The Easter Vigil

The greatest and most noble of all Solemnities, celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

Beginning outside of the Crypt at St Chad’s Cathedral with the Blessing of the Fire and Preparation of the Paschal Candle. 

A procession into the cathedral with lighted candles for the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet). 

The Easter Vigil consists of four parts: The Service of Light, The Liturgy of the Word, The Blessing of Water (includes the Renewal of Baptismal Promises / The Rite of Reception / The Rite of Confirmation), The Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In the Liturgy of the Word, Holy Church meditates on the wonders the Lord God has done for his people from the beginning. 

In the Baptismal Liturgy we welcome new members into the Church; and with the Renewal of our Baptismal Promises the Church is called to the table the Lord has prepared for his people, the memorial of his Death and Resurrection until he comes again.

In his Homily Archbishop Bernard said: You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here.

In this telling of the Easter story three women who have been close to Our Lord point the way to us.  On the day after his death, the Gospel of St Mark tells us, they waited until the sabbath was over before preparing the burial spices and then coming together to plan what they would do next.  They were pragmatic – asking who would move the stone for them to enter the tomb of Jesus.  

In common with all the Lord’s disciples they must have felt utterly defeated – devastated that the Master had been arrested at the dead of night, condemned with no-one to offer a word in his defence and executed like a criminal.  For the disciples who had built their lives and their hopes on the promises of Christ, his death on the cross must have shattered their trust and left them dazed and bewildered about what to do now.

This year the besieged people of Ukraine and of Gaza are also dazed and bewildered – so are the families in Israel who still hope for the return of their loved ones taken hostage.  They long for some signs of hope – for an end to conflict and suffering.

Good Friday – The Passion of the Lord

After the Walk, Arcbishop Bernard celebrated the Good Friday Solemn Liturgy. Mgr Tim Menezes, Cathedral Dean, gave the homily:

“As the crowds were appalled on seeing him so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human…

“Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly,

“He never opened his mouth.

“There is something about this day that is effortlessly dismal.

“It is as though we are in a tunnel where we cannot quite see back to the joyful entry into Jerusalem of Palm Sunday.

“And standing at the foot of the Cross with Mary, witnessing her Son’s agony and unable to protect him, even with our Christian knowledge of the Paschal Mystery which leads beyond Good Friday, the Church’s liturgy envelops us in the solemnity and shadow of this day… and it is important for us to accept it.”

Good Friday’s Walk of Witness – The Way of the Cross

Our Ecumenical Walk of Witness for Birmingham City Centre once again started from the Church in Carrs Lane and finished at St Chad’s Cathedral.

This year we meditated on the Stations of the Cross during our walk together, reflecting on two each time we paused, until reaching St Chad’s where we concluded with the final four stations. This was a wonderful time of prayer, contemplation and reflection on the Stations of the Cross, with our ecumenical brothers and sisters in Birmingham.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday

During this Mass we recall the Institution of the Eucharist and Priestly Orders. 

After the Homily, delivered by Fr Andrew Allman, Archbishop Bernard Longley washed the feet of seminarians from St Mary’s College, Oscott and congregants in imitation of and representing Christ.

The Washing of the Feet reminds us all that we should imitate the Lord who came among us in love to serve and not be served. 

Following Mass, Exposition of The Blessed Sacrament took place in the Lady Chapel for silent prayer and contemplation – watching with Christ on the night before his Crucifixion. 

Concluding with Night Prayer of the Church (Compline).

Mass Participation Sheet

Holy Oils Blessed and Vows Renewed at Chrism Mass

Hundreds of diocesan priests gathered at St Chad’s Cathedral on Wednesday 27 March to renew their vows at the annual Chrism Mass.

At the Mass, the oil of Chrism, used for baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and consecration, the oil of catechumens, used for the baptism of adults and older children being received into the church, and the oil for the sacrament of the sick were blessed.

These oils are distributed into our parishes to be used throughout the year. 

The Chrism Mass is also a celebration of priesthood, with Archbishop Bernard Longley celebrating with our Diocesan priests the renewal of the priestly promises they made on their day of Ordination.

As the Easter Triduum starts tomorrow on Maundy Thursday, let us reflect on our Lent. Did we achieve what we set out to do? If we have, let us thank God for his help, but if we haven’t then we need not be despondent but take the opportunity of the Triduum to get close to God.

Let us also give thanks for our priests- let us pray for their ministry and that there may be more vocations to the priesthood.

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.

“Those words of the Prophet Isaiah resonate with special significance when we hear them during Holy Week.  We remember that this was the scripture reading chosen by Our Lord at the Synagogue in Nazareth.  

“There in his home-town he tells the congregation on the Sabbath day that he is the anointed one, the Messiah, who has been sent to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken.  

“The same anointed one, the Christ, became the crucified one whose passion and death we shall commemorate solemnly this Friday.

“His sharing of the Eucharist with the twelve, and through them with all of us, is the historic moment which we shall recall in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper tomorrow evening, at the beginning of the Easter Triduum.

“In this Mass of Chrism we thank Our Lord for having called us to share in his priesthood through baptism and as ministers of his Church through priestly ordination.

“The anointed one anointed us when we were ordained so that we in turn may go out and bring his strengthening, healing and sanctifying touch into the lives of others.”

Read full homily 

Heavenly Father, we ask you to send labourers into your harvest.

Inspire, in the hearts of your people, vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.

Bless our families with a spirit of generosity, so that those whom you call have the courage to give themselves to your Church in faith.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Vocations in the Archdiocese

Rite of Election 2024

On the first Sunday of Lent our church family met at St Chad’s Cathedral for a special event called the Rite of Election. This is where people who are becoming part of our Catholic community get introduced to Archbishop Bernard Longley.

During this event, family, friends, sponsors, and godparents all gathered with those preparing for Baptism (called catechumens) and those joining the Catholic Church fully (called candidates). 

It’s an important step in their journey towards receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

This year nearly 130 candidates and catechumens from 31 parishes came with their families to the Cathedral to take this significant step in their faith.

In his homily, Archbishop Bernard said:

“I am delighted to welcome you to the Cathedral, the Mother Church of our Archdiocese, for the Rite of Election as we begin the season of Lent.  

“At the culmination of these forty days of Lent, when we come to celebrate Easter, you will be baptised or received into full communion with the Catholic Church.  

“You have reached a solemn moment on your journey of faith when you are ready to make a heartfelt commitment to continue on the pathway of faith where our Lord has been leading you now for many months.

“Today’s proclamation of the Gospel has a special meaning for us:  The time has come…and the Kingdom of God is close at hand.  

“The Church recognises this time as a moment of solemn decision when we wish to accept your commitment and to enrol your names.  

“Today Holy Mother Church embraces you as her own children and claims you for Christ so that His sacraments can begin to change your lives for ever.”

Read full homily

Parish priests, together with their catechumens, candidates and sponsors, then met with Archbishop Bernard, Bishop David Evans and Canon Paul Fitzpatrick, Episcopal Vicar.

Candidates and Catechumens represented the following parishes:

St Chad’s Cathedral 

St Mary of the Angels, Aldridge

St Catherine of Siena, Bristol Street

St Peter’s, Bloxwich 

St Peter’s, Bromsgrove 

St Mary and St Modwen, Burton-on-Trent

The Precious Blood and All Souls, Coventry 

St Osburg’s, Coventry

Corpus Christi, Coventry 

Sacred Heart and St Catherine of Alexandria, Droitwich Spa 

Our Lady of Lourdes, Hednesford and St Mary and St Thomas More, Cannock 

Sacred Heart, Henley-on-Thames 

English Martyrs, Hillmorton 

St Dunstan’s, Kings Heath 

St Joseph’s, Malvern 

St Augustine’s Parish, Meir, Stoke-on-Trent 

Holy Trinity, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Sacred Heart, Silverdale 

Our Lady and St Brigid, Northfield

Our Lady of the Angels, Nuneaton 

Holy Ghost and Mary Immaculate, Olton Friary 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Redditch 

St Edward’s, Selly Park 

Holy Family, Small Heath 

St Austin’s, Stafford  

St Joseph’s, Thame 

Sacred Heart and All Souls, Tipton and Our Blessed Lady and St Thomas of Canterbury, Dudley 

St George’s, Worcester 

Our Lady of Lourdes, Yardley Wood 

St Wulstan’s, Wolstanton  

Photo Gallery

Ash Wednesday – The Start of the Lenten Season

On Wednesday 14 February we celebrated Ash Wednesday, the doorway into our Lenten season of renewal.

Masses at churches across the Archdiocese took place throughout the day.

At St Chad’s Cathedral the first Mass of Ash Wednesday was celebrated at 12.15pm by Archbishop Bernard Longley and concelebrated by Monsignor Timothy Menezes, cathedral Dean. There was also a sung Mass at 6pm.

In his Homily Mgr Menezes discussed the 40 days that lay ahead of us:

We are beginning 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving which speaks in a particular way about our relationship with God and with those who are in greatest need.

40 days beginning today can seem like a long time ahead, but in the broad sweep of history, God has called people into this relationship of trust over so many years.

It is good for us to consider what we might do this Lent, but it is much more to do with what God is going to do in us and through us.

For us to turn back to the Lord is itself God’s invitation to a share in his life, and the knowledge that if we wander from the Lord, we are not expected to find our way back. God desires our faithfulness.

And whatever it is we might seek to give up for Lent or do extra this Lent, let’s all aim to follow the spirit of the law, not the letter… in this respect:
We seek to do these good things for the 40 days ahead.
But if, through human weakness, we don’t quite manage it, or if we have a blip after the first few days…then remember the Lord’s tenderness and compassion, and remember that this is a time of renewed invitation and opportunity from a God of boundless mercy.

Read Homily in full

Ash Wednesday is rich in associations and symbolism. It marks the beginning of Lent – a time for turning again to the practice of our faith, in prayer, self-denial (fasting) and practical generosity (almsgiving).

As part of the blessing and distribution of ashes, clergy will make a sign of the cross with ashes on the forehead, accompanied by the words: “Repent and believe in the Good News” or “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

Lent is traditionally a 40-day fast — a reference to the time Jesus spent being tempted in the desert, as well as the 40 years that the Israelites spent in exile.

It is a time when we can prepare our hearts for the solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death.

It concludes and is followed by the Easter Sunday celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

The six-week period (excluding Sundays) is dedicated to prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum.

Ash Wednesday is a penitential service that uses ash to mark the sign of the cross on the believer’s forehead, symbolising our sinful nature and need for salvation.

Access Lent and Easter Resources

Photo Gallery

The Walker at 30

Celebrating the Cathedral’s J.W. Walker Organ

On Thursday 1st February 2024 St Chad’s Cathedral welcomed people from across the Archdiocese and beyond to a special organ recital, part of the monthly Thursday Live series, which on this occasion marked 30 years since the inauguration of the Cathedral organ.

The inaugural recital on Thursday 3rd February 1994 had been played by Nicolas Kynaston, organ consultant for the installation of the then new J.W. Walker organ in the newly constructed gallery at the back of the cathedral.

Thirty years later the anniversary recital was given by the four regular organists. Professor David Saint opened the programme with a piece by Classical French composer Louis Marchand – the same piece which began the recital in 1994 – demonstrating from the first arresting pedal note this instrument’s wonderful ‘clang’ which was a key characteristic in Nicolas Kynaston’s vision for this organ. 

Other pieces from the 1994 inaugural recital programme were included: César Franck’s Choral no.3 in A minor, played by David Saint, and J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor, along with Marcel Dupré’s Final from Sept Pièces, played by Paul Carr.

Nigel Morris played Jan Zwart’s Toccata on Psalm 146 and demonstrated the organ’s ability to crescendo from ethereal whisper to grand roar in Lionel Rogg’s La Cité Céleste.

During the recital David Saint spoke to the audience about the recent installation of an organ in the gallery at the front of the Cathedral; an instrument built by Lloyd of Nottingham which has come from a redundant church in Scotland. John Pryer then demonstrated this instrument with an improvisation on a theme by Sidney Campell.

At the conclusion of the recital Mgr Tim Menezes, Cathedral Dean, thanked the organists and other members of the music team and presented gifts. Everyone present at this wonderful celebration was given a commemorative bookmark which included a picture of the organ’s beautiful case.

Photos: courtesy of Andrew De Valliere

Installation of Four new Canons to the Chapter of the Cathedral

On Tuesday 6 February 2024, we were pleased to celebrate the Installation of four Canons of the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Chad.

Mgr. Mark Crisp, Parish Priest of Blessed Carlo Acutis, Wolverhampton and Fr Raymond Corbett, Diocesan Chancellor and Catholic Chaplain to Aston University were installed as Chapter Canons, the group of priests who form part of the College of Consultors, who advise the Archbishop about the life and mission of the Archdiocese.

Two more priests were installed as Honorary Canons: Fr Gary Buckby, Parish Priest of Our Lady & St Rose of Lima, Weoley Castle and St Peter, Bartley Green, Dean of both Cathedral and South Birmingham Deaneries and Episcopal Vicar for Religious; and Fr Douglas Lamb, Parish Priest of St Ambrose, Kidderminster.

As well as advising the bishop of the Diocese, the Chapter of Canons has a care for the Cathedral and for its liturgical life and so meets and prays together more or less monthly through the year at the Chapter Mass – usually the 2nd Tuesday of the month.

Mass was celebrated by Mgr Canon Tom Farrell and in the presence of Archbishop Bernard Longley.

Mgr Tim Menezes, Cathedral Dean and Secretary of the Chapter, read the nominations for the four Canons who then made the promise of Obedience and the Profession of Faith.

In turn, the new Canons ascended the sanctuary and knelt before the Archbishop as they were dressed in the liturgical garments appropriate to their appointment as Chapter Canons and Honorary Canons.

The Archbishop presented them with a copy of the Chapter Statutes and formally admitted them saying:

“I now admit you as a member of the Chapter of our Cathedral Church of St. Chad with the rights and duties of that office in the name of ✠the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”

Monsignor Mark Crisp gave an excellent and beautiful homily about St Chad’s Cathedral, and on the whole question of the prayerfulness of the temple of God and God’s presence with us always.

HOMILY

PHOTOS

Religious Communities renew their commitment to God at the annual Mass for Religious and Consecrated Life

On Saturday 3 February, St Chad’s Cathedral hosted the annual Day for Religious, at which religious brothers and sisters from across the Archdiocese renew their commitment to the service of Jesus Christ, Light of the World.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley with Fr Justin Karakadu, SDV delivering the Homily. As ever the Mass involved a Nigerian offertory procession and music from the Sorelli Minori at communion.

Eight jubilarians were also celebrated for their lives of service. The jubilarians met with Archbishop Bernard ahead of the Mass and shared their vocation stories. Of those in attendance they have so far given 270 years of dedicated service.

After Mass the guests enjoyed lunch before guest speaker, Austen Ivereigh, spoke to the gathering.

Dr Ivereigh is a journalist, author, commentator and biographer of Pope Francis.

He was one of the theological advisors at last year’s Synod in Rome and is a close friend of Pope Francis. He has written several biographical books about the Holy Father.

Dr Ivereigh is also a former deputy editor of The Tablet and a founder of the media project Catholic Voices. 

During his talk Dr Ivereigh discussed his role at the Synod and ‘why synodality at this moment?’ He touched on the crisis/collapse in vocations and outlined ‘the coming era of Christianity is going to look very different’.

He shared with the audience that ‘Synod is about a spiritual conversion’ and we are ‘in transition to a new era’ and embarking on a ‘transformation of culture’.

Dr Ivereigh referenced the words of Pope Francis that we ‘must rediscover the word ‘together’’…we are ‘listening, hearing and feeling the voice of the Spirit’…we are ‘a Church that embraces everyone’.

Those celebrating Silver Jubilees
Sr Maris Stella Igwe, DDL
Sr Loretto Okwaji, DDL
Sr Ewa Pliszczak SSpS
Sr Roseline Ezeifo, DDL 

Golden Jubilees
Sr Pauline Myres, SP

Diamond Jubilees
Sr Marie Joynes, SP
Sr Therese Browne, SP
Sr Christine of St John the Divine who is an Anglican Religious

Main photograph: Jubilarians pictured with Archbishop Bernard Longley, and Fr Gary Buckby and Sister Una Coogan, Episcopal Vicars for Religious.

Photo Gallery

Watch! A Nigerian offertory procession by religious Sisters from across the Archdiocese at today’s Mass:

Civic Mass 2023

St Chad’s Cathedral hosted the annual Civic Mass on Sunday 26 November 2023, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Many of those engaged in public life in Birmingham were invited to the 11.30am Mass including the Lord Mayor, members of the Judiciary, The High Sherriff of the West Midlands, MPs and Councillors.

The civic guests represented the cultural, political, religious and academic life of the city.

Mass was celebrated and Homily given by Archbishop Bernard Longley. READ HOMILY

As World Youth Sunday was also marked this weekend Ellen Turner, part-time chaplain at Bishop Challoner Catholic College, Kings Heath and Yemisi Wisoba from the Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT), gave talks on youth ministry.

Main photograph (above): Civic Dignitaries with faith leaders and city councillors

Front Row L-R: Mgr Timothy Menezes, WMP Cadet Samina Iqbal, WMP Cadet Sahib Gahir, Lady Mayoress Vidya Wati, Lord Mayor Cllr Chaman Lal, Bishop Anne Hollinghurst, Archbishop Bernard Longley, High Sheriff Wade Lyn CBE, Vice Lord Lieutenant Louise Bennett OBE, Liam Byrne MP, Cllr Muhammad Afzal, Mr Arvinder Jain, Commander Ambrose Hogan .

Back Row L-R: Judge Aspinall JP, District Judge Bristow, Prof Peter Childs, Chief Supt North, Mr Justice Keehan, LL Cadet Corp. Cronin, Dean Matt Thompson, Judge Rochford, Judge Gosling.

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

Thanksgiving Mass for Bishop Stephen Wright

Hundreds welcomed Bishop Stephen Wright back to the Archdiocese today, Friday 17 November, for a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Chad’s Cathedral.

Bishop Stephen, a former Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese, was installed as the Fifteenth Bishop of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in July.

The Mass of Thanksgiving was attended by Bishop Stephen’s fellow clergy, family, friends and former parishioners from parishes he served in Stechford, Banbury and Burton upon Trent, along with a group from his home parish of St Austin’s, Stafford.

School children from St Modwen’s Catholic Primary School, Burton; St Chad’s Catholic Primary School, Birmingham; Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School, Stechford; St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary School, Stechford; St Austin’s Catholic Primary School, Stafford; Blessed Mother Teresa’s Catholic Primary School, Stafford; Blessed William Howard Catholic School, Stafford and Blessed George Napier School, Banbury were also in attendance.

Archbishop Bernard Longley warmly welcomed Bishop Stephen back to the Archdiocese and gave an introduction to the congregation.

Today felt extra special as people were able to gather and celebrate in person with Bishop Stephen. He was ordained Bishop at St Chad’s Cathedral in October 2020 with a limited congregation because of Covid restrictions, and not many people were able to travel to his installation in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

During his Homily Bishop Stephen talked about his new home in the North and how he was settling in, including regular walks and bird watching in Northumberland and discovering places of pilgrimage.

He also shared his thoughts on the Northern Saints, and how they were a continual inspiration – especially St Cuthbert, who is widely revered today.

Bishop Stephen said he was very privileged to wear the cross of St Cuthbert and be the Bishop of his homeland.

He said there was much to learn from his style of ministry – that being 7th century synodality.

He concluded his Homily with: “Respond with generosity to the Lord’s call to serve His people”.

Photo Gallery

Bishop Stephen Wright, Mass of Thanksgiving

Prayer

A Prayer for Bishop Stephen Wright:

Lord, rock of our hearts,
from a sea swept island
you sent Aidan and Cuthbert
to sow your Word fruitfully
throughout our Northern Land and
you inspired Bede to understand and speak your truth
reflected in our lives and in our history.

Grant your servant, Stephen,
whom you have called to follow them,
a rich share in this heritage –
to speak your Word courageously
to teach wisely
and to lead with love.
Amen.

Monsignor Kevin Nichols 1929-2006

Installation of Bishop Stephen Wright, July 2023

Safeguarding Sunday 2023

An important message to Cathedral Parishioners from Fr Tim

Safeguarding is something that has become a very important part of the life of the Catholic Church for reasons that need little explanation. But perhaps I can give you some background to how this is implemented today:

  1. Every parish is called to have a Parish Safeguarding Representative who has a role and who can be contacted independently of the Parish Priest. In this role, the Parish Safeguarding Representative meets with any adult who seeks to take a greater role in the life of the parish, which can include a DBS check.  Our Safeguarding Rep is Mrs Margaret Harrold and you can find her contact details on the newsletter at all times.
  2. Every priest and deacon of the Archdiocese of Birmingham has a responsibility to fulfil safeguarding training every 3 years in a formal manner, but with regular updates on developments in safeguarding.
  3. We have a strong Safeguarding Department in the Diocese with people with expertise in policing, adult safeguarding and child protection. In its work, the Department seeks the advice and feedback of a Survivors Forum: those who have suffered abuse giving the Church real insight into how its work of Safeguarding is considered effective by people who matter most.
  4. In my own work as a Foundation Governor in two schools, I do a separate safeguarding training every year as well as further training on Safer Recruitment for the purposes of interviewing new staff.
  5. But I want to say this very clearly: every member of the Catholic Church has a responsibility for Safeguarding. If you see or experience anything when you come to Mass that gives you cause for concern, you are not so much invited to do something about it or speak to somebody. I would suggest that you have a responsibility to speak to somebody. That would normally be our Parish Safeguarding Representative. And you don’t have to have concerns. Safeguarding began as reactive, but building a culture of safeguarding requires talking about it, asking questions about it, deepening our understanding of the issues, and being clear that the issues change over time.
  6. I hope I don’t need to explain to anybody why – in the life of the Church – this is not something of the past, and the very nature of safeguarding is that if we ever stop thinking about it and talking about it, the problems arise.
  7. Please pray for and be active in fostering this ongoing and current culture of safeguarding. Let us not be afraid to talk about it, or allow it being an uncomfortable subject to avoid it. I don’t avoid it and I ask you not to avoid it. Children, young people and adults in vulnerable circumstances deserve the best of trust and safety and we are all responsible for it.

Mass of Thanksgiving for Bishop Stephen Wright

We welcome Bishop Stephen Wright back to the Archdiocese on Friday 17 November for a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Chad’s Cathedral.

Bishop Stephen, a former Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese, was installed as the Fifteenth Bishop of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in July.

All are welcome to his Mass of Thanksgiving, to be celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

It starts at 12noon and will also be live streamed.

#RedWednesday Annual Schools Mass

Invite from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

Join schools from the ACN Central Area on Tuesday 21 November for the first of our Annual #ACN Red Wednesday Schools Masses. Our celebrant is Mgr Timothy Menezes, Dean of St Chad’s Cathedral.

Primary and Secondary Schools are invited from across the ACN Central Area (Archdiocese of Birmingham, Dioceses of Leeds, Hallam, Nottingham, Northampton) to join together in praying for persecuted Christians and those in pastoral need.

Staff and students are invited to wear red for the Mass. 

St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School & Sixth Form, Birmingham, are providing the music.

This will be our first ACN Annual Mass for Schools in support of #ACN Red Wednesday and an ideal time to link your prayers, learn about those we at ACN help and fundraise to support them in their times of extreme need.

Following the Mass at 12.15pm there will be refreshments in the Grimshaw Room and a chance to learn more about #RW and ACN’s work.

Let us stand in solidarity with the millions of Christians, and those of other Religions, who are persecuted for their faith.

#RedWednesday: Break the Silence on Christian Persecution.

More information and register your school

More information on #RedWednesday: Break the Silence

Photograph: St Chad’s Cathedral lit red for #RedWednesday 2018

Celebrating the Commitment of our Altar Servers

The hard work, dedication and commitment of altar servers across the Archdiocese has been celebrated at St Chad’s Cathedral, the Diocesan Mother Church.

The annual Mass of Thanksgiving for the Guild of St Stephen was celebrated by Bishop David Evans on Saturday 7 October and included the renewal of servers’ promises.

Around 300 people, made up of altar servers and their families, gathered for the occasion.

The Guild of St Stephen is an international organisation of Altar Servers founded in England in 1904 by Father Hamilton McDonald when he formed a Society of Altar Servers at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in London.

The objectives of the Guild are:
•    To encourage, positively and practically, the highest standards of serving at the Church’s liturgy and so contribute to the whole community’s participation in a more fruitful worship of God.
•    To provide altar servers with a greater understanding of what they are doing so that they may serve with increasing reverence and prayerfulness and thereby be led to a deepening response to their vocation in life.
•    To unite servers of different parishes and dioceses for their mutual support and encouragement.

Altar servers aged from seven to in their 80s attended Saturday’s event.

Serving on the Sanctuary were altar servers from Our Lady of the Angels, Nuneaton, and the largest group of altar servers (20) represented SS Mary and Benedict, Coventry. 

In his Homily Bishop David spoke of Our Lady of the Rosary:

Today’s gospel and the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles relate the first and last occasions in the New Testament when Our Lady is mentioned by name. There are other places later in the bible that mention a woman, whom the Church interprets as being Our Lady.

The first texts record events that happened during Our Lady’s life on earth – the Annunciation and her being united in prayer with the Apostles after Jesus’ Ascension. The later texts point to what happened at the end of Our Lady’s life – her Assumption and her being crowned Queen of Heaven. These also provide us with the early and later Mysteries of the Rosary.

In between we meditate on Mysteries of Our Lord’s birth and public life, especially now that the Rosary includes the Mysteries of Light.

Read Homily in full

In the accompanying Mass booklet the number of Guild of Saint Stephen Medals awarded in 2022 is outlined:

Silver Medals – 23
Silver Medals of Merit – two
Gold Medals of Merit – two

Along with Anniversaries of Affiliation to the Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen:

Ruby (40 yrs) – Six churches
Gold (50 yrs) – Four churches
Diamond (60 yrs) – Four churches
Platinum (70 yrs) – Six churches

Huge congratulations to all!

The Archdiocese of Birmingham Guild of St Stephen is administered by the Diocesan Vocations Office.

Together with the Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT) the Vocations office will be hosting a retreat for altar servers – Called to Serve – in March 2024.

This is the first ever weekend retreat for altar servers in school years 5-13, and their parish leaders, and will be held at the diocesan youth retreat centres Alton Castle and Soli, in North Staffordshire.

More details will follow in due course.

Photo Album by Con McHugh

Evangelii Gaudium Sunday

Celebrating a letter to the Church published by Pope Francis in November 2013 soon after he was elected Pope.

We are now encouraged to reflect on our life of prayer, to deepen our own and help and encourage others with theirs.

Highlights of Evangelii Gaudium

Cathedral Weekend of Faith and Culture

Music, song and prayer have filled St Chad’s Cathedral in celebration of a Weekend of Faith and Culture.

The two-day event (Sat 24 and Sun 25 June) was hosted for people of the St Chad’s Cathedral parish as a joyous expression of the life of the parish as it is today.

Over the last 20 years there has been a huge change of demographic in the parish as more and more people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures come to worship at St Chad’s.

The aim of the weekend was to celebrate the parish’s life together and give people a greater sense of belonging.

Throughout the weekend there have been opportunities to join short tours of the cathedral; parishioners have been invited to attend in their national/cultural dress and enjoy food prepared by the many different nationalities.

The 4.30pm Vigil Mass on Saturday was an African Mass, animated by the Gambian Christian Association and the Daughters of Divine Love Religious Order.

The Hail Mary was prayed in multiple languages.

On Sunday the 9.30am Mass was led by St Chad’s Catholic Primary School and the 11.30am Mass featured St Chad’s Cathedral Choir.

At both Masses the Hail Mary was prayed in different languages.

Monsignor Timothy Menezes, Dean of St Chad’s Cathedral, said: “This weekend has celebrated all the people who make up our wonderful parish community, which is so rich in diversity.

“An opportunity to come together and learn about each other’s backgrounds and cultures, and altogether praising God for the community we are building.”

Photo Gallery

Three New Canons Appointed and Installed to the Metropolitan Chapter of Canons

Three new Canons have been installed and appointed to the Metropolitan Chapter of Canons.

St Chad’s Cathedral held the Capitular Mass of the Venerable Metropolitan Chapter and the Rite of Installation to a Canonry of Very Reverend Canon Michael Dolman, Very Reverend Canon Brian McGinley and Very Reverend Canon Paul McNally.

Canons Michael, Brian and Paul are now part of the Chapter of Canons, who form the governing body of the Cathedral, caring for it and for its liturgical life.

They are also the College of Consultors who advise the Archbishop about the life and mission of the Archdiocese.

The Mass was celebrated by the Very Reverend Canon Michael Neylon in the presence of His Grace Archbishop Bernard Longley.

Archbishop Bernard welcomed the parish of St George Worcester, and the other Worcester parishes, and the parishes of Holy Trinity in Newcastle Under Lyme and Sacred Heart in Silverdale who came in support of Canon Brian and Canon Paul, as well as Oscott staff and seminarians who came in support of their Rector, Canon Michael.

Mgr Tim Menezes, Cathedral Dean and Secretary of the Chapter read the nominations for the three Canons who then made the promise of Obedience and the Profession of Faith.

In turn, the new Canons ascended the sanctuary and knelt before the Archbishop as they were dressed in the cappa parva (small hooded cape). The Archbishop presented them with a copy of the Chapter Statutes and formally admitted them saying:

“I now admit you as a member of the Chapter of our Cathedral Church of St. Chad with the rights and duties of that office in the name of ✠the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”

The Provost, Bishop David Evans said: “The Lord in his mercy has appointed you to be joined to our Chapter.

“We welcome you and pray for you that you may ever keep true love for your brothers and after this life receive the reward of your labours.”

Photo Gallery

Blessing of Hands ahead of the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes

A special Mass was held at St Chad’s Cathedral on Sunday 21 May to celebrate the forthcoming Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.

People representing the various groups which are travelling to Lourdes attend the Blessing of Hands service to have their hands blessed for whatever ministry they may be involved in.

The annual Diocesan Pilgrimage is returning to Lourdes from Saturday 27 May to Friday 2 June under the leadership of His Grace, Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bishop David Evans.

Around 500 pilgrims are joining the Diocesan Pilgrimage with many other groups meeting up there, taking the numbers up to around 600.

Those attending include children and young adults from schools, parishes and youth groups, called to serve. Plus a team from the Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT).

The pilgrimage theme this year is “…to build a chapel here…”.

Sunday’s Mass was celebrated by Bishop David Evans and Fr David Hartley, Chaplain of the Sick whilst in Lourdes, delivered the Homily.

“Surely our Lourdes pilgrimage helps us to express all the pillars of our Diocesan Vision – Evangelisation, Formation, Liturgy and Worship and Social Outreach – and Young People – yes! This is biggest event in the life of our diocese and we’re all glad to be part of it – we live the life of the Church in a concentrated way – we will journey together and build each other up in love.

“And that journeying together is how the Church works all the time even when we are not seeing it so clearly- it’s how Synodality needs to work- walking together- and all that goes with that- we’ll be driving together or even flying together, sharing rooms (sick pilgrims and helpers), helping and encouraging- walking together.

“There will be lots of doing, but also time for sharing- reflecting, opening up. Make the most of the gaps- the times when even if you hardly know how to pray other people are praying with you and for you and carrying you along. Be aware of the prayers of Our Lady, and St Bernadette, and many pilgrims who have travelled to Lourdes before us.”

Read Homily in full

Music at the Blessing of Hands Mass was led by Jo Boyce, of CJM Music. She was thanked and applauded for 25 years of leading music on the Lourdes pilgrimage as she now steps back.

Please pray for all those involved in this year’s pilgrimage to Lourdes, as they will be praying for you.

Follow the Lourdes Pilgrimage on our website and by using the hashtag #Brum2Lourdes on social media.

Photo Gallery

LOUDfence has drawn to a close but its impact will remain

A LOUDfence at St Chad’s Cathedral may have come to an end but there is much to be gained from the experience.

Brightly coloured ribbons and messages of support adorned the railings inside and outside St Chad’s Cathedral last week as many people contributed to the survivor-led initiative.

Support for all those who have suffered abuse was evident with messages coming from across the Archdiocese and as far afield as France and the USA.

The visible LOUDfence ended on Saturday 13 May, but the legacy it has left behind is just the beginning.

The Diocesan Safeguarding Team organised the event together with the cathedral team, Antonia Sobocki, the UK Project Manager for LOUDfence UK, friends at St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham and members of the Survivor Engagement Panel.

They will now review the event and consider next steps as part of the Archdiocese’s ongoing commitment to safeguarding.

One follow-up event already taking place is a day of creativity in September, where the ribbons from St Chad’s LOUDfence, together with those from a LOUDfence at St Philip’s last year, will be used to create a memorable piece of art. 

A survivor who attended last week’s LOUDfence said: “It has been very encouraging to see the Archdiocese host a LOUDfence.

“The ribbons tied to the cathedral railings are a moving testament to the suffering of those who have been abused by the Church and it is an important step in making sure that survivors’ voices are heard by all parts of the Church. What happens next, as a result of LOUDfence, is what will really count.

“It is good to see the Safeguarding Team building bridges with some survivors but there is still a long way to go in the Church to build trust and repair the damage that has been done to so many.”

Another survivor spoke at last Tuesday’s Mass, on the National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse.

Words written quickly before Mass, and spoken by a woman, originally from Birmingham, who struggles decades later to fully connect with the Church after experiencing, as a child, spiritually damaging teaching from clergy and religious, and sexual misconduct from a priest in the context of confession as a teenager. Distressed and angry at how the Church continues in so many ways to turn away from truths about abusive relationships of power within it. Longing for more honesty, more justice, more equity and more transparency to build a Church in which all those who have been hurt can feel safer. Acutely conscious of serious forms of abuse happening across the Global Church family today. Searching for more honest, open dialogue in order to learn together. The sorrow and humility expressed by Archbishop Bernard Longley to his congregation on 7th May and ability to make some space for the voice of LOUDfence and a survivor was much appreciated; and that of Mgr Tim Menezes, who listened. Also appreciated was the acknowledgement that we need very actively to learn and do more.

Said at St Chad’s Birmingham – the Day of Prayer for Victim/Survivors of Abuse – acknowledging especially those abused within the Church, 9th May 2023.

Some words from ..survivors of abuse within the Church – thinking particularly of those among us here today. Some who have come a long way to be able to join us here today – some who really .. struggle .. to come within the Church.

Fellow Catholics

An Empty Chair
A gift from Catholics
True to Jesus, following Him.
Struggling to enter the Church
Struggling to be ..in .. Communion, Participation or Mission, With a Church… that continues ..to deny Justice
To Those it hurts so badly.
A Church when it fails to Listen
To those it continues to hurt.
A Church when it is blind …to how …it hampers its own Mission
A Church that turns away from Christ
When it fails to learn by listening.
Lord, bind us together
Help us have the courageous conversations,
The radical conversations we need to have.
Lord in your Mercy
Hear Our Prayer.

Visitors during last week also included parishioners from parishes in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Worcestershire and Oxford, clergy, members of the Franciscan Order, members of the Diocesan Safeguarding Trustee sub-committee and colleagues from various partner agencies.

As part of the event the Diocesan Safeguarding Team also ran a ‘Safeguarding in Action’ event in the Grimshaw Room, appreciating not everyone would want to go inside the cathedral.

This included a two-day mindfulness craft workshop with Cal Thomas, who made crochet crosses for visitors and is going to make an embroidered angel into a banner.

Following the LOUDfence at St Chad’s Cathedral one is being hosted in the Diocese of Northampton from Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 May at St Teresa’s Church, Beaconsfield.

You can view last week’s messages in our online photo albums

Safeguarding in the Archdiocese

Share your messages on St Chads’ LOUDfence

Messages of support from across the Archdiocese and far beyond are now adorning the railings outside St Chad’s Cathedral as part of LOUDfence.

The survivor-led initiative, which was launched at St Chad’s on Sunday, encourages people to tie brightly coloured ribbons and messages in public spaces. The aim is to give survivors a voice, create and raise awareness in the community and work to end abuse.

Yesterday, Tuesday 9 May, was the National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse and was the Mass intention at the cathedral.

A number of victim-survivors attended the Mass, along with staff from the Diocesan Safeguarding Team; Antonia Sobocki, the UK Project Manager for LOUDfence UK; friends at St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham and members of the Survivor Engagement Panel, which works closely with the Safeguarding Team.

Some parishioners from Corpus Christi in Headington, Oxford, attended, bringing with them a number of messages to tie to the LOUDfence.

Many messages from France were tied to the railings on Sunday, delivered by Katherine Shirk Lucas, a Roman Catholic Theologian and Lecturer at the Catholic University of Paris who helped to organise the recent LOUDfence in France.

Mary Varley, from the Stolen Lives team of Root & Branch – an international forum which seeks to see a safe, just and inclusive church – said: “We have been working with Antonia, and the organisation Survivors Voices, and making a connection.

“The scale of the change needed in the Church is massive – cultural, structural and legal.

“We need ordinary Catholics to speak up and speak out.”

The LOUDfence runs at St Chad’s Cathedral until Saturday 13 May. Throughout this week visitors are encouraged to take part by tying ribbons and messages on the outside railings between the entrance to Cathedral House and the book shop, as well as just inside the cathedral in the Bell Chamber.

As part of the event the Diocesan Safeguarding Team are running a ‘Safeguarding in Action’ event in the Grimshaw Room. We appreciate not everyone will want to go inside the cathedral, and so the Grimshaw Room is an alternative place for quiet reflection and a cuppa.

If you cannot attend in person: 

Photo Galleries

LOUDfence launched at St Chad’s Cathedral

Archbishop Bernard Longley helped to launch a LOUDfence at St Chad’s Cathedral today, Sunday 7 May, as he tied a ribbon and message of support to railings.

In a visible show of support and solidarity with those who have been abused His Grace led the way in launching the LOUDfence.

His message read: I offer this prayer-ribbon in heartfelt reparation for the suffering of all victim-survivors of abuse within the Archdiocese of Birmingham. I apologise on behalf of the Catholic Church for all that they have suffered. I humbly ask for their forgiveness and I thank them for all that they have taught us.

Archbishop Bernard was joined by Antonia Sobocki, the UK Project Manager for LOUDfence UK, and Katherine Shirk Lucas, a Roman Catholic Theologian and Lecturer at the Catholic University of Paris who helped to organise the recent LOUDfence in France.

Katherine also shared a letter from the President of the French Bishops’ Council and bought messages from survivors and survivor advocates in France to tie to the LOUDfence.

Antonia said: “All change starts with dialogue and compassion. LOUDfence is the beginning of that dialogue and it’s my hope that people will feel welcome, reassured and enabled to engage with dialogue because ultimately it takes all of us to work together.”

Many other ribbons and messages of support were added to the LOUDfence, which runs until Saturday 13 May (it pauses tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday).

Visitors included a group from France – last month a LOUDfence was hosted at a meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in Lourdes and at the National Conference of the Ordained Religious of France, held in Paris – and safeguarding colleagues from other Catholic dioceses.

Friends from St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham – which hosted a LOUDfence last year – also attended, along with members of the Survivor Engagement Panel which works closely with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team.

The 11.30am Mass made several references to LOUDfence and Antonia also spoke to the congregation afterwards. Mass was also due to be said at the Vatican for the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the LOUDfence today.

In his Homily Archbishop Bernard said: “I wish to thank the victim-survivors of abuse within the Catholic Church, who may have joined us today in person or online, for their witness of great courage and strength – especially when it may be painful and costly to cross the threshold of a church property, with all the unwelcome memories that this can bring.”  

LOUDfence is a survivor-led initiative and is rapidly gaining international attention. It involves tying LOUD (brightly coloured) ribbons and messages of support in public spaces. The aim is to give survivors a voice, create and raise awareness in the community and work to end abuse.

Throughout this week visitors to St Chad’s Cathedral are encouraged to take part by tying ribbons and messages on the outside railings between the entrance to Cathedral House and the book shop, as well as just inside the cathedral in the Bell Chamber.

As part of the event the Diocesan Safeguarding Team are running a ‘Safeguarding in Action’ event in the Grimshaw Room. We appreciate not everyone will want to go inside the cathedral, and so the Grimshaw Room is an alternative place for quiet reflection and a cuppa.

If you are not able to attend in person please:

Rejoice! Thanksgiving Mass for Marriage

Couples celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2023, and those preparing to marry, gathered together at St Chad’s Cathedral for this year’s Thanksgiving Mass for Marriage.

The Mass, celebrated by Bishop Stephen Wright on Saturday 29 April, the Feast of St Catherine of Siena, featured a renewal of commitment and blessing of married couples.

commemorative Mass booklet listed 25 couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, from their 1st and every five years up to 60 years, along with two couples preparing to marry. Many other couples also participated.

In his Homily Bishop Stephen said: “Today we celebrate your “yes”.

“As we celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we celebrate Jesus’s very presence in you. Christ is present in the holy sacramental bond of matrimony. You have said yes to loving the Lord in your love for one another, husband, and wife. On behalf of the whole Church, I thank you for your prayerful discernment in freely choosing to marry. I thank you for your witness to the Lord and for your service. I thank you for your faithful married life.”

Read Homily in full

After Holy Mass all were invited for light refreshments in the Grimshaw Room.

The sacrament of matrimony is also a vocation. Through the vows taken a man and woman are joined together for life.

A marriage takes place in the presence of God and the faith community, but it is an ongoing witness, not just of the love and unity of a man and wife but, as St Paul writes, of the great sacrificial love Christ has for His bride, the Church. (Eph 5:22-32)

The grace of the sacrament is there to strengthen the couple who should be open to creating and raising a family.

This year’s Thanksgiving Mass was organised by Paul Northam, the Diocesan Advisor for Evangelisation and Discipleship with Marriage & Family Life.

“It was very encouraging to see so many couples who wanted to give thanks for the gift of their marriages, as well as couples who will be getting married this year,” said Paul.

“This has been our first Mass for Marriage for two years, and I thank all those from the Vocations Office, St Chad’s Cathedral and the couples themselves, who helped to make this a beautiful celebration of the importance of married love in the life of the Church.

“I also wanted to acknowledge my particular gratitude for the vision of Lianne Pap in establishing this annual Mass for Marriage, and upon who’s good work we are building. I look forward to extending another invitation in 2024 for couples to celebrate with us once again.”

Marriage and Family Life in the Archdiocese of Birmingham

Photo Gallery

All are invited to take part in a LOUDfence event at St Chad’s

St Chad’s Cathedral is hosting a LOUDfence from Sunday 7 May and all have the opportunity to take part either in person or virtually.

A LOUDfence involves tying LOUD (brightly coloured) ribbons and messages of support in public spaces. The aim is to give survivors a voice, create and raise awareness in the community and work to end abuse.

Visitors will be invited to tie ribbons and messages on the outside railings between the entrance to Cathedral House and the book shop, as well as just inside the cathedral in the Bell Chamber.

For those who cannot attend in person you can:

contribute a virtual ribbon and/or message of support 

A programme of events to accompany the LOUDfence is outlined below and it has also been confirmed Mass will be said at the Vatican for the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the LOUDfence on Sunday 7 May.

As part of the event the Diocesan Safeguarding Team will be running a ‘Safeguarding in Action’ event in the Grimshaw Room. We appreciate not everyone will want to go inside the cathedral, and so the Grimshaw Room is an alternative place for quiet reflection and a cuppa.

The LOUDfence at St Chad’s is being supported by Antonia Sobocki, the UK Project Manager for LOUDfence UK, friends at St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham and the Survivor Engagement Panel which works closely with the Safeguarding Team.

LOUDfence is a survivor-led initiative and is rapidly gaining international attention.

We look forward to welcoming visitors to the St Chad’s LOUDfence.

Contribute a virtual ribbon and/or message of support

Main photograph: St Peter’s Parish Church, Kirkbampton, Cumbria where the LOUDfence healing and reconciliation movement began in 2020.

Programme (to date)

Sunday 7 May – Mass at 11.30am, St Chad’s Cathedral

LOUDfence launch with delegates.

‘Safeguarding In Action’ in the Grimshaw Room all week.

Transformation Angels creative project – with kind permission of artist Sarah Troughton and the Diocese of Newcastle.

Meet and greet in Grimshaw Room.

Monday 8 May (Paused for the Bank Holiday)

 

Tuesday 9 May

LOUDfence.

Mass at 12.15pm at St Chad’s Cathedral, marking the National Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse

LOUDfence.

‘Safeguarding In Action’ in the Grimshaw Room.

Transformation Angels creative project.

Quiet reflection space.

Complimentary tea and coffee available.

Wednesday 10 May

LOUDfence.

Daily Mass, St Chad’s Cathedral at 12.15pm.

‘Safeguarding In Action’ in the Grimshaw Room.

Transformation Angels creative project.

Quiet reflection space.

Complimentary tea and coffee available.

Thursday 11 May

LOUDfence.

Daily Mass, St Chad’s Cathedral at 12.15pm.

‘Safeguarding In Action’ in the Grimshaw Room. Displays from survivor support agencies including Safe Spaces.

Transformation Angels creative project.

Mindfulness craft workshop with Cal Thomas. Cal describes herself as a proud brummie who loves to create and craft. Previous work includes a commission for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Cal made and donated the machine embroidered LOUDfence banner displayed in the cathedral’s Bell Chamber and has offered to teach machine embroidery and crochet beginner skills.

Quiet reflection space.

Complimentary tea and coffee available.

Friday 12 May

LOUDfence.

Daily Mass, St Chad’s Cathedral at 12.15pm.

‘Safeguarding In Action’ in the Grimshaw Room.

Transformation Angels creative project.

Mindfulness craft workshop with Cal Thomas.

Quiet reflection space.

Complimentary tea and coffee available.

Saturday 13 May

LOUDfence.

Daily Mass, St Chad’s Cathedral at 12.15pm.

‘Safeguarding In Action’ in the Grimshaw Room.

Transformation Angels creative project.

Quiet reflection space.

Complimentary tea and coffee available.

Funeral Mass for Bishop David McGough

Thursday 20 April saw family, friends, clergy and colleagues gathered for the Funeral Mass of Bishop David McGough at St Chad’s Cathedral.

Archbishop Bernard Longley welcomed all of those present, including Bishop David’s family and his former parishioners as well as Bishop Jan McFarlane and Emeritus Dean Adrian Dorber from Lichfield Cathedral, where Bishop David was an Ecumenical Canon.

Fr Terry Bloor, who represented the Bishop of Stafford, Robert Mountford who represented ecumenical partnerships in Staffordshire and the West Midlands, and those who represented our friends at St Philip’s Cathedral were all welcomed.

Archbishop Bernard also welcomed the staff and pupils of Hagley Catholic High School, where Bishop David served as Chaplain between 1990 and 2005, and the staff from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Stourbridge.

His Grace added: “I am very grateful to Bishop David’s brother bishops for concelebrating this Requiem Mass and in particular Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, the Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, together with Abbot Geoffrey Scott and Abbot David Charlesworth, and the many brother priests and deacons assembled from across the Archdiocesan family and beyond.”

He mentioned also those who could not attend in person, but who were there in spirit.

Homily – Archbishop Bernard Longley

The power of Jesus to save is utterly certain, since he is living forever to intercede for all who come to God through him.

For all of us who know Bishop David it takes very little imagination to be able to hear his voice repeating with conviction those words from the Letter to the Hebrews declaring his own firm faith in the risen Christ. 

Without the least intention of promoting his own image Bishop David’s voice, his characteristic expressions, both in looks and words, and his personal way of being have left a deep impression on each one of us – so that we can, very easily and quite fittingly, call him to mind during this Requiem Mass.

With his life-long love of the Word of God and his scholarly fascination with the Scriptures, for what they continue to reveal about Jesus Christ and about our own journeys of faith, David would not thank me for offering you a panegyric which simply praised the qualities of his personality and the achievements of his life as an academic and pastor.  But he would forgive me for searching within the triumphs and the failures, the strengths and the frailties that he knew for the presence of Christ crucified and risen from the dead.

That same risen Christ poured out his sacramental anointing on David to sustain him along the pathways of deep faith and heartfelt service.  Two weeks ago many of us were here and in other Cathedral churches for the Chrism Mass of Holy Week, when the oils of the catechumens and the sick were blessed and the oil of chrism was consecrated. 

One of the joys of Bishop David’s company was the facility he had for capturing a person, an encounter or an event by recounting a story.  So much of our more recent diocesan history was distilled in his story-telling – and his love of the Scriptures often found expression through reflecting on bible stories.  He would certainly have offered some significant insights on St Luke’s story of the widow of Nain proclaimed as today’s Gospel.

Bishop David was anointed with the oil of chrism as priest and bishop to preach the Word of God and to celebrate the Sacraments.  With the family tradition and experience to support him, he knew how to express the compassion of Christ for those who had lost loved ones and how best to affirm our faith in the Resurrection and the Lord’s call to eternal life. 

He was often called upon to preach at clergy funerals – and he always drew our thoughts back to the central message of Easter:  I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord: whoever believes in me will never die.

The presence of Bishop David’s large family, his brother priests and bishops, and a wide range of colleagues, parishioners and friends testifies to the many different strands of his life of service. 

He was a wonderful teacher and a dedicated and loving pastor, a true son of the Potteries with a passion for cricket, a loyal Catholic with an ecumenical heart, a beloved brother, uncle and cousin who cherished family life, and the wisest of counsellors.

But the accolade that has been most often repeated since his death – and the only one that counts before the throne of God’s mercy – he was a good man, aware of his failings and limitations, but whose belief and trust in Jesus Christ carried him through this life and has opened the way to life everlasting.  The power of Jesus to save is utterly certain, since he is living forever to intercede for all who come to God through him.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen.

PHOTOS

Good Friday, The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

At 3pm the faithful gathered at St Chad’s Cathedral for the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord.

The Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday was celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley and included the narrative of the Lord’s Passion according to St John, which was sung, and Adoration of the Holy Cross.

The Homily was given by Fr Michael Dolman, the Rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott.

Thousands of people across the Archdiocese will have taken part in such services at their local church.

Good Friday, the Lord’s Passion Photo Gallery

Good Friday Walk of Witness

Hundreds gathered in the Good Friday sunshine to process from The Church in Carrs Lane to St Chad’s Cathedral, marking Christ’s journey to the cross.

Sharing the lead alongside Acting Bishop of Birmingham & Bishop of Aston, Bishop Anne Hollinghurst, were Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Rev Steven Faber, Moderator of the United Reformed Church for the West Midlands Synod, and the Rev Novette Headley, Chair of the Methodist Church, Birmingham District.

With the Very Rev Matt Thompson, Dean of St Philip’s Cathedral, with Canon Josephine Houghton and Canon Andy Delmege; Rev Coleen Shekerie, Cathedral Chaplain, along with Rev Jeremy Allcock from St Martin’s Church, and Rev Cristina Cipriani, the Rev Elaine Hutchinson and Deacon Ruth Yorke from the Church at Carrs Lane.

Also joining were Fr Krzysztof Kita from St Michael’s Church, and Fr Michael Dolman, Rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott with members of the formation staff and students of the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Maureen Cornish, also participated.

This year the crowd meditated on the Stations of the Cross during the walk, reflecting on two each time. From The Church at Carrs Lane, followed by High Street, New Street, the Town Hall, St Philip’s Cathedral, returning to St Chad’s Cathedral for the final four Stations.

Walk of Witness Photo Gallery

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday

Archbishop Bernard read the homily before washing the feet of seminarians and congregants this Holy Thursday.

In his homily the Archbishop said:

Tonight the penitential season of Lent concludes as we begin the three solemn days of the Easter Triduum.  As we celebrate the liturgy we follow closely, through the scriptures and in our ceremonies, the events of the final twenty-four hours of our Lord’s earthly life. 

We stand beside him in the outpouring of his love through the gift of the Eucharist and in his prayerful suffering in Gethsemane. 

Tomorrow we recall the sacrifice of his life on the Cross, and at the Vigil on Saturday we witness to him as he shares the new life of the Resurrection with us through our baptism. 

In our liturgical remembering we are not simply calling to mind as we might remember other historical events or experiences. 

Through the power of the Holy Spirit these actions of Christ become present to us in the actions of the Church and so we are changed.

Tonight we enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s love as we recall the Lord’s washing of the apostles’ feet when they take their last meal together.  We solemnly recall and cherish our Lord’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist.

At the heart of these events lies the priestly ministry of Jesus himself – the priesthood in which we share through our baptism or through our ordination. 

St John’s Gospel offers us a wonderful insight as we follow the conversation between our Lord and St Peter.  At first Peter protests that he will not accept the Lord’s menial gesture of humble service in washing the disciples’ feet.  It is an act that confronts and contradicts his understanding of who is the master and who is the servant.

But this gesture demonstrates the radical nature of service.  There is nothing that our Lord will not do to serve us out of love – and this is followed by his invitation:  I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.  His love goes beyond washing feet – it involves giving everything, even life itself on the cross, out of love for us.

Read more

Holy Thursday Photo Gallery

Mass of Holy Chrism 2023

Hundreds of Diocesan clergy gathered together with the faithful to celebrate the Chrism Mass on Wednesday 5 April.

It was celebrated at our Diocesan Mother Church, St Chad’s Cathedral, by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

During Holy Mass priests renewed the promises they made on the day of their Ordination to serve God and his people.

This Mass symbolises the unity of the Presbyterate as the Bishops, priests and deacons gather around the Archbishop.

His Grace also blessed the holy oils – the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and consecrated the Oil of Holy Chrism – which will be used in the administration of the sacraments in parishes across the Archdiocese in the coming year.

Music and song were provided by members of the cathedral choir.

Archbishop Bernard opened his Homily with: Christ was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross…

The true power of the cross hits us forcibly this week, from the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday to the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday. It is the gateway through which we must pass to the new life of the Resurrection – the eye of the needle that gives us entry into the Kingdom of God. In truth, we are always passing that way because of the grace of our baptism – dying with Christ on his cross and rising with him to new life.

Read in Full

Holy Week and Easter at St Chad’s Cathedral

Photo Galley

LOUDfence initiative to be hosted at St Chad’s Cathedral

A LOUDfence involves tying LOUD (brightly coloured) ribbons and messages of support in public spaces to show support to all victims and survivors of child abuse. The aim is to give survivors a voice, create awareness in the community and work to end child abuse.

LOUDfence will be hosted at St Chad’s Cathedral from Sunday 7 May to Saturday 13 May.

During the event people will be encouraged to contribute to the LOUDfence display of support and solidarity with those affected by abuse. Ribbons will be tied to railings inside and outside the cathedral to represent the voices of those who wish to speak out in support and defence of those affected by abuse.

There will be an opportunity for quiet time and reflection, the chance to offer a message or prayer and attend Mass as well as displays and information from various charities.

Members of the Diocesan Safeguarding Team will also be on hand should anyone wish to talk. The Survivor Engagement Panel which works closely with the Safeguarding Team is also supporting the LOUDfence initiative.

The survivor-led initiative was brought to the UK in 2020 at the parish of Kirkbampton, Cumbria, by Antonia Sobocki, Director of Activism at Survivors Voices and the UK Project Manager for LOUDfence UK.

She said: “As a survivor of familial child abuse, the church did exactly what it should have done. It loved, valued, included and nurtured me. I think it would be no exaggeration to say the church became a kind of replacement family for me and I have always loved the church for how it has helped me. It is for this reason I work in Catholic activism.

“There have been serious safeguarding failings in the past but I know that when the church gets it right, it can get it spectacularly right. This requires all of us to work together for that church we all love and value so much.”

The LOUDfence started at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Kirkbampton and spread to Rochester Cathedral, Carlisle Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, Northampton RC Cathedral, as part of the celebrations for the opening of the Healing Garden, both cathedrals in Birmingham last October, Plymouth RC Diocese and Truro CofE Cathedral. One has also just taken place in Lourdes, France.

There will be a LOUDfence in May at St George’s RC Cathedral, Southwark and the RC Church in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire for Northampton RC Diocese. There are LOUDfences planned for Rochester and Carlisle Cathedrals in the autumn, and dates with other cathedrals and dioceses are being set throughout the year.

More details about the event at St Chad’s Cathedral will be released in due course.

Bishop David McGough RIP

Statement from the Archdiocese of Birmingham

It is with great sadness we announce the death of Bishop David McGough, retired auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Bishop David passed away recently at his home in Tean aged 78.

Archbishop Bernard Longley said:

“I know that you will join me in praying for Bishop David’s eternal joy with the risen Christ as his good and faithful servant – and in offering Bishop David’s family our heartfelt condolences and our prayers over the coming days.

“With immense gratitude for all that Bishop David has meant to our Archdiocese – and my prayers and kindest wishes.”

The details of Bishop David’s funeral will be published once arrangements have been made.

About Bishop David

David Christopher McGough was born on 20 November 1944 in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. He attended the Sacred Heart School, Tunstall; St Joseph’s Preparatory School, Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, and Cotton College, North Staffordshire.

He studied for the priesthood at St Mary’s College, Oscott – the Diocesan Seminary – from 1963. He also studied at the Venerable English College in Rome and obtained a degree in Theology.

He was ordained to the priesthood on 14 March 1970 by Bishop Joseph Cleary in his home parish, the Sacred Heart, Tunstall.

After a year teaching at the Diocesan seminary, he returned to Rome for Post Graduate Studies and gained a degree in Sacred Scripture in 1974.

Bishop McGough spent 15 years teaching Scripture to students for the Catholic Priesthood at Oscott College from 1974 until 1989.

In 1986 he was appointed as Parish Priest at Christ the King, Kingstanding, Birmingham. He was appointed Parish Priest at Our Lady and All Saints, Stourbridge, in 1990.

His other responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Birmingham have been as Dean of the Dudley Deanery and Canon of St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham. He was appointed Episcopal Vicar for Walsall, Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Worcestershire in 2004.

He was ordained Bishop by Archbishop Vincent Nichols in St Chad’s Cathedral on 8 December 2005.

We pray for Bishop David’s family, friends, his former parishioners and all who mourn him. May he rest in peace.

Bishop David McGough, Requiescat in Pace

NEW! Stations of the Cross booklet, by Dr Anne Inman

NEW! from Alive Publishing, Stations of the Cross by Dr Anne Inman.

Anne Inman taught theology at universities in and around London until retirement in 2014. She has published books on the philosophy of God, and the ministry of women in Anglo-Saxon England. She is currently working on the implications of recent advances in scriptural and historical research for traditional Catholic teaching.

The Stations of the Cross is an ancient but ever new spiritual discipline uniting us to the Passion of Christ. Drawing on rich and beautiful sources from St Augustine of Hippo, Jacopone da Todi, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Genoa, Francis de Sales and many others these Stations of the Cross offer us a new and exciting way of meditating upon the cross upon which the Saviour died.

Stations of the Cross

Mass for Missio

A huge ‘thank you’ to the supporters of Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries was the clear message at a Diocesan Mass held on Saturday 11 March.

St Chad’s Cathedral was a hive of activity as supporters of the ‘Red Box’ charity travelled from across the Archdiocese to celebrate the Holy Mass for Mission, including children from St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School, Birmingham, who have been learning about, and fundraising for, Missio.

Over the last 10 years the Archdiocese has raised over £3.8m for Missio – an incredible amount for the Pope’s charity for World Mission: It supports the Church in greatest need, where it is growing and where it is suffering.

The support for Missio across the Archdiocese is strong with thousands of red boxes in homes, parishes and schools and 210 Missio volunteers and secretaries in place.

Work is now underway to raise the charity’s profile even further in the Archdiocese with the aim of having a Missio secretary in every parish.

Fr Michael Glover, Parish Priest at St Teresa of the Child Jesus in Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, was appointed the Diocesan Director of Missio last year.

He spoke after Saturday’s Mass, along with Dave Wheat, Missio Regional Community Fundraiser (South), about forming a Diocesan Mission Team. Its aim is Missio Volunteers – Supporting Missio Volunteers, helping Missio to develop its presence in the Archdiocese and encouraging others to be Missionary Disciples.

“This celebration was a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to all those people for their support over the years, and to highlight the need to pray for the Mission of the Church across the world,” said Fr Michael.

“Our support for Missio remains steadfast and I would like even more people to be part of its future work in the Archdiocese.”

Saturday’s Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley, and Fr Anthony Chantry – National Director of Missio in England and Wales – was the preacher.

Fr Chantry spoke about his recent visit to Pakistan, visiting Missio projects and Mill Hill Missionaries facing a challenging situation in their country. Fr Tony said he was struck by how the people he met bore witness to the need for reconciliation and the love of God. His inspiring homily called all present to remember that we are all missionaries and have the calling to share the good news of the Gospel through our actions.

Fr Gerry Hastie from the Mill Hill General Council also attended along with other representatives from Missio.

Discover the work of Missio

If you would like to get involved in the work of Missio please email redbox@missio.org.uk or call 0207 8219755.

Photo Gallery

Cathedral celebrates patron’s feast day

In the Archdiocese of Birmingham on Thursday 2 March we commemorated our diocesan patron, St Chad.

As a Feast Day Mass we welcomed the Chapter of Canons, who form the governing body of the Cathedral, caring for it and for its liturgical life.

They are also the College of Consultors who advise the Archbishop about the life and mission of the Archdiocese.

We also welcomed Year 5 pupils from St Chad’s Primary School who attended and also provided servers for the Mass.

In his homily, Archbishop Bernard Longley asked: “So what it is about St Chad that still captures our imagination and fires our devotion today, nearly thirteen centuries after his death? 

“We can learn a great deal about the Church’s mission and our task of evangelization through the story of St Chad. 

“Although we live in a very different age we can still recognise the essential elements of his missionary work based on a strong faith in Christ which we share with St Chad and the growing Church of his time.

“When we think about this great saint of the Midlands we are drawn deeper into the penitential character of Lent.  If Lent is a spiritual pilgrimage, then the whole of St Chad’s life was a pilgrimage of faith out of familiar territory and into the unknown. 

“From his earliest days he was on the road, like the seventy-two disciples sent out by the Lord, visiting villages and settlements, teaching and preaching to the people.”

Read full homily

The Gospel

Luke 10:1-9 ©

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit.

He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.

Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’

Who was St Chad?

By Deacon Paul O’Connor

St Chad was one of four brothers who were educated at Lindisfarne and lived in the tumultuous times of 7th century Anglo-Saxon England, where there was conflict between competing territories and dispute in the Church between the ancient western churches established in Roman times and those in the south from St Gregory the Great’s mission by St Augustine of Canterbury.

Out of this ultimately came calm, but it needed strong leadership and a clear focus on the teachings of Christ. One such leader was St Chad. He was abbot at Lastingham and his life was centred on prayer, learning and eschatological reflections.

Plague struck the hierarchy of the Church and he became Bishop of Northumbria but the legitimacy of his apostolic succession was disputed to the point that the in-coming Archbishop of Canterbury Theodore of Tarsus removed him but continued his status as bishop due to his great humility in accepting his decision.

This held him in good stead when Theodore installed him as Bishop of Mercia after its king Wulshere converted to Christianity. St Chad set up a monastery at Lichfield. This became the centre of the diocese and the Cathedral is in the area.

He was Bishop of Mercia for only a short period of two years before succumbing to plague but it is said that what he did was vital in re-establishing Christianity in the area.

He was recognised as a saint soon after his death and his remains were held at his shrine at Lichfield until 1538 when it was dissolved by King Henry VIII.

Most of his remains were destroyed but a small number of bones were kept safe and there is a fascinating story about how they were looked after and venerated during the recusant period before arriving at Oscott College at the time when Birmingham’s new cathedral was being built.

The remains included a detailed explanation of how they came to be and Pope Gregory XVI instructed that they be housed at the Cathedral and it is named after him.

Let us give thanks for the example of St Chad, particularly that we be aware of our own need to be at one with Christ at our death; and let us pray for the Church in our Archdiocese, its people, its schools, its clergy and especially our own Archbishop Bernard that he would lead us wisely in these days.

Photo Gallery

Rite of Election Celebration

Candidates and catechumens from across the Archdiocese gathered to celebrate the Rite of Election and make a significant step towards their reception into the Catholic Church at Easter.

This year’s Rite of Election liturgy was held on the First Sunday of Lent, Sunday 26 February, and celebrated at St Chad’s Cathedral by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

Almost 40 parishes were represented and over 100 candidates and catechumens present at the ceremony.

It was a most joyous celebration at an almost full cathedral with clergy, religious brothers and sisters, candidates, catechumens and their families all present. Plus, musical accompaniment from a choir made up of people from across the Archdiocese.

This special ceremony marked the beginning of the final period of preparation for the reception of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Catechumens and candidates are now encouraged to follow our Lord Jesus Christ with great generosity.

In his sermon Archbishop Bernard discussed the journey of discernment and discovery that the catechumens and candidates had been on:

As you know, the Church often refers to such a journey as a ‘pilgrimage’, a journey with other people which has a particular reason and focus.

On that journey, you have been accompanied by your sponsors and family members, together with your catechists and parish clergy, who have enabled you to grow deeper in your understanding of the faith. They have supported you in your growing friendship with the Lord.

As I’m sure you have also experienced, that journey is not without its challenges. As with all life, there are moments of questioning and uncertainty, but also moments of calm and tranquillity. Your patience and generosity in responding to God’s call have now brought you to St Chad’s Cathedral to celebrate this ‘Rite of Election’.

This moment marks the beginning of your final preparations before receiving the Sacraments of Initiation, when you will become full members in the family of the Church. As those words read out by Deacon Martin at the beginning of our celebration remind us, each of you now become the elect, because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election by God, in whose name the Church acts.

I hope and pray that this moment will also be marked in your own hearts with great joy as the focus of your journey during these unfolding days of Lent becomes the paschal mystery and the joy of Easter.

Read sermon in full

The Rite of Election involved the presentation of the candidates, affirmation by the sponsors, affirmation by the assembly and invitation and enrolment of names.

Parish priests, together with their catechumens, candidates and sponsors, then met with Archbishop Bernard, Bishop David Evans and Canon Paul Fitzpatrick (Episcopal Vicar).

Candidates and Catechumens represented the following parishes:

St Chad’s Cathedral
Our Lady & All Saints, Stourbridge
St Peter’s, Bloxwich
Olton Friary
St Mary the Mount, Walsall

St Mary of the Angels, Aldridge
St Thomas of Canterbury, Walsall
The Abbey, Erdington
St Philip Neri, Smethwick

Sacred Heart & Holy Souls, Tipton
Our Blessed Lady & St Thomas of Canterbury, Dudley
Chinese Chaplaincy/ St Augustine’s, Solihull
Sacred Heart, Tunstall
Newman House Catholic Chaplaincy

Our Lady of the Angels, Nuneaton
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Bulkington
& St Francis of Assisi, Bedworth
St Osburg’s, Coventry
Sacred Heart, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

St Augustine of Canterbury, Meir, Stoke-on-Trent
St Francis Xavier, Oldbury
& The English Martyrs, Blackheath
Holy Trinity, Newcastle-under-Lyme
St Wulstan’s, Wolstanton

Our Lady of Lourdes, Hednesford
St Patrick’s, Walsall
Our Lady of the Assumption, Maryvale
Christ the King, Kingstanding
St Mary & St Modwen, Burton on Trent

Holy Cross & St Francis, Walmley
Our Lady of Fatima, Quinton
St John the Evangelist, Banbury
Sacred Heart, Blackbird Leys
St Austin’s, Stafford

Our Lady of the Assumption, Swynnerton
St Mary’s, Harborne
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Rednal
St John Fisher, West Heath
Blessed Carlo Acutis, Wolverhampton.

Photo Gallery

Our Lenten Journey begins today, Ash Wednesday

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the doorway into our Lenten season of renewal.

Masses at churches across the Archdiocese are taking place throughout today.

At St Chad’s Cathedral the first Mass of Ash Wednesday was celebrated at 12.15pm by Monsignor Timothy Menezes, Cathedral Dean, and concelebrated by Fr Chris Marshall. There is also a Mass at 6pm.

Ash Wednesday is rich in associations and symbolism. It marks the beginning of Lent – a time for turning again to the practice of our faith, in prayer, self-denial (fasting) and practical generosity (almsgiving).

As part of the blessing and distribution of ashes, clergy will make a sign of the cross with ashes on the forehead, accompanied by the words: “Repent and believe in the Good News” or “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

Lent is traditionally a 40-day fast — a reference to the time Jesus spent being tempted in the desert, as well as the 40 years that the Israelites spent in exile.

It is a time when we can prepare our hearts for the solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death.

It concludes and is followed by the Easter Sunday celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

The six-week period (excluding Sundays) is dedicated to prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum.

Ash Wednesday is a penitential service that uses ash to mark the sign of the cross on the believer’s forehead, symbolising our sinful nature and need for salvation.

The Catholic Church usually uses the ashes of Palm Sunday branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service, thus bringing us full circle to our last celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. 

On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded that we are called to turn away from sin, to repent and to believe the Good News of our salvation through Jesus Christ.

Access Lent and Easter resources

Photo Album from the 12.15pm Mass

St Bernadette UK Relic Tour Legacy Film is launched

The St Bernadette Relic Tour Team have released a fantastic new legacy film to commemorate 2022’s hugely successful visit.

The Relic Tour reached 1 in 4 UK Catholics, with many thousands of people actively participating in the visit.

Keep an eye out for our own St Chad’s Cathedral and Lourdes Pilgrimage Chief Nurse Kathryn Hewitt, both featured in the film.

On Thursday 1 September 2022, the relics of St Bernadette Soubirous began a 11,500-mile journey from the Sanctuary in Lourdes to UK churches, cathedrals, a hospital and one prison, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to people of all faiths and none to visit the saint’s sacred relics at one of 52 public venues.

The UK Tour marked the very first time that St Bernadette’s relics had visited the UK, with thousands of people across three nations journeying in prayer to be part of the experience. A quarter of a million people participated in the pilgrimage, with 1 in 4 UK Catholics visiting the relics in person during the two-month tour and many more participating in prayer services, vigils, and special masses, online.

The life and legacy of St Bernadette has touched the lives of many millions of people across the world; 160 years after the first pilgrimages to Lourdes began it remains one of the busiest Christian pilgrimage sites in the world with the Catholic Church acknowledging 70 miracles as having taken place there.

One visitor to the relics said: “We are all here for different reasons, but we are all [experiencing] the wonder of St Bernadette, and that brings hope.”

More than 500kg of prayer cards, written by UK pilgrims visiting St Bernadette’s relics, were delivered to the Grotto in Lourdes by Relic Tour drivers Gerry O’Malley and Bob Lavery at the close of the pilgrimage in October.

To commemorate the visit and to offer a small glimpse of the many graces made possible during the pilgrimage, the team behind the Relic Tour have released a special legacy film on YouTube.

A spokesperson from the Relic Tour Team said: “The arrival of St Bernadette’s relics to the UK was a great blessing particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic, offering a spiritually enriching opportunity for people in England, Scotland and Wales to gather together at churches and cathedrals across three nations. We hope that this short film encourages people to reflect on the message of St Bernadette and consider visiting Lourdes themselves in the future.”

Watch! Legacy Film

Inspired? Join this year’s Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes

Photograph: The Relics at St Chad’s Cathedral

Supporters of Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries ‘Red Box’ invited to Diocesan Mass

Many of us will be familiar with the Red Boxes used to collect kind donations, usually found in our homes, parishes and schools.

These red boxes provide an opportunity for us to drop in spare change and now give directly – which all adds up to support Missio’s charitable works.

Over the last 10 years the Archdiocese has raised over £3.8m for Missio. There are thousands of red boxes in homes, parishes and schools and 210 amazing Missio volunteers and secretaries in place.

Missio is the Pope’s charity for World Mission: It supports the Church in greatest need, where it is growing and where it is suffering.

On Saturday 11 March at St Chad’s Cathedral, a Diocesan Mass will be held to thank all those supporters of Missio and all their efforts over many years.

The 12noon Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley and Fr Anthony Chantry – National Director of Missio in England and Wales – will be preaching.

Fr Gerry Hastie from the Mill Hill General Council will be in attendance along with other representatives from Missio.

This Diocesan Mass, the first in many years dedicated to Missio, is a focal point for Mission. It is a chance to reflect on the universal mission of the Church and the role we play in that mission. It is also a chance to thank God and thank all the parish Missio secretaries and supporters of the Red Box.

Fr Michael Glover, Parish Priest at St Teresa of the Child Jesus in Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, was appointed the Diocesan Director of Missio in summer 2022.

He is now working with Missio to raise the charity’s profile in the Archdiocese and is aiming to have a Missio secretary in every parish.

“Many, many people across the Archdiocese will have a red box, or know of the charity,” said Fr Michael.

“Next month’s Mass is an opportunity to say thank you to all those people for their support over the years, and an opportunity to highlight the need to pray for the Mission of the Church across the world.

“Our support for Missio remains steadfast and I would like even more people to be part of its future work in the Archdiocese.”

Find out more about Missio

Photograph: Fr Henry, a Diocesan Director for Missio, celebrating Mass in a remote village of Malawi.

Lenten Message from Pope Francis

Download the Pope’s Message

Lent and Easter Resources

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all recount the episode of the Transfiguration of Jesus. There we see the Lord’s response to the failure of his disciples to understand him. Shortly before, there had been a real clash between the Master and Simon Peter, who, after professing his faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, rejected his prediction of the passion and the cross. Jesus had firmly rebuked him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a scandal to me, because you do not think according to God, but according to men!” (Mt 16:23). Following this, “six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John his brother and led them away to a high mountain” (Mt 17:1).

The Gospel of the Transfiguration is proclaimed every year on the Second Sunday of Lent. During this liturgical season, the Lord takes us with him to a place apart. While our ordinary commitments compel us to remain in our usual places and our often repetitive and sometimes boring routines, during Lent we are invited to ascend “a high mountain” in the company of Jesus and to live a particular experience of spiritual discipline – ascesis – as God’s holy people.

Lenten penance is a commitment, sustained by grace, to overcoming our lack of faith and our resistance to following Jesus on the way of the cross. This is precisely what Peter and the other disciples needed to do. To deepen our knowledge of the Master, to fully understand and embrace the mystery of his salvation, accomplished in total self-giving inspired by love, we must allow ourselves to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity. We need to set out on the journey, an uphill path that, like a mountain trek, requires effort, sacrifice and concentration. These requisites are also important for the synodal journey to which, as a Church, we are committed to making. We can benefit greatly from reflecting on the relationship between
Lenten penance and the synodal experience.

In his “retreat” on Mount Tabor, Jesus takes with him three disciples, chosen to be witnesses of a unique event. He wants that experience of grace to be shared, not solitary, just as our whole life of faith is an experience that is shared. For it is in togetherness that we follow Jesus. Together too, as a pilgrim Church in time, we experience the liturgical year and Lent within it, walking alongside those whom the Lord has placed among us as fellow travellers. Like the ascent of Jesus and the disciples to Mount Tabor, we can say that our Lenten journey is “synodal”, since we make it together along the same path, as disciples of the one Master. For we know that Jesus is himself the Way, and therefore, both in the liturgical journey and in the journey of the Synod, the Church does
nothing other than enter ever more deeply and fully into the mystery of Christ the Saviour. 

And so we come to its culmination. The Gospel relates that Jesus “was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light” (Mt 17:2). This is the “summit”, the goal of the journey. At the end of their ascent, as they stand on the mountain heights with Jesus, the three disciples are given the grace of seeing him in his glory, resplendent in supernatural light. That light did not come from without, but radiated from the Lord himself. The divine beauty of this vision was incomparably greater than all the efforts the disciples had made in the ascent of Tabor. During any strenuous mountain trek, we must keep our eyes firmly fixed on the path; yet the panorama that opens up at the end amazes us and rewards us by its grandeur. So too, the synodal process may often seem arduous, and at times we may become discouraged. Yet what awaits us at the end is undoubtedly something wondrous and amazing, which will help us to understand better God’s will and our mission in the service of his kingdom.

The disciples’ experience on Mount Tabor was further enriched when, alongside the transfigured Jesus, Moses and Elijah appeared, signifying respectively the Law and the Prophets (cf. Mt 17:3). The newness of Christ is at the same time the fulfilment of the ancient covenant and promises; it is inseparable from God’s history with his people and discloses its deeper meaning. In a similar way, the synodal journey is rooted in the Church’s tradition and at the same time open to newness. Tradition is a source of inspiration for seeking new paths and for avoiding the opposed temptations of immobility and improvised experimentation.

The Lenten journey of penance and the journey of the Synod alike have as their goal a transfiguration, both personal and ecclesial. A transformation that, in both cases, has its model in the Transfiguration of Jesus and is achieved by the grace of his paschal mystery. So that this transfiguration may become a reality in us this year, I would like to propose two “paths” to follow in order to ascend the mountain together with Jesus and, with him, to attain the goal.

The first path has to do with the command that God the Father addresses to the disciples on Mount Tabor as they contemplate Jesus transfigured. The voice from the cloud says: “Listen to him” (Mt 17:5). The first proposal, then, is very clear: we need to listen to Jesus. Lent is a time of grace to the extent that we listen to him as he speaks to us. And how does he speak to us? First, in the word of God, which the Church offers us in the liturgy. May that word not fall on deaf ears; if we cannot always attend Mass, let us study its daily biblical readings, even with the help of the internet. In addition to the Scriptures, the Lord speaks to us through our brothers and sisters, especially in the faces and the stories of those who are in need. Let me say something else, which is quite important for the synodal process: listening to Christ often takes place in listening to our brothers and sisters in the Church. Such mutual listening in some phases is the primary goal, but it remains always indispensable in the method and style of a synodal Church.

On hearing the Father’s voice, the disciples “fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’ And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone” (Mt 17:6-8). Here is the second proposal for this Lent: do not take refuge in a religiosity made up of extraordinary events and dramatic experiences, out of fear of facing reality and its daily struggles, its hardships and contradictions. The light that Jesus shows the disciples is an anticipation of Easter glory, and that must be the goal of our own journey, as we follow “him alone”. Lent leads to Easter: the “retreat” is not an end in itself, but a means of preparing us to experience the Lord’s passion and cross with faith, hope and love, and thus to arrive at the resurrection. Also on the synodal journey, when God gives us the grace of certain powerful experiences of communion, we should not imagine that we have arrived – for there too, the Lord repeats to us: “Rise, and do not be afraid”. Let us go down, then, to the plain, and may the grace we have experienced strengthen us to be “artisans of synodality” in the ordinary life of our communities.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit inspire and sustain us this Lent in our ascent with Jesus, so that we may experience his divine splendour and thus, confirmed in faith, persevere in our journey together with him, glory of his people and light of the nations.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 January, Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul