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Issue 201 June 2021
‘With the Church in prayer at home’
The Synod and Prayer INSIDE THIS ISSUE Penwortham flying the flag for the Synod Pray for peace in the Holy Land
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Issue 201 June 2021
During the coming month our Synod will take place, the first in the archdiocese since 1955. In this edition Father Philip Inch reminds us that ‘the most important task in the days that run up to the Synod is prayer’. Our centre pages offer a week of prayer and reflection for the final days leading up to the Synod – from Sunday 13 June to the meeting itself on Saturday 19 June and the Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 20 June. Archbishop Malcolm has asked that each day these prayers are used throughout the archdiocese, either at Mass or in private prayer. Let us pray that we may become ever more closely the Church that we are called to be.
‘With the Church in prayer at home’
The last month has sadly once again been one of violence in the Holy Land. Pope Francis has asked that every community pray to the Holy Spirit ‘that Israelis and Palestinians may find the path of dialogue and forgiveness, be patient builders of peace and justice, and be open, step by step, to a common hope, to coexistence among brothers and sisters.’ May we join in prayer for peace in the Holy Land.
From the Archbishop’s Desk
As we draw near to our archdiocesan Synod, ‘Together on the Road’, I am filled with excitement, joy and just a little apprehension. I am excited for the future of the archdiocese and for all the Synod Members who have worked so hard to get to this point.
Main Feature Pray for peace in the Holy Land
News From around the Archdiocese
At the time of writing, it is Pentecost and I have a real and deep joy in my heart which is undoubtedly a fruit of the Holy Spirit. But I am also afraid that the rightful expectations of the people of the archdiocese will not be met, and I have a sneaking feeling that I might be expecting too much of the Holy Spirit – testing God in other words, rather than trusting him.
14 Sunday Reflections Liturgy and Life
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is courage, and that is something that we are all going to need, not just at the time of the Synod but in the months and years that follow as we discover the Church which God wants us to be. I need to keep my nerve – we all do! But I am encouraged by the readings we have had at Mass from the Acts of the Apostles and especially by that moment when St Paul arrived in Rome after a long sea voyage. He was met by Christians and grateful for their support Paul thanked God and took courage from them. After our long journey to the Synod, having been together on the road we too can find courage in each other, after all as baptized members of Christ we have been enlivened with his Spirit. Let us get on with the task ahead filled with the Spirit of Courage and Joy. Most Rev Malcolm McMahon OP Archbishop of Liverpool
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15 Nugent Life-changing personal growth 17 What’s On Whats happening in the Archdiocese 18 Profile Father Gabriel Romanelli Parish Priest of Holy Family, Gaza 19 Animate Youth Ministry Young people answer Confirmation call 25 Cathedral Record Preparing to re-open 26 Pic Extras Mums the word News from the KSC
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28 Pic Life There but for the grace of God… 31 Dialogue and Unity Ramadan – A Holy Month for Muslims
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‘Our house shook like an earthquake’ The Christian community in the Gaza Strip was not spared the effects of the latest outbreak of conflict between Israel and Hamas – as Sister Nabila Saleh from the bomb-damaged Rosary Sisters School explains. By Simon Hart It is six days since the bombs stopped falling and Sister Nabila Saleh, like so many in Gaza, is counting the cost. ‘We have big damage in the school – to windows and doors and walls,’ begins Sr Nabila, principal of the Rosary Sisters School. ‘We must remove and rebuild the solar panels
too. We have a project with the Italian Bishops’ Conference for solar panels – we have 275 panels and 170 were damaged by the bombing. The cost of the damage is over 300,000 dollars. We have also five teachers who lost their houses. Now they have nothing.’ The trauma is searingly fresh for the school community – Sr Nabila recounts
‘We have a Google Meet programme and we work from this with them’ phone calls made to children who have lost parents – yet its educational mission has resumed already. Electricity is only available around four hours a day (compared with the usual eight) but this is a place long used to making do. ‘We have a Google Meet programme and we work from this with them,’ Sr Nabila tells the Catholic Pic over Zoom from Gaza. ‘Now we’re preparing a project on psychological activity for all of us – not just for students but for teachers and me and the other Sisters because we lived the most difficult 11 days.’ The conflict last month left a Palestinian death toll of 248, including 66 children, with more than 1,900 wounded. In Israel, 12 civilians were killed, including two children. At the school, a bomb exploded outside the gate, just past the playground where, in ordinary times, children play basketball. Sr Nabila’s smile vanishes as she relives the moment. ‘We prayed to thank God because we lived because of a miracle. Our house shook like an earthquake. I cried for 30 minutes. We thought the bomb would come and we prepared our souls for death.’ With a sob, she notes that the bombing was ‘constant for 11 days for 24 hours’, adding: ‘We lived difficult days. Day and night, Hamas and the Israelis bombarded [each other]. We didn’t sleep. We left the house and went to spend nights in the school hall. We didn’t hear the bombardment there like in our house. Behind our school we have a post for military for Hamas and under the street the people said [there were] tunnels. I don’t know.’ Established in 2000, the Rosary Sisters School is 10 minutes away from Holy Family, the only Catholic parish in Gaza. The school has 1,150 pupils, ranging from nursery age to 16. Seventy-eight of the children are Christian. Overall there are 1,077 Christians – 133 of them Catholic – among the two million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. And yet the five Christian schools play a significant role. Sr Nabila explains: ‘In Gaza we
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have a small community but our work is very important, especially in education. We educate the students and they grow up and don’t have the mentality of fanaticism. ‘We sow the hope in the soul of our students. It’s very small because we work only in the school. In the family, with the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, this hate grows. But we work in the Christian schools towards this [hope]. Every time, we speak of fraternity and love between all religions and especially those who are different: Christian, Muslim or Jew. Everybody.’ That said, Sister Nabila, an Egyptian who has been in Gaza for 11 years, acknowledges the size of the challenge when children grow up knowing little other than conflict and hardship. ‘Our children, the ones born before 2008, have lived through four wars. I feel sad for them because we’re like a big prison in Gaza. They don’t have the possibility to go out, for example, to Jerusalem, Jordan or Egypt. Only the families who have money can go out. But the other people, no. We have big poverty in Gaza, with 50 per cent of the youth out of work. ‘The situation is very difficult for the Christian community in Gaza,’ she adds. ‘Our youth don’t have work in the government. They don’t have anything in society. It’s a disaster and this war means
more disaster.’ Palestinian officials have put the reconstruction costs at tens of millions of dollars according to media reports. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch, made an appeal on 25 May for aid for the Christian community in Gaza, asking parishes in his diocese to make donations at Masses on Sunday 30 May. The Patriarch said: ‘In the aftermath of the tension and conflict we have recently experienced, let us turn our hearts and gaze to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ especially in Gaza and in places severely affected by the recent exchange of rocket-firing for eleven days. Their sufferings have worsened with the deadly clashes and bombings as they continue to struggle with Covid-19 that continues to spread in their area. I ask you to share some of your resources to alleviate the sufferings of our Christian faithful in Gaza.’
the people, and in Israel too,’ she reflects. ‘I say every day that in a war, nobody wins. We damage our souls and our psychological wellbeing. Imagine that every person in Gaza now has hate for the people of Israel, especially the families that lost their parents, their houses, who lost everything they have.’ Which is why the work of Sr Nabila and her colleagues, sowing those seeds of hope in young souls, is more crucial than ever.
In the case of the Rosary Sisters School, Sr Nabila explains: ‘We need help for the rebuilding of the school as we have only two months until the new year. I’ve sent all of this to our Patriarch. They said they’ll try to help us. We’ll ask the Palestinian Authority but I don’t have hope as it’s very difficult.’ And the future beyond that? ‘I hope we have peace in Gaza because it’s very important we have peace in Gaza for all
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To support the work of Sr Nabila and the Rosary Sisters School please send your donations by cheque payable to 'Friends of the Holy Land' and mark your envelope - 'Rosary Sisters School’. Send it to: Friends of the Holy Land, Farmer Ward Road, Kenilworth CV8 2DH. You may also donate online at www.friendsoftheholyland.org.uk/donate and put the advice 'Rosary Sisters School' in the comments box or you can call 01926 512980 and make your donation over the phone. ‘Jerusalem is the heart of the problem’ Violence flared in Jerusalem last month after Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Israeli authorities' attempted eviction of several Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to make way for Israeli settlers.
‘Our children, the ones born before 2008, have lived through four wars. I feel sad for them’
Pope Francis said: ‘I pray that the city might be a place of encounter and not of violent clashes, a place of prayer and peace. I invite everyone to seek shared solutions, so that the multireligious and multi-cultural identity of the Holy City might be respected and that fraternity might prevail. Violence generates only violence. Enough with the clashes.’
The Latin Patriarch, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said: ‘Jerusalem is the heart of the problem and this time it was the spark that ignited the country. It all started with the well-known question of Sheikh Jarrah, which has been presented as a legal question. However [this] is also evidently a political decision of further expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. It is a decision which changes the already many times broken balance between the two parts of the city and this creates tensions and suffering … The solution can only be the result of the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, who will both have to make their own the open, multireligious and multicultural vocation of the city. What has been said about Jerusalem can be extended to the whole Israeli-Palestinian question. The Palestinian people have been waiting for years for a dignified solution, a serene and peaceful future, in their land, in their country. ‘This crisis must bring the IsraeliPalestinian question back to the centre of the international agenda, which lately seems to have been forgotten, but which nevertheless has always continued to be a painful wound. The wound was only covered, hidden, but never healed.’
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Issue 201 June 2021
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News diary If you’ve got any news from your parish that you’d like featured e-mail us with the details at: email@example.com
Flying the Flag for the Synod
Father Roy Cooper, Parish Priest of St Mary Magdalen's and St Teresa’s, Penwortham, Patricia Wilson Synod member and John Topping Synod support member, are preparing to fly the flag celebrating Synod 2020. In preparation for the Synod on 19 June when recommendations will be voted on, parishioners are attending six discernment workshops in which the 19 recommendations across the broad range of topics including evangelisation, spiritual formation, governance and synodality, property, and the place of the Church in today’s world, can be discussed and subsequently proposals submitted. Patricia commented that ‘If our group is anything to go by, the Synod process has brought us together, it has developed our faith, and we’re talking in a way that we wouldn’t have done before. I hope that’s what comes from the whole process, that we meet the needs – emotional, psychological, and religious needs – of our people, everything else will come after that’. As a daily reminder of the Synod, Patricia went ahead and had a flag made to fly outside St Teresa`s church as a constant reminder that we are all ‘Together on the Road’.
Pray in May success During the month of May, the global school feeding charity, Mary’s Meals, invited individuals, churches and faith groups to pray for its work feeding hungry children in some of the world’s poorest countries and to ask for God’s continued blessing for its mission, as part of a new campaign called Pray In May. Within the archdiocese eight parishes held Holy Hours with several churches dedicating the rosary to the work of Mary's Meals and one primary school holding a special rosary on Zoom. Prayers have been said at Mass and Mary’s Meals prayer cards were handed out. Mary’s Meals, founded in Argyll, Scotland, in 2002, feeding 200 children in Malawi now feeds more than 1.8 million children in 19 countries around the world, working with local communities on the ground and volunteers. Emma Hutton, Head of Grassroots Engagement at Mary’s Meals, says: ‘Prayer has played such an important part in Mary’s Meals’ mission right from the very beginning and helped us to transform the lives of children in some of the world’s poorest countries, by providing them with a daily nutritious meal in a place of education.’ Anna Dunne, Supporter Engagement Officer for Liverpool says, ‘all of these "little acts of love", as our founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow describes them, along with those from many other churches, schools, prayer groups and religious orders across the country is appreciated. We ask people to pray that
our work continues to flourish and grow, and that more children throughout the world will see their lives transformed by receiving a daily meal.’ For prayer guides, faith-based gift cards and resources for churches and faith groups, visit www.marysmeals.org.uk/prayinmay or email Anna Dunne at anna.dunne@Marysmeals.org for more information.
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Beatification of Venerable Francis Jordan, founder of the Salvatorians by Rev Paul Harris SDS Parish Priest of Corpus Christi, Rainford and St Mary, Birchley The Salvatorian Community of priests, brothers, sisters, and lay, gives thanks to God for the Beatification of Venerable Francis Jordan, founder of the Salvatorians. This wonderful event comes as a result of the recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Jordan after a long period of investigation. Father Francis Jordan was born on 16 June 1848 in Gurtweil, a small German town in the Archdiocese of Freiburg. After ordination to the priesthood on 21 July 1878, he was sent to Rome, where he spent most of his life. In June of 1881 and being motivated by apostolic zeal and desire to make Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world, known and loved by all people everywhere, Francis Jordan founded the Society of the Divine Saviour (known more commonly as the Salvatorians) in the upper chapel of the Brigettine Convent, situated on the Piazza Farnese in Rome. This was soon followed by the founding of the Sisters of the Divine Saviour in 1888. Jordan also organised groups of lay people to take part in the Church´s mission of evangelisation using all ways and means the love of God inspires. By God’s good grace, Jordan soon went on to secure the permanent home of the newly established Order, which proudly stands on the Via della Conciliazione, in the shadow of St Peter’s Basilica, and is the Motherhouse of the Salvatorians to this day. Father Jordan died in Tafers, Switzerland, on 8 September 1918. On 19 June 2020, Pope Francis formally promulgated the decree of recognition regarding the miracle attributed to the intercession of Francis Jordan, opening the way to his Beatification, which took place in Rome
on 15 May 2021. In 2014, a young couple in Brazil were expecting a baby but received shattering news from medical doctors and specialists that their unborn child had an incurable bone disease known as skeletal dysplasia, which would render the child severely disabled and with future health complications. The parents, being members of a group of Lay Salvatorians, began to pray through the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God, Father Francis Jordan, inviting other members of the Salvatorian family to join them. Much to the amazement of all concerned, the child was born in a completely healthy condition on 8 September 2014, the day of the anniversary of Francis Jordan’s death and, of course, the birthday of Our Blessed Lady, Patroness of the Salvatorians. Following strict procedure, the potential miracle was reported to the Archbishop of Jundai, who was the first Church official to consider the case, and who subsequently handed over his findings to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. After the long and difficult required canonical procedures had been successfully satisfied and completed, and with the full-time assistance of the Salvatorian appointed Postulator for the Cause of Francis Jordan’s Beatification, the Holy Father, Pope Francis declared that this miraculous healing was worked by God through the intercession of Father Francis Jordan. Blessed Francis Jordan is a true intercessor for our times, especially, it would seem, in cases of sickness in children. Work is now underway to examine other possible miracles worked through his powerful intercession. The Church rejoices in yet another powerful intercessor for the Lord’s people, who experience the daily reality of human brokenness and the fragility of life. We pray that more people will
experience many graces and favours, even miracles, through the intercession of Blessed Francis Jordan. Moreover, and in the spirit of Blessed Francis Jordan, our earnest prayer and desire remains the same as that of the Saviour himself: ‘that all may know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’. Today, the Salvatorians are at work in over 40 countries around the world, running parishes, schools, hospitals, clinics, social care centres, and one of the largest universities in Africa, to name but a few important ministries. New mission foundations have recently been made in Kenya, Mozambique, and hopefully soon to be made in Uganda and Belize. Here in the UK, the Salvatorians have the trusteeship of the Salvatorian College boys’ school in Harrow and the pastoral care and oversight of several parishes in five dioceses. The Archdiocese of Liverpool is our most recent presence, with the pastoral care of both Rainford and Billinge parishes. Historically, the Salvatorians have had a strong connection with Liverpool as many of our priests are native scousers. This is perhaps no surprise as, for many years, the Salvatorians had the junior seminary in Chester, known then as Christleton Hall. Several priests of the Archdiocese of Liverpool came through Christleton Hall before going on to major seminary to prepare for ordination. One such person is our own Bishop Tom Williams, with whom we enjoy a long and happy relationship. Blessed Francis Jordan; Pray for us.
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news diary New Community Defibrillator at St Mary’s Together with Billinge Parish Council, St Mary’s Social Club Committee financially supported the installation of a new defibrillator supplied by the Oliver King Foundation. Given that Billinge is anything between a 30-50 minute drive from both Wigan and Whiston hospitals, access to a defibrillator in the parish is vital. Mark King established the Oliver King Foundation following the tragic death of his 12-year-old son, Oliver, who died from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome after suffering a cardiac arrest whilst taking part in a school swimming race. Oliver tragically died within 24 minutes whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive. St Mary’s parish priest, Father Paul Harris said: ‘The untimely death of Oliver King is heart breaking, and clearly points out the importance of swift action, especially when we know just how busy and in demand our NHS is at present. Whilst we all hope the need never arises, having a defib in Billinge is so important, and I’m exceptionally proud that our Club Committee made the decision to look
(Left to right) Parish Priest, Father Paul Harris SDS; St Helens Mayoress, Cllr Sue Murphy; John Moriarty, club secretary; Wayne Leatherbarrow, club chairman
into, and financially support, the installation. Mention must be made of John Moriarty, club secretary and parishioner, who has been the driving force behind this project. I think the installation, together with other things we do in the parish, demonstrates to the wider community the practical goodness and love of God, which is so characteristic of our parishes. Indeed, the words and actions of Pope Francis often remind us
of the fact that being people of faith extends far beyond the doors of the church.’ 15 volunteers from the parish attended the initial training session on how to use the defibrillator, which was delivered by Mark King on behalf of the foundation. Another training session will soon take place to ensure that many in and around the community know how to use the equipment should the need arise.
Acompanying our Muslim brothers and sisters in Ramadan Inspired by producing collective worship to incorporate focus on Ramadan plus Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald’s call to accompany our Muslim brothers and sisters during this holy month, Broughton Hall’s lay chaplain, Geraldine Roberts-Stone, set herself a challenge: Mindful of Mother Teresa’s teaching that we may not be able to change the world but we can create ripples on the water, as Ramadan got underway I decided to join in by undertaking a daytime fast on school days. I was filled with admiration for the strength and self-discipline of Muslims, who commit to a whole month of fasting. During lockdowns, it had become too easy to reach for food as a comforting measure. During the process, I enjoyed some interesting and enlightening conversations with one of our Muslim pupils who was observing the Ramadan fast. We discussed similar experiences – learning more self-control and a greater appreciation of the evening meal when we ate it. Additionally, we felt a closer relationship with our brothers and sisters in the developing world who do not have a choice of whether or not to eat, the food is simply not there. We also thought more carefully about the money we spend on 10
food. In normal pre-lockdown circumstances, a meal out at the weekend would be a regular treat for me. However, fasting, combined with lockdown restrictions, led me to consider better uses for that money, such as charitable giving or saving towards something more lasting. Although people sometimes perceive them to be very different, whilst preparing the collective worship, I was struck by how many similarities there are between Islam and Christianity - emphasis on mercy, forgiveness of sins, plus the call to fasting, almsgiving and additional prayer during Ramadan and Lent, respectively. Furthermore, both faiths were simultaneously experiencing a time of
special grace, the Easter season and Ramadan. In this year’s worship themes, I have placed a particular emphasis on caring for all our brothers and sisters, in light of ‘Laudauto Si’ and ‘Fratelli Tutti.’ Therefore, I have been keen to promote opportunities for greater understanding, dialogue and tolerance, particularly in light of the Pope’s recent visit to Iraq as a missionary of peace. If, as faith leaders, Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Ali alSistani can sit down together and enter discussion, why can’t we all? Consequently, the feast of the Ascension had an added dimension to it this year. One minute, I was delivering the readings at Mass whilst, later on, I was tucking into a celebration curry, with all the trimmings, for Eid ul-Fitr. This dish contained four of my five-a-day, typifying the extra thought I’d put into the preparation of a healthy evening meal after the daytime fast as opposed to cooking something convenient after work. I feel that my Ramadan experience this year has been invaluable in terms of spiritual growth, and a step in tandem with Pope Francis’ prayer that God will prepare ‘our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters so that we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion.’ Amen.
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The Eternal City by Neil Sayer Archdiocesan Archivist As early as 1950 the traffic jams in Rome were already legendary. One story in that year tells of an impatient Archbishop, stuck in a tailback, who sent his secretary to ask the car in front to move out of the way. He was given short shrift when it turned out the car in front was occupied by the Italian Prime Minister. Perhaps Pope Pius XII was only adding to the problems. In 1948 he had announced a jubilee Holy Year for 1950. In doing so, he invited all Catholics to Rome: those who visited and prayed at the four major Basilicas were granted indulgences. A Liverpool Archdiocesan Committee was set up and two Archdiocesan pilgrimages took place, in May (led by Bishop Halsall) and October (led by Archbishop Downey). Papers in the Archdiocesan Archives show the meticulous care taken in organising the pilgrimages and report the happy and successful trips that took place. The first Liverpool pilgrimage involved over 500 participants, and the second was even larger, with nearly 900 people trusting to the trains of Europe to deliver them safely there and back. Many of these were visiting Rome for the first time, though as this was before the age of cheap air travel, that’s probably not surprising. A key player in the rise of the package holiday, Thomas Cook, now sadly demised, was engaged to create an itinerary that would include both pilgrimage and sightseeing. The allinclusive prices varied between £35 and £61, depending on your standard of luxury.
Archbishop Downey was delighted to note ‘the happiness which radiated on all sides and the spirit of prayerful devotion’ on the prescribed visits to the four great basilicas of St Peter, St Mary Major, St John Lateran and St Paul Outside the Walls. Pilgrims were allocated in groups to particular hotels and put under the charge of specially appointed priests. These weren’t all secular priests accompanying the pilgrimage: the organising committee was grateful for assistance from students at the Venerable English College and resident Passionist Fathers, among others. Time was allowed for visits further afield than just Rome, and Nettuno and Assisi were highlights for many: the former the home of the recently-canonised child saint, Maria Goretti, the latter associated of course with St Francis and St Clare. The October pilgrims were among a crowd of 60,000 in St Peter’s Square, charmed by the Pope in a memorable audience. The Archbishop and his senior priests
were also received informally by the Holy Father at his country residence, Castel Gandolfo. The Pope, said our Archbishop, ‘spoke of his pleasure at seeing such a large number from Liverpool on this our second pilgrimage during the Holy Year’. Many local families may still preserve memories or souvenirs of these pilgrimages. Nostalgia might have kept us going during the pandemic. Though the Archdiocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes will not take place this year, some of us may be taking a risk and making our own arrangements for foreign travel. Others may be deferring trips abroad, perhaps rediscovering the world on their doorstep. (The Metropolitan Cathedral should of course be on your itinerary if you are coming to Liverpool.) We may not be able to experience the dubious pleasure of being stuck on a coach dodging Italian drivers on the roundabout at the Piazza Venezia, but better times are ahead.
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Pastoral Letter on the Environment for Pentecost from the Bishops of England and Wales and Scotland Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The Solemnity of Pentecost reminds us that everything which exists, every person and the whole of creation, is a gift of ‘God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.’ God our loving Father creates and continues to give life to the world through His Word, Jesus Christ, in the power of His Holy Spirit. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church, which we celebrate at Pentecost, is not something separate from Creation. God’s revelation of himself in Creation is inseparable from the revelation of his love for us in Christ and in his desire to live in us through his Holy Spirit.
Francis speaks of a global politics that looks beyond our own needs to the needs of all, most especially the poor and the marginalised. But we cannot leave the healing of our common home and the wellbeing and care of our brothers and sisters merely to a response from industry and governments. Our own local concern and action is necessary and has far-reaching consequences. We all have a part to play, each and everyone of us, in the routines, choices and decisions of our everyday lives and our aspirations for the future. The actions of parishes, families, schools, and individuals will have a significant impact on our efforts to restore our common home. There are now many
‘God’s Spirit is always and everywhere “the Lord, the Giver of Life”, and the voice of Pentecost is echoed in the voice of creation being transformed into the glorious liberty of God’s children.’ In this liberty, as God’s children, we call on the Spirit to ‘renew the face of the Earth’, and as his children, we are called, in turn, to use this liberty for the good of creation and for the good of all that brings life. Our world, God’s creation, is a precious gift to us. It is our common home entrusted to each generation. But how have we used that glorious liberty? How do we honour this precious gift? Are we really demonstrating love, care and respect for our common home? As we celebrate Pentecost this year, we are acutely aware of the damage that continues to be inflicted on the Earth, and the repercussions for the well-being of our brothers and sisters, both here in our own countries and, more especially, in the poorest countries of our world. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have both taught us that everything is interconnected and interdependent. The way we live our everyday lives has an impact on everyone and on the earth. The urgency of the situation, and the enormity of the challenges we face, have spurred us to speak out together this Pentecost Sunday, as bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, about the role that the Catholic Church and our faith must play in our shared care for God’s gift to us. For all too long we have either been ignorant of, or ignored, the systematic exploitation of our planet and the unsustainable consumption of its resources. While accepting the crucial need and demand for energy for the benefit of the poorest of our brothers and sisters, the provision of our energy must, nonetheless, be by means which radically reduce the use of carbon-based fuels. In our political thinking, there must be a new global understanding of our world, where nations recognise our common responsibility for the dignity of all people and their rights to sustainable livelihoods, in authentic freedom. Pope 12
resources, freely available, to advise us on our choice of food, saving of water and electricity, suggestions about travel, waste, and re-use. These are measures that everyone can employ, in some degree, with minimal inconvenience and change. They are effective ways in which we can each reaffirm our personal vocation to be stewards of creation. This Pentecost comes at a time of remarkable challenge and opportunity. We are gradually emerging from the tragedies and restrictions of the pandemic. We have the ability to make changes. Our countries are also hosting two most important meetings this year, the G7 in June and COP26 in November. These meetings will gather together men and women who have the power to make defining choices and policies which will help us build back better, provide for our brothers and sisters, and take care of our common home. In all our human endeavours, we need the presence of the Holy Spirit, ‘the Lord, the Giver of Life’, whose gift to the Church and the world we celebrate again at Pentecost. Let us keep this Feast with that enduring hope that we can begin to repair the damage we have done and provide a healthy home for future generations. Our hope will be strengthened by our prayer. May our constant request be that the Holy Spirit guide us, strengthen our resolve and ‘renew the face of the earth’.
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Reflections with Siobhán O’Keeffe
A cup of tea The sun shone and a gentle breeze kissed my cheeks as I made my way to the train to go into Liverpool city centre. An important business matter needed attention; this was my first safari into town since lockdown began in 2020. People sat masked and socially distanced from each other on the train. An air of relaxation and new hope prevailed as people milled about the city centre. It was the fourth week of Easter and a growing queue of mass attendees gathered outside the Blessed Sacrament Shrine. Later, fortified by the Eucharist I strolled along Church Street and gave way to the temptation of coffee al fresco. As I sat on a stone bench, a young woman of about forty approached me. Her opening words were, ‘Could you please help me to get a cup of tea. I had a mental breakdown four months ago when my 17year-old son was killed in a motor bike accident and I now live on the streets.’ She was clearly distressed at the loss of her son, her clothes hung loosely around her thin frame and the grime of street living was caked into her slim hands; however, graciousness and beauty of soul radiated in her eyes. ‘Of course, I will get you some tea, how many sugars do you like? ‘Would you like something to eat?’ ‘Three sugars and a donut please’ her response. I was humbled by her gratitude as she thanked me profusely and we chatted for a little while. I asked her if she is aware of the services that are available to people who live on the streets. ‘I am, however, owing to ‘lockdown’ everything is delayed and I now have to join a long queue for help.’ My heart ached for this lovely woman who had already suffered so much. It led me to reflect ever more deeply on how fragile the mental health of all people is and the massive impact that personal tragedy and pandemic can have on a person. The suffering
associated with tragic, unexpected, untimely death crushes the soul, when this is compounded by a lack of resources the ‘strongest, bravest’ person can be broken in an instant. A timely, compassionate, multi-disciplinary response is necessary if long-term suffering is to be minimised. I reflected on how church and state are called to work as one for the relief and empowerment of the most vulnerable so that the gospel message of Easter can be fleshed out in the daily realities of life. Mary wept at the loss of her son, she now pleads for all women who grieve and asks us to work with her for the protection of women whose suffering has robbed them of their dignity, their children, homes and at times their lives. At this time of pentecost, we seekers ask for the grace to know how to continue to respond in new ways to the cry of all who weep.
Whats Ons – June 2021 Wednesdays 7, 9, 16 June at 7.00-8.30 pm An exploration of prayer led by Sister Moira Meeghan (on Zoom) To book your place email firstname.lastname@example.org Liverpool Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas Friday lunchtime Masses at 1.05 pm. The Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst Every second Thursday at 7:30pm The Logos and Literature: Elaborating the Divine A series of online evening talks exploring some of the great themes of Catholic Christianity in writing old and new, with Catholic scholars and contemporary authors. Details and registration: https://christianheritagecentre.com/events/logosand-literature/ 10 June Fiction as Formation – C S Lewis and the Chronicles of
Narnia Dr Rebekah Lamb 24 June Educating in Virtue – Appealing to the young mind Corinna Turner 8 July Inspiring Heroism – Drama and counter-reformation Catholicism Professor Alison Shell
Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th August Faith and Reason: A Catholic Integration A short, residential summer course exploring the relationship of faith with philosophy, science and culture. Particularly helpful for catechists and teachers fielding commonly asked questions around Catholicism, besides anyone wanting to deepen their understanding of the Faith.
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sunday reflections On a liturgical note Are we nearly there yet? Well, it depends what we mean by ‘there’ but if we mean a return to the gathering of the People of God in prayer and Liturgy, then almost! For all good and understandable reasons we have been required to practise physical distancing over these past months but what we have truly missed is the possibility of gathering together, because the coming together of different age groups, backgrounds and vocations within the Christian family is at the very heart of what it is to be part of the worshipping communion. The sacraments are not solitary exercises in devotion but a communal expression of what it is to be healed and saved and graced in Christ Jesus: we are loved by God the Father and strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that ‘you may have life and have it in abundance’ (John 10:10). Reflecting on the theme of our Synod this year, ‘Together on the Road’, we are reminded that the Holy Eucharist is ‘food for the journey’ – and it is not only the reception of the gift of Holy Communion which nourishes and strengthens us but also the very fact of gathering together, expressive of our communion, our common purpose, in Christ’s love and service.
Sunday thoughts Growing up as a Catholic in the 1950s two statues stick in my memory of our parish church. One was red, the other blue. One we referred to as ‘Our Lord’ and the other ‘Our Lady’. ‘Our Lord’ was a figure of the Sacred Heart. As I grew older, the Sacred Heart appealed to me less and less. The exposed heart of Jesus didn’t work for me. While sentimentality felt appropriate in Mary’s statue, Jesus portrayed with flowing locks seemed effeminate. He didn’t match my reading of a more robust figure of Jesus in the Gospels. A number of years later I made an individually directed retreat at St Beuno’s in North Wales. In 13 years in the seminary from the age of 12 I had hardly thought beyond ordination. That goal achieved, I was finding the reality of day-to-day life as a priest tough going. Many priests were resigning from the active
Canon Philip Gillespie
Having just celebrated the great Solemnity of Pentecost we are reminded that all of this is the gift and working of the Holy Spirit, given ‘for a good purpose’ (I Corinthians 12:7). The sacraments, the Communion which is the Church, our loving and generous response to ‘the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties’ of the families and the society in which we live: all of this is the work and grace of the Holy Spirit whose presence will ‘renew the face of the earth’. The month of June is richly blessed with solemn celebrations in the Liturgy: Corpus Christi (6th), the Sacred Heart of Jesus (11th) and Saint Peter and Saint Paul (29th). May they bring renewal, joy and encouragement to our Christian lives. As you have blessed us so may you make us a blessing to the people you call us to serve. You have shown us your great mercy, help us to bring your forgiveness and love into the world today. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Mgr John Devine OBE
ministry. These included not only some of my friends but several of the priests who had taught me over the years and whom I had come to admire. One afternoon at St Beuno’s found me walking in the grounds. I was feeling sorry for myself. My father had recently died and my mother was very ill. I meandered along the gravel paths between flower beds and hedges. My head was bent. I wasn’t looking where I was going and I nearly collided with a white figure. It literally stopped me in my tracks. It was a statue of the Sacred Heart on a plinth. What struck me most were his outstretched arms. I thought, ‘Jesus wants to give me a hug.’ His exposed heart suddenly made sense. I’ve been a fan of the Sacred Heart ever since.
Weekly Reflections are on the Archdiocesan website at www.liverpoolcatholicresources.com 14
Living in the Spirit I once met a Pentecostal minister who told me of his encounter with Christ and the very deep conviction he held, because of that experience, that he was loved. He told me that nothing he had done or would do in the future would change that. It was as though the scales had been taken off his eyes and he could finally see. It was a moment of grace. The Spirit had unlocked within him the capacity that is God-given to know the power of love deep within us and all around us. Every day is an invitation to see again the truth of the presence of God. Every day is an invitation to plug into the eternal moment of grace. If you haven’t asked the Spirit to unlock within you your potential to grow into the mystery of God with us, then do it because it brings life you can never imagine in your wildest dreams. Ask God to unlock within you the power of the Spirit so that you can see more clearly the God who is everywhere. The Spirit calls to new sight and awareness, whether our awakening be a process or the product of an isolated event. I am reminded of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. If you look at the letters of Saint Paul, you’ll discover just how important his conversion experience was for him. Paul was a member of the temple police, delegated to destroy the Christians which he did with great commitment. Then his Damascus Road experience happened. Paul met the risen Jesus and, more than anything else, he became aware that despite the fact he was a murderer and a bigot who had got it all wrong, he was loved by God. Eventually he returned to Damascus a transformed man. Real conversion changes the way we see and do things. It turns the world upside down. Paul’s experience and subsequent change leave us with a real question to consider. Have we really been converted? How can we tell if we’ve been converted or are being converted? Maybe some of the points that follow might be an indication. Converted people know that God is present with us. Conversion leads you to the truth that God is everywhere and therefore everything is held in awe. Converted people don’t need to protect themselves because they’ve given themselves away. There is no self-image to protect. Converted people know that they’re not worthy and yet at the same time have a worthiness that can't be gained or lost because we are sons and daughters of God. Converted people know that everything is a miracle because, after conversion, the hand of God is seen in everything that happens. When I was reflecting on some of those points, I began to realise yet again that we’re called to conversion every day because none of us have ever arrived. We all need to experience transformation in so many ways. The Good News is that we’re not alone on the journey. God is with us and will give us all we need daily to become converted people. Maybe constant conversion is what it means to live in the Spirit. Father Chris Thomas
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Life-changing personal growth Normandie Wragg Chief Executive Nugent
Enjoying some of the freedoms we have all missed When entering Nugent’s New Beginnings service, after a spell of homelessness due to alcohol and drugs misuse, Daniel led a chaotic lifestyle leading to anti-social behaviour and low-level offences. This way of living affected his mental health; with recurring relapses with alcohol and drugs, he felt in crisis, contacting our colleagues stating he couldn’t cope, with thoughts of suicide.
now looks forward to his first placement at a mental health unit in Liverpool.
During his time with Nugent, he felt his previous diagnosis for Bi-Polar Disorder was incorrect. As a child, he struggled with what he thought was Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), that this was contributing to his behaviour and was the cause of all his problems. With the support and encouragement of our New Beginning’s team, Daniel gradually began to progress, re-engaging with alcohol and drug services. With the help of Nugent colleagues, he took up meditation, yoga, general exercise and joined alternative group classes.
On leaving the support of Nugent’s New Beginnings team after a little over 18 months, Daniel said: ‘I am very grateful for all the support I’ve received and had the most growth throughout my whole life being with Nugent. It really touched me when staff noticed the change and growth in me and it helped me to progress. I don't think I would be where I am now without their support.’
After realising the waiting list for an ADHD assessment would be a number of years, Daniel decided to give up smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and drug use to pay for a private consultation. He succeeded with this, received his diagnosis and started taking appropriate medication. Since making those key changes, Daniel’s life drastically improved. He started to lead drug and alcohol support sessions, often hosting them across the country as well as internationally. He is currently undertaking a mental health nursing degree and has just received the marks for his first assignment – a first. He
Additionally, he has recently moved into his own accommodation in a beautiful, quiet area of Liverpool. He was delighted with the location as it is close to his support networks; he felt fearful of being in certain areas where he could become a target as he has previous experience of a homophobic attack.
Recently, a Resettlement Worker from The Whitechapel Centre (A homelessness organisation in Liverpool) visited Daniel in his own accommodation. They commented on the presentable appearance of his flat and how homely it was. They also noted some of the skills he has acquired being put into practice, such as switching utilities supplier for his accommodation and liaising with organisations including Universal Credit and Torus, his housing association. Daniel has made incredible strides since entering the support of Nugent’s New Beginnings team, something which isn’t lost on him. For more information on New Beginnings, or any of our other service, please visit wearenugent.org.
This month, I would like to pay tribute to the staff, volunteers and beneficiaries within Nugent’s adult services who have demonstrated great resilience, fortitude and faith throughout the many trails of the coronavirus pandemic. They are all wonderful and incredible people. Life is definitely returning to some semblance of what we can recognise as normal. We may not be out of the woods just yet but it has been refreshing to see beneficiaries and staff across the Nugent family enjoy some of the freedoms we have all missed in our day-today lives. At our adult care homes, our residents have welcomed new guidelines setting out the government’s advice to support safe visiting. Every care home resident can now nominate up to five named visitors who will be able to enter our care homes for regular visits (and will be able to visit together or separately as preferred). Visitors are able to visit together or separately, provided they have tested negative for Covid19 and follow all other infection control measures that we have put in place. Additionally, babies and toddlers can now accompany their parents during visits, enabling residents to reunite and perhaps for the first time, see their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. While we must remain vigilant - in particular against the threat from new Covid-19 variants - and continue to protect our beneficiaries, we look forward with great eagerness to the fourth and final step of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown when all legal limits on social contact are removed. Visits from friends and loved ones is crucially important for maintaining the health, wellbeing and quality of life of residents. As a charity, our need for charitable donations is ever increasing. If you would like to support our homes, school, adoption services or community work we would love to hear from you. For further information, please contact our Fundraising Coordinator, Fay Purves at email@example.com or by calling 07776 515762.
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The Synod and Prayer by Father Philip Inch and Father Mark Beattie On Saturday 19 June at 10.30 am history will be made in the Archdiocese of Liverpool. The very first Synod on zoom will take place. The last Synod was in the 1950’s, and it dealt with permissions needed to get married in a Catholic Church. It can be said without hesitation that it did not take place on zoom! The Synod members will gather – they will pray –they will be inspired and then they will be invited to make known the preferences they have been reflecting on since the Recommendations were published. This day, and the following day in the Cathedral, is the summit of almost 4 years of planning, preparing and working. As you know the voting on the Synod Recommendations will then be presented to the Archbishop, who in the light of them, will present to the Diocese his Pastoral Plan. The most important task in the days that run up to the Synod is prayer. There will be a week of prayer immediately prior to the Synod. The Archbishop has asked that each day these prayers are used throughout the Diocese, either at Mass or in private prayer. Father of love and compassion, with trust in your great mercy we place our Synod into your hands. Be with each member of our Synod and guide them with the help of Your Holy Spirit. Give us all the wisdom and the courage to respond in new ways to the challenges we face and to the needs of our brothers and sisters, so that we may become ever more closely the Church you are calling us to be. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Sunday 13 June Today we pray for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic. For all who have been bereaved For all who have lost their employment and face a worrying future For all who work with the sick For those who still feel isolated and forgotten For our brothers and sisters across the world who need medical assistance and access to vaccines. And we commend to your mercy Lord all who have died. Welcome them into your Kingdom. Father of love and compassion … Monday 14 June We pray for families and for those who live alone For those who are separated or estranged from those they love For those living with addiction and the consequences of addiction For all who live with poor health and for those who care for them For families and individuals who live with poverty and debt We pray for all who have had to leave their homes in search of a safe place to live Lord, show us how we might be of service those who need our help. Father of love and compassion … Tuesday 15 June Today we pray for all who work in our schools and colleges For our parish catechists For parents and grandparents as they seek to hand on their faith to their children
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For all who work to share the Good News of God’s mercy in the world today Father of love and compassion … Wednesday 16 June Today we pray for all who live without faith, that the love of God will enlighten their hearts and minds. We ask God’s blessing on us all as we try to find new ways to share the message of the Gospel in our world today. Father of love and compassion … Thursday 17 June Today we thank God for the beauty of the world God has given us We pray for a better living out of our stewardship of the earth For those most at risk from climate change For action from governments across the world to protect the environment For all of us to play our part in caring for our world and using more responsibly the good things God has given us. Father of love and compassion …
in our work and among our families and friends. Father of love and compassion … Sunday 20 June Today we thank God for the work of our Archdiocesan Synod and for everyone who has played a part in this great moment of discernment. We ask God to continue to guide us as we journey together as His Church. We pray that when that when we hear the Lord’s invitation to follow him we will do so with faith in our lives, with hope in our hearts and with His love in every action. Father of love and compassion … The July edition of the Pic will be a special edition giving the results of the Synod voting and giving a flavour of this special weekend in our history.
Friday 18 June We pray today for all those called to lead and to minister in the Church For Pope Francis, Archbishop Malcolm and Bishop Tom For our Parish Priests, For all Priests, Deacons and members of religious communities. We pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life where they are most needed We pray that all the members of God’s Church may live out their vocation with joy and with courage. Father of love and compassion … Saturday 19 June We pray today for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all the members of our Synod. May God grant them the wisdom, understanding and courage that they need to hear and to respond generously to the call of the Holy Spirit. We pray for all the members of our Church, that we commit ourselves to being open to God’s call to service in our parishes,
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Fr Gabriel Romanelli
Tending to his troubled flock - by Simon Hart It was in a recent interview that Father Gabriel Romanelli offered a flavour of his extraordinary existence as a parish priest in the Gaza Strip. The Argentinian was explaining how, on outings to the pharmacy to collect medicine for members of his Holy Family parish, it was important to not travel with Fr Yousef Assad, his Egyptian associate from the Congregation of the Incarnate Word. ‘We try to not be together in one car because the situation is very dangerous,’ he said. For Fr Gabriel, who has spent 25 years in the Middle East, the situation has arguably never been as demanding as during last month’s conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza left some Holy Family parishioners with no electricity and the windows of their homes shattered. Together with Fr Yousef and the parish’s Palestinian novice, he had the task of offering assistance to those most in need of help, taking food and medicine, as well as Holy Communion, to the sick and elderly. There were visits too to the Rosary Sisters who run the largest school in Gaza (see main feature), and phone calls to Muslim families in the community. As the bombing continued, the parish
compound became a place of refuge, with six families taking shelter by the eighth day. One family included Nisreen Anton, projects manager at the parish, along with her husband and three daughters, their home having suffered major damage after an airstrike demolished a nearby apartment building. Even outside of an emergency like this, Fr Gabriel and his flock face rare challenges, as a tiny minority in one of the most densely populated places in the world. ‘We are a very small community – 133 people,’ he told the Bishops Conference website. ‘There are 1,077 Christians in Gaza altogether among two million Muslim citizens, Palestinians. So our Catholic Palestinian Arabic community is very small but very active.’ At Holy Family there is a group for spiritual formation, another for children and young people (with 170 members), a ladies group and a scout movement. There is also a school for altar boys, with 23 members. As well as Catholics, Christians from the Greek Orthodox community are well represented. Now, with the ceasefire, he will look to address parishioners’ ‘spiritual health and mental health’, and cites group activities such as singing and playing football.
Standing back, Fr Gabriel points to the broader impact of the Christian community in Gaza, citing how Caritas – a Catholic charity – ‘helped about 66% of the Coronavirus cases’. That crisis had not yet passed, of course, when another erupted. ‘Our Patriarch (Pierbattista Pizzaballa) has made a very clear declaration about the situation,’ said Fr Gabriel. ‘Before the situation in Gaza, the events of Jerusalem with the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood are what gave rise to this crisis.’ As for how Catholics elsewhere can help, he has asked for ‘prayer’ and also ‘moral support’, highlighting the need to ‘let the people know about the situation, the reality. It’s necessary that people in the world understand the situation. It is necessary sometimes to show your closeness to the people so they feel that they’re not abandoned.’ He added: ‘It is necessary to be clear and until now many societies, many countries, many diplomats, they are silent.’ A final request, for those able to do so, is for financial support. ‘If there are people that can help, it is necessary to help because the need is real. It is not imagined. There was a very real need before these days. So after this destruction, we will need – the people will need – material help.’
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Young people answer Confirmation call Father Simon Gore has taken heart from the number of applicants for Confirmation across the Archdiocese as the late-June deadline for registration approaches. As I sit to write this article, the feast of Pentecost is just around the corner. And as we take time to reflect on the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles it seems an appropriate time to offer an update on the sacrament of Confirmation. As you may remember, the preparation for Confirmation had to be curtailed last year, for obvious reasons. We were just about to start and then … well, we all know what happened. In Lent this year Archbishop Malcolm McMahon asked
that the period of Confirmation preparation be resumed after Easter, with hopes that he and his fellow bishops would be able to visit deaneries in the new academic year and confirm young people between October and December. Thus, the Confirmation equivalent of the Bat-signal was sent out, with the co-ordinators for the deaneries meeting up before Easter to remind ourselves of where we all are and what we now need to start doing. As I have mentioned before, the team here at Animate had spent some of
the last few months producing video resources (on our YouTube channel) which include four films acting as invitations to young people to receive the sacrament. These could be watched in schools, or at home. The Archbishop himself wrote a letter to Year 8 pupils asking them to consider registering for Confirmation this year. Alongside that were the lessons they received in their RE classes on the sacrament. That more or less brings us up to where we are now. As I write this, there are over 750 youngsters registered for preparation this year, a larger number than I was expecting, I must confess. I did think that with all the other issues at play in the lives of young people at this time then we might have fewer numbers sign up. But then I suppose with all those issues a reminder of the enduring presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the world is perhaps exactly what is needed. Registrations for this year will close on 26 June so I hope we might break the 1,000 barrier in the next month. If you know of anyone in Year 8 or 9 who would like to be confirmed, please ask them to register at www.liverpoolcalled.co.uk and their local co-ordinator will contact them soon with more details of the plans for their area. After registrations close in June, some deaneries are hoping to have face-toface preparatory meetings before the summer break, whereas others will wait until September. Either way, there will be some preparation time in local deaneries with the sacrament being celebrated towards the end of the year. After a difficult year for young people the promise of receiving the Sacrament in the not-too-distant future must surely be a sign of hope for them, and for all of us in the Church. Certainly, this last month or so as I have seen the numbers registered on the database increase every day and it has been a reminder to me that, though we have all had a difficult time in so many different ways over the last 12 months, the Lord does not leave His people. Even in moments of darkness, and perhaps even more so in moments of darkness, there is a call within our hearts to reach out to God. And it seems that call is being heard more than I was expecting in the hearts of those youngsters in Year 8 in our Archdiocese. Please pray for them as they take this next step in their faith journey.
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education news St Cuthbert’s recognised for its commitment St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School has successfully completed a comprehensive online safety training programme demonstrating its commitment to keeping children and young people safe online. The St Helens school received a National Online Safety Certified School Accreditation for its whole school community approach to protecting children in the online world back in February and accepted the award earlier last month. National Online Safety is a multi-award-winning digital training
St Cuthbert’s Year 8 student ambassadors, Grace and Caleb accepting the National Online Safety Certified School Accreditation.
provider with extensive resources in online safety, developed in line with the Department of Education’s statutory requirements. Its CPD accredited courses and educational resources support UK schools in educating the whole school community in online safety– including all school staff, senior leaders, teachers and parents – on how to make the internet a safer place for children. Catherine Twist, Headteacher at St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School said: “We couldn’t be prouder with receiving this accreditation. “As a whole school community, we have worked tirelessly to make sure our young people feel safe and happy whilst online and in particular during their Lockdown Learning, at home earlier in the year. “We really could not have done this without the continuous help and support from all our parents and carers.” A parent of a Year 7 student at the school, Tara Hewitt said: “It’s been a real eye-opener to me, as a parent, when I thought I was clued up with a lot regarding apps, games and websites children are accessing. “So, I would like to thank the school for keeping our community updated with what we can do to keep our children safe, whilst also educating ourselves.” Over the next coming months, St Cuthbert’s will be working closely with National Online Safety to create podcasts and positive case studies with their staff and students about their experiences and how they can continue to stay safe online.
Our Lady, undoer of knots Miss Helen Byrom an art teacher from St Bede’s Catholic High School, Ormskirk, took on a commission to paint a modern Icon of Our Lady Undoer of Knots. Prayer cards for the school and wider community were also created and the Icon was blessed and dedicated by Father Godric Timney OSB, the school chaplain. Miss Byrom writes: When I was first asked to paint ‘Our Lady of Knots’ I knew very little about the background or story or how I was going to approach a painting of such importance. I have since learnt that the history of the Undoer of Knots is around 300 years old and became more widely known after Pope Francis spoke about her while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, ‘Through Mary, all the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience can be undone’. It is believed that one can turn to the Blessed Mother for any ‘knot’ we need to have untied or untangled as Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin. When researching paintings of ‘Our Lady of Knots’ a common theme is that Mary is often wearing her signature blue cloak with a red chemise underneath. The blue represents the Virgin’s purity, and emphasises her royal status, the red garment signifies traits connected with motherhood, including love, passion, and 20
devotion, which I felt was imperative to this painting. Choosing the colour gold for the background of the portrait was a traditional choice taken from the history of icon paintings. Gold represents the royal glory of the Divine and symbolises the shining light of God. When I composed the painting, I decided to position Our Lady with her head lowered. Mary is often portrayed with her head bowed down, often looking at Jesus. Her bowed head shows her respect for the guidance from Our Lord above, whilst also showing dedication to what her eyes are focused upon. In my composition, I wanted the viewer's gaze to follow Mary’s eyes to her hands and to focus on the
action of untying. In life, we often hear expressions such as, ‘my stomach is in knots’, these moments can make us feel that life is hopeless and that we don’t know where to turn, or how to tackle the problems we face. I believe that the message portrayed by Mary the untier of Knots has real relevance today and will be comforting to those who may be suffering from the stresses and strains of modern day life. I hope that they can look upon the image of Our Lady symbolically dealing with the untangling of such problems, and for this to offer reassurance that all problems can be tackled and dealt with, with faith and the help of God and his Holy Mother.
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Archbishop visits Bellerive to thank pupils for their support During April and May pupils and staff at Bellerive FCJ Catholic College in Liverpool took part in Pax Christi England and Wales’ Pilgrimage for Peace. Pupils reflected on their role as peacemakers in their own communities, prayed for peace and raised muchneeded funds for Pax Christi whose church collections on Peace Sunday were decimated by the impact of Covid-19. Mindful of the link between environmental sustainability and peacemaking, staff at the school turned disused lockers in to planters. Each form sowed sunflower seeds in their locker and sponsored their sunflower to help it grow. It would seem that sunflowers do respond to financial incentives! Fundraising efforts were further boosted by bake sales hosted by Sixth Form and Year 8 students and the school was delighted to reach its fundraising target of £900. However, fundraising was just a small part of Bellerive’s Pilgrimage. Throughout the month, pupils learnt about issues relating to peace during form time and RE lessons. The Pax Christi Peace Icon was displayed in the school chapel to offer staff and students opportunity for prayer and reflection. The school ran a writing and art competition for students and were overwhelmed by the number of entries. The judging panel, which included school staff and representatives from Pax Christi, the Liverpool Archdiocese Justice and Peace Commission and the
FCJ Sisters had a difficult task in selecting a winner! The month closed with a visit from Archbishop Malcolm, who is the President of Pax Christi England and Wales. During his visit, he presented the winners of the Peace competition with their prizes and spoke with Year 7 and Year 12 students. Pupils made sure they asked him some tough questions, including on the conflict in Palestine, the role of women within the Church and whether he preferred KFC or McDonalds! Staff remarked on how it had been a joy to see the school community come together to take part in this pilgrimage and thanked all in the local community who had shown their support. You can still donate to Pax Christi’s Pilgrimage for Peace at tinyurl.com/PaxDonate.
Archbishop Malcolm is welcomed to Bellerive FCJ Catholic College 22
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Archbishop Malcolm presents the Bellerive winners of the Peace competition with their prizes
ASFA launches Student Growth Programme The Academy of St Francis Assisi has launched an innovative student programme focusing on the fundamentals of character development and the core values of its school. Mr Daniel Fox, director of personal development at the academy, led the initiative in a bid to make the most of morning form time and enhance the students’ personal growth, whilst exposing them to many different aspects of culture. The form time Growth Programme is based around weekly themes which are planned by the staff Values Team. Weekly themes include ‘The Power of Speech’ ‘Diversity and Differences’, ‘Growth Mindset’, ‘Resilience’ and ‘Setting and Achieving Goals’. The values team triangulate their specialism with their chosen value and the weekly theme to produce a 10-minute structured input for form time. The values team is purposefully diverse and includes teachers, the academy’s librarian, careers officer and other non-teaching members of staff. The intention is to capture the wide range of skills and expertise amongst staff and utilise these skills to produce a broad and diverse form time programme students can really benefit from. Mr Fox said: “Following the Easter break, staff and students commented on the impact the lockdowns and pandemic has had on wellbeing and mental health, and so the team created a bespoke six-week form time programme solely focused on
mental health and wellbeing.” Each day, for the past six weeks, has been given a different wellbeing theme. These days are now known as Mindful Monday, Check in Tuesday, Wellbeing Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday and Feel-good Friday. Mr Fox added: “Feedback from staff and students has highlighted the usefulness of this mental health focus and provides an excellent forum for students to open up about how they are feeling and openly discuss their worries, concerns, stresses and anxieties.” The final aspect of the Growth Programme is focused on extra-curricular clubs and wider opportunities for students’ personal growth. Mr Fox said: “Over the past few months we have also developed the Assisi Leadership Ladder booklet. The Leadership Ladder has been described by
some members of staff as an internal Duke of Edinburgh. Its purpose is to nudge students towards taking up the wealth of extra-curricular opportunities the Academy has to offer.” The Leadership Ladder booklet is staged in bronze, silver and gold categories with students aiming to complete a minimum of eight challenges to move to the next stage. Challenges include ‘helping out at an Open Evening’ to attending three extracurricular clubs in a week. The overarching aim of the booklet to develop students’ leadership skills and encourage their own character development through taking on key roles and responsibilities that are contained within the booklet. It is hoped the Growth Programme will lead to meaningful character development amongst students whilst imparting valuable leadership skills that will set them up for the future.
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education news St Cuthbert’s says farewell to Year 11s St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School in St Helens said farewell to its Year 11 students on Friday (28 May). The day was filled with memories from over the last five years along with a special Mass led by the school’s Chair of Governors, Father Phil Swanson. The school tried to keep as many of their leaving traditions as possible under the current circumstances, including their staff forming as a Guard of Honour and clapping the students out of the school. Grant Mearns, Head of Year 11 said: “We felt this was a fitting way to thank them for their hard work and contribution to school life during their time with us. “We would like to commend their maturity and resilience in dealing with changes over the last 18 months, and the ways in which they have supported their teachers and classmates throughout this ongoing challenging time. “You are all a credit to our school and yourselves.”
Catherine Twist, Headteacher at St Cuthbert’s, said: “On behalf of all the staff and Governors at St Cuthbert’s, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Year 11 students, parents and carers for their support, in particular over the last
year which has been difficult and challenging for us all. “I look forward to hearing great things about our Year 11 students in the future, continuing to be part of our community and wish them all well.”
St Cuthbert’s Year 11 students together on their final day.
Students from Liverpool present national online assembly ahead of COP26 Primary school students from Liverpool are the presenters of a national Eyes of the World video encouraging schools to campaign to stop climate change. Pupils from Our Lady’s Bishop Eton Primary School, teamed up with the education team from Cafod to produce the video, which features artwork from St Benedict’s Primary School in Netherton. The video is available on YouTube and it is estimated it will have been viewed by 100,000 children by the end of the summer. The film encourages pupils to take part in Cafod’s ‘Eyes of the World’ campaign. Young people are encouraged to take
photos of their eyes, and paint and draw eyes. The campaign is aimed at world leaders who are gathering in Glasgow for the global COP26 climate talks in November. It reminds them that the Eyes of the World will be on them as they gather for talks on how the world can cut its carbon emissions to net zero. Tadhg, one of the students from Our Lady’s Bishop Eton Primary School who presented the film, says: ‘The assembly was important to spread the word about climate change. If we don't deal with climate issues now it is only going to get worse and more difficult to stop.’
Parish Priest, Father Tim Buckley, CSsR is delighted at how the technology has brought thousands of children across the world together: ‘Congratulations to the children of Bishop Eton who've joined with children all over the world to present this very powerful reflection on the need to look after our planet.’ Our Lady’s Bishop Eton, Headteacher, Debbie Bostock says: ‘It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of Cafod’s national assembly and we are grateful for the opportunity for our children to be part of the team driving these very important messages in advance of COP26.’
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cathedral by Dr Christopher McElroy Director of Music, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
Voice trials to begin at Cathedral
Cathedral Record Canon Anthony O’Brien – Cathedral Dean After a rain soaked May we are looking forward to a sunnier and more active month of June as we continue to move towards a further stage along the roadmap of re-opening. If the level of infection remains at the current low level we hope to return to a fuller timetable of weekday and weekend services from the first Sunday in July.
The Summer term is traditionally our time for recruitment. Our boy and girl choristers each serve around 5-6 years singing. Many of them then move onto our Youth Choir, enabling them to continue contributing to the musical life of the Cathedral. The age range of our boy choristers is 7 years old to 12/13 years old, and for our girls it is 10 years old to 16 years old. Eagle-eyed readers will note that whilst the boys and girls both serve around 5-6 years, the boys usually start their choristership at seven years old, and the girls at 10 years old. The reason for this is biological. Boys' voices will begin to change around the age of 12/13, transitioning from a high pitched voice, to a lower pitched voice. Once this transition is complete a boy can no longer sing the high notes of a treble, so then usually takes the opportunity to join the Youth Choir as a tenor or bass (the lower male voice parts in a four-part choir.) Girls do not have a voice change like boys. Their voices remain high pitched generally throughout their life. During the pandemic, the Cathedral has put a great deal of effort into engaging with our choristers (largely on Zoom) to ensure their continued musical, spiritual
and educational development. However, nothing can replace choristers who are steeped in 4/5 years of singing the Opus Dei (the Work of God) at the daily choral services in the Cathedral. A significant challenge over the coming weeks, months and years will be to restore the choir to the pre-pandemic routine of daily choral singing at Cathedral liturgies. On June 22/23 we will be holding our annual voice trials (auditions) for new choristers to begin here at the Cathedral in September. We are looking for boys currently in year 2/3 (who will be in years 3/4 in September) and girls currently in year 5 (who will be in year 6 in September.) We are looking for children who enjoy singing, enjoy working with others, seek to excel on a daily basis and show some musical aptitude. In return, the Cathedral seeks to provide the very best musical education along with unique opportunities to take part in numerous liturgies, concerts, tours and broadcasts on radio and TV. If you know of a boy or girl who might be interested, please direct them to the Cathedral website, where they will be able to find out more details and book a voice trial. https://www.liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk /music/joining-the-choirs/
This will mean that the Crypt Chapel and Halls will be re-open after 15 months of closure. And we will also be able to return to using the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for some of our daily Masses. Both priests and parishioners have missed being able to celebrate Mass in the smaller chapels within the Cathedral and it will be a welcome return to be able to pray together within these chapels again as a community. It will also mean that we will be able to open up all our facilities to welcome visitors and other groups to our Cathedral once again. The Diocesan Synod is due to take place on the weekend 19/20th June. With the final gathering for a celebratory Mass taking place here at the Cathedral at 3.00 pm on Sunday afternoon. The organ builders have now completed their work stripping out the organ and hopefully by then the internal scaffolding will have been removed and the building will once again be obstacle free and looking it’s best. However we will be without the grand organ to create a fitting glorious accompaniment to any choral singing. We continue to pray for the work of the Synod and for the pastoral life of our Diocese as we emerge from the restrictions of this last year.
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Mums the Word
A century of service News from the Liverpool Province of the Knights of St Columba
Knights launch new website It was not Walsingham but it was the next best thing. On Wednesday 19 May, 100 members of the Union of Catholic Mothers from across the Archdiocese gathered in the grounds of Our Lady's, Lydiate, at the invitation of Father Grant Maddock. We were there for our very own ‘Walsingham at home’ – a special outdoor Mass celebrated to make up for the fact we had been unable to stage the annual UCM pilgrimage to Norfolk, either this year or the last. What a wonderful day it was too, as Our Lady smiled on us with beautiful weather. The Mass, said by our spiritual director, Fr David Potter, with Mgr John Butchard concelebrating, was followed by a picnic lunch (socially distanced, of course). We then had a Rosary procession around the grounds, carrying the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, with hymn-singing and music supplied by Fr Grant. Benediction and the liturgy of Our Lady of Walsingham brought this very special day to a close. We thank our president, Maureen Finnegan, along with all the committee and everyone who made this day such a success. Meeting up with so many friends after such a long time was a wonderful experience, and gave us a feeling that perhaps this dreadful period may be coming to an end. Now for some dates for your diary, ladies. On Saturday 26 June we will celebrate the UCM's Annual Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral, at 2pm, with Archbishop Malcolm McMahon celebrating. Unfortunately we will not be able to invite our usual guests from other faiths, or to process with our foundation banners. On Saturday 12 July we will hold our annual general meeting from 13pm at St Albert the Great parish, Hollow Croft, Stockbridge Village, L28 4EA. Finally, the next bi-monthly Mass will be at St Richard's on 14 July. I hope these dates do not clash with your long-awaited holidays! God bless, Madelaine McDonald, media officer 26
The Knights of St Columba have launched a new, updated website which explains the order’s mission and principles and provides details of how to apply for membership.
you are a first-time visitor, thinking of joining the Knights, recently joined or just wish to learn more, we hope there is something that interests you or inspires you.’
The website, launched in mid-April, offers the following message of introduction to visitors: ‘On behalf of the Board of Directors we warmly welcome you to our national website. The Knights of St Columba is an organised body of lay Catholic men, one of the largest of its kind in Great Britain, whose purpose is to support the Holy See and the mission of the Holy Catholic Church.
Of the order’s principles, it adds: ‘It is by standing together in FAITH, with our FAMILY by our side, that our FRATERNITY will make a difference to ourselves and to others. We invite all Catholic men across Great Britain to join us in our mission to “Serve God by Serving Others”.’
‘Knights perform a variety of good works to support the clergy, Pro-Life and to help those in our community and overseas who are less fortunate than ourselves. Through our vocation we believe we can bring happiness to others and find happiness ourselves. We are truly grateful to you for your visit to this site and hope you enjoy reading more about our mission, history, activities and the benefits of being a member. Whether
• The Biennial National Memorial Mass for deceased members, which was postponed from last year due to Covid-19, is being held at the Metropolitan Cathedral on Saturday 12 June. Owing to ongoing restrictions on attendance, entrance is limited and possible only by prior booking through the order’s head office. Websites: www.ksc.org.uk www.kscprov02.weebly.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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PIC Life The enduring impact of a First Communion Day By Moira Billinge A child’s First Holy Communion is a special, shared event that follows a long period of instruction and guidance from family, priests, teachers, and catechists. It is a defining moment to be cherished and remembered forever. When parents present their child for Baptism they make a vow that they will be ‘the first and best teachers of their child in the ways of faith’. By bringing their children to receive their First Holy Communion, parents are fulfilling that promise. Each year, as a new set of children register for the First Communion and First Reconciliation programme, there is a minimal expectation that their families are practising their faith and that they regularly attend Mass. Even so, it is hoped that seeds of an enduring
spirituality are sown and that during this time a happy by-product of the course will be the strengthening or re-kindling of the faith of the accompanying adults. When the big day finally dawns, the excitement and happiness of everyone passing through the church doors is palpable as the many months of preparation are brought to fruition. All too often, however, and all too quickly, once the instruction and celebrations have ended, the numbers attending Mass dwindle. It is a lamentable fact which saddens the clergy that, regardless of their best efforts, the 21st century congregations are depleted and diminishing. Yet, happily, the message has been spread and will remain with many of the Communicants who will carry the love of God in their lives and in their ‘stored memories’. Some years ago I was privileged to join a group of people taking refreshments to
the homeless, to those who had fallen on hard times, on the streets of Liverpool. The sandwiches distributed by the team were a real labour of love; they took hours to prepare, and they were also given with love. Only after the food had been presented to the individuals – of all faiths and none – were they asked if they would like the group to pray with them. Sometimes they declined, and that response was always totally respected, but most accepted the offer joyfully. It was poignant to observe the number of people who were stirred by the experience and responded with tears in their eyes that they had been ‘reminded of my First Communion Day’. The look of recognition on their faces as they heard and joined in with the traditional prayers, and their sheer delight at being able to remember and recite the words, was always particularly moving. To witness the comfort, pride, solace and the sense of belonging that the prayers evoked in their hearts and souls, and the way their faces lit up as they prayed, is something that I never want to forget. It is a deeply moving tribute to that special time that, amid the many trials involved in trying to survive the squalor of street life, the memories of a First Holy Communion Day can evoke such a reaction. Many years may have passed since a First Communion, and there may not even have been a second, but the memories of the unconditional love, kindness, support and attention received then can strengthen and sustain a soul even now – or maybe I should say especially now, just when they need it most.
Worth a visit - Lancaster Castle Enjoy the warmer weather with a visit to the captivating Fylde coast, writes Lucy Oliver. Lancaster Castle is a 12th-century landmark that, until late 2011, also served as a prison and a museum. Presiding on a hilltop, the impressive structure testifies to 1,000 years of history, and marks the site of three successive Roman forts. The castle courtyard is open for visitors and outdoor tours are, at the time of writing, also taking place. For more information, call 01524 64998 or visit www.lancastercastle.com. A short drive from Lancaster, the hidden gem of Heysham dates from the time of the Vikings. Take a stroll up to the ruined eighth-century chapel of St Patrick on the headland. It is believed that Saint Patrick came ashore here and took refuge after being shipwrecked off the coast. Since the fifth century, the rocky elevation over Morecambe Bay has been associated with the Irish saint, pilgrimage and sanctuary. Heysham Heritage Centre is situated in a 17th-century long house, whose displays chronicle the village’s unique history. Call in advance to check opening times on 01524 853465. Don’t leave Heysham without sampling some of the tea and
cakes at either Tracy’s Homemade Pies and Cakes or the Curiosity Corner cafe.
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Support young adults as they prepare to wed The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network promotes the monthly prayer intentions of Pope Francis. We are invited to pray with the Pope ‘for young people who are preparing for marriage with the support of a Christian community: may they grow in love, with generosity, faithfulness and patience.’ by Father David Stewart SJ In this second year of the pandemic, this Intention has an additional resonance for many young couples whose wedding plans have been disrupted and postponed, often for many months, sometimes for the second or third time. Joyous celebration of the big day, with friends and family, has not been possible for a whole year. Swim against the tide, says the Pope For many couples, June was the month for their wedding. Christian marriage, a sacrament in our faith, has now become unfashionable. Our prayer this month reminds us of the need to support young
people who courageously want to follow this sacramental pathway. Their conscious decision to celebrate marriage, and lifelong dedication to each other, is more than ever a choice to go against the cultural tide that views this, or any commitment, incredulously. Pope Francis spoke directly to this scepticism when he spoke to the young volunteers at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, directly addressing the view that marriage is now ‘out of fashion’. He asked those young people, ‘Is it out of fashion? In a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, “forever”, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide’. Continuing, he identified our culture’s belief that they were ‘incapable of responsibility … incapable of true love. I
have confidence in you and I pray for you.’ This month, the Holy Father is inviting all of us, as the Christian community he mentions in the Intention, to make that same prayer for young couples. A celebration of a radical choice Marriage, and above all Christian marriage, is rightly an occasion for celebration, but it is important not to forget the reason for the celebration. It is a radical choice that is celebrated and endorsed by the community: ‘I take you…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part’. These few simple words express the couple’s astonishing selfless love; like the love of Jesus for his people, the vows of marriage have no conditions attached. It is a sacramental moment, which means that this love of Jesus is made present, active and visible once again in the celebration. Such a great commitment needs more serious preparation and accompaniment than is often offered to young couples. ‘A few cursory meetings before the event will not do’. Newly married couples are sometimes left unaccompanied once the festivities are over, so the support that this month’s Intention suggests would, extended into the early years of marriage, deepen their life together, in God’s loving care. The month of the Sacred Heart June was always the month of devotion to the Heart of Christ in our churches, schools and homes. This might have been forgotten or lost in many places but the boundless compassion of the pierced heart of the Saviour has not come to an end. This year, the Solemnity falls on 11 June. When we pray with the Pope, considering each monthly Intention that he offers us through this, his personal prayer network, one of our desires is to place our hearts next to Christ’s own sacred heart and thus learn something of that compassion for the world, for all of creation. That pierced heart overflows with compassion for all of creation.
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Dialogue and Unity Ramadan – A Holy Month for Muslims by HE Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald MAfr In mid-May the Muslim communities celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the feast of the Breaking of the Fast. Because of the restrictions imposed on account of Covid-19, it was not possible to meet with Muslims during Ramadan. So instead of accounts of meetings, here is some information about their holy month (for a presentation of the on-line booklet Accompanying Ramadan) see Pic issue 200 (May 2021) p.8). Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, is the ninth month of the lunar year. Before Islam adopted the lunar calendar, Ramadan in Arabia always occurred in the summer when the heat is very intense (the name Ramadan means ‘burning heat’). Since the lunar year is shorter than the solar year, every year the month of Ramadan comes earlier by 11 days. This year it has been observed between midApril and mid-May. A Muslim source says: ‘The holy month of Ramadan unites all Muslims in fasting, feasting, worship and prayer. It is a time for contemplation, spirituality and brotherhood. It is also known and recognized as the month of the Qur’an.’ The feature of Ramadan for which it is best known is fasting. The fast lasts each day throughout the hours of light – tradition says, from when you can distinguish a white thread from a black thread, until this is no longer possible. The fast entails no food, no drink, no smoking or vaping, in fact not allowing anything to enter the body. Fasting is undertaken out of obedience to God. Through it Muslims come to a greater awareness of the presence of God and are led to give thanks to God for all they have received. It is also a way of showing solidarity with people who suffer from hunger. All adult Muslims, both men and women, are required to observe the fast during Ramadan. Children are not obliged, but they may be encouraged to fast during a certain number of days. Those who are ill or elderly are not obliged to fast. Because of the menace of Covid-19, several Muslim authorities have advised the vulnerable elderly not to observe the fast. Those who are travelling are excused from the fast, as also are women who have just given birth or are breast-feeding. They should make up the fast later. The end of the fast each day is signalled 30
‘A special community prayer is held early in the morning’ by the call to pray the evening prayer at sundown. Traditionally the breaking of the fast is done by first taking a date and a sip of milk, then performing the evening prayer, and afterwards having a communal meal (iftâr). For this meal the family, or in some places the inhabitants of the same street, will gather together. Often restaurants provide iftârs to which the poor are invited free of charge. Iftârs are organised for Muslims and non-Muslims together. In 2019, the Liverpool Region Mosques Network organised a large iftâr at the Pierhead. This has not been possible these last two years on account of Covid-19. Ramadan is, however, not just a month of fasting and feasting. During this month special prayers, called tarâwîh, are performed. These are not obligatory, but many people stay behind in the mosque after the final prayer of the day to recite them together. They include the recitation of substantial passages from the Qur’an. During Ramadan many Muslims will read the whole of the Qur’an. The Qur’an has 114 sûras, or chapters, but it is also
divided into 30 parts of equal length, one for each day of the month of Ramadan. The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid alFitr, the feast of the Breaking of the Fast. A special community prayer is held early in the morning. Muslims are expected to fulfil the obligation of the zakât al-fitr, almsgiving at the end of Ramadan, a special donation for the poor (in 2019 the Abdullah Quilliam Mosque indicated £5 per person as the amount to be given). On Eid al-Fitr children usually receive gifts of new clothes and toys, as well as sweets. From this description it will easily be understood how much more difficult Ramadan has been for Muslims during the Covid pandemic. Social distancing has meant that the breaking of the fast has been confined to the home; it has not been possible to get together with friends; nor has it been possible to gather in the mosque for the special prayers in the evening. For the Eid prayer in the mosque it has been necessary to book ahead of time. Muslims hope for better times, as we do.
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