Third Sunday of Lent (Year B)

Sunday 7 March 2021

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Message from Canon Kristian

Dear brothers and sisters

This Monday marks the first stage in the easing of the restrictions of the national lockdown.  One of the effects will be that all our children will be returning to school and so the staff and children of St John’s, our parish school, will be in our thoughts and prayers in a special way.  However, it is important for us to realise that schools have not been closed during the lockdown.  Throughout the lockdown, the teachers and support staff of St John’s have not only had the challenge of continuing and supporting our children’s education online, but at the same time they have also been teaching the children of key workers, together with children who are vulnerable, in school.  This has been a very challenging time for all the school staff, but we can be justly proud of what they have achieved during this time.  Following a remote inspection by OFSTED undertaken at the end of January, the leaders of St John’s and those responsible for governance were judged as “taking effective action to provide education in the current circumstances”.  Congratulations to all our teachers and support staff for your incredible commitment and devotion to our children to ensure that, whether at home or in school, they have been receiving the education and support that they need.  We should also recognise, at the same time, the great effort and sacrifice that our parents have had to make in order to support the home-schooling of their children for extended periods, amidst all the other pressing demands of family and working life.  Your dedication has been impressive.

This is a good opportunity to remind you all of what a precious gift it is for our parish to have a Catholic school as part of our parish community.  Whether parents or not, we should all take a lively interest in its life and well-being, supporting it with our  prayer and in any other way that we can.  I would urge all our parents with children of nursery and primary school age to choose to send them to St John’s.  The benefit of a fully rounded education within the context of the strong Catholic life and teaching of our school, which promotes the intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual growth of our children, is something which should be highly prized and should outweigh other considerations, such as physical proximity, which sometimes impact on choice of school. When an infant is baptised, the parents and godparents promise to bring that child up in the practice of the Faith.  This means not only that the children will grow up as a member of the worshipping community of the parish, but also that she or he will be provided with an education which will help her or him to develop and mature in the understanding and living out of our Faith.  Therefore, whenever there is a Catholic school as part of a parish community, it is the duty of parents to ensure that their children benefit from the precious resource, which is a gift not available in many parishes in our diocese. So, again, I urge all parents within our parish to support our parish school if at all possible.

Another impact of the easing of restrictions will be that those of you who can do so safely will be resuming your participation at Mass at church.  We are now almost halfway through the Season of Lent and so our thoughts inevitably start to turn to Holy Week and the celebration of the Paschal Triduum.  Last year, as we were still in the middle of the first national lockdown, there was no possibility for parishioners to take part physically in the Holy Week Services, but this year it will be possible, even though the ceremonies have been modified by the Holy See and by our Bishops to ensure that we continue to observe social-distancing rules and do nothing which would have the potential to increase the spread of infection.  As with our weekend Masses, I will be asking you to pre-book your place at these Services so that we can ensure that there is space for you, as well as to have some idea of what space we will have for those who only have contact with the parish rarely and who therefore will be unaware of the need to pre-book.  This will apply especially to the Commemoration of the Passion on Good Friday, which is always a very popular Service.  In order to ease the pressure of demand on that day, as you will see in the Newsletter, a special  one-off permission has been given to hold a second celebration if there is more than one church in a parish, and so there will also be a Good Friday Commemoration of the Passion at St Boniface as well as at St James.

On-going restrictions mean that it will not be possible to hold a Lent Service of Reconciliation.  However, since it is a central part of the process of conversion and Catholic sacramental practice, the Bishop is keen that opportunities to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Confession should be made available in our parishes, if at all possible.  This presents significant challenges with regards to maintaining social distancing  rules and ensuring that safeguarding norms are followed on the one hand – which require amongst other things that the sacrament be celebrate in an open and visible space- whilst protecting the confidentiality and “seal” of the sacrament on the other.   Bearing all this in mind, I have scheduled two periods at St James for the celebration of the Sacrament towards the end of Lent and, if there is a need, there is also the possibility of scheduling a period at some point towards the beginning of Holy Week.  Unfortunately, due to the size and layout of the church, it is not possible to observe the restrictions and ensure the integrity of the Sacrament at St Boniface, so a specific time cannot be scheduled for the celebration of the Sacrament there.  However, depending on the weather, it may be possible to celebrate the Sacrament in the carpark if necessary!

As with all Masses, it will be necessary to operate the “Track and Trace” system for all the Holy Week Services and for the Sacrament of Penance, so please be ready to provide your contact details when asked.  It will also be necessary to have at least two stewards present at each of these Services and Sacramental Celebrations, so I thank those parishioners in advance who will volunteer to carry out this essential role for the parish community.  Our stewards have done a sterling job throughout the pandemic, having carried out their responsibilities both willingly and joyfully.  The parish community owes them a debt of gratitude.

In the Newsletter you will find reference to the first edition of Evangelium, the new newsletter of the Bishop’s Vicariate (a church form of Department) for Evangelisation and Catechesis. This edition, available to download and read here, is devoted to introducing the key people entrusted with supporting parishes in the areas of evangelisation, catechesis, youth work and marriage and family life, as well as introducing some of the initiatives that are on offer.  It is well worth a read.

At our recent monthly Pastoral Team meeting, the Deacons and I were reflecting that, at the moment, the needs around the world are so many that it can sometimes be completely overwhelming to try to give time to reflecting on, and engaging with, all of them.  So we thought it might be an idea to devote a part of the newsletter to a few of the needs of just one area or continent of the world each week for the next few weeks.  This week’s Newsletter is focussing on Asia and the Middle East, particularly relevant due to the Apostolic Visit of the Holy Father to Iraq presently underway.  The intention is simply to highlight a few situations as a way of giving a focus to our prayer and support.  There will clearly be other needs and situations in that area of the world which are just as important and which you may wish to include in your prayer.

Our Parish “Walk for Water” Team has incredibly walked over an incredible 1,000,000 steps already, far surpassing the original goal of 400,000 steps, and they have raised a fantastic sum of £715 so far.  The generosity of so many parishioners, friends and members of the local community in terms both of time and of donations has been amazing.  A big thank you to all of you.  We may yet break that £1,000 barrier before the end of Lent, which would be fantastic!  The Parish CAFOD Newsletter this week broadens its focus to the issue of climate change and the teaching of the Holy Father in his Encyclical Laudato Si’ on Care for our Common Home.  Climate change has a huge impact of the accessibility of clean water for millions around the world, so these issues are deeply connected.

Monika Manser offers her weekly aid to assist lectio divina – prayerful, meditative reading on the responsorial psalm for this Sunday’s Mass (available here) and the weekly parish Coffee Morning on Zoom will take place on Thursday at 11am.  The access details are as available from the parish office.

I hope you are all managing to keep well and healthy and I look forward to welcoming some of you back to church over the coming weeks.

Be assured of my prayers for you and your loved ones.

With every blessings

Canon Kristian

Coming to Church

With the gradual easing of the national lockdown restrictions starting this coming Monday, 8 March, those of you do not fall into the “very vulnerable” category may wish to start coming to church again for Mass.

When in church, please observe the social distancing rules, wear a face covering (unless you are exempt) and sanitise your hands frequently. Please also maintain an appropriate distance from others at all times, both inside the church and outside in the carpark.

If you would like to come to Mass at the weekends, please contact the Parish Office to book a place, either by telephone on weekdays between 10.00am-1.00pm, or by email. There is no need to book a place at a weekday Mass but, on arrival at church, please give your details to one of the stewards.

Evangelisation and Catechesis – Spreading and Teaching the Faith

Fr Jon Bielawski, the parish priest of the Parish of Crownhill in Plymouth, is also the Episcopal Vicar who oversees the work of evangelisation and catechesis on behalf of Bishop Mark.  He and his co-workers in his Vicariate have now produced the first edition of their new Newsletter, called Evangelium, in which they introduce us to the essential work they undertake and support in parishes throughout our diocese.

Caritas Plymouth – Growing our Justice and Peace

Are you concerned about injustice in our world?  Do you feel the need to take action and make your voice heard? Would you like support and encouragement? Are you already taking action and want to inspire others?

If the answer is “yes”, then please get in touch with Caritas Plymouth, which is looking to grow the Justice and Peace activities in the Diocese of Plymouth and wants to offer (1) connections between existing Justice and Peace Groups to share ideas; (2) opportunities for action; (3) access to related agencies; and (4) friendship, solidarity and mutual support.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Deborah, the Caritas Manager on 01364 645421 or email

CAFOD Lent Challenge – Walk for Water – 400,000 Steps

Our parish team is dedicated walkers are continuing the CAFOD “Walk for Water” challenge, walking over 10,000 steps a day, each day for the 40 days of Lent, in solidarity with those who have to walk for miles every day just to access clean water.

A Just Giving Page for the Parish Team effort has been set up and is open for your donations to support their effort on behalf of the parish.

Preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation

Bishop Mark will be coming to our parish on Pentecost Sunday, 23 May.  If there is any adult parishioner who, for whatever reason, did not receive the Sacrament when they were younger, perhaps now is the time to complete your Christian initiation and be confirmed!  Even if you are unsure whether you want to do this, do please have a word with Canon Kristian anyway.

Prayer for Asia and the Middle East

Pope Francis flew to Baghdad on Friday to start his Apostolic Journey to Iraq, to show solidarity with the ancient and beleaguered Christian Community there and with the whole population for all the suffering and hardship they have undergone in recent years and continue to experience.  Let us pray that his visit will usher in a time of renewed dialogue and friendship between peoples of different faiths and cultures.

Cardinal Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon, has asked for our prayers for the People of Myanmar, experiencing a period of great civil unrest following a military coup and the shooting of a large number of peaceful demonstrators. He ended his homily at Mass last weekend by saying: “Let our present suffering be a sign that this nation is in the throes of a new birth. Let all of us enter into a mindset of reconciliation and dialogue. A new nation is possible, let it be born through Love. Like the disciples let us get down from our own mountains of virtual reality and come down and meet one another as brothers and sisters.”

You heard last week of the historic and persistent severe persecution of the Muslim Uyghurs by the Chinese Government, including forced abortions on Uighur women, mass imprisonment and other human rights abuses amounting to a form of genocide.  This suffering people is not only in need of our prayer but, if we can, we should be advocating for them to our MPs and supporting agencies that are seeking to help them.

Preparing for Holy Week

This year we will have the joy of being able to celebrate Holy Week and the Easter Triduum together, albeit in a modified form due principally to the need to maintain social distancing.  Due to the exceptional circumstances and with special permission, there will be two Commemorations of the Passion on Good Friday, one in St Boniface at 12noon and one in St James at 3.00pm.

Canon Kristian will be available for the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance on Sun 21 March, 3-5pm and Sat 27 March, 10am-12noon, in St James.  As with Mass, please give contact details to the stewards for the purposes of Track and Trace. If you cannot make either of these dates, please contact the Parish Office and we will endeavour for arrange an alternative time.


Holy Mass and Events this week

Saturday 6 March – Lent Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass) Anthony Foran RIP

Sunday 7 March – Third Sunday of Lent

  • Holy Mass at 10.00am Pro Populo
  • Holy Mass at 11.30am (St Boniface) Krystyna Bertulaite RIP (anniv)

Tuesday 9 March – Lent Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 10.00am
  • Funeral Service for Eunice Wheatcroft at 12.30pm in St Peter’s Chapel at Exeter Crematorium

Wednesday 10 March – Lent Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 12noon (St Boniface)

Thursday 11 March – Lent Weekday

  • Coffee Morning at 11.00am on Zoom
  • Holy Mass at 6.00pm

Friday 12 March – Lent Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 12noon

Saturday 13 March – Lent Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)