There are two significant gatherings happening in our area over the next few weeks, one regarding the Church in South Wales and the other concerning the ongoing Synod.
Cardiff and Menevia
First, as announced in his Pastoral Letter on 17 December, Archbishop Mark has invited two representatives from each parish to attend a Consultation Meeting with him in Miskin on Saturday 10 February, to look at the shape of the Catholic Church in South Wales in the future. One of these representatives will be the Chair of each Parish Advisory Council but it is important that all views are heard in this process. Please let Fr Matthew know as soon as possible if you would be willing and able to attend this meeting.
The Synod from the Inside
Second, Austen Ivereigh will lead an afternoon on Wednesday 24 January at the Cornerstone in Charles Street. This will be a workshop on “A Synodal Church in Mission”. Dr Austen Ivereigh is a UK-based Roman Catholic journalist, author, commentator and biographer of Pope Francis, now living in Herefordshire. He was one of the expert facilitators at the recent Synod in Rome which began on 4 October 2023, and will certainly be able to give an inside view on what happened in Rome in October and where we go from here. This will be an open meeting. The report from Rome in October can be found here – www.cbcew.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2023/11/vatican-synthesis-report-eng-oct23.pdf.
Advent this year has some real highlights, starting with this Sunday evening!
There will be beautiful music for Advent and Christmas in St Brigid’s at 7.30pm when “In The Stillness” is a concert given by the Elizabeth Singers with our own Max Davies. There is nothing like music to set the scene for events, and when it is as good as this will be, I’m sure we will all be smiling our way towards Christmas. There will be refreshments to follow. Free entry with retiring collection. Don’t miss it…
Meanwhile, on Saturday of this week a wonderful Catholic Youth Retreat will take place with young people from all corners of the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the Diocese of Menevia! Are you a teenager or young adult? Join us on Saturday 16 December in Swansea for a day filled with joy, inspiration, and spiritual growth. This is a follow-up to World Youth Day in Lisbon in July, but also it is the launch of a Youth Service for the Catholic church here in South Wales, something we have looked towards for a long time… What to expect? Mass with Archbishop Mark… Uplifting music from 99. One… Inspiring talks and insightful conversations… Delicious food to fuel your spirit… Two streams available: ages 13 to 18 and ages 18 and above. To register, please email Deacon Christian Mahoney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on: 07764 515864.
Then next Sunday, so-called Gaudete Sunday is also Bambinelli Sunday in our 3 Churches. At all weekend Masses in all 3 churches, you are invited to bring the figure of the baby Jesus from your crib at home. During the Mass the images will be blessed, ready for you to place in your crib at Christmas. This lovely tradition from Italy (bambinelli means little children) has taken off here in Britain too in recent years. Children love it, but anyone can bring their little figures to the altar when the priest invites us – young and not-so-young!
Lastly, we have our 3 Churches Carol Service on Tuesday 19 December 6pm at St Brigid’s, led by our younger children from Christ the King, our parish school.
So there’s a lot going on this Advent in our 3 Churches. Make sure you are part of it…
On Sunday 26 November, at 9.30 Mass in Christ the King Church, a beautiful celebration of the Feast of Christ the King took place, led by the staff and children of Christ the King Primary School. The music was delightful; the children carrying out the liturgies did so with confidence and dignity and Fr Andy provided a homily to inspire the children – how we are accompanied by angels whenever we are in the presence of Jesus. A big thank you to Sue Miles, Headteacher and all the staff who helped make our special feast day such a memorable one.
Today, the First Sunday of Advent, sees a new year in the life of the Church, and in the life of our own local Church in Cardiff we see some significant new appointments. Our new Vicar General in the diocese is Fr Brian Gray, formerly Dean of Cardiff, who now replaces Mgr Can Joe Boardman of Penarth, while our new Dean is Canon John Griffiths. Fr Gray is parish priest of St Cadoc’s, St John Lloyd’s and Blessed Sacrament on the east side of the city, but parishioners of St Brigid’s and St Paul’s may remember him as assistant to Canon Dunne and acting parish priest for a few years up to 2004. Canon Griffiths is parish priest in our neighbouring parish of St Teilo’s with Our Lady of Lourdes.
Our diocese is divided into four deaneries, and each Dean has a coordinating role, among the clergy and parishes in his area, and between his area and the Archbishop. In each diocese the diocesan bishop must appoint a vicar general who is to assist the bishop or archbishop in the governance of the whole diocese. It is a personal appointment by the bishop. Church law states that he is “to be a priest not less than thirty years old, a doctor or licensed in canon law or theology or at least truly expert in these disciplines, and recommended by sound doctrine, integrity, prudence, and experience in handling matters.” A bishop can delegate a lot of actions to him, but communication between them is very important.
I remember being told in my church law studies back in the 80s in Canada that although the job of “V.G” might be seen as high profile, it is also potentially very difficult, because of one little phrase in the small section in the law devoted to the role. This states that a Vicar General is “never to act contrary to the intention and mind of the diocesan bishop. In other words, if he has his own ideas any different to those of the bishop, he is to be “of one mind”. Hmm, tough call, especially in the modern church where we are more encouraged to share our thoughts and opinions! Good luck lads!
Next weekend sees the start of the great season of Advent. First, we have the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation at our joint Penitential Service at St Brigid’s on Saturday at 11.30am. The First Sunday is marked by a Family Mass at Christ the King church and a lovely talk about Our Lady, so central to Advent and Christmas, in the evening at Christ the King Parish Centre.
Here are the details about what’s happening in Advent 2023:
Saturday 2 December 11.30am Penitential Service at St Brigid’s
Sunday 3 December 9.30am Family Mass at Christ the King 7.15pm “Mary the Mother of Jesus” talk at Christ the King Parish Centre
Sunday 10 December 7.30pm Advent and Christmas Concert by the Elizabeth Singers at St Brigid’s
Sunday 17 December All Masses. ‘Bambinelli’ blessing
Tuesday 19 December 6.30pm Carol Service at St Brigid’s
Thursday 21 December 10.30am Advent and Christmas Mass at Christ the King School
Sunday 24 December Sunday Masses 9am St Paul’s 9.30am Christ the King 10.30am St Brigid’s
Sunday 24 December Christmas Vigil 6pm St Paul’s 6pm Christ the King 8pm St Brigid’s
Christmas Day Masses 9am St Paul’s 9.30am Christ the King 10.30am St Brigid’s
The Synod was meeting through most of October in Rome. Now the “Synthesis Report” of this First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is available!
This important document, which will be used to prepare for the Second Session in 2024, offers reflections and proposals on a wide range of topics, including the role of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood, and the diaconate, the importance of the poor and migrants, digital mission, ecumenism, and abuse.
The Synthesis Report is structured in three parts:
1. The face of the synodal Church: presenting the practice and understanding of synodality and its theological underpinning.
2. All disciples, all missionaries: deals with all those involved in the life and mission of the Church and their relationships with one another.
3. Weaving bonds, building community: synodality is presented mainly as a set of processes and as a network of bodies enabling exchange between the Churches and dialogue with the world.