Archdiocese of Birmingham newsletter 14th December

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Third Sunday of Advent – Mary Waits with the Word
Reflection: Third Sunday of Advent ­ Fr Michael Glover, currently studying in Rome, is sharing reflections for Advent.  
Mary Waits with the Word
There must be times during pregnancy when waiting for the baby to arrive is exciting.   There must also be times when it is frustrating.  There could also be times of fear, of expectation, of hope, of joy, of confusion.   During the nine months of waiting, there could be so many different and opposing feelings.    Being open to the Word, receiving the Word into our lives and allowing him to grow in us and change us, leads us to the mystery of waiting with the Word.     During Mary’s pregnancy we know of two journeys, one to her cousin Elizabeth and one to Bethlehem where she gives birth.   The rest of the time we might assume that Mary waited.  She waited with all the many feelings she had, the love she felt, the time she spent in prayer.    In the period of waiting Mary had the joy of knowing the Word was wondrously close to her.   At this midpoint in the season of Advent, can we find joy in waiting with the Word. Whatever may be happening in our lives, all those conflicting thoughts and feelings, can you wait with the Word and find joy in the certainty of his presence in your life?  

Advent and Christmas Resources  ­ Our Advent and Christmas resources page is now live on our website.   Access Advent calendars; prayers, reflections and readings; resources; music; retreats and more.   Advent is a time of preparation and joyful expectation.   As we prepare for the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, these weeks provide a wonderful opportunity to slow down and reflect.   We look forward to the coming of Christ: celebrating His birth, His renewed coming into our lives this Christmas, especially through the Eucharist, and His second coming at the end of time.   If you would like anything adding to the resources page please email [email protected] 

12 Days of a Climate Conscious Christmas ­ December’s Responding to the Call of Creation newsletter looks at the 12 Days of Christmas with a sustainable twist.   Including:   Instead or as well as giving presents this Christmas, think about how you can give your time to charities. 
You could volunteer for your local food bank, a charity shop, your local wildlife trust or any other charity of your choice to make a difference in your local community.

Song to raise money for those in need in the Holy Land ­ Bethlehem will be a somber and sober place this Christmas with no festivities or celebrations due to the thousands killed in the current war. Amidst the fear and despair comes a cry of hope ‘Hear Angels Cry’, in the form of a song.   Youstina Safar, a resident of Bethlehem and a student at Bethlehem University, has collaborated with the London-based band Ooberfuse to deliver a powerful message through their Christmas song, ‘Hear Angels Cry’.   Money raised from song downloads will go to the Friends of the Holy Land charity, currently working with those in desperate need.

This weekend: St Chad’s Cathedral Carol Service   All welcome at our Diocesan Mother Church on Sunday 17 December at 5pm.   The Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Professor David Saint, will present a festive programme to start Christmas Week. Followed by refreshments.   The Carol Service is free and no booking is required. ­ Cathedral Carol Service

New: ‘Pause for Prayer’ video resource   Episode 1 now available to watch.   A new ‘Pause for Prayer’ video resource has been launched to accompany all on the Year of Prayer journey.   The monthly video reflection is hosted by assistant priest Fr Toby Duckworth, who serves in the parishes of St Dunstan, Kings Heath and St Jude, Maypole.   Together with Paul Northam, Diocesan Co-ordinator for the Jubilee Year 2025 ‘Pilgrims of Hope’ from the Diocesan Office for Mission, and James Trewby, Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker, the trio will produce regular episodes focused on teaching, testimony and intentions.   Pause for Prayer is a new series of videos to encourage us to press the pause button on our busy lives and to be present to God.

Trustee Vacancies: St Mary’s College Oscott
St Mary’s College Oscott CIO is the registered charity which is responsible for running Oscott College.   Oscott College is the diocesan seminary which forms men for the priesthood and the diaconate from England, Wales, Scotland and further afield.   The College is looking for up to 10 additional trustees over the next couple of years, due to imminent retirements and also to help increase the expertise and diversity of the board.
No experience of trusteeship is necessary, and the successful candidates would be invited to attend a board meeting as a guest (in February 2024), before being appointed.   Find out more via our Jobs and Volunteering page.  
Deadline for Applications: 31 January 2024

SVP Volunteers Plea ­ The SVP is looking for volunteers willing to help children put their faith into action. Could this be you?  The St Vincent de Paul Society has primary school groups called Mini Vinnies, and volunteers would support teachers or youth leaders wishing to start a group in their school or parish.  They will talk to children about how they can make a difference to those living in poverty and share resources to support the group. The role is flexible but does need people with some availability during school hours (at least 2 mornings or afternoons per month) who are willing to travel within the diocese (all costs are covered). If you are passionate about helping children discover how they can make a difference in their communities, please email Sarah for more information on [email protected]. You do not have to have previous experience of working with children as all training will be given. Our next initial training day is on Tuesday 27 February 2024.

Modern Slavery- What is it? And what you can do to help survivors ­ Medaille Trust supports and empowers survivors of modern slavery, trafficking and exploitation.   The Trust is running an online modern slavery and trafficking awareness raising session on Wednesday 17 January 7pm. This event will share information on what modern slavery is, the different types of modern slavery and the signs to look out for. They will also discuss their current volunteering opportunities.   So if you are great at gardening, love sports, are creative, have skills in cookery, wellbeing, advice, admin, translating or would like to gain skills in fundraising, this session is for you! Modern Slavery Event

The Trinity Conference 2024 ­ Reawakening the Catholic Vision. Saturday 17 February 9-5pm, Leeds Trinity University.   How can the Catholic Church respond to an increasingly disaffiliated and disengaged generation?     What is the future of our Catholic parishes, schools, homes?     TC24 will explore the context of ‘post-Christendom’ society, and the implications this has for the Church’s mission today.    More info and booking[email protected]

ACN Central, 2024 Pilgrimage.   Travel the pilgrim paths of the early church in Durham, Lindisfarne, Escomb, Ruthwell and Jarrow with Saints Cuthbert and Bede.   This Aid to the Church in Need pilgrimage will include reflections on the persecuted Church of today and look into the history of the early church led by our pilgrim historian Suze Mathews who specialises in Anglo-Saxon history.    Led by Fr Jeremy Howard, our pilgrimage chaplain, experience communal prayer of the Divine Office in beautiful surroundings, daily Mass and devotions. ­ ACN 2024 Pilgrimage

FURTHER REMINDER FOR PARISHES: Completion of general risk assessment by Tomorrow, Friday 15 December   Trustees require an update of our current risk profile.  As such we need each parish to complete their general risk assessment and upload this to xCenta.   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.     To access the General Risk Assessment, click on the ‘Documents’ module. Click on the ‘General Risk Assessment Template’ folder. In this folder, you will see the document you need. Click on ‘Actions’, then ‘Download’. The document will then be downloaded to your local desktop where you can save it and complete it.   Video help: A short video has been created which covers how to download and upload your risk assessment, how to access the eLearning and how to log accidents and incidents using the system. To access this video, go to:   E-learning > Allocate courses > ‘Essentials System Training Video’ > assign to yourself by clicking ‘Allocate’   Please upload your general risk assessment by 15 December 2023 in order that we can collate and analyse responses and report back to Trustees. Your help and support are very much appreciated.   If you require any assistance with the system, including getting copies of old reports, please contact [email protected]
Dates for your diary: the month ahead  
Thu 14 Dec: Friends of the Holy Land Christmas Concert  
Sun 17 Dec: St Chad’s Cathedral Carol Service  
Wed 17 Jan: Modern Slavery – What Is It? And What You Can Do To Help Survivors  
Thu 18 Jan – Thu 25 Jan: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2024
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