On Tuesday, 23 May, Lorraine Healy from St Vincent’s Furniture Store and Louise Finnigan from St Wilfrid’s Centre, Sheffield attended the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. It was a wonderful day and a tribute to all the staff, volunteers and supporters of both charities that Louise and Lorraine were invited to attend.
Archives for July 2017
Jane and Charles Perryman continue their series about Marriage. When Pope Francis discusses the next characteristic of love that Paul highlights in 1 Cor 13: 4, he refers to 1 Cor 8:1 where Paul says that “love builds up”. Francis comments, “Some think that they are important because they are more knowledgeable than others; they want to lord it over them. Yet what really makes us important is a love that understands, shows concern, and embraces the weak”. (AL 97). No parents are perfect – even the best parents! As a result we grow into adolescence and adulthood with some emotional hurts. Those hurts may be soothed or added to in other relationships before we come to marriage. We all want to feel good about ourselves and we all want the approval of other people. These are two fundamental emotional needs. If a child is constantly being compared unfavourably to a brother or sister; if a child is never praised and only receives criticism, then they will grow up believing that they are never going to be good enough in someone else’s eyes; that they are unlikely ever to get the approval they desperately need. They are also unlikely to feel good about themselves because they will have come to see themselves as failures. In those circumstances, what people do is to try and cover up or deaden the pain. They often do this by trying desperately to promote themselves, sometimes exaggerating their achievements or by becoming overbearing. This is not very attractive but it is understandable. John Powell SJ, a well-known spiritual writer in the 1980s, asks in one of his books, “Did you ever have a toothache?” He is pointing out how difficult it is for someone who is hurting badly to be able to reach out to others. In one of his earliest homilies about marriage and family life Pope Francis spoke of the importance of “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry”. In the context of the comments of Paul saying love builds up, it is the “thank you” that is important and the one that we focus on here. In the inevitably busy lives that most married couples live today it is very easy to take each other for granted; to overlook the effort that our spouse has put into the work that they do day in and day out. For those who are unsure of how valued they are, the failure to find any appreciation hurts. On the other hand those who feel secure about their sense of self-worth need less appreciation. Because they don’t need the appreciation it is easy for them to overlook the needs of their spouse. In last month’s article, we referred to Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love languages” and we gave the example of how very often when we need to be loved in a particular way by our spouse we model that behaviour for them. A person who needs appreciation will often show their appreciation in the hope that their partner will notice. Relationships thrive on appreciation. Being appreciated confirms that we are important to our partner. Marriage provides a wonderful opportunity for healing. If, over the years, a person is constantly affirmed as lovable, desired and appreciated then it is possible that all of the doubts about themselves, all of the hurts of the past, can be transformed. Then the temptation to boast about oneself and to push oneself forward and become overbearing will diminish.
The talk, entitled “Poverty or Simplicity? Survival or development?” was hosted by Bishop John Arnold, who visited the Central American countries of Nicaragua and El Salvador in November, 2016. El Salvador was badly affected by a civil war which lasted over a decade from 1980 until 1992. Bishop John, who is chair of the Catholic aid agency CAFOD, shared his thoughts from his ten-day trip to Central America, where he saw for himself some of the important work the charity does with communities in Nicaragua and El Salvador. He said, “Many young men in El Salvador were pressed into the army. The area has suffered in recent years by the increasing control of gangs.” Bishop John continued, “For some years I have had meetings in one of the conference rooms at CAFOD’s Romero House where there is a lovely picture on the wall of a beautiful and smiling family – presumably from Central America. On the trip I met them! We stopped to talk to a driver who had come to give directions and I thought ‘I recognise you!’ I asked and it was confirmed that he, Fidel Ramos, and his family were in the photograph in London.” CAFOD supporter, Clare Gardner, was at the talk and felt inspired by the stories which were shared by Bishop John. She said, “Bishop John brought to life the work that CAFOD is doing in Central America. It was a privilege to hear from someone who has seen it first hand and I’m sure everyone who attended went away reinvigorated in their commitment to CAFOD.” The talk was part of CAFOD’s Connect2 scheme which links communities in England and Wales with people in Brazil, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Cambodia and Peru. Connect2 is built on CAFOD’s values of solidarity and partnership, where parishes in the UK are able to stand alongside communities overseas to fight against poverty and injustice. For more information, visit cafod.org.uk/connect2.
On a lovely sunny Sunday morning in May nine children from St Hugh’s Church, Newbold, Chesterfield, made their First Holy Communion. They were supported by family, friends and members of the whole community. The children were very involved in the celebration; welcoming everyone to Mass, doing the readings, bidding prayers and Offertory Procession. At the end of Mass Fr Joseph Okeke, Parish Priest, thanked the children, parents and everyone present for coming along and making the event special; and both catechists, Sandra Asquith and John Harden, for preparing the children for reception of the Sacrament.
Pastoral Letter Read at all Masses on the weekend of the Feast of The Ascension 2017 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ, Today’s feast celebrates Jesus ‘coming full circle.’ He came to us from the Father to accomplish his own unique mission and now he returned to the Father having achieved what he was sent to do. It must have been a particular joyous moment for Jesus but one of the most difficult moments for the disciples on their journey with Jesus. Their Master and Teacher who had opened their eyes and had been taken from them in a most horrific way and returned from the dead and had walked with them. Now, it would seem, they are going to lose him for a second time. But today’s feast is also about ‘passing on the baton’. At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus set out his stall announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was close at hand, calling the people to repentance and to believe in the Good News. Now the responsibility for the task/ministry was being passed on to the apostles and disciples. He mandates them to continue his saving work, drawing all nations to the truth of the gospel. He knows that his life’s project will only continue if those whom he commissions are committed to make it work. Matthew reminds us that Jesus’ mandate to his disciples, then and now, is to go, to make disciples, to baptise, and to teach. To go: Communion and Mission are intrinsically linked. At the end of every Eucharist, for example, we are dismissed with these or similar words: “Go forth. The Mass is ended.” To make disciples: As Jesus called the fishermen and trained them up as “learners”, imitating his way of life and, little by little, understanding his message, his followers ever since have been entrusted with the responsibility of calling others and training them to understand his message and follow his ways. To baptise: Baptism is not an optional extra for the followers of Jesus. Rather it is the public and visible way by which we are marked out as his disciples and share in the name of the living God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To teach: The Gospel of Jesus promotes a lifestyle that is different. As his disciples we are to give the time and energy to learning and practising this lifestyle ourselves and sharing it with new disciples. Last weekend marked the third anniversary of the announcement of me as your Bishop. It has been an interesting period in my life to say the least! As I have moved around the diocese, I have been touched by the warmth of your welcome and encouraged to see for myself the many good initiatives that are happening in the parishes. It has been my special joy to visit the schools in the diocese. But as I have moved around the diocese I have also observed for myself a diocesan structure created to serve a Mass-going population of over 30,000 when the diocese was set up and now serving a Mass attendance of under 12,000. My judgment is that the present cannot be sustained and the work of renewal can no longer be deferred. In Evangelium Gaudium, Pope Francis spells out my role as Bishop in this regard: The Bishop must always foster this missionary communion in his diocesan Church, following the ideal of the first Christian communities in which believers were of one heart and one soul. (Acts 4:32). To do so, he will sometimes go before his people pointing the way and keeping their hopes vibrant. Other times he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. And yet at other times, he will have to walk with them, helping those who lag behind – above all – allowing the flock to strike out on new paths. With this in mind, in recent weeks there have been discussions and consultations across the diocese about the future of the diocese in general and about the shape of our parish communities, in particular, and, how we might, given our present resources, make them ‘a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey and a centre of missionary outreach.” EG28. Some of these discussions have concluded and decisions taken. Other discussions are on-going and there will be more difficult decisions to be taken at the end of these. I know that my name will be held less than ‘hallowed’ over the next few weeks and months that lie ahead! Inevitably, there will be a sense and experience of personal loss for some as we look to the possibility of mergers and closures. Of all, I seek understanding, flexibility and spirit of self-sacrifice. I genuinely fear that not to act now, would risk the future of our diocese. I am conscious, too, that one day I will have to give an account of my stewardship as the Bishop of the diocese. One thing I wish to make clear is that the decisions I have already made and will take in the future are not about managing decline, but rather preparing and planning for the future of the diocese, so as to enable it in the years to come to effectively carry out Jesus’ mandate in this corner of the Lord’s vineyard: to go, to make disciples, to baptise and to teach. Above all, we must not give way to pessimism for we have his promise in today’s gospel, ‘And look, I am with you always; yes, until the end of time.’ Yours sincerely in Christ, the Redeemer +Ralph
St Wilfrid’s Players were proud to present their pantomime, ‘Seven Dwarfs in the Seven Hills’ recently at the Mother of God Parish Centre, Sheffield. The Centre for homeless and vulnerable people run a drama group every week and have fourteen committed members. Together with their drama tutor, Rachel Wood, who encouraged everyone to bring their ideas and suggestions to the group, the clients put together the plot and gradually ‘Seven Dwarfs in the Seven Hills was created. This year’s show, based on what the dwarfs got up to after Snow White had gone off to get married, was full of comedic moments and showed the characters of the cast at their very best. The performances were, as every year, bright and colourful with lots of singing and dancing. Enthusiastic audience participation really made the whole experience for the cast a memorable one. St Wilfrid’s Centre Director, Josie Brooks, opened the event with an entertaining version of ‘The Little List Song’ from the opera ‘Mikado’. In the song Josie gave her observations of her first few months at the Centre, accompanied by Terry Scully, the multitalented Finance Officer, (pictured below). Josie said of her first experience of St Wilfrid’s pantomime, “The performance was great, full of laughter and camaraderie and obvious enjoyment amongst the cast. Clients, volunteers and staff worked very hard, particularly in the week building up to the show. Very well done everyone!” The pantomime raised over £800 for the Centre. Thank you to all who supported the event.