Amazonia: New Paths for the Church
Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology October 6th to 27th 2019
On the afternoon of the 24th February from 3.30 pm-6pm a small group of us reflected upon the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si in preparation for the Synod on the Amazons to be held in Rome this October. As part of that process we looked at the lives of Chico Mendes, Sister Dorothy Stang, and Adelinho Ramos as just 3 people, who gave their lives to protect the forests, and help those who live there care for our common home. As well as videos, we were privileged to speak live on Skype with some important people in Brazil- Archbishop Roque of Porto Velho, and Acre, President of the Indigenous Missionary Council, member of REPAM, and our own Fr Leo Dolan late of St. Alphege’s, Bath. Our contact in St. Johns Bath with the poor in Brazil goes back some 50 years.
Archbishop Roque appeared with an anthropologist and a leader of the indigenous people. They told us about the difficulties they face from illegal loggers, miners and big landowners. Our attention was drawn to the note from CIMI https://goo.gl/SUQ4x1 (The Catholic Indigenous Missionary Council) ‘In a statement, CIMI repudiates measures published on the first day of Jair Bolsonaro's administration that seek to develop the country from purposes that aim to disqualify the individual and collective rights of traditional communities and peoples, attack leaders who fight for rights, threaten and criminalize defenders and defenders of the environment, indigenists, entities and civil society organizations.
In Provisional Measure 870/2019, which establishes the structure of government, is the transfer of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), which until then was in the Ministry of Justice (MJ), to the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights . At the same time, it removed from FUNAI its main attributions, to carry out studies on the identification and delimitation of lands, to promote the supervision and protection of the demarcated areas.
The Government transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, commanded by farmers who oppose the rights of the peoples, the assignment to carry out the studies of identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of areas required by indigenous peoples. "In short, the government decreed, in its first act in power, the annihilation of the rights guaranteed in Articles 231 and 232 of the Federal Constitution, a letter of the law of the country."
"The Missionary Indian Council is publicly repudiating such measures and denouncing them as part of a collusion articulated by the ruralist group, mining and logging entrepreneurs with the objective of triggering an intense process of looting the demarcated areas, delivering them to enterprises of the private initiative of the country and abroad and, in addition, make unfeasible new demarcations of traditional lands, "states the entity.
Lent message from his Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2019
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God”
(Rm 8: 19)
Dear Brothers and Sisters
Each year, through Mother Church, God “gives us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed… as we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ” (Preface of Lent I). We can thus journey from Easter to Easter towards the fulfilment of the salvation we have already received as a result of Christ’s paschal mystery – “for in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). This mystery of salvation, already at work in us during our earthly lives, is a dynamic process that also embraces history and all of creation. As Saint Paul says, “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19). In this perspective, I would like to offer a few reflections to accompany our journey of conversion this coming Lent.
1. The redemption of creation
The celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, the culmination of the liturgical year, calls us yearly to undertake a journey of preparation, in the knowledge that our being conformed to Christ (cf. Rom 8:29) is a priceless gift of God’s mercy.
When we live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:14) and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law, beginning with the law written on our hearts and in nature, we also benefit creation by cooperating in its redemption. That is why Saint Paul says that creation eagerly longs for the revelation of the children of God; in other words, that all those who enjoy the grace of Jesus’ paschal mystery may experience its fulfilment in the redemption of the human body itself. When the love of Christ transfigures the lives of the saints in spirit, body and soul, they give praise to God. Through prayer, contemplation and art, they also include other creatures in that praise, as we see admirably expressed in the “Canticle of the Creatures” by Saint Francis of Assisi (cf. Laudato Si’, 87). Yet in this world, the harmony generated by redemption is constantly threatened by the negative power of sin and death.
2. The destructive power of sin
Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbours and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will. Intemperance then takes the upper hand: we start to live a life that exceeds those limits imposed by our human condition and nature itself. We yield to those untrammelled desires that the Book of Wisdom sees as typical of the ungodly, those who act without thought for God or hope for the future (cf. 2:1-11). Unless we tend constantly towards Easter, towards the horizon of the Resurrection, the mentality expressed in the slogans “I want it all and I want it now!” and “Too much is never enough”, gains the upper hand.
The root of all evil, as we know, is sin, which from its first appearance has disrupted our communion with God, with others and with creation itself, to which we are linked in a particular way by our body. This rupture of communion with God likewise undermines our harmonious relationship with the environment in which we are called to live, so that the garden has become a wilderness (cf. Gen 3:17-18). Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests, to the detriment of other creatures.
Once God’s law, the law of love, is forsaken, then the law of the strong over the weak takes over. The sin that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself. It leads to the exploitation of creation, both persons and the environment, due to that insatiable covetousness which sees every desire as a right and sooner or later destroys all those in its grip.
3. The healing power of repentance and forgiveness
Creation urgently needs the revelation of the children of God, who have been made “a new creation”. For “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Indeed, by virtue of their being revealed, creation itself can celebrate a Pasch, opening itself to a new heaven and a new earth (cf. Rev 21:1). The path to Easter demands that we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness, so as to live fully the abundant grace of the paschal mystery.
This “eager longing”, this expectation of all creation, will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the “travail” that conversion entails. All creation is called, with us, to go forth “from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites Christians to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts. Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy. Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us. And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.
Dear brothers and sisters, the “lenten” period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Is 51:3). May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be “set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.
Download our Lent 2019 booklet containing events and mass times.
Holy Land pilgrimage
The idea of a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land has been approved by St John's Council and Canon Ryan dependent on flight costs.
The dates 3rd to 13th September have been provisionally set.
The visit will start with a flight to Tel Aviv and then to Nazereth followed by the sea of Galilee before going south to Jericho, the Dead Sea and the River Jordan followed by Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
The cost will be $1,100 plus the flight and includes accommodation in Bethlehem with host families.
First holy communion
We are delighted to inform you that First Holy Communion Lessons will begin on Sunday 13th January 2019 with an Introduction and Registration Session in the Parish Hall. Parents/Carers and Children are welcome.
Registration Forms will be available at the back of the Church. These must be completed, signed and returned to the Parish Office with copies of children's birth certificates and their passport sized photos.
First Holy Communion DAY is 23rd June 2019 during the Corpus Christi 10am Mass.
Lessons are from 9:00 am on Sundays followed by Mass. Children are to be dropped off in the Hall and Parent Sessions are in the Presbytery. Please note the First Confessions Retreat Away Day will be held on a Saturday at Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse from 10am to 3pm. The date is to be confirmed asap. All children are required to attend.
13/01/19 - Welcome, Registration and Introduction in the Hall for Parents and Children.
27/01/19 - Lesson 1
03/02/19 - Lesson 2
10/02/19 - Lesson 3 (Break for Half Term)
03/03/19 - Lesson 4
10/03/19 - Lesson 5
24/03/19 - Lesson 6 (Break for Mother's Day weekend and Half Term)
28/04/19 - Lesson 7
12/05/19 - Lesson 8
19/05/19 - Lesson 9
09/06/19 - Lesson 10
15/06/19 - First Holy Communion Rehearsal Saturday in Church from 3:30 to 5:30 pm
23/06/19 - First Holy Communion Sunday
Perpetual Adoration has begun in Bath. The Devotion was begun by the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist in France and it is hoped that every Diocese in the world will have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel. St John Paul II opened the first Chapel of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at St Peter’s Basilica on 2nd December 1981 where he expressed the words “I hope this form of Perpetual Adoration with permanent exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will continue and grow in all the parishes and Christian communities throughout the world”. At St. John’s, Perpetual Adoration starts Sunday at midnight through to Saturday midnight closing with Benediction.
At present we have over 150 parish volunteers who have promised one hour per week to spend in silent adoration.
Canon Michael English's Diamond Jubilee
On 15th June 2018 a great gathering took place of clergy and people to celebrate 60 years of priesthood for Canon Michael English.
Born in Tipperary, Michael English was ordained to the Priesthood at Waterford on 15th June 1958 for the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. He was sent to Clifton Diocese on a temporary mission and arrived in Swindon on 13th July 1958 and fell in love with the mission.
He spent short periods of time in Holy Rood Swindon, St. John's Bath, St. Joseph's Bristol and St. Dominic's Dursley.
In 1959 he was appointed assistant Priest in St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Bristol and then Assistant Priest at the pro cathedral during the building of the new cathedral.
In 1974, he was appointed Parish Priest of St. Augustine Matson. In 1977 he was made Parish Priest of St. Patrick's Redfield Bristol and then Parish Priest of St. Peter's Gloucester.
In 1997, he was appointed Parish Priest of St. Alphege Bath and served the local parish for many years where he was a much loved pastor.
He retired in 2008 and spent some time at St. Bernadette's Whitchurch before becoming a resident priest at St. John’s. Due to the shortage of priests he has been a great help locally and throughout the diocese.
We wish him many more years not only serving the Lord in the priesthood but also as a very special person who loves life to the full.
Lectio Divina course at St. Mary's
Lectio Divina (sacred reading) is a wonderful way to allow scripture to speak into our lives from our hearts. It is a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. With regular practice it can transform us and our lives.
The course is led by Caroline Price, a retreat leader & teacher with a life-long interest in and experience of contemplative prayer.
Meet in St Mary’s Parish Centre in the Main Hall Monday evenings in June. It is possible to join the course from the 4th or 11th June. Refreshments from 7.10pm; course will run 7.30-9pm.
Important: Please enter via the rear disabled entrance into the Main Hall, behind the kitchen and up the ramp to the right of the Parish Centre as this avoids disturbing the Bridge Club in the Front Room.
A Future Full of Hope - Reflections on activities
At the beginning of 2017 Bishop Declan wrote a pastoral letter asking all the people of the Diocese to reflect with him on the future. Founded on the many responses, his Future Full of Hope project aims to use the resources the Lord has given us so that we may build up the life and work of our parish communities.
Each of the three years ahead of us will focus on one aspect of the Bishop’s threefold vision of Mission, Prayer and Communion. This is the Year of Mission, in which we are asked to reflect on the ways we are called to build the Kingdom of God in our world:
The Church is created by God to live,
not for itself, but for others;
to be a people who share in the mission of Christ,
to proclaim the Kingdom
and to make disciples
so that the world will be transformed
according to God’s plan.
Details of the Bishop’s plan are on the Diocese’s website at
This reflection is to be outward-looking, and will take different forms. But part of it will involve looking at the activities we undertake in our parish: the ministries listed on the front page of our Bulletin and many other activities as well.
We shall need to celebrate the things we are doing well, and ask ourselves what we could do better, or what else there may be that God is calling us to. We shall need to do this together: it is those who engage in these activities who know them best. We can ask whether we work in the service of others, whether we wit¬ness to our faith, and whether we show ourselves as disci¬ples, welcome others and draw them in.
At meetings in May, those who lead any Ministry or other activity in the parish are being asked to take those involved in the activity on a journey to carry out this reflection.
The Bishop has pointed out that his plan does not seek to impose uniformity but to offer a framework within which we can respond. Nor does it seek to add a further workload on top of the many good things that are already happening in the parishes. It seeks to deepen our understanding of what we already do, and offers ways in which that can develop and grow.
A possible approach would be as follows:
- Invite the other members of your team to a meeting, either in the parish hall, or (if anyone volunteers) in someone’s home. Try and fix a date and time when everyone can make it.
- Plan how you will run the meeting. Should there be refreshments? Will you want anyone to keep a record?
- Begin the meeting with a prayer.
- Outline the Bishop’s plan.
- Ask people to think about the various aspects of your activity. Are you all agreed on its real purpose? Who are the people, both parishioners and others, who are affected by it?
- Discuss what is going well in your activity. Celebrate it and your achievements.
- Ask yourselves whether there are any aspects which could go even better, and how. What help would you need for this, and how could you get it?
- Is there anything else you could be doing which would help? What would Jesus say about that?
- Sum up your discussion, and agree your conclusions.
- Will you need another meeting to sort out any details? Please try to get the reflection complete by the end of September.
The Roadmap Group and Father David would be very pleased if someone from your group could explain to them what you did and what conclusions you came to. You could do this either in writing or by coming to a meeting.
If you have any queries about this, pleasae don’t hesitate to contact one of us:
- Mark Bradley
- Tracey Sessions
- Mark O’Sullivan. Tel: 01225 480970
(members of the parish Roadmap Team Reflection Group)
A copy of the presentation given at the Roadmap is available here. Please note this file is large (16MB) and may take an extended time to download.
Please can you bring your ministry group together to reflect on Bishop Declan’s questions, in particular:
- What are we already doing well?
- What could we do better?
- What are we not doing that God might be calling us to?
Please can you complete this reflection by the 11th July?
You can download a Microsoft Word copy of the reflection here.
We are All Called... How are we to Respond?
On Saturday 21st April over 250 people came to the Apex Hotel for the day to hear Michelle Moran speak; including members of Bath Catholic Deanery parishes, other local faith communities and Clifton parishes from Stroud, Swindon, Bristol and South Somerset.
In Michelle’s keynote address “Come Follow Me”; she referred to Bishop Declan’s three year plan, saying that so many things in life can rob us of hope, but the Bishop prophesises A Future Full of Hope. We have gathered here today in a hotel and Canon David Ryan trusted there would be enough people to pay the bills. Doing things differently shakes us up! We are doing something new and different! Encountering each other in a new way for the purposes of the Gospel. God is doing this.
She referred to Bishop Declan’s motif of the anchor saying what a wonderful image this is for us. It does not promise us protection from difficulties. We remain free, but it gives us assurance that the Lord is with us. She applauded the Bishop for beginning with Year of Mission. So often people want to “get ready” for Mission. But the reality is, we will never be ready. The call is to be Mission now, in this place. Mission is about being transformed. God is at work in the world; all we are called to be is a co-worker. What this depends on is not our skills but how open to the Lord we are. If we pray “Come Holy Spirit!” our life will be transformed. She described episodes of encounter with Jesus in the Gospels. The tax collectors, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well. The woman had to put down her jar. We can ask “What do I need to leave behind?” “What is our excess baggage as a Faith community?”
For a group exercise she referred to Cardinal Martini of Milan who said if we want to find a description of evangelisation to focus on three areas. 1) Is the Gospel being celebrated? 2) Is there witness and proclamation? And 3) Is there service given to humanity? She asked us to consider how this happening now in our communities and what more could be done.
In the afternoon during “God’s Holy People” she said that this refers to all of us. It is not about “who” we are but “whose” we are. It is weak people who were chosen to get the Church off the ground. This is very reassuring for us. After Pentecost, the disciples were no more qualified to do their work, but they had the Holy Spirit now. She referred to Pope Francis new exhortation On the Call to Holiness in Today's World. Holiness is for everyone. We each live the path to holiness in our own way; in the ordinariness and the circumstances of our everyday life. Pope Francis told her in a private meeting that we are in a special time of the Holy Spirit. A quickening of the Holy Spirit. She spoke about the two moves of the Holy Spirit. The “CENTRIPETAL” that draws us more into God- through prayer, quiet reflection, meditation and Scripture. And the “CENTRIFUGAL” – the force that send us out into the streets, our neighbourhood and workplace to witness and be a light of the world.
This is what it means to be “God’s Holy People”. It is what Pope Francis meant when he says that life does not HAVE a Mission but IS a Mission. We can say “I am a Mission!”
Michelle Moran is a founder of the Sion Community and has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Laity for 11 years based at the Vatican. Pope Francis has asked her to work on establishing new structures for Mission in the Church.
A Future Full of Hope
Bishop Declan has published his document 'A Future Full of Hope' which is available to download here.
2018 Festival Choir programme
Download for our 2018 Festival Choir programme.
Accessing the Parish archives
Our parish archive: waiting to be used
A parish’s sense of its own history is at the heart of what it is and how it comes across to the wider world. Where to look for that history can be a challenging question, but part of the answer is normally in the collection of documents, images and objects known as the parish archive.
For the first 70 years of its existence, St John’s was a Benedictine mission church under the charge of monks from Downside. Since 1932 it has formed part of the Diocese of Clifton which like Downside has a thriving, professionally managed archive. The archive being assembled at St John’s will fill a gap left by these and other sources of the parish’s history.
At present the archive consists chiefly of:
- Registers of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials. Please note that this excludes burials at Perrymead, which are recorded separately. Burial records are available online at the Bath Burial Index which inlcudes a survey of Perrymead Cemetery memorial photos and transcriptions. This information is freely accessible at the Bath Record Office website https://www.batharchives.co.uk.
- Six archive boxes of catalogued documents and photos relating especially to St John’s anniversaries, bomb damage and mortalities in the Bath Blitz, the opening of Cardinal Newman School and parish affairs as diverse as the authenticity of relics to the theft of the weathercock.
- Mass notices for almost every week of the first hundred years of St John’s.
- Records of the Bath Conference of the St Vincent de Paul Society 1892-1964.
There are some intriguing one-offs like a list of subscribers for pews in the Catholic chapel that was built following the anti-Catholic riots of 1780 and mission accounts for the period of the Napoleonic Wars.
The hope is to make the archive useful to a wide range of people. The first step is to spell out what the archive contains. So, with the backing of Canon David, the St John’s website is now publishing an up to date, itemised, listing of its contents.
Download in PDF format here.
The archive itself has not been digitised so for a potential user the next step would be to contact the parish archivist (details below) and arrange a visit to the presbytery to consult items of particular interest. There are few rules about how that is done and no charge is envisaged for first-looks or small study projects.
phone: 01225 466799
Cornerstone Mission update March 18th
Cornerstone @ St Johns would like to thank the Adoration Team, St Johns Runners, Young Adult Group, Fabric & Finance Committee and all parishioners for their donations, please pray for the Cornerstone Mission and its success as it seeks to help those in need.
The March update is available for download here.
St Johns Young Adult Group
Our Young Adult Group (18+) has been growing in faith at St Johns since 2015. We started with helping with the clean up of our Adoration Chapel, writing cards for the sick and praying for our community as established adorers on Fridays at 8pm – 9pm with shared rosary and intentions.
Most recently, we have been leading the Bible Study Series each Wednesday at 7.30pm, as well as enjoying local Ceilidhs (Irish Dances) in Bristol and Bath. We also go to the local Rollerskating rink, play Badminton or go for Walks together.
This spring/summer 2017 we’re looking to help clean up the Church Grounds and Gardens, as well as continue our Social activities around Bath. You can meet us after the 6.30pm Mass at the back of the Church after which we go to a local pub for refreshments.