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Altar Servers Online Retreat – ‘Serving God and our neighbour in the everyday’

Saturday 27th February 2021 – 10am-12pm (Ages 8-11) and 1pm-3pm (Ages 12-17)
Servers aged 18 and over please email the address below

The day includes a keynote from Bishop John on the ministry of serving during this time and in the future, times of prayer, a recommissioning service and workshops on ‘Challenges & Opportunities’, ‘Prayer – A Friendship with Jesus’, and ‘Called to Serve’.

To register your place or for more information email indicate your child’s age and which session they will be attending.

An under 18’s videoconferencing consent form must be downloaded, completed by parents/carers and returned to the above email address. The retreat will take place on Zoom.

You can download a poster here and a Videoconferencing consent form. Please share these online, in your parish and with servers who may be interested.

Bishop Leads Holy Hour: Hope in Difficult Times

On Sunday 4th October, the day we would usually launch the new stage of Hope in the Future, Bishop John led a Holy Hour from Salford Cathedral which was livestreamed via Churchservices tv.

The theme of the Holy Hour was Hope in Difficult Times, with the hopes that the Holy Hour would provide parishioners from the top to the bottom of our diocese with an opportunity to reflect and to take stock of the last few months.

The focus was not on moving to stage four of Hope in the Future, but rather reflecting on the presence of the Lord all through lockdown and as we continue on our journey. The Lord has, in a very real sense, answered our prayer and stayed with us on our journey. We need to pause, draw breath, grieve where we need to grieve but also be grateful where we can be and allow ourselves to be renewed.

During his Homily, Bishop John called on us to have hope and encouraged us in times of worry, to pray – remembering those in refugee camps or those who are persecuted for their faith, and thinking about our global neighbours who share our common home. He referred to Pope Francis’s new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, which was published on the same day.

During Benediction, Bishop John gave a blessing to those virtually attending the service as well as moving outside to the Cathedral Piazza to bless all people in our diocese, offering us all hope through these uncertain times.

A new document called ‘Rebuild my Church’ has been published by the Department of Formation which is full of resources to help us through this period of reflection. You can view this by clicking here.

You can watch a recording of the Holy Hour by clicking here 

The God who Speak at Mass – Fr Eamonn Mulcahy, CSSp

Fr Eamonn Mulcahy presents his Zoom talk on the God Who Speaks at Mass. Here he talks as part of the Diocese of Salford’s God who Speaks series which was to be hosted at the Hidden Gem but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The God who Speaks in Creation – Sr Margaret Atkins, CRSA

In August, the Department for Formation was delighted to welcome Sr. Margaret Atkins, CRSA, to present a talk on The God who speaks through creation via Zoom. The talk was part of the series ‘The God who speaks in the City’ to celebrate The Year of the Word which was to be hosted at the Hidden Gem but postponed due to the pandemic.

Sister Margaret Atkins is a Canoness of St Augustine in the community at Boarbank Hall, Cumbria. She is a lecturer and author in Theology with special interest, amongst other things, in the ethics of the environment.

Over 60 attendees from around the diocese joined virtually. In her talk, Sister Margaret suggested that God is speaking through His creation but asked the question, ‘are we listening carefully?’ She reminded attendees of the beauty of God’s creation and of our responsibility to care for it.

Quoting Pope Francis in his document on our Common Home, Laudato si’, Sr Margaret said we need to hear ‘the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’. She went on to say, ‘although climate change is a real challenge for our world, we must not despair. God is to be trusted and is capable of bringing good out of evil’. The talk finished with an opportunity for questions and answers.

Join us for the next talks on Zoom at 7pm.

October 7th – Fr James Crampsey, SJ – The God Who Speaks in Letters
October 28th – Fr Joe Evans – The God Who Speaks to Us Today: Contemporary Challenges through a Biblical Lens
November 25th – Fr Michael Winstanley SDB – The God Who Speaks in the Gospel of St John

Register by emailing

Meeting Jesus in our Offering

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, and during the long period of praying at home, Bishop John wrote: “As we pray at home, perhaps following streamed Masses from around the Diocese, we can experience special graces from the Lord at these challenging times. As the gifts of bread and wine are presented on the altar, we are invited to offer to God all our prayers, concerns and hopes, trusting that he will transform them just as he will transform the gifts of bread and wine into his very self. We are encouraged to join in praying the eucharistic prayer in our hearts as the priest offers the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father on behalf of the people.”

Read the third worksheet by clicking here: Meeting Jesus in our Offering – Worksheet Three

Meeting Jesus in our Mission

Our final pastoral message and worksheet focused on the Concluding Rites of the Mass and how we are sent out on Mission, to be Missionary Disciples in our Missionary Parishes.

In the worksheet, Bishop John wrote: “Having encountered Jesus in each other, in his word and in his body and blood we are called to go out from our parish communities and be the living Church. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, he lives in us and we live in
him. This is the source for our Christian lives and the source of our strength for the mission that Jesus gave us “to make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).

“During these challenging days, we have had to be a missionary Church in different ways. It has been wonderful to see so many parishes live streaming Masses, offering online formation, and providing acts of service to their communities. As churches reopen, we have a wonderful challenge of welcoming newcomers to our parishes.”

Read the final worksheet by clicking here: Meeting Jesus in our Mission – Worksheet Four

A Journey Through the Mass – Youth Resource

Earlier this year we created a video series called ‘a Journey Through the Mass’, which explored each stage of the Mass in more detail to help young people to gain a deeper understanding of what makes it such a special celebration.

Each video includes questions to reflect on and these videos can be used as a talking point for parish youth groups and in school settings.

In the first of our Journey Through the Mass videos Fr Richard Howard talks us through the Introductory Rites.

Fr Mark Paver shares his reflections on the Liturgy of the Word. Why is listening to the word of God so important?

Fr Paul Daly begins the guide to the Liturgy of the Eucharist by asking viewers to consider what the Eucharist means to them, and what the bread and wine we bring to the altar represents.

In our final video, Fr Chris Gorton helps us to reflect on how we can be ambassadors for Christ, taking what we have heard and felt in the Mass and applying it to our daily lives. How can we be open to God’s love in our own lives?

Sing a new song to the Lord

On Saturday 8th February music ministers from across the diocese gathered at St Cuthbert’s parish in Bolton for a Music and Liturgy Workshop Day with Jo Boyce as part of Hope in the Future Stage 3. The programme looked at the shape of the liturgy, the role of music within it, as well as sharing new music, ideas and resources for the development and renewal of parish music ministry, finishing with a vigil Mass with music led by Jo and the attendees from the day. Jo is a talented composer of a number of well-known Catholic hymns including Bread of Life Truth Eternal, Taste and See and her setting of the Magnificat. She shared Mass settings, free responsorial psalms along with some new music.She also introduced the L!FT programme for renewal and development of parish music, song and liturgy looking at the importance of leadership and discipleship. The slides from the day can be found here and below is a short summary video from the day.

Meeting Jesus in our Listening

This weekend you will receive the second of our worksheets for this year, which concerns the
Liturgy of the Word at Sunday Mass. Both Pope Francis and the Bishops of England and Wales
have called on us this year to think more and more about the importance of the Sacred Scriptures
in our journey of faith: as Bishop John says in today’s message: “… it is in listening to the readings
from the Scriptures that we hear God Himself speaking to us. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us
that “the Word of God is something alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12) which means that even the
most familiar passages of the Scriptures can speak to us in different and new ways according to the
circumstances of our lives, challenging and reassuring us, day by day. It is important that we
continually investigate and pray with the Scriptures so that God can be made present in all our
actions, choices and decisions.” In weeks to come we will explore the different parts of the Liturgy
of the Word one by one, but for this Sunday please spend some time thinking about, and
discussing, the way in which we have a personal encounter with Jesus through the Word of God
proclaimed in Sunday Mass.

Developing & Supporting School, Home & Parish Links

On Friday 31st January, the feast of St John Bosco, Bishop John wrote to schools, parish priests and Hope in the Future Teams sharing his vision to develop and support school, home and parish links. In his pastoral letter he asked schools to display their San Damiano Cross, launch Hope in the Future in their school community and identify a Hope in the Future school representative.  A handbook was also produced to foster good relations between school and parish which included 7 steps from school to parish, safeguarding guidance and resources. Bishop John wrote in his pastoral letter, ‘It is important that the good work which takes place in the school is shared and lived out in the parish community and that the young people’s faith journey continues in the parish long after they leave school through ongoing lifelong faith formation.’

Training Day for Eucharistic Ministers

Over 120 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion from parishes across our diocese attended a training and formation day led by the Iranaeus Project earlier in January.

At the event, Fr Chris Thomas and Sr Moira Meeghan explored the themes of Baptism and Vocation, the vision of the Church, practical sessions, dementia awareness and safeguarding guidance.

Fr Chris thanked all the attendees for responding to their vocation to serve God and his Church in this way.

In the practical sessions new ministers had the opportunity to practice and ask questions. More experienced ministers spoke of the honour of distributing Holy Communion at church and in bringing communion to the sick and housebound.

Fr Chris and Sr Moira finished the day by saying ‘more important than getting the practicalities perfect straight away is your prayer life and relationship with God’.

The next Hope in the Future and Formation event is a Music and Liturgy Workshop Day led by Jo Boyce. All are welcome to attend and can sign up on Eventbrite.

Shared Leadership Teams

Throughout Stage Three of Hope in the Future, parishes across the diocese have been uniting as they work together in responding to the call to establish a Shared Leadership Team.

In April 2019, Bishop John wrote to parish priests and Hope in the Future teams asking each parish to establish and Shared Leadership Team.  A Guide to Setting up a Parish Shared Leadership Team was produced which put forward four models which have previously worked well in a variety of contexts.

The guide included information about Parish Finance Committees, a commissioning service for parish teams, a parishioner survey and further information about available support. Recently two videos which place a spotlight on two different parishes models of Shared Leadership have been produced for other parishes in our diocese to use as inspiration.

The first video focuses on St Cuthbert’s in Bolton.  They used the guide to implement a Parish Advisory and Coordination Team model and now work with their parish priest, Fr Chris Gorton, to ensure the smooth running of their parish community.

The second video illustrates how the Parish Leadership Team has worked in Holy Trinity, Worsley, following amalgamations.

You may also find the following video of the Divine Renovation Shared Leadership Team model useful in setting up a Shared Leadership Team in your parish. You can watch that video by clicking here.

If you require more information on how to run a planning and vision session or to enquire about a facilitator please email

Stage 3 Newsletter Inserts

Back in October the Bishop wrote to us about Stage Three of “Hope in the Future”, inviting us to think and talk and pray about “Living the Sunday Eucharist”. On the weekend of 7th/ 8th December parishes received the first Pastoral Message & Worksheet from the Bishop on Meeting Jesus in our Welcome. There will be three more of these in the coming Liturgical Year, so there will be plenty to think about!

Every week, from today to the end of August we will be issuing a short reflection for inclusion in your parish newsletters. Week by week we will go through the Sunday Mass, offering thoughts and explanations which it is hoped will enhance our celebrations, and allow them to become more and more a real and vibrant encounter with God.
You can view the first set of reflections here.

Readers Training Day

Marian Tolley presented a training day for Ministers of the Word.  She offered a prayerful perspective paired with practical action for readers in our diocese, to help them in their own formation and in immersing themselves in the Mass in their own parishes. You can read more about the day here and view the video below.

Stage 3 Launch

On Friday 4th October 2019 we launched Stage 3 which you can read about here.

Stage 2 Launch

On Thursday 4th October 2018 we gave thanks to God for all we achieved together in Stage 1 and launched Stage 2. You can read about the celebration here and listen to Bishop John’s homily here.

Stage 1 Formation Videos

As part of Stage 1 a number of formation days were held throughout 2018. The aim of the days were to provide an opportunity to meet together and reflect on what it is to be missionary and what we mean by discipleship. The sessions were led by Fr Gerard Kelly and focused on providing on a time of reflection where we can consider the part that the Holy Spirit plays in all that we are doing. Evangelisation must touch our hearts, becoming the engine that drives us forward in our mission, it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the courage to advance. You can view the videos below.

Video 1 – Mission and Evangelisation
What is a Missionary Parish? A look back on Church teachings.

Hope in the Future Formation 2 – Mission and Evangelisation
The Evangelising Church

Hope in the Future Formation 3 – Mission and Evangelisation
How do we become Missionary Disciples?

Hope in the Future Formation 4 – Mission and Evangelisation
Proclaiming the Good News