Parish News and Events
At the end of what has been a year like no other, the celebration of Christmas was also very different to usual. There were no carol services, school celebrations or congregational singing, and our churches were much quieter than usual due to the restriction son capacity, but members from each of our three churches gathered for quiet, yet prayerful Christmas Masses. Many others joined our 4pm Christmas Eve Mass at St Agnes' via Zoom.
Celebration of First Holy Communion
Children from our parishes finally celebrated their First Holy Communion during September and October.
The celebrations were originally due to take place in late April, but were postponed due to the lockdown. Because of the current restrictions, the children could only be joined by members of their household, but members of their wider family and friends were able to join the celebration Mass via Zoom. The masses were lovely, prayerful occasions and the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The children and families are so grateful to Fr James and the team of catechists for their time, dedication and support throughout the preparation programme. Photos at St Agnes' courtesy of Gavin Forster and OLL, Maire Millican.
A Very Different Holy Week
In this unprecedented time of pandemic, it was very strange for the community not to be able to come together to celebrate the Holy Week and Easter Triduum liturgies in the usual way.
Many made use of live streamed services, including Fr Tuckwell's streamed services at Blaydon and Winlaton and Bishop Robert and the clergy at St Mary's Cathedral. Fr James celebrated the liturgies privately on our behalf, although the parishes were very much with him in spirit. He had provided photographic images of the different liturgies, showing us how the churches would be set up: these were shared here on the website for people to access and help them to keep in touch.
There were over 400 visits to our website on Good Friday, with many more during the Triduum. Likewise, the website has been very busy in recent weeks as people have been accessing material, particularly the Adoration @ Home pages for each church. We are most grateful to Fr James for his caring ministry to us during this time of physical distancing.
Celebrating the Word of God
Our candidates for sacramental preparation attended Mass on Second Sunday of Ordinary Time for their special liturgy celebrating the Word of God. The liturgy took place after the Opening Prayer.
The Celebrant signs each child’s ears with the Sign of the Cross and says: " Hear the Word of God." The parent signs the child’s lips and says: "Speak the Word of God." The catechist presents the open lectionary to the child who places his/her hand upon it saying: "We will live the Word of God." The children were then presented with a copy of St Matthew's Gospel.
A Prison during Pandemic
Following last year's extensive repairs to the fabric of the church at Crawcrook, it became apparent that some urgent pointing was required on the rear of the presbytery at St Agnes.' In order to allow this to happen safely, the back of the house was covered with scaffolding, followed by the process of grinding out the old mortar and, finally, repointing of the brickwork.
During the weeks when the scaffolding was in place, Father James shared his view of the outside during the Zoom Coffee Morning - it looked very much like he was in prison, which is somewhat ironic during this time of enforced lockdown. Thankfully, the bars were taken down as soon as the work was complete - in an incredibly quick time of 40 minutes thanks to contractor Bill Mason - followed by a sense of liberation from his three weeks "behind bars."
Rite of Election
Our children who are preparing for their First Holy Communion celebrated the Rite of Election at their parish liturgy celebrating in the Liturgy of the Eucharist on the third Sunday of Lent.