Tag Archives: Parish

The Cathedral Connection 3 December 2017

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ANNOUNCING ADVENT AND …

As the season of Advent opens, announcing a new year on the Christian calendar, I have two announcements that impact on our Cathedral Parish.

The first is that Fiona Rammell, our Lay Pastoral Leader since June, will not be renewing her contract at the end of January.  Fiona’s family circumstances have guided her decision, one that I heard and accepted with considerable sadness.  In just a few months Fiona has endeared herself to many, and has shown her ability in leadership roles involving liturgy, pastoral action and education.  She was part of the parish representation at the Archdiocesan Synod and has greatly supported my own pastoral responsibilities.

The second concerns my own “future planning”.  Before learning of Fiona’s situation, I asked Cardinal John if I could be relieved of responsibility as Parish Priest.  I have noticed my energy levels slipping and have learned that next year I will need another hip replacement.  My eyesight continues to deteriorate and I now avoid night driving.  Not a recipe for effective pastoral leadership.

The outcome is that I will stay on in “Sacramental Ministry”, relinquishing my role in day-to-day pastoral planning and activity.  Another priest, though not in residence, will be appointed as Administrator of the Cathedral, and it is expected another Lay Pastoral Leader will replace Fiona.

However, appointing and introducing a new LPL cannot be a simple process and I expect an inevitable delay for my “movement”.  This will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but it is important to share this information now to avoid rumour and speculation.  Please remember Fiona and myself in your prayers as we each make personal adjustments in our unique vocations.  And pray also that others will respond to the need to ensure strong, faithful leadership within our faith communities.

Fr James

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The Cathedral Connection 19 November 2017

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As last year’s Year of Mercy drew to a close, Pope Francis had “an intuition” to call the whole Church to a “World Day of the Poor”. This would be on the Sunday prior to the festival of Christ the King “who identified Himself with the little ones and who will judge us on the works of mercy.”

The Pope explained it would be a day for each baptised person to reflect on “the way in which poverty is at the heart of the Gospel (leading each to) a pastoral conversion to be a witness of mercy.”

On this first World Day of the Poor, Cardinal John offers a reflection on the theme which will be screened at each Mass. He reminds us we do not live in the dark but in the light of Jesus Christ, “so we cannot claim ignorance of the struggles that people face in coping with daily life.”

Called to be stewards of the gifts with which we have been blessed, we can each help to overcome the difficulties of one another. There is generally good support for our weekly “Food Bank”, but the poor are not only those lacking food or shelter.  Pope Francis illustrates the broader sweep of poverty:

Blessed are the open hands that embrace the poor, bringing hope.
Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity.
Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange –
These are hands that call down blessings on their brothers and sisters.

All this is showing us that the witness of mercy is only truly given in deeds and action and rarely in words alone.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

IN LIFE, IN DEATH – STAYING IN TOUCH

IN LIFE, IN DEATH – STAYING IN TOUCH

HOMILY – 32nd SUNDAY [A] 2017

As the family was moving away at the end of a recent burial ceremony, a small boy who had followed the proceedings with great interest suddenly became alarmed and asked, Are we leaving auntie here?   He’d seen the casket being lowered and had joined others in dropping flowers into the grave, but he hadn’t sensed the finality of it all.  I think it was his grandmother who said to him, Auntie’s now an angel; she‘s not down there anymore.  The boy got excited then – Oh good!  Auntie’s an angel!

We can learn so much that is good and positive from little ones.  This lad instinctively knew there was more to come after “auntie’s burial”.  Life cannot possibly just disappear in death.  There has to be more!  There is wisdom here, in the reaction of this little one – found so often in unexpected places – alluded to in our first reading: (Wisdom) walks about looking for those who are worthy of her and graciously shows herself to them as they go [Wisdom 6:12-16].

St Paul builds on this when he advises Christians not to mourn like people who have no hope.  None of us can escape grief – it is a natural and necessary response to loss, especially the loss of those we love.  But if your grieving detaches you from your faith – or, if your faith is just a thin veneer that peels off with the slightest tug – then loss becomes unbearable, pointless, cruel, even unjust, and anger, bitterness, resentment can quickly take its place.

This weekend also includes Memorial Day – a time for the world to remember those who gave their lives in times of war.  There is gratitude here for what their sacrifice meant.  They give us reason to keep hoping and working for respect and peace, not only between individuals but also nations.

A gospel reading often chosen for a funeral is John 14, with Jesus telling us there are “many rooms in my Father’s house.”  Another is from the prophet Isaiah who speaks of the banquet awaiting those who die in the Lord.  These are themes of security and comfort.  They relate to homecoming and help reinforce hope – and show the importance of “home” as a place of support and friendship, where we should learn the value of sharing and of hospitality.

In a real home there is always more than enough, and even a stranger is welcome.  Home is where I want to be more than anywhere else.  We can learn more about heaven at home than at church – if home reflects the presence of the One who teaches that heaven is a home.

But each of us knows that no home is ideal, and no one is perfect.  We learn more from hindsight than foresight and wisdom often comes too late!  So, while faith enables us to hope, it also brings us to pray for ourselves and our beloved dead.  The gospel parable about the bridesmaids who didn’t bring enough oil for their lamps and missed out on the banquet offer us an image that can help us in our prayer:

I believe our prayer for one another can help fill up what is lacking in our readiness to meet God.  Perfection comes slowly and I can put many obstacles in its path.  My prayer for those who have died helps top-up their oil flasks.  Darkness cannot compete with lamps fully lit.  Bathed in light, God has no difficulty recognising his children, assuring their entry to the wedding feast!

Our tradition of honouring the memory of those who have died especially during this month of November, is precisely because we do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope.  We remain connected and important to one another; we can help them complete their journey into the presence of God – and, when our turn comes, they are there to help us.

The Cathedral Connection 12 November 2017

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Have you ever wondered why the bridesmaids in today’s parable, didn’t share their oil with the bridesmaids who didn’t have enough? Perhaps they missed the memo to do to others what you would want done to you.

Is there is a deeper meaning here?  Maybe the oil is representing not something to share but something that is already ours.

I remember saying to my children you can’t have my faith. You need a faith of your own. What if the oil represents our faith?  Understanding the Gospel in this way turns it on its head. Just as I cannot give my maths ability (which has taken years of study to achieve), to someone else, so too, I cannot give my faith to someone else.

Each one of us needs to cultivate our own faith and we do this by being prepared, staying awake and with an awareness of the importance of remaining connected to God and present to all that is around us – God’s love shown in so many different ways.

So when the lamp (us) is full of oil (God’s love) we can be light (love) to those we meet. And to do this we choose (free will) whether to fill our lamps with oil or not. How we fill our lamps is unique to each one of us but no one else can do the filling for us. We cannot live a life of faith by proxy, but by being fully aware and part of the process.

We are responsible for our own oil which then will keep our light burning brightly in anticipation of the great feast that we are already part of and one day will share with everyone.

The practice of Lectio Divina which we experienced a few weeks ago was one way of keeping oil in our lamps. What other ways do you ensure you have enough “oil” in your “lamp” so you can burn brightly with love to all those you meet?

Fiona Rammell,
Lay Pastoral Leader

The full newsletter can be viewed here.