Bishop’s Blog: Different in Gifts United in Christ

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
The great solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul saw me back in the Cathedral for a midday Mass celebrated with parishioners and the Cathedral school of St.Peter’s. Time was limited but Mass was not rushed. How blessed we are with the example of these two great Saints standing not as individuals but as men united in a common purpose, able to agree to work together for the sake of Christ’s Gospel. Note their different characters, strengths and weaknesses, styles and out-looks. What a joy it is to appreciate that there is room amongst the disciples of Jesus for such diversity. His followers take many forms brought together for one mission, that Jesus Christ may be known and welcomed, worshipped and followed as Son of God who gave Himself up for our salvation. Following Mass we were treated to a feast in the school grounds. Pupils, teachers, parents and parishioners indulged in burgers and ice-cream! What could we do but cancel the rest of the day?! Thank-you to all who worked to make it happen. Let’s remember and celebrate our Saints!On Saturday there was a Mass celebrated at St.Bernadette’s, Lancaster, gathering together many of those preparing to go on the Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. Following Mass we took refreshments and mingled. Nothing happened to ‘put me off’! We have a rich assortment of humanity blessed with Faith. The Pilgrimage itself must take a considerable amount of time and effort to organise, and relies on a great deal of good-will. The purpose of the Pilgrimage goes far beyond being a social event. It aims at helping us follow Jesus more closely and more generously. May it be an occasion of Grace for the Pilgrims, the Diocese and for all those we pray for.Mindful of Father Sony’s return to India at short notice to attend his mother’s funeral, over the weekend I offered to cover his Masses at Claughton and Goosnargh. I appreciate that ‘fuss’ has its place, but it was a delight to pretend for a short time that I was ‘just a priest in a parish’ What a beautiful vocation.Fr.John Moriarty and Castlerigg had invited me to celebrate Mass and join the out-going gap year workers for lunch on Monday. Time goes so quickly. Where was I this time last year? Where will I be a year from now? We paused to give thanks to God for the past year, with all the good that has been done. The life of each person who has been on a Castlerigg course is special to the Lord, and these young people have been part of His blessing for them. Thank-you to all of you who have served at the Manor during this past year. May the Lord bless each of you with the gift of strangers further along your way of life, just as you have been there for others.
Then there was the rest of the week . . . . . .personal conversations, surprise encounters with old friends, the odd bike ride as opportunity permits, the steady rhythm of prayer and Mass, a significant birthday (and cake!), and of course Meetings! Please God, this is part of our way to heaven.With every good wishes and prayers from the Diocese of Lancaster,

+ Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster