Pastoral Letter on Feast of Christ the KingSaturday 21st November 2020
In a Pastoral Letter written to all parishioners, clergy and schools in the diocese for the Feast of Christ the King, Bishop John acknowledged the action of our Catholic communities throughout lockdown and looked forward to the Season of Advent and Christmas.
In his letter, he said:
People have been so generous, in many and diverse ways, in caring for their neighbours. My thanks, also, for the great generosity and thoughtfulness shown to our priests during this time of two lockdowns, understanding the difficulties they have faced in adapting their ministry. Those thanks extend to the many volunteers who have ensured that our churches have been the safest places for indoor gatherings and allowed them to open once that initial lockdown was over.
Bishop John also called on us to ask whether we can reconnect more closely with the simplicity of the Christmas story:
I think it is true to say that Christmas has become increasingly secularised in recent years.
The accent has been on presents, decorations, parties and family gatherings – all perfectly
reasonable and good in themselves, but there has been almost no public and media mention
of the Christmas Story which is the foundational reason for all this celebration. The crib is
rarely seen in public places and we are not reminded of the gift of Christ’s birth and presence among us.
He shared his vision for how we celebrate this Christmas in a different way:
This year we must celebrate Christmas in a different way. Assuming that our churches will
be open but still having a limited capacity, we will return to the ancient tradition of observing the Christmas Octave and I invite everyone, able to do so, to attend a Christmas Mass on at least one of the days during the Octave, from Christmas Eve through to New Year’s Day.
Bishop John also looked forward into 2021 and how we offer ministry and our programmes in the diocese.
He also acknowledged the loss faced by many in our diocese over the last year:
In the sadness of these days, we remember especially those suffering from the virus, those
who have died and those who have lost family members and friends in the pandemic. We
also remember those whose own suffering or loss has been overshadowed by a focus on the
pandemic. We give thanks for the commitment of so many in the Health Service and those
who provide other essential services at this time. We pray for that resilience by which we will
build a better world for all our brothers and sisters. We pray for one another and our
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