Contemplating our Mission

Dear friends in Christ of Lancaster Diocese and beyond!

Welcome to Bishop’s Blog!

You can tell that this Blog is only likely to be an ‘occasional’ publication.
After an eventful summer we are now in the beginnings of autumn, a magnificent season, with its distinct character. It stirs us to reflect back on the passing year and yet look forward, often with some apprehension, towards the cold, dark days of winter. But beauty can be found there too.October is a month we have been asked to keep as an Extra-ordinary Missionary Month, remembering the work of Mission at the heart of Christ’s Church. I invite you to use this month more for reflection than for activity. The activity can follow as a fruit of reflection, and will hopefully be all the richer and more generous for it. Do visit the website of Missio.At the end of September I led the diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham, our National Marian Shrine, tucked away in the Norfolk countryside, an enchanting place. Along with many regular pilgrims we welcomed some new faces, making their first Pilgrimage to Walsingham.It is a long drive, especially for those who live in West Cumbria, but the Pilgrimage is planned in such a way as to offer time for that essential quiet and stillness that seems in such short measure in many lives. The intentions of the Diocese were presented before Our Lady of Walsingham at Mass on her Feast Day. Mgr.Armitage has worked wonders to up-grade the accommodation and facilities.Early next year we will welcome the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to the Cathedral in Lancaster as part of a tour of all the Cathedrals in England. This is in preparation for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary, an ancient title of devotion. I recommend you visit the shrine website for more information.Looking ahead, we are eagerly preparing for the Canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman. I am fortunate to be travelling to Rome to be present at the Mass of Canonisation. Undoubtedly, he is a gift to us from the Lord.He is given to us at this particular moment in our individual lives and as a Church. I am delighted that several members of staff will be making the journey to Rome from Cardinal Newman College in Preston.

So much more could go into this, but perhaps that is enough for now.
With my prayers and blessing,
+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

My Pastoral Letter for the Extraordinary Month of Mission October 2019

A PASTORAL LETTER

from the Bishop of Lancaster

for the Extraordinary Month of Mission October 2019

Baptised and sent

Appointed to be read at all Masses in the Diocese of Lancaster

on the weekend of 5/6 October 2019

My dear People,
The Extraordinary Month of Mission (EMM) is a special month of prayer and action called by Pope Francis to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter on overseas mission, Missio Ad Gentes.
It aims to respond to the ongoing, urgent call to bear witness to Jesus Christ to all the nations. It also, brings Catholics to a deeper awareness of their responsibility to evangelise.It aims to renew missionary commitment throughout the Church, sent by Christ to reveal the love of God to all nations.
It aims to re-found and reshape Missio (also known as the Pontifical Mission Societies or PMS), in accordance with the demands of the Gospel.
At the request of the Missio Assembly of National Directors, the Holy Father approved the EMM on 31 March 2017, for the whole month of October 2019.
The Holy Father wants it to be an opportunity for reflection, prayer and support for the whole Church with specific regard to Missio Ad Gentes.
The Overseas Mission Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), has asked Missio to coordinate all activities related to the EMM. Missio will be at the service of the Church in England and Wales, providing expertise, materials and help to parishes.

For the four weeks of October 2019, four themes have been approved by the Holy Father:
1. A personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in his Church.
2. The witness of missionary saints and martyrs.
3. Biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological formation for mission.
4. Missionary charity as a commitment to support the Church’s missionary activity and communities too poor to support themselves, through Missio.It is my wish to encourage us all to reflect on our work as missionary disciples. I am very much aware of the burdens constantly put on our priests, parishes and schools. My desire is for each parish to take up this EMM as you find yourself able. Primarily, let it be a time for reflection. I ask priests and deacons to build the given themes and aims of EMM into your homilies throughout the month. My personal hope is that we will come to appreciate more the privilege we have in sharing the salvific mission of Christ.

May the Lord bless you all, and help you to keep it simple!

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

More information can be found at https://missio.org.uk/
During October, Pope Francis invites everyone to join the EMM2019 Universal Prayer Chain, in solidarity and love for all people.
Who? Everyone, everywhere, all over the world is invited to pray the official EMM 2019 prayer.
When? Every Friday after the Angelus at 12noon, throughout the month of October.
Why? Through praying together, we will revitalise and reawaken our missionary spirit.

Universal Prayer
God our Father, when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he commissioned his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.
Through our Baptism you send us out to continue this mission among all peoples.
Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and enthusiastic in bearing witness to the Gospel, so that the mission entrusted to us, which is still far from completion, may bring life and light to the world.
May all peoples experience the saving love and generous mercy of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

 

 

The Good Shepherds of Lancaster!

Dear friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Blog!

Back from my summer travels, I find the curial offices in the process of being given a face lift . . . . could do with one myself!
My office walls are now lined with portraits of my six predecessors. Bishop Pearson O.S.B. was the first Bishop of Lancaster, followed by Bishop Flynn, Bishop Foley, assisted by auxiliary Bishop Pearson. More recently came Bishop John Brewer, Patrick O’Donoghue, and Bishop Michael Campbell O.S.A. To look up and see their faces somehow gives me strength and encouragement. Each has served the Diocese with zeal and faithfulness, shouldering the burdens of the day, walking with Christ. Let us all draw comfort and strength from the faces and memories of those who have gone before us.

 Rt Rev Thomas Wulstan OSB      


Rt Rev Thomas Edward Flynn

Rt Rev Thomas Bernard Pearson

 Auxiliary Bishop

Rt Rev Brian Charles Foley

Rt Rev John Brewer 


Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue


Rt Rev Michael Gregory Campbell OSA

The summer is growing old, but the Gospel is ever new!

May God bless you all!

As ever in Christ our Lord,

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes- 2019!

Dear friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Blog!

The Pilgrimage was a time of Grace and rich Blessings not only for the pilgrims who travelled to Lourdes, but for the whole Diocese. We carried the intentions of you all, particularly those who suffer poor health, and those who dedicate themselves so generously to the care of the sick.On arrival at Manchester airport early on the Friday morning we suffered one set back when one of our pilgrims had a fall and had to be taken to hospital. We carried her with us in our hearts and prayers for a steady and full recovery.Cloud and showers marked the first days, but no harm was done, no discouragement to our zeal. For many this was a return to a very special place of prayer. We welcomed several new faces, refreshing us with their surprise and joy at being in Lourdes and the Blessed Grotto of St. Bernadette for the first time.Following the International Mass on Sunday morning we processed to the Grotto behind the relics of St.Bernadette. I found it moving to think of those who followed her on the same journey when she answered Our Blessed Lady’s call to meet her at the Grotto. Now it was our turn to accompany her and sense the presence of Holiness.Our youth section was a credit to the Diocese. Someone told me that they stand out amongst all the Dioceses for their behaviour and respect and reverence. Many evenings after the torchlight procession I went down to the Grotto and saw our young people standing or sitting in quiet prayer. I wasn’t spying on them! It was uplifting for me to see them.Quiet conversations were had between pilgrims. Deep subjects were touched on. Light was given. Problems were worked through or seen to be not so bad once the Light of Lourdes shone on them. The High Stations barefoot in gathering gloom. There is a nasty middle section that can catch you unawares, especially nasty for the soft-soled – or should it be the soft-souled?The Mass of anointing, the Mass with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Holy Hour, the blessing of the candle, and pious objects, all went into our prayers for the Diocese and for the Church’s mission. the Liturgies were beautifully and reverently celebrated. My thanks go to the seminarians, Stuart and Philip for ensuring all was as it should be.My profound gratitude goes to the people who planned and made possible this year’s pilgrimage, to the company who got us there and back, to all who proved such agreeable companions. To Father Peter, Linda and Nikki and organisers of the youth, and all I should have mentioned – thank-you.Now, almost a week later, we are back home, clergy and Religious and lay Faithful. We each carry something of that blessed time, sharing it with those who have welcomed us home. Let us look forward to next year’s pilgrimage.

Sincerest good wishes and prayers,

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

 

A Beautiful Weekend!

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Blog.

It will never tell the whole story, but it does give a brief insight into some of the events in the life of your Bishop.The past weekend was beautiful. On Saturday we held the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Ladyewell, beginning with Holy Mass in the parish church of St.Mary before processing down the lane to the Shrine. much organisation goes into this annual event. Thanks to Father Ernest and Father Mario together with all their volunteers. A copy of my homily will – in time – find its way onto the Diocesan website.On Sunday morning I was off to the Convent of Our Lady of Lourdes , Boarbank Hall, for a very special occasion. Sister Silvana Gianota was to make her Final Profession as a member of the Canonesses of St. Augustine.

It was a day of great joy, and not a little emotion. The chapel was full with family and friends of sister Silvana, together with invited guests, members of our Religious in the Diocese and beyond. We also welcomed a good number of visiting clergy The witness of Religious women has served the Church well over the years. It is an aspect of the Church’s life that we must value and promote. I wonder if anyone reading this might sense the stirrings of a Religious Vocation. Do have the courage to speak to someone about it.What a privilege this day has been. When we see a beautiful rose bush, so often only the flower is noticed. Of course, the rest of the plant is essential and must be healthy to produce a beautiful bloom. So it is with a vocation. What we see so easily is only part of the story, only part of the life. But the Lord knows and sees it all.As I write this I am conscious that at an un-earthly hour tomorrow morning we set off for our Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. I pray that all pilgrims will travel safely and draw immense grace and goodness from our time in Lourdes. We take the petitions of the Diocese with us, especially those of the sick, house-bound and disabled as well as all who help care for us when we are unwell. We travel on the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, their ‘little lass’! May they keep a watchful eye on us all as they did over Mary.

As ever in Christ,

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

 

So Much To Celebrate!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog!
After a very long hibernation here is a tentative effort to resurrect the Bishop’s Blog. People here have been extremely patient with me, but even extremes have their limit. So, I present snapshots of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to recently. Obviously, it is by no means the whole story..
Last Sunday took me to the most northerly of our parishes, St. Augustine of Hyppo, Carlisle. They were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the church building. This is a part of the diocese relatively unknown to me until recently. I was made to feel at home. They are a lively, active community, and very generous hospitality.On the 6th July the Diocese gathered in St.Peter’s Cathedral for the priestly ordination of Fr.Stephen Talbutt. A day of immense joy for us all. (Fr.Stephen traces the beginnings of his vocation to the visit of the relics of St.Therese to the Cathedral some years ago.) This is my first ordination since becoming Bishop of Lancaster.It was a profoundly humbling occasion for me. Amongst so many thoughts I am aware of it being an inheritance for me, the work of so many others. All I have done is collect the ripened fruit. Please pray for Fr.Stephen as he begins his life as a priest. I am grateful to his mother for her influence of Stephen.  Fr. Stephen’s first MassSaturday 13th July we celebrated Holy Mass at the Cathedral with the Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre. Followed by light refreshments. They have an apostolate to help safeguard the holy places in the Holy Land. So much we take for granted and yet here are people dedicated to quietly getting on with work so closely associated with Our Blessed Lord. I was touched by their sociability and practical dedication. This is a group within the Church I look forward to getting to know better.What must also be mentioned is our loss of two elderly priests, Father Terry Rogers and Father Michael Lakeland. Both had been in poor health for some time. I am grateful to the community at St.Winifride’s, Bispham, the Sisters and staff at Nazareth House, Lancaster and Stella Matutina, Ansdell for their dedicated care of both these priests.On Thursday 18th July we celebrated the annual Mass for Blessed Edward Bamber at St.Winifride’s. This is my second occasion. It is encouraging to see such a healthy crowd attending. And of course Barbara and staff and volunteers are so welcoming. Thank-you to you all.Deacon Chris Barwise invited us to join him and Sue at Sacred Heart church, Ashton-on-Ribble, to celebrate his 25years since being ordained deacon. The ‘End-of-Year’ school Mass at Our Lady’s Catholic High School, Fulwood, was a memorable occasion. The youngsters were immaculately well behaved. Wonderful to see so many of the students receiving Holy Communion so respectfully.I notice that at the end of next week I’m off to Lourdes with the Diocesan Pilgrimage. I wonder if I’ll manage to do my Blog before I go . . . .

As ever in Christ,

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

 

 

My Homily to the Altar Servers of the Diocese

My dear Altar servers boys and girls,

Serving brings you very close to Jesus. Jesus our life. Jesus son of God and Mary. With Serving there is a lot to learn. You are learning what to do.When I was your age, I had three sisters. We all had to get up for school, I had to get to the bathroom first. If my sisters got there, first they took ages! Getting up earlier, I had to go to bed a bit earlier. I had to make a decision.Misa de Angelis – it is difficult. Set to learn it. Impossible? It can be done.At school, I remember Mr Bonney, he taught P.E. School was all over the place. We changed classrooms for different lessons. Sometimes we changed buildings. School was on a hill. So, we got plenty of exercise: walking, running. Upper body strength. I needed to work at this. I needed to choose.At school – I realised a big part of my life I had just not looked after much. My Spiritual life, prayer life. It was part of me. The deepest part. Jesus – sad because many stopped going with Him. He didn’t change – didn’t make it easy to fit them.Christian Faith – it is a way of life. Knowing what is important. We are given it by our parents and grandparents. It is something passed down because it is important to Jesus and so, to us. You don’t have to be a server, it is something extra, something that brings us close to Jesus if we try to do it well.This makes you different from many of your friends. That is ok. If they ask you why, it can be hard to answer, but easy too – it is important to Jesus and brings us clos to Him.Thank you to your parents for the extra effort it takes. Your young need you to encourage them. Thank you to the senior servers. For your patience, especially with the younger ones! Thank you to the clergy, for helping you, for making sure you are safe and there is no bullying. Boys and young men think about the Priesthood. We need priests. I hope some of you will think about becoming priests. Priests help people know Jesus better. You need to think about it. Jesus, are you calling me to be a priest? To make a choice?Help to make sure Jesus is still alive in our society and world. Stop greedy, selfish, falling out – no stress, not loved, no need to feel useless or a failure. St Stephen – something happened in his life – no-one could stop him being a friend of Jesus, a server.

Sincerest good wishes and prayers,

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster