Archdiocese of Birmingham newsletter 4th January 2023

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In our difficulties, may God help us to excavate our hope.

Baptism of the Lord ­ Reflection from Fr Ryan Service.  

Back in the 1960s in Milan, the council were developing the metro underground system and were stopped in their tracks. They found an ancient crypt underneath the main Cathedral. Among the ruins and dust they found an octagonal shape that can be seen with steps going down one side into what was obviously a pool and with steps going up out of the other side. This was no ancient roman spa bath but a baptismal pool.

In 387 a man called Augustine was baptised by Ambrose in that pool, being immersed into the water three times before coming out of the waters on the other side, robed in white, to be greeted by community members. 

For those of us who are baptised, even if we were not plunged into the pools in the dramatic style of Augustine, the reality is precisely the same. We entered into that same pool of life, that pool of history and tradition, the same waters that re-birth sinners, saints and popes, the waters that Jesus entered in the Jordan, the flow of history. 

Yet, like those ruins buried deep under il duomo, our faith and hope, at times, need to be uncovered and renewed. For years that place was thought to be lost, then just a myth (non-existent). For years it was covered by dirt, gravel and rubble. Perhaps it existed once, but no more. 

But it was always there, waiting to be uncovered, waiting to be restored, waiting to be seen again. In our difficulties, may God help us to excavate our hope. 

Grandparents’ Faith Cafe  

An online social and spiritual space for grandparents.  

The next Faith Cafe from the Grandparents’ Faith Association is on Tuesday 9 January at 7.30pm with special guest Dr Keith Chappell on the theme of “Grandparents as mediators: helping to heal relationships and prevent loss from families and the Church.”

Invitation from Pact (Prison Advice & Care Trust)

Are you looking to explore your Christian faith and how you might support your brothers and sisters affected by imprisonment? If so, Pact’s JustPeople workshops may be for you.  

Our workshops offer an opportunity to reflect upon Scripture, Church Teaching and Catholic Social Teaching through the lens of people affected by imprisonment.   

The sessions are accessible both online and in person, and offer an opportunity to meet with likeminded individuals to explore how we can all put our faith into action to support those on the margins of society.  

The next online workshop is taking place via Zoom on Wednesday 10 January from 9am -1pm. ­ JustPeople Workshop

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!

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ­

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from Thursday 18 to Thursday 25 January – the octave of St Peter and St Paul.  

Resources are now available for the 2024 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, prepared by an ecumenical team from Burkina Faso facilitated by the local Chemin Neuf Community (CCN).  

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the best known passages of Scripture, yet one that never seems to lose its power to challenge indifference to suffering and to inspire solidarity.   

It is a story about crossing boundaries that calls our attention to the bonds that unite the whole human family.  

In choosing this passage of Scripture for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the churches of Burkina Faso have invited us to join with them in a process of self-reflection as they consider what it means to love our neighbour in the midst of a security crisis.  Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Discipleship and mission of laity in Church today ­

Invitation from The Newman Association, Worcester circle.  

Friday 19 January at St George’s Catholic Church, Worcester. To mark the week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bishop John Inge (CofE Diocese of Worcester) will meet for a discussion about the role of laity in the mission of Church today.  

Our guests will lead a discussion about the future of the Church and what role laity is going to play in it, including the leadership and ministries.   

We hope to hear about the experience of synodality in the Catholic and Anglican communities and whether dividing Christians into progressives and traditionalists makes sense or not.  

This is the first event of the 2024 calendar of talks organised by the Worcester Circle of Newman Association.

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]

Starts online this 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. Sign up to Restore

Come and Study at Maryvale Higher Institute of Religious Sciences ­

Want to Learn More About Your Faith? Working for the Church? Working in Catechesis or Chaplaincy? Simply Curious?

We have the courses for you. We offer: 

  • Divinity and Licence in Catechetics Degrees Recognised by the Holy See
  • Over 40 Years of Experience
  • Validated by Faculté Notre Dame de Paris – Approved by the British Accreditation Council.
  • A Unique Blend of Distance Learning and Residentials
  • A Wide Range of Highly Regarded Academic Lecturers
  • A Place Where Faith and Academic Excellence Meets
  • A Community of Learning and Love, aged between 18 and 80
  • No entry requirements for our Divinity Course

What Our Validators Say: ‘Student performance demonstrates a very good quality of teaching and learning. Students are capable of clearly presenting the knowledge acquired, oriented towards true pastoral care.’

What Our Students Say: ‘The material covered on the course, its delivery in such a prayerful setting and the professionalism of the instructors was awesome … Each module was like a chapter of the most exciting book I had ever started.’  

If you want to learn more, please contact us for a chat: To book a Zoom call with Deacon Dr Harry Schnitker: [email protected] 
Or to speak to him (Office Hours Only): +44 121 230 6259 Or for an enquiry pack:
[email protected]

Columbans Schools Media Competition deadline approaches ­

The Columban Missionaries in Britain and Ireland latest Schools Media Competition 2023-2024 is titled: ‘Biodiversity Matters’.  

The competition is aimed at students aged between 13-18 years old who are invited to explore Biodiversity – the richness of life forms on Earth and which humanity relies on for health, food and well-being. It is looking for pieces of writing and images that demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the issue of Biodiversity and highlight people, communities and/or organisations trying to build a sustainable future.

Encouraging creativity and faith engagement with issues in the world today, this year’s competition welcomes both written and image entries until the closing date of 17 February 2024. Winners will be announced on Columban media on 21 March 2024, the International Day of Forests.  

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.

New Job Opportunities  ­

Exciting New Opportunity at the Catholic Union 

The Catholic Union, which promotes the lay Catholic viewpoint to the Government, Parliament and in the Public Square, is seeking a new Director to join its team in the New Year. After seven years of significant growth, Nigel Parker, the first Director of the Catholic Union, is stepping down and a worthy successor is being sought.

Those wishing to find out more about the role should visit the Catholic Union’s website for a full job description for this important role. The deadline for applications is 15 January 2024.

Catholic Union Chairman, Richard Collyer-Hamlin comments: “Our busy and productive year ends with a farewell to Nigel Parker. Nigel has helped put the Catholic Union on the map and we are grateful for all that he has done with such dedication over the last seven years. The role of the Director is varied, exciting and dynamic and we look forward to a catholic new phase in our development in 2024”.  

Catholic Union Jobs

Kenelm Youth Trust Opportunities

The Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT) are recruiting for several positions for 2024.  

Apprenticeship in Catholic Youth Ministry Programme Leader, Soli Centre for Youth Ministry Programme Leader, Alton Castle (x2)  

Full details can be found on the Diocesan jobs page. Closing date for applications is Monday 29 January 2024.  

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

Dates for your diary: the month ahead  
Wed 10 Jan: Pact JustPeople Workshop (online)  
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 Jan: Discipleship and Mission of Laity in Church Today  
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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