Friday, 27 March 2020

Coronavirus update Fifth Sunday of Lent - Passion Sunday

Dear Friends,

The Mass of this Sunday reminds us that Our Lord approached a terrible trial for all humanity. As we pass through our own trial in these times, let us unite ourselves with Him in all that he suffered for us.

Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against a nation that is faithless.
Introit from the Mass (Psalm 42)

A reminder that the public celebration of Mass is not possible at this time but I am offering the Holy Sacrifice each day in our little church for all your intentions. It was heartening to see that last Sunday we had a steady trickle of people visiting the Blessed Sacrament, though never more than two or three at any one time. Sadly, with the ramping up of precautions by the government since then, even this small solace will no longer be possible. Archbishop Malcolm, along with all the other bishops in the country, has ordered the complete closure of all churches in the Archdiocese, including for private visits. He writes:

Dear Father,
In light of the Prime Minister’s statement this evening that all places of worship are to close, I am requiring that all churches and chaplaincies in the archdiocese remain closed, with immediate effect, until further notice. Private Masses, streamed live, can continue. Concelebrated Masses should only take place with priests who live in the same household.  
Please continue to pray for all those in difficulty at this time, especially your parishioners. 
Then a further clarification:
Following the instruction that the Prime Minister gave last night, there has been an inconsistent message from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government regarding the opening of churches.  In the published guidelines, it states that “places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer.”   
The instruction is very clear on the occasions when someone can leave home: 
• Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible. 
• One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household. 
• Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 
• Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.   
None of these four specific reasons for leaving home concurs with the visiting of a church for solitary prayer.  In addition, keeping churches open could undermine the desire of the Government for people to remain at home, the very fact of them being open may draw people out of their homes, many of which would be the most vulnerable to infection. 

Your Mass intentions will still be offered as requested: this week for...
Sam and Margaret Duncan.  Patrick Donahue.  Kathleen Johnstone.   Leslie Kiss, Anniv.   Fr Gerald Dunn.  Deceased members and friends of the Lancashire Infirm Clergy Fund.  Veronica Neilson.
Your Prayers are asked for all the sick, including: Rita Sarbrick, Rosena Stacey, Vivienne Lee, Tom Miller, Paul Casey, Linda Melling, Tilly Gee, Kathleen Ward, Clare Butler, Maureen MacDonald, Louie Baines, Maureen O'Brien, Margaret McNiff, Elle Miller, Mark Duncan, Hild Gibbons, Bill Sutton, Barbara Fow, Mary Ann Monaghan, Bernard Lawson, Mick Marshall, Carol Parkinson, Margaret Cheston, Eric Neilson, Alan Cottam, Seámus McLoughlin.
We pray for those who are housebound & for those who love  & care for them.
O Mary conceived without sin - Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Some of you will have known Ann Clarke, the lady who lived in the first bungalow next to the side gate of the church. Sadly, she died this week after some time struggling with cancer. She was not a Catholic but a good neighbour to us. Her funeral is on Tuesday but in the present circumstances will not be a public event. Let us pray for the repose of her soul. Requiescat in pace.

As it is no longer possible to visit church, you may like to set up some form of home altar or prayer corner for you and your family. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish (though always take care if using candles at home) and can be a way of saying some formal prayers together without embarrassment with the family and for personal prayer. A statue, a crucifix, a prayer card, a bible or missal, some flowers - any of these would suffice. Here are a few examples - plain to elaborate...

If you feel it would help to follow Mass on television or on-line, in the week or on Sunday, then here are a few options for you:


You may also like to join in the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary this Sunday. We were one of the officially listed places where this would have been happening listed on the Walsingham website. You can watch a programme to explain this and find the short prayers to join in on Sunday - where everyone can personally re-dedicate themselves to Our Lady of Walsingham on the link below. Incidentally, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham is closely connected with the Our Lady of Ransom (with its origins in ransoming those taken into slavery by the Moors); a fitting title under which to pray for ransom from the epidemic now afflicting the whole world.


TODAY at 5pm Pope Francis will give an extraordinary "Urbi et Orbi" Blessing. This usually only happens at his election, and at Christmas and Easter. This is specifically for this time of worldwide crisis, so that we may feel cared for by teh uccessor of St Peter.  Unlike the sacraments, the grace of the blessing and the plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions) expressly includes those watching it live through television and the internet. You can share in it on the live link below.

May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in whose power and authority we have confidence, intercede on our behalf to the Lord.

Through the prayers and merits of the Blessed Mary ever-virgin, of Blessed Michael the archangel, of Blessed John the Baptist, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, may almighty God have mercy on you, and with your sins forgiven, may Jesus Christ lead you into everlasting life.

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution, and remission of all your sins, time for a true and fruitful penance, an always repentant heart and amendment of life, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and final perseverance in good works.

And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, descend on you and remain with you always.

I will continue to put up items of interest on our Facebook page.  Please do follow us there. 
As well as your prayers, do keep in mind and set aside, as best you may be able in these times, your financial contribution to the parish each week. If you do not already do so but would like to, please email me if you would like to set up a direct debit.
Let us pray for one another and for a swift end to this scourge.
God keep you,
Fr Simon.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Laetare Sunday update

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is the fourth of Lent - Laetare - Rejoice! 

The Antiphon from Isiah 66:10-11 tells even those who are mourning to rejoice because they will find consolation in God's grace. 

Likewise the Psalm today - The Lord's my Shepherd.
"If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff, with these you give me comfort."

A reminder that although there is no public celebration of Mass, I will be offering the Holy Sacrifice in private (with the angels) for all your intentions at this time.

Each Sunday the church will be open during the hours of daylight for you to make a visit, long or short, before the Blessed Sacrament. Come and say the Rosary, make the Stations of the Cross, make a Spiritual Communion or just pop in to say a short prayer and light a candle. (See previous post for links to on-line and TV Masses and making a Spiritual Communion.)

Your Mass intentions will still be offered as requested: this week for...

James and Dorothy Preston

Jean and Ella Shaw

Thomas and Joan Kelly

Fr Gerald Dunn

Deceased members and friends of the Lancashire Infirm Clergy Fund

Veronica Neilson

Your Prayers are asked for all the sick, including: Rita Sarbrick, Rosena Stacey, Vivienne Lee, Tom Miller, Paul Casey, Linda Melling, Tilly Gee, Kathleen Ward, Clare Butler, Maureen MacDonald, Louie Baines, Maureen O'Brien, Margaret McNiff, Elle Miller, Mark Duncan, Hild Gibbons, Bill Sutton, Barbara Fow, Mary Ann Monaghan, Bernard Lawson, Mick Marshall, Carol Parkinson, Margaret Cheston, Eric Neilson, Alan Cottam, Seámus McLoughlin.

We pray for those who are housebound & for those who love  & care for them.
O Mary conceived without sin - Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Our planned meeting to organise the Summer Féte on 2nd April will obviously not now take place.
Hopefully we can re-arrange the Féte for later in the summer months.


I've had enquiries about the 100 Club. This will continue to run and winners will be contacted.


Wednesday 25th March is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.
"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us."
God keep you,

Fr Simon.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Letter to the Parish as public worship is suspended

My Dear People,

We are living in extraordinary times, unprecedented in the lives of most of us.  Throughout the country we have been asked to avoid social contact as much as possible for the purpose of containing the spread of the coronavirus.  It is of the utmost importance that we all do our part to comply with this order, so that we might “flatten the curve,” that is, extend the period of time in which people will get sick, so that our health care institutions will not be overwhelmed.  Otherwise, some people will inevitably not get the health care they need and, in all likelihood, some of these will end up dying.  Even those who are willing to risk their own health in not complying with this order must realize that they may be endangering the health, and even lives, of others, since it is possible for one to have the virus for days, and perhaps even weeks, before the symptoms manifest themselves.  Hence, one could be infecting others without even realizing it. I'm sure we are all on the lookout to give special care to those self-isolating or those who can't get out easily, in regards to helping them with shopping and medication, should they need it.

Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.  

The Celebration of Mass

I have received instructions from Archbishop Malcolm today, following all the diocese in England and Wales, that public worship is to be suspended from Friday until further notice.

This means that Stations of the Cross at 7pm tomorrow will be the last public liturgy until the crisis abates.

I will still be offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day in church, for all our intentions. So if you have any special intentions or offerings, you can have Mass offered for them in the usual way by sending them in or posting through the letterbox.  At least for the foreseeable future, your guardian angels are going to be taking your places in the pews as I ascend Calvary each day to offer the Sacrifice of our Redemption.

Since the celebration of Mass in public is not available, the faithful are not bound by the obligation of Sunday Mass attendance.  To be more precise: to “keep the Lord’s Day holy” is the precept of the third Commandment of the Decalogue, direct from God, to which we are always bound and can never be dispensed; however, at this time, our people are excused from keeping the Lord’s Day holy by attending Sunday Mass.  This means that our people must keep the Lord’s Day holy in other ways, at home.

Please consider praying the Mass Scriptures and readings if you have a missal. 

If you do not have a missal, I will put the Sunday Mass texts for both forms on this blog so that you can pray through these with your family. You may also find other useful information there.

If you have Sky tv, you should be able to get the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)

or you can access it on-line for daily and Sunday Mass as well as other programmes and devotions.

Another source for on-line Mass here in our own diocese is from the FSSP church in Warrington:

It is streamed live every day but if you scroll down the page you can access the latest Mass at any time.

In conjunction with this you can make a Spiritual Communion, as I spoke about last Sunday and hopefully you took away the prayer sheets to assist you in doing this. Information here: 

You might also consider praying the Rosary with your family.

You might consider praying the Stations of the Cross - particularly if you can make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in church on a Sunday.

Prayers in time of epidemic: 

Other Considerations

I will open the church all day on Sundays so that people may have the solace of prayer in a sacred space, especially before the Blessed Sacrament, during this distressing time.

Confessions and the Sacrament of the Sick as well as Extreme Unction are available by request. (ALL confessions will be in the Confessional with the curtain kept drawn.)

If these measures are still in place at the time of Holy Week, there will be further information, especially concerning Confessions.

Practical matters

I would ask that as you keep the Sabbath holy and pray as the domestic church, you remember to put aside your weekly offering to the Church that you would have brought on Sunday and eventually bring this when Mass resumes (otherwise there may be no church to return to!)

Please feel free to send in any prayer requests and I will put these up on the blog or Facebook page.

Please also go on to the parish Facebook page and share that with others at: 

O Mary conceived without sin - Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

God keep you all.

Fr Simon

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Coronavirus and Holy Communion

We have just received some guidelines from the Archdiocese on receiving Holy Communion in the light of  coronavirus. Sensible precautions such as:

• It is strongly advised that the shaking of hands at the sign of peace during Mass should be suspended.

• Holy Communion under both kinds should be suspended.

• The faithful should be encouraged to receive the sacred host in the hand rather than on the tongue.

• Priests should sanitise their hands before Mass and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should wash / sanitise their hands discreetly before Communion.

• Priests and extraordinary ministers should also wash / sanitise their hands after Mass. 

Of course, most of these injunctions may already be the normative pratice in some parishes. The option of the lay exchange of the sign of peace is not usually exercised here and Holy Communion is administered under one kind only.

Traditionally (and sensibly) the priest always washed his hands in the sacristy just before Mass - there is even a prayer to accompany it for those who might still use the vesting prayers. A few sacristies even have separate drying towels for before and after Mass - pre and post Missam.

Perhaps these precautions became popular during outbreaks of the Black Death and the like over the years...

However, I do take exception on a practical level to the idea that it might be more hygenic to administer the host onto the hand than the tongue. From my own experience, I find that it is a much more frequent ocurance to brush against someone's hand than to actually touch their tongue or lips with my fingers. Apart from which, we might note that placing a host on someone's hand means placing it on a hand that has probably touched the doorhandle of the church after another hundred people have done so that morning and thus the said hand might well be full of germs!

Anyway, most of what I thought of saying - and much more - has now been addressed by Bishop Athanasius Schneider in the article accessible here: 

Sunday, 12 January 2020

My Mother: Requiescat in pace

This photo was taken in the garden at our home in New Brighton - the chubby blond is me aged 10 months.

I was called back from my post Christmas break in Geneva last week when my mother - Veronic Neilson - became suddenly unwell. It turned out to be a massive bleed on the brain and she died in the early hours of Friday 10th January. I returned in time to be at her bedside and administer the Last Rites.

Many thanks to so many people who have been in touch in various ways to offer their prayers and condolences.

Her Requiem Mass will take place on 

Wednesday 22nd January
12 noon 
Ss Peter and Paul's Church in New Brighton on the Wirral, 
followed by burial at Frankby Cemetery. 

(Any clergy coming are welcome to sit in choir 
at what will be a Missa Cantata. 
My thanks to the Canons there for their hospitality.)

Ss Peter and Paul's is the church where I made my first Holy Communion and where she was a member of the Union of Catholic Mothers many years ago. 

There will be a Reception at the Hollins Hey Hotel,
 accessed from Albion Street or Victoria Road in New Brighton, 
which is near to the church.

1984 with my stepfather, Eric, and Michael Heseltine, visiting Liverpool in some connection with the International Garden Festival (for those who can remember that far back!)
She looks as though she's taken some fashion advice from Bananarama here, which would be in character for her ideas on being in vogue!

Here she is dressed in the lighter colours 
at my grandparents home in New Brighton,
together with my Auntie May. 
The dapper young gent in the mini deerstalker is me 
aged 2 and a half.

Requiescat in pace.

May holy Mary, the angels and the saints 
come to meet her as she goes forth from this life.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Epiphany Masses

Masses for the Epiphany at 
St Catherine's

8.30am - (OF) English said Mass
and Blessing of Chalk

10am - (OF) Solemn Mass of the Epiphany
and Blessing of Chalk

11.30am - (EF) Missa Cantata 
and the sung Proclamation of Easter

Monday, 23 December 2019

Mass times at St Catherine's, Leyland

An excerpt from our Carol Concert on Saturday

Carols from 6.45pm
 Blessing of the Crib
Proclamation of the Roman Martyrology
First Mass of Christmas on 
"Hodie Scietis"
Lloyd Webber's Mass of the Prince of Peace
Credo III: plainchant/Palestrina
O Holy Night: Adolphe Adam.

Mulled Wine & Mince Pies afterwards


Christmas Day Mass at 8.30am.


Christmas Day Mass at 10am. 
Sung in Latin Traditional Form (EF)