Dear Brothers & Sisters,

We look forward to Christmas in Advent and we marvel at the coming of Jesus the Son of God who comes among us as a tiny baby needing human support & love

We look forward in prayer to his coming so in Advent we will host Thursday night meditations in church at 7.30pm (Dec 2 & 23) & resume our custom of Welcoming the new born Christ in homes around the parish on December 16th.

We look forward to the 2023 Synod called by Pope Francis to create a more ‘listening’ style of church, attentive to the Holy Spirit, doing our best to encourage people to make their voice heard. Our first ‘listening’ on November 19th went well. The next is on December 9th. Pope Francis is especially keen that we hear the voices of those in the margins.

We look forward to our parish carols on December 18 in which all our three choirs combine to sing of the coming of Jesus. Last year because of covid everything was online only, but this year we can be physically present, with some restrictions in place to keep people safe.

We look forward to affirming our parish readers next Sunday as they renew their commitment to this ministry. We thank God for their faithful dedication. During lockdown when many people could only take part in our services on livestream or YouTube they much appreciated readers.

We thank God for all the different works of service that keep our parish together in these times. Some are in the public eye but most serve quietly in the background and we give thanks to God for their loyalty and humble service.

May Mother Mary bearer of the Christ child continue to each over us in Advent.

Fr.Biju Antony SCJ      Parish Priest

SCJ NEWS 

From the St.Michael Region (which includes Italy, France, Spain, Holy Land, Ivory Coast & Central Africa!)

France: One of our young African priests Fr. Arsène Noba from Ivory Coast has just joined the community at St-Palais not far from where St.Michael was born bringing a joyful reinforcement to the brethren of the Etchecopar house. Sensitive to local culture he is slowly learning Basque.

Betharram: Fr. Reegan one of our young Indian priests from Tamil Nadu has been appointed appointed bursar of our mother house in Betharram as well as guest master and chaplain at the college of Bétharram.

At Pibrac (near Toulouse) Fr. François Tohonon scj takes over as superior of the community Fr. Jean Marie Ruspil, who in turn takes on the role of community bursar

Central African Republic: At Bangui - Fr. Habib Yelouwassi (from Ivory Coast) is to take up responsibility for the new postulants at the St-Michael House. His students are Maxime, in 1st year philosophy at the St-Laurent Centre, and Germain, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Further south, in Bimbo, three young people started the community prepostulancy under Fr. Armel Dali. Two Novices are transferring to Italy for a year for pastoral training, one in Albavilla and the other in Lissone. Both houses are close to Lake Como.

Holy Land: We still await confirmation of a visa for Fr. Firmin Bourguinat who hopes to return to Nazareth to resume his job as chaplain to the Carmelite Convent. Visas are proving a problem all over the world for us now, as more & more countries harbour suspicion of foreigners, and opportunist politicians eye this as a vote-winning issue. But in a small way we try to witness to the unity of the human race.

Marriage matters: ADVENT ONE (Jer 33:14-16; 1 Thess 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28,34-36) Jeremiah’s joy reminds us of the weeks before our wedding, when we were very aware of our love for one another. Since then many cares have threatened to divert us from that love and it has sometimes been necessary to make a special effort to share, listen and forgive to keep the star of our love burning brightly

FRIARY CHRISTMAS FLOWER WORKSHOPS  are coming soon: Dec 4 at 2.30pm & Dec 11 at 9.00 am. Come & learn to make your own decorations. Book a place on the list in narthex. For more info ring parish office or Shirley Fernando. All materials supplied.  Admission £20 includes 1st decoration. Extra decoration £12. All for Friary Building Fund through Alton Castle & Soli retreat centre.

Thankyou to our CLEANERS  who unseen keep our church tidy during the year: Rota

Week beginning November 28    Group F

We pray for recently dead Janet Welsh & Rosalie Hankinson & Ken Nicholson

FINAL NOVEMBER CEMETERY BLESSINGS: Today: at Wythall and at Yardley 2.00pm

SVP UPDATE: Still seek pasta/rice/lentils/oil for Brushstrokes in Smethwick to support asylum seekers incl recent arrivals from Afghanistan. Please bring to church. Box in  narthex this week for more donations.

JOURNEY IN FAITH continues tomorrow Monday 29th at 7.30 pm in the Friary Lounge. All seekers, searchers & would-be catholics welcome, plus their sponsors.

Path to the Synod  We will host a 2nd parish reflection on the Synod, in the Friary Day Chapel Dec 9, 7.30-9.00pm. So please come & help the discernment.

ADVENT Join us in church for scripture meditation nights Dec 2 & Dec 23 at 7.30pm

WALK WITH ME booklets for Advent are now here. £1 at the back of church.

PIETY STALL: * Christmas crafts  on sale

* New Christmas cards are now on sale

* No price increase!

Friary Christmas raffle for the roof! Enter for your chance to win 1 of 4 magnificent roof-raising Christmas hampers with plenty inside to guarantee very Merry Christmas! All proceeds for repairs to the church roof. Tickets available  today in narthex. £5 each or three for £10. Prizes to be drawn  19th December

JOBS IN YOUTH MINISTRY with Diocesan Youth Service based in Alton Castle, Staffs.

* Youth Worker/Youth Minister/Teacher

 to lead residential programmes  £26k

* Part-time Outdoor instructor

* Full or part-time Catering assistants

* Full or part-time Housekeepers

* Volunteers needed for groundwork,

 admin, fundraising, events etc. See website

https://www.kenelmyouthtrust.org.uk/work4kyt

Or contact Debbie Woodward for info Debbie.Woodward@kenelmyouthtrust.org.uk

Pilgrimage 2022: Some pilgrim places are beginning to reopen, with caution, as the pandemic is till very much with us. Lourdes Pilgrimages cautiously make plans. Birmingham Diocesan Pilgrimage is tentatively marked for 28 May– 3 June. MEDJUGORJE: Irish Medjugorje Centre is also open again for bookings. Call 00387 36 651 518 (Bosnia) or UK 020 3239 8662 or email: reservations@med-irishcentre.com HOLY LAND Pilgrimages restart next year. Special Pilgrimages offer dates in 2022 https://www.special-pilgrimages.co.uk/home

A Christmas Carol Our parish carol service will be on Saturday Dec 18th 7.30pm.

Inter-church arols at Olton Station on Thursday Dec 16 at 4.45 pm (90 min)

Nativity Trail (akin to Good Friday Trail at The Friary) will be in St.Margaret’s Church grounds 1.00-3.30 21st & 22nd Dec.

THANKS ALSO TO OUR STEWARDS - who make it possible for the church to open. Their work is still much needed.

THE PARISH HALL is Open for organised groups like Zumba, Slimmers & Kung Fu who take responsibility for sanitising etc,, We are holding fire on one-off social events till we receive  guidance from the Diocese. The pandemic is not over yet.

Contactless Payments : ‘Dona’ Card payment machine is now  in the Narthex. Initially for offertory giving, it will soon  be live for retiring collections & others. Parish website also has a card payment link for Offertory giving & payments. Offertory giving by card may also be gift aided for UK taxpayers. 0121 705 1737

Covid Faith Survey: Our Archbishop has invited us to take part in a survey: How has Covid impacted my faith? https://forms.rcaos.org.uk/covid-19-survey-form/

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 the Parish Gift Aid Organisor 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 Parish Office 0121 706 0505

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.