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What unites them all is service    
The Guild of St Stephen ­ Altar servers from across the Archdiocese are gathering this Saturday at St Chad’s Cathedral for our annual Guild of Saint Stephen Mass of Thanksgiving.  It is always a joy to see those from various parishes, wearing their differing (and sometimes distinctively-coloured) vesture.

The servers themselves vary in age from those who are seven or eight years old, to those who have been serving at the altar for many decades. What unites them all is service. They commit themselves to serving the priest and people of their parish by ministering at celebrations of the liturgy with reverence and understanding. Moreover, this inspires them to follow the example of their patron, Saint Stephen, in serving Jesus and His people in daily life.
Annual Thanksgiving Mass: Guild of St Stephen

  Now underway: the Synod ­
The Synod of Bishops started in Rome yesterday, Wednesday 4 October, focused on the theme: ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission’. The Synod is, for the first time, including non-Bishop voting members, comprising of a number of laymen and laywomen.
The Synod is the result of a two-year process which started in September 2021. Catholic faithful and their communities in our Archdiocese and around the world then met in their parishes to discuss the questions posed by the synod. The synthesis of our conversation, and of all the other dioceses in England and Wales, was sent to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, who sent their conclusions to the Vatican.
In conversation Fr Jan Nowotnik, a priest of the Archdiocese and Director of Mission at the Bishops’ Conference, discusses what’s to come over the weeks ahead with theologian Professor Anna Rowlands.
The Synod 

Laudate Deum – Praise God!  
Pope Francis has released his Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum, ‘Praise God’, to “clarify and complete” what he started in 2015 with his Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ on how we care for our common home. It was released at the end of the Season of Creation on the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, 4 October. Pope Francis explains why he chose that title: “‘Praise God’ is the title of this letter. For when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies.”  
Lead Bishop for Environmental Issues for the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop John Arnold, praises the Pope’s intervention as ‘timely’ and ‘vital’:   “I thoroughly welcome the timely and prophetic words of Pope Francis in Laudate Deum who once again implores the international community to alter the path of destruction down which we are heading.   “He reminds us that we should praise God for all His creatures and that our care for our common home is intimately connected with our care for each other.”
Laudate Deum  

Marriage Encounter and Engaged Encounter  
Marriage Encounter is a national Catholic organisation that offers two experiences to enrich relationships, improve family relationships and bring God to the heart of your marriage and families. Our experiences are available in two formats as a live experience held at hotels or online.   Latest dates for October and November sessions, in-person or online, are now available.
Book now for Encounters
Tomorrow: CAFOD’s Family Fast Day ­
Family Fast Day is tomorrow, Friday 6 October.    Join together with your parish, friends and family so that families around the world can have access to the medical care they need to survive in increasingly challenging circumstances.
By sharing a simple meal and giving what you save, you’ll be standing in solidarity with vulnerable people who are threatened by disease and poverty, displaced from their homes and communities by the climate crisis.
Family Fast Day: Harvest 2023  

Proud 2 Profess – Saturday 14 Oct ­
This is a FREE event for young people in year 9 and above (ages 14 – 18), and offers the perfect chance to come together to celebrate faith in an engaging and relevant way. This year the Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT) will be partnering with Aid to the Church in Need and our focus will be mission and social action, and awareness of young people’s experience of faith across the globe. Book now for Proud 2 Profess  

This Sunday: Support Prisoners’ Sunday with Pact ­
Pact (Prison Advice & Care Trust) is the national Catholic charity supporting prisoners, people with convictions and their families. Parishes are invited to help Pact build bridges of hope for prisoners and their families by marking Prisoners’ Sunday on 8 October.   Every Catholic parish should now have received a Prisoners’ Sunday pack with a poster, bidding prayers, and a message from Pact President Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
Prisoners’ Sunday  
A Corporal Work of Mercy: Visit the prisoner ­
God calls each of us in different ways to serve Him and our neighbour. During Prisons Week, you are invited to join a live Zoom meeting online to hear the testimony of how a lay prison chaplain became involved in prison ministry and evangelisation.    These hour-long informal talks will happen during October and will contain the same content: Tuesday 10th at 8pm, Wednesday 11th at 8pm, Friday 13th at 12:30pm.
Find out more this Prisons Week  

Human Rights in the Emerging Catholic Church, online and in-person assembly   Sunday 8 to Saturday 14 October.  
A lay-led Synodal Assembly hosted by Root & Branch and Spirit Unbounded. Root & Branch have been working with an international small group of activists and survivors of church-based abuse to develop the programme, ‘Shaking the Tree’: From Silence to Speech. It’s all focused on survivors stories of suffering abuse and deciding to share it for the first time, including reporting it to the church. Join Assembly online or in-person  

Introducing the prayer pathway ‘How to Pray’ ­ What are you doing for the Year of Prayer 2024?
This November, Sycamore and the Diocesan Office for Mission would like to introduce the prayer pathway, ‘How to Pray’ – a series of six sessions that can be run at church, at home or online – and which could be delivered as a Lent or Easter course, or at any time during the Year of Prayer and beyond. Could you use this prayer pathway as an opportunity to deepen understanding of prayer, or to discover other ways of prayer which could help renew the spiritual life of your parish? Join online, Tuesday 7 November.
‘How to Pray’ online introduction  

Calling all young worshippers! Invitation to join a Diocesan Worship Collective  
Catholic Charismatic Renewal Birmingham (the CHARIS group) invite all established and potential Worship Leaders and Worship Musicians to become a part of a Diocesan Worship Collective.

Any musicians, singers or those who have a desire or a call to help lead worship and would like to step out and grow this ministry are invited to express their interest.

The CHARIS group would like to help grow this ministry and foster a community of like-minded people across the Archdiocese who love to give praise.

Dance the night away at the ‘Fire and Ice’ charity ball ­
Fundraising event hosted by the Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT) at The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, Saturday 11 November.   The theme of the Ball is ‘Fire and Ice’.   This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate youth ministry, particularly of everything that the Trust achieves year after year. The evening will also include individual awards that will specifically recognise exemplary commitment and dedication.
Fire and Ice ball  

Jobs and Volunteering Opportunities ­
Restore, a project of Birmingham Churches Together, is seeking a part-time Communications and Administrative Officer for 20 hours per week.   Applicants from refugee or migrant backgrounds are welcomed.   Closing date to apply is Friday 13 October.
Jobs and Volunteering  

Get started with new xCenta ­
Congratulations parish offices, you now have a new, improved version of xCenta, the online risk management system. We hope you find this system engaging and user friendly. If you’re not already up and running, find the login details in your email and get signed in to the improved, easier to use system. If you’re not sure what to do, there are videos on the new platform to help get you started. You should have received an alert that a general risk assessment has been provided covering the main hazards within a parish environment. Please use this assessment to record your current risk control measures and any further actions required. If you have been unable to set up your new account, or have not received the xCenta emails and you think you should have, please contact [email protected]  

Grandparents’ Faith Cafe  
Stepping into the Dark: Living with Dementia   Tuesday 10 October, online, 7.30pm. An online social and spiritual space for Grandparents.   With guest speakers Jane Sweeney, author, and Deacon Ken Henry.
Join the Faith Cafe  

Dates for your diary: the month ahead  
Thur 5 – Sun 8 Oct: Quarant’ore Eucharistic Festival
Fri 6 Oct: CAFOD Family Fast Day
Sat 7 Oct: Annual Mass of Thanksgiving, Guild of St Stephen  
Sun 8 – Sat 14 Oct: Human Rights in the Emerging Catholic Church, Assembly  
Sun 8 Oct: Prisoners’ Sunday  
Tue 10 Oct: Restore Training Course October 2023 – session 2  
Tues 10 – Fri 13 Oct: A Corporal Work of Mercy: Visit the prisoner  
Thu 12 – Sun 15 Oct: Cursillo Weekend – October 2023  
Sat 14 Oct: Proud 2 Profess, Tamworth  
Tue 17 Oct: Restore Training Course October 2023 – session 3  
Wed 18 Oct: St Edith Stein: Doctor of the Church?  
Sat 21 Oct: Christians in Health and Social Care: Ethics and Practice – session 1  
Sun 22 Oct: World Mission Sunday  
Wed 25 Oct: Online JustPeople Workshop   
Sat 28 Oct: Annual Assembly, Birmingham J&P  
Sat 4 Nov: Christians in Health and Social Care: Ethics and Practice – session 2
More Events  

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