Pope Francis has been calling again and again in recent months for an end to the war in Syria. An Aid to the Church in Need delegate, visiting the country last year, wrote: The need is especially acute for Christians who have fled persecution at the hands of extremists bent on destroying the Church whose roots date back to St Paul and the first flowering of our Faith.
We must do all we can to help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christian communities across the Middle East who have been largely forgotten and are often ignored by the media.
For that reason all our charitable giving this Lent from St Wilfrid's and St Joseph's will be directed to the Aid to the Church in Need's Syria Project.
After the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel while celebrating Mass at Rouen in France the government introduced grants for security improvements in churches.
Br Adam went through the application process for St Wilfrid's and we are one of relatively few churches so far to have been successful. There are now cameras outside and inside the church which record the daily comings and goings. It is sad that this is necessary but it does make us safer. Of course it does not replace the need for vigilance.
It should also be said that a frequented church is a secure church, often visited for the purpose it was built for, prayer and the worship of God. Please pop into church often. We keep it open all day!
You can get an idea of the quality of the pictures from this still taken during the St Wilfrid's School Candlemas Mass.
The Fathers of the Oxford Oratory held elections yesterday as we do every three years.
It is not usually our custom to make our Sunday homilies available online. The task of the preacher is to expound the Sunday readings and prayers for the congregation assembled in the church there and then.
But in an editorial comment on Friday, 27 January, the York Press made some comments about Catholic teaching that cannot go unanswered. Fr Richard addressed these comments in his Sunday homily. A public comment requires a public response. Fr Richard's text (slightly adapted for reading from the page) can be read here.
Thursday, 2 February, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or Candlemas. There will be a Sung English Mass at 6pm with the Blessing of Candles and a Candlelight Procession to honour the Lord’s entry to the Temple.
At the end of Mass we will bless and enthrone the new statue of Our Lady of York.As it is also the birthday of the Oratory in England we will have a parish party in the Rectory after Mass. All are welcome to join us for these special celebrations.
Statement by Fr Richard Duffield, Parish Priest
A number of people may have read the article in the York Press (27 January 2017) about recorded music in church services in St Wilfrid's and St Joseph's.
The York Press reported yesterday that a local family has recently been upset by this policy.
The first thing I would like to say publicly is that I am very sorry to have been the cause of distress at a time which is sensitive by its very nature. I would like to renew my condolences to the family and my assurance of prayers for them in their loss. One of our main tasks as priests and as Catholics is to pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died. We will continue to do this.
I am grateful to the York Press for their professional integrity and politeness in contacting me before running the story. For obvious reasons I can never comment on the planning that goes into any particular service. These are very private matters.
We have a policy at St Wilfrid’s and St Joseph’s Catholic Churches in York not to allow recorded music in church for any services.
I do believe there are good reasons for this policy. It avoids difficulties with performance rights legislation and helps keep music live. It also provides a clearly defined and objective criterion which is easily recognised and can be fairly applied to everyone. This helps to remove the danger that these decisions are to be made by anyone on the grounds of personal taste or force of feeling alone.
Causing upset is always a matter for regret. But this is a clearly stated policy on our website and I believe that (all other things considered) it is best for everyone when it is implemented even-handedly.
Sr Agatha CJ of the Bar Convent is known to many of us in York. She has just published a book about her life as a nun which is rightly enjoying a great success. Here are some details (with acknowledgement to the Bar Convent Website).
“I was excited, gloriously happy, and secure in my future chosen life. I had always wanted to be married and have children. Now I was going to do just that. My right hand came to a stop as I considered what else I needed to say, then I began to write again: “… but I am to become a nun.”
Shirley Leach lived a life of luxury. A debutante with enviable wealth, a grand estate, a devoted fiancé and everything she’d ever dreamt of, she had the perfect life. In the middle of writing a letter to her partner about their life together, she received a calling from God and gave it all up to become Sister Agatha.
A Nun’s Story is a multi-faceted tale of sacrifice, heart break, bravery and sheer determination. From saving her close-to-bankrupt convent with help from John Paul Getty, to meeting a murderer on a train, the Sister’s life has been nothing but extraordinary. Agatha is now a recognized public speaker and has begun to share her story worldwide, inspiring all who hear it.
This all-encompassing tale of belief and bravery has captivated many and will only continue to do so as her remarkable story spreads.
Sr Agatha's interview with Graham Norton on BBC Radio Two can be heard here. We hear she is also scheduled to have an episode of Songs of Praise featuring her story.
To see if you won a prize in the Christmas Raffle, please click here. Prizes can be collected after all Masses from the sacristy at St Wilfrid's. Many thanks to everyone who took part by contributing to the prizes, organising the draw or buying tickets. Happy New Year.