Parish Notices

11. February, 2018Church News, Feature, Homepage Slider, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Tim  Year B
Sunday 11th February 2018.      



People of the Parish

St Mary’s
Monday 12th February 9am

3 pm

John & Margaret Morgan


St Mary’s



Tuesday 13th February 9am


Hagan & Brown Families

Sick and Needy

St Mary’s


Wednesday 14th February

Ash Wednesday

Day of Fasting & Abstinence



McGuiness Family

Sick and Needy

St Mary’s


Thursday 15th February 9am


Richard Framer RIP

Sick and Needy

St Mary’s


Friday 16th February 12 noon Dorothy Snape RIP Ladyewell

St Mary’s

Saturday 17th February 12noon Mary McMahon Ladyewell
Sunday 8th February

1st Sunday in Lent




John May RIP


People of the Parish

St Mary’s

Please pray for the sick Elsie Wilson, , Cynthia Holden, and all in Preston Private Nursing Home


Everyone is welcome to join us for Coffee after 10am Mass



Ist Sunday of each month at the end of Mass anyone who will be having a birthday in that month come forward for a blessing.



Numbers attending Mass114               Collection.£370.05



  1. Preston Food Bank would be grateful for donations of food or toiletries. These can be left at the back of Church.   Thank you



  2. Ladyewell Shrine Winter Opening hours. Ladyewell House will be closed on Monday & Tuesday. Prayer Room and Grounds will be open. Ladyewell House will be open on Wednesday-Saturday from 0am – 3.30pm.



  3. Annual Magazine for St Mary’s & Ladyewell is now available and members of the Parish expected to assist in the effective distribution of the magazine. We are one family of God on Mission.



  4.  Church Cleaners. We would be grateful if any member of the Parish would be willing to help with cleaning our beautiful Church please contact either Father Ernest or Father Mario those who would like to clean the church on a Saturday this could be arranged.



  5. Lancaster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham. Tuesday 25th September to Friday 28th September 2018. The cost is £280.00 full board 3 nights based on two people sharing. Contact Paul Briers (Pilgrimage Organiser) Tele: 01946 834834. mobile 07773848819 or email guildshop@yahoo.co.uk







Lancaster Diocesan Pilgrimage 2017

11. July, 2017Church News, Feature, Homepage Slider, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

PILG 17 2LANCASTER DIOCESE AT LADYEWELL SHRINE Great is the goodness of God! It is yet another remarkable pilgrimage of the Diocese to Ladyewell Shrine. The beauty of this day is seen in the brightness of the day as the Sun shone through the day bringing God’s goodness and smiles to all who attended.

Speaking in his homily, the Bishop beautifully explained the symbolism of Water as source of life. As source of life and cleansing, water refreshes and purifies. Spiritually, it symbolises what God gives us: Cleansing and new life through Baptism. Through water, we get spiritual refreshment and cleansing. Water symbolises God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, who quenches our spiritual thirst leading us to deeper knowledge and love of God, the Bishop explained.

Relating the above to today’s pilgrimage, the Bishop explained that all are to see their pilgrimage today as a journey to the refreshing spring of God. Pilgrimage to the well should remind all of the journey of faith began at Baptism, he articulated. Strengthened by this journey, we are to strive on in faith witnessing. It PILG 17 3should help us to deepen and renew baptismal promises and commitment to faith.

Gratitude to God who brightened the day with warmth and sunshine! Gratitude to Our Lady of Fernyhalgh and the Lancashire Martyrs for great faith and prayers!! Gratitude to our dear Bishop!! Gratitude to the Priests and Religious in attendance for their time and support. Gratitude to the People of God in Lancaster Diocese. long live Lancaster Diocese. Blessed be the holy and undivided Trinity, now and for ever. Amen.


14. May, 2017Feature, Homepage Slider, Ladyewell NewsComments Off



It is now a century since the gracious Mother of God, the ever-Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherds Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in the obscure village of Fatima, Portugal in 1917. Ladyewell Shrine was not left out in this great celebration that also witnessed the canonization of two of the little shepherd-seers: Jacinta and Francisco Marto (Saints). The shrine was filled with the spirit of communion – an embrace of Heaven and Earth – as many who came from parishes nearby, covering Lancaster and Salford Dioceses and Liverpool Archdiocese to participate in the prayerful events of today bore witness. Thanks to Fr. O’Shea who also joined in making the celebration a graceful one.

Providentially, in the light of Ecumenism, the Bishop of Middleton, Rev. Mark Davies led some of his faithful and ministers of the Anglican communion to the Shrine to celebrate their 10 years anniversary of pilgrimage to Ladyewell Shrine.

May the Virgin, Our Lady of Fatima and Saints Jacinta and Francisco intercede for us always for peace in our hearts, peace in our homes and peace in our world. 

20170513_152236 (1)     


Our Blessed Virgin Mary appeared six times in 1917 to three simple children namely Jecinta Marto, age 7; Francisco Marto, age 9 and Lucy Dos Santos, age 10. The apparition took place in a small village of Portugal called Fatima. The name of the Village alone has an interesting history. Centuries before the apparitions, from April, 711 to 1492 AD, Muslims conquered and occupied the lands of Spain and Portugal, forcing the people to become Islam.  During this time of Moorish occupation,  the small village in Portugal was named after a beloved 12th century Muslim princess named Fatima.  Due to a reconquering by the defending Christian forces , Islamic princess Fatima was captured.  Princess Fatima married the Spanish Count of Ourem and converted to Catholicism. At baptism,  she changed her name to Oureana. Her Original name was Fatima because,  in the Islamic faith , many girls are named after the daughter of Muhammed(Fatima ),  the founder of Islam who lived from 570 to 632 A.D. It is not a mere coincidence that Our Lady has chosen to bring the world the message of hope and peace as well as warning of upcoming trial and tribulation in this obscure village in Portugal named after the daughter of Muhammed,  a highly revered lady in Islamic religion. It is providential.        



Islam is an Arabic word which means “to make peace.” Islam is a religion founded by Muhammed, which considers the Koran as it’s holy book. Adherents of Islam believe with Christians and Jews in One true God. History has recorded numerous conflicts between Christians and Muslims. Studies in comparative religion reveal that it is extremely difficult for Christian missionaries to convert Muslims . This is because they see their religion as accomplishment of Christianity. They understand Jesus to be a prophet and not God while for them Muhammed is the final prophet of God. The Muslims believe that they have the definitive revelation of God to the world and that Christ was only a prophet announcing Muhammed . However this might seem to be, there is a special relationship between Muslims and Blessed Virgin Mary. 


In the Koran , the Holy name of the Blessed Virgin Mary is mentioned not less than  thirty times. In the Koran , our Blessed Virgin Mother is described as “Virgin, ever Virgin.” There is special relationship between Virgin Mary and Muslims . Fulton Sheen writes:  “Mary is for Muslims the true Sayyida or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima,  the daughter of Muhammed himself. But after the death of Fatima,  Muhammed wrote: ” Thou shalt be the most blessed of all women in paradise after Mary.” In a variant of the text , Fatima is made to say : ” I surpass all the women , except Mary.” The Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and also in her Virgin birth . The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah and Adam. ” Koran has also verses on the Annunciation,  Visitation  and Nativity. Muslims believe in the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. It is written in the Koran that angels  accompanied Blessed Mother saying ” Oh Mary , God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth. “     


“When the Muslims invaded the Holy Land in the 7th century, they destroyed every Christian Church , with one remarkable exception: The Basilica of St Anne in Jerusalem,  because it was believed to be built over the spot where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born. Their great reverence to Our Lady precluded the Muslims from destroying Her birth place.            


20170513_152015It is recorded that a statue of Our Lady holding her  Divine son Jesus was given to Saint Leander,  Archbishop of Seville, by Pope Gregory the great. According to local legend , when Seville and most part of Spain were taken by the Muslims in the year 712 A.D, a group of priests fled northward and buried the venerated statue in the hills near the Guadalupe River(wolf river) in Extremadura. At the beginning of the 14th century,  the Virgin appeared one day to a humble cowboy named Gil Cordero who was searching for a missing animal in the mountains. Cordero claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him and ordered him to ask priests to dig at the site of the apparition . Excavating priests rediscovered the hidden statue and built a small shrine around it . This shrine is located nearby Francisacan monastery next to the “Wolf River.” The Muslims during their Spanish occupation had actually named the River . The Islamic name for Wolf River is “Guadalupe.”(Guada means River, Lupe means Wolf). Hence , the famous Catholic image in Spain has been known since the 14th century by the Islamic name of Our Lady of Guadalupe.               


Our Lady appeared in 1531 to a native Mexican peasant named Juan Diego.  When asked her name by Juan Diego at the request  of the Local Bishop , Our Lady’s response,  in the Aztec language  (as Juan is of Aztec Indians ) was ” te coatlaxopeuh”( pronounced: ” te quatlasupe “) and meant  ” one who crushes the head of the stone serpent.” To Juan Diego and his fellow Aztecs,  this revelation had great meaning , coupled with the miraculous image of Our Lady standing on top of a “crescent”, the symbol of evil serpent god worshipped by the Aztec Indians with human sacrifice.  A tremendous wave of conversion to Catholicism ensued. However,  Bishop Zumarrage who was from Spain,  made what some people term a ” heavenly mistake ” that one day may lead to the conversion of Muslims. To the Bishop’s Spanish ears Our Lady’s Aztec name of ” Te Quatlasupe ” sounded just like the name of the revered Madonna from Spain with the Islamic name “Guadalupe.” So the Bishop referred to the Lady that appeared to Juan ad Our Lady of Guadalupe. That is how we have in Mexico the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It is interesting that the “crescent” is also a symbol for Islam.            


Fatimah bint Muhammed,  is a woman highly revered in Islam . She was given the title , Al – Zahra, ” shinning one”, and Muhammed once said about her , ” Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in paradise , after Mary.” Fulton Sheen in his work , ‘ The World’s First Love’ opines , ” This brings us to the second point, namely, why the Blessed Mother, in this twentieth century, should have revealed herself in the insignificant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as ” Our Lady of Fatima. ” Since nothing ever happens out of heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as ” Our Lady of Fatima ” as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Muslims and an assurance that they, who show her so much respect,  will one day accept her Divine Son, too”. Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the very place Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Muhammed. At Fatima , Our Lady thought us to pray the rosary everyday. She called herself the Lady of the Rosary. 7th of October 1571 is  historical as a day when Islamic force was overthrown in Europe through the intercession of Our Lady when  Pope Pius V charged all Christians to pray the Rosary for Victory over extremist Muslims. At Fatima our Lady promised that  there will be conversion of sinners and  conversion of Russia.  As we can understand,  her sheer apparition  in Fatima is a promise of the conversion of Islam but he beckoned us to pray our Rosary. 


First of all , let me point out that the Church has always  shown no hatred to Muslims and adherents of other religions as hatred for a human being  is not in the teaching of Christ. In LG16, the Fathers write  ” But the plan of Salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creator, in the first place among whom are Muslims..With us they adore the One , merciful God.”  It is good to know also that it is unchristian as it is uncharitable to hate a Muslim . It is not all Muslims that are violent or pugnacious.  We cannot because of a few extremists among them regard all Islamic adherents as violent. The Church has always called for Love and peaceful dialogue. Fr Miguel Angel Ayuso,  Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in 2014 , said ” the Catholic Church recognises that Muslims honour the Virgin mother of Jesus, Mary , and invoke her with piety ….Mary is mentioned various times in Koran . Respect for her is so evident that when  she is mentioned in Islam,  it is usual to add ‘ Alayha l-salam ‘(peace be upon her). Mary , a model for Islam and Christians is also a model of dialogue. ” Fulton Sheen is of the view that ” Missionaries in the future will, more and more , see that their apostolate among the Muslims will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima.  Mary is the advent of Christ , bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In any apologetic endeavour, it is always best to start with that which people already accept”.


Mary O’ Regan shares her experience thus,  ” Over the past five years of living in London , experience has shown me an area of common ground . Muslims and Christians are like – minded when it comes to revering Our Lady.  I discovered this because my name is Mary, many Muslims say sincerely to me , ” that is a lovely name”. A Muslim friend of mine engages in mental prayer to our Lady . He gives very difficult prayer intention to Our Lady and he says that, ” It’s incredible how many prayers get answered by asking her.”(Catholic Herald 12/11/2014) Francis Johnston in his Book, Fatima: The great sign writes , ” The Muslims , who have a certain devotion to Our Lady and recognise her Virgin Birth and Immaculate Conception,  were intrigued by the fact that Mary had appeared at Fatima which was the name of Muhammad’s favourite daughter and regarded by the prophet as the highest woman in Heaven after Our Lady. In Zanzibar, the Muslim Sultan placed a wreath of flowers at the (Fatima ) statue’s feet while the Muslim chief of the Ismaeli tribe in Mozambique placed a golden necklace about the statue’s neck saying ‘ Thank you,  Our Lady of Fatima for the work of love you are accomplishing in Africa’”(p.126). According to Doreen Abi Raad in Catholic News Service ,24/5/2016; ” In Lebanon,  Muslim and Christians visit Marian Shrine at Harissa. High on a summit overlooking the Mediterranean, Our Lady of Lebanon stands majestically with her arms outstretched, welcoming her Children.  Muslims and Christians alike come to the shrine, 16 miles North of Beirut.  In Lebanon, the feast of the Annunciation,  March 25, is celebrated by Christians and Muslims as a national holiday.”  Fr Ladis J. Cizik in “Soul Magazine ” writes that “Muslims from  various nations ,especially  from the middle East, make so many pilgrimages to Our Lady of Fatima’s Shrine in Portugal that Portuguese officials have expressed concern. The combination of an Islamic name and Islamic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a great attraction to Muslims.  God is writing straight with crooked lines, as we will see. Fatima is a part of Heaven’s Peace Plan . It is hope for the world.”     


In this world charged by religious conflicts and agitation, a clarion call is made by our Lady in Fatima to pray her ROSARY fervently for the Peace of the world. She promised that at the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph . What is expected of us Christians is to pray for our Muslim brothers and sisters,  to love them and go into dialogue with them. Like Fulton Sheen ,” we believe that the Blessed Virgin appeared at Fatima in order to be known as ” Our Lady of Fatima “. A pledge and a sign of hope to Muslim people , and an assurance that they , who show her so much respect,  may one day accept her Divine son, too.




18. December, 2016Church News, Feature, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


Today is liturgically described as “Gaudete Sunday “. That is why our priests are vested in pink or rose regalia. “Gaudete” is a Latin word for “rejoice “. The church calls her children to rejoice for their salvation is near at hand. She presents to her children the glimpse of hope in the redemptive work of the Messiah among us. It does not matter the circumstances one finds himself or herself. The call remains that of Joy. St Paul made this acclamation superbly in his letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say Rejoice “(Phi 4:4).


The questions that often come to mind are: “How can I really rejoice in the midst of the unprecedented persecutions unleashed against Christians in the Middle East and some parts of Africa? ” “How possible is the manifestation of blissful joy in the presence of hunger, political suppression, poverty and high rate of fatal diseases such as Cancer?” “Are we really called to rejoice while the threats against Christian marriage and family life abound?” “Does the church really mean this clarion call or is it for formalities, and just on the level of quixotism without practical application? ” All these aghast socioeconomic and politico- religious circumstances that bedevil our world of today question the idea of “Gaudete.”


Like John the Baptist in the gospel we all have the tendency to ask the Lord; ” are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?” John the Baptist as we all know is the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He identified or pin pointed Jesus as the Messiah from his mother’s womb. He baptised Jesus and humbly proclaimed him the Messiah with a noble assertion that has become a liturgically icon expression throughout the history of the church;” behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world “(John 1:29). He even refused to be identified as Christ. He humbly declared “I am not the Christ… He who comes after me, the thong of whose scandal I am not worthy to untie “(John 1:20,27).


St Augustine masterfully analysed the disposition of this effervescent Baptist thus; ” Take an example of humility from John himself. He is thought to be the Christ, but he says he is not what people think. He does not use the mistake of others to feed his own pride” (Sermon 293,3). He was not the WORD.  He was rather the voice that spoke and inculcated and stamped the WORD in the consciousness and existence of the people of his time. That was an indispensable preliminary of the preparation for the coming of Christ, “the Word made flesh”(John 1:14). John has his own limitations. He is not perfect. Some exegete like William Barclay can hardly describe him as a holy man.


This calls my attention to the abyss stretch between being spiritual and being perfect; as well as being holy and pious or ascetical. One can be so ascetical with great ability to buffet his body and bring it into control while sticking rigidly to his prayer programmes without excelling in Love, which is the underlining identity of Christian life. When one’s spiritual life does not make for advancement in charity and disposition for the will of God, there will always be the tendency to misunderstand God. This is ocular in the life of John as he didn’t understand the mission of Christ as that of Love and Cross. Barclay writes “he knew the holiness of God, he declared the justice of God but never learnt the cross of Christ and least in the kingdom of God is more than him”. He preached a very scathing message against the Pharisees and predicted a Christ who will punish sinners and reward the righteous. (c.f. Matt 3:10-12).



Christian life is identified in the life of the cross; one cannot experience the power of grace without experiencing the power of Christ; neither can one experience the power of Christ without the experience of the cross. As Christians, we ought to avoid showcasing a life of dichotomy between spirituality and cross, piety and love. Every follower of Christ should realise that the Christian way is that of the cross and be disposed without doubt for a seemingly disappointment from God. His ways are not ours and his thoughts are different from ours.


Mass Times & Intentions – 18 December 2016

18. December, 2016Church News, Feature, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


4th Sunday of Advent Year A
Sunday 18th December 2016 Time   Location
Sunday 18th December 10am Helen St Mary’s



People of the Parish

St Mary’s
Monday 19th December 9am


Betty A Jerome

Sick and Needy

St Mary’s

St Mary’s


Tuesday 20th December 9am


The  Hawkins Family

Sick and Needy

St Mary’s

St Mary’s

Wednesday 21st December

St Peter Canisius



The Farrey Family

Sick and Needy

St Mary’s

St Mary’s

Thursday 22nd December 9am


The Kilbane Family

Sick and Needy

St Mary’s

St Mary’s

Friday 23rd December 12noon


Joe Holliday RIP St Mary’s


Saturday 24th December 9am



Fathers Ernest & Mario

Carol Service

Vigil Mass. Nellie Donnelly RIP

St Mary’s

St Mary’s

St Mary’s




Please pray for the sick Elsie Wilson, Derrick Booth, Cynthia Holden,

Anne Swarbrick and all in Preston Private Nursing Home.


Collection last Sunday  £376.50                      Numbers attending 126



First Sunday of each month at the end of Mass anyone who will be having a birthday in that month come forward for a blessing.









We congratulate Father Mario on his new apostolate as the Priest Chaplain to

Corpus Christie High School and Our Lady’s High School, we owe him our prayers.





Preston Food Bank. Would be grateful for donations of food or toiletries. These maybe left at the back of the Church. Thank You.



Marriage Preparation Courses: will commence on Saturday 19th January 2017 at St Clare’s Church, Sharoe Green Lane, Fulwood. For more information please contact Rory & Sian Martin 07930 249 203



Advent Service of Reconciliation .   Monday 19th December at St. Clare’s Church,

Green Lane, Fulwood at 7 pm


Christmas Mass Times at St. Mary’s


Friday 23rd December                          6pm-7pm    Confession (St Mary’s)

Saturday 24th December                      9am            Holy Mass

6pm           Carols

6.30pm      Vigil Mass


Sunday 25th December                         10am          Holy Mass


Saturday 31st December                       1pm            Nuptial Mass


Sunday 1st January 2017                      10am          Holy Mass

3pm           Holy Mass



Pot Wreaths will be on sale on Sunday18th  December. Priced at £5.00 for the



Church Flowers for  Christmas at St Mary’s. Envel0pes will be at the back of Church       Sunday 11th December donations would be appreciated.        


       Ladyewell House will close on Saturday 17th December and re open on Saturday 7th

       January 2017. Prayer room and grounds will be open

Divine Grotto

28. June, 2016Feature, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

WhatsApp-Image-20160628 (1) WhatsApp-Image-20160628 (4) WhatsApp-Image-20160628 (7) WhatsApp-Image-20160628 (2) WhatsApp-Image-20160628 (5) WhatsApp-Image-20160628 WhatsApp-Image-20160628 (3) WhatsApp-Image-20160628 (6)To the greater glory of God, Our Lady of Fernyhalgh, Mother of Mercy and Queen of Martyrs and the Lancashire Martyrs, the Divine Mercy Grotto stands on the grounds of Ladyewell Shrine. Come and support us as we get ready for the blessing of this grotto on Saturday, 2nd July, 2016 by Bishop Michael Campbell, OSA.

Celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh at St. Mary’s, Fernyhalgh and Ladyewell Shrine – Parish Pilgrimage

26. June, 2016Church News, Feature, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

IMG-20160625-WA0008 jpg Celebrating the feast of our Lady of Fernyhalgh at St. Mary’s, Fernyhalgh and Ladyewell Shrine

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad” (cf. Ps 118:24). The above Psalm verse captures well the feelings of the priest directors of St. Mary’s, Fernyhalgh and Ladyewell Shrine, as they celebrate double events: Feast of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh, Queen of Martyrs and Priestly ordination of one of their Confreres in Nigeria. Today marks a great day in their lives and ministry in Fernyhalgh and Ladyewell Shrine, as well as in the lives of the faithful of God’s Family in IMG_4439Fernyhalgh. What a beautiful way to celebrate our Lady, the ever-Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lancashire Martyrs!

May our Lady of Fernyhalgh and the Lancashire Martyrs continue to intercede for us all.

Happy feast day.

Congratulations to the newly ordained, Fr. Franklin Osita Okafor and Holy Family Fathers and Brothers of the Youth Congregation.

Homily Reflection – 4th Sunday of Easter

14. May, 2015Church News, Feature, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


R1. Acts 4:2-12//Ps 118:1 and 8-9. 21-23. 26 and 28-29

R2. 1John 3:1-2//Accl. John 10:14// Gosp. John 10:11-18



The Church celebrates today “The Good Shepherd Sunday”. It was celebrated on the second Sunday called Low Sunday before 1970. Then, the Church also prayed for increase in vocation to the Priesthood and Religious life. With the advent of the revelation of God’s mercy as revealed to St. Faustina Kolwaska in 1931, the Pontiff (St. John Paul II) approved of the second Sunday of Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday; while “The Good Shepherd Sunday” was moved to the Fourth Sunday of Easter. This Sunday derives its name from the readings of the day, especially the gospel.

The fullness of God’s revelation is found in the person of Jesus Christ (Dei Verbum No. 4). With the lack of responsibility on the part of the shepherds of Israel, God promised to give them a shepherd after his own heart (cf. Jer 3:15) who would lovingly shepherd them. Going further later on, God calls himself the Shepherd of his people, Israel “I myself will be your shepherd” (Ez 34:15). From the gospel of today, we see this promise of God affirmed by Christ as fulfilled in him: “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). He is the fulfilment of the Old Testament prefigurations. Note here that he uses the term “I AM”. This brings to bare his divinity as God as revealed to Moses in the burning bush: “Tell him that I AM has sent you” (See Ex 3:14). To make it clearer, Jesus does not use simile in describing himself. He never says: I am like the Good Shepherd, but I am the Good Shepherd. He is the shepherd who never leaves his flock untended.

Ordinarily, a shepherd has great courage and will always remain stationed with his flock in the face of threatening wolves. All this is done out of great love for the flock he guides. Unlike the detested Old Testament shepherds on whom Zechariah prophesied woes (cf. Zech 11:17), Jesus leads his flock from the bondage of sin to the pastureland of freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21; Jer 31:31). Jesus surpasses all others who came before him, for he lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:14). He came that they may have the fullness of life (John 10:10). A shepherd is one who never cares for his own comfort, but sacrifices his life for his flock. This is what makes Jesus’ nature of shepherd distinct as he affirmed (John 10:11). 

The excellence of his nature of shepherd is to be found in his self-immolation described in Heb 13:20. He is a Shepherd who loves, trusts and has a good knowledge of his flock and his flock know him. In this way, he shows us how much we his flock are united to him and the Blessed Trinity. What a revelation of divine intimacy! A shepherd who has no good knowledge of his flock will hardly love or trust his flock. In this way, one thing is definitely sure: he will exploit them rather than lead them to life and freedom. This is because he has not the interest of the flock, but his own selfish interest. Little wonder, then, Jean Vanier writes, “One can only guide someone if there is no desire to possess, control or manipulate the other; if mutual trust, respect and love have been born between the two” (Jean Vanier: Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John, 2004, p. 181). Christ is the Good Shepherd. He knows his flock, trusts them and gives his life for them.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. At his coming into this world and during his public ministry, the Jews rejected him as the Messiah despite all the works he did that bore witness to his identity as the “I AM” (cf. John 10:25); and God has approved him leader and guide of his people (cf. Is 55:4). This is the fact Peter in the first reading makes clear to the “builders” – elders of Israel, that Christ is the cornerstone rejected by men (Acts 4:8-12). In this way, Peter explains the depth of Christ’s love for his flock – the Church and her members – the Children of God, as seen in the second reading (1John 3:1-3).  This is the climax of laying down his life for his sheep. To be a good shepherd, one has to come out of his shell of selfishness. In this way, “one reveals to the sheep their fundamental beauty and value” (Jean Vanier: Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John, 2004, p. 189); and the value of life in general.

The height of Christ’s act of shepherding is found in his laying down his life in order to take it up again (cf. John 10:17). This is imperative for those who follow Christ. The Christian is not to be afraid of laying down his/her life. This is the fact John points to in the second reading about the gift of life God gives us. Since we are light to the world (cf. Matt 5:14), we must burn bright for the world to see. We have to shine out to the world to illumine its darkness. A candle is not dimmed for giving its light to light other candles. The life God has given us does not end in death. In fact, death marks the beginning of a new life. This is what Christ did for us; and as our Shepherd, he bids us listen to his voice.

May the Lord bless his words in our hearts. Peace be with you.

Homily – 2nd Sunday of Easter

14. May, 2015Church News, Feature, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


R1. Acts 4:32-35//Ps 118:2-4,15c-16b&17-18,22-24 (R1)

R2. 1John 5:1-7//Accl. John 20:19// Gosp. John 20:19-31





Pope Benedict XVI in his work “Call to Communion” affirmed that communion – koinonia – is to the nature of the Church. This forms the basis of our reflection on the readings of today. The readings of the Easter octave are centred on the resurrection appearances of the risen Lord of life and seeming unbelief of the “chosen witnesses” (see Acts 10:41). Today, John presents us with a faith-filled episode of the appearance of the Lord. Quite different from other appearances as earlier mentioned, John in a unique way presents a faith narration. The point of distinction from other appearances is on the fact that in the earlier ones the risen one either speaks to the disciples or attends to them by providing them with a breakfast and/or calling by name as in the case of Mary of Magdala (cf. John 20:11-18; Luke 24:13. 35-38). There is dialectic of seeing-touching-and-believing. In a special way, it was an appearance that took place before the feeble and fearful community of believers sharing the faith in communion behind closed doors.

In the first reading, the Luke brings out clearly the characteristic evidence of faith shared in a community as an intrinsic mark of the “chosen witnesses” – communal living of resurrection faith (Acts 4:32-35). It was a community of “one heart and soul” (cf. Acts) distinguished by common life. The second reading takes up the quality of this communion. It explains, in other words, the expression of communion in its fullest dimensions.

Faith, as it were, has a communal character and it is not lived in isolation. Thus, living the faith in the risen Lord involves its expression in the community of faith. It has both personal and communal character. On the one hand personal, in that the individual believer believes in the risen Lord from whom springs the faith of the community; and on the other hand communal for the believer expresses this faith in the community of the believers. Therefore, “living a truly Christian life involves putting into practice the faith we profess. There is no greater expression of faith than the life lived with others in Christian spirit of friendship, harmony and love” (Johnson Chacko {Ed}, God’s Word 2015, April 12, 2015).

From the above, one can say that an important aspect of the nature of the disciples’ life and unavoidably the Church is “communion”. The prior appearance of Jesus to the disciples with Thomas’ absence and the later again to them with Thomas as recounted in this gospel passage brings out clearly this fact of communion – they are together in one place, praying and sharing the faith amidst their confusion.

The living of the faith experience in a community of believers becomes a necessary evidence of expression. Today, the Lord calls us to have a self-examination of our faith-life in the community of believers – the Church gathered and the Church witnessing. We who are called “blessed” (for “not seeing and yet believe”) by Christ in today’s gospel are invited to live this communion received from the disciples. The true expression of our faith in the risen Lord made manifest in the daily living of this communion in its fullest dimensions. As such, the Easter People’s life is to be:

  • A life of love, faith, encouragement and hope (cf. Acts 2:42).
  • A life of agreement with one another (cf. Phil 2:1-2), for the community of “believers was united in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32).
  • A life of fellowship with Christ manifested in our fellowship with others (cf. 1John 1:6-7) through being devoted to one another (Rom 12:10), honouring one another (Rom 12:10), living in harmony (1Pt 3:8) and accepting one another (Rom 15:7). We are to be of loving service to brethren (Gal 5:13); show kindness and compassion (Eph 4:32); and “be compassionate as our heavenly Father is compassionate” (see Mat 5:48).
  • A life that brings to bear hospitality and loving good deeds (1Pt 1: 22; 4:9; Heb 10:24). This indeed is the life of those who have experienced Christ and the power of his resurrection (Phil 3:10).

The sure sign of the power of the risen Christ is shown by our expression of faith in the community in which we live. In this way, we witness with great power to the Resurrection of Christ. This faith is to be lived in joy. For “joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God”, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin often said.

Peace be with you!     



Easter Homily – An ecclesiological reflection

28. April, 2015Church News, Feature, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


In his Encyclical Mystici Corporis in which he charismatically with expressive touch of a pastor elaborated the essential nature of the Church as the Body of Christ, Pius XII, like St. Paul, affirmed the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ. For him, St. Paul was motivated by his experience at the gate of Damascus where he encountered Christ in a famous dramatic incidence. The author of the Acts of the Apostles reports: “As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed round him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him: ‘Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me? … I am Jesus whom you persecute’”. Benedict XVI also shares this idea in his work “Ecclesiology of Communion” as he maintains that the Pauline thought is primarily inner-biblically inspired as against some earlier opinions that Paul was primarily inspired by the philosophy of his days. The Lord’s statement was registered permanently in the mind of the fervent Apostle. St. Paul right from the time conceived the Church as the Body of Christ. Therefore, the “Ecclesia” (qahal Yahweh) is nothing more than the sacrament of Christ.

There was a funny scenario of a sort that took place during the Passion of Christ. After his death, the evil men that killed him were worried about certain things concerning their victim. They were worried that he may keep hanging on the Cross until the Holy day and that would be a defilement of that day. To make sure that he was dead before the holy day dawns, Longinus, a Roman Soldier pierced his side, blood and water gushed forth. Thus, He was confirmed dead after all. They also got agitated concerning the Pilate’s inscription on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. They failed in all their attempt to change it as he – Pilate – reiterated: “What I have written, I have written” (cf. John 19:21-22). Funny enough, they were also afraid about the security of his body, though not in the positive sense of it. They wanted the story of Jesus to die off naturally as the story of any human being. They dreaded mysterious stories that could emerge about this man whom they killed. Probably, they were afraid that he may rise from death or that his apostles may come and carry the body of their master for a befitting burial elsewhere. One thing is glaring. They would not like to hear anything glorious or prosperous about this “wretched man” even at his death, after all they gibbeted him as a public danger and firebrand that deserves nothing but ignominy and rejection. To make sure the body is caged in their custody, they “placed soldiers to guard his body”.

The Church has been famously affirmed to be the Body of Christ. The action of this evil men to quench the glorification of the Lord’s Body was undeniably a prognosis of what the Church would see in future. As they did not succeed in this evil plan, so the enemies of the Church did not and will never succeed in their plans to suppress the progress of the Church. Psalm 110:1 says: “The Lord said to my Lord, sit here at my right until I put your enemies under your feet”. Christ is the winner and so is his Church unstoppable. Jesus was very much aware of the plans of the enemies to get rid of the Church. Because of this, he started warning the apostles on time with saying couched in proverbs. In Mt 11:12, Jesus declares: “The kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent one takes it by force”. One of the major interpretations given to this text is the fact that the Church cannot escape the violent attacks of the evil one, which aims to bring it to extinction. The Church is the kingdom of God on earth as many theologians proclaim. The Church proclaims the message of the Kingdom of God, which will always be a “stumbling block” to the evil one and to the crooked world. Jesus told Peter that the gate of hell will not prevail against the Church (cf. Mt 16:18). This means that the Church will face oppressions from the hell even though the power of hell will not succeed against the Church. Prophet Isaiah fumed: “No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper” (Is 54:17). Again, the Lord encouraged his disciples: “In the world, you will have trouble, but be brave. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

In the early Church, persecution and attacks to hunt down this new community of the faithful were the order of the day. The Church was as it were a thorn on the flesh of the political, religious and intellectual authorities of the time. As they vowed to stop its growth, massacre ensued and incarceration of the faithful was propagated. In his interpretation of Psalm 128(129), St. Augustine ponders: “The Church tells of the sufferings it endures”. Hunter (1986:724) affirms that the spirituality of the early Church was shaped by certain factors one of which is the threat of persecution by the Roman officials. If nothing baffles historians, the tremendous growth of Christianity amidst persecutions does. Right from the earliest days people have been perplexed about the fact that the more the Church is being hunted, the more the Church advances in glory and efficacy. Tertullian inspirationally revealed the secret of the indefatigable growth of the church: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity.”

In our own time, the Church suffers a persecution of various forms. The plans of the devil to subjugate the church are predominantly fixed in certain fashionable view of modern existence. “Ours is a new age of history with critical and swift upheavals spreading gradually to all corners of the earth. They are the products of man’s intelligence and creative activities, but they recoil upon him, upon his judgments and desires…” (GS no.4). There are still modern day Herods, Pilates, Pharisees, Sadducees, Neros, Domitans and so on. Their influences pose horrendous setbacks on the Church’s mission which is the Salvation of souls. They do not unleash physical tortures as such to be compared to the ancient time experience. Their intrigues are found in certain modern ideologies and promises of science and technology that are morally valueless and spiritually empty. In the past, the Church suffered from the physical hands of Nero and the likes, but now it suffers massively from the effect of the inimical systems of thought that present interior life as an outdated religious hue that should be forgotten and replaced by fashionable way of living that is characteristically atheistic and mundane.

A theologian observes: “The Sanhedrins of the modern world are different and they are numerous. These Sanhedrins are individual men who reject divine truth. They are systems of human thought, of human knowledge; they are the different conceptions of the world and also the different programmes of human behaviour, they are also the various forms of pressure of so-called public opinion, of mass civilization and of the media of social communication of a materialistic, lay, agnostic and anti-religious hue. They are finally also some contemporary systems of government, which – if they do not deprive citizens completely of the possibility of confessing the faith at least limit it in various ways, exclude believers, and make them second-class citizens.”

The Church is a mystery. It is “both human and divine” (SC 5). The human elements of the Church could be seduced into evil but the divine grace which is the substantial nature of the real ecclesiastical life continues to keep the Church and delivers the children of the Church from the seduction of the world. The Church, the Body of Christ grows and continues to influence history of humankind despite all ancient and modern attacks. Just as the Jews failed in their plans to suppress the resurrection and glorification of Christ, so all the human and demonic plans to eliminate the inner nature of the Church and its mission will always be in vain. This is our hope in the risen Christ Jesus in whom we have our victory as the adopted children of God.

Happy Easter!



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