Going to sea has often been portrayed in books and films as a romantic and adventurous life. The reality is very different. And one of the hardest things for a modern seafarer is coping with the isolation and loneliness on board. 9 July is Sea Sunday, when the Church asks us to pray for seafarers and support the work of Apostleship of the Sea, whose chaplains and ship visitors provide practical and pastoral help in ports around the coast of Britain. Apostleship of the Sea is unique in being the only Catholic agency serving the maritime industry. We might never think about seafarers, but they play a crucial role in all our lives. For around 90% of goods imported into the UK arrive by sea. That’s everything from cars and coffee to bananas and fridges. If the world’s 1.5 million seafarers went on strike, then many of our shops would soon be empty. Nowadays ships have very small crews. For example, the largest British-registered ship, the CMA GCM Kerguelen, which can carry 17,000 containers and is the length of four football pitches, only has 26 crew members. Rev Roger Stone, Apostleship of the Sea port chaplain in Southampton, said many seafarers talk to him about feeling lonely on long voyages. “Seafarers work closely with the same people for a long time, eat in the same place, sit opposite the same person every meal time.” A small crew has serious implications for seafarers, he explained. “The smaller the crew, the less variety seafarers have in their workplace. All it takes is for one awkward or difficult character and the atmosphere changes for the worse.” And the fact that a crew is usually made up of seafarers from different countries can also affect conditions on board, he added. “Sometimes there are culture clashes which can lead to isolation for seafarers. This applies as much to senior officers as it does to junior. Smaller crews mean it’s even more difficult to go ashore and ‘be normal’ if only for an hour or two.” Most of us get to see our family and close friends regularly. But for seafarers, with nine-month contracts common on many ships, this isn’t the case. They accept this sacrifice stoically, as going to sea is often the only way to earn enough money to support their families, who are often in poorer parts of the world, such as the Philippines, India, or Ukraine. Few ships have internet access and using a satellite phone is very expensive. That’s why when Apostleship of the Sea port chaplains go on board a ship they always carry a supply of mobile phone top-up and SIM cards. Wojchiec Holub, Apostleship of the Sea port chaplain to Tilbury and the Thames, recounted a conversation recently with a captain, “I asked him, when do you sleep?” “He smiled and said he slept when he could”. “But how you can you sleep with all the noise from containers and cranes?” I said. He replied, “You get used to it. I know seafarers who cannot sleep without noise, so when they go home, they sleep close to fridge.” For more information about Apostleship of the Sea visit: www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk. Greg Watts, Apostleship of the Sea
Archives for June 2017
Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ has chosen an intriguing title for the Living Theology Study Day she is leading at the Bar Convent in York in July. Misquoting the well-known nursery rhyme, it actually indicates that the theme for the day is to be ‘Men and Women in Today’s Church’. Sr Gemma is Director of the Religious Life Institute at Heythrop College in London, with an international reputation as a speaker and writer on spirituality and pastoral issues. However, since Sr Gemma is a religious sister of the Congregation of Jesus, in coming to the Bar Convent she is, in a sense, coming home. She is basing the day on the dream of a new community in the risen Jesus that has inspired generations of Christians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. In practice, this dream has never entirely overcome the pressures of historical and cultural attitudes to gender. Different parts of the Christian communion have made their own decisions regarding ordination, leadership and ministry – but it is argued that there is still much to debate regarding deeply embedded prejudices. Sr Gemma asks, “How can we create a faith community in which the specific gifts of each gender are recognised, while the equality of each gender in Christ is practised to the full?” This Study Day at the Bar Convent is on Saturday, 15 July; it is one of the Jesuit-inspired ‘Living Theology’ courses held in different venues across the country. The day starts at 10am, and finishes with 5pm Mass in the Chapel. The total cost, including lunch and refreshments, is £20 (students £10). Booking is essential. For more details see www.living-theology.uk, email Brenda on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Patricia on 01642-645732. All are welcome, – men and women!
Youth 2000 seeks to draw young people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, lived at the heart of the Catholic Church. Youth 2000 has been active in youth ministry for the last 25 years. Recently it has been very active in the Hallam Diocese. This edition of the Hallam News looks back with Isaac Withers as he reflects on his experiences of the Release Retreat in Rotherham: Light up the Sky. The Youth 2000 team arrived on site at St Bernard’s Catholic High School, Rotherham, for the first Youth 2000 retreat since ‘Conquerors’ at Walsingham. There was a lot of unique things about this retreat, new things that we were excited about: This was a brand new location, Youth 2000 returning to the Hallam diocese after many years. It was the first retreat lead by the new leadership team dedicated to this year, ‘commissioned’ at Walsingham. This was also the first time we’d ever streamed any of a retreat live to the internet (and even live, nothing went wrong!) So there was a lot of new, and we were all kind of excited about it. Over the course of the weekend 183 people were with us and from day one the tone was great. Maybe there’s just something about the hospitality of the North … The theme of this weekend was, The Release, the subtitle ‘light up the sky’ being loosely taken from the scripture, ‘… for as the lightning flashing from one part of heaven lights up the other, so will be the Son of Man when his Day comes.’ (Luke 17:24) Because of this theme, a lot was spoken about light and darkness, it ran through a lot of the conversation of the weekend. But even beyond the talks and planned input, it cropped up. I went to confession on the first night and the priest brought the theme, I think unintentionally, into where I was at. I shared with him that the tangible feelings I had once had for confession, the Mass and praise and worship, were fading for me. I didn’t feel them as strongly as I had before, on a physical level, and a lot of my recent struggles had been very real, tangible, attractions and that part of life. I wasn’t expecting an answer really, but he brought it. He said that these times of a lack of excitement, of feeling less in your relationship with God, were normal. The early years of a marriage are amazing, and then it cools down, and it deepens beyond feeling. It becomes that person just being there for you when you come home, feeling rubbish. Or, if it was a relationship always based on just feelings, it could break. And then he spoke about Jacob, the story of him wrestling the stranger in the night. Fighting for hours, until in the morning, the person revealed themselves to be God. He spoke about how sometimes, the struggle of faith is just holding on in that fight, until the morning, when you can see God again. Sometimes it’s just letting your punches be caught, until the sun rises. I’m not really doing his words justice, but it just gave me a great deal of peace. The idea of God being not distant from our struggle was there again in Saturday morning’s talk from Barbara Onuonga, “God is not afraid of your reality, the darkness of your heart’. The world tells you that greatness is reserved for the few. But God’s not got that point of view. Each of us is necessary. We are called to light up the sky.” And it was never more visible than on Saturday night. Br Joshua Kidd had heard our theme and been inspired. He told us about how at an American Youth 2000 gathering he had seen them turn the lights out so that it was just the light of the burning bush that lit the room. Then the priest had reached to one of the candles and taken a light, which spread to candles that everyone else was holding. Gradually the light had spread and pushed the darkness away. So, from somewhere, candles were sourced, and we watched as the same thing happened in Rotherham. And over this scene, the beginning of John’s gospel was read. ‘In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be made. Not one thing had its being but through him. All that came to be had life in him, and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.’ (John 1:1-5) And so light filled the room. And only a few songs in, I felt it. On the hairs standing on end. In the bass drum. In the atmosphere. And as praise came to silence, everyone was left in their moment with Jesus. And these moments continued until morning light. (Which took longer because of the clocks changing – leading to an extra hour of adoration for some, and an extra hour of sleep for others. Everybody wins!) On Sunday morning, we had a truly remarkable final talk from 95 year old priest, Fr Leonard May. I can’t overemphasise how much he made the room laugh, and how captivated everyone was by what he was saying. Words that you knew had the wisdom of a lifetime behind them. Again, speaking on the struggle and darkness, he had this to say, “I have had some bad times in life. That’s where fidelity was forged. You’re Christian, you are in the fire. That’s the time to trust, the time my love, my friendship with the Lord Jesus, has deepened.” And these last words, are just what I think it’s worth ending on. “It’s not easy to be the friend […]
The 40 Days For Life campaign in Hallam Diocese held its seventh prayer vigil outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service abortion facility in Doncaster during Lent. Forty-five people gathered at various times to pray peacefully and to offer support or information to women wanting an alternative to abortion. This is part of a campaign which began in 2004 in Texas, seeking an end to abortion through prayer, fasting and outreach. We believe that the lives of two babies were saved in Doncaster this Lent. Prayers are requested for the parents of these children who have decided, despite their personal difficulties, to give them a chance of life. If you would like more details contact us at email@example.com. More information about the international campaign can be found at https://40daysforlife.com.
Following a now well established tradition, parishioners of Our Lady and St James parish, Worsbrough, held their May Procession to honour Our Blessed Lady on Tuesday, 2 May at 7.30 pm. The event was well attended by parishioners from Our Lady and St James and also from other parishes. Refreshments were served afterwards in the parish hall and the evening was enjoyed by all. Prayer petitions presented were taken by a pilgrim to Medjugorje the following weekend.
John Gregson, retired headteacher of Holy Rood School in Barnsley, has been busy raising money for Barnsley Hospice. So far the total stands at over £1,500 and recently John spent 7 days on an organised trek on the Great Wall of China to raise more. He was accompanied by his wife and youngest daughter, and also Louise Mullany who was deputy head at Holy Rood School until she retired last year. They did 130,000 steps and over 1,300 flights of steps – so steep in places that they were using their hands to climb up! The wall itself is over 5,000 miles long and John visited three sections of it, staying in Chinese homesteads – very basic but with excellent Chinese food every night.
The children in St Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy Key Stage 2 planned, created, wrote, narrated and sang through a moving interpretation of ‘Journey to the Cross’. The children are a credit to a warm, devoted school community that shared in this inspirational presentation. The parents, families and parishioners filled the church and were mesmerised by this rich presentation. The singing was powerful and ensured every child shone brightly. The maturity displayed by the children embraced their school, their community and their faith. Pope Francis, reflecting in the letter, ‘The Joy of Love,’ emphasised the importance of celebrating our faith as a family: “… the family, often called the “domestic Church”, remains a foundational part of society. Its health and vibrancy are vital for the health and vibrancy of the planet. Our Catholic teachings and traditions, if properly administered, can nourish the family and help it to be ready for whatever it faces.” Many Catholic schools offer the opportunity for adults to return to the Church and reflect on their own faith. This is one of many influential ways schools can have impact on individual lives and mindsets.
Paid in Full Josh Neal, RE Teacher at Notre Dame, explains, “As part of the Easter reflection this year at Notre Dame we have been focussing on how Jesus paid the debt for our sins by being crucified. To help us remember and reflect on this students have been sticking pennies onto a wooden cross to represent the price Jesus paid for our sins. These sins are our debt that Jesus paid in full, through him we are given a second chance and can start again with a clean slate. The questions for the reflection were: Jesus died to take away our sins – what have you done that needs to be taken away? Jesus died for you and me – what do you do for other people? How can you thank Jesus for paying our debt?” Easter Bake Off The Y8 students at Notre Dame finished the half term with an Easter themed Bake Off in RE. The results were delicious and looked amazing! The students were even graced with their very own Paul Hollywood (Mr Pender) and Mary Berry (Mrs Cleary) to do the judging. It was very close and all of the entries were amazing. The winner of the bake off (pictured above) was Hope Sefton with her Last Supper cake!
Fiona Rigby is one of more than seventy Headteachers to be appointed to the role of National Leader of Education in the latest recruitment round. She and staff at St Catherine’s Catholic Academy, Sheffield, have been selected for a top role supporting schools in challenging circumstances. National leaders of education, along with staff in their school – designated a National Support School – use their success and professionalism to provide additional leadership capability in other schools. National Leaders of Education are deployed to suit the needs of each school needing support. The type of support provided is flexible and can sometimes involve National Leaders of Education becoming Executive Headteachers. They also have responsibility for developing the next generation of National Leader of Education and National Support Schools. Fiona Rigby said, “St Catherine’s has a long history of supporting other schools both within the Diocese of Hallam and within Sheffield. Support involves members of staff at all levels. Our school community has grown from strength to strength as a result of the process of supporting others. In each situation we find that we learn something new and grow as a result. Staff are confident in supporting other schools and their expertise and passion for education ensures that the work they do is successful and rewarding.” Many National Leaders of Education/National Support Schools report improved outcomes at the schools they support. Roger Pope, Chair of the National College for Teaching and Leadership, said, “It’s fantastic that heads like Fiona Rigby have the passion and ambition to help improve the life chances of young people, not just in their own but in other schools as well. The aim of National Leaders of Education is to drive improvement in underperforming schools. We now have over 1,200 National Leaders of Education and we’re working to increase this number further to spread educational excellence everywhere.” Successful Heads have been invited to attend a formal induction and training event for the role in driving school improvement.
Six people from parishes and schools in the Diocese completed a training day in skills to run parenting programmes – pictured below with Laura Rendell (left) and Susan Tym (right). St Thomas More and St Patrick parishes in Sheffield sponsored volunteers, and St Mary’s High School, Chesterfield and Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Doncaster sponsored staff to attend. The training was delivered by Laura Rendell and Susan Tym from Hallam Caring Services. Look out for details of parenting programmes in these schools and parishes.