Archdiocese of Birmingham Newsletter 21st December 2023

Thu 21/12/2023 12:45

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Wishing all a happy and blessed Christmas

Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Advent­ Fr Michael Glover, currently studying in Rome, is sharing reflections for Advent.  Mary Holds the Word We are days away from the Solemnity of Christmas, the image of the pregnant Mary is most applicable now as the time draws near for her to give birth to her Son.   Very soon Mary will see the Word made flesh. Birth is the end of pregnancy but Mary’s relationship with the Word, her Son Jesus Christ, does not end.   Mary will hold him cradled in her arms. As the boy grows, she will hold him close. When she finds him in the Temple, she will hold him in relief. As he begins his ministry, she holds him in her heart. At his Passion and Death, Mary will take his lifeless body and hold him.   Through her life Mary holds on to the Word made flesh. As the season of Advent concludes and we begin the season of Christmas celebrating the Word made flesh, will you hold on to the Word? Will you hold on to Jesus as he grows in your life? Will you hold on to him as he reveals himself to you and teaches you? Will you hold on to him as he suffers with you?   Mary holds the Word; may her prayers help us to hold Jesus in our lives with love, with devotion and with adoration.

Christmas Message from Archbishop Bernard Longley Recorded at Archbishop’s House, this year’s Christmas Message from Archbishop Bernard is now available to watch. Archbishop Bernard offers Christmas greetings to all as we wait for the coming of Jesus into our world. We pray especially to Jesus at this time of year, as Prince of Peace, for the gift of peace in our own hearts, in our families, in our communities, and across the world.

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.

Help raise money for those in need in the Holy Land by purchasing song 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.

New: ‘Pause for Prayer’ video resource for your Year of Prayer journey

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.

New Job Opportunities  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

Next month: Living with the Spirit of the Synod course

­Hosted by the Jesuit Institute 

Over this short online course of two evenings and a full day, we will explore synodal expressions of mission, participation and community through shared experience, prayer, reflection and discussion. 

We hope that this will help us grow more as pilgrims of love, changed through encounter, listening and discernment. 

Please register by Wednesday 3 January. 

The course runs between Wednesday 10 and Wednesday 17 January.

Starts online next month: Restore Training Course

Restore, a project of Birmingham Churches Together, works with refugees and asylum seekers in Birmingham, Solihull and Smethwick.

Our Befriending scheme involves the training and matching of trained volunteers with recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers to provide flexible, one-to-one support.

Interested in Befriending? A new training course starts online on Wednesday 24 January.

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.

Catholic Grandparents Cafe, online January meeting

­Hosted by the Catholic Grandparents Association 

Our next online Faith Café is on Tuesday 9 January with guest speaker Keith Chappell. 

He is a qualitative sociologist of religion and biologist with a special interest in conflict resolution and religion. His research interests include science and religion, family conflict and community conflict resolution. 

The event starts at 7.30pm.

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!

Invitation from the Redditch Carmelite Spirituality Group 

Meets on the third Saturday of every month at the Bridge Centre, Evesham Road, Redditch. 

We meet together to share aspects of Carmelite Spirituality, based around a contemplative approach. 

Our first meeting of 2024 is on Saturday 20 January and the topic is ‘Carmelite origins’. Our guest speaker John Berry (member of the Birmingham Carmelite Chapter) will give a presentation about the history and development of the Carmelite order. 

We’ll also be celebrating the 8th anniversary of the establishment of the Redditch Carmelite Spirituality group. 

Meetings are from 11am to 2pm and include a shared lunch. 

We would be delighted to welcome anyone who wants to find out more about Carmelite spirituality and the January meeting is an ideal opportunity to ‘come and see’. 

If you would like more information, or would like to be added to our email circulation list to receive a copy of our 2024 programme, please contact Dr Susan Porter (group convener), email [email protected]

Dates for your diary: the month ahead 
Thurs 4 Jan: Organ Recital at St Chad’s Cathedral 
Sun 14 Jan: Peace Sunday 
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 
Fri 19 – Sat 20 Jan: Pray24Brum 
Wed 24 Jan: Restore Training Course, Session 1  
Fri 26 Jan: 100th Anniversary of the charity Lepra 
Wed 31 Jan: Restore Training Course, Session 2 
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