It is now four months since I arrived in the parish and I thought I would write in a more personal way in this newsletter. Think of this as a non-episcopal pastoral letter!
Moving house is difficult especially when it means leaving behind colleagues and friendships that have matured over the years. A priest has ‘no abiding city’, at least in this life, and he goes where his Bishop requires him. I am glad to say that Bishop Alan’s choice of the parish of North Walsham has been a happy one and I regard myself as fortunate indeed to be your parish priest. Thank you for your welcome.
People sometimes ask me ‘How do you find us?’ A rural parish is very different from a city parish, especially when that parish is also the Cathedral of the diocese! I now have three communities to serve, each of which has its own history and character. I have been impressed by each of these communities – they are welcoming and well organised and they show an attractive face to Catholicism. I have also been impressed by their support for each other and their willingness to be part of something bigger – the parish as a whole.
I have been slow to make changes: wisdom dictates a time of observation and assessment. Besides, I have no radical plans, you will be relieved to hear! Last year you put forward some interesting hopes and dreams and we are gradually working through these in the Parish Pastoral Council. Meanwhile I have inherited a programme of maintenance which is being implemented: the redecoration of the exterior of Sacred Heart Church as well as the presbytery and the repairs to the roof at St John of the Cross. This year we have budgeted for the repainting of the interior of the Sacred Heart church and I will be asking for your ideas on a suitable colour scheme. We have also been discussing in the Pastoral Council and the Finance Committee the need to update the organ at North Walsham. It is nearing the end of its life and is no longer reliable. I propose to set up an organ appeal which will run for 6 months so that we can purchase a new instrument which will enhance the liturgy at Sacred Heart. Sadly a pipe organ is way beyond our financial means. However digital sound technology has made enormous progress in the last 20 years and we could have a fine instrument that would be very close to that of a pipe organ.
Pope Francis, as well as our own Bishop Hopes, remind us that parish life is always more than just maintenance. Many people find the word ‘Evangelisation’ a bit scary! Well, it doesn’t have to be and each parish in the diocese, including our own, will be given useful practical guide-lines over the coming months so that we can reach out to the many people who have no religious dimension in their lives.
Our Cambodia links are an important means of enlarging our horizons. Carol and David Shippey and Bob and Katie Maidment will be visiting our twin parish from 19th January to the 6th February and they will be given a special blessing at the Mass at Alysham on Friday, 16th January which will be a simple Cambodia style Mass. On the same day I shall be celebrating a House Mass at the home of Celia Cooper, Barnside, Stubb Road, Hickling NR12 0YS at 7pm.
Next Sunday we will mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with Sung Vespers in the Sacred Heart church at 4pm. This will be led by the choir of St Nicholas and attended by members of other Christian churches in the town. All are welcome!
The Diocese is looking to appoint a Safeguarding Administrator to assist in supporting the Safeguarding Coordinator in processing Disclosure and Barring Service applications for volunteers working in the Diocese and its Parishes. Full details and application forms can be obtained from the Diocesan Offices either by telephone (01508 492202) or by e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org Closing date for applications is 17/01/15.
The new diocesan Year Books have been delayed but should arrive soon. We are also waiting for the delivery of the parish diaries. The parish directories are already available and are free!
Today there is a retiring collection to support the White Flower Appeal.
With every blessing and good wish for 2015,
We pray for those whose anniversaries occur during this week including: Ben Bianco, Kathleen Anne Holdstock, Romano Pagani, Dorothy Nonna Henderson, Rosemary Semple and Joana Maria Aukland.
May they rest in peace.
If you have any items for the newsletter please let us have them by Tuesday.