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Formation for the Sacrament of Confirmation

These past months have provided an opportunity to reflect on the formation of our young people who wish to live as disciples of Christ and be strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We have decided that this formation will take the form of the six sessions or “encounters” with Christ and further information is available at; Confirmation Programme 2025

 

 

Holy Week Services

HOLY WEEK SERVICES 2024

24th March PALM SUNDAY
Mass times: 9.30 a.m., 11.30 a.m. (Please gather outside the Convent of Mercy, Cambridge Park at 11.20 a.m.) and 6.30 p.m.

Monday 25th March

9.00 a.m. Mass

Tuesday 26th March

NO MASS

Wednesday 27th March

NO MORNING MASS

CHRISM MASS 11.00 a.m. at Brentwood Cathedral
The Bishop, joined by the priests of the diocese, gather together to manifest their unity. During this Mass, the Bishop blesses three oils: the oil of catechumens, the oil of the infirm and holy
Chrism which will be used in the celebration of the sacraments throughout the Diocese in the coming year.

THE EASTER TRIDUUM: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday

These three days (the Triduum) are the most sacred days in the Church’s year as we participate in the saving events of Christ’s death and resurrection. Although spread over three days the
liturgies form a single unity and calls us to be especially generous in participating in them and giving our time to Christ.

HOLY THURSDAY 28th March

MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER WITH WASHING OF FEET at 8.00p.m. followed by watch at the Altar of Repose until midnight.

In this celebration we give thanks for the new Passover, the Eucharist, where Christ gives us Himself to liberate us from sin and death so that we can “pass over” with Him to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

GOOD FRIDAY 29th March—day of fasting and abstinence

By his wounds, we are healed.”

Walk of Witness leaving at 10.00 a.m. from United Reform Church, Nightingale Lane to Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

THE PASSION OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST with veneration of the Cross at 3.00 p.m.

RETIRING COLLECTION to support the sacred sites of the Holy Land.

7.00 p.m. Stations of the Cross

HOLY SATURDAY 30th March

10.00 a.m.— 11.00 a.m. CONFESSIONS

THE GREAT AND HOLY VIGIL OF EASTER at 7.00 p.m.

This liturgy (the highpoint of the Church’s year) speaks of the joy and new life we find in Christ’s resurrection not only with  words but with music, fire, light, the waters of baptism, holy
oi`ls. Tonight we welcome men and women into our community as they receive the sacraments and become our brothers and sisters in Christ. With deep and profound joy, we sing and pray
together: Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Darkness vanishes forever!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

PLEASE MAKE A VERY SPECIAL EFFORT TO ATTEND THE EASTER VIGIL
31st March EASTER SUNDAY

Mass times: 9.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE WILL BE NO EVENING MASS

The Laetare (Rejoice) Weekend – 8th to10th March

The Laetare (Rejoice) Weekend  (8th to 10th March) will  be led by members of the Sion community and will provide an opportunity for us to reflect on where our joy is to be found and  how that joy may attract others at the margins of our community or far from our parish family back into the warm embrace of Christ.

Friday 8th March

The weekend will begin with an opportunity to come together for a simple community fish and chip supper from 6.00—7.00 p.m.  For catering purposes, if you would like to come to the supper, please sign up on the sheets in the entrances to the Church.

7.00—8.00 p.m. Stations of the Cross in the Church

Saturday 9th March—Time for Mission

The day will begin with a working breakfast 9.30—11.00 a.m. as we reflect on the ways that our parish community might deepen its relationship with Christ and play our part in the mission of the
Church by reaching beyond our Church doors to the wider community.

The Sion Community will provide input and facilitate group conversations. Be part of the conversation. Everybody has something to contribute. All welcome.

In the Parish Centre, 3.00 – 6.00 p.m. refreshments will be available and special activities for our children and their families.

From 3.00—4.00 p.m. that afternoon, the Church will be open and set up with Prayer Stations in the Church where people will be able to pray alone or with someone else.

From 4.00—5.00 p.m. there will be a time to pray and reflect on the Sunday Readings which will be led by the Sion community.

From 5.00—6.00 p.m. there will be a special Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.

6.30 p.m. Vigil Mass

Sunday 10th March Laetare Sunday and Mothering Sunday

The Sion community and our parish musicians will lead the music at Masses this weekend. Working with our own children’s liturgy leaders, the Sion community will lead the children’s liturgy.
Refreshments after the 9.30 a.m. Mass. There will also be a special blessing for all mothers in the parish.

There is much for us to celebrate as a parish family and to give thanks to God for!

 

Pastoral Letter for the Solemnity of the Epiphany 2024

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On this Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate the revelation in Christ of God’s eternal plan of salvation for everyone and we, like St Paul, are called to make the Light of all Peoples known to others. How we do that changes in every era.

Five years ago, in Advent 2018, we published the Diocesan Vision: Shaping Our Future. It remains prominently on our website and we owe it to all those who took part in the Stewards of the Gospel process to see that vision come to fulfilment.

Shaping Our Future is a discerned response to God’s love for us. It came out of a process where clergy, religious and lay people came together to pray, think, discuss and reflect about how best to evangelise our diocese in the future.

My prayers and continued discernment have served to reinforce my commitment to implement the Vision Document: Shaping Our Future. I recognise that in the years spent in the grip of the pandemic, followed by difficult times in a cost-of-living crisis, parishioners and clergy have all borne a heavy burden.

In that context, I have given much consideration as to how far and how fast to push the implementation of Shaping Our Future and up to now I have taken a light touch in deference to the toll recent times have had on everyone.

In 2024, I am changing that light touch to a more urgent exhortation to implement the Vision. I want everyone: clergy, religious and lay people to help me to move forward with this.

During the latter part of 2023, I held several meetings with different groups of people and I was reminded that radical decisions need to be made now. As Pope Francis has said: “we are not living in an era of change but a change of era”.

Since publication of Shaping Our Future, the Vatican published a 2020 document entitled: “The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish in the Service of the Evangelising Mission of the Church”. It reflected many of our own conclusions about the very real and present need to change the way we do things.

I am also minded that since the publication of that document the Universal Church, under the guidance of the Holy Father, has embarked on a Synodal Journey emphasising the need for change and the need for co-responsibility between clergy and lay people. This echoes much of what is in Shaping Our Future when it stressed the importance of us all working together to evangelise. I want to go further than I have done thus far by echoing the words from the Vatican document-

“The current canonical norms leave it to the diocesan Bishop to decide on the establishment of a Pastoral Council in Parishes, but in any case, they may ordinarily be considered as highly recommended… . Pope Francis [also reminds us that] the purpose of such a Council ‘should not be ecclesiastical organisation but rather the missionary aspiration of reaching everyone’”.

The same document also reminds us that pastoral councils can be used flexibly within parish partnerships, “It is possible… to establish a single Pastoral Council for several parishes”.

All of us should long for the “missionary aspiration of reaching everyone”- How we organise ourselves and how we convey the Good News of Jesus Christ in East London and Essex must meet the challenges of the new era. I ask you all to rise to that challenge with me during 2024 and beyond.

I remain extremely grateful to all who contributed to the Vision Document: Shaping Our Future and bringing us to this moment in the history of the Diocese.  We live in a rapidly changing world – since the Vision document was published some clergy and Stewards of the Gospel have moved parishes, retired or died; numbers attending Mass and many other circumstances have changed post pandemic.

So I am now asking that in your parish partnership, you build on whatever work was done before the pandemic and adapt that work to the context of current circumstances which have undoubtedly made the implementation more urgent.

I ask everyone to share in the recognition that change is necessary; and “we have always done it like that”, is not a reason for continuing to do things that way. In the words of Cardinal Newman “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

In the next days I will be writing to your Parish Priest asking him to join me in this endeavour and I will provide instructions and guidance on how he should work with you to that end. As your bishop I commend the Vision Document: Shaping Our Future to you and ask you to implement it in your parish and parish partnership, working together to face the challenges of our changing world.

In today’s first reading St Paul says that “This mystery … was unknown to… past generations.” Let us not let Christ, the Light of all Nations, remain unknown in this one!

Yours in Christ and Mary,

+Alan Williams, sm,

Bishop of Brentwood

Christmas Masses 2023

Christmas Masses 2023

Fourth Sunday of Advent 

Saturday 23 December 
6.30 p.m. Vigil Mass

Sunday 24th December
10.00 a.m. Mass

Christmas Eve Masses
5.00 p.m – First Mass of Christmas

7.00 p.m.

Carols at 9.30 p.m followed by Midnight Mass at  10.00 p.m..

Monday 25th December Christmas Day Masses
9.30 a.m.

11.30 a.m.

No evening Mass on Christmas Day

Formation for Discipleship: a letter from Fr Martin to the young men and women of the parish

Young brothers and sisters in Christ

I am writing directly to you but also indirectly to your parents and, indeed, the whole parish family. I’ve been thinking about this letter for some time and have kept putting it off. But even though it’s difficult to write someone a personal note when you don’t know them and they don’t know you, now is the time to do it and trust in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

When I was on holiday during the Summer, I read these words: “I invite all Christians everywhere at this very moment to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.” The words really touched my heart. They challenged the ways I have been thinking and prompted me to think about new, fresher ways by which we might encounter Jesus. These words were written by Pope Francis. If you’re interested, you can read where they come from: search Evangelium Vitae at www.vatican.va

Being sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit confirms and strengthens an already existing relationship with Jesus Christ. Many of you already enjoy that relationship. Since the day of your baptism when the seed of glory was planted in your souls and supported by your families, your relationship with Jesus has been developing. Sometimes, in small, almost invisible ways. Sometimes, in dramatic ways. But now that you have grown into a young adult, Jesus offers you the fullness of His Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation to further nourish your relationship with Him and embolden you to live as a young adult disciple of Christ. This calling will ennoble your life and your youthful witness to the love and mercy of Christ will renew the faith of the whole parish community and spill out into the world.

But I’m also aware that some of you might have a weaker, damaged or poor relationship with Jesus. Maybe you’re no longer sure what that relationship is meant to be? Perhaps the multiple voices of the influencers and youtubers; the noise and distractions of the world around you have drowned out the voice of Jesus quietly calling you to Himself? Maybe it’s that you have learnt “things” about Jesus but you have not come to know and love him personally? You understand Jesus as an idea, but not as a friend. Or maybe, it’s something else…

But what a lot of people who think deeply about these things say is that faith can no longer be taken for granted. When I was your age faith was absorbed and supported by the family, school and society but that is no longer the case. We cannot assume, for example, that because someone goes to a Catholic school that they are practising their faith and desire to have a relationship with Jesus. At the same time, there are very loud voices in our society telling us that we do not need to entrust our lives to God but that we can manufacture ourselves and answer all our questions, needs and desires without listening to His desire for our happiness. We are all influenced to some extent by these voices and the white noise of our culture. It takes real strength to stand against the tide and profess, “I am a Catholic, a follower of Jesus Christ. I am proud to be so.”

There’s something else I want to mention. I think it is almost impossible for a young person in our culture to remain close to Christ without the support of others. You need the support of other young Christians. You need the prayerful support of the wise and the holy. You need the support of your parish family. The trouble is that the elders in a parish especially the priest can be so concerned about providing catechetical programmes and sacramental courses that we can sometimes overlook the fundamental question: do our young men and women know Jesus, the Son of the Living God, as their friend and Saviour?

All this is a long way of letting you know that the discipleship formation for the sacrament of Confirmation will not begin until September 2024 and for those of you entering Year 12 (16–17-year-olds). Why are we making these changes?

There will no longer be a Confirmation programme. Instead, we want to offer you six creative encounters with Jesus as part of your formation as disciples. After these “encounters”, you will be better equipped to make a decision about receiving the sacrament of confirmation and continuing your journey as disciples.

If we are going to make these “encounters” worthwhile and meaningful, we need time to gather together a team of leaders who will shape these “encounters”. By pausing this formation, we are taking the time to create experiences that will stir in you a greater love for Jesus. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

An essential part of your formation will be helping you to recognise Christ in the weakest and most vulnerable. As Pope Francis reminds us

“…we are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them” (Evangelii Gaudium, 198). Faith teaches us that every poor person is a son or daughter of God and that Christ is present in them. “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).”

By raising the age when this formation begins you will be better able to respond to that conversion of heart that Jesus calls each one of you to experience. Now that there are no AS levels, you will be freer to reflect on your relationship and to do so in a more grown-up way. Pope Francis says to all of us:

“Today each one of us should take a bit of time and think: Jesus, you are within me. I want to encounter you each day. You are a person, not an idea. You are a companion on the journey, not a programme. You are love that resolves so many problems. You are the starting point of evangelization. You, Jesus, are the source of joy.”

For those of you who have drifted away from Jesus but “at least have an openness to letting him encounter them”. Great. Even the smallest opening proves that you have not slammed the doors of your heart to Jesus. The ember of desire for Him still glows within you. Do not be afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to blow on that ember and for it to ignite into a flame. We look forward to you joining us for this future formation.

To those of you who are practising their faith, I encourage you to continue the journey, knowing Jesus is by your side. He is the source of true and authentic happiness. Your energy, hopes and freshness rub off on the rest of the parish family and helps us to stay young in Christ.

We thank you for your witness. We thank you for being part of our family. But, most importantly, you are in our prayers.

Fr Martin Boland

26.11.23

#Godfirst #WansteadDisciplesofChrist

 

 

CAFOD Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal

CAFOD Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal

Donate to CAFOD’s Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal at http://cafod.org.uk/ipc or call   0303 303 3030 to support those affected and get funds to local trusted experts in Gaza and southern Israel who have been  working alongside communities helping those most in need.

Your  donation will help support aid workers providing urgent  humanitarian aid including food, water and emergency shelter to those in need.

 

Formation for Discipleship: the reception of Holy Communion

Formation for Discipleship: the reception of Holy Communion

We can imagine that the sacraments are “things” that we collect during our lives in order to gain spiritual rewards. The danger with this view is that we make sacraments about us and our wants, rather than about God and his desire for us to share in his life.

Sacraments are the sure and certain ways by which we encounter Jesus. The life of grace that flows through them deepens our relationship with Jesus; gives us the courage to live as more faithful disciples; renews our sense of mission. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Every Sunday, the crucified and Risen Christ waits for us to gather as a community in this sacred place. Though we arrive as many members, He transforms us into one body by feeding us with his living word through the Sacred Scriptures and nourishing us with His Body and His Blood in Holy Communion. For this great gift, we praise and thank Him. In this way, we become more like him and are strengthened “to go in peace, to love and to serve the Lord” in our daily lives.

It is for this reason that the preparation for the reception of Holy Communion is the responsibility of the whole parish community and takes place within it because it is here that our children will take their place alongside us at the table of the Eucharist. It is within this community that their discipleship will be nurtured and fortified by God.

Jesus says to us, “I do not call you servants any longer…but I have called you friends” Preparation of our children for the reception of Holy Communion will bear little lasting spiritual fruits unless we help them to see that Jesus, the Son of the Living God, wants to be their friend.

To encourage this, the formation for the reception of the sacrament of Holy Communion will now take the form of six sessions lasting no longer than one hour each. The aim of these sessions will be to provide the space for our children and their families to come to know Jesus a little better, to love him and to know that he is truly present in Holy Communion, the sacrament of his sacrificial love for us.

Over the coming months, those involved in the formation of our children will tailor the content of these six sessions in ways that will hopefully prove engaging and inspiring.

Once the formation begins, other resources will be made available to those parents who may wish to further enrich their child’s relationship with Jesus in the home setting.

To respond to that call to friendship requires a certain maturity. This is because it is not about preparation for a “special day” but rather something more fundamental: formation for a lifetime of discipleship.

The age for formation for the reception of Holy Communion will now be raised from Year 3 to Year 4. The difference in maturity between a 7/8 year old and an 8/9 year old provides a better opportunity for our children to forge a more personal friendship with Jesus before receiving His Body and Blood as a member of our Eucharistic community.

At the same time, we are very aware that the Covid pandemic has meant that for many of our children and their families there was an extended break of many months, even years, from participating in the Eucharist. As in so many other areas of our lives, Covid has had an impact on our spiritual lives. Raising the age for the reception of this sacrament allows families to restore their practice of Sunday Mass and thus lay the essential foundations for a true relationship with Jesus.

If we want our children to respond to Jesus in a mature fashion, then their parents and families must also be treated in an adult and respectful manner as it is they who are called to be “the first and best teachers of their children in the ways of faith.” (Rite of Baptism)

There will be no registers, no homework and no Zoom meetings for parents. The dates for the First Holy Communion Masses will be made available to families at the very beginning of the time of formation.

For those parents who have drifted away from the practice of their faith, I make this simple appeal: Come back. Come back to Sunday Mass. Come back to Christ. Rebuild your relationship with him. Do not be a stranger to the parish family. We want you and your children with us.

For those parents who are practising their faith and doing their very best to help their children to grow in love of Jesus, thank you. I do not underestimate the challenges, demands and busyness of your lives; that you have given priority to your family’s relationship with Christ speaks of your commitment to your Catholic Faith, your love of Christ and His Church. Thank you for your powerful witness.

The care, generosity and witness of our catechists who have helped to prepare our children in the past is appreciated by the whole community. But this is now a very small group and we need to ensure that there are women and men volunteers who will guide, encourage and support our children and their families in the future. Please consider volunteering.

At the beginning of July 2024, parents in the parish whose children will be going into Year 4 in September of that year will be invited to register their child for the reception of the sacraments of Holy Communion and Penance. At that point, more practical information will be provided to those parents.

What happens in the meantime? The formation for discipleship is not something for next year, but happens now by us committing to that weekly encounter with Jesus at Sunday Mass; by punctuating our daily lives with prayer; by a real care for the weakest and the poorest; by each one of us, young and old, contributing to our parish family. The friendship that Christ offers us demands a personal response, a “yes” that alone gives our lives a meaning, a peace that the world cannot give and the promise of future glory.

 

Fr Martin Boland, October 2023

Canon Patrick Sammon’s Books/CDs

The library and CD collection of Canon Patrick Sammon have been kindly sorted by Father Stewart Foster. Many of his theological
books have been taken to a seminary so that future priests may benefit thereby.

On the weekend of 21/22 October, in the Parish Centre after all the Masses, there will be a sale of the remaining books and CDs.
£1 per item will be charged and the money raised will be sent to the Brentwood Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage Fund to assist those
who wish to go to Lourdes but who might find the cost of the Diocesan Pilgrimage beyond their means. Fr Pat was the Director
of the Lourdes Pilgrimage for many years and did much to assist needy pilgrims.

Certificate of Catholic Practice

A certificate of Catholic practice is required by those parents who are making applications to Catholic schools this year. If you are a practising Catholic (that is, coming to Sunday Mass here at Our Lady of Lourdes) and you require a Certificate of Catholic Practice, Fr Martin will be giving out Certificates at the following times:

i) Catholic Secondary School Applications:    Wednesday 11th October 4.00 -7.00 p.m. at Clergy House.

ii) Catholic Primary School Applications:       Wednesday 8th November 4.00 -7.00 p.m. at Clergy House.

PLEASE NOTE that Fr Martin will not give out Certificates at any other time, so please make sure that you collect the Certificate on the relevant date above