Dear Friends in Christ
NEW YEAR 2021: As we embark upon a New Year 2021. May I take this opportunity of wishing you and all your loved ones a very Happy New Year. Obviously the past twelve months have challenged the whole world in ways we could never have dreamed of; and even still we enter this New Year with many issues to face with regards the World Pandemic. In the past few weeks, we have seen an incredible increase of people contracting this dreadful disease. Many of our own parishioners and family members have been sick and isolating, and still the disease rages. Hopefully the latest implementation of restrictions will alert people to the serious nature of this pandemic. We can only hope and pray that with the advent of the vaccines, that an immunisation programme will begin to take place quickly. As I always say: ‘Keep safe & well, and always be kind and loving to one another.’
SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD: Holy Day of Obligation, Wednesday 6th January 2021. As part of the ongoing Nativity Story, we have now reached the point with the arrival of the Magi; the Wise men from the East, probably Star gazers. In following the Star, they arrive in Bethlehem to find the Christ-child. The Magi represent the outside world being introduced to the King of kings. Do they know who he is? Possibly not! But they recognise that this is no ordinary child; in their encounter their lives are transformed. We never hear of them again, but as they return to their own lands, already the work of Evangelisation has begun. Let us also visit the manger and like the shepherds and Magi fall on our knees before our Saviour. He came to bring light into darkness, hope into fear, love into a lack of faith. Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, is the Son of God – that love is revealed at a moment in time, and the world will never be the same again. We need to remind ourselves of that reality, especially as we embark upon this New Year.
Wishing you all A Happy New Year, 2021
My Dear Friends,
I would peronsally like to reiterate my sincere and grateful thanks to the whole parish community for your throughfulness and generosity over the Christmas with your greetings and gifts. Also to thank you for your Christmas Offertory, which makes up the majority of the priests’ salary throughout the year. I’m truly grateful.
At the beginning of this New Year of 2021, we have to acknowledge that things are not back to normal in any of our parishes. As we live in the South East of England, there are even more stringent measures being placed upon our schools because of the rapid spread of this variant of the Coronavirus. We are all aware of people, family members, parishioners who have tested positive in the past month, and how it is having such a devastating affect on the National Health Service, being stretched to the limits. At this time of the year there is always an upsurge in flus and colds, but added to that the contagious nature of the conronovirus, they have reached critical levels. Social responsbility, is the only way forward. Thankfully, in our church we have always maintained strict levels of social distancing, hand sanitisation, the wearing of face covereings, stewarding, sanitisation of the church after each service. As I have told you over many months, you’re probably far safer coming to church than going to the supermarket.
They often say that a crisis brings out the best in people. Over these past nine months, I have weitnessed for myself, the incredible kindness and charity of many of our parishioners. Those who have colunteered to be our Stewards at all of our Masses throughout the week and Sundays. Giving of their own time in service of the whole parish family. Iain McLay, who has co-ordinated the whole Stewarding Rotas, and also our Christmas masses. Iain & Martin who built the beautiful crib for us this year. Also the continual weekly response to the Food Bank, your charity and geneoristy is boundless. At a personla leve, I would like to thank those parishioerns who so kindly wrote messages and notes to me over Christmas in your cards; I was very humbled and grateful for your thoughfulness. My role as a Parish Priest is to serve, and I do it willingly and lovingly. Thank you one and all!
RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS: Our RCIA programme continues Thursday 7th January 2021 at 8.00pm unfortunately, due to the latest Government guidelines we cannot meet together in the Presbytery; therefore, there will be a Zoom meeting. Theme: The Sacrament of Confirmation – Sacrament of Mission. Please pray for our enquirers. This programme is a systematic study of all aspects of the Roman Catholic Faith, with the view of the enquirer deciding to receive the Easter Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation & the Holy Eucharist.
THANKING THE WHOLE PARISH COMMUNITY: I was completely overwhelmed by the incredible response from the whole parish community to the GRAND DRAW that we organised in place of our Annual Parish Bazaar. You truly embraced the spirit of the Draw by your generosity in not only supplying gifts and items for the Draw, but also in the sale of Draw Tickets over the past few weeks. During these difficult times, and it is a real tribute to the whole community in working together for the ongoing support of the parish. My grateful thanks to our Bazaar Committee for the innovation of making up Christmas Hampers as prizes; we had 45 different Christmas hampers and 12 larger prizes. The final figure was £4,595.00, which is truly wonderful! Congratulations to the whole parish community.
ELECTRONIC CHRISTMAS OFFERING: This year, as always, envelopes are still available for us to make our Christmas Offering, which, as you know, is an opportunity in every Catholic Church for parishioners to make a Christmas gift to their Parish Priest. This year our Christmas Offering can also be made electronically. We just need to transfer the money to the parish account with the reference ‘Xmas offering’. Any questions please ask Iain McLay (email@example.com). The details of the bank account are:
Sort Code: 40-13-22
Account Number: 11019651
Account Name: Catholic Church Loughton St Edmund
WEEKLY OFFERTORY: My sincere thanks to those who are making their weekly contribution of Gift Aid envelopes and through the banking system that has been set up through the Diocese whereby your Offertory can be paid directly into the Parish Account, details below:
Or you can use Parish Bank Account: Using Online Banking
HSBC Sort Code 40-13-22
Account Number: 11019651
Please put your name as reference and your Gift Aid number if you have one. If you can set it up as a regular payment this would be excellent and save a lot of time in the future. If you don’t have GIFT AID this is a good time to start, you can do this by e-mailing Maria Mosquera (firstname.lastname@example.org).
With continued thanks for your generosity.
God Bless You All Fr. John
CONFIRMATION PROGRAMME 2021:
My thanks to the young people who have made application for the programme. Most of the applications came in over the last two days. I had specifically stated in the Newsletters that candidates for the Sacrament, should be attending weekly mass. Much to my surprise a number of applications have come in from people I have not seen at mass, sometimes for over a year; and others sporadically. Our churches re-opened on 4th July this year, with stringent Governmental guidelines to protect the Health & Safety for all who attend Holy Mass; and I still didn’t see students or families return to the practice of their faith. I’m sorry, we cannot use the Coronavirus always as an excuse, because all of these young people up until a couple of weeks ago were attending school.
We are now adopting a really strict interpreation of Practice of Faith, which, according the Code of Canon Law means fulfilling our obligation by attending weekly Sunday Mass. If candidates don’t feel able to do this, then they should think twice about prepration for the Sacrament; and if you have no intention of continuing in the practice of faith afterwards, then I would strongly suggest postponing preparation until you feel ready to commit. I feel very strongly about this; we are not playing games here with the life of faith. If this Pandemic has taught me anything, it is of the importance of our faith. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same! This isn’t just about stamping the Sacramental Passport and moving on.
I would like to think that the decision is being made by our young people and not by their parents. If you do not feel that you can commit to half an hour a week at the Sunday Mass, then don’t put yourselves forward. I don’t want this to sound negative, but historically, the disappointment of young people receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, and then walking away, sometimes the week after the celebration, has been very prevalent in the 19 years I have been in this parish. I would sooner have a class of five totally committed than a class of forty who make no contribution whatsoever. I will have no hesitation whatsoever this year to dismiss students if they are not attending weekly Mass. It makes an absolute farce of the Sacrament if they are not present with the worshipping community on a weekly basis. It’s about being present, committed and making a contributuion to the community of faith.
I have spoken to Mark Anthony, our Confirmation Programme Director, with regards to how we will conduct the programme this year. Logistically, it is going to be quite difficult; as yet, we haven’t got a starting date for the programme, but hopefully within the next month. Please watch the newsletter for further details. I ask all the candidates to kindly send me your email addresses this week, no later than Friday 8th January 2021. There will be a register kept for the sessions; and if anyone is missing from sessions you will need to contact Fr John directly.
You may think these requirements are somewhat stringent; but all we are asking our candidates and families is to be present at Holy Mass; which is what they should be doing on a weekly basis anyway. I don’t think this is too much to ask. For those who have not been attending Mass for the past year, I speak plainly to you, think very seriously about this. If you are really serious about your faith, and you’re not being forced into this, then these requests will be be easy to respond to. If not, I would ask you all once again, to think very seriously about enrolment in this programme. Postponement is not a problem; it’s much better to have a willing candidate, than one who is being forced into this by a parent. If anyone has a problem with any of the sentiments in this script, which I have thought and prayed about long and hard, please speak directly to Fr. John
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION PROGRAMME 2021
Once again, thank you to the Parents who have responded to enrolment of your children into a First Holy Communion Programme this year. There have been very few applications. At present, as we’re not allowed to gather together for formal instruction, we are trying to organise a programme that would be suitable for the children and their parents. As you can appreciate, the programme usually starts in September and runs through to May. Obviously, this cannot happen this year, and we may find ourselves in the same situation as last year, by preparing the children and having separate celebrations for a couple of families per week at our Sunday Masses. Manifestly, needs must! I will be meeting with Kathryn Poulter, our Programme Director to finalise details with regards to a way forward in the Programme, it may mean some form of online classes with the children and parents present. If there are any problems with this please contact Fr. John or Kathryn.
SACRAMENTS CELEBRATED DURING TIER 4 RESTRICTIONS: In accordance with Government & Diocesan Guidelines, we are allowed to celebrate Funerals with 30 people present, strictly observing social distancing. 15 people are allowed to be present at a wedding. Baptisms are allowed to take place in the context of a Sunday Mass setting. These are really difficult times, and many couples were disappointed last year not being able to celebrate their marriages. We are hoping with the advent of the vaccine, that things will change dramatically this year. If there are any couple who are thinking about getting married, please notify the parish immediately. Thank you. Obviously until restrictions are lifted all of the above applies for the foreseeable future.
EPPING FOREST FOODBANK DONATIONS: Thank you to all parishioners who continue to generously donate items for the Foodbank during these difficult times. The Foodbank are truly grateful for the generosity our parish has shown throughout the pandemic and our donations are still needed desperately as more and more people in our community are finding it hard to make ends meet. Basic staple items are always welcome including the unbranded supermarket basic ranges which can make your generous donations go even further. Currently they are in urgent need of the following items: tinned fruit, tinned ham, tinned carrots, sponge puddings, chocolate bars, Nutella, toilet rolls (2 or 4 pack), washing up liquid, laundry tablets/powder and shower gel. Thank you! You can also keep up to date with the Foodbank via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EppingForestFoodbank/
ST. JOHN FISHER CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL: (School Applications for September 2021) will not be offering any on-site tours to view our school this year. Instead we have prepared a virtual tour. Please visit our school website on www.st-johnfisher.essex.sch.uk (our admissions page is under the Statutory Info section). The virtual tour will give parents the opportunity to see what the school is like.Admissions open on the Essex website on 9th November 2020, and the closing date is 15th January 2021. We ask parents to complete a supplementary form, also obtainable from the admissions page, (especially if they wish to be considered under criteria 2 or 3 of the admissions policy) and can be returned directly to the school. If you need further information, please contact Mrs McGrenra on email@example.com.
DIOCESAN YEAR BOOK: Is now available for purchase from the Parish Repository. It cost £2.80. It really is worth investing in a Yearbook, as it gives all the latest details of parishes, priests’ addresses, statistics, general information about the Catholic Faith and the Church. PLEASE BUY ONE!
PARISH REPOSITORY: Has a large selection of Religious items; gifts for baptisms; Medals, Statues, Religious books for children, Mass cards for all occasions, Bibles, Prayer Books, and many other items. If there is something that would specifically like to order please see Teresa Wallace or Fr. John. Our thanks to those who purchased various Christmas items this year; especially Cribs and Advent Calendars. The Christmas stock has now been removed. Thank you to Teresa for keeping the Repository so well stocked for all occasions.
PLEASE PRAY FOR THOSE SICK IN OUR PARISH
Margaret Baldwin, Evelyn Bearne, Brian Beveridge, Karl Britz, Jane Downs, Steve Dalgliesh, Pat Fenn, James Geller, Veronica Godsave, Bernadette Hall, Ann Hawkes, Claire Howes, Pamela Houghton, Shaun Keel, Angela Long, Lilian Mothersole, Sheila Murphy, John McKernan, Rosemary O’Rourke, Kathleen Pomeroy, Barbara Pope, Geraldine Taylor, Vera Taylor, Mary Walstow, Mary Witten, James Wright. And all our loved ones.
ANNIVERSARIES: For all whose anniversaries occur at this time and for all of our deceased loved ones, Requiescat in Pace.
OFFERTORY COLLECTION: £321.91 With continued thanks for your Weekly Offering. If you would like to join the Gift Aid Scheme, there are application forms in the Church Porch or ask Fr. John for a form. If you forget your envelope, there are spares in the Porch. Thank you!
MASS INTENTIONS – JANUARY 2021
|Sat 2nd||10.00am||Vera Watt RIP (Pat & Margaret)|
|Vigil Mass for Sunday: Church resumes regular Sunday Schedule|
|Sat 2nd||6.00pm||Rosemary Mahoney RIP (Bill & Helen Walsh)|
|Sun 3rd |
|Christine Slisz RIP Stefan & Jacqui Slisz)|
People of the Parish
|Sun 3rd||11:00am||Nell Hayes Int’s (Maureen Perry)|
|Mon 4th||10.00am||Jean Fitt RIP (Pat Ata)|
|Tues 5th||10.00am||Norah, William & Terry Fitt RIP (Pat & Margaret)|
|Wed 6th Epiphany||10.00am|
|People of the Parish|
Bridget Kinsella B’day Int’s (Pat & Margaret)
Eileen Guerin Int’s (Rooney Family)
|Thurs 7th||10.00am||Irene Phillips RIP (Pat Ata)|
|Fri 8th||10.00am||R Ward’s Ints (P Ward)|
|Sat 9th||10.00am||Joan Moffat (Nancy Ironside & Margaret Duffy)|
|Vigil Mass for Sunday|
|Sat 9th||6.00pm||Julius Zuluetta Rolle (Melinda Staines)|
|Sun 10th |
|Margaret Whelen RIP (M Duffy)|
People of the Parish
|Sun 10th||11:00am||Peter Smith RIP (Paul Falco)|
PLEASE BOOK ANNIVERSARY MASSES IN ADVANCE. THANK YOU