Page Last Updated:
28 March, 2020
Advice from the Catholic Bishops
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
For additional details, please visit the Diocesan Website.
Bishop David Oakley
Canon David Oakley was Ordained Bishop of Northampton on Thursday 19th March at 11:00am. Please keep him in your prayers. If you missed the service, it is still possible to watch a recording of the event here.
You can also participate in Weekday (9:30am) and Sunday masses (8:30am, 11:00am and 5:15pm) (including a Saturday Vigil Mass at 6:00pm) via this link, If you miss the "live" Sunday service, a recording of one of the Sunday services will also be available during the current coronavirus crisis.
A full schedule of Mass times, and other services, is available on the Cathedral Website.
Stations of the Cross
at Maryvale Institute every Wednesday at 7:00pm through Lent starting on Wednesday 4th March. This is another great Catholic tradition focusing on Jesus' journey to Calvary with prayers and meditation at each of the stations. It will last approximately 30 minutes and enables us to enter into the mystery of Jesus' death.
In the current Coronavirus lockdown, you can meditate on our own Stations of the Cross here.
Note for sick list
If you would like your name, or the name of a friend or relative of yours to be added onto the parish list of prayers for those who are sick, would you please contact us to obtain a consent form (consent forms are also available at the back of Church). We need to make sure that you or your friend or family member has consented to their name being on the list. We've been advised that this is necessary to comply with the new GDPR regulations.
Holy Spirit Evenings
Monthly (on the Sunday following the Second Saturday of the Month); the afternoon includes a recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Benediction and healing prayers.
Gift Aid is very important in a Parish. Due to tax changes we get less from Gift Aid than we used to. If you are a UK Taxpayer, then Gift Aiding your donation to the Church means we can claim an extra 25p from the Tax Man for every £1 you give. Please click here for more details.
The Sunshine Club
The Sunshine Club is up and running again on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, 7:00-9:00pm, £2 entry in the main room at Maryvale Community Centre.
Every 2nd Wednesday in the month Latin Mass is offered in the Maryvale House (Institute) chapel at 7:00pm. This is the Extraordinary form of Holy Mass (Tridentine) in accordance with the Missale Romanum 1962. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI encouraged Mass in this form to be offered without the need for special permission.
Maryvale Community Project
The MCP needs volunteers to help with the Sunshine Club which meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at 7:00 pm in the Centre. Even if you can only help once a month, it would be a great help. Please contact Joy at the MCP office to find out what is involved. Also, the MCP is looking for minibus drivers to bring clients to the Club and to bring elderly parishioners to Mass. Again please contact the MCP office for further details. If you can help in any way, our parish project would appreciate your commitment. The MCP is a great witness in our community - please consider being part of it.
Sacrament of Baptism
Please remember to contact the parish office in good time if you are thinking of arranging the Baptism of your child. At least one parent must be a Catholic and needs a Baptism Certificate as proof. Generally speaking, we only celebrate the Sacrament with those who belong to the parish community i.e. those who live in the parish or attend Mass here. Those outside our parish should approach their parish priest to make arrangements.
Parents who wish this Sacrament for their child need to attend the preparation sessions. Please try not to leave it too late! Generally speaking, dates for the celebration cannot be arranged until parents have completed the preparation. It's a good film-based evening which is well-run and provides an excellent background to help you understand what you are taking on! If you'd like to attend, please contact the Parish office.
We have a parish youth group and the MCP look after the senior parishioners and those with special needs. We now have a group for the 25-55 something's who would like to meet monthly to deepen our sense of community, have a bite of supper together and discuss matters of mutual faith interest. Bethany was a place where Jesus found a welcome, food and relaxation in the busyness of life - so a good place to name our new group after!
This is a safe place to renew and rebuild your life after experiencing the trauma of Abortion. Week-end retreats offer a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where women and men can deal with painful post-abortive emotions. This is a place of healing. Visit www.rachelsvineyard.org.uk.
This is a simple act of witness to accompany sincere prayer. Remember, Jesus asks for prayer and penance in the Gospel. This is a way of weaving our Catholic faith into the fabric of everyday life. Obviously, Sunday Mass remains the most important outward sign of our Catholic faith. Sunday must always remain at the heart of our lives as Catholics. The Bishops have also asked us to consider Friday as a day set aside for penitence as it is the day of the suffering and death of the Lord. In days gone by, we used to abstain from meat as a simple act of penance and a sign to others perhaps that we are Catholics. We are asked, once again to consider some regular penitential act. We may also choose to refrain from some other food or activity. Believe it or not, there is evidence that many younger Catholics want to make this public act of penance as a sign of their Catholic faith. We are all invited to join together in such penance.
Changes to the Roman Missal
The words we say and hear at Mass have changed. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, of course, essentially the same. But our new translation ia a more faithful reproduction of what is said in the original Latin text. The first complete English translation dates to 1973. After a generation of use, it's time to introduce a new translation which gives a firmer grasp of the meaning of the original texts. The revised translation has more depth. As we say and hear the new words, we will perhaps appreciate more the value of the faith we hold so dear.
The words of the Mass frequently allude to passages from the Bible - more than we realise at times. The new translation brings more of these allusions to light. It better connects the Missal prayers with the Lectionary reading we listen to when we come to Mass. In truth, the new translation uses a more formal style of language than we are used to in our everyday conversations. As with all change, there will be challenges. The change will take a little effort on our part, but the result will mean that we may think more carefully about what we are praying - rather than just letting the words drift over our heads because they have become so familiar with usage.
When we use the new translation of the Mass we will perhaps notice more biblical connections than we have been used to. The texts of the Mass are precious to us, partly because they were inspired by the Scriptures. When we gather for Mass we are praying with words that have been given to us by our ancestors, who knew the bible well and prayed it well. The revised translation tries to make the connections between the bible and the Mass more clear than it is now. It will also mean that we have some new music for the Mass, to take account of the changes.
The Gloria and the Creed are two parts of the new translation which will make the Mass sound different to present. In fact, there are only a few changes in what we pray, so we will have to be careful we don't slip into our usual pattern! The first lines of the Gloria echo the angel's message to the shepherds, announcing the birth of Christ. Because of the change, there will be new musical settings to learn! When it comes to the Creed we will notice the first change immediately. We say "I believe" rather than "We believe". This is more true to the Latin word credo. It is also our own statement of faith, which we make within the body of the Church.
You can see further information about this new translation here. You can also access side-by-side comparisons of the traditional and revised text of the mass. The Catholic Truth Society have published a new edition of the Simple Prayer Book which includes the New English Translation of the Order of the Mass. A Large-Print Mass Book is also available. These editions are now available from the Piety Stall.
On a practical note, a few people have asked about new missals. There is no need to get one at the moment - because after the new translation has been introduced, the Jerusalem Bible translation will be replaced with the New Revised Translation.
With legislative changes to marriage law regarding immigrants, our local Register Office is being inundated with requests for appointments. If you know anyone intending to marry here, they need to make arrangements with us as soon as possible please.
Over the past few years, a number of parishioners have received a Church annulment of their marriage. The process takes about twelve months and is understandably very discrete. Quite often, people have a mistaken view of this and feel they may not be able to seek one for themselves. If you would like to know more - and particularly if this affects you, then please do approach one of the parish team. We are here to help you!
New Smoke Free Law
Under the new legislation, all enclosed places are now designated "Smoke Free". The parish centre has been smoke free for some time now. We will have to display the appropriate stickers and ensure that even the church is smoke free too - apparently, this does not apply to incense!
Rather than having the C.T.S. booklets sitting there at the back of the church gathering dust, perhaps we could try a loan system for people to borrow what they want and then return it. With that in mind, there are a few other booklets and magazines there which may be of use.
Holy Days of Obligation
For some time the Bishops have been considering the celebration of Holy Days of Obligation in England and Wales. They have responded to requests from Diocesan Councils of Priests and many others, deeply concerned at the diminishing observance of these days.
In order to foster the rhythm of the liturgical year and to celebrate more profoundly the mysteries of the life and mission of the Lord, the Bishops have decided to transfer to Sunday those Holy Days of Obligation which are Solemnities of the Lord (other than Christmas Day). This means that the Epiphany, the Ascension of the Lord and Corpus Christi will now be celebrated on Sunday.
The current practice is retained with regard to other Holy Days of Obligation. In other words, Christmas Day, the Apostles Peter and Paul (29th June), the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (15th August) and All Saints (1st November) will continue to be celebrated as at present.
The Holy See approved these changes to the calendar on 13th July 2006 and they take effect from 3rd December 2006, the First Sunday of Advent.
From the 1st Sunday of Advent 2017, two holy days of obligation are being reinstated. The Epiphany (6th January) and the Ascension of the Lord (Thursday after the 6th Sunday of Easter) will again be holy days of obligation.
Holy days which fall on Saturday or Monday are transferred to the Sunday.
I still have a dream
I still have a dream for the Church of tomorrow. A Church composed of small vibrant local communities meeting regularly in their homes to grow in their personal faith in Jesus. People who reach out to welcome others, people eager to share their faith experience of what living in the presence of Christ means. Groups that gather each Sunday to celebrate the Mass in ever deepening ways. (to be continued!)
Tips for Prayer
The first priority is TIME - prayer is a special time for God and cannot just be slipped in whenever and however. Why not try setting aside five minutes each day (or whatever amount of time), just to be still and allow God to speak. It will get easier!
An ancient way of prayer is known as the "Jesus Prayer". Sitting quietly, breath in and slowly say the words "Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God" and breath out gently saying the words "have mercy on me, a sinner". It works a bit like the rosary in being a repetitive form of prayer that can be learnt easily, carried out without too much effort and free the soul to enter deeper into God's mystery. It's worth reminding yourself that many saints have used this particular prayer over the centuries. We can pray it anywhere and in any place.
October is the month when we remember the prayer of the Rosary. This very straight-forward and traditional prayer invites us to reflect on the various saving mysteries presented in the Gospel. Here are some useful suggestions: Why not keep some rosary beads in the car? You can always pray a decade or two on a car journey! If you go to work on the bus, you can always keep the beads in your pocket and finger them without anyone knowing! The words just slip through the mind without much need for thought. This is then left free to think about the mysteries. A great prayer!
November is a special time when we pray for the faithful departed. Perhaps there could be a candle in each home and those who live there can gather around it every evening to say "Eternal Rest grant unto.. (name your deceased family and relatives). May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace." A moment of silence can follow when we hold our beloved departed in our hearts and before the throne of God's mercy. Holy Mass will be offered for those mentioned in the November alter lists on Saturdays of November and throughout the year.
It is easy to reduce God's Word to a matter of the mind.God's Word is alive and active. It speaks primarily to our hearts. At the beginning of Advent, we begin a new year. Advent 2012 begins the Year of Luke (Year C). Why not begin to read Luke's Gospel? Just take it a bit at a time and don't be afraid to stop and think about a word or phrase that strikes you when you are reading the sacred text. Be sure that God's Spirit will accompany you to help you understand what you are reading. Try to use your heart rather than your mind to understand God's Word.
Older Catholics were never encouraged to read the Bible. St. Jerome tells us that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. A growing number of people are finding lectio divina a very life-giving way of praying the Bible. First of all, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your heart and mind. Then read a bible passage slowly. After this, just share one word or phrase that has struck you. Then read the Gospel again. Think about, and even share, what this says to us today. Is it a challenge? Is it an encouragement? Finally, read the passage again. Each one can then share what they see the Gospel saying to them individually. How do we see this Gospel in our lives? Where is your life in the Gospel. In this way, sharing the Gospel brings God's Word alive.
North Birmingham Deanery
Our Parish here at Maryvale belongs to a group of thirteen parishes known as the North Birmingham Deanery. In recent times, we have been exploring ways of working together in a closer collaboration. Archbishop Bernard, as you know, has asked us to hold parish consultation meetings to discuss ways in which we can develop this collaboration. It is easy to focus on the growing shortage of priests and to become pessimistic in our thinking. We need to be positive - Our Lord has given each of us, and each parish community, a mission to fulfil. We have witnessed some ways in which parishes have worked together in the Advent and Lent Penitential Services. In the future, a number of other parish activities will take place together. All the parishes have held their consultation meetings and our Deanery Report has been sent to the Archbishop and his Council, in order to let them know what we think.
At the moment every parish in the Deanery has a resident priest, and two parishes (Erdington and Kingstanding) have more than one priest. The average age of priests in the Deanery is 53. Five parish priests have been recently appointed in the past few years. There are a number of active permanent deacons throughout the Deanery parishes. We are blessed with the presence of the White Fathers and the Crusaders of the Holy Spirit, and with priests on the staff of Oscott College, who kindly assist where and when they are able to help. We also have a modest number of women religious houses throughout the Deanery.
There was a remarkable convergence of concerns and ideas across the varied parishes of the Deanery in the consultation process.
Parishioners are proud of their parish communities and are keen to maintain their individual identities, even if this means reducing the number of Sunday Masses and changing the times of Masses in the future. Many parishioners described their parish as a 'family', Other reports suggested the parish was a 'focus of their lives'. They felt that Sunday Mass in the parish church was a number one priority. There was a general sense that the liturgical celebration of Mass and the sacraments was very much at the heart of what we do together: the 'core business' if you will, of the Church. Some parishes felt very vulnerable and expressed anxiety concerning the implications of losing a resident parish priest. One parish reflected upon a time when there was no priest: 'we had no heart'. Some parishes believed they were safe from some of the implications of the diocesan consultation process. However, they did wonder what it would be like to share their priest with another parish community. One parish even suggested that two priests living together in their presbytery could offer pastoral ministry to four local parish communities.
After the Archbishop's Lenten Pastoral Letter, the parish meetings around the Deanery show a growing awareness of fewer clergy in the future. There is also an awareness that this will create challenges to resources. Generally speaking, the tone of the parish reports suggested a mixture of responses to this situation: fear and anxiety for the future; burying heads in sand; the seemingly utter certainty that certain parishes, because of their size and prominence, would be sheltered from the storms ahead. Changing demographic pictures need to be considered. Some parishes once had very large communities. These are now reducing in numbers whilst others are growing in size.
Some parishes recognise that change is difficult - especially with regard to the numbers of Masses and their times, in a parish community. They also recognise that the reduction of Masses can have an impact on parish finances. This, in turn , can affect parish viability. There were even suggestions from two parishes that wealthier parishes could assist the poorer ones in some way. Some large churches are only partially filled at Sunday Masses, whereas other smaller churches are often packed with people at Sunday Mass.
The 'Deanery brand' is not familiar to many parishioners throughout North Birmingham. Parishioners are aware of other churches which they sometimes attend through family celebrations such as baptisms, marriages and funerals. They may attend another church for Mass if the time is more suitable - for example, if there is a Sunday evening Mass. Some parishioners recognise, when Deanery boundaries are pointed out to them, that they attend Mass outside the Deanery from time to time.
One of the most important issues in deciding where to attend Mass concerns public transport and bus routes. This is a concern for the elderly in particular. Most parishes were concerned that the elderly could still get to Mass when changes were made. One parish report summed up this area in a lovely little phrase; it's all about 'roots and routes'. We often belong to a parish we are familiar with for many years - we have sunk down roots and feel we belong there. On the other hand, bus routes mean we might attend Mass elsewhere.
Most parishes in our area recognise an attitude of 'maintenance' rather than 'mission': parishioners want to hold on to what they have and are unsure of how to engage in mission. There is a reluctance to 'let go' of what has been built up, in social ties as well as bricks and mortar.
There are signs of mission activity in many parishes. The SVP groups are responding to practical and material needs; many parishes recognise the value of Catholic schools as a place of contact with marginalised families; there are various groups offering catechesis and seeking to reach out to the marginalised, alienated and those who do not belong to the Church; two parishes have successful social needs projects which are charities in their own right.
There is also a growing awareness of what needs to be developed in parishes if they are to be mission-orientated. An example given in a number of parish reports is the idea of 'welcoming teams' at Sunday Masses. A few parishes wondered whether the parish was welcoming to all - especially to parents with vociferous infants and toddlers! A number of parishes focused on the growing demands made upon the lay faithful and expectations that they will use their professional skills and expertise in the administration of the parish. Other reports also focused on the use of lay catechists and similar pastoral assistants in work that was traditionally seen to belong to the ordained ministry.
Nearly every parish was concerned about young people and the need to offer evangelisation and catechesis to this age group. In this respect, some parishes suggested there were weak links between secondary schools and parishes. Some parishes recognised the areas of collaboration between parishes, in particular: Journey in Faith programmes, penitential services, marriage preparation and the blessing of graves in November. Some pondered on the potential for more collaborative pastoral enterprises. A number of the parishes reflected on some significant groups which may need support: single people; divorced and remarried; those who were long-term unemployed, to name a few groups.
On the whole, parishes felt it was necessary to keep the fires of faith burning in these challenging times. We might compare ourselves with earlier times when there was a shortage of priests. It's easy to throw the towel in. Things may improve in 20-30 years and then we will need al the churches - once they have gone, they are gone! Another report reflected a similar perspective, 'God works in mysterious ways - be positive'.
In conclusion, we need to find ways to form parish communities in their faith and what it means to belong to the Church. Secondly, it's easy to focus on what happens in church, and rightfully so. However, we also need to reflect on where most people live out their faith and vocation; in the home, the work-place and market-places of a secular society. For many of us, being part of a parish will mean working together with other parishes in the days ahead.