Home Mission Sunday 2000
Dear fellow members of the Church of Arundel and Brighton,
'What is happening' is a question many of you have been asking as we return from summer breaks for this new term and season. Encouraged by the College of Consultors, as Diocesan Administrator, I want to bring you up to date. Traditionally a Jubilee year is a time of celebration, a time to start afresh, a time of reconciliation and also a time for the fields to lie fallow, the purpose of this was to enable the soil to gather strength for a new planting. You could say that is how we are at the moment. Let me give you a brief account of what is and will be happening over the next few months.
Our Diocesan Millennium Jubilee Celebration at Ardingly was a highlight of the summer and brought together many from around the Diocese. Archbishop Cormac was very grateful for your generous farewell gift.
The Jubilee Year continues up to the feast of the Epiphany and plans for the next few months need to be made. Pilgrimages, maybe to Arundel, West Grinstead, Canterbury and beyond, and celebrations around the birth of Jesus Christ.
Today, Home Mission Sunday begins for us a new cycle of preparation for the Sacraments. We are reminded to welcome enquirers with their questions about the Catholic faith and to support them in their searching through the RCIA process. An opportunity to share the Gospel or evangelise as groups are formed. That model should shape all our preparation programmes for the Sacraments; we pray for and take an interest in those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Marriage. An immediate priority is to support Catechists who lead the Sacramental programmes in our parishes. This will be arranged in each Deanery and it is hoped that there will be from among you some who are willing to take on this ministry
Another key ministry is that exercised by our teachers. The new school term has seen the appointments of a number of new heads, deputies and staff. Our schools and Governors are now supported by the newly formed Catholic Schools Service, under the leadership of Mary Reynolds. There have also been recent Diocesan staff appointments for the Advisory and Inspection Service, and the efforts to maintain the high standards of our Catholic Schools continues. There is a real need for Catholic teachers and I would encourage young people to consider this vocation.
While talking of the well being of our children, I want to refer to the ongoing measures for Child Protection in the Diocese. There will be further opportunities for each parish to send representatives to one of the series of Child Protection seminars that are being organised. The guidelines for the protection of children and young people, under the title 'Safe and Sound', are to be followed carefully throughout the Diocese.
As you will have read in the A & B News a beautiful property at Coolham in West Sussex has been generously given to the Diocese and will be undergoing improvement works. It is expected to be open for parishes, individuals or groups as a place of prayer, quiet and rest in the early summer of next year. The programmes of the Agencies of our Diocese have also been distributed. Please surprise your parish priest by reading the noticeboard and responding to the invitations.
A number of priests have taken up new posts in parishes. Although at the moment you cannot celebrate their arrival with a formal Induction, I do hope you will give them a warm welcome. And thank you to the priests, for your past service and best wishes in your new tasks.
This Advent material will be available for a season of further exploration of prayer. Existing small groups or new ones will find the booklets very helpful.
And now the question, when do we expect our new Bishop? Well, these things take time, so we must continue to wait patiently. You contributed substantially to the consultation, and the discernment process now continues until Pope John Paul elects our new Bishop. From now on and especially during our season of prayer please include this intention regularly in your prayers. There is a prayer from the Missal which you could use it goes like this:
Lord God, you are our eternal shepherd and guide.
In your mercy grant your Church of Arundel and Brighton
a shepherd who will walk in your ways
and whose watchful care will bring us your blessing.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.
Deep peace of the Son of God to each and every one of you.
Rev Mgr. Canon John Hull