Dear Friends in Christ
As I stated to you last week, in light of this Pandemic, every day there is a new story to tell. Over the past week we have heard of the largest number of cases of Coronoavirus in the UK since the Pandemic began. They have exceeded last year’s numbers at this time; and the number of deaths is now approximately eighty seven thousand. This is extrmely frightening! It was vitally necessary for this lockdown to take place, and for everyone to take heed of the warnings set before us daily. But sadly, there are still those who think they know better, and are endangering other people’s lives by flagrant disregard of the law, and for others. Conspiracy theories still abound. Keeping safe, is staying at home, unless you have to go out, or have to work outside the home. As difficult as self-isolation is, the health and safely of every individual should be at the top of our list of priorities. Let us pray for a speedy delivery of the vaccine over these coming months.
SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR: St John’s Gospel today shows us how St. John the Baptist recognises Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God’; this evokes in two of the disciples the desire to knlw more about him. Jesus’ response to their question, ‘where do you live?’ has echoed down through the centuries of time; ‘Come and see’, is the invitation that is extended to each one of us also. It’s an invitation to share in the life of Jesus Christ at the most intimate level; to really know him, to grow in love of him and to serve him. This is a clear description of what it truly means to be Christian – one who is like Christ. As the Gospel continues, we see Adrew introduce his brother Simon to the Lord – Simon is renamed by Jesus to Peter, the rock, on which Jesus will build the Church. Already we see Jesus’ work of evengelisation beginning and the seeds of the new Church slowly emerging. There will be an incredible journey for each of the Aposltes; it will be an incredible journey of faith leading to eternal life! That is also the journey of every Chrsitian committed in faith to Christ.
My Dear Friends,
Week by week for the past ten months we have listened daily to the news of this Pandemic. This week we learnt that two million people world wide have lost their lives to this terrible disease. Every single one of these people came from a family, and those families are hearbroken at the loss of their loved ones. Some of our own parishioners have lost family members, and we extend our sincere condolences to them. We are all feeling the affects of this Pandemic; our third lockdown. Many people feel isolated and scared. We cannot go anywhere at present; there is no travel or holiday plans afoot for most people. Planning for the future is somewhat limited, until we know how the vaccine is going to impact on the whole of society. Our NHS has been stretched to its capacity; each doctor and nurse and care worker is a human being, and to witness on the TV the emotional stress and exhaution these professionals are experiencing is truly heartbreaking. But each day they get up and go back to work and do it all over again! These are the real heroes during this Pandemic. We can only stand in admiration of them.
Health & Safety, has always been at the top of the list, as far as I am concerned. In accord with the Governmental & Health Advisory Boards we continue to enjoy the facility of keeping our Churches open. They have recognised that our Health & Safety measures are so stringent, and that they are there to protect each person who enters our Churches. The incredible work of our Stewards over the past several months has been a wonderful example of not only service to the community, but the selfless action of parishioners whose faith is enbling us to remain open and the celebration of daily Mass. For many who are sick & housebound, the facility of being able to live-stream our masses on a daily basis and at weekends, has been a lifeline. This is a not of reassurance to all parishioners, that we will continue to place Health & Safety at the top of the list of priorities. As I have said the whole way through this Pandemic, it’s probably far safer to attend Church than making a visit to the Supermarket.
May God Bless you All,
CONFIRMATION PROGRAMME 2021: A very big thank you to all of our Young People who have made application to enrol in the Sacrament of Confrimation. Much to my surpirse there were 44 applications. I have sat down and read every single application; some were only a sentence or two, but others were very thoughtful personal reflections on the Sacrament and what it means to the young person. I found this very inspiring and hopeful!
The Sacrament of Confirmation in the Diocese of Brentwood is for Young People 14 years upwards. It is a decision that the young person should come to as individuals, but with the support of their faithful family. Obviously, teenage years can be challenging in all sorts of different ways, and to actually come to decision about receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, is very much a mature decision not only of commitment in faith, but also about their future lives as practicing Catholics. I was so delighted recently when a young man said to me that he wanted to be Confirmend in his faith, because he wanted to be married in the Catholic Church. Obviously, he had thought very seriously about the meaning of the Sacrament and its consequences. In some of the letters, our young people talked of how their lives of faith were growing, especially as they were beginning to understand more fully the meaning and signigificance of all of the Sacraments. Others talked about wanting to make a deeper commitiment to Jesus Christ.
The Late Pope St. John Paul II, said on his pastoral Visit to the UK back in 1982 that our young people: “In the Church of today, you are the hope of tomorrow.” These words still apply; you young people are our hope of tomorrow. To be strong in faith and bearing witness to Jesus Christ through your young and enthusiastic lives, gives inspiration to us all! I share with you another beautiful quote from Pope St. John Paul II: “It is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal
I have had a long discussion with our Director Mark Anthony with regards to the commencement of the Confirmation Programme this year. Our Bishop was due to have come on a Pastoral Visitation at the beginning of March, but I don’t think this will be happening this year; and, we would never have been able to get a Programme completed by then. Manifestly, with the situation regarding Covid-19 raging throughout the country at present and with Schools closed and online learning taking place; we have decided that the Programme will commence through Zoom; First Session: will take place on Wednesday 27th January 2021 at 7.30pm. You will need to consult the Parish Newsletter for the Zoom Link on each occasion we meet. There is a registration for each meeting. Obviously, this is not what anyone of us would have wanted, but Health & Safety are of utmost importance. We don’t want to rush the programme, it’s far too important; and with the vaccination programme having been initiated, hopefully by the summer most people will have been immunised, and we can return to some semblance of normality once again. We ask you to kindly be patient; even if it means being Confirmed much later in the year; the most important thing is that you will receive the Sacrament. As many of you are now off School, could I recommend that you Google the Sacrament of Confirmation, and find out as much as you can about the Sacrament. I hope most people have access to laptop or desk top computer. The more knowledge you have the better.
We would request all of our Young People to join us weekly for Holy Mass; our churches are still permitted to remain open. Even if we’re locked down, we can make that extra special effort to tune in through social Media to our on-line masses. It shows commitment and seriousness about the Sacrament. We would also like to ask our young people to really think seriously about the Sacrament of Confirmation that you’re preparing for. Think of the different ways you can personally bear witness to your Catholic Faith over these next months. Are there things that you can do personally? Involvement in the life of faith and the church is not exclusively for older people. The life is faith is something that can be active. Think about ways in which you can truly put into action your Christian values and principles. Confirmation is the Sacrament of Mission – which is something active!
Finally, could I ask all prospecitive candidates to kindly forward their e.mail addresses as soon as possible please. With thanks. Parents, please wncoruage your son/daughter to read this item in the Parish Newsletter.
CRIB COLLECTION: Each year is for the Brentwood Catholic Children’s Society. They do incredible work up and down the Diocese with thousands of children and their families. As you can appreciate most of the Aid Agencies over the past twelve months have been unable to fund-raise due to the Pandemic, so this annual Crib Collection is extremely important. For those who Gift Aid, there should be a Special Envelope in your boxes. You are extremely generous every year, could I make this extra special appeal this year under these difficult circumstances With grateful thanks. As you can see we have two beautiful Cribs this year, and there are collection Boxes at each of them. They will remain until 2nd February, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
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:
God Bless You All
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION PROGRAMME 2021: There has been very little response this year to applicants for the First Holy Communion Porgramme. I have spoken at length to Kathryn Poulter who runs the programme; and in light of the Coronavirus restrictions at this present time, with the virus raging out of control, it is going to be almost impossible to run any kind of meaningful interactive programme for the children. We considered the prepration for the Sacraments of Reconciliation & the Holy Eucharist far too important to run a programme with no engagment from the children. Therefore, we will postpone the Programme this year until we know when it is safe to gather again as a community. I know this may sound very disappointing; but your Health & Safety are our first priority at this very difficult time. Please pray for all the families of our Parish. Thank you. Fr. John.
HOLY SEASON OF LENT: I know we are barely out of the Christmas Season, but each of the Liturgical Seasons of the Year help to prepare us for the great events in the Life of Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ. Sadly, last year, we locked down during Lent & Easter. Hoepfully, we will be able to remain open this year. Manifestly, we will have to be attentive to Governmental Guildelines. Ash Wednesday is on 17th February. I would presume that this lockdown will continue to be in place. But there will be various different ways that each one of us can enter the Lenten Season. Please continue to refere to the Parish newsletter and I will give you a whole programme for Lent 2021. With thanks, Fr John.
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: Brenda Deamer RIP, William Hatley RIP, and for all whose anniversaries occur at this time and for all of our deceased loved ones, Requiescant in Pace.
OFFERTORY COLLECTION: £420.00 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!
RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS: Our RCIA programme continues Thursday 21st January 2021 at 8.00pm which will be a Zoom meeting. Theme: The Sacrament of Holy Orders. Please pray for our enquirer. 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.
SACRAMENTS CELEBRATED DURING ALERT LEVEL 5 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 couples 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/
MASS INTENTIONS – JANUARY 2021
|Sat 16th||10.00am||Kathleen & Tommie Mullaney RIP (Monica Maycraft)|
|Vigil Mass for Sunday:|
|Sat 16th||6.00pm||Margaret Whelen RIP (Marie Sulleyman)|
|Sun 17th |
|People of the Parish|
Maura Hutchins RIP (Alice McCusker)
|Sun 17th||11:00am||Margaret Meaney RIP (Evelyn & Robert Bearne)|
|Mon 18th||10.00am||Dec’d members of the Epsom Family|
|Tues 19th||10.00am||Mary Walstow (sick) ((The Ruiz Family)|
|Wed 20th||10.00am||Ade Osonowo (sick) (Mrs O’Donoghue)|
|Thurs 21st||10.00am||Barry O’Rourke RIP (Colette Wenborn)|
|Fri 22nd||11.00am||Dorothy Goodman RIP|
|Sat 23rd||10.00am||Debbie Clarke’s Int’s (Maree Kavanagh)|
|Vigil Mass for Sunday|
|Sat 23rd||6.00pm||Pat Sheehy RIP (The Ruiz Family)|
|Sun 24th |
|Anne Jones RIP (John & Sue Campbell)|
People of the Parish
|Sun 24th||11:00am||Joyce Casey RIP (Evelyn Bearne)|
PLEASE BOOK ANNIVERSARY MASSES IN ADVANCE. THANK YOU