18th April 2020

Dear Parishioners,

With the passing of another week, and a further extension to the necessary restrictions being presented to us by those in the know who are attempting to keep as many safe and well as possible, I enclose this week’s Newsletter. Thank you to those who have let me know how much you appreciate this attempt at keeping us in touch with one another. As you will have gathered from last week’s debacle, some aspects of technology continue to pose a steep learning-curve for me but I’ve been impressed to hear that a number of parishioners are using this period of time to engage with new means of communication such as ipads, which is a seismic distance from my own limited abilities. The positive use of this time, different as it may be, is so important, as someone once wrote: Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

Thank you for the numerous greetings for Easter, which meant so much; perhaps even more so this year, as extra effort was put into getting them to me, either in card form or by electronic means. Above all, my gratitude to those who do pause at the time Masses are being celebrated in our churches, because your spiritual energy is tangible in our hallowed walls. I am never alone when celebrating Holy Mass; we are all together in thought, and most definitely in spirit. In the Prayers of the Faithful, which I offer aloud each day, you are always mentioned, together with the intentions that you’re holding in your hearts and minds at that particular time. It is also important to pray for those who, because of their demanding work, fatigue or demands of juggling Front-Line work with home lives, are simply not able to turn to God in prayer as they would like. Not simply to pray for, but in fact instead of. So we become their channel of conversation to Almighty God. In this I stand humbled.

Times of adversity throw up some unexpected heroes, one of the greatest currently being Keighley-born, Captain Tom Moore, who continues to raise almost miraculous amounts of money for the brilliant NHS. His initial goal was a thousand pounds, and to date he has raised over twenty-one and a half million pounds. Incredible ! And he has pledged to keep on walking as long as donations pour in. Along similar lines, it is good to see so many people taking up the opportunity of walking, for health-reasons rather than charity. Out walking for longer than the stipulated hour on Easter Monday, I delighted in seeing a number of parishioners, and conversing at a safe distance. I saw others too – not parishioners ! – to whom I spoke, but received no reply. For those of us who live alone, a pleasant ‘Hello’ or even a wave can mean so much; so please be prepared to offer a friendly wave to others who are walking; it can mean a lot. If you receive an odd look or no response, smile to yourself as you remember the sender of this e-mail sharing with you the fact that – in a flustered moment – he once asked a mannequin in M & S where he’d find slippers. Needless to say after initially being nonplussed with the lack of a reply, I was doubly embarrassed to think someone may have seen me talking to a very well dressed but inanimate object!

Life continues at a busy pace for myself, working within limitations, and having to adapt rapidly to new means of ministry, not least in critical times, which are so very hard. This coming week, I shall be taking part in my first Conference Call in relation to the governance of our primary school (open throughout the ‘normal’ Easter break, to support the children of Key Worker parents, and as always doing a fantastic job). Hopefully all will go well, with the correct buttons being pressed, otherwise I may find myself in conversation with President Trump or the like. One of the Easter cards I received asked how I was coping with Short time to which I responded that if ever I arrive there I’ll send the enquirer a postcard! My days are full, perhaps differently to usual, but for me routine is paramount as is the setting of objectives, such as writing a note or a card each day to friends that I only hear from at Christmas and with whom we share the usual sentiment of hoping to be in touch in a new year. Well now is the time for that opportunity for contact! With hand on heart, I can say that I haven’t yet started sorting drawers out or going through cupboards, except for the necessary paperwork for our recent End of Year financial reports. The following light-hearted poem reminds me of trying to direct energy to the important things in life rather than the fleeting and passing:

Dust if you Must !

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better to paint a picture, or write a letter. Bake a cake, or plant a seed; ponder the difference between want and need ?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time. With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb; music to hear, and books to read; friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there with the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair; a flutter of snow, a shower of rain. This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind, old age with come and it’s not kind. And when you go (and go you must) you, yourself, will make more dust !

In closing I wish you well, and above all good health.

May we continue to be united spiritually and in affection for one another. There are so many in need of prayer at this time, may they be a priority for us.

With my prayerful remembrances of you and your intentions,

Fr. Nicholas

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