Dear Brothers & Sisters,

The Ascension of the Lord (Thursday) 40 days after Easter marked progress in the Apostles’ understanding of Jesus-risen. Like them we grow to know the powerful presence of the risen Lord alongside us even though we do not see him.

This is a Holy Day but as you know Pope Francis has given us all permission to stay at home and shield if necessary. We will still have Holy Day Mass times: 7.00 am for the early risers, then at 10.15 am plus 7.30 pm for those who’ve been at work.

St.Michael’s feast (Friday) is a major day for our SCJ Congregation and we invite everyone to join us in church for Morning Prayer at 10.00 followed by Mass at 10.15. After Mass you are invited to share coffee & cake with our Companions of Bétharram on the lawn. If you would like to join our Companions’ Group please speak to one of the members on Friday.

This depends on weather! Unfortunately rain prevented us from having outdoor Masses this weekend. But we will try to have outdoor Masses this Summer when possible. The pandemic experts tell us that outdoors is far safer than indoors.

In response to Pope Francis we began daily rosary in union with Marian Shrines around the world. This week the shrines include Loreto (today), Knock (Monday), Fatima (Thursday), Veilankanni (Friday) & Medjugorje (Saturday).

Our parish livestream rosary (Wednesday) is in union with Our Lady of Africa, with shrines in Algiers and Kampala. We pray this day for the lonely and those who have no hope.

May our Mother Mary watch over us all this month and keep us close to her Son Jesus the fount of all love.

             Fr.Biju Antony SCJ      Parish Priest

SCJ NEWS:  

Central African Republic: Life is dangerous here at present. Fr.Arialdo Urbani scj who has worked in CAR for 40 years was injured last week when his jeep hit a landmine near his mission station at Niem in the northwest.

Rescuers came quickly and Father Arialdo wasn't seriously injured.  Sadly a catechist in the jeep was injured. Worse still a man who’d hitched a ride died in the explosion.

Civil War has rumbled on intermittently in CAR for decades. Currently landmines are used by rebels to slow the advance of the regular army which is aided by Russian militias. The rebel movement in this area -Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement- (CPC) is in retreat. But the situation is fluid.

Our SCJ brothers who treat people of all groups in their clinics, share the dangers of ordinary people on this war torn land. Separately another SCJ priest in CAR Fr. Mario Zappa has been ill with Covid. Please keep them all in your prayers.

Meanwhile in India, Fr.Reagan scj one of our young priests who has been serving in France went home to Tamil Nadu and caught Covid, but mercifully he is making a good recovery. As you will know the virus is running amok in India and many of the people our brothers serve and also members of their families are affected.

Virtually in England Fr.Enrico & Fr.Austin have been following Zoom meetings since Easter with the Conference of Religious, the umbrella group for Religious Orders in this country. The current topic is about implementing the advice of the Elliot report on safeguarding in ministries run by Religious Orders. We are committed to following all the recommendations, even though in practice most of them are already in place due to our participation in the Diocesan safeguarding system.

MARRIAGE MATTERS: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48 1John 4:7-10 John15:9-17 ”Love one another as I have loved you”. With these words Jesus spells out God’s plan for marriage. As husband & wife we are called each day to give our lives to each other as completely as we are able. From today let us decide to reflect this ‘sign’ of God’s love to our children, our family and our friends. 

Big thanks especially to the secret army of cleaners who unseen keep our church tidy during the year: Rota for May:

Week beginning May 9            Group A

Week beginning May 16           Group B

THE CRY OF THE POOR ….Anawim ...food still needed for the women’s project in Balsall heath. Please bring non-perishable foods (mainly tins) to the narthex any Sunday.

Christian Aid Week Due to pandemic no hand collection 2021: envelopes given to individual churches.  We ask your help to support countries affected by drought and maintain supplies of clean water.  Please take  envelope & return via Sunday coll-ection by the end of 6pm Mass 30th May. Donate online? See www.caweek.org. Thank you for your support.

Pax Christi Week 15-21 May The Catholic Peace organisation, is trying to make up lost income due to Covid 19. Sponsor:

Fausta having a dance-a-thon...or..

Bruce delivering peace message to foreign embassies in London...or..

Matt cycling 50 miles to peace sites..or..

Pat walking from Victoria to the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park...or..

Rachel cycling 75 miles, marking Pax Christi’s 75th anniversary...or..

To sponsor see website : www.paxchristi.org.uk/register-you-interest/  

Parish-OLC Prize Draw Sunday 11 July to replace Summer Fayre. Great prizes so we need your support. Can you contribute/donate prizes? Ring parish office or email Annette Dodds info@oltonfriary.org.uk

We raised £6600 at Christmas so want to at least match this!

Journey in Faith resumes tomorrow with Anointing & The Homeward Journey.  Unfortunately face to face meetings are not yet possible so we continue on Zoom.

May they rest in peace: Please pray for the recently deceased especially Betty O'Malley funeral May 21st 10.15. Vigil May 20th 6.30 pm

Birmingham Diocese Justice & Peace Next Justice and Peace Forum 11th May.  Book in the normal way via google forms  https://bit.ly/3eFF7Xs

Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians falls today  May 9th May 2021, with the participation of Christians from all over Europe, Middle East, North Africa, Horn of Africa and India.  Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray today for peace in the world, especially in the Middle East. By your heavenly grace, strengthen the faith and hope of Eastern Christians. May they be blessed with peace and prosperity in their countries. May we be inspired by their devotion and witness to the Gospel, by their love and compassion for all in their communities, and by their courage, their endurance and self-sacrifice. Through their charity, tolerance and friendship, bring peace and reconciliation to those troubled lands, where Christianity was born and first spread.

This we ask of you through Christ our Lord. Amen

COVID-19 Updates

IMPORTANT:

Can parishioners please check the COVID-19 page on the parish website weekly going forward as guidance will change quickly over the next few months. Thank you.

https://www.oltonfriary.org.uk/covid19

GIFT AID:  Please inform Rheann of any changes to address or tax situation so accurate records may be kept. If you wish to join the Gift Aid Scheme, please contact Rheann.byrne@oltonfriary.org.uk or via Parish Office 01217060505

Money Money Money Please take a copy of our 2020 parish financial statement showing the comparison between 2020 & 2019. The full impact of Covid might not yet show, as lock-down began at the end of March. As you will see, income took a hit so we thank those who have loyally supported the parish during this time.

Diocesan Directories are also available. Just a few still left at £3.

Please help us  with Track  & Trace: To keep church open for mass we need people to check in each time. Most use smartphone. For those doing it manually we need name & address & phone no. clearly noted. Please help us keep church open & safe!

OLTON FRIARY CONTACT TRACING UPDATED for National Lockdown

*  As per Government rules we observe Contact Tracing with aid of NHS COVID-19 smartphone app. Info & app download on https://covid19.nhs.uk/

*  NEW: Each individual from a single household must register with their own NHS COVID-19 smartphone app or else register using the parish form as follows: Olton Friary Contact Tracing Form  This is because an instruction to isolate from the app is delivered to an individual and therefore cannot be used collectively for a household.

*  The method? Simply scan a QR code by smartphone on every visit to church.

*  Not everybody has a smart phone so an online form will also be provided.

*  No internet or computer? A simple paper form will suffice. You can pick up a few for future visits.

*  More info including link to the form at https://www.oltonfriary.org.uk/covid19

*  We are grateful to Martin Hayden who kindly agreed to act as Contact Tracer for the parish in liaison with the NHS.

Holy Communion for the housebound:  Special Ministers can’t presently do their weekly rounds. But they may take communion to one of their own family.

Non-ministers may be commissioned for their own family. Please call Fr.Biju on 0121 706 0505 if you would like to do this.

ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN COUNSELLORS (ACC) COVID-19 CRISIS Support Service has been set up to aid people fielding painful feelings thoughts & circumstances because:

• They work in an NHS setting (at any level) and are impacted by caring for people who have C-19, or

• They have been bereaved, whether due to C-19 or another reason.

We offer up to 10 counselling sessions on a no-fee basis, either on-line or by phone.  To find out more please see ACC website www.acc-uk.org or ring 024 7644 9694.

PARISH GROUPS—Please check your information posted on the Parish website.  Any updates/corrections/alterations, please email the parish office.

SOLIHULL/HEARTLANDS HOSPITAL Please ask hospital Switchboard for on-call Catholic Priest 0121 424 2000, & they will call the duty Priest. Catholic Chaplain at Solihull & Heartlands is Fr Roger Raven. Data Protection law means visit from  priest must be actively sought. He doesn't have access to patient files.

CAR PARK—Please be considerate when parking/manoeuvring your car and please note the disabled parking bays are for the use of those with disabled badges, there is no parking in either the Community and Staff designated areas and the front & rear of The Friary Residential block.  When parking on a Sunday, please do not park on or drive over the grass adjacent to the gate leading into the graveyard.  Only authorised cars to park at other times, by arrangement with the Parish Priest.

HALL BOOKINGS from external groups, particularly regular users are a useful income toward the upkeep of the Church. If access is needed to hall or kitchen during these times, please liaise with the Parish office or Community first.

CREMATION PLOTS (newer area) Following previous notes re- borders & stones barred for H&S danger to graveyard volunteers; please also note that plots are set out in vertical strips, in plots for two.  So borders & stones added around memorial tablets are encroaching on the space of a loved one, and should be removed.

GOING TO HOSPITAL -Please let your parish priest know if you’re going into hospital. On admission ask for the Catholic chaplain as Chaplains no longer receive names of Catholic patients unless they opt in.

SECURITY NOTICE - Please ensure Friary doors are kept closed & locked when necessary.  If you attend a meeting please make sure that the last one out has secured the outside doors.  The front door should not be left on the hook unattended.  Besides Church security, the Friary is home to priests & brothers who need to know they are safe.

CHARITY COLLECTION BOXES for SVP and St Basil’s charities are built into the left and right hand sides, at the back of the Church.  Built-in boxes can be found in the narthex for St Anthony’s bread (used to help the poor in the local area) and Holy Souls (used for Mass intentions for Holy Souls).

FLOODLIGHT DEDICATION—You are able to have the Church floodlit in memory of someone.  A suggested donation is £10 a week, the name of the person in whose memory it is in would appear in the newsletter.  Forms are available in  narthex, or from parish office.

THE SICK OF OUR PARISH - If your name or the name of a friend or relative was on the parish list of prayers for the sick, and you would like that name to remain on the list, would you please contact the Parish Office on 0121 706 0505.  Data protection law obliges us to ensure that you or your friend or family member has consented to being on the list, as it can be seen by many, (e.g. church notice board) and is available for anyone to pick up.  We make great efforts to ensure the church abides by new data protection and privacy law.

VISITORS - If you wish to gift aid your offertory donation, white visitor envelopes are available in the narthex.

VEHICLE CRIME ALERT - The neighbourhood Policing Team would like to draw your attention to an increase in vehicle crime in the area.  5 crime reduction tips—ALWAYS close the windows and doors in your vehicle, DON'T leave any valuables on display and where possible do not leave ANY valuables in the vehicle such as Satnavs, Mobile Phones, Wallets, Purses, Bags or iPods, ENSURE your registration plates are fixed using 'anti tamper screws', KEEP your car keys in a safe place in your house.

SAFEGUARDING - In this parish there have been strict guidelines in place for several years for the protection of children and vulnerable persons.  Anyone with a concern about safeguarding issues should ring the Diocesan Safeguarding Office on  0121 230 6240.

KEEP YOUR VALUABLES SAFE - Please do not leave bags unattended in Church, even at Communion time.  Bags and valuables should not be left on display in cars as this can present a target for thieves.

OPEN HOUSE GROUP - Are you new to the Parish and aged 30+? Do you want to get more involved in Parish Life, but don't know where to start? The Open House Group has recently celebrated its tenth anniversary and its members are involved in various parish activities such as Traidcraft, Christian Aid, the Fast Supper, Welcome and Coffee Bar rotas.  We also have regular meetings in parishioners' homes for spiritual reflection and discussion of topical issues.  If you are interested in joining us please contact the Parish Office for more information.