, a chance to meet the author and to purchase her book at a reduced rate. Please purchase tickets here: www. Any queries please contact Claire Hanlon at

Saturday 17 February

Families of Parishes Think Tank The next steps on the road for the Families of Parishes are two Think Tank Events. The first will take place on 17 February at Canons Hall, St Oswald’s, Ashton in Makerfield (WN4 9NP), at 10.30am – 12 noon, following 10am Mass. All are welcome. Please email if you wish to come.

Tuesday 20 February

Families of Parishes Think Tank The next steps on the road for the Families of Parishes are two Think Tank Events. The second will take place Holy Rosary Parish Hall, Altway L10 2LG, at 7.00pm – 8.30pm. All are welcome. Please email if you wish to come.

Thursday 22 February

The Irenaeus Project, Liverpool Scripture Morning 10:30am - 12:00pm The Irenaeus Project will be hosting the third of four Scripture Mornings on Mark’s Gospel. All are welcome, and you can also join online if you cannot be there in person. For more information, email

Wednesday 28 February

Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Seminar and Lecture 5:30pm - 7pm The fourth event of the Vatican II Constitutions Lecture and Seminar Series will take place in December at Liverpool Hope University. This can be also be viewed online. The speaker will be Pat Jones, who will be giving a talk on Gaudium et Spes. The day starts with a seminar, then refreshments, before ending with a lecture. To book your place, visit FML 014, Hope University, Hope Park, Taggart Avenue, L16 9JD

Thursday 29 February

The Irenaeus Project, Liverpool Scripture Morning 10:30am - 12:00pm The Irenaeus Project will be hosting the final of four Scripture Mornings on Mark’s Gospel. All are welcome, and you can also join online if you cannot be there in person. For more information, email

Website at Catholic Pictorial



In praise of a community hero

Joe Wright ‘He has odd jobs here, there and everywhere.’ Anne Wright’s description of her husband Joe’s contribution to community life has an understatement he would appreciate. Yet when the 80-year-old fell seriously ill towards the end of last year, the size of that contribution gained a sharper focus. Be it from his 25 years running the Archdiocese of Liverpool’s three cemeteries – Sacred Heart in Ainsdale, Yew Tree and Ford – or his work, in a voluntary capacity, for Saint Joseph’s Hospice in Thornton or the Crosby Hall Educational Trust (CHET), here is a man for whom the word ‘mainstay’ might have been invented.

Jane Daly, a friend of his and Anne’s and a trustee at both St Joseph’s and CHET, says: ‘Whenever anything happens, people say, “Ask Joe Wright … Joe will know … Joe will do it.” And that typifies Joe. He refurbished the fence at the hospice, helped plan new pathways, and created a flower meadow there.’

Even when Joe ended up in a bed at St Joseph’s before Christmas, owing to complications following a series of hip replacements, he could not be stopped from organising a burial at Little Crosby according to Anne, his wife of 50 years.

At St Joseph’s, there is a deep appreciation of this unstinting, bighearted service – which extends to him sourcing their Christmas tree each year. Maxine Armstrong, head of fundraising and lottery at the hospice, says: ‘Joe is such a special man. He is genuine and kind and has helped the hospice in so many ways since it was founded 50 years ago by Father Francis O’Leary. ‘Every year, Joe volunteers his time to look after our woodland and finds us the most beautiful Christmas trees. Joe always knows someone, or can get hold of something, that will help us. Over the years, Joe has also inspired lots of other volunteers to help us, so we really do owe him a huge debt of gratitude.’ A professional landscape gardener for many years, Joe has a connection with the outdoors that can be traced to the family farm in Little Crosby, now run by one of his nephews – albeit he and his brothers, Jim and Tom, are still known to help out.


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By Simon Hart And if his parish ties are with SS Peter and Paul, Crosby – the memorial garden there is further evidence of his handiwork – his family connections to Little Crosby mean he has been ‘an important figure’ there too, according to Mark Blundell, the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside.

He says: ‘Although Joe did not live in the village as an adult, he was always involved. He has supported the parish church and taken a special interest in the management of the graveyard. He has also been a great supporter of Crosby Hall Educational Trust, where for many years he’s been on the events committee and organised the car parking.’

Joe is a family man too – he and Anne got married in 1973 and have two children, Liz and Peter, along with grandsons Jack and Max. Trips to Lourdes – 18 in all – have been a significant thread through family life, offering what must have been some rare moments to pause. After all, even Joe’s hobby, football at Marine FC, involved helping the club for many years; though not officially a groundsman, explains Anne: ‘he would go and sort the pitch out. It was just something he did.’ That will change now as he slowly regains his health. Anne reflects that before Christmas – and true to his nature – Joe had actually been planning his own funeral. Now there are hopes he will return home soon from St Joseph’s. She says: ‘At Christmas I was watching Midnight Mass online and the priest said, “Remember brothers and sisters that with God nothing is impossible.” And that just stuck in my mind. Within days, Joe started to make a recovery.’ As he recovers, the people for whom he has done so much wish to make their gratitude clear – as Jane Daly highlights. A former longstanding editor of the Crosby Herald newspaper, she sums Joe up as ‘quietly generous yet larger than life’ and adds: ‘I consider him a true community hero who has done so many different things for his local community and beyond, without ever seeking any recognition.’ Yet recognition is rightly his. All those ‘odd jobs’ have stacked up into something really quite special.


Jottings of a Lourdes Pilgrim Cathedral Record Canon Anthony O’Brien – Cathedral Dean

A happy New Year to you all. I find it interesting that the wonderful feast of the Epiphany is followed by the birthday of St Bernadette, this year being 180 years since her birth. This is a reminder that plans are well underway for this year’s Lourdes pilgrimage. Our centenary year pilgrimage was wonderful, with many pilgrims travelling from Liverpool for the first time to Our Lady’s shrine. I know a number are keen to return this year. The services and events during the pilgrimage week flow like clockwork, but the planning that goes into this takes a full 12 months. The Christmas season & New Year are full of wonderful feast days. One that was celebrated in my family was 11 February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the date of the first time that the Blessed Virgin appeared to St Bernadette. You can help the pilgrimage this year by taking part in the Easter Bunny walk on the Easter Bank holiday Monday 1 April.

Starting and finishing at St Gregory’s Church, Lydiate, a 5km walk through the lovely country lanes of Lydiate to the neighbouring church of Our Lady’s and returning. Just £8 to register, and you will get your own set of bunny ears to wear, and an Easter chocolate treat at the end of the walk. It was great fun last year! If you can raise a little sponsorship from your friends and family – well even better. Let’s try and get 100 Easter bunnies walking this year! Just email to register.

Candlemas this year, 2 February, falls on a Friday and the sung Mass that evening at 5.15pm will begin in the baptistery with the blessing of candles, followed by a procession around the cathedral with choir and congregation for the celebration of Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Later that evening starting from the steps of our cathedral, Clatterbridge hospital have organised an evening 8K sponsored walk to raise funds for the hospital. They are anticipating a couple of thousand people to take part. There is a joint festival of choirs on Sunday 4 February. This will involve our cathedral Choir, Leeds and Liverpool cathedrals junior Choirs, and the Knowsley junior choir. All will be singing at 11am Mass that Sunday, and later giving a short choral concert in the cathedral from 12.30. It is not often that we have a choir of 200 children and adults singing at a Sunday Mass! This had been planned to take place prior to the start of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on 14 February. Services on this day can be accessed on the cathedral website.

On the First Sunday of Lent, Archbishop Malcolm will preside at a special afternoon service to welcome and enrol all those adults who have been preparing for baptism or reception into the Catholic Church this coming Easter. The Rite of Election is at 3pm in the cathedral.

The Friends of the Cathedral have organised a talk by Elena Curti on Saturday 24 February at 11am in the Gibberd Room. Elena is the author of two books on Catholic Churches, ‘Fifty Catholic Churches to See Before You Die’ and then a further fifty in the second book. Through her research and visits to buildings across the United Kingdom, she has become a real authority on Catholic Church buildings, their beauty, the architecture, and the challenges that churches face today with dwindling congregations and costs.

Catholic Pictorial


education news

Celebrating success: St Joseph Catholic Multi Academy Trust unveils its annual report St Joseph Catholic Multi Academy Trust recently presented its 2022/23 Annual Report, highlighting a busy and successful year for the St Joseph community.

In its inaugural full academic year, the trust received ministerial approval to continue delivering a world-class Catholic education, welcoming both sponsored and converter academies on board. Currently, the board and the central team are extending a warm welcome to Notre Dame Catholic College and Sixth Form, as well as St Francis Xavier’s College, into the St Joseph family. The annual report also celebrates the trust’s progress in professional learning, including two inspiring all-staff conferences

and a total of 12,150 combined hours of high-quality training. This, in addition to the dedicated school improvement support, resulted in rapid advancements in achievement across both primary and secondary phases.

The trust has expressed its sincere gratitude to its staff, children, families, and partners, whose hard work has allowed it to go from strength to strength since its inception in 2022. The trust is looking forward to another year of collaboration and achievement. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the trust’s journey so far and insight into its future ambitions, the full annual report can be accessed at:”

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Trust Conference - Transforming Lives: Friday, 30th June 2023

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education news

Corpus Christi headteacher moves to All Saints Multi Academy Trust All Saints Multi Academy Trust has appointed Samantha Birchall as executive headteacher.

As executive headteacher, Samantha Birchall will have overall strategic responsibility for The Federation of St Mary’s Catholic Infant School and St Mary’s Catholic Junior School. The school will officially join the Trust in February.

Samantha Birchall has been headteacher of Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School and Nursery in Rainford, St Helens, since 2015. With a wealth of experience in educational Catholic leadership and a proven track record of driving positive change, Samantha will bring a dynamic and innovative approach to the Trust and support the delivery of an outstanding learning environment for children within the two schools.

Commenting on her new role, Samantha said: “I am pleased to join All Saints Multi Academy Trust during this exciting period of growth. “As a Catholic leader, I am looking forward to working closely with The Federation of St Mary’s Catholic Infant School and St Mary’s Catholic Junior School and working collaboratively with other schools within the Trust.” CEO of ASMAT, Heather Duggan, said: “We are thrilled to appoint Samantha Birchall as executive headteacher.

“She has had an extensive career in teaching and a proven track record of success in Catholic schools. We look forward to Samantha playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of education within our Trust.”

Educate Awards confirm sponsors for 2024 The sponsors for this year’s Educate Awards have been revealed as entries are set to open on Thursday 1 February.

workflows and transition to cloud-based solutions.

Speaking about last year’s event, Duncan Forsyth, CEO of ASL, said: “It was absolutely fantastic and we were blown away by the set up and scale of it. The location was very impressive and the Liverpool Cathedral is a beautiful venue.

“The education sector makes up 50% of our business. By supporting over 2000 schools around the country, we fully understand their needs and recognise the budgetary restraints, that is why we offer cost-effective enhanced solutions that support the digital needs of schools.

Title sponsors ASL Group, having acquired Copyrite Systems in 2023, is pleased to continue supporting the prestigious Educate Awards.

“The event was quite emotional and seeing the achievements of so many schools, colleges and individuals was heartwarming. Our guests particularly enjoyed the performances by the children, as well as seeing the passion and energy from those who attended.”

Established in 1991, ASL is one of the largest managed office service suppliers in the UK. With nine sites across the UK, including Speke, ASL has the ability to be agile in its service offering and can react to customers’ ever-changing needs. The expert team can evaluate existing print, document management and

Duncan added: “We are proud to support the Educate Awards 2024. It is an incredibly inspiring event that recognises the contribution of schools and education which is important for us as a business.

Duncan continued: “As a print solution provider, it is proven that learning with images and printing is an integral part of education. Print is here to stay in education, and we have the equipment, tools and IT software to support these needs.”

At the time of going to print, the associate sponsors confirmed for the Educate Awards 2024, so far, are All About STEM, CER, CPMM Media Group, EdenFiftyOne™, Liverpool John Moores University, LSSP, Satis Education, SENDSCOPE, and SupplyWell.

Educate Awards has also revealed a brand-new category for this year, the ‘Most Inspirational Multi Academy Trust’ category will honour trusts which can demonstrate a clear vision, organisational strategy and culture of collaboration which makes a difference to the learning and lives of students. Satis Education will be the sponsor of this award.

Kim O’Brien, founder of the Educate Awards, said: “We are extremely grateful to our esteemed sponsors for their unwavering support. Without them, the Educate Awards really wouldn’t be possible and wouldn’t be what it is today. “We are now in our thirteenth year, and we are excited to plan for another exceptional event in November. Watch this space!”

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education news

St Cuthbert’s look back on 2023 achievements For the past year, St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School has earned a lot of achievements.

In addition to studies, students are provided with many opportunities to take part in a variety of activities that allow them to live out their Catholic lives: from fundraising with groups such as SVP; Helping Hands; Dementia Cafe, and St Helens Foodbank, to participating in the Liverpool Archdiocese pilgrimage to Lourdes.

The St Cuthbert’s Annual Sports Awards declared the school’s Year 7/8 girls’ football team as ‘Team of the Year’ - this group have not only won the St Helens Town Cup and reached the quarter final of the National Cup, but they are also fantastic advocates for breaking down gender bias in sport. The school has proudly celebrated all areas of teaching and learning within the school.

Staff are committed to providing a holistic education to students, where they can learn and grow to be happy, confident and successful individuals. The annual performing arts production is a great opportunity for students to showcase their talents, build confidence, and develop and widen their skillset.

The student council drive improvements across the school; plan fundraising events, liaising with staff and the local community; and make positive changes to invigorate members of the school.

There is a lot of sporting success at St Cuthbert’s - inside and outside of the school, this success is celebrated. One Year 9 student was named the Young Sports Person of the Year at The Pride of St Helens Awards.

Emmaus celebrates 25th anniversary and outstanding report Emmaus Church of England and Catholic Primary School had a lot to celebrate recently. The school has celebrated its 25th anniversary and has been judged ‘outstanding’ in all areas by Ofsted.

Emmaus began its journey in 1997, with it officially opening in 1998. The Archbishop of Liverpool, Patrick Kelly and the Bishop of Warrington, John Packer, took part in the school’s opening service 25 years ago, together with Reverend Trevor Latham, chair of governors, Father Sean O’Connor, vice chair of governors, and Emmaus pupils. To mark the anniversary, Father Sean and Reverend Trevor returned to celebrate with Emmaus’ first headteacher, Mr Maguire. A new reading garden was also installed in the playground for all the children to enjoy, building on Emmaus’ commitment to place reading at the heart of its curriculum. The school encourages children to read regularly outside of school.

Headteacher of Emmaus Church of England and Catholic Primary School, Mr Williams, said: “In the service, we were able to celebrate and give thanks to all the staff, children, governors and clergy past and present who have made the school the amazing place it is today.” There was more to celebrate when the school received a full-graded Section 5 inspection from Ofsted and judged the school as ‘outstanding’ in all areas, retaining the outstanding grade from its previous inspection. 20

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Inspectors were full of praise for the school, stating ‘pupils, including those with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND) thrive’ and that ‘pupils are incredibly respectful and leave the school exceptionally well-prepared to be responsible British citizens’. The report concluded ‘leaders and staff ensure that pupils receive a remarkable education’.

Mr Williams commented: “I am absolutely delighted with the inspection report and want to thank all the staff, governors, children and parents for their commitment and dedication to our lovely school.”

education news

St John Plessington Catholic College hosts awards evening to remember St John Plessington Catholic College, in Bebington on the Wirral, honoured students’ achievements with an incredible awards evening celebration.

The school was also joined by a special guest speaker, Sean Highdale. During an emotional introduction to Sean from associate assistant headteacher, Mr Dean Davies, attendees discovered how this incredibly talented individual was struck with tragedy after becoming captain of Liverpool FC’s under 18s team. Sean, who is a former student of Mr Davies, overcame his adversity and went on to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro. His attendance was an opportunity to demonstrate how true resilience and determination can help students achieve their lifelong dreams.

The celebration presented awards across individual subject areas and recognised students for their outstanding efforts and subsequent achievements in that subject, these students were nominated by their class teachers and heads of department. Awards were given across all subject areas and included awards specific to students who studied certain subjects at GCSE and A-level.

Year 13 students from the 2022/23 academic year were also invited to the celebration and were presented with their Level 3 certificates to honour the final phase of their education at St John Plessington (SJP).

The school also paid tribute to the students who have made outstanding contributions to wider school life throughout the whole year with the pastoral awards. The winners were each nominated by heads of learning and learning coaches, a group of pastoral leaders at the school. With additional awards categories celebrating achievements across physical education and performing arts, there were plenty of opportunities for students to receive some muchdeserved recognition and praise.

A section of the event was dedicated to students who have excelled in a subject area, championed positive change, and developed as leaders. Winner of the Community Award, Jack Lally, shared how proud he was to be a part of such a deserving group of young leaders at St John Plessington.

Jack said: “I was proud to be a part of a group of deserving young learners whose achievements were publicly celebrated when I received my SJP Community Award. The event was something I will take with me when I continue my learning journey here as part of the SJP family.” The final award of the evening and most highly anticipated, the St John Plessington Award, is open to all students, with nominations considered from all staff. The award winner, Molly Dawson, demonstrated incredible determination and positively enriched school life with her presence, and is a valued ambassador for the school.

Molly said: “Receiving the letter of invitation to attend the SJP annual awards evening celebration made me feel very excited, yet nervous, as I was unaware of what the award was for.

“I am grateful to have achieved the SJP Award. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support from sixth form. Listening to the speech before receiving the award made me incredibly proud of my achievements. Molly added: “The impact it has had on me motivates me to do well and try my best every single day, as this award has shown me that hard work and determination can pay off, and I will continue to show this after SJP.” Headteacher at St John Plessington, Mr Peadar McLoughlin, said: “I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude and admiration for each and every one of our students. The talent, dedication and passion demonstrated by our award recipients is nothing short of extraordinary. “Our awards evening is more than just recognising student achievements; it is a celebration of the human spirit and the pursuit of excellence at our school. The diversity of accomplishments reflects the rich tapestry of our community and the magnitude of its influence.

“From everyone at St John Plessington, I want to congratulate our winners and praise them for their commitment to their craft, goals, and communities - you are the beating heart of our school – well done.”

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education news

St John Bosco Arts College celebrate Feast Day of St John Bosco On Wednesday, 31st January, St John Bosco Arts College, Croxteth, celebrated the Feast Day of its patron saint, St John Bosco.

community to come together to give thanks and celebrate the life and teachings of St John Bosco.

The Feast Day celebrations began with a school-wide Mass, led by Fr Tony Frain.

“Through faith, hope and love, we can create an environment where our students can truly flourish academically, emotionally, socially and morally.”

The annual celebration is an opportunity for the school community to come together for collective worship and a chance for pupils to participate in Salesian activities.

“As the patron saint of youth, St John Bosco dedicated his life to the service of young people. His teachings and determination to respond to the needs of the young are a powerful reminder that we must support, encourage, and nurture young people.

This year’s theme highlighted the bicentennial of St John Bosco’s dream he had at the age of nine and the focus of the Strenna, a Salesian theme for the year that is published by the Rector Major Cardinal Angel Fernandez.

Born in Turin, Italy, St John Bosco spent much of his life as a parish priest. St John Bosco’s insistence that boys in his care learn a trade made him a pioneer in modern-day vocational training.

Salesian Strenna 2024 is ‘the dream that makes you dream’, ‘a heart that transforms wolves into lambs’.

Each year group participated in different activities throughout the day. Year 7 pupils were tasked with designing and creating their own Salesian superhero masks, followed by a catwalk to showcase their creations.

In his later years, St John Bosco founded two religious orders, the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix.

Year 8 and 9 pupils attended a local cinema to watch the Wonka movie, while pupils from Year 10 participated in a game of Bosco Bingo and even got to compete to create a form mascot. Year 11 students played inflatable games and created bespoke dream catchers. For a special treat, sixth form students headed off the school grounds to Hollywood Bowl for a round of bowling.

The jam-packed schedule allowed students to enjoy some time away from the day-to-day of school life.

The Headteacher at St John Bosco Arts College, Mr Darren Gidman, said: “The Feast Day of St John Bosco is one of the most important dates in our calendar and is a chance for our school

Maricourt pupils enriched with Chinese culture Year 7 pupils at Maricourt Catholic High School learned about Chinese New Year during a day of language and cultural activities provided by the Confucius Institute at Edge Hill University. Workshops included a dragon dance, lantern making and paper cutting.

Pupils also joined a live online lesson with pupils and teachers at School 37 in Chongqing, China, sharing information about their home cities.

Deputy headteacher Of Maricourt, Eddie Varey, said: “Our partnership with the Confucius Institute has enabled us to offer a range of Chinese language and learning opportunities for our pupils including GCSE Mandarin, teacher and student visits and the employment of a part-time specialist Mandarin teacher.” Maricourt look forward to further activities through their partnership with Edge Hill University, including calligraphy writing,


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cooking and Chinese paper cutting. Students are fully engaged in the cultural activities and are becoming more confident in developing their linguistic skills.


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education news “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains”. James 5:7 Spring is upon us. Soon we shall see the signs of life. Plants begin to grow and flowers bloom. Animals awaken from hibernation. In some parts of the world, spring brings rain that falls for hours on end, facilitating the growth of different plant life. Spring is all about new beginnings and transformations; it’s a season that symbolises starting fresh and starting over. After months of cold temperatures that often result in many of us feeling the winter blues, spring reawakens us and our surrounding environment, bringing everything back to life.

This metamorphosis in the natural world mirrors a similar process within the walls of schools, where the beginning of spring bears witness to the vibrant growth and development of students.

1. Burst of Energy:

The longer days and warmer weather create an environment conducive to engagement, encouraging students to embrace new challenges and opportunities.

2. Blooming Curiosity:

Teachers play a crucial role in nurturing this curiosity, providing the intellectual nourishment needed for the students’ minds to bloom.

3. Gradual Unveiling of Potential:

Just as spring unfolds its beauty over time, the beginning of the season sees the gradual unveiling of students’ potential. Academic achievements, artistic talents, and personal growth become more apparent. Teachers, akin to gardeners, play a pivotal role in cultivating this potential, providing the necessary support and encouragement for each student to thrive.

4. Cultivating Resilience:

Spring symbolises resilience in nature, as plants rebound from the harsh conditions of winter. Similarly, the school environment becomes a space for students to develop resilience. Facing academic challenges, overcoming obstacles, and learning from setbacks are integral parts of the growth process. Spring serves as a reminder that, like the natural world, students can bounce back and flourish. Daily Prayer is what helps us sustain this growth in our schools and colleges. Please pray for all in our schools and colleges. Joan McCarthy Director of Education Archdiocese of Liverpool

Students at St John Bosco Arts College deliver show-stopping production of Sister Act Over 60 pupils from St John Bosco Arts College recently put on multiple show-stopping performances of Sister Act.

Pupils, from Years 7 to 11, got involved in the school’s production. The feel-good musical tells the story of a woman who has no choice but to take refuge in a convent, which ultimately results in her leading its choir and helping the group gain popularity, whilst also uplifting the sisters who are part of it. The talented performers acted, sang, and danced their way around the Bosco stage to over 400 parents, carers, and members of the local community across two evening shows. The cast also delivered a special matinee performance to 300 primary school students.

From the moment the curtain went up, the students had the audience captivated. Applause and laughter echoed through the room, with cast members even encouraged to come back to the stage to take a final bow.

Performing arts is a popular subject at St John Bosco Arts College, and students are encouraged to develop their talents for the arts through choir, band and dance as part of the many extra-curricular lunchtime and after-school clubs. Pupils have picked up many performance skills, and this was evident throughout the Sister Act production, where each performance received a standing ovation and a huge round of applause.

The production was directed by Craig Gaffney, a performing arts teaching assistant at the school and Anna Shawcroft, who is a drama teacher. Music teacher, Christine Finnigan, was musical director. Mr Craig Gaffney said: “Once again, our pupils put on a highly impressive performance. Their ability to come together and embody every character in a way that brings the story of Sister Act to life is amazing, and to see the members of our audience smiling, laughing, and completely compelled was fantastic. “The dedication shown by each and every performer, right from the auditions and up to the shows themselves has been phenomenal. I am incredibly proud of what they have achieved, and we are already looking forward to the next musical.” Headteacher of St John Bosco, Mr Darren Gidman, commented: “A huge well done to everyone who got involved in our recent Sister Act production. Our pupils never fail to amaze me, and it is always a pleasure to see them showcasing their many talents on the big stage in front of large audiences. They were very entertaining!”


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Sacrament of Confirmation 2024 By Father Simon Gore, Animate Youth Ministries

Father Simon Gore from Animate Youth Ministries explains the process of registration and preparation for Confirmation in the diocese this year.

The start of a New Year means we are at the time when young people in Year 8 can start to think about receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. If you are in Year 8, or know someone who is, here are the details you need to know.

Registration Any Year 8 pupil can register for Confirmation preparation at www. The website for registration for the Sacrament of Confirmation opened on 15 January and will close on 15 March. While the registration period is open, Animate will visit schools in the diocese to promote the Sacrament. At the same time schools will teach about Confirmation in their RE classes. After the registration deadline has passed, the database of those registered in a deanery will be sent to the dean (around 18 March).

Parish/deanery preparation To work most effectively, preparation should be done across multiple parishes, whether that is on a deanery level or in families of parishes. The catechetical input on the Sacrament will have been done in schools, which means that the main focus of any preparation in parishes/deaneries is to welcome the candidates to the church community.

Additional sessions Non-Catholic/ Non-Diocesan schools If you are in a non-Catholic school or attend a school outside the diocese you will be invited to take a part in a ‘catch-up’ session that will try to cover what you have missed in the RE classes of our diocesan Catholic schools. Based on feedback from last year this will take place via Zoom and the session is scheduled for 25 March (4.30pm to 6.00pm). If you are at a non-Catholic or non-diocesan school and do not attend this Zoom meeting, you must inform your own parish priest.

Online parish preparation Animate will also host two online preparation sessions for any young people who may miss their local preparation or who wish to delve a little deeper into what the Sacrament means to them. These will be held on YouTube on 22 and 29 April (starting at 4.30pm and ending by 6pm). The two sessions are not compulsory but they are an opportunity for anyone wanting to know more. essential points that would be covered preparation was not needed.

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Mums the Word For Catholics, 11 February is a special date in our diaries. It is the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes. Many of us have visited the holy shrine in the French Pyrenees numerous times and have a great devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. We ask her to bless our families and loved ones – especially if someone we know is sick and in need of prayers. Therefore, it seems only right that the World Day of the Sick is observed on this special feast day.

A century of service News from the Liverpool Province of the Knights of St Columba

KSC launch ‘spiritual bouquet’ in support of Year of Prayer

The World Day of the Sick is an awareness day, or observance, in the Catholic Church intended for prayer and sharing – for offering our suffering for the good of the Church and reminding us to see in our sick brother or sister the face of Christ. The day was instituted on 13 May 1992 by Saint Pope John Paul II. The previous year the then pontiff had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (albeit his illness was only confirmed a decade later). St John Paul II wrote much about suffering and its salvific meaning. His 1983 apostolic letter, ‘Salvifici Doloris’, followed the 1983 Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Redemption. He wrote in it: ‘The theme of suffering – precisely under the aspect of this salvific meaning – seems to fit profoundly into the context of the Holy Year of the Redemption as an extraordinary Jubilee of the Church.’ In 2005, the World Day of the Sick had a particular significance given the pontiff’s own failing health; he died less than two months later on 2 April. In 2013, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, used the date to announce his resignation, citing his declining health. Six years earlier he had marked the day by placing a crown on a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Our Lady of Lourdes pray for us. Maria Pimblett, media officer


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In preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year ‘Pilgrims of Hope’, 2024 has been designated a Year of Prayer by Pope Francis. This Year of Prayer – which began last Christmas Eve and will continue until 14 December – is an event which happens every 25 years, and this one is for a world suffering the impact of war, the ongoing effects of the Covid pandemic and climate change.

The Bishop’s Conference is producing resources for the use of parishes, priests, religious and lay people, and the Knights of Saint Columba have been active too – in partnership with the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC), we have launched a spiritual bouquet to pray for life from conception to natural death. The theme of this spiritual bouquet – an offering of prayers – is ‘Let Life Flourish’. It was announced on 28 December, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, with a national recitation of the Rosary and will be followed throughout the year by similar devotions of prayer. We will be reporting on local events in future editions but further afield already Council 232 (Poole and Branksome) has held a ‘Let Life Flourish’ event in the form of Holy Hour and Benediction. • The Knights from Council 18 in Widnes ran a Christmas photo competition at the local St Peter and Paul Catholic High School and the winners were Luke Brocklehurst (1st), Brooke Knibb (2nd) and George Edwards (3rd). Our photos shows Luke and George receiving their prizes from Brother Phillip Higgins, and Brooke with her prize.

Websites: Email:

New Beginnings and Nugent Fund Transforming Lives in Liverpool and Beyond As we gear up for our next major fundraising event, the Sleep Out with Nugent event on 7 March 2024, we take a moment to shine a light on the invaluable work taking place within two of our services that provide a beacon of hope for individuals and families facing crisis.

New Beginnings

In collaboration with Liverpool Mutual Homes, New Beginnings offers dispersed accommodation to up to 26 individuals with support needs. This service not only provides temporary shelter but also fosters an environment where individuals can cultivate skills to manage their future independent tenancies successfully.

Since January 2023, the New Beginnings team has supported 37 individuals, preventing them from facing the harsh reality of homelessness. Currently supporting 22 people, the scheme has celebrated the successful transition of 9 individuals to permanent homes, with an additional person securing rented accommodation within the past year. A crucial aspect of New Beginnings is the provision of starter packs to those transitioning out of homelessness. These packs, consisting of bedding, kitchen essentials, and towels, are a lifeline for those stepping into a new chapter. Thanks to past donations from Sleep Out with Nugent events, toiletries and additional items are now included, making a significant impact on the recipients.

The funds raised from our events like Sleep Out with Nugent are instrumental in providing life-changing support, as exemplified by *John’s transformative journey. Before finding support from New Beginnings, John faced homelessness due to a tumultuous lifestyle involving substance abuse and anti-social behaviour. With the dedicated support of the team, John underwent a remarkable transformation. Struggling with mental health issues exacerbated by substance abuse, John’s journey included re-engaging with alcohol and drug services, adopting healthier practices like meditation and yoga, and seeking a private consultation for a potential ADHD diagnosis. Quitting smoking, drinking, and drug use to afford the consultation,

John received a diagnosis, started medication, and drastically improved his life. John’s newfound stability led him to become a leader in drug and alcohol support service meetings, pursue a mental health nursing degree, and secure his own accommodation close to his support networks. Reflecting on his journey, John expressed gratitude for the support received, crediting Nugent for the positive changes in his life.

Jo Henney

Normandie Wragg ChiefExecutive Executive Officer Chief Nugent Nugent

Sleep Out with Nugent 2024

*Name has been changed to protect the individual’s identity.

Nugent Fund

In the Liverpool City Region and its surrounding areas, the Nugent Fund stands as a lifeline for families and individuals facing crisis. This initiative plays a vital role in providing essential support through one-off grants and essential items. The sustainability of the Nugent Fund relies on the generosity of the community. Funding is sourced from various channels, including fundraising events such as Sleep Out with Nugent, contributions from local schools, and donations from parishes. This collaborative effort enables the fund to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need.

The support provided through the funding may include financial aid for travel expenses, ensuring an individual or family can commute or travel to school if facing eviction, a bed for an individual who currently has no choice but to sleep on the floor of their accommodation, or a washing machine to ensure a family has access to clean clothes, contributing to their overall wellbeing.

The Nugent Fund operates on a caseby-case basis, assessing the unique circumstances of each family or individual. While the fund strives to make a significant impact, limited resources mean that ongoing needs cannot be supported.

To find out more and for an application form, please email our friendly team at To help transform the lives of those facing crisis, sign up for Sleep Out with Nugent 2024. To find out more, visit fundraising/events/sleep-out-with-nugent. For additional information, reach out to our fundraising team at fundraising@

Your support can make a difference and bring new beginnings to those who need it the most.

On Thursday 7 March 2024, Nugent colleagues and supporters will be giving up their bed for the night to make a difference in the lives of those facing the harsh realities of homelessness in our beloved city of Liverpool.

Our community is currently grappling with a homelessness and housing crisis that demands our attention and action. In Liverpool, over the past year, the number of rough sleepers has surged, leaving hundreds on the verge of homelessness. Many find themselves trapped in temporary accommodations with limited housing options available.

Our ‘Sleep Out with Nugent,’ event, sponsored by Krol Corlett Construction, will provide a glimpse into the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness. By choosing to spend a night without the comfort of our beds, we symbolically stand in solidarity with those who have no choice but to endure the elements night after night. Participating in Sleep Out with Nugent is not just about experiencing discomfort; it’s about making a direct impact on the lives of those in need. Through this event, we aim to raise crucial funds to address the homelessness and housing crisis in Liverpool head-on. By standing together, we can create a ripple effect of change that extends far beyond the boundaries of our event. To get involved, learn more about Sleep Out with Nugent, and sign up, please reach out to our fundraising team at Your commitment and contribution, no matter how big or small, will play a vital role in helping us support those who need it the most. Let’s make a difference together. I am confident that, with your support, we can bring about positive change in the lives of those less fortunate.

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Dialogue and Unity Unity – challenges and opportunities By Ultan Russell, Archdiocesan ecumenical officer

There can be a feeling that the impetus for Christian unity has dissipated since the years after the Second Vatican Council. There is some truth in this, partly due to the decline in church attendance which means that running our own show requires more work by a smaller number of key enthusiasts in all the churches. There is also a range of issues which divide within and between denominations – sexuality, the role of women, forms of worship, heritage and more.

Accompaniment in its many forms is a familiar term that was Unity Week has just been celebrated and many local events will have taken place. There is, however, a danger that sometimes we can either become weakened with such weeks or see the week as leaving unity ‘done and dusted’ for the year ahead.

It was a great joy that at our inaugural Synodal Council in November the opening address (and a challenge and affirmation to us all) was delivered by Bishop Beverly Mason, the Bishop Of Warrington. This was a living symbol of the collaboration between our Church leaders on Merseyside. Our other ecumenical guests were appreciative of the invitation to attend and felt that their inputs were valid. Father Philip Inch’s strategic engagement with an ecumenical group looking at church buildings is another example of this. We should cite too the Merseyside Church Leaders Group which recently welcomed the new Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, Bishop John Perumbalath, to their number and offered a fruitful example of their warm collaboration with a joint statement on COP23.

Towards the end of 2023 we also celebrated the inauguration of our Co-cathedral on the Isle of Man. This was a truly ecumenical event with Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, being welcomed at the door of St Mary of the Isle in Douglas by the new Catholic dean, Monsignor John Devine, and his Anglican counterpart from St German’s Cathedral in Peel, the Very Reverend Nigel Godfrey. The initiative to support the designation of a Co-cathedral was warmly supported by Christian partners – a recognition of the outstanding ecumenical role that Mgr John has undertaken on the Isle of Man. Liverpool Hope University continues to be an international symbol of Christian unity, notably with the creation of the Hope Ecumenical Network linking with other universities – principally Christian and from a broad range of denominations from across the globe. 30

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In addition we have our growing network of joint Catholic-Anglican primary and secondary schools. I often pass by either St Bride’s Anglican or St Vincent’s Catholic Church in central Liverpool when the Micah Foodbank is in operation. You could call it the tip of an iceberg as I know of so many other foodbanks, pantries and support projects existing across this archdiocese. Micah was originally a partnership between the two Liverpool cathedrals and has grown in size, stature, and vision. Actually, such initiatives are the tip of two icebergs: first as part of the often-overlooked work of the churches on social justice for the benefit of the whole community, and second for the fact it is done together inter-denominationally. The strong collaboration between Pablo Guidi from the archdiocese and our Anglican and Free Church counterparts is to be commended. In the New Year’s Honours List, the Rector of Liverpool, Rev Dr Crispin Pailing, received the MBE. This recognised his work on ‘Resilience’ (co-ordinating the work on getting Churches and other faith communities involved in dealing with major emergencies) and his pivotal role as the Chair of Mission in the Economy (MitE) which offers pastoral care in offices, shopping centres and the YMCA throughout Greater Merseyside – a honour for all those involved ecumenically in these initiatives. So, there is a lot going on but what else can we do? Could our ecumenical links be celebrated in our bidding prayers at Mass on suitable occasions like the arrival of a new vicar or minister in the area, or a neighbouring church’s centenary, for example? Or, if you are looking for speakers – for a parish reflection, a school assembly or a UCM meeting – why not invite someone from another denomination? You might even be invited back! Finally, here is a prayer for unity composed by the Chemin Neuf community and used every day at Lambeth Palace: Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of Christians, according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin and to hope beyond all hope. Amen.

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