Category Archives: Cathedral

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

Day for Religious Renew Commitment to Service

On Saturday 4 February, St Chad’s Cathedral hosted the annual Day for Religious, at which religious brothers and sisters renew their commitment to the service of Jesus Christ, Light of the World.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley with Fr Simon Bishop SJ delivering the Homily.

Fr Simon said:

“When, your Grace, you came to Winson Green Prison to celebrate Christmas, you spoke of the journey of our lives – with its twists and turns and of God’s faithfulness as our Companion along the Way. And this experience of journey, of walking together, is precisely the focus of our day together as we consider the Synodal pathway and religious life and celebrate the Jublilarians who have walked this Way faithfully with our Lord over so many years.

“I am currently teaching a course at St Mary’s College, Oscott, to the seminarians, on Discernment and when I asked them for a description of ‘discernment’, one of them said: ‘journeying with God.

“It’s good isn’t it: recognising the movement and change of our lives, not static, not alone, but with God and with one another, pilgrims, in a pilgrim Church.”

Read the full homily

Ten jubilarians were also celebrated for their lives of service. The jubilarians met with Archbishop Bernard Longley ahead of the Mass and  after Mass Sr Gemma Simmonds gave an inspirational presentation about synodality and religious life.

2023 Jubilarians:

DIAMOND JUBILEE

Sr Ruth Kidson. Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary

Sr Jean Shedden. Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle

Sr Margaret Murray. Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle

Sr Julian Burrows. Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle

Sr Jude Bogie. Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle

Sr Anita Duhig. Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle

GOLDEN JUBILEE

Sr Patricia Murphy. Sisters of Charity of St Paul. The Apostle

Sr Jean Searson. Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle

SILVER JUBILEE

Sr Ermina Lucaci. Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle

Sr Alphonsa Muttungal. Daughters of St Francis De Sales

Head of the Maronite Church visits the Archdiocese of Birmingham whilst in the UK

The head of the Maronite Church and Patriarch of Antioch and All of the East, His Beatitude Cardinal Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, has been welcomed in Birmingham.

On Friday 13 January, as part of his first ever pastoral visit to the UK, Patriarch Al-Rahi presided over a Mass in the Maronite Rite at Birmingham Oratory.

The Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley, and other Diocesan clergy, at the Shrine of St John Henry Newman, in celebration of the communion that exists between the Holy See and the Maronite Patriarchate.

The Maronite Church, whose origins date back to the early 4th century, is in full communion with the Bishop of Rome as a sui iuris particular church. Maronites number approximately 4 million in the world, of which roughly a quarter live in Lebanon, where they constitute up to 30% of the national population, and three-quarters live outside the Middle East, mostly in Canada, Australia, USA, UK, France, Argentina and Brazil.

After his visit to Birmingham Oratory the Patriarch later participated in Ecumenical Vespers at St Chad’s Cathedral. This was attended by Church leaders from across all denominations in the Midlands with Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, Patron of Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East (FACE), preaching.

Archbishop Bernard gave the following words of welcome at the celebration of Vespers:

As we gather this afternoon in St Chad’s Cathedral to celebrate this time of prayer together, I would like to extend a very warm welcome and fraternal greetings to His Beatitude Cardinal Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, and Archbishop Paul El-Sayah, together with those accompanying you – and alongside Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald and John Adam Fox from Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East who I know have been supporting and facilitating your visit over these days.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all our ecumenical friends from other Christian communities within the City – and in particular Bishop Anne Hollinghurst, the Bishop of Aston, Dean Matt Thompson, the Dean of Birmingham, and Dean Adrian Dorber, the Dean of Lichfield. I welcome Fr Peter El-Sibky, Fr David Zi-Counie and Dr Faye Youssef from the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St a Mary and Archangel Michael in Solihull.

A grateful welcome to our Faith Leaders and to the civic representatives who have joined us. Thank you for being with us today and for the mutual support and friendship which we enjoy through our work together.

As I was preparing for the Patriarch’s visit and reading the very helpful and informative biography about St Charbel Makhlouf which you have in our booklet for this service of Vespers, I was struck by what Pope St Paul VI said on the occasion of the beatification of St Charbel Makhlouf in 1965, describing this “new and eminent member of monastic sanctity” who “through his example and his intercession is enriching the entire Christian people.”

This sentiment called to mind the very joyful occasion that our own Archdiocese and City of Birmingham witnessed in 2010 when at Cofton Park the late Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal Newman – whom we venerate as Saint John Henry Newman since 2019. We remember Pope Benedict’s visit to Birmingham – we give prayerful thanks for his pontificate and and we commend his soul to the Lord.

In his homily, Pope Benedict recalled that St John Henry Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God.

Your Beatitude, your visit to the United Kingdom over these days and here with us this afternoon is an important reminder of the rich tradition and faithful witness that Christians in the East have given from the very earliest days of the Church and we thank you for your continued witness in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances. Your presence is also a witness of the faith and mission that we share as we seek to be faithful to Christ, to follow the example of the saints and to enrich the lives of all God’s people through our prayer and in our desire always to serve the Lord.

May he preserve Your Beatitude in your apostolate always guide you in your service of his holy people.

St Charbel Makhlouf…pray for us
St John Henry Newman…pray for us

During his week-long visit – organised by the FACE charity which supports and serves Eastern Christians – the Patriarch has taken part in pastoral, ecclesial, ecumenical and patriarchal engagements.

He has met with Church leaders, representatives of various Lebanese parties at the Maronite Parish in London and politicians.

His visit comes at a time of unprecedented political, economical and social turmoil in Lebanon. During his talks the Patriarch has given an overview of the situation in Lebanon, explaining the country needs help from the United Nations and calling for a resolution to address the situation in Palestine.

At a press conference his statement focused on three points: Lebanon’s identity and political system; the difficulties facing Lebanon; and solutions.

In all his meetings the Patriarch has stressed the need to preserve the diversity and pluralism of Lebanon which distinguish it from other countries in the region and which make its society such a unique model of Christian-Islamic coexistence and dialogue between cultures and religions.

In recent years the Archdiocese of Birmingham has started to build a relationship with the FACE charity and supports its annual Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians.

Find out more about FACE’s work

Photograph: His Beatitude Cardinal Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi and and Archbishop Bernard Longley at St Chad’s Cathedral

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

‘Do Good, Seek Justice’ #Pray24Brum is back!

#Pray24Brum takes place on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 January 2023 at St Chad’s Cathedral and online.

Each year #Pray24Brum, organised by Birmingham Churches Together, takes place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and provides an opportunity to celebrate unity across different Christian traditions.

This year’s 24-hour prayer relay theme is ‘Do Good, Seek Justice’ and St Chad’s Cathedral, located on St Chad’s Queensway in the city, is the host venue.

It will run from 8am to 10pm on Friday 20 and 8am to the 4.30pm Mass on Saturday 21, with each hour of prayer led by a different person/group.

DOWNLOAD #Pray24Brum schedule

#Pray24Brum is now in its 9th year and is an annual celebration of prayer in and for the city.

All are invited to visit St Chad’s, in person or online, and be a part of the prayer relay – drop in any time and stay a while.

Join the prayer relay online:

St Chad’s Cathedral website

Birmingham Churches Together on Facebook

Access resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Congratulations to the Class of ’22

On Saturday 26th November, almost 300 Maryvale students from around the world were honoured for their accomplishments at the Institute’s 2022 Further and Higher Education Awards Ceremony, held at the iconic St Chad’s Cathedral, the full recording of which is available on the cathedral website.

This was the first physical graduation to be held since November 2019, after which events such as took place online due to Covid-19 restrictions. As in 2020 and 2021 graduates were only able to receive their awards virtually, invitations were also extended to these alumni, so that their achievements could also be celebrated in person.

There were plenty of smiles and proud faces from the graduands during the academic procession into the grand building, where family and friends had gathered to support their loved ones. The ceremony was formally opened by the Right Reverend David Evans, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, and was followed by an introduction from Ms Sophia Pain, Chair of Maryvale Institute Council.

Opening the ceremony, Ms Pain welcomed all present, in particular those due to receive awards:

“We are all here to celebrate your hard work and success in your academic studies and your contribution to Maryvale Institute. Congratulations on your achievements and we welcome you and your friends and family who have come to celebrate with you.”

During her introduction, Ms Pain addressed the recent decision to cease student recruitment at Maryvale due to the Diocese’s financial situation, but added that options are being explored to recommence enrolment in the future:

“As you may be aware the Diocese has had to examine where it is spending money and as it is running at a loss has decided to stop recruiting new students to Maryvale as of January this year. We are working on a way to allow students to commence studies in the future on our courses but that is still work in progress.

“Staff and associate staff have been working very hard to ensure that current students are able to complete their studies. The large number of students graduating is a testament to their continued dedication and commitment for which I would like to offer my personal thanks.”

The guest of honour, Rt Rev David McGough, Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, next presented awards to the graduands in a wide variety of subjects that ranged from Further to Higher Education:

  • At FE level, awards were conferred in Catechesis, Healthcare Chaplaincy, Parish Mission and Ministry, Ministry to the People of the Sea, Religious Studies, Chaplaincy Studies, Studies in the Catechism, Catechesis and Ministry, New Testament Studies, Independent Studies, the Teaching of Pope Francis, Marriage and Family, and Latin.
  • At HE level awards were conferred for the Foundation Degree in Youth Ministry and Chaplaincy, BA (hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition, Ecclesiastical Bachelor of Divinity, MA in Catholic and Applied Theology, Ecclesiastical Licence in Divinity: Pathway in Catechetics, and PhD in Catholic Studies.

Since the last graduation ceremony, seven research students successfully defended their theses, leading to their PhD degrees from Liverpool Hope University through its partnership with Maryvale. All of Maryvale’s courses are taught through part-time distance learning, which has made them particularly accessible and attractive to people who need to combine their study with working, family or other commitments – as well as those from overseas.

Following the presentation of awards, two students had been nominated and received a special prize for academic excellence in and for research, respectively.

  • Canon John Redford Award for Academic Excellence in Theology: Brother Michael Downie.
  • Edward Hulmes Prize for Research: Loredana Zammit.

Four Fellows were also created, in recognition of their invaluable and longstanding service to Maryvale Institute:

  • Mrs Rita Bannister
  • Rev Dr Richard Conrad OP
  • Emeritus Professor Clare Morris
  • Dr Stephen Yates

Following the presentation of awards, Bp McGough addressed all present. Paying tribute to the graduates, he acknowledged the additional, unprecedented challenges they faced in completing their studies online during the Covid-19 restrictions:

“Let me offer my congratulations to all who have received awards today in such varied disciplines, and at so many levels from Certificate level to post graduate Doctorate level. Your achievements are all the more impressive because they have been achieved against the background of a pandemic which that has profoundly affected the manner in which we have lived and conducted our daily business, and has, for many months, isolated families and organisations of every kind.”

Bp McGough went on to emphasise the importance of education to the Catholic Church in England, stretching back to the Catholic Emancipation in 1829. He recalled an early experience as a parish priest when, over dinner with Fr Bill Madden, the then Diocesan Director of Education, Fr Bill outlined the seeds of his idea for using, the soon to be vacant, Maryvale House as a centre for the development of resources in religious education. While Fr Bill sadly died before this idea could be realised, Mgr Danny McHugh took hold of the baton and established the Institute at Maryvale.

Finally, Bp McGough praised the Institute itself for its continued work:

“I want to comment on the breadth of awards that have been presented today. They cover everything from the theological, scriptural and philosophical disciplines, to the many practical applications of those sciences in catechesis, chaplaincy and the life of family and marriage. I congratulate the Institute for its achievements. Such work will always be needed in a world that will never cease to change.”

Exhorting Maryvale Institute, its staff, students and graduates to continue their valued work, Bp McGough continued:

“Pope Francis has proposed a synodal approach to the future: quite simply that we should work and walk together. If this is to happen, we must ensure that the faithful are enabled with the necessary skills. I feel sure that the Maryvale Institute will have a continuing role in building this future.”

Read Bishop McGough’s address in full

To close, staff and graduates processed out of St Chad’s to mark the end of the ceremony, before returning inside for photographs together and with family and friends, to serve as mementos of a wonderful day.

By Dr Tony Brown

Civic Mass, Nov 20, 2022

Front Row L-R

Mr William Ozanne KSG, Mr Justice Antony Zacaroli, Major Samuel Edgar, Lady Justice Geraldine Andrews DBE, Mrs Moorcroft, High Sheriff Mr David Moorcroft OBE, Archbishop Bernard Longley, Lord Lieutenant Mr John Crabtree OBE, Lord Mayor Cllr Maureen Cornish, LM Consort Mr Malcolm Cornish, Judge Thomas Rochford, Judge Sybil Thomas, Prof Deirdre Kelly DL, Prof Jackie Dunne

Back Row L-R

Dr Peter Rookes, Mr Simon Foster, CS Richard North, Mgr Timothy Menezes, Fr Craig Szmidt, Mr Keith Stokes-Smith, LL Cadet Cpl Mathew Fowling, Mr Wade Lyn CBE, Dr Judith Champ DSS

More Photos

On the Feast of Christ the King, St Chad’s Cathedral once again welcomed civic guests representing the cultural, political, religious and academic life of our city, and those frontline workers and service providers whose work has been so vital.

Archbishop Bernard Longley gave the last word from his homily to Cheryl Pereira, who came to share her message of faith with us on behalf of the youth of the Archdiocese.

We were delighted to welcome the following civic guests to the Cathedral:

  • His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant, Mr John Crabtree (together with the Lord Lieutenant’s cadet, Corporal Mathew Fowling)
  • The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Maureen Cornish and the Lord Mayor’s Consort, Mr Malcolm Cornish
  • The High Sheriff of the West Midlands, Mr David Moorcroft and Mrs Linda Moorcroft
  • Major Samuel Edgar representing the Salvation Army, along with other members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group.
  • Chief Superintendent Richard North representing the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and Mr Simon Foster, the West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner.
  • His Majesty’s High Court Judges & Circuit Judges (both serving and retired)
  • Mr Mark Aspinall and magistrates representing the Birmingham & Solihull Magistrates
  • Professor Jackie Dunne, the Vice Chancellor of Newman University
  • Mr Keith Stokes-Smith, the President of the Consular Association and other Honorary Consuls
  • Ms Gillian Guy, the Chairman of Warwickshire & Birmingham Royal British Legion

Also representatives from organisations and societies within the Archdiocese, St Chad’s Cathedral Association and all our Cathedral parishioners.

Homily by Archbishop Bernard Longley

Reception of a Relic of St Chad at Lichfield Cathedral, 8 Nov 22

On Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 November 2022, ecumenical services were held at Lichfield Cathedral to celebrate the installation of a relic of St Chad, which was gifted by St Chad’s Cathedral Birmingham to Lichfield Cathedral.

Archbishop Bernard previously said of the gift:

“I am very grateful that our pilgrimage together as Anglicans and Roman Catholics has been strengthened by our common devotion to the memory of St Chad, as a share of his relic returns to Lichfield Cathedral.

“St Chad reminds us of the unity we already enjoy through our baptism and faith in Christ – he encourages us to pray and work for the fullness of unity together.”

After the service, schoolchildren from St Chad’s Primary School, Birmingham, St Michael’s C of E Primary School, Lichfield and Lichfield Cathedral School laid flowers around the shrine.

In this historic moment, Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bishop Michael Ipgrave both gave a heartfelt address which you can watch above and read below:

Bishop Michael Ipgrave address

Archbishop Bishop Bernard address

Welcoming St Chad to Lichfield Cathedral

2022 marks 1350 years since the death of Lichfield Cathedral’s co-patron saint and the first bishop of Lichfield, St Chad. On 8 November 2022 a truly historic moment will see the Cathedral reinstate a shrine of St Chad in the location of the original mediaeval shrine. A relic of St Chad is being translated from St Chad’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham to Lichfield Cathedral as a mark of unity within the Christian Church.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Rev’d Adrian Dorber said: “This moment will represent years of patient dialogue and conversation. More importantly it marks the growing relationships between all God’s people and especially with our Catholic brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

“We pray that this gift of friendship will be a sign and example that heals historic divides and moves forward in shared faith. After all, Chad was Bishop of an undivided church. He is perhaps a fitting patron of the unity we all seek. We know St Chad was a humble, godly man who, during his short tenure, helped to unite two warring peoples, bring hope and healing to the region, and unite it, and thus, inspired the construction of Lichfield Cathedral with his shrine at the East End.

“As a relic of St Chad is so generously translated back to Lichfield, a part of the Cathedral’s heart is restored, and St Chad’s ministry of healing continues through the ages.”

A special, ecumenical service on 8 November at 14:30 will see a relic of St Chad brought by representatives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham and St Chad’s Cathedral to Lichfield Cathedral. This relic will be kept in a specially created reliquary, gifted by the congregation of St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham. Walking the way of St Chad from the well at St Chad’s Parish Church, Lichfield by Stowe Pool, the relic will make its way to Lichfield Cathedral where it will be gratefully received and housed in a purpose-built shrine.

Situated at the front of the spectacular Lady Chapel will be the new Shrine of St Chad, an altar-shrine with a golden corona of light suspended from the ceiling. Alongside the shrine specially commissioned icons on the walls will depict the story of Jesus’ ministry and golden vesicas (pointed oval shaped containers often used in mediaeval religious art), will house the gospels and holy sacrament.

“Reinstating the Shrine of St Chad serves to focus our attention on the life of St Chad, a man who lived by the example of Jesus Christ and in so doing, we are pointing to the faith we hold in Jesus, the one we share with our brothers and sisters around the world. We pray that the shrine will serve to bring people’s prayers and thoughts to Jesus as they encounter the wonder of this sacred space and the holiness that feels so tangible here at the Cathedral”, continues the Very Rev’d Adrian Dorber.

As a sign of reconciliation and healing two fruit trees, symbolising two divided factions of the Church, will be planted in the Cathedral grounds. 300 churches, schools and institutions attending the service will be gifted with a special Verdun Oak sapling – grown from the Verdun Oak in the Remembrance Garden in Lichfield.

St Chad’s successor, the 99th Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, said“This is an enormously significant event for both our Cathedral and the church across the wider Midlands for whom St Chad was apostle. The installation of the new shrine and relic of St Chad will be a sign of both healing and forgiveness.

“St Chad was a saint of the undivided church and this celebration is a potent symbol and step towards the unity that we pray and strive for as brothers and sisters in Christ. It also sends a powerful message of hope and reconciliation to our divided world.”

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley said: “I am very grateful that our pilgrimage together as Anglicans and Roman Catholics has been strengthened by our common devotion to the memory of St Chad, as a share of his relic returns to Lichfield Cathedral.

“St Chad reminds us of the unity we already enjoy through our baptism and faith in Christ – he encourages us to pray and work for the fullness of unity together.”

Fond farewell to the Relics of St Bernadette from St Chad’s Cathedral

The beautiful words ‘Ave, ave, ave Maria! Ave, ave, ave, Maria!’ could be heard in the Birmingham night sky as St Chad’s Cathedral bid a fond farewell to the relics of St Bernadette.

Clergy and congregation followed the relics procession outside after a farewell Mass on Saturday 8 October.

Celebrated by Bishop David Evans, the Mass featured the musical talents of some of the Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT) team who led the congregation in joyous singing.

The relics had been in situ at St Chad’s Cathedral since Friday evening, attracting visitors from across the Archdiocese to venerate or join in the special services.

After being waved off from St Chad’s the relics travelled to Our Lady of Lourdes in Hednesford, home of the Diocesan Shrine.

They then move onto the Immaculate Conception in Bicester on Sunday night.

There is still a chance for people to visit the relics whilst they remain in our Archdiocese. Please see the full timetable for information.

St Bernadette, Pray for Us

Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for Us.

The Anointing of the Sick and Veneration in the presence of the relics of St Bernadette

The Anointing of the Sick was central to Mass at St Chad’s Cathedral this lunchtime (Saturday 8 October) and it felt very much like Lourdes was here.

Many people took the opportunity to receive the Sacrament in the presence of the relics of St Bernadette.

The cathedral was full, with the relics continuing to attract hundreds of people who wish to visit and venerate Bernadette of Lourdes.

Bishop Stephen Wright was the Principal Celebrant at the Mass, which was concelebrated by several other clergy, including retired Bishop David McGough.

The Oil of the Sick was blessed and used during the Mass, with members of the Birmingham Lourdes Hospitalite assisting clergy.

It was wonderful to see our Diocesan Mother Church pretty much full to capacity after two very difficult years where gatherings have been subject to restriction.

The atmosphere may have been prayerful and respectful, but the sense of great joy and devotion was evident.

Many have travelled from across the Archdiocese to see the relics and participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and many more will do so over the next few days. A large number are also accepting the invitation to take the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

To have the relics of St Bernadette here in the Archdiocese of Birmingham is a great honour and all are encouraged to visit them if they can.

Veneration continues at the cathedral this afternoon (Sat) before Mass and farewell at 6pm.

The relics then travel to Our Lady of Lourdes in Hednesford, home of the Diocesan Shrine, on Saturday night for veneration and prayers. On Sunday, in the Grotto, there will be veneration and Mass at 4pm.

The relics then move onto the Immaculate Conception in Bicester on Sunday night for veneration, a candlelight procession and Mass.

On Monday there is a live streamed Rosary to all Catholic schools with Archbishop Bernard Longley and a Mass at 1pm.

Full timetable

Hundreds welcome the Relics of St Bernadette to the Archdiocese

On the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Friday 7 October 2022, the Archdiocese of Birmingham welcomed the Relics of St Bernadette.

From Friday evening through to Monday afternoon (10th) the relics have been entrusted to our care.

Hundreds of people gathered at St Chad’s Cathedral for a Liturgy of Welcome and Evening Prayer, followed by veneration until midnight.

Archbishop Bernard Longley spoke Words of Welcome to the ‘great numbers’ who had come to welcome St Bernadette and described it as a ‘very special moment indeed’.

We ‘call upon her to pray for us’.

Canon Fitzpatrick gave the Homily

Earlier, during a closed afternoon visit, the residents, staff and friends of St Joseph’s Home, Harborne (Little Sisters of the Poor) had the opportunity to venerate.

Archbishop Longley celebrated Mass at the home and in his Homily said:

‘It is a great blessing for us that the relics have arrived on today’s feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, recalling the importance of the prayer of the Rosary for St Bernadette herself and for every pilgrim to Lourdes. As you know, the Rosary Procession takes place every evening in Lourdes at the close of the pilgrim’s day. There is a special place in this torchlight procession for those pilgrims who are sick – for they are always at the heart of every pilgrimage to Lourdes.’

Read Homily in full

The Relics remain at St Chad’s Cathedral on Saturday with veneration, a Mass with Anointing of the Sick at 12noon, and Mass and farewell to the Relics at 6pm.

They then travel to Our Lady of Lourdes in Hednesford, home of the Diocesan Shrine, on Saturday night for veneration and prayers. On Sunday, in the Grotto, there will be veneration and Mass at 4pm.

The relics then move onto the Immaculate Conception in Bicester on Sunday night for veneration, a candlelight procession and Mass.

On Monday there is a live streamed Rosary to all Catholic schools with Archbishop Bernard and a Mass at 1pm.

All are encouraged to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As people process to see the relics they will have chance to learn about St Bernadette’s life and Lourdes, and the opportunity to light a candle.

The visiting of the relics is a moment of joy and grace for all.

View full timetable

St Bernadette, Pray for Us

Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for Us

SVP BIRMINGHAM ANNUAL FESTIVAL MASS 24 SEPTEMBER 2022

Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages…proclaiming the Good News.

I am delighted to join you today for the Annual Festival Mass for the Birmingham Central Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society – most familiar to all of us as the SVP. We offer this Mass in thanksgiving for the witness of holiness offered by St Vincent de Paul, whose feastday is next Tuesday, and for the work and legacy of Blessed Frederic Ozanam. I welcome all the national and diocesan officers and the members of the SVP from across our Archdiocese, together with those who support you in your work.

One central element of our discipleship is its capacity for outreach to others. In our own lives, and especially in these uncertain times, we value the things that guarantee our personal safety, health and well-being and we would feel lost if these were not in place. But Christ asks us to be self-forgetful and to be concerned for those individuals and families for whom this kind of support and security are missing, for many different reasons.

When he beatified Blessed Frederic, Pope John Paul 11 said: Frederic Ozanam believed in love, the love of God for every individual. He felt himself called to love, giving the example of a great love for God and others. He went to all those who needed to be loved more than others, those to whom the love of God could not be revealed effectively except through the love of another person. There Ozanam discovered his vocation, the path to which Christ called him. He found his road to sanctity.

As disciples we are called to find practical ways of helping and encouraging each other in the support we can give, especially as the Church, to the homeless or those experiencing housing problems, to those lacking shelter, clothing and food – but also to reflect on why these circumstances are even tolerated today. Blessed Frederic emphasised this when he said: It is too little to help the poor day by day; we must begin from the root of the evil and through wise reform reduce the causes of the people’s poverty.

In our discipleship, what is it that underpins our commitment to the poor and inspires the vision that draws us to come to their help? Disciples draw encouragement and fresh energy from the example and teaching of Jesus himself.

In his own ministry our Lord feels for those who are unsettled because they are experiencing some kind of poverty. When he saw the crowd he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. The experience of being homeless, uprooted from what is familiar, or lacking in lasting security can undermine a person’s inner peace. At the same time a lack of personal stability can lead to the loss of job, home and family ties, income, health and even personal identity.

Alongside his own experience, our Lord’s stories and teaching and many of his actions are inspirational for us – they give us a definitive steer. The parables flow from his own personality and experience and many of them, like the parable of the Good Samaritan, show his basic concern for those who are by the wayside.

Today’s Gospel underlines our Lord’s invitation for others to come and share his concern for those who are most in need: the harvest is rich…ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. The Christian motive for standing beside people in their need is not only natural human compassion (although that often leads people to great selflessness and heroic virtue). Rather, we are moved by our belief that everyone is made in God’s image and likeness, restored in Christ.

As you walk with Christ through all the towns and villages – across the Archdiocese and beyond – feel the compassion of our Lord for those who are today like sheep without a shepherd and reveal his presence to them through your own dedication as members of the SVP and your wish to befriend them in the Lord. May he in turn bless and strengthen you as you now re-dedicate yourself to be a servant after the example of the Master.

WELCOME

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: together with Mgr Timothy Menezes, the Cathedral Dean, I welcome you to St Chad’s Cathedral as we come together to offer this Annual Festival Mass for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

I welcome the incoming National President of the SVP for England and Wales, Elaine Heyworth, as you prepare to take up your new responsibilities in November. Our patron St Chad, whose relics are above the altar, was the brother of St Cedd who established his see at Bradwell on the Essex coast – so we have a link with your home diocese of Brentwood.

I also welcome Andy Gudge, President of the SVP Birmingham Central Council, and I thank you for your faithful leadership throughout a difficult and demanding year. I am grateful to Deacon David Fairbotham, assisting at today’s Mass, to Mike Weaver, and to all the Honorary Officers and the Presidents of our diocesan SVP District Councils who are members of the Birmingham Central Council.

I welcome on their home territory the members of the St Chad’s SVP Conference which was recently established and I thank Alicia O’Brien with her team of helpers for all their preparations for today’s gathering.

Finally, I welcome all the SVP members together with your guests, and all those who have been unable to travel to St Chad’s today but who are joining us in prayer via the live-streaming of this Mass.

The recent funeral of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth has reminded us of the lasting and widespread impact that loving and faithful service of God and of our neighbour can have. With the prayers of St Vincent de Paul and Blessed Frederic Ozanam to support us, we now turn to God our loving Father and ask for his gifts of forgiveness and peace.

Two Men Ordained to the Sacred Priesthood

On Saturday 23 July, surrounded by family and friends, two new priests were ordained at St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham.

Steven Fleming and Toby Duckworth were ordained to the Sacred Priesthood by Archbishop Bernard Longley.

During the ordination rite, the candidates promise ‘to celebrate the mysteries of Christ, faithfully and religiously… for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ’s people.’

In his homily, Archbishop Bernard said:

“The ordination of a priest for the service of the local church is a very special day in the life of every diocese. It is a sign of the abiding love of Jesus Christ, our great high priest, for the people of God as He continues to gather and lead us on our pilgrimage through life.

“As we journey together along along the Synodal pathway we shall now have two new pastors to accompany and guide us and to listen to the insights and the concerns of all God’s children

“The ordination of two priests to pick up the baton of service in this Archdiocese is a moment for thanksgiving and joy; it evokes our gratitude to God for providing us with this help and it strengthens our hope for the future of the Church’s Mission.”

Ordinations 2022 – recorded at St Chad’s Cathedral

Photo Gallery

Visit Fr Steven Fleming’s YouTube channel Catholic Kickstarter, which seeks to support people to discover what the Catholic faith teaches, by presenting the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith through the form of media:

Catholic Kickstarter

Service of Praise to Welcome the Commonwealth Games

St Chad’s Cathedral was a joyous place to be as a Service of Praise took place to welcome the Commonwealth Games.

Churches across the city have worked together to organise and host the ecumenical service just days before the Games begin.

In attendance yesterday (Sun 24 July) were Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree OBE; the High Sheriff of the West Midlands, David Moorcroft OBE and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Maureen Cornish.

The service began with a procession of church leaders.

Archbishop Bernard Longley delivered words of welcome followed by greetings from the Lord Lieutenant and the Lord Mayor.

Bishop David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, gave the opening prayer.

The service featured prayers, readings, music and song with input from the Birmingham City Council Workplace Choir and the Smile Community Children’s Choir.

The Preacher was Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary of Churches Together in England, and Prayers of Intercession were read by children and young people from Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Aston; St Chad’s Catholic Primary School, Newtown and Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School, Small Heath.

During the service BBC Radio WM’s Nikki Tapper interviewed sports personalities Donna Fraser, six times, 200 metre English Schools Champion and the 1991, 400 metre European Junior Champion.

Followed by David Moorcroft OBE, this year’s High Sheriff of the West Midlands, and a former middle-distance and long-distance runner, and former world record holder for the 5,000 metres.

After the service the congregation gathered outside the cathedral and sang ‘Lean on Me’.

Let the Games begin!

To find the nearest Catholic Churches to venues hosting Commonwealth Games events please visit our dedicated webpage

Photo Gallery

Watch! Videos from the Service of Praise:

Ordination of Two Permanent Deacons at St Chad’s Cathedral

Prayerful congratulations to Andrew Lansberry and Martin Casey who have been ordained as permanent deacons to the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Archbishop Bernard Longley ordained Andrew and Martin to the Permanent Diaconate in front of their families, friends and fellow Deacons at St Chad’s Cathedral on Sunday (17 July).

The word deacon derives from the Greek diakonia, meaning “service”, thereby indicating that a deacon is called like Christ to be a servant. The Order of Deacon has three essential functions: the proclamation of the Gospel, the service of the liturgy, and the administration of charitable works.

The celebration of the Sacrament of Ordination of a Deacon is similar in form to that of a priest – by prayer and the laying on of hands, as described from the earliest days of the Church – but the beautiful Prayer of Consecration emphasises the essential nature of the diaconate, a call to service.

There are around 80 deacons serving in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Andrew and Martin were recently interviewed about their calling in the latest edition of The Sower magazine

Andrew, by profession a funeral director in Coventry, first realised that he might have a vocation while serving in the parish of St John Vianney as a young man.

His priestly formation has principally taken place at St Mary’s College, Oscott and in his own parish.

“One of the most important aspects of formation is the support network that is put in place as you begin your studies,” said Andrew, 42, who was born in Marston Green. “The seminary staff along with my formation tutor and the priests of my parish have continually encouraged and supported me for the duration of my formation.”

Martin, 36, who was born and raised in Nottingham, has been a full-time teacher at Archbishop Isley Catholic School in Birmingham for the past 11 years.

His two passions within the Church are liturgy and catechesis and a highlight of his formation at St Mary’s College, Oscott was his admission to candidacy when he heard the words spoken by the Bishop: “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfilment.”

Martin, who says he is “humbly excited” at the prospect of his ordination, said: “At Mass and during Adoration we should feel, and encourage others to feel, a sense of numinous beauty – of awe and wonder in the Presence of God.”

Find out more about Becoming a Deacon

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

Celebrating Corpus Christi

This year’s Corpus Christi Procession in Birmingham took place on the Feast Day on Sunday 19 June.

Following Mass at St Michael’s Church on Moor Street the procession was led through the streets arriving at St Chad’s Cathedral for a small service with Benediction.

The procession returned in-person after a pause due to the pandemic. The four priests who took part in the procession were: Fr Krzysztof Kucharski, Fr Krzysztof Kita, Mgr Timothy Menezes and Fr Gerry Kelly.

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

Dedication of the Altar at St Chads

A day of celebration and history has taken place at our Diocesan Mother Church, St Chad’s Cathedral.

The event on Saturday 18 June was organised collaboratively by the Cathedral Team and the Archdiocese of Birmingham History and Archives Commission.

It began with Mass, including the Rite of the Dedication of the Altar, celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley, on the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral.

The Mass included the Prayer of Dedication and the Anointings: Archbishop Bernard placed a relic of Blessed Dominic Barberi inside the altar which was then sealed; His Grace anointed the altar with the Oil of Chrism followed by the Incensation of the Altar and Lighting of the Altar.

Homily by Archbishop Bernard

Guests at today’s Mass included children from St Chad’s Catholic Primary School; the Diocesan Chapter of Canons; parishioners and friends of St Chad’s Cathedral and the Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber (St Chad was the first Bishop of Lichfield and Lichfield Cathedral is dedicated to St Chad).

Today’s celebration also marked the official launch of the Diocesan History and Archives Commission.

After Mass talks were given by guest speakers Dr John Jenkins from the University of York on The Life and Afterlife of St Chad: from Bede to Birmingham; and Dr Judith Champ, from the Archdiocese of Birmingham, on: Why build a cathedral? Piety, Politics, Pennies – and Pugin.

The purpose of the Commission (founded in 2021) is to enhance appreciation and understanding of the history of the Archdiocese in our parishes and communities, to support the Archdiocesan Archivist in building awareness of the archives in the life of the Archdiocese, and to offer resources and guidance to individuals and groups seeking to deepen their understanding of the history of the Archdiocese.

Any enquiries to hac@rcaob.org.uk

Welcome from the Cathedral Dean, Mgr Timothy Menezes

Welcome to St Chad’s Cathedral on this Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral and as today the Altar in the Cathedral is dedicated.

The Eucharist is the heart of the Church’s life. From the altar which symbolises Christ the Chief Cornerstone, we receive the Body of Christ and we become the Body of Christ.

At this point in history, and as we hope to emerge gradually from the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, the altar has taken on a new significance.

During Holy Week 2020, when the People of God could not attend the ceremonies of the Easter Triduum, they came to know very deeply what St John Paul II referred to as “a hunger for the Eucharist”.

Out of necessity, we rediscovered Spiritual Communion and saw the value of being united in prayer even when we could not be present to one another around the altar.

That longing to be present manifested itself for many people in a range of reactions to being able to participate in person once again and to receive the Body of Christ at the Mass in which they participate, fully, consciously and actively.

In celebrating this important day in the life of the Cathedral, Archbishop Bernard Longley represents the many Archbishops and Bishops of Birmingham who have fed the flock entrusted to them, under the patronage of St Chad, in this holy place.

We remember today the clergy who have served this Cathedral Church. Fr Brian Doolan was the Dean of St Chad’s Cathedral (1999-2007) and was responsible for the altar that we use day by day and which is dedicated in this celebration.

It is still remembered by many in the city that Canon Leo McCartie, (later Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham and subsequently Bishop of Northampton), during his tenure as Cathedral Administrator, established a homeless shelter in the crypt of St Chad’s Cathedral which ceased to be after a fire in the crypt.

That understanding of the connection between the Eucharist which is celebrated here and Christ’s command to feed the poor and fulfil the corporal works of mercy must never be forgotten and in our day is seen through the important welcome to refugees and asylum seekers, on Shadwell Street, by St Chad’s Sanctuary and through the recent revival of a Cathedral Parish SVP Conference.

We remember with gratitude all benefactors and parishioners of St Chad’s and we pray for the Mission of the Cathedral and its community now and in generations to come.

Today also marks the beginning of the Archdiocese of Birmingham History and Archives Commission. We pray that this venture will bear fruit for years to come because whoever values their future treasures their past.

The relic which is placed in the altar at this Mass is one of Blessed Dominic Barberi, the Italian Passionist Priest who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church at Littlemore in Oxford in 1845.

The Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Birmingham has rejoiced in recent years at the Beatification of Cardinal Newman by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham in 2010 and the Canonisation by Pope Francis in Rome in October 2019.

As Birmingham has the Saint for which many prayed over so many years, so Archbishop Bernard has promoted devotion to Blessed Dominic Barberi in our Archdiocese since his installation as Archbishop in 2009, that the one who led a Saint to the Catholic Faith may now be recognised as a Saint himself.

We rejoice in the beauty and truth of our faith and we celebrate with great joy this day of the Dedication of the Altar in St Chad’s Cathedral; that it may be:

a sign of Christ,
a table of joy,
a place of communion and peace,
a source of unity and friendship
and the centre of our praise and thanksgiving.

Photo Gallery

Return to Mass at Pentecost

News from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Spring Plenary 2022 Resolution

An invitation from the Bishops of England and Wales

This is the bread come down from heaven (John 6:58)

A beautiful hallmark of the Catholic faith is the profound desire to participate in the Holy Mass and share in the Eucharist. We do so with deep gratitude and joy. The Eucharist gives the Church her identity – “The Eucharist makes the Church, and the Church makes the Eucharist.” It enables us to worship Almighty God, to support each other on our journey of faith, and to be a visible sign of faith in the world. This hallmark is supported and strengthened by the precept that our fundamental Christian duty is to worship God by participating in the celebration of Mass. Attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the greatest of all privileges, sometimes referred to as “the Sunday Obligation.”

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, until the present time, we have shared with you our judgment that the situation of the last two years has meant that the Sunday Obligation has been impeded and has needed to be fulfilled in other ways. We thank God that this situation has now changed. The pressing challenges of the pandemic have lessened significantly. Most people have resumed the wide range of normal activities, no longer restricted by the previous Covid measures. We therefore believe that the reasons which have prevented Catholics from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation no longer apply.

We understand there will still be some members of our congregations who, for reasons of health, do not feel safe enough to return to Mass. It has always been the understanding of the Church that when the freedom of any Catholic to attend Mass in person is impeded for a serious reason, because of situations such as ill health, care for the sick or legitimate fear, this is not a breach of the Sunday Obligation.

Our Catholic people and parishes have benefitted during these difficult times from the online streaming of Mass and other services. “Virtual viewing” of Mass online does not fulfil the Sunday Obligation. It may, however, be a source of continual spiritual comfort to those who cannot attend Mass in person, for example those who are elderly and sick, for whom the obligation does not apply. In this context, we recognise gratefully the ministry of those who administer Holy Communion to the elderly, sick and housebound.

We are grateful to our clergy, religious and lay faithful who have served our parishes, schools and communities with dedication and distinction throughout this pandemic. Now we look forward with renewed faith and confidence.

In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord Jesus entrusted to us the precious gift of Himself. With humility, we glory in being a Eucharistic people for whom attendance at Mass is essential. Looking forward to the forthcoming feast of Pentecost, we now invite all Catholics who have not yet done so to return to attending Mass in person.

As the Church needs the witness of the presence of each person, so too each believer needs to journey in faith and worship with their fellow disciples. Nourished by our encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus, fed with His Word and His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, and supported by the presence of each other, we receive strength week by week, to serve the Lord and glorify Him with our lives.

Approved by the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference
Friday 6 May 2022

Archbishop Bernard’s Easter Vigil Homily

Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?

As soon as the Sabbath had ended, with its restrictions on work and travel, a group of women, including Mary of Magdala, Joanna and Mary the mother of James, went to anoint the body of Jesus.  They left at the very first sign of dawn.  We can imagine the heaviness in their hearts as their eyes adjusted to the growing light of day, making their way to the burial place, not sure what they would see when they arrived.

Their journey is like ours.  We have passed through the gloom of Lent, with its welcome moments of illumination and fresh understanding.  We have witnessed the darkness that covered the land at our Lord’s crucifixion.  We have made our way to the tomb to look for him there…

Read the Homily in full here

Good Friday Walk of Witness

The ecumenical Good Friday Walk of Witness made a welcome in-person return to Birmingham.

Many people gathered to take part after two years of Virtual Walk of Witnesses because of the pandemic.

The event marks Christ’s journey to the cross and started from The Church in Carrs Lane and concluded at our Diocesan Mother Church, St Chad’s Cathedral.

During the procession through the city centre the crowds meditated on the Stations of the Cross, reflecting on two at each pause, with the final four at St Chad’s Cathedral.

Sharing the lead alongside Bishop David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop Anne Hollinghurst, Bishop of Aston and Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Revd Steven Faber, Moderator of the United Reformed Church for the West Midlands Synod, and the Revd Ian Howarth, Chair of the Methodist Church, Birmingham District, we welcomed Monsignor Timothy Menezes, Dean of St Chad’s Cathedral, the Very Revd Matt Thompson, Dean of St Philip’s Cathedral, with Canon Josephine Houghton and Canon Andy Delmege; the Revd Cristina Cipriani, the Revd Elaine Hutchinson and Deacon Ruth Yorke from The Church at Carrs Lane, with Major Samuel Edgar (Ret’d) from the Salvation Army.

Also joining were 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.

Walk of Witness Photo Gallery

Celebration of the Chrism Mass 2022

Diocesan clergy gathered together at St Chad’s Cathedral for the first time since the start of the pandemic to celebrate the Chrism Mass. (Wednesday 13 April)

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.

This year’s Chrism Mass was for clergy only due to the continuing threat of the pandemic and the large number of people already in attendance at the cathedral.

The faithful were invited to join via the cathedral’s live stream facility.

Read Archbishop Bernard’s Homily

Photo Gallery

The Diocesan response to The Synod has been completed and sent to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The Synodal Pathway Team met the recent submission deadline after working through hundreds of responses from parishes, schools, agencies and individuals.

During the month of March various ‘reading groups’ gathered at St Chad’s Cathedral to read through all the responses. Each one was read several times to ensure key themes, ideas, suggestions, proposals and thoughts were collated as part of this Diocesan Discernment process.

Members of the Synodal Pathway Team then met with Archbishop Bernard Longley to assist him in his role as principal discerner for the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

The synthesis has highlighted a number of themes including:

• The role of women within the Catholic Church
• Inclusion, the Church must be there for all
• The importance of schools, families and young people
• Formation throughout one’s lifetime
• The need for greater co-responsibility and an involved laity

The synthesis also includes many direct quotes taken from the hundreds of submissions received.

The overall theme for the Synod, opened by Pope Francis last year, is ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission’.

And every aspect of the Diocesan ‘Walking Together’ journey has proved to be synodal in its very nature as people have walked, talked and listened together.

Now the Diocesan synthesis is with the Bishops’ Conference it will in turn shape the national response and discernment.

The synthesis will also feed directly into our Diocesan Vision, Unfolding God’s Plan, and our own priorities for the coming years. (Evangelisation, Formation, Liturgy and Worship, Social Outreach – with co-responsibility, young people and families a focus in each of these areas).

Canon Paul Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Diocesan Synodal Pathway Committee, said: “I am delighted with the number of responses we received, which exceeded all expectations.

“It is very encouraging that so many people wanted to have their say, to be involved, to contribute to our Walking Together journey, but most importantly to listen.

“This listening and discernment will feed directly into our Diocesan Vision and priorities – which were clearly coming through in the hundreds of responses we received.”

Archbishop Bernard Longley said: “I want to thank all who took the time to contribute to our Diocesan Walking Together journey.

“Every single response received has been so important, reflecting on our current experience of the Church and what we hope it will be in the future.

“This process has given due respect to the voices of individuals and distinctive groups and we hear their own words in this synthesis. As we look beyond our immediate contribution to the Synodal Pathway at national level we need to capture these voices and insights within our own diocesan vision and planning.

“I have been heartened to see people taking such an active role and I look forward to that enthusiasm continuing as we implement our own Diocesan Vision.”

To date the Synodal Pathway Team have received submissions from:

• 189/219 Parish responses
• 104 Individual school responses – (pupils, family life, teachers)
• 29 Group responses
• 271 Individual responses.

Read Diocesan Synthesis

Palm Sunday Mass

Holy Week has started with the celebration of Palm Sunday Masses across the Archdiocese.

Archbishop Bernard Longley was principal celebrant at today’s 11.30am Mass at St Chad’s Cathedral (Sunday 10 April 2022).

It began outside, by the entrance to the crypt, with prayer, the reading of St Luke’s Gospel 19:28-40 and the blessing of palms.

A procession into the cathedral followed led by the choir and involving seminarians from St Mary’s College, Oscott, altar servers, clergy and parishioners.

Passion Sunday, or Palm Sunday as many people commonly know it, marks the beginning of Holy Week, a day we commemorate the triumphant arrival of Christ into Jerusalem just days before the crucifixion.

The Liturgical colour of the Palm Sunday Mass is red, symbolising the redemption in blood that Christ paid for the world.

Palms blessed on Palm Sunday are used in the procession of the day, then taken home by the faithful and used for personal devotion.

A Guide to Holy Week from the Bishops’ Conference

Photo Gallery

Diocesan Update on Ukraine Communication

We are pleased to say that since we sent out our last update on the response to Ukraine, Fr Hudson’s Care has received numerous offers of sponsorship/accommodation and of translation skills in Russian and Ukrainian. The evident enthusiasm for support from our parishes and parishioners is a great testament to our faith.

Since our last update, we have continued to work with Fr Hudson’s Care, with our Ukrainian communities, with local councils and with agencies such as Reset and CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) to understand how best to offer our support as a diocese.

So far, a lot of our work has been preparatory- the Coventry Catholic Ukrainian community has been supporting Coventry City Council by checking the Ukrainian translations on the council’s website and all of our Ukrainian communities are compiling lists of potential interpreters/translators ready to support potential refugees.

As we understand it only a few refugees have arrived from Ukraine so far under the families’ scheme, and they have been accommodated with family members. We are not aware of anyone yet arriving under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, needing housing or schooling. We are expecting some more guidance from the government on the matching process over the coming days, but we are acutely aware that the matching process needs more support to ensure that refugees can safely come to the UK.

It is imperative to us that we must utilise our own Catholic network in this country and in Europe to help to identify refugees and help them find sponsors here in the UK to expedite their journey for safety and support.

To do this we are discussing whether we will need to recruit a qualified staff member to help us to build our local capacity for support, and to enable people to come from Ukraine and be housed safely within our local communities. We are also discussing how we would gain funding for this position and may be asking for donations towards this in the near future.

Father Hudson’s is happy to continue to receive offers of accommodation and language services and to support and remain in touch with those who offer their help: Your Help | Birmingham Diocesan Trust (birminghamdiocese.org.uk)

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