Pastoral Letter for the 1st Sunday of Advent
Today marks the beginning of the Church’s Year. The Season of Advent is a time of Joyful Waiting for the coming of the Saviour, the Word Incarnate who is our Life. We reflect not only on the Solemnity of His Birth, but on his coming again and on the life to which He calls us.
As the Family of the Diocese, we have in recent weeks been reflecting on the Mission to which the Lord has called us and I am grateful to all those who took part in the meetings in deaneries during these last months. I am grateful, too, for your conversations in parishes and deaneries and I look forward to hearing the fruits of those reflections in the New Year. Your commitment to these conversations will, I believe, make this a significant year for us all as we discern together and re-commit ourselves to the task to which we have all been called.
The Family is a key element in the life of the Church and an important witness to the God of Love. The fact that the World Gathering of Families will take place during this coming Year is a blessing for us. Information about this World Gathering – taking place in Dublin from 21st to 26th August 2018 – has already been sent to parishes. It is hoped that Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the World Gathering.
This opportunity to celebrate the gift of the Family will be a tremendous opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Family Life and to foster the Family as a focus for growth in the Gospel, in prayer and in witness to the person of Christ. Please do consider being a part of this very significant moment in the life of the Church throughout the world. The Diocese has an allocation of 100 places. Those taking part will bring much back to the Diocese and the fruits of the World Gathering will surely have a deep impact on the life of us all.
A second very significant event next year will take place in Liverpool from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th September. This is the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress – Adoremus. The Final Programme, together with booking information, will be sent to parishes in the coming days. The first day will be a day of Formation, with lectures and workshops. Saturday will see 10,000 people gather from across England & Wales and we have 400 places available for our Diocese. Bishop Robert Barron will address the assembly, as will Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The Sunday will be marked by two Masses in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. I ask parishes to assist those who wish to take part in Adoremus. Transport will be arranged by the Diocese to enable people to travel to various parts of the event and delegates will be commissioned to represent the Diocese on Corpus Christi next year. Each Diocese is being asked to contribute something of itself to the Congress and the Flower Carpet Team from Arundel Cathedral will lay a Flower Carpet in Liverpool Cathedral.
This Pilgrimage & Congress will be a time of focus and renewal of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration calls us to focus our minds and hearts on the Lord’s gift of Himself in the Eucharist – the source of our life and the Mission to which we have been called. Those taking part will bring much home to parish communities that will enable us all to renew Mission centred on – and growing from – the Eucharist.
It will be wonderful to see our Diocesan allocation of places filled for both these important events and there will be opportunities to prepare for the World Gathering of Families and for Adoremus: at St. John’s, Horsham on Saturday 10th February, at St. Dunstan’s, Woking on Saturday 24th March and at Christ the King, Eastbourne on Saturday 19th May. There will also be a special Families Day at St. John’s Seminary, Wonersh, on Sunday 3rd June.
As we journey together towards our celebration of the Lord’s Birth, let us pray for one another, for all our families and for all our parish communities, that focused on the Word made Flesh – the Word who is Life, we may be renewed in our commitment to the task the Lord has given to us, to make disciples of all nations and call all around us to live in the love that exists in Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May Mary, who rejoiced at the coming birth of Her Son, pray for us that we may truly be His disciples.
With every Blessing,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop of Arundel and Brighton