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.
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.
Adoration Night chapel inaguration
The new Night-time Adoration Chapel based in the lower rooms of the sacristy of St John's Church was opened on Tuesday, 8th December. The Mass of the Immaculate Conception to inaugurate Pope Francis' request for the Year of Mercy was held in the church after which our Night Chapel was solemnly dedicated.
Catholic online dating
Catholic Online Dating is a free to use, modern Catholic Dating website for the UK and Ireland. After launching the site in mid 2015, it has been blessed with a great run of success over the last few months, reaching just under 600 active UK users and recently been featured in the Catholic Herald (the magazine w/s Feb 12th 2016) and the Independent Catholic News (Feb 13th 2016).
For more details visit www.catholiconlinedating.co.uk.
A Festival of Carols and Readings
A Festival of Carols and Readings in preparation for Christmas
Sunday 20 December at 7.45pm
The Carols and Readings will be followed by mulled wine and mince pies.
Parish Archive soon to go live
The core of the parish archive has now been brought together and securely shelved upstairs at the presbytery. It mainly consists of sacramental registers going back to the late 18th Century, six boxes of catalogued documents and photos, and Mass notices for every week in the first hundred years of St. John’s.
The shelving (which was donated) gives scope for adding to the archive. It’s something that should be happening all the time, to give our successors a clear view of the life of the parish. A start has been made on plugging gaps in the record on important subjects such as liturgical music and parish schools.
The intention is to make the archive a valuable information source for non-commercial research. That’s easier said than done as making the archive easy to consult has to be squared with protecting its contents against damage and mis-use. We need some test cases to help work out how it should happen, so if you think the archive as just described could be useful to you in, say, family research please contact the parish archivist, Chris Morrissey on 01225-466799.