News & Stories
The Pope has announced that on Friday, 27 March, he will preside over a moment of prayer on the sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the facade of the Church.
“I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication” he said.
The ceremony will consist in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The blessing “to the City of Rome and to the World” is normally only given at Christmas and Easter.
The Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the moment of prayer on Friday will be broadcast live from the Vatican, Click here beginning at 6pm Rome time. [UK 5pm] He noted that the plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et Orbi blessing is subject to the conditions foreseen by the recent Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Bishop David would like to invite us all to participate in these prayers and blessing.
Pastoral Letter from Bishop David
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. These words of the Apostle Paul root us firmly where we belong, in the grace and peace of God. Things are not turning out as we may have imagined, even a few weeks ago now, and this is not the letter I had hoped to send you as my first communication with you! It is unfortunate that the episcopal ordination took place as it were, behind closed doors. That very image speaks to us of the Easter Gospels, and the disciples gathered together in fear and anxiety within a locked room. But the coronavirus is certainly affecting every aspect of our society. We have heard so much about what it can do, how it attacks the respiratory system and can cause damage, even fatalities. Those who have political responsibility are obliged to offer sound advice to us in this state of crisis, and we must be prudent in our response to this advice. However, we should not allow this virus to rob us of the breath of the Spirit. The Holy Father encourages us to deal with this viral threat in these encouraging words, ‘with the strength of faith, the certitude of hope and the fervour of charity’ (Pope Francis, March 8, 2020).#
Unfortunately, the coronavirus means the need to make some drastic changes to the way we live and celebrate the mysteries of faith. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have said that the most responsible thing for us to do, is to suspend public worship from the evening of Friday 20th March. This is an action which needs to be taken in the face of a potentially deadly virus. As you may have heard, this decision has already been made and enacted in other parts of Europe and the rest of the world. Many of our priests and faithful parishioners are over 70 and others have underlying health conditions. We have a duty of care towards them. It is an act of charity to seek their protection from this deadly thing. Of course, nothing attacks the priestly heart more than being told he is unable to serve his people and to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with them. Nothing is more painful for our faithful people, than not being able to receive the sacraments. This is a sacrifice we must reluctantly take during these weeks of a deadly epidemic. Our priests will continue to offer Mass every day, but without a public congregation. Some are able to stream their celebration of Mass, especially on Sundays. Masses and other services and devotions will be streamed from the Cathedral. I will celebrate the 11.00am Sunday Mass at the Cathedral and it will be offered for every community and individual in our Diocese.
We had hoped to be able to keep our churches open. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament would have given much solace to thirsting souls. Since the Prime Minister’s announcements on the evening of Monday, 23rd March, this is unfortunately no longer possible.
The situation is changing daily as we all seek to heed the advice of the medical and public health professionals. Again, it has to be said, we must be prudent in our response to their advice. Those responsible for advising us about liturgical matters, and especially as Holy Week and Easter approaches, will soon be able to share some guidelines with us to guide our response to this pandemic.
During these days of the Season of Lent, we have sought to join with our Saviour in His fast in the wilderness. Let’s remind ourselves of the Gospel of the temptations we heard on the First Sunday of Lent. Jesus put His trust inn His Father and the Word of God in the Scriptures. In Jesus’ fasting from food, our Saviour learnt how to trust in God’s mercy and compassionate presence. Our Lord’s time in the desert echoes the earlier time that Israel spent in the Exodus journey to the Promised Land. We know how they struggled in these forty years, turning away from the Lord on occasions, entering into repentance and experiencing God’s powerful forgiveness. In all of this, I love the image of God walking with His people, a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. May we know that the Lord is walking with us, His pilgrim people. Let us pray that the Lord will strengthen us all in faith and hope, and help us to see how we can live our faith and hope with fresh charity towards others.
Yours devotedly in Christ.
✠ David J Oakley
Bishop of Northampton
Masses Suspended as of Saturday 21st March
Following the advice announced by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, we would like to reiterate that all Masses have been suspended this weekend. Our main priority is to protect those most vulnerable to the coronavirus and we know this is not a decision taken lightly.
PLEASE DO NOT ATTEND YOUR PARISH CHURCH FOR MASS.
This is not an easy time for any of us and many of you are understandably anxious. We know that God is always with us and in our times of greatest need He carries us.
We invite you to join us on Sunday at 11.00am online, when Bishop Elect David will be celebrating Mass for our diocese. Mass will continue to be celebrated from our Cathedral at 09.30am and 11.00am on Sundays. The Angelus will be led daily from our Cathedral at 12 noon.
Due to the necessary restrictions on travel and social interactions announced by the UK government on Monday 16th March, we announce that the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Elect David Oakley as a public event on Thursday 19th March will not take place. Bishop Elect David will be ordained in a liturgy without congregation that will be streamed live from our Cathedral in Northampton.
Everyone is invited to join us for a ‘virtual ordination‘ by following the celebration via the live stream at 11.00am on Thursday which can be viewed here.
You can also follow the celebration by downloading a copy of the Order of Service
Bishop Elect David wishes to thank you all for your prayers and good wishes, he understands the disappointment this will cause to those who were due to attend and knows that you will all understand that the health and protection of the most vulnerable is our primary concern. He encourages you all to rest in the hope of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Please do not attend the Cathedral on Thursday as entry will not be permitted. In due course there will be an opportunity to celebrate in person with Bishop Elect David. We know that you will join us in praying for Bishop Elect David as he begins his ministry as the Bishop of Northampton.
Northampton Cathedral was full on Saturday 22nd February for the farewell Mass for Bishop Peter Doyle. Bishop Peter is retiring since he has reached the mandatory retirement age of 75, for Bishops and Priests. A large number of priests and deacons alongside religious sisters and laity attended the Mass to give thanks for his 14.5 years of Episcopal ministry in our diocese.
Our new Bishop, Canon David Oakley, will be ordained on Thursday 19th March in our Cathedral. Cardinal Vincent Nichols will be principle consecrator with a large number of Bishops, Priests form both our own diocese and his current Archdiocese,Birmingham in attendance.
At the end of Mass, Mgr Sean Healy, the vicar general and provost, gave a testimony to Bishop Peter’s time as Bishop. He spoke not just of his accomplishments as Bishop but said that people would surely above all else remember the man.
You can watch the Mass above and visit our Flickr page for photos of this great celebration.
The Northampton Diocesan Office for RE, Catechesis and Schools (NORES) recently hosted a conference for over 70 A-level Religious Studies students from schools across our diocese in the diocesan centre at Holy Ghost, Luton. The day combined presentations on topics relevant to their study with a workshop enabling students from different schools to work together on common tasks. It proved to be a lively day with some impressive theological and philosophical contributions from the students themselves. Students were also able to take advantage of live polling software to offer their feedback on a variety of topics and questions dealt with during the day. Professor Anthony Towey, from St Mary’s University Twickenham, led a session on the ‘Person of Jesus in Eschatological Perspectives’. It is to be hoped that the conference will inspire students and help them gain new perspectives in their studies. It remains to thank the teachers and students from Cardinal Newman, Luton, St Bernard’s Grammar, Slough, St Paul’s, Milton Keynes, Thomas Becket, Northampton and St Michael’s, High Wycombe for their great contribution to the day’s success.
At the beginning of February, record numbers of young people enjoyed the Lux weekend hosted by the NYMO team. This years theme of ‘VOX’ encouraged us to make space to listen to the voice of God in our lives through scripture.Great fun was had through the weekend whilst friendships were formed and in this environment, and formation taking place. Joining us for the weekend were Mairi-Claire McGeady, youth ministry coordinator for the Archdiocese of Glasgow who shared the beauty of scripture and the power of God’s voice in our lives. Alongside Mairi-Claire, Matthew Van Duyvenbode, former NYMO team member inspired us on Sunday as he offered his top ten tips for moving forward with scripture when we leave LUX.
On Saturday afternoon great fun was had with human table football, parachute games and a a giant dartboard! Highlights from the weekend also included; Adoration, a special time of reading, praying and sharing scripture and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Director of Youth Ministry, Neil Roseman commented:
“It is amazing to see the desire in our young people to be as close as possible to God. To witness them queuing to recognise His forgiveness through the Sacrament is always a very special moment for my own faith journey”.
NYMO rely heavily on a strong volunteer team of young adults who are always so bold in proclaiming their faith within the reality of life. This witness is a profound influence on the young people and it is this, and their ability to accoumpany our young people have which makes the Lux weekend so special. As one parent put it:
“My children always love NYMO events and they count down the days until the next one”.
In February 2020 an exciting new chapter in the evolution of our Catholic schools will begin. Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) are groups of schools formally working together to provide a strong Catholic identity within the community and improve the prospects of the pupils in their care. Bishop Peter Doyle and the Diocesan Trustees have encouraged all schools to join their local Catholic MAT, with around half the schools in the diocese taking up the offer so far.
Building on the success of the small MATs, NORES, the education office of the Bishop, is pleased to announce the formation of two regional MATs to cover both the north and south of the diocese from 1st February. Joe Richardson, former Head teacher at Cardinal Newman School in Luton and Chief Executive Officer for the St Albans MAT has been appointed Strategic Executive Leader for St Thomas Catholic Academies Trust covering schools in Luton, Central Bedfordshire and Slough. Tony Bishop, former Executive Head teacher of St Francis of Assisi MAT in Bedford has been appointed Strategic Executive Leader for Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Academies Trust covering schools in Bedford, Northampton town and North Northants.
Collette Curtis, Director of School Development said,
“This is a great opportunity for all our schools to work together, sharing expertise in overcoming local challenges and providing exciting opportunities for our staff to develop and nurture our future Catholic leaders”
Bishop Peter said,
“We are at our best when we work together, for each other, in service of the common good, embracing both solidarity and subsidiarity. This is essential in all decisions undertaken by our Catholic schools.”
For more information about your local Catholic school and the new MATs contact NORES on 01582 723312 or email@example.com
Our diocese is saying goodbye to a long standing member of staff. Mr Tim Redding is to leave his post as Financial Secretary in March, to take up a position with the Anglican Diocese of Chichester. Tim is leaving to be closer to his family who live in the area.
Bishop Peter thanks Tim for all he has given to our diocese over the 17 years he has been with us and wishes him well in his new role.
In light of the announcement of a new Bishop our diocese will take time to consider possible replacement ideas over the coming weeks.
Bishop Peter today (11-12-19) visited the new catholic satellite school in Aylesbury, St Michaels. Attached to the existing site in High Wycombe, the school has pupils in years 7 and 8. Bishop Peter was delighted to meet the staff and students and see first hand the difference the school is making to the catholic community in Aylesbury.