Church News

FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION – 4 APRIL 2016

30. March, 2016Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

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FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION

It is the feast of our dear Mother, Mary! – Are you her BELOVED CHILD?

Programme of events

4th April, 2016

  • Rosary Procession from St. Mary’s Church: 10 am
  • Tea/Coffee break
  • Exposition/Adoration: 11.30 – 12 noon followed by Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation.

THE INAUGURATION OF THE SYRO-MALABAR CATHOLIC COMMUNITY IN THE RC DIOCESE OF LANCASTER

5. October, 2015Church News, UncategorizedComments Off

The Church is one Body of Christ with many branches. She speaks the language of her Master, Christ – Love. This Language, she speaks in diversified languages of worship. It is in this light that one can talk of different rites in the Church’s expression of this language of worship to the Most Blessed Trinity. In the Latin or Western Church, public worship otherwise known as Liturgy is celebrated in some rites accepted by the Church so long as it does not go against the essence of the Church’s Doctrine and Tradition. Thus, in the celebration of the Eucharist, the Church has such rites like: Coptic Rite, Ethiopic Rite, Maronite and Syrian Rites, Armenian Rite, Chaldean Rite and Malabar Rite. The RC Diocese of Lancaster on 3rd October, 2015 was blessed to inaugurate the Syro-Malabar Catholic worship in one its old parishes – St. Ignatius, Preston. This is a landmark achievement as it is first of its kind in the UK in that it is its first canonical establishment in the history of the Catholic Church in the UK.  Receiving the the Decree of the Inauguration, His Beatitude, Mar George Cardinal Alancherry said: “My dear people of the Syro-Malabar Catholic rite, May I thank Bishop Michael Jean Campbell, OSA, for this great act of Christian Charity. This Inauguration is to be received and seen as an act of mercy in this Jubilee Year of Mercy; and should bring about great mutual relationship between the Catholic Church in England and the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Community.” His point of climax was his reflection on the Church as Communion. Therefore, he urged the Syro-Malabar Catholic Community to truly understand that both Latin Rite and Syro-Malabar Rite are one. As such, the communion model of the Church is to be appreciated, lived and promoted. The Parish Church is to be used for worship by both Latin and Syro-Malabar Rites.  In his homily, the Cardinal quoting Pope Francis said, “the greatest expression of joy is to be found in celebration of the Eucharist.” Thanking the Bishop of RC Diocese of Lancaster, he encouraged all to imbibe the good spirit of generosity and loving mercy manifested by the Bishop. To conclude, His Beatitude, Mar George Cardinal Alancherry acclaimed: “Let us stay together! Let us pray together! Let us worship God together!

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The visit of the V. Rev Denis M J Ononuju Obiaga

31. August, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

IMG_1665The Parish of St. Mary’s & Ladyewell wereIMG_1663 honoured and delighted to welcome a special visitor earlier in August,

The Very Rev. Fr Denis M. J. Ononuju Obiaga C.S.Sp was the first Nigerian Holy Ghost proest and the Father Founder of the Holy Family Fathers and Brothers of the Youth (the Order which Fr Ernest and Fr Mario are members) and the Holy Family Sisters of the Needy.

Fr Denis spent a few days visiting Fernyhalgh and other parts of the Diocese during a brief visit to the UK.  Fr Denis was able to meet some of the volunteers and parishioners during this time and we look forward to hopefully welcoming Fr Denis to Fernyhalgh again in the future.   IMG_1667

We are grateful to Fr Denis for taking the time to visit us and for his part in allowing the members of his Order to come to our parish at this time.

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Robert Ashuikeka Otuya (RIP)

31. August, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

Martin Luther King Jr. did say that “Death is not an Aristocracy for a few, but a Democracy for many.” With the above quote, Fr. Ernest Attah, H.F.F.B.Y began his homily on the death of Robert Ashuikeka Otuya and the lessons every Christian is to learn from the event of death as an unavoidable end of earthly existence, but a beginning of a new life in Christ Jesus for those who believe. 

Great men come and go, but their memories never depart with them. It was a great day for Fr. Mario-Benedict, a day of mixed joy on the 27th August celebrating the farewell Mass, otherwise REQUIEM MASS for his late father, the late Robert Ashuikeka Otuya. The Mass was celebrated with 9 priests con-celebrating and many faithful of the Parish and friends of Ladyewell Shrine in attendance. May God grant the family in Nigeria the fortitude to bear the loss in the hope of Resurrection and to Robert Ashuikeka Otuya eternal rest in his Kingdom. Amen.  

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Homily Reflection – Solenity of the Nativity of John the Baptist

24. June, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

R1. Is 49:1-6//Ps 139:1-3, 13-15(R14)

R2. Acts 13:22-267//Accl. Luke 1:76// Gosp. Luke 1:57-66, 80

CELEBRATING THE BIRTHDAY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST: IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR WORLD OF TODAY

1.0     Introduction

The Church celebrates three birthday solemnities– The Nativity of Jesus, the Nativity of Mary and that of John the Baptist. This gives a glimpse of the greatness of the saint whose birthday we celebrate. Little wonder Jesus himself proclaimed of John the Baptist, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). This is true to the name of John whose meaning is “God’s gracious gift.” Ordinarily, gifts when received are celebrated to show appreciation to the giver and the gift itself. If such is the situation for mere human artefacts, how much greater is the worth of a human being? How great was the joy of Zechariah and Elizabeth who at this point receives the gift of a child from God whose nature knows no impossibility? Children, indeed, are God’s gracious gifts to us. As such, the birth of a child initiates a joyful celebration.

2.0     The Feast of today

Birthday celebrations in our secular world renew the joy of our birth as God’s gracious gifts. On such days, one receives many pleasantries and gifts of value from family and friends, reminders of our worth to them. Today, we gather to celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist. What gifts and pleasantries do we bring to the Creator and Giver of the Gift?

In the first reading, God speaks through Isaiah to us reminding us that we are His precious gifts to the world created by him in love. As such, we have being destined by him for a purpose, or if you like a mission (49:1-6). The Responsorial Psalm sings this beauty of our being wonderfully,

It was you who created my inmost self, and put me together in my mother’s womb; for all these mysteries I thank you: for the wonder of myself, for the wonder of your works (Ps 139:13-14).

The early part of Luke 1 from which today’s gospel episode is taken has it that John already received the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb for his mission (cf. Luke 1:15). Therefore, his birth and the scenario of the name giving only reveal the significance of God’s power through creation. Today’s feast, therefore, reveals that from the moment of our conception, God already started a great work which reveals more his Omnipotence and Omni-benevolence. This St. Paul speaks of in relation to the mission of John the Baptist in the second reading (Acts 13: 22-26).

3.0     Celebration of John the Baptist’s Birth: Implications for us today

The world in which we live has become a network of the enthronement of maniac mundane cultures that thwart the will of the Almighty who in his love created it. From the readings, one understands that the birth of a child initiates God’s great blessings and glorious works in the life of the recipients of the gracious gift. However, the opposite seems to hold sway in our time. Our world has gone mad with enthroning the culture of death as against the culture of life. Evidence of this is seen in the signing into law bills of cultures that demean not only the value of man, but life itself. The greatest of these cultures is abortion, which contravenes the will of the Almighty for the purpose of life. Children are gifts from God and continue the progress of God’s work of creation, a sign and proof of the fecundity of his love. When a pre-born child is aborted, a whole lot of God’s love and blessing for our generation is aborted and destroyed for all eternity.

Oh! How many great men and women our world has lost to the culture of death today! It is clear to me that the words of Pope Francis prove a fact that “a generation that kills her children has no future.” God has a glorious and blessed purpose in the birth of every child. This he makes clear to us in the words of Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you a prophet to the nations” (1:5). This indicates that God has marked every one of us like Jeremiah, Amos, John the Baptist, Ss Francis of Assisi, Pio of Pietrelcina Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Calcutta, etc for a special mission. If the denial of an opportunity to fulfil one’s good and gracious right/mission is awful, painful and inconsiderate, how much awful, horrible, inhuman and disastrous the denial of right to life and mission? How many times have you involved yourself in promoting the culture of death?

4.0     Conclusion/Prayer

Birthday celebrations are continuations of the celebrations of a joyous gift – man/woman, the “beauty of life.” Let us realise, therefore, that it is a holy duty bound on us to protect life in order to enhance our joy in life and joy of celebrating the precious gift of life in man. We pray that God strengthens us each day to stand firm on the side of the culture of life. May the birthday celebration of John the Baptist restore in our world deep appreciation and value for Life.

May the good Lord bless his words in our hearts and bring them to fruition. Peace be with you.     

Diocese of Lancaster – Pilgrimage to Ladyewell 2015

24. June, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

ANNUAL DIOCESAN PILGRIMAGE OF THE LANCASTER RC DIOCESE

TO LADYEWELL SHRINE, 20TH JUNE 2015

1.0       Introduction: Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage is a journey, religious in character, made by people of different religions. This journey is made either by individuals or by a group of people of same belief. Pilgrimages are made for various reasons, which could be classified, as moral or religious. On the one hand, it is to help encourage the individual or group in their religious practices and beliefs; while on another hand it is made to have some kind of religious experience/healing of bodily ailments. Although it may have some characteristics of penance, it is not necessarily penitential as such. To this extent, I can say that a pilgrimage is a journey of faith. There are various sites and places of pilgrimages. In other religions apart from Christianity, they are places or shrines dedicated to the sacred or important persons in relation to the practice of such religion. In Christianity, these are dedicated places either to Jesus, Mary the ever-Blessed Virgin or to the saints. For Christians, Jerusalem is the ancient pilgrimage centre in Judeo-Christian tradition. Here, Christians visit sites of interest relating to their faith – Mount Sinai, Mount Calvary where the crucifixion of Jesus took place, Nazareth the home of Jesus, the tomb of the resurrection, etc. Individuals or groups visit these places for the purposes of prayers and other interests.

Pilgrimage has God for its origin. The first pilgrimage ever taken is the pilgrimage of God to humanity crowned with the Incarnation of Jesus in the womb of the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary (cf. Luke 1: 36-38; John 1:14). The Scriptures record that the parents of Jesus went on pilgrimage worship to Jerusalem, an event that led the loss and finding of Jesus in the temple (cf. Luke 2:41-43). Jesus himself went on pilgrimages to Jerusalem (cf. John 5:1; 7:14). Suffice here to say that pilgrimage from the point of view of the Scriptures in relation to God is a holy religious act. At the end of his life here on earth, Jesus promised his disciples of his return to take them after he had gone and prepared a place for them (cf. John 14:3-6). By this, there is every indication that the disciples are on pilgrimage here on earth. Little wonder, then, Jesus in his priestly prayer did mention that they are not of this world (cf. John 17:16; 15:19). Thus, every believer in Christ has a destination – God’s Kingdom, for we have come from God and are returning to God (cf. 1Thess 4:13-5:22). To this fact, the Fathers of Vatican II teach that the Church is a pilgrim on pilgrimage.[i] Therefore, pilgrimages are done with a view that we are living out in specially focused and prayerful way our journey from God back to God.

 

2.0       Lancaster RC Diocesan Pilgrimage

Centres of Pilgrimages are places of serenity that exhibit good atmosphere for serene encounter with the Divine through prayers and meditations. Though some places of pilgrimage are somewhat awe-inspiring, they are always quiet, peaceful and tremendously attracting like a mystery. Ladyewell Shrine has all these features in its environment. Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue in his forward to the book A History of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh and the Martyrs describes it beautifully, “Fernyhalgh is mysterious; it is not superstition. It is tranquil; it is not hysterical… it represents a haven of silence and prayer; a vibrant centre of pilgrimage and devotion. It is a place where divine power and providence operate.”[ii] Therefore, “Fernyhalgh has no need of fiction to support its claim to be one of the really important centres of devotion to Our Blessed Lady in England.”[iii]

Pilgrimages to Ladyewell Shrine, Fernyhalgh have been going on for centuries. Diocesan pilgrimages, parish and lay groups and associations began to grow in the 20th century. There were, for example, large pilgrimages to this historic Shrine of our Lady and the Martyrs in the year of Mary at the time and Pontificate of Pius XII. The first large pilgrimage involving Lancaster RC Diocese and the environs of Liverpool was on the feast of the Assumption in 1965.[iv] The first ever reference to an offical Lancaster RC Diocesan pilgrimage available comes to us from Catherine Stirzaker. This occurred on 8th September 1996 on which occasion the relics of St. Thomas a Becket were venerated.[v] The next was on 8th September 1999 and led by Cahal Cardinal Daly.[vi] Annual Diocesan Pilgrimages have this date.

3.0       Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage, 20th June 2015

We witnessed another of these holy pilgrimages of the diocese to Ladyewell Shrine. This day is remarkable both in the lives of the faithful of the diocese in attendance, but much more to Frs Ernest E. Attah, H.F.F.B.Y and Mario-Benedict U. Ahuikeka, H.F.F.B.Y, the new Directors of the Shrine of our Lady and the Lancaster Martyrs. It was a day blessed by the Mother of God with showers at the beginning of the pilgrimage. After the spiritual activities, pilgrims were well received and attended to at the Ladyewell Shrine House as the rest of the day was blessed with sunshine.

This year’s pilgrimage led by Bishop Michael Cambell, OSA was remarkably blessed with a large number of the faithful, priests, religious women and seminarians in attendance. Prayers of the rosary, Eucharistic adoration and procession, homily and moments of silence and prayers for the country and vocations were the characteristic features of the pilgrimage day.

In his homily, the Bishop exhorted the faithful to develop love and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this way, we give back love in return for his love, thus begin to learn how to love from him who is meek and humble of heart. Going further, the Bishop said, “Devotion to the Sacred Heart reminds us that we will always find a welcome with Our Lord. He waits for us to come to him, especially if we are burdened, tired, or oppressed by the cares of daily life. He invites us to come to him, for he knows and understands well our human condition. A pilgrimage gives us the opportunity to be quiet and to step aside just to be with Jesus and his mother for a little while.”[vii]

4.0       Conclusion

Actually going on a pilgrimage to a holy place approved by the Church for such purposes is a powerful reminder that we are in truth and fact on journey back to God. Taking part in a diocesan pilgrimage as well as individually going on a pilgrimage affords us great opportunity of spiritual enrichment and binds us ever closer to God’s pilgrim people – his Church on earth. This year’s pilgrimage was indeed a beautiful day filled with wonderful experiences both for the new priests to Fernyhalgh and the priests and faithful of the diocese.

    

 

 



[i] Lumen Gentium, #48

[ii] O’Donoghue, P., “Forward” to A History of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh and the Martyrs Third Edition by Anita A. Gladwin (Preston: T. Snape and Co. Ltd, 2015), p. i 

[iii] Ibid, p. 1

[iv] Ibid, p. 36

[v] Stirzaker, C., Treasured Memories (England: Colin Cross Colour Printers, 2006), p. 83

[vi] Ibid, p. 88

[vii] Campbell, M., Homily – Ladyewell Pilgrimage – 20th June 2015, http://www.lancasterdiocese.org.uk

Homily Reflection – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

24. June, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B)

R1. Job 38:1.8-11//Ps 106:23-31(R1)

R2. 2Cor 5:14-17//Accl. Luke 7:16// Gosp. Mark 4:35-41

JESUS: MASTER OF THE STORMS OF OUR LIFE

1.0     Introduction

Our world is threatened by the scandal of suffering and fear. The vast majority of our society suffers from the pangs of vicissitudes of life and many more are afraid to keep living. It is an evident fact that the price of living in our world today as people of faith winds through the valley of cruelty in multifaceted new ways. In the midst of this fearful suffering are numbered many who follow “The Way” – Christians. Many a Christian today is frightened by oppression and misery such that one is tempted to ask, “Is God asleep?” They do not see reasons why life should go on.

Trapped in this seemingly vicious circle of glaring whirlwind of confusion, doubt about the power of God in man’s existence holds sway.  The readings of today shout through the mouth of the Church to her suffering and fearful children. Running through the readings is the answer to this riddle of “scandal of suffering and fear” – Redemptive power of the omnipotent and Omni-benevolent God made manifest through Christ. 

2.0     God’s Faithfulness in our Unfaithfulness

The phenomenon of suffering amidst the beauties and opportunities in a world so beautiful cannot be comprehended. In the first reading, we hear God’s answer to Job’s squall of life. He reveals to him that “the purposes of the infinite God cannot be understood by the finite mind of man.”[i] The reading relates to us God speaking through the storm. The Responsorial Psalm clearly carries on this theme. This Psalm is one the Psalms of Lament, but with a communal character. As a Psalm of Lament, it lauds God’s omnipotence and steadfast love for his faithless Israel.[ii] Paul  in the second reading carries on this theme of the characteristic nature of God as Divine Master of all, Creator and Sustainer of creation; whose love empowers and urges us on (2Cor 5:14-17; cf. Col 1:17). The Gospel episode reconnects us back to the first reading, it crowns it all with Jesus’ act of mastery over the storm by the power of his word (Mark 4:34-45).

As at the time of Jesus and His Apostles (as much as many in our time view it), storm/whirlwind/great wind is considered evil force that needs a divine power to control. God as seen in the first reading calls Job to total trust in his power that transcends the storm by His word. Job has to learn that even when he cannot grasp the reason why the just should suffer; God’s power is made manifest in the midst of the confusions. Thus, God tells Job to look to his power and trust him, even if he does not understand. Job has to learn that “his Redeemer lives” (cf. Job 19:25). God has the power to direct his life to “stilled peace” through the storms in his life. God’s faithful love remains amidst our stubbornness of heart and weak response to this outpouring love (cf. Ps 106:24-31).

3.0     Have you invited Jesus the Master of the Storms of Life?   

Often I see Christians complain of the sufferings they encounter in life and tend to give up living. The readings of today point out clearly that we fail to grapple through these vicissitudes of life, because we have not yet invited the one who has power over everything that is. Paul holds firm that we who are in Christ are new creatures; and as such, we should throw overboard the old things we cling to and live a new life. He recounts the effects of Christ’s love as the source of his life. Love is fecund. This is manifested in Christ who by pouring out his blood has begotten us for God (cf. 1Cor 6:20). This should apply to us for whom God’s love has been demonstrated (cf. Rom 5:8). This love has been poured into our hearts.

In suffering, many tend to doubt the presence of God and of his love. In the Gospel, even when Jesus was still with his disciples, they experienced the storm and immediately ran to Jesus for deliverance. Sometimes, God allows us to experience suffering to confirm our faith in him; for gold bears testing by fire. God has not promised us a life free of suffering, but life triumphing through crosses lovingly borne for his sake, a life full of the power of his love that conquers in tribulation.

Have you invited Jesus into your life’s situation yet? Where do you anchor your faith when you are faced with tribulation? Whom do you run to in your “low moments”? In our pains and difficulties, we forget him who has told us to come to him, we who are over burdened and he will give rest to our souls (cf. Mt 11:28). The Psalmist in today’s Psalm invites us to praise God in the midst of the tribulations of life (cf.106:47). Little wonder, then, Paul and Silas in their prison chains arose to praise God and when they did, the power of God manifested (cf. Acts 16:25-34).

The disciples in today’s Gospel realised that a new Jonah was with them in the boat as they sailed. How could Jesus be so comfortable amidst the tempest that was raging? Why would he be sleeping in this seemingly approaching danger? When they turned to him, Jesus spoke the storm to stillness, but did not fail to rebuke them for their lack of faith. How often Jesus speaks to our hearts, “Be still and know that I am God” (cf. Ps 46:10). How often does he quieten us to trust saying, “why are you afraid?” (cf. Mark 4:40), “do not be afraid” (cf. Mt 14:27); and how often do we fail to quieten the raging wind of lack of faith and fear in us?

4.0     Implications

Many of us have remained stagnant in faith. Fear rather than faith has become the bane holding sway in the life of many, and some have grown stunted in faith. Going to Church on a Sunday or attending any “liturgico-spiritual” exercise has become a mere social fulfilment devoid of faith. Our encounter with Christ at every liturgical celebration should renew in us the power of Christ speaking peace to our life situations. Pope Francis in his new encyclical writes, Our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world.”[iii]Relapsing into what I call “bed of faith asleep”, they remain blind to the presence and love of Him whose power is limitless at the face of temptations, sorrows, and even death. The disciples turned to Jesus and knew his power; and exclaimed, “Who is this man? Even the wind obeys him.” (Mark 4:45). Who is Jesus to you in your moment of sadness, temptation, death of a loved one and failed expectations?

Therefore, it is an invitation today to stop worrying about our troubles. It is a call to start pray sailing our way through the storms of life by inviting him who has authority over them. God calls us to realise that His power is made manifest in our weakness (cf. 2Cor 12:9). Little wonder, then, St. Francis of Assisi prayed, “Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It is only when we have invited the storm Master into our company than we shall have learned to live in peace. “The strange thing about Jesus is that you can never get away from him.”[iv] The appearance of Jesus as being asleep in the boat reveals the fact of our faith being asleep. The disciples rose to wake Jesus from sleep. Let us rise from our bed of “faith asleep” and call on Jesus to rule over the storms of our lives. Have you arisen to wake your faith through prayer and praise inviting Jesus into your life?

5.0     Prayer

May God grant us the courage necessary to invite him into the confusions and sufferings of our lives so that like Paul, we may live through the power of Christ’s love that urges us on. May the good Lord bless His words in our hearts. Peace be with you!         



[i] Oursler, F., The Greatest Book Ever Written (Surrey: The World’s Work Ltd, 1913), p. 361

[ii] Kselman, J. S. and Barré, M. L, “Psalms” in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Student Edition (London: Geoffery Chapman, 1997), p. 554

[iii] Pope Francis, Laudato Si, no. 237

[iv] Link, M., Mission 2000, Cycle B (New Delhi: St. Pauls, 2010), p. 245

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