Truro’s Big Sing! the first carol service

The above photo shows Cornwall Junior Choir with the Methodist Chapel Choir in the background, at this year’s Big Sing

Last Friday, the popular traditional “Truro Big Christmas Sing” was the very first carol service of the year in Truro Cathedral. 

Turnout was significantly less than organisers Christian Aid had hoped, with Covid and inclement weather conspiring against it. Nevertheless, all the families enthusiastically joined in the communal carol singing, and Bishop Hugh (Anglican, St Germans) delivered an inspiring homily in which we were asked to reflect on what the message of Christmas means to relationships between rich and poor, between us and our world.

He Sent them Out

I was reminded today (Dec 4th) why we should read the Gospels many times in our lives – so that their message can strike us fresh and unexpectedly each time.

Today, Jesus gathers the apostles to him and gives them the ability to heal the sick then sends them out into the world to do just that; to travel through the land healing people in his name wherever they went.

It has never struck me quite so forcibly what a huge gift and commission that was. How amazing, how wonderful that must have been for the apostles – how could you not want to find and heal as many sick people as you could, if you had that power? – you’d never want to stop!

Yet this life-changing event is passed over in just a few short sentences. So easy for its impact to pass us by!


Synod: a short overview

With Truro and no doubt other parishes around the county gearing up to start local consultations, we thought that readers might like to be reminded that the why’s and wherefore’s of the synod are contained in the Vatican’s Preparatory Document, which you can find on the official Synod website and also in our Synod resources page.

The Preparatory Document is a fundamental point of reference for the Synod and is well worth a read, but its length and its language make it not always readily accessible to most parishioners. Something that seems a bit missing so far from parish resources generally is a simple overview of what it’s all about.

Therefore, we at THE PORTICO have produced our own Short Summary, an abbreviated guide to the Preparatory Document which we hope will be of benefit to our readers. At less than a quarter of the length of the original and in slightly plainer english, we hope that it will make it easier for readers to find their way into the Vatican’s foundational document and provide a better context for participation in the Synod process. You can read and/or download it here.

“Behind the Global Synod”

Tuesday 16 November, 7pm

Austen Ivereigh will deliver a talk entitled “Behind the global synod: why Pope Francis wants you to speak boldly and listen carefully.” on Tuesday 16th November at 7.00 pm.

The talk, with discussion, is a free Plymouth Diocesan online event to which all are invited, in preparation for our participation in the diocesan phase of the Synod “For a Synodal Church”.

Austen Ivereigh is a well-known catholic writer who co-authored Pope Francis’ recent book ‘Let us Dream’. Many readers will also remember him as a knowledgeable and engaging speaker from when he visited us in Truro some years ago.

To attend, please REGISTER now for this free online talk on the Eventbrite website here

Austen Ivereigh recently gave another talk on the topic of “The Synod: why it matters” which also provides useful insights, and an audio recording of that talk is available on his website here. (Thanks to Ruth)

“For a Synodal Church”: Synod’s diocesan phase extended

The Vatican’s Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops announced on 29 October that the duration of the first (Diocesan) phase of the recently launched Synod “For a Synodal Church” has been extended. This is “in order to provide a greater opportunity for the people of God to have an authentic experience of listening and dialogue”.

The Diocesan phase will now continue until 15 August 2022.

This extension, which is in response to requests from several quarters around the world, will no doubt be welcome news not just to those tasked with organising the process in our diocese and parishes, but also to many of the laity whose participation was to be restricted to the Advent period leading up to Christmas.

Vatican press release is here

COP26: Cardinal Nichols writes to Prime Minister

On the eve of the COP26 Conference in Glasgow on Climate Change, Cardinal Nichols has written to the Prime Minister on our behalf, as President of the Catholic Bishops Conference.

Referring to the global ecological crisis as a dark cloud over humanity, he offers our support to the work of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention.

He expresses our hope that “whilst the crisis is human made so too are its solutions”, and urges the PM to help poorer communities to combat the effects of climate change, and lead international efforts to champion green energy solutions and reduce harmful emissions and global warming.

You can read the full letter dated 27 October 2021 here

A Decisive Time for the Church

from Tony Barber

Pope Francis has set us on a two year synodal journey, culminating in the final Bishops’ synod in October 2023.  Before then we, the whole church including the laity, are invited to participate in that journey. Bishop Mark in his inaugural address in the Cathedral on 17th October was careful to point out that this synod was primarily an opportunity for us to listen to each other. At a local church level this part of the journey is expected to finish by April 2022, so there is an urgency to move quickly.  The process of listening and discernment in our parish has already started; there have been three lay facilitators appointed in our parish (we hear unofficially that they are Patrick McGovern, Jean Anderson and Richard Fish) who are tasked to convey our views to the Bishop; how they intend to do this we shall doubtless learn from them in due course.  

I was pleased to learn that the facilitators will have a free hand and no topic will be barred from discussion. There will be no filtering of our views and individuals or groups will be free to make their own submissions. This is a unique opportunity to take part in the synod journey. I pray we can seize that opportunity with enthusiasm. To assist us the Vatican have published an Official Handbook for Listening and Discernment in Local Churches ( 

Well worth a study.

Looking inward & outward

from F

“One way of seeing synodality as an ongoing process could be considering the parish, or even diocese having both inward and outward facing dimensions.

 One facet is for our own sanctification.  It involves the liturgies, sacraments, witness to each other, prayer, study accompanying our own sick and housebound, etc.

Then if we are not to be just a church club, we should be outward facing.  So we need ecumenical cooperation in prayer and works, cooperation with secular organisations which (unknowingly) cooperate with the Spirit, public witness, and accompanying the needy of any or no religion.”

A Precious Place, revisited

At last week’s Synod briefing the Vicar General Fr John Deeny echoed Bishop Mark’s pastoral message that A Precious Place continues to be “a key point of reference” for us. 

Fr John spoke of A Precious Place as an ongoing journey, and explained that the synodal process dovetails with the Diocesan initiative, each feeding into the other – one local and the other universal.

Several in the audience appeared not to know of or had forgotten about PP, probably because the pandemic severely cut short or prevented activity. We perhaps need to re-energise A Precious Place locally, if we are to continue fruitfully down this path.

A Precious Place, our PORTICO Special Edition, and our Supplement (short summary) can all be downloaded here