SUNDAY 27th DECEMBER: FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY (YEAR B)
Genesis 15, 1-6; Psalm 104; Hebrews 11, 8-19; Luke 2, 22-40
9.00 am: St Werburgh’s: Donal and Mary O’Shea (Anniversaries)
10.00 am: St Werburgh’s: John Flack (L.D.)
11.00 am: St Werburgh’s: Peter Nugent (L.D., Ireland)
12.00 noon: St Werburgh’s: June Lea (L.D.)
Monday 28th December: The Holy Innocents: I John 1,5 - 2,2; Psalm 123; Matthew 2, 13-18
Fr Paul’s Private Mass Intention today: Holy Souls List - Jan Howatt
Tuesday 29th December: St Thomas Becket: Colossians 1, 24-29; Psalm 22; Luke 22, 24-30
10.30 am: St Werburgh’s: Requiem Mass for Mike Griffiths, late of Higher Kinnerton
Fr Paul’s Private Mass Intention today: Margaret Haslam and The Old Nuisance (Anniversaries)
Wednesday 30th December: Sixth Day of Christmas Octave
I John 2, 12-17; Psalm 95; Luke 2, 36-40
Fr Paul’s Private Mass Intention today: Holy Souls List - Wendy O’Brien
Thursday 31st December: Seventh Day of Christmas Octave: I John; Psalm 95; John I, 1-18
1.00 pm: St Werburgh’s: Wedding Service for Joe Vitelli and Lucy Cousins
Fr Paul’s Private Mass Intention today: Holy Souls List - Celia Murphy
Friday 1st January: Mary, the Mother of God
Numbers 6, 22-27; Psalm 66; Galatians 4, 4-7; Luke 2, 16-21
10.00 am: St Werburgh’s: Jon and Frances Mathias - 40th Wedding Anniversary
Saturday 2nd January: SS Basil and Gregory: I John 2, 22-28; Psalm 97; John 1, 19-28
Fr Paul’s Private Mass Intention today: Patricia Keegan
SUNDAY 3rd JANUARY: SECOND SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS (YEAR B)
Ecclesiasticus 24, 1-12; Psalm 147; Ephesians 1, 3-18; John 1, 1-18
9.00 am: St Werburgh’s: Dot and Pat Williams (Anniversaries)
10.00 am: St Werburgh’s: Mary Delaney (Anniversary)
11.00 am: St Werburgh’s: Ryoichi Iwasaki (1st Anniversary)
12.00 noon: St Werburgh’s: Bette Wilson (L.D.)
Your prayers are asked for the following who are sick: Pauline Hackett, Laura Chadwick, Elisabeth, Stuart Clark, Keith Hayes, Sheila Winder, Joe and Ruth O’Kane, Garth Stocking and Kevin Maguire; and for all the sick of the Parish; and for those who have died recently, especially Mike Griffiths and Eddie Moloney; and for those whose anniversaries occur about this time: Stanley Korn, Anne Weston, Kevin Ford, Tony Larkin, Theresa Sellers, Patrick Vallely, Florence Ratchford, Joan Hudson, Harry Graham, Mary Hughes, June Stoddart, Meg Ormsby-Knox, Margaret Davis, Pat Lloyd, Lilian Coathupe, Johanna Sheedy, Helen Woodworth, Brenda Blackwell, John Winder, Magda Kenworthy, Carol Pollard, Josephine Page, Margaret Doman, Agnes Cartwright, Mary Walsh, May Hogan, William Costello, Evelyn Weston, David Mooney, Michael Murphy, Ann Carruthers, Ralph Sherwin, Bernard Healey, Zygmunt Dowicz, Eileen Witter, Geoffrey Hargreaves, Helen Cadden, Robin Francis, John Moore, George Tomlins, Ronald Heveran and Peter Chesterman. May They All Rest in Peace.
Boxing Day Thanks: but where to start?
Where do I start to thank everyone who made Christmas 2020 possible in St Werburgh’s? It was a Christmas like no other, I don’t have to say, not just in Church but in our family celebrations and in our world. But you rose to the challenge here in your Parish Church, and Christmas Mass was made possible for almost 600 people. Thank you. The Taskforce that planned everything are my first thanks: Syd, Denise, Marian, Brian, John and (latterly) Louise. Meeting every Monday Morning since the first lockdown began in March, they were able to keep a running eye on the situation: opening for Private Prayer in the summer, then for Public Mass, then Lockdown Two in November, and, critically, starting to plan for Christmas literally months ago. Realising that our pattern of Sunday Masses - four shorter half-hour Masses, on the hour, whole church sanitised between whiles - had been a success, we felt confident enough to base our Christmas planning on that model.
But - and this was a huge "but" - all our planning was only going to work on one condition: that the fantastic generosity shown by our Stewards during Sunday Mass re-opening would be extended to Christmas. You totally exceeded our expectations. In addition to the 22 "Regulars", a further 18 of you wolunteered as Christmas Specials. You came to the training, you read all the instructions, you turned up in plenty of time, donned your Santa’s Little Helpers’ hats, and swang into action.
Nine Masses over Christmas Eve and Morning was always going to be a big ask, but our fantastic Taskforce and Stewards made it possible, and every Mass was well attended. Special thanks here to Tekkie One and Tekkie Two: not only have they had the excruciatingly awful task on a Daily Basis of uploading that pathetic Blog - they reassure me they just upload it, rather than read the wretched stuff - but they devised and created our Christmas Booking system which really did work a treat. It is a tremendous amount of work at every stage, but indispensable for Christmas. At the same time, we felt glad and vindicated that we hadn’t needed to introduce Booking for Sunday Masses. Your attendances on Sundays tested our safe-spaced capacity but never actually breached it, meaning we never had to turn anyone away.
Christmas Booking opened on 1st December, and every weekday morning between 10.00 and 11.00 am, Olive from Orford gave of her all, manning those phones as if she’d been doing it all her life. Ninety-five per cent of you managed the online booking system with no difficulties: but for the few who did encounter problems, or who didn’t have internet, the weekday phones were indispensable. Thanks Olive! She’s still lying down in that darkened room, but the screams are starting to subside, I gather. I told her to take more water with it, but she wouldn’t listen to me.
Another group that deserves our heartiest of thanks is our fantastic Guild of St Stephen, our wonderful Altar Servers. I am just so sorry that they weren’t able to have their annual Feast Day Mass today, Boxing Day, the Feast of St Stephen. As soon as we were able to open again for Public Mass, in the Summer, Gerry and James, who run the Guild so brilliantly, had the rota up and running, and every Mass since then has been covered, and covered excellently. All our servers except three felt able to come back to Mass, and they all covered each and every one of those nine Christmas Masses with their usual skill and dedication. Thanks, Servers!
Thanks too to Marie Broadhurst for decorating the church for Christmas. It couldn’t be the usual arrangement of flowers and crib, of course: but then nothing has been "the usual" this year, has it? We’ve all had to learn to adapt to the "new normal", and it’s been truly humbling and amazing to see how cheerfully you’ve all made those adaptations.
You’ve cheerfully adapted especially to the half-hour Masses: in fact, a bit too cheerfully. The next person who asks me if we can stay with them after Covid-19 is conquered is likely to get a hymn book to the back of the head. But both Fr Neill and I want to congratulate you all at how brave you’ve been at doing without the Sermons. Everyone has missed the singing, but again we’ve all understood why it wasn’t possible, and the CD’s we’ve played before and after Mass have been appreciated, I know.
Another sacrifice you’ve all made with good grace are the Second Collections. In passing, can I just say how grateful we’ve been as a Parish to those of you who’ve managed to get your First (main) Collection to us? You really have kept the good ship Werbies afloat in these choppy times. But one Second Collection I did want to promote this December was the SVP Christmas Appeal, and you’ve supported this brilliantly. Our SVP has been as active as ever in recent weeks, and some of the expressions of thanks, for example from our Catholic High School families they’ve been able to help with a little support, have been truly moving and inspiring.
I am delighted that we are able to have two Weekday Masses in the period after Christmas: a New Year’s Day Mass on Friday 1st, at 10.00 am, and an Epiphany Mass on Wednesday 6th January, also at 10.00 am. Restoring Weekday Masses and Confessions will be top priority next year, just as soon as this pandemic starts to abate. None of knows when that will be, but if you all continue to show the same cheerful loyalty to St Werburgh’s that you’ve demonstrated in spades is 2020, we can face 2021 and whatever it might bring, with confidence and enthusiasm. "The Light of Christ has come into the world, and all the darkness has never been able to extinguish it." (John 1,6). One of my favourite verses in the Bible, as you all know.
Fr Neill joins me in wishing you all the happiest of Christmastides, and a very happy and peaceful New Year when it dawns. May God bless you all, and all your friends and families,