26th September 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Time has once more passed us by with its slippers on as we arrive at another weekend, and I am delighted to be able to send out our Newsletter and the Readings for Holy Mass. In the absence of our Mass Books in church it is good to see increasing numbers bringing printed copies of the latter with them to our celebrations of Mass. At the end of each of my days, which for some may appear relatively early as I begin the ‘retiring’ process just after the headlines at 10.00 p.m., I have a conversation with the Good Lord, and eventually – no matter what time – round the day off with a little light reading. Usually this takes the form of a historical mystery, and often as I put the light out, I say to myself: The plot thickens ! And so it seems to be doing in regard to our battle with Covid-19. For some time we seemed to be doing so well, and then, sadly, we are seeing the number of cases increase, and regrettably the death toll rise. With something like a quarter of the nation’s population in ‘restrictions’ clearly there is cause for concern.

With many youngsters beginning a new chapter in their lives at universities and Colleges of Higher Education my final daily conversation with the Almighty currently includes them in a special way. Having served as a University Chaplain I am very well aware of the ‘University experience’ that many speak of in the media, adding that this can be for better or for worse ! Having got numerous student out of a variety of scrapes at different times. I ask God to care for them, open their minds and hearts to the wonderful gift of education that our universities and colleges offer, but above all I ask them to be given the friendship of the Holy Spirit – God’s sense of fun and humour, but also His Wisdom. Perhaps more than ever this is a gift they need to take with them as they pack bags and boxes, moving from the security, stability and familiarity of home, to a new environment, populated with many who will become life-long friends, and with whom they are called upon to share a domestic space. Currently good numbers of them are having to isolate for their well-being and that of others. It is far from the best way to begin a new chapter in life, but perhaps it is a part of their learning curve, and having been forced to spend two weeks alone with relative strangers the bonds that unite them will ultimately be stronger, gifts and skills shared, together with a growing sensitivity and kindness amongst those that they share a living space with. I did notice on one or two blocks of student accommodation captured by media cameras that windows contained homemade posters, not the familiar “Thank you NHS”, but those which read “Send Beer”. Clearly God’s gift of humour has arrived in our university towns and cities ! Let us also hope that the students don’t forget to unpack His Wisdom too. A wisdom that when applied will help keep them, and all of us safe and well.

Reassuring you of prayerful remembrance, not least for those still not feeling able to join us around the Altars of Word and Sacrament, uniting themselves with us in Spiritual Communion.

With affection,

Fr. Nicholas

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