Archdiocese of Birmingham Newsletter 7th December 2023

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Second Sunday of Advent – Mary Receives the Word  
Reflection: Second Sunday of Advent ­ Fr Michael Glover, currently studying in Rome, is sharing reflections for Advent.   Mary Receives the Word   As we contemplate the image of the pregnant Mother of God, we remember that the baby bump did not suddenly appear, the Word grew in her over the time of her pregnancy. The ‘yes’, the ‘may it be done to me according to your word’ that Mary spoke to God through the Angel Gabriel was the beginning of the Word beginning to grow in her. Mary receives the Word, and the Word grows in her. The Word changes her, he changes her physical appearance, he changes her identity. Mary, on receiving the Word, is now a mother and uniquely, Mother of God. Last week we contemplated on being open to the Word but that is not enough, it is not enough to wait for God to do his thing while you and I are passively open to what he wants. Advent offers us a time to consciously receive the Word into our lives again, to beg him to come again. Receive the Word knowing that he will grow in you, he will change you, your appearance, your identity, and reveal what only you can do for him.   Image author: Sustiputo. Image used with license permission via Wikimedia

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]

COP28 now underway ­ Environment Bishop: “There is no option but for COP28 to succeed”   As the COP28 climate summit began, the Lead Bishop for Environmental Issues, Bishop John Arnold, reiterated his call for the nations of the world to act:   “Whilst the extreme heat of last summer may be a distant memory for many of us, huge numbers of people around the world have had their lives devastated by climate disasters in the last year or so. Given that the impacts of climate change will only worsen, there is no option but for COP28 to succeed.”   COP28 is the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference and runs until Tuesday 12 December in Dubai.  COP28

Tonight: Interfaith Peace Service ­ The Columbans and Focolare Movement in Birmingham are organising a simple prayer service for peace at St Anne’s, Digbeth, tonight, Thursday 7 December, from 7pm. All are welcome to join this Witnessing Together vigil. Prayer Service for Peace

Tonight: Pact’s Birmingham Advent Carol Service ­ This very special event will take place tonight, Thursday, at 7pm at Our Lady and St Brigid’s, Northfield, and you are warmly invited.   Fr Cecil Rogerson and Fr Gary Buckby will be presiding at the service alongside wonderful ecumenical friends.   Pact is the national Catholic charity supporting prisoners, people with convictions, and their families. It works in 11 prisons across the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Pact Service

Dates for your diary: Harvington History Festival 2024 ­ The Harvington Hall History Festival is back for 2024, following the incredible success of the inaugural Festival this past summer.   Please save the dates: Wednesday 24 – Sunday 28 July 2024.

Guest speakers will be revealed in the new year.   Stay tuned for more information and ticket updates by signing up to the mailing list. Join mailing list

Feast Day Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe ­ All supporters of the charity Life are welcome to attend the Feast Day Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patron Saint of the Unborn Child.   At St Chad’s Cathedral on Tuesday 12 December at 12.15pm.

Invite from the charity Friends of the Holy Land ­ Glasgow/Bethlehem Ecumenical Advent Service.   Join via the live stream, Saturday 9 December, from Glasgow Cathedral.   Friends of the Holy Land and Embrace the Middle East working in partnership have organised an Ecumenical Advent Service at Glasgow Cathedral, to be held on Saturday 9 December at 2pm. The service will join with a simultaneous service in Bethlehem in the Chapel of the Divine Child at Bethlehem University through a simulcast link, provided conditions in Bethlehem on the day allow. Join us praying for Peace in the Holy Land in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.

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. ‘Hear Angels Cry’

New Job Opportunities  ­ Safeguarding Advisor
The Archdiocese of Birmingham is seeking to appoint an experienced safeguarding professional from the fields of social work, police, LADO, probation, or an alternatively qualified professional with significant multiagency safeguarding experience, to its Safeguarding Team.   As a Safeguarding Advisor you will, along with the Head of Safeguarding and other colleagues, be responsible for providing effective safeguarding advice and training across the Archdiocese.   Closing date: Tuesday 12 December.    

Fundraising Development Officer   Father Hudson’s Care is looking for an enthusiastic, pro-active positive individual to join its team.   Experience in fundraising is desirable, but this position is very person centred.   The deadline for applications is tomorrow, Friday 8 December. Jobs and Volunteering

Eternal Wall hits the airwaves  ­ This last week the team behind the Eternal Wall project have been partnering with Premier Christian Media to proclaim the deeds of the Lord to the nation while encouraging more people to join the journey to Make Hope Visible.  

Tomorrow (Fri) from 7am: we’re taking over Premier Christian Radio, Premier Praise and Premier Gospel with an Answered Prayer Appeal Day. Every show hosted by a presenter will feature audio stories of answered prayers submitted by some of our supporters, encouraging listeners to share their story too and join us on the journey.

On Sunday (10th) from 4pm: Richard Gamble, Eternal Wall founder, will be on Andy Peck’s ‘The Leadership Show’ on Premier Christian Radio where they’ll discuss the challenges he has faced and what he’s learned from leading Eternal Wall.   The Eternal Wall is a piece of public art which will be constructed using one million bricks, with each brick featuring an answered prayer.   This Christian landmark will be visible from over six miles away and will be built within our Archdiocese.
Online Grandparents Faith Café ­
Hosted by the Catholic Grandparents Association. Tuesday 12 December, 7.30pm  
Theme: Marriage & Family – The basics of Man’s Hope & Future with guest speaker Cardinal Wilfred Napier.   An exceptionally warm, compassionate and down-to-earth man with a ready sense of humour, Cardinal Napier is loved and respected by everyone who comes into contact with him.
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.
Mary’s Meals Christmas Concert   ­ Saturday 9 December 7.30pm, doors open 6.30pm  
St Martin in the Bullring, Birmingham B5 5BB Step in from the winter chill and join us for an evening of joyful music featuring Lichfield Gospel Choir. Hear from Mary’s Meals founder and Sunday Times best-selling author, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, browse seasonal stalls and enjoy mulled wine and mince pies. All proceeds help Mary’s Meals serve nutritious school meals to children living in some of the world’s poorest countries.  Tickets £10.
Next week: Friends of the Holy Land host Christmas Concert ­
Invitation to the charity’s festive fundraiser to help our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, Thursday 14 December in London.  
This concert features the well-known London Welsh Male Voice Choir with renowned soloists Margaret Keys and Anthony Stuart Lloyd and compere Mal Pope. 
FURTHER REMINDER FOR PARISHES: Completion of general risk assessment by 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 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]
Looking ahead: January 2024 ­ Celebrating Christian Unity  
#Pray24Brum is back for it’s 10th anniversary, taking place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.   A wonderful opportunity to pray and praise in and for the city of Birmingham. The theme is ‘Love God and Love your Neighbour’.   Events will be taking place at St Philip’s Cathedral, Colmore Row.  
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from 18 to 25 January – the octave of St Peter and St Paul.   Resources are now available for the 2024 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Looking ahead: January 2024 ­ Lepra Holy Mass at Westminster Cathedral  
Holy Mass will be held at Westminster Cathedral to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the charity Lepra on Friday 26 January 2024.   All are invited to give thanks and celebrate the charity’s Centenary and to raise awareness of Lepra and its work finding, diagnosing and treating people affected by leprosy so that the disease will have little adverse consequence to their lives. Anniversary Mass  

Dates for your diary: the month ahead   Thu 7 Dec: Pact’s Birmingham Advent Carol Service   Thu 7 Dec: Thriving or Closing? Divine Renovation   Thu 7 Dec: Interfaith Peace Service   Sat 9 Dec: Mary’s Meals Christmas Concert   Sat 9 Dec: Glasgow/Bethlehem Ecumenical Advent Service   Tues 12 Dec: Feast Day Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St Chad’s Cathedral   Thu 14 Dec: Friends of the Holy Land Christmas Concert   Sun 17 Dec: St Chad’s Cathedral Carol Service     More Events

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