Echoes from Ukraine

with thanks to David Roper

A distant echo of the horrible war in Ukraine was heard in Truro last month when the Methodist church invited people to attend an evening meeting, and report upon their response to the arrival of refugees in the city.

The chairs on both sides of the aisle were soon occupied and after a short introductory speech from the Minister, three speakers in turn spoke of their personal experiences. These tended to show that no single organized centre existed where those interested in the refugee problem could turn to. Upon an invitation for comments from those seated, it emerged Cornwall Council had not sent a representative to answer questions relating to payments for hosting, or for the educational needs of those of school age; other topics were the danger from people traffickers, Christian charities for pairing refugees with host families and leisure activities available.

It appeared those attending were counted among charity workers, teachers, host families, and three young female Ukrainian refugees who had only recently arrived in Truro.

The outcome was that the meeting ended with names taken from those willing to help, and with the promise of a second meeting, with the Methodist Church having organized itself into a leading role as the centre for Ukrainian refugees, and problems that might arise. 

(See also Ukraine Family Host meet-up)

A Time of Change

Bishop Mark has been appointed by Pope Francis to be the Archbishop of Cardiff, the Vatican announced last Wednesday 27 April. We are sure that our readers, along with many others in Plymouth Diocese, wish him well and will pray for his success in his new role. A Diocesan Mass of Thanksgiving for Bishop Mark will be celebrated at Plymouth Cathedral on Monday, 30 May, at 12 noon. He will be installed in his new post at Cardiff Cathedral on 20 June.

In Truro as with the rest of the Diocese, it is a time of uncertainty for us, as no successor to Bishop Mark has yet been announced. We understand that when Bishop Mark is installed in Cardiff, the Cathedral Chapter of Canons will meet to elect a priest to be our Diocesan Administrator until a new Bishop of Plymouth is appointed by the Holy Father.

Meanwhile, we are asked to pray that the Holy Spirit will both guide all those involved in the process of appointing our new Bishop, and will give the chosen successor the grace and courage to undertake this ministry.

Divine Mercy Sunday Service 24th April

from Deacon Andrew Shute

A group of parishioners met on Divine Mercy Sunday afternoon to follow the lead of St Faustina. We began with the Blessing of our image of Jesus as the Divine Mercy and Fr John was available for Reconciliation. The Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar and Barbara led the Rosary. Deacon Andrew used parts of the sermon given by Pope John Paul II on the canonisation of Sister Faustina Kowalska on 30 April 2000. The Service was followed by tea in the Church Hall.

Jesus told Sr Faustina: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy.” Through the work of the Polish religious, this message had first become linked for ever to the 20th century, and its two world wars.

In the various readings, the liturgy shows the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that we not only receive and experience the mercy of God, but we are also called to practise mercy towards others: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

He showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy! It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to re-live the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time

“Yes, the first Sunday Easter is the Feast of Mercy,
but there must be deeds of mercy,
which are to arise out of love for me (Jesus).
You are to show mercy to your neighbours everywhere.
You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it.” (742
)

Ukraine Host-family Meet-up

A non-denominational meeting was held at Truro Methodist Church on 27th April to support the Cornish community in helping Ukrainian Refugees and their hosts. Five refugees from Ukraine were actually at the event which was attended by almost 100 people, including some half-dozen parishioners from Our Lady of the Portal.

Rev’d Mark Dunne-Wilson led the discussion which covered the different ways in which people can offer help and support – from help to register with a doctor /dentist and making benefits claims to providing the basics for new arrivals, like toiletries.

There is evidently much frustration with the process of bringing people over, but there are now a number of refugees here in Cornwall. Regrettably, Cornwall Council was not formally represented at the event, but attendees were urged to register any help and skills that they might have to offer with the organisers of the meeting.

So if you have skills or support to offer please let us know and we’ll put you in touch.

See also: Echoes from Ukraine

Pastoral Renewal Exchange (PRE) 

PRE was started by Fr Brian Green in 1978 to allow those involved in pastoral work to exchange ideas, personal experiences and information. Fr Brian taught at Ushaw College from 1969 -77 and developed a Pastoral Theology course. He then moved to Dinnington to become parish priest of St Joseph’s in 1977.

PRE is received by clergy, religious and lay members of the Church in the British Isles, Europe, Australia and Canada.  Editions are now produced biennially and are packed with interesting quotations, reflections, book reviews and writing on pastoral work. (See the index for issue 162 below)

In his second editorial in 1979, musing on when he first started working in a parish, Fr Brian wrote:

“First of all, it helped to see the value of what can be called PASTORAL REFLECTION. In some ways it is just a practical form of meditation and prayer. Renewal, after all, is the work of God, so our first task is simply to “let God be God” in us. 

It is a matter of opening ourselves up so that his ways of thinking become ours and what we do flows from his presence in us. 

Prayer is the starting point of renewal. Someone has said that we should pray with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Pastoral reflection means listening in our hearts both to the Word of God revealed to us in the Scriptures and teachings of the Church, and the Word of God speaking to us through the world in which we live. We discover a new harmony between the two – indeed an ever-changing range of harmonies; and through the harmony we begin to detect the voice of God, showing us the way forward, resolving doubts and restoring confidence. Especially when two or three are gathered for such prayerful and theological reflection, Christ is there. We may pick up his message through any of his members, and the occasion may be informal and light-hearted. 

(The) conviction grew during my stay at Ushaw: that the parish must take a central position in our work for renewal. Small basic communities may well provide the spearhead for the Church’s future mission: but they need to be serviced and anchored to the larger community of the Church. Narrow parochialism must go. A revitalising of the parish, and especially of a team of people at the creative centre of the parish, seems at the moment to be one of our most urgent priorities. “

Discernment and synodality explained in less than 300 words!

If you’re interested in receiving PRE please write to Tony Lear at aandmlear@googlemail.com

In the most recent issue, PRE 162, the Native American 10 commandments

The Earth is our Mother, care for Her.
Honour all your relations.
Open your heart and soul to the Great Spirit.
All life is sacred; treat all beings with respect.
Take from the Earth what is needed and nothing more. Do what needs to be done for the good of all.
Give constant thanks to the Great Spirit for each day. Speak the truth but only for the good in others.
Follow the rhythms of nature.
Enjoy life’s journey, but leave no tracks.

PRE 162 Index – to give you a flavour of the contents

1 Ten Years of PRE 

2  Christ in the Here and Now – Fr Brian Green 

3  Speaking Personally – Fr Brian Green 

4  Jesus lives in our hearts – Fr Brian Green 

5  A prayer for the people of Ukraine and the people of Russia 

6  Pope Francis to Europe’s Catholic Bishops 

7  God comes to women too by Heather Farrell 

8  Synodality Church’s “antidote to clericalism” by Maurice Cardinal Piat 

9  What Is Spirituality by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat 

10  The Native American 10 Commandments by Duane Short 

11-12 Notes and Quotes 

13  Positive Attitudes by Courtney E. Ackerman 

14  The Promotion of Positive Attitudes Towards Disability by Courtney E. Ackerman 

15  Reflections On War And Politics, Hermann Hesse 

16  The Way of Discernment by Elizabeth Liebert 

17-18 Gratitude in a Time of Drought by Norann Voll
19-20 Not in God’s Name by Jonathan Sacks (Hard Texts)
21-22 St. Joseph’s Dinnington Journey – CAFOD Live Simply Campaign by Chris Parrott 23-24 Confetti All Around by Eric Clayton.

“Preach the Gospel”

Pope Francis, who has been working on a new constitution for the Roman Curia with his council of Cardinals (photo above) for several years, has now issued Praedicate Evangelium,  (“Preach the Gospel”) which introduces wide-ranging and fundamental changes to the Vatican’s administration and bureaucracy. They aim to ensure that the Roman Curia, the oldest bureaucracy in the world, is better geared towards missionary evangelisation. Some of the most important changes include

Evangelisation: Pope Francis’ mission for the Church is reflected in a new Dicastery for Evangelisation, headed by the Pope himself,  which takes precedence among the Vatican’s departments. 

Charity: A welcome addition is a new Dicastery for charity, signalling its importance in the Church’s missionary work, and setting an example to dioceses everywhere.

Role of Laypeople: “The Pope, the bishops and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelisers in the Church,” the constitution’s introduction says. “The reform of the Curia, therefore, must include the involvement of laymen and women, also in roles of governance and responsibility.” Therefore, laymen or women can now “head a dicastery or organism”. This replaces provisions in the old constitution that required the majority of departments to be led by a bishop or cardinal. 

Collaboration: “The Roman Curia does not stand between the Pope and the bishops, but rather places itself at the service of both,” Rather than continuing in its traditional bureaucratic role, the Curia is thus called to adopt a model in keeping with the Pope’s call for greater synodality in the Church. 

Safeguarding: the safeguarding of minors moves from an advisory Pontifical Commission to a new Office within the new Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

For more information go to: Vatican News and The Tablet

Synod: Quo Vadimus?

The Plymouth Diocese held a pre-synodal meeting of Parish representatives last week, and is now in the process of preparing the Diocesan ‘synthesis’ to go forward for discernment by the Conference of Bishops. Guidance from the Vatican suggests that the synthesis should indicate “how the Holy Spirit’s call to the Church has been understood in the local context” and pay attention not only to common trends but also to discordant points of view and voices “because the process of discernment could recognize them as prophetic voices that indicate what the Spirit is asking of the Church.” This is not an easy task and the Diocesan team have asked for our prayers and support as they seek to do this.

Synod: “Quo Vadimus?”

“Is this it, now we’ve had our say?  I have no sense whatsoever of ‘Where do we go from here as a parish community’, of any kind of Diocesan lead?” (name given)

The above reader’s comments echo those of other readers in both Truro and other parishes, reflecting a sense of unease at the prospect — after all the prayer, discernment and effort expended in examining our local situations so far — of being left in limbo  for 2-3 years. The PORTICO is not privy to any plans at diocesan or parish level, but we recall Bishop Mark saying that the Diocese is already making a start on our synodal journey via his “A Precious Place” initiative which both he and Canon Deeny have stressed remains a key point of reference. We pray that what we have done is but the first tentative step in a brisk thousand-mile synodal journey!

“Ukraine refugees under our roof”: a special Supplement

We are now constantly deluged with news of the  seemingly endless violence and destruction in Ukraine. In the midst of all this fear, our attached Supplement offers a heartwarming first-hand account from one of our own Truro community, of her experience of dealing with Ukraine refugee women and children in Poland.

The supplement can be viewed and downloaded: here

CAFOD Hot-X Event

On the feast of the Transfiguration, a large congregation turned up to attend Sunday morning Mass.  Afterwards the CAFOD group held a Hot Cross Bun coffee morning in the Church Hall, and many church-goers stayed behind for a tea/coffee and a natter, despite the absence of the CAFOD group’s traditional bacon baps, enthused both by the glorious sunshine, and the welcome opportunity to exchange greetings and news with fellow parishioners in our first social gathering for a long time!

Celebrating First Reconciliation!

A special occasion took place for fourteen of our children and their families on 12th March when the First Holy Communion group celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. Afterwards, everyone had a celebration in the Hall, with cakes and other goodies in plentiful supply! Our thanks as always to Samantha and Kay for leading our young children on this beautiful journey.