Merry Christmas to you all

Dear friends. 

Greetings at this Christmas season and peace to people of goodwill.

Christmas is a time when we think of other people. When you look at this photo you will see that so many people are thinking of me at this time by the number of cards and gifts I have received.

It would not be practical for me to send cards to all my parishioners so this is my way to send my good wishes and thanks to you all.

I would like to thank you all as well for your cooperation during this time of the pandemic, which is still with us - to all the volunteers and all the people who have been wonderful in making sure everyone is safe.

God bless you all.

Canon Frank

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Fr Frank's Christmas Message.
We thought you might all like to see Fr Frank's Advent and Christmas Message to the children of our school.
They were being very safe and holding virtual Christmas celebrations this year and this included a lovely liturgy with Fr Frank's message and Gospel reading and then they sang carols together in their classes.

Christmas Masses 2021-Update
Thank you to all who have booked a place at one of our Christmas Masses.
The Mass at 6pm on Christmas Eve is now FULLY BOOKED.
If you were considering coming to that Mass but haven't yet booked a place, you can book to come along to one of the OTHER Masses we are providing instead - in order to keep the church within the safe limits and spread the numbers of people more evenly around the different mass times.

The Masses are - 9.30pm Christmas Eve
and 9am and 10.30am on Christmas Day.

Our church remains a safe place to visit with many covid safe measures in place, such a being very well ventilated (please wear layers when attending as the heating will be doing it's best but it will still be cold) EVERYONE must wear face coverings when inside the church (unless exempt), everyone must hand sanitise on the way in, we ask that people keep their distance from others when moving around the church at communion time and on entry/exit and we still have a fully socially distanced area of the church should you need to use that - please speak to the stewards on arrival.

Please continue to pray for the elimination of COVID within our world, for the safety of those who are ill with the virus, and for those who are working towards the care of others effected.

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Latest COVID update:
There has been a Government directive that further restrictions to mitigate against viral transmission will be imposed, especially in light of the new omicron variant, and Bishop Declan has sent us the update from the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales on this matter.

How does that affect us in Church?
*It is now mandatory for everyone entering the Church to wear a face covering, unless they are medically exempt, and also exemptions apply for those leading the worship and, whilst reading the scriptures.
*Congregational singing can continue with mask wearing in place.
*Anyone displaying any symptoms of covid-19 should stay at home and get a LFT and / or PCR test.
*Hand sanitiser is encouraged to be used on entry by everyone.
*We will continue to keep the church well ventilated so we remind you all to wrap up warm when attending church (although we will keep the heating the church in order to help make it as comfortable as possible)
*Our small volunteer team, inc Fr Frank, who are engaged in pastoral ministry will continue to take regular lateral flow tests to ensure they are safe to visit.
*The requirements for NHS covid passes will not apply to places of worship or for small social gatherings. However, it is always encouraged that people take lateral flow tests before attending any such gathering.

We wish, most importantly, to encourage you ALL to get yourselves vaccinated & boosted whenever possible as this is proving to be the best way we can protect ourselves from any covid-19 variant, to protect our friends and family and help to protect our NHS.
Please remember that Pope Francis encourages us all to take the vaccine. He has said "Thanks to God's grace and to the work of many we now have vaccines to protect us from covid-19. These bring hope to end the pandemic but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another." He also said that the vaccine is an "act of love. Love for oneself, love for our families and friends and love for all peoples... especially the most vulnerable."

Clarification of the Sunday obligation. We are asked to reflect on the centrality of the Eucharist to our lives of faith and to take into consideration our own personal circumstances as to whether we can all now attend the Sunday Eucharistic celebrations. Hopefully, for most of us, we will feel safe enough to be returning to Church at weekends or during the week when the numbers are lower. However, should a person honestly feel that there is still grave concern then there is no sin associated with their non-attendance at Mass and they are encouraged to devote themselves to prayer at home, either personally or by participating in a live-streamed celebration from a Church.

Let us all do what we can to protect and help ourselves and each other.

Fr Michael Fontaine talks beautifully about the Heart of God being within us and within the Church.

Wreaths at Christmas
We are told that the history of the Wreath at Christmas, enjoyed by Christians and non-Christmas alike, is that it represents the circle of thorns worn by Christ on the cross,
the red berries or red flowers represent Christ's blood and the evergreen represents eternal life. 
When Christians hang a wreath on their door or in their window, it's an invitation for Christ to come into their home

A big Thank You to Tom Hudd and his family for bringing this beautiful Christmas wreath to us in memory of his mother, Gladys, on her 1st anniversary of Christian death.

It looks so lovely in our Garden of Remembrance during this season of Advent and we plan to bring it into the Church on Christmas Eve as part of our Christmas decorations to celebrate the Birth of Christ.

May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest In Peace.

Gift Sunday
A HUGE thank you to everyone who donated gifts to be made up into soup run Christmas parcels over the past week.
We had a massive basket we hoped to fill and just look at the wonderful response!

The school children also donated over 100 gifts and wrote Christmas cards for the parcels. How lovely is that!

This will, no doubt, bring some happiness and comfort to those who are struggling in our society over the Christmas and New Year period, knowing that people care enough to want to help.

Thank you to all those who volunteer to go out to meet people on the streets and offer them food, drinks, practical items and company.

All of this is true Christianity in action.

God bless you all.

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James Nash RIP
On Friday 17th December, at 12noon, the Requiem Mass for James will take place at St Augustine's Church. Please see all the details for the day in the picture below.
We ask anyone who wishes to attend James' funeral service to please book a place using this dedicated eventbright link:
in order for us to assist with the large numbers of people who will wish to attend and for any possible track & trace reasons.

We hold Joanna, their children Reuben and Keira and both Nash & Davis families in our prayers at this very difficult time.
May James' soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest In Peace.

Joan's ashes will be interred into the Garden of Remembrance at 11.30am this Saturday, 11th December. The parish is welcome to attend to pay their respects to dear Joan.

I am going to offer individual confession with absolution after each Tuesday, Saturday & Sunday Mass from today until Tuesday 28th December (inc).
Rather than confession in the confessionals, I will ask whoever wishes to receive absolution to stay behind at the end of Mass, then come forward, one by one, to the front of the church, keeping their mask on, for a quiet confession.
This way we can offer absolution to as many people as possible in this period of Advent.
God bless you all.
Fr Frank

We have a
small number of 2022 Liturgical Diaries and Diocesan Directories for anyone who would like to buy one from the Parish Office.
The Diary is £6.50 and the Directory is £5.
Also, we have a few smaller Catholic Diary and Mass/Prayer books if anyone would like one.

Thank you Deacon Vincent for your Reflections for 3rd Sunday in Advent (Gaudete) Year C

1st Reading from the Prophet Zephaniah 3:14-18.
This book is written for the Judeans and people of Jerusalem, who are attacked for assimilating and adopting the idolatry of the people around them, particularly the Assyrians, thereby, disassociating themselves from the people of God. They are threatened with the day of the Lord, with his anger, judgement and punishment, but there is also the consolation and joy of the restoration. The people had drifted and there had been no Prophet since Isaiah, approximately 60 years, to encourage the people to stay true to the Lord. Little is known of Zephaniah, except his call and his family background going back several generations. The passage we are looking at is the joy of the oppressed people at the restoration of Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the Temple for the Lord. It is thought that this book was finally given its shape after the Exile. The lesson is that the Lord never abandons his people, even though bad times and periods of trial come upon us. He is always Faithful, even when we are not. We need to listen for the voice of the Lord’s prophets for today and stiffen the sinews and take courage. The lord will restore his realm. We should be marked by our joy and happiness in oppression.
Psalm from Isaiah 12: 2-6.
Unusually this song is not from the book of psalms, but from the Prophet Isaiah. It is his song for those returning from Exile. A song for all time, a song for Christians who have been saved, and the joy of those awaiting the coming of the Lord, for he will come!! Have no fear he will come!
2nd Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians 4: 4-7.
We are coming to the end of his letter to the Philippians, it is a beautiful passage which starts with “rejoice” and draws the Philippians’ attention to God as also on prayer, and a few lovely lines on how we should think and act in Christ Jesus. That magnificent beginning “Rejoice at all times in the Lord, again I say, Rejoice.” This is from a person completely at one with the Lord; the Lord is sufficient for him, he needs nothing else to make his life complete, and he wants to share that with us. The more we read it the more infectious it becomes. Philippians is not a long letter, but it contains so much for us to learn how to come close to the Lord. It was pondering the 2nd chapter, particularly the little hymn that brought me to the Diaconate, so this letter does hold a powerful message for all of us.
The Holy Gospel according to Luke 3: 10-18.
Luke is a very gentle evangelist, but we should not miss the starkness of his message. It appears that Luke’s congregation were comfortably well off, so the idea of sharing your tunics and food with those without, would have been very hard to stomach, as indeed it is for us today; but there is a touch of irony in the end of the passage, “With many other consoling remarks he spread the good news among the people.”
St. Francis discovered the truth of this evocation, several hundred years later, “That in giving we receive.”, Luke is attempting to help his people and indeed us, to realise the joy in true sharing of our benefits with those less fortunate. Luke has a soft spot for the less fortunate in society, and it shows how kind he is to the ladies, the poor and the sick. His Gospel highlights Jesus’ concern for these groups, because they are the concern of God his Father, hence John the Baptist, so close to God is enabled to make these demands upon the people, and not lose his popularity, because the truth brings with it great joy and happiness. Let us truly “REJOICE” in the good news of the Gospel.
God Bless us all and bring us Joy & Happiness. Deacon Vincent

St Nicholas of Tolentino Church is holding an Advent Mass for members of the LGBTQI+ community, their friends, families, and allies on Sunday 19th December.
Everyone is very welcome.

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Please keep an eye out for a special Advent surprise as you go past the Church - especially at night - Thanks to Martyn Poole for organising this for us. 💓

Thank you to Deacon Vincent for your Reflections for 2nd Sunday in Advent Year C.

1st Reading from the Prophet Baruch 5: 1-9.
Baruch, a name which means “Blessed” came from a distinguished family in Jerusalem. He was Jeremiah’s secretary and recorded his preaching’s. Unfortunately this book is not part of his writings, but that of a later author or editor, using the name of this famous prophet and he re-interpreting Jeremiah for a new situation. Israel is still under foreign rule, with extortionate taxes, with the leading families still in Exile in Babylon. As with all occupying forces, there are the usual abusive actions inflicted. This book is giving a re-read of Scripture to put fresh hope into the people . The book is formulated in four sections, the Introduction, then Confessions of Sins, a Wisdom poem and the section we are reading, a poem of consolation. The only copies of the original scrolls are in Greek, which might suggest that it was written for Jews of the dispersion, living in the Greek speaking world. Hence it begins with casting off robes of mourning and affliction and put on the the majesty that comes from the glory of God. The way home to Israel will be made smooth just like that great causeway which led the exiles to Babylon. It is re-affirming that “All things will be well”. Trust in God’s redemption. It is very appropriate for our own enforced isolation and separation.

Psalm 125.
This song continues the theme of God’s trustworthiness, as it rejoices in the return of the Exiles from Babylon to their homeland. God does put things right, it is a very true statement from the Lord that, “All things will be well.”

2nd Reading taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11.
Paul always includes in his greetings a clue as to the contents and import of his message, so we see references to “all of you”, encouraging us to recognise that there is some disunity in the community, also his mention of “joy”, although it was written from his prison; it is one of his most joy filled letters. He encourages love for each other as the key to creating solidarity. This message is ever before us as the key to creating a truly Gospel led community.

The Holy Gospel according to Luke 3: 1-6.
This list of the most important worldly people, at the time, provides us with the only date in the entire New Testament (AD28-29). We are introduced to this motley crew in descending order of importance, then we are introduced to Pontius Pilate who we will meet later, and Herod that “wily fox”, as Christ called him, the son of King Herod of the first chapter, who had tried to kill off the young Jesus; eventually, last in the listing, we are introduced to the Religious Leaders, Anna and Caiaphas. As we absorb this mixed bag of self-motivated people, we are introduced to the person, Luke really wants to tell us about; John the Baptist. We find him in the desert, where Luke had left him in the previous chapter. John introduces us to a theme that is very important in the Gospel of Luke, “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” We have the quote from the Prophet Isaiah, to lend authenticity to John’s mission. Despite John’s forceful and abrupt message for the people, they still flooded out to hear him and start to change their spiritual direction, enabling them to recognise Jesus, when he comes among them. It is a theme for all of us to take on board, in readiness for the Lord’s coming. Let us change our drift away from God and return to the shelter of his wings, and prepare to meet his only Son, Jesus Christ.

God bless us all, on our return journey to the Lord. Deacon Vincent