Diocesan News

Bishop Patrick's Message - February 2023 E-News

Bishop Patrick welcomes readers to another edition of the Diocese of Nottingham E-News

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

A warm welcome to this month’s edition of our diocesan E-news. I am pleased to say that I have now begun another systematic visitation of the parishes throughout the diocese. Each weekend, when I am without other commitments, I will be making a weekend visit to a parish or, as is so often the situation now, to a group of parishes or a parish with multiple churches. My intention throughout the visitation is to celebrate Mass and preach, to meet parishioners, listen a lot, learn about and affirm what is happening in the parish, spend time with the clergy, and encourage people in the living out of their faith day by day.

I am beginning with those parishes on the boundaries of our geographically large diocese, and then I will work inwards. So far, in these early weekends, I have visited the parish of Hadfield, which also serves Charlesworth, Bourne, which also serves Deeping St James, Matlock and Hassop, and I am shortly to visit Ashbourne, which also serves Wirksworth. I have been very impressed and encouraged by the variety of ways in which parishioners individually, and collectively, are living out their faith, in a variety of practical ways, in support of local activities which serve the wider community, especially the disadvantaged. It is heartening to see from the Parish newsletters that these practical activities are being sustained by prayer, devotions, and by opportunities for parishioners to grow in faith, particularly as the Season of Lent draws nearer. Thank you.

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for this month is also about parishes. He asks parishes to be communities, places of listening and welcome whose doors are always open to all, where no one is excluded. In his short prayer intention video*, which I would encourage you to look at, he begins with an image of a very beautiful but empty parish church; this is then followed by that of the same church full of people, and so becoming even more beautiful. He notes that every parish should put a sign on their door saying, “Free Admission”. Pope Francis wants to remind us that there are no special requirements for entering the parish church because, as he says, “parishes are not a club for the few which give a certain kind of social belonging.” In his vision, parishes are to be “close-knit communities, without bureaucracy, people-centred – a place where the gift of the sacraments can be found.” In the video we see parishes from around the world where there are talks going on, aid being distributed to those in need, visits to the elderly and the sick, and celebrations. The Holy Father wants parishes to be schools of service and generosity, with their doors always open to all, especially those who feel excluded. The video is an echo of what he said in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), in which he spoke of “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters” and therefore it should not become ‘a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few”. Our diocesan theme for this part of our church year, up until Easter, is of course ‘discipleship’. Let’s pray for open hearts that the Holy Spirit will help us to discern what God is wishes to see happen in our own lives, as Christ’s disciples, and in the parishes of our diocese.

With prayerful good wishes,


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