Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Sunday 18th July 2021

Please contact the parish to receive the newsletter by email each week.

Message from Canon Kristian

Dear brothers and sisters

With the easing of the legal restrictions, we find ourselves on the brink of a significant change in the way we are being asked to live with the on-going presence of Covid amongst us.  As you will read in the Newsletter, the Catholic Bishops of England have issued a Statement to all Catholics and renewed Guidance for churches.  Although the legal enforcement of Covid restrictions have largely been removed, in our churches we will continue for the time being to observe willingly – and with primary concern for those in our community who are vulnerable or who remain fearful – the established cautions with which are now familiar and part of our life.  The steps that we will be taking over the following few weeks are set out in Newsletter.  I would ask you to read through them carefully.  Greater discretion will be given to individuals about where they choose to sit and how they move around the church building, particularly at St James, but please continue to have a heightened awareness of, and be respectful, of other’s space.  We are living in fluid times with regards to the active presence of the virus in the community, so we will be keeping all the changes under review so as to ensure that we are keeping those who come to church as safe as possible.

This week we celebrate the Feast Days of two towering female figures of the Church:  St Mary Magdalene and St Bridget of Sweden.  You will recall that Pope Francis raised the status of the celebration of St Mary Magdalene from a Memorial to a Feast because, as the first witness to the resurrection of Christ, she is on a par with the celebrations of the Apostles.  Indeed, he restored her unique title of “Apostle to the Apostles”.  For much of the history of the Church, the figure of St Mary Magdalene was confused with that of Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha, and, since the time of Pope Gregory the Great, besmirched with the unjustified claim that she was a prostitute.  Despite all the efforts to side-line her over the centuries, it is evident from the Scriptures that St Mary Magdalene was one of the closest disciples to the Lord, was one of the women who remained faithful to him throughout his passion and death, and was the first to encounter the Risen Lord, before any of the other Apostles.  Thus, it is essential that we honour her in an appropriate manner in the Church today, especially as we continue to engage with the need to value the feminine in the life of the Church, recognise the importance of the ministry of women and increase the presence of women in the decision-making processes and bodies of the Church.

At this turbulent and unsettled time in Europe, it is also important that we turn to the intercession of those Saints who have been appointed as our Patrons:  St Benedict of Nursia, St Bridget of Sweden, Sts Cyril and Methodius, St Catherine of Siena and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein).  This week we celebrate the Feast Day of St Bridget of Sweden.  St Bridget lived the vocations both of marriage and of a religious woman.  She was married at an early age, as was usual for that time, and became the mother of eight children.  Sadly her husband died at a young age and, at the age of 41, she decided to found a new religious Order of nuns and monks – the Order of the Most Holy Saviour – more commonly known as the Bridgettines.  Her second daughter also joined the Order and she was to  become St Catherine of Sweden.  She died in Rome, where she had gone to get the approval of the Pope for her new Order, which spread rapidly throughout Europe and beyond.  She experienced religious visions from an early age and some of these were recorded and can be read still today.

Quite unusually, the Order lived in “double monasteries” of men and women.  At the time of the Reformation, Syon Abbey in Isleworth in London, was the wealthiest monastery in England.  One of its members, St Richard Reynolds, a Bridgettine monk who was born in Exeter, spoke out boldly against the supremacy claims of King Henry VIII over the Church and, as a results, was hung, drawn and quartered in May 1535.  The monastery was finally dissolved in 1539.  The nuns who remained faithful to the community fled abroad and eventually settled in Lisbon in 1594.  They returned to Spettisbury in Dorset in 1861, moving to Chudleigh in Devon in 1887 and then finally to Marley House, South Brent, Devon in 1925.  I personally remember being taken to visit them as a teenager as part of the then summer Vocations Retreats held in the Diocese for young men thinking of becoming priests.  I remained impressed by their unique habit which includes a veil topped with a sort of white cross cap with five red dots symbolising the five wounds of Christ, as the picture below shows!

Sadly, whilst being the only English community of nuns to have retained an unbroken history from before the Reformation, the community dwindled and was formally closed in 2011.  As you can see, however, this unique Bridgettine community had a long association with our diocese and is another connection for us to St Bridget of Sweden.  On a happier note, the Bridgettine Order continues to flourish in Sweden and in many other places around the world, with two houses in England and one in Wales.

There are a number of attachments to the Newsletter: the above-mentioned Statement from the Bishops of England, the latest Newsletter from Caritas Plymouth, details about two diocesan vacancies and the usual helpful leaflet from Monika Manser on contemplative imaginative prayer on this Sunday’s gospel.

The access details for this week’s parish Get-Together on Zoom on Thursday are available from the parish office as usual.

I hope you all managed to enjoy something of the sunny weather we are experiencing at the moment and that we all remain safe and healthy as the world arounds us begins to open up after the restrictions of the lockdown.

I pray for you all and especially those of our community who are sick and vulnerable.

God bless you

Canon Kristian

Easing of Restrictions at Church                                                             

Following the announcement of the Prime Minister that the legal enforcement of all Covid restrictions will end this Monday, 26 July, the Catholic Bishops of England have issued a Statement Sunday – it is our Day.  Whilst encouraging as many Catholics as possible to return to the weekly celebration of Sunday Mass, the Bishops also recognise that the virus is still a significant presence in the community and that therefore caution must still be observed with regards to the lifting of the restrictions to the way we presently celebrate Mass.  Hence, the Bishops do not foresee the restoration of the precept to attend Sunday Mass until the First Sunday of Advent 2021.

Over the coming weeks, in accordance with the Step 4 Guidance issued by the Bishops, we will be introducing changes to our existing parish arrangements.  These will be done gradually to give people time to adjust to them, having lived with 18 months of restrictions.  The situation will be kept under continuing review, since the Bishops are clear that all decisions must be made in the light of the conditions prevailing at the local level:

  • The seating capacity will be increased in both of our churches but, as there will still be a restricted number of spaces available at St Boniface due to the size of the church and the limited ventilation, it will be necessary to continue the present booking system for the 11.30am Mass there for the time being in order to ensure that the environment is safe. There will no longer be any need to book to attend the Saturday or Sunday Mass at St James.
  • Whilst social distancing is no longer a strictly legal requirement, it is important that we continue to be respectful of other’s space, especially as some may be more vulnerable than others. There will be “Please leave a space” cards at the entrance to church to place next to you on the pew to ensure that an appropriate space is left between you and the next person or family group.
  • Sanitisers will remain at strategic places within our churches. Please continue to maintain good hand hygiene when in church.
  • The NHS QR codes will remain at the entrances to our churches and should still be used if you have access to the NHS Track and Trace Stewards will continue to take the names of all those attending Mass to ensure we have a record in the event of the need to self-isolate due to contact with an infected individual, which remains a legal requirement.  Additional contact details for those on our parish database will no longer be required, but they will still be needed for those who have not filled in a census form or who are visiting the parish.
  • We are no longer required to enforce a “one way” system within the church. However, we are all now more conscious of respecting other’s space when we enter and leave the church and in the way we process in an orderly and dignified manner to receive Holy Communion. Please continue to follow the directions of the Stewards at the time of Holy Communion.
  • Although the wearing of face coverings is no longer mandatory in law, in line with Government expectation, the Bishops ask those who can to continue to wear them in church. This is a way of showing love and respect to our neighbour, in the event we might be carrying the virus unknowingly.
  • Singing and instruments will be introduced gradually at the 10.00am Mass on Sunday. People, other than those in the choir, must continue to wear their face coverings when singing.
  • There will be the opportunity once again to place offertory money into a basket for those who wish. The basket will not be passed from hand to hand but held by a single person. The preferred way of giving your regular donation to the parish is either by setting up a Standing Order, by giving using our contactless facility or through our Give a Little online donations page.
  • The physical Sign of Peace will remain suspended for the time being, although we will continue to offer a warm non-tactile gesture of Christ’s peace to those around us during the Mass.
  • Holy Communion will continue to be administered solely under one kind and, although it is permissible for individuals to receive Communion directly onto the tongue should they so wish, Communion on the hand continues to be the way recommended by the Bishops for receiving Holy Communion, as it presents less risk of cross infection.

Parish Afternoon Tea

On Sunday 1 August we will be holding an Afternoon Tea at 3.00pm, in the church grounds (weather permitting), to celebrate a time of togetherness as a parish community.  Will those who can offer to make cakes and those who will need transport please ring Shelagh Eastwood on 07990 592297.

Diocesan Vacancies

The Diocese of Plymouth is looking to appoint a home-based Heritage Project Manager, on a fixed 12-month contract, and a Caritas Project Support Administrator, as a permanent position based at St Boniface House, Ashburton.  Further details are available on the diocesan website and on the church noticeboards.

Caritas Plymouth Newsletter

The latest Newsletter containing interesting updates of the social outreach activity undertaken by Caritas Plymouth is available to read online here.

Plymouth Diocese Summer Camps 2021

This year three Summer Camps will be taking place, online and/or actual:  Junior Camp (Yrs 3-6), 9-13, August: online with activities in the morning and evening, with the group coming together on Friday 13 August at St Rita’s Centre, Honiton: email Senior Camp (Yrs 7-10), 9-13 August: online with meetings in the morning and afternoon as a taster, with a live 4-day actual Camp at Buckfast in October half-term.  Email: Petroc’s Camp (Yrs 11-12), 9-13 August, a live, actual Camp at St Rita’s Centre.

Honiton: email

Young people and their parents can make enquiries and register their interest through the appropriate email addresses, where electronic application forms and further details will be available.

Parish Services and Events This Week

Saturday 17 July – Weekday

  • Car Boot Sale at 9.00am
  • Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass) Penny Burden RIP

Sunday 18 July – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

  • Holy Mass at 10.00am Richard Hewson RIP (anniv)
  • Holy Mass at 11.30am (at St Boniface) Pro Populo

Tuesday 20 July – Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 10.00am Marek Wesolowski RIP (anniv)

Wednesday 21 July – Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 12noon (at St Boniface)

Thursday 22 July – St Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles

  • Get Together on Zoom at 11.00am
  • Holy Mass in Polish at 6.00pm

Friday 23 July – St Bridget of Sweden, Patron of Europe

  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 11.30am
  • Holy Mass at 12noon

Saturday 24 July – Weekday

  • Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)

Sunday 25 July – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

  • Holy Mass at 10.00am Dawid Maryncak (intentions)
  • Holy Mass at 11.30am (at St Boniface) Pro Populo