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Safeguarding Statement to Parish 2021

The Bishops’ Conference has stated that ‘the Catholic Church in Scotland is concerned with the lives, safety, wholeness and well being of each individual person within God’s purpose for everyone. It seeks to safeguard the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults who are involved in whatever capacity with the Church and its organisations. As a Church community, we accept that it is the responsibility of all of us, ordained, professed, paid and voluntary members to work together to prevent the physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect of children, young people and vulnerable adults’.

Pope Francis has asked that our families are made aware that they have every right to expect that they are safe and secure in ‘Our Father’s House’.  

As part of our commitment to Safeguarding, it is vitally important that we remember those who have been harmed or abused either by a member of the Church, members of their family or any other person. It is asked of us that we pray and care about them. In 2019, the Bishops of Scotland established an annual Day of Prayer for those who have suffered abuse and individuals and communities who are affected by abuse.  This Day of Prayer is to be marked each year on the Friday following Ash Wednesday. This year the Day of Prayer falls on the 19th of February. This day allows the Church to renew its apology to anyone who has suffered and to stress its commitment to the essential work of safeguarding across our parish communities. A copy of a possible service to be used at home will be located on the Parish Website.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow is fully committed to Safeguarding as an integral part of life in the Church. Both the Archdiocese and our parish embrace the special responsibility we have for all children, young people and vulnerable adults who are part of our faith community. In our Church and Hall there is a poster/information which highlights our Safeguarding manual and has contact details for the parish, the parish coordinator(s) and the Diocesan Safeguarding Team.  Please make contact with them or the Parish Priest if you have any concerns regarding the abuse or harm of any child, young person or vulnerable adult.

Safeguarding in our parish is with us in all aspects of our living faith.  Each year, as Parish Priest, Parish Safeguarding Coordinators and volunteers, we commit ourselves to these principles and to renewing and improving our practice.  We adhere to the protocols and procedures laid out by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland in the document In God’s Image. These procedures, and the vigilance of those involved in the life of the parish, helps us to ensure that everyone should feel safe when they come to Mass, services, groups or social events. 

All of us involved in Safeguarding within the Archdiocese are grateful for all the hard work done by all our Parish Priests, Parish Safeguarding Co-ordinators and our parish volunteers.


Some Advent Reflections

Advent is a time for waiting and reflecting; a time for preparing for the coming of Jesus at Christmas; a time for looking back and looking forward. Of course there are many ways in which we can prepare ourselves spiritually. It is certainly fulfilling to reflect on what happened in Bethlehem some 2020 years ago, and good to know what it is like today.

“The star of hope has to appear again, but it will come only when our hearts seek it, when there is a passion for it – a sighing, striving, and aching for the great mercy to come. Yes, the star will return, and then it will shine not just for a few, but it will quickly spread its brilliance over the whole world.” – Christoph Blumhardt

We have been fortunate to have four students from Bethlehem University being prepared to offer their “voices” in what Advent and Christmas means to them at present. They will give us a voice for each week of Advent, hoping that the Christian message from Bethlehem – an occupied town as in the days when Jesus was born – will spread across the world.

We begin this week with “The Voice of Hope.”

The Voice of Hope

Christmas is the time of hope to people all over the world. I, Natalia Ghattas, a citizen of Bethlehem from the Holy Land, would love to share with you how we celebrate Christmas. We now begin our preparations through Advent and wait for the coming of Jesus. It is a time of preparation… and waiting… and hoping…

In Bethlehem, hope is at the centre of our Christmas. As the holiday approaches, people intensify their prayers for peace, not only for our lands, but also for all people around the world especially during these hard times of the pandemic. When December approaches, the city is transformed. The streets are decorated with colored lights that shine through the night as hope that shines through the darkest times. The huge decorated Christmas tree takes center stage in Nativity Square where a Christmas Market full with Christmas decorations, embroidery, clothing, and traditional and exotic food are sold. On that day, there are also some bands, and soloists performing Christmas songs to add to the joyful spirits! The most awaited day is the 24th of December when at least 10 scout groups from all over Palestine march around the city adding to the Christmas joy.

We wait for Christmas Day, when everyone gathers with their family to exchange gifts, and to eat lunch and reminisce. To me, Christmas always gives me hope because it is the time where we all come together as the big family that we are. This Christmas, we may not gather as is the case every year but we will continue to be hopeful while virtually together. I am really hoping for everyone to be safe from the virus and from any other misfortune that may happen. We are a family and one is not alone even when physically separated!

Hope keeps us alive together, so keep on hoping!! After Advent , have a very nice day and Merry Christmas!!                                                                                                

Natalia (Ghattas)

Bethlehem University

28th August, 2020

Dear Parents,
Over the last six months, our lives have been affected and restricted in so many different ways by Covid 19 – the Coronavirus.
Since our Churches were closed for 4 months, we were regrettably placed in the position where we had to postpone, of necessity, our celebrations of first communion this year. Over the last five weeks, the Church has reopened, albeit  in a very restricted way, and with many of our normal elements of Mass temporarily suspended.

The possibility of having First Communions over the coming weeks has been mooted, but with many of our normal elements of celebration necessarily withdrawn from the Mass.    For example, at present we are not allowed to sing at Mass; processions are not permitted; face coverings are essential: receiving the Precious Blood from the chalice is not possible; readings and prayers have been reduced; gatherings for photographs also prohibited and we are advised to go our separate ways immediately after Mass is over, rather than prolonging our time together.
Mass, at present is, of necessity, marked above all by brevity and therefore runs quite counter in many respects to our normal experience of what Mass should be for us

Another important factor is the present limit on the number of people who can gathering for Mass. As things stand just now, we are not permitted to have more than 50 people present at any of the Masses in our Church – just a mere 10 percent of its capacity. For first communions, we normally plan for just fewer than 500 people present and 3 Masses.
In order to have first Communions just now, it would be necessary to have no less than 9 additional Masses, if each child was accompanied by just 4 family members. In all likelihood, these masses would be have to take place in the evening, since we already have 6 Masses in place from Friday evening until Monday evening. (There is currently no spare capacity at these Masses)

My own proposal to you in the meantime is that we agree to continue to postpone  celebrating first communion until the conditions change markedly for the better and the legislation and guidelines in force make it easier and more conducive to a true celebration of the Sacrament with our children.
I would have to say that things don’t seem to augur too well for an imminent improvement, but the situation, as we know, is fluid. However, if the process is even more drawn out, then we might end up having to wait until springtime next year and the normal time for First Communion.
In instances where individual families still decide to go ahead with First Communion in the coming weeks, we would endeavour to help accommodate those wishes. It may be that there are some practical considerations, such as the length of First Communion dresses and the increase in height of our children!

Before we make our decision, I would be very happy to hear of your own thoughts on things. Please bear in mind also that our number of First Communicants rank among the largest in the Archdiocese (over 80), but there is only one priest here!

With very good wishes,

Prayer Intentions – 15th Sunday A

We pray that the Church may always have the integrity to sow seeds of justice and loving care before our world.

For all those affected by tribulation. persecution, anxiety or the attraction of wealth:- That they may hear God’s word and bear fruit for his kingdom.

For all who are searching for a vaccine and effective treatment for the Coronavirus:- That their efforts  may quickly bring a solution for the world.

For a greater love for the Word of God:- That we may make space in our lives to allow the Word of God to challenge and confront us so that we may bear abundant fruit.

For all who spread the word of God: – for preachers, teachers, parents and writers:- That they may announce God’s loving compassion faithfully and convincingly so that others may come to know the living God.

For all who are sick or worried or troubled:- That the Lord’s gentle healing touch may give them new hope.

For all who have died, especially Barney Curran, John McCluskey, Martin McAnera and Sheila Daly who have died recently.

We remember also the anniversaries of Mary McLaughlin, Betty Gallacher, Michael McCreadie and Frank Gallagher whose anniversaries are at this time:- May they rise in glory through the power and love of their saviour.

Fifteenth Sunday Year A – 12th July 2020

Like many folk, I am find that I head off to sleep quicker and easier if my prelude to sleep takes the form of a wee bit of bed time reading. It might only be a couple of minutes, of  course. As often as not I find myself more than half asleep even with the book still in my hand. The difficulty with that type of reading is that it is so easy to lose track of what the book is saying. I find myself having to battle to try and focus more and more on what is really being said. Of course, tiredness and keeping focus really don’t go together.  When tiredness takes over, really the signal has been given. There is only one solution  – put down the book and give way to sleep.

Today we enter into a series of Matthew’s gospel parables. As we know the parable was a frequently used technique of Jesus in teaching and in challenging people.

I wonder how the disciples coped with the demands Jesus put on them by his frequent use of parables? There are some parables that demand a serious focussing in order to discern the one overriding message. But equally, there are many that invite the listener to enter into the reality of the story in many different ways. There is not just one message with most parables; there are several or indeed many.

In the case of today’s “parable of the sower” that is certainly the case. The hearer and the reader must be able to discover the many layers of meaning and engagement called for from this parable.  It may often designated as “the parable of the sower” but surely it is equally appropriate to entitle it as the “parable of the soil” given that things seem to hinge on the different conditions of the earth in order to produce the crop or to make that more difficult. 

We can try to interpret it at a safe distance from ourselves by seeing it as being a parable about the world, more precisely about the fact that so many situations in the world make the sowing of the seed of God’s word difficult if not downright impossible. But the parable, as a device which provokes and confronts, does not allow the hearer to remain at a safe and uninvolved distance. They must be seen as being personally involved and confronted by the message or messages of the parable. Perhaps this is a line of reflection which we can do well to follow. The parable invites us to see the different areas and aspects of our own lives. To see where the edges of the path are – those places in our lives that are distant from the gospel message . To look to the rocky aspects are – to reflect on our failures to take the gospel seriously – to the places where our choice of life style can end up with the choking of the gospel of Jesus by other pursuits in life which run counter to the gospel.

Of course, this parable is part of the good news and we should be able to see it as such and reflect on it in that vein also. The seed that falls in the rich soil represents surely God’s plan for us, a plan which is also to met with our response since God makes that response possible in his gifts to us.

As we reflect on the Gospel we are invited, as always, to do that with the help of the Old Testament and our first reading. This surely helps us to deepen our understanding of the parable’s meaning for us and to see that it is nothing less than a gift from God

Isaiah uses the image of rain and snow to describe the watering of the earth and growth of the seed for the sower. The parallel is also provided between that and the continual activity which is present through the seed of the Word of God, a word which continually carries out God’s will and which succeeds in its true purpose.

This invites us to give thanks for the continual saving and life giving activity of the one who is eternal sower of the seed of the Kingdom.  He sows that seed in us so that we too may be part of that great harvest of His. A harvest, that is, of goodness, love and truth.

12th July 2020.

Prayer Intentions: 14th Sunday A 5th July 2020

For Pope Francis:- That his words may help the whole Church to  trust in God and find true peace in the message of the gospel.

For all those in positions of influence and power in our world today :- That they may use that influence wisely  to truly help people and guide their nations through this difficult time

For the grace to be childlike:- That we may learn dependence upon God and surrender our attempts to control our lives through knowledge, power of possessions.

For all scientists and researchers in their quest for a vaccine to Covid 19. That their efforts may soon prove to be successful.

For all who are sick, especially our sick relatives and friends and those in our parish who are ill:- That Christ the Lord will bring true healing in mind and body.

For all who have died, especially David Coles, Sandra Macneil and Susan Docherty and for the anniversaries of Margaret Lynch, Catherine Cowan, Elizabeth McCourt and Jean McCourt,
That they may dwell for ever in the joy of God’s kingdom.

14th Sunday Year A: 5th July 2020

I left school way back in June 1971. It still surprises me if I remind myself that I did not begin parish life in Holy Cross Parish until  December 1982. So, between 1971 and the end of 1982 I was a student. Yes, for eleven and a half years! A mighty long time even if it did not seem so as it was happening. I was ordained, however, in June 1979 and continued with studies for another three years and more.

 Given that over nine of those years were spent in Rome then there was a lot to be very thankful for in terms of life experience. I would hasten to add that, spending this amount of time as a student, was not my idea! We did what we did and where we did it because we were told to do so. It was the Archbishop who decided where you were going, what you were studying, when you would be ordained and, ultimately, how you would be deployed as a priest.

One of the inevitable consequences of being a student for that time, of course, is the fact that you end up with an awful lot of books – far too many to sit on your bookshelves in later life. Like any other former student, some of these were vital at the time in order to help pass exams but now are gathering dust. There are of course others which I still refer to regularly over forty years on.

Those who were our lecturers were, for the most part, members of         the Society of Jesus –  Jesuits – at the Gregorian University. For my last couple of years, our lecturers were the Benedictines at the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Liturgy at the monastery of Sant’Anselmo on the Aventine Hill.   While it would be natural for them to be experts in their fields, there was another aspect to their lives which I found, and still find, to be most impressive.

          Both groups of religious had, of course, taken on vows of poverty and so they operated really without any salary other than pocket money. Their lifestyle was simple and straightforward. They had very little in terms of personal property.  For instance, they did not have a car. In Rome, of course, that was no bad thing!

Sometimes we would have cause to ask to talk through some aspect of their course or discuss an essay or something similar. Occasionally the setting for this would be their room which was nearly always a simple bedsit within the university buildings. Their religious community of course was also a part of the setup. I’m sure that it was not totally free of tensions or the presence of personal ambition and rivalry but to me they also represented a very powerful statement of the gospel in action.

          They were people of intelligence and no little learning. Their lives were dedicated to their study and their teaching. At the same time, however, that was not the end of the matter. It was not a goal in itself. They powerfully presented to me the aspect of childlike trust which is called for by Jesus in today’s gospel. “I bless you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.”

Their lives had a simplicity about them and certainly, on the outward side, displayed a real freedom from the material aspects of life.

So while we had much to learn from them on the academic side of things we also had the opportunity to take in another important lesson from them through their witness of life.

          It surely is obvious that the church is never exempt from study and learning. There must constantly be, in the community of faith, the search to go further, to understand more. The present coronavirus crisis has brought us to spell out even more clearly just how important is education, the vary basis of economic life is to be found in prioritising school life for our children.

The Church also needs to have education and learning as a vital part of the basis of the life of faith. To suggest any different approach is naïve and mistaken.  But again, this is never to be an end in itself. The more we discover and understand about God, the more we realise  that our knowledge is limited and partial. The more we discover about God,  the more we do not know. As we are called to continue down this path, we are invited to truly see ourselves as God’s little ones, God’s children, God’s beloved ones.  The ones who trust the Lord when he says to us today “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.”

Fr. Peter
14th Sunday A
5th July 2020.  

Prayer Intentions: Saints Peter and Paul

For Pope Francis, successor of Peter the Apostle:- That his words will be for the Church a source of true encouragement and hope.

For asylum seekers:- That they may always receive support and care in a manner fitting to human dignity.

For all scientists and researchers in their quest for a vaccine to Covid 19. That their efforts may soon prove to be successful.

For our parish:- That we may be inspired always by a gospel of love and mutual help.

For the grace of insight: that we may love our family as God loves them and be a source of encouragement towards the response that God asks of us all.

For all children:- That they may be kept safe from all harm and have a true and deep awareness of God’s love for them.

For those who have died, especially David Coles and Dina Conetta (sister of our Archbishop) and Alex McKenzie and John McClafferty, whose anniversaries are at this time:- That they may be welcomed into the eternal joy of the kingdom of God and that those in mourning may be comforted.