19th September 2020

Dear Parishioners,

This Newsletter and the Readings for the celebration of Holy Mass this weekend come with the hope and trust that you and your loved ones are well and continuing to cope with the way of life that some weeks ago we began to speak of as being the ‘new’ normal. Aspects of this new way of living in society continue to be hard, tough and very demanding not least emotionally and psychologically. In the times when you feel somewhat overcome by the limitations and restrictions of life, please remember that you are not walking alone. As a faith community we are there for you, remembering you in prayerful thought, but also just at the end of the telephone, whether that is a call to me directly, or to a friend. The opportunity to chat and talk to one another is welcomed by us all. So please don’t walk alone, let us all journey together.

From recent Newsletters you will have noticed mention of the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Reconciliation, sadly postponed earlier in the year, due to the obvious reason. However, we are now moving forward and planning to celebrate these Sacraments by the end of the Liturgical Year i.e. before Advent. These will be different celebrations to those we have become accustomed to, but nonetheless significant milestones in the faith-development of the youngsters concerned, and as such parents, our teachers in school and myself will be working closely together to ensure the children are not only well prepared but will also have a meaningful and memorable celebration of these Sacraments. Please remember these children and their families in your prayers.

Continue to keep well and safe, keeping an eye on your friends and neighbours. May our continued remembrance of one another in prayer and affection strengthen us as we face a new phase of localised restrictions which come into force from Tuesday.

As always, Fr. Nicholas

12th September 2020

Dear Parishioners,

With the arrival of another weekend I am pleased to be able to send you this coming week’s Newsletter together with the Readings for our celebration of the weekend Masses. Having asked for prayers for our primary school last weekend in preparation for the beginning of the new academic year, I am delighted to report that when the school opened it had its best attendance for about three years with just a single absentee, due, sadly, to a broken arm. Life in school is getting back to a routine, albeit that some elements are necessarily different. It has been good to see our Year 5 children gaining some life-skills by undergoing Road Safety training on their bicycles initially in the playground, and then graduating to the roads of Heckmondwike. Helmeted and forming a human caterpillar as they pushed their bikes out of the school grounds, they were clearly ready for any challenge !

As in previous e-mails I do encourage parishioners to consider attending one for our weekday Masses as a starting point to your return to church. We are stringent in relation to the Covid-Safe guidance that we receive from our Health and Safety Officer to ensure that everyone feels comfortable in a setting that is very familiar but at the same time somewhat different. That said, difference is a part of most things – if not everything – that we now do, in comparison to how we were living our lives at the beginning of the year.

As always I assure you of a remembrance in affectionate thought and above all in prayer. It is good to hear how many of you, still not back with us in person, pause in your day at the time Mass is being celebrated in our churches so that you can be united to those gathered there. As a family of faith, this unity makes us a community.

As ever,
Fr. Nicholas

5th September 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Writing to you this morning I am noticing a few seasonal changes provided by Mother Nature. The leaves on a large tree are beginning to turn a yellow colour, moving from the striking green they have displayed from the early months of the year, the roses are now far from abundant but the remaining blooms still manage to add a bright array of welcoming colour to any visitor, and even the magnolia is boldly displaying a late show of second blooms. Perhaps for most of us our own gardens, or even those of our neighbours, as well as open spaces and the fields round and about our locality, have meant more to us this year than for many a year. Let us hope that they will continue to do so for a long time to come, perhaps less as the perimeter of our world and more the welcoming familiar as we return from ventures into the dawning ‘new world’ of school, work, recreation and the necessary tasks such as a foray to the shops.

Enclosing this weekend’s Newsletter and the Readings for Holy Mass I am very conscious that as a community a new phase of life resumes this week with the re-opening of our schools at both primary and secondary level. Please remember all those who form our school communities in your prayers – staff at all levels, our pupils, parents and carers, Governors. Spiritual support for all of us is not only important but vital. Having seen at first hand all the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm that went into providing our young people with an education during Lockdown in (and from) Holy Spirit School, I cannot praise our staff enough ! These same gifts will be there to greet and welcome our children this week, as they will be at St. John Fisher’s for our older pupils.

Having recently increased the number of Masses celebrated in our churches I continue to encourage parishioners to come along to a celebration of Mass, possibly during the week, just to see what provisions we have in place to ensure that everyone is kept safe and feels comfortable. The Obligation to attend Holy Mass on a Sunday remains suspended so weekday Masses are a viable option. Under guidance, our Masses are somewhat shorter than they were before the arrival of Covid-10, and both of our churches have been given clearance to open by the Diocesan Health and Safety Officer because we meet the demands expected of us and continue to maintain the necessary on-going high standards. A number of churches in the Diocese are unable to open because of the health or age of their clergy, but for us this weekend with be our tenth of being open for the celebration of Holy Mass. The doors are open, and you’re very welcome !

With a certain bird ‘s arrival in the garden, I am getting a look to tell me that the water in the birdbath needs replenishing … so I had better attend to the needs of nature’s gift to me – a noisy tree-dwelling lodger !

Be assured of continued remembrance in the prayer, and above all in the celebration of Holy Mass, together with affection.

As ever, Fr. Nicholas

29th August 2020

Dear Parishioners,

It is good to be able to greet you once again and enclose this weekend’s Newsletter and the Readings for the celebration of Holy Mass, which I am pleased to be able to say is – for increasing numbers – once more taking place in our churches. For others, Mass via the internet and radio continues to be their spiritual nourishment, for which we have all been grateful. The option of attending a Weekday celebration of Mass in either of our churches may help boost confidence in adjusting to a new way of living for those who remain anxious and apprehensive. The invitation is there as will be the welcome when you arrive. At our daily celebrations of Holy Mass, those uniting with us in Spiritual Communion, from their homes, have a special mention in our Prayers of the Faithful.

Whilst for some localised restrictions have been lifted, we must all remain sensible in these difficult days and do our very best to keep others and ourselves safe and well. May the gift of friendship be recognised in the support and encouragement that we offer to one another, not least in practical help given and the voice of friends talking on the ‘phone or meeting up through other means of communication.

Be assured of a continuous remembrance in prayer and affection.
As ever, Fr. Nicholas

22nd August 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Weekend greetings once more as I attach the latest Newsletter and the Readings for the weekend Masses.

I trust that this note finds you well and beginning the process of adapting to a new way of life, even venturing from home to the shops, dining out with family or having an outdoor coffee with friends in one of our local public spaces. Our spiritual family has taken a momentous forward step during the last week with the celebration of a Baptism and a Wedding. Both were very moving and incredibly special occasions. For us all they are signs of the importance that families place on the spiritual dimension of life. With steps being made into secular spaces that are marked by necessary difference I continue to encourage those who have not yet crossed the threshold of churches, to consider doing so. A Mass is celebrated in one or other of our churches every day, and as the Bishops recommend, I would ask you to think about attending a weekday Mass in order to gain confidence, and also see what is ‘new’ about coming to Mass, not least the measures we have put in place to keep people safe.

Whilst we are in our eighth weekend of being open to the celebration of public Masses, there are still a number of churches within the Diocese who have not yet opened for Mass. Some of these are quite close to ourselves geographically. Please continue to pray for those communities who await what we are now taking for granted once more … open church doors.

Be assured that prayerful and affectionate remembrance continues, and in our celebration of daily Mass, those joining us though Spiritual Communion are brought to prayer during our Intercessions.

United in prayer, and grateful for all the support being given in so many ways,

Fr. Nicholas

14th August 2020

Dear Parishioners,

A slightly earlier than usual delivery of this weekend’s Newsletter !

This is in part to let those who may have had thoughts of attending an advertised event – the Royal British Legion’s Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, which was due to take place tomorrow (Saturday) in the Memorial Park at Cleckheaton – that the act of remembrance has been cancelled due to our current localise restrictions. Despite the lack of a formal event, we can still pause for a moment during the morning to remember the sacrifice, and suffering, of those who fought in the Far East during World War Two.

It continues to be a source of joy to welcome ‘returning’ parishioners to our celebrations of Holy Mass both during the week and at the weekend. Hopefully those attending feel reassured by the disciplines in place to keep everyone safe within our two churches. I continue to be enormously grateful to our volunteer Stewards, and to those who, after each Mass, are wiping the benches down and ensuring surfaces that may have been sat upon or touched are sanitised for use by the next congregation.

Be assured of a continuing remembrance in prayer and affection, and let us all hold one another in similar sentiment.
Fr. Nicholas

From webadmin:  Apologies for the delay in posting the update from Fr Nicholas – which was supplied Friday Evening instead of Saturday morning.

This week’s newsletter references an article on the Diocesan website entitled VJ Day 75.  This article can be found here

8th August 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I am pleased to be able to attach this weekend’s Newsletter and Readings for Holy Mass together with a greeting sent in the hope that you are keeping well and safe.

From this weekend there will be a significant change in our coming together for Holy Mass, as it is now mandatory to wear a face-covering (supplied by yourselves) in our churches, and other Places of Worship. There are, of course exemptions. It is advisable that you put your face-covering on before entering either of our church porches, and then go through the, now, usual, process of registration and sanitising your hands. For our Stewards and Ministers of the Word I have obtained Face Shields and these may be collected at the beginning of your next ministry. New guidance has been given for our Ministers of the Word in relation to this new requirement.

Ministers of the Word are to wear a face covering when entering church and making their way to their position on the Sanctuary (where they are seated with members of their household). When preparing to proclaim the Word, they should remove the face covering in order to proclaim the Word. The covering then should be replaced on the completion of each of the two parts of their ministry i.e. (1) The Word and (2) the Prayers of the Faithful. We are only able to do this because our Lecterns are 2 meters away from the congregation and myself, as the celebrant. If the space was less, the face covering would need to be worn throughout. The same applies to myself, behind the Altar, but when distributing Holy Communion, I shall now have to wear a face covering.

In regard to face coverings and the reception of Holy Communion. I shall give instructions about the removal of your face covering for the receiving the Lord in Holy Communion at the appropriate time during Holy Mass.

Hopefully that guidance was relatively clear. No doubt as we get used to these changes, what we are being asked to do will become second nature.

We continue to welcome parishioners back to Holy Mass and it is a joy to do so. One returning parishioner on seeing me asked if I’d managed to find things to keep me busy during Lockdown !!! A number of parishioners (and ‘virtual’ parishioners from far away) have said that they’re missing my letters. With the opening of our churches, and an easing in restrictions initially, I thought that I would be seeing more parishioners face to face, rendering my ramblings void, however, as returning numbers are small and the process gradual, I can only say that my time is now spent in new ways. Incredibly I spend about fives hours a week just at the doors of our churches, welcoming people, engaging with them, and (I’d like to think !) assisting our fabulous volunteer Stewards. Whilst others could do this, I’ve always been a pastoral priest, and being with the people I serve is a priority to me. So, perhaps an odd letter may appear every now and again, but I cannot promise anything ! New times also mean learning new skills. Rather than reading faces, we will all have to learn to read the eyes that we can see above the face coverings.

Wishing you a good week, and continuing good health. Be assured of prayerful support, remembrance and affection,

Fr. Nicholas

1st August 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The beginning of another weekend, and the arrival of the weekly Newsletter and Readings for our weekend Masses, all of which I trust finds you well and in good spirits.

As we are all now aware Kirklees together with other areas has moved into a new phase of Lockdown. In theory it means at a personal level that I can go (not that I ever do) for a pint of beer in a public house, but I am unable to visit the bereaved in their homes or gardens … Rapidly moving on, one impact that the new measures will have on church life is the fact that face-coverings will be have to be worn by everyone attending Mass from next Saturday (8th August), including our Ministers of the Word.

As someone who very rarely mentions the financial state of our churches, at this juncture I really do have to point out that currently we are losing a Loose Plate and social income of at least £1,000 per month from both of our communities. Clearly our social income has dried up for the time being, but offerings to the Loose Plate (i.e. monies contributed to the weekly collection not through the use of collection envelopes) can be donated through electronic means (Text Giving) as highlighted on the Newsletter. Donations may also be put through either of our Presbytery letterboxes as an alternative. Despite our current circumstance bills still arrive, including recently the annual Assessment for each church, paid to the Diocese for the funding of the central services and resources that each parish benefits from. Throughout my years in both churches, this has been paid from our cash accounts, not our reserves, it would be good to think that, perhaps later than usual, we will be able to do the same this year.

Continue to keep the Faith ! Be assured that you are remembered in daily prayer and the Masses that we celebrate, as we all look forward to better times and being united once more around the altar of the Lord to celebrate together the Eucharist.

With prayerful assurances and affection,
Fr. Nicholas

25th July 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Please find the Newsletter and Readings for our weekend Masses attached to this e-mail. It is good to see increasing numbers of parishioners crossing our church thresholds, and, even with our numerical restrictions, there is still room for more! This process of return is a personal one, based on when you feel comfortable and able to join us in body as well as in spirit. In the meantime at each celebration of Mass we recall in prayer those united through Spiritual Communion with us, remembering not only our parishioners but also their loved ones and intentions. This unity of prayer and intention is what binds us together as a family of Faith. A number of people who have returned to Mass over the last couple of weeks have simply said that the experience was like “coming home.” What a wonderful expression to use !

Wherever, and however, we participate in Holy Mass this weekend let it be an experience that continues to unit our community in faith, hope and love.

With my prayerful remembrance and affection,
Fr. Nicholas

18th July 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Please find attached this weekend’s Newsletter, on which I’ve included a couple of internet addresses allowing for participation in Holy Mass and the Rosary from Lourdes which are being live-streamed each day (in English at stated times on the menu). The Readings for our weekend Masses are also enclosed for your use.

It is good to welcome parishioners back to our churches, and we are reliant upon each other to spread the word that we are open! The Newsletter is sent out to a very large number of homes, but sometimes word of mouth is the best means of communication. For those who have attended Mass, I think it is important to share with others, who have not, the measures we have in place to keep us safe and well, as there is a general and understandable, nervousness about meeting together after such a prolonged period where distancing from others has been the norm. There are a good number of our parishioners continuing to ‘Shield’ until the beginning of next month too. Acknowledging that our seating capacity is hugely reduced, and whilst most seats are being booked on-line at the weekend, I do reserve some seats in each church for telephone bookings, to assist those who do not have access to the internet.

In closing I wish you a safe, healthy and good week ahead. A card received during the week from a friend, living alone and rich in years, carried the following message: “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts, I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” With each day as a gift, let us live it wisely.

With continued prayerful remembrance and affection,
Fr. Nicholas