Dear Brothers & Sisters,

The month of March is a season of big feasts. As noted on page two we have St.David, St.Chad, and St. Casimir this week. But they are not the only ones.

St.Patrick comes in a couple of weeks. For Irish people and their descendants he is very important. But also in India there are churches dedicated to him (e.g. Bangalore) and his great missionary spirit is celbrated all over the world.

St.Joseph comes soon after (March 19) and as this is the year of St.Joseph we will specially celebrate the humble willingness of St.Joseph to play his part in nurturing the Christ-child and his mother.

The Annunciation is soon after (March 25) and we honour the humble willingness of our mother Mary to bring the Christ-child into the world.

Please continue to join SCJ community & parish in our Lenten endeavours. Some are livestreamed. Some are YouTube while others are on Zoom. Here are some of our regular items in lent:

Sundays: Stations of the Cross in church at 4.00 pm. Everyone welcome

Tuesdays: Veneration of the Blessed Sacrament 7.00-8.00 livestream only

Wednesdays: Holy Rosary at 6.30 pm livestream only

Thursday: Stations of  the Cross 6.00 pm livestream only

Fridays: Meditation on Sunday gospel, in church 7.00 –8.00  Everyone welcome

For Eucharistic Ministers & Readers we have something special this Thursday: a Zoom retreat from 7.00–8.00pm. Theme will be taken from the Sunday gospel. ‘Jesus drives the traders from the Temple’

May Our Mother Mary watch over us all during this joyful season of lent

             Fr.Biju Antony SCJ      Parish Priest

 

SCJ NEWS:  

England: Last week we were surprised to see a piece about our Friary gardening group in the Italian SCJ magazine Prezenza. They were fascinated by this group of volunteers who tend the 4-acre Friary grounds quietly & without fuss but with a great deal of expertise & professionalism. None of our Italian SCJ parishes have any equivalent. Sometimes our greatest treasures are under our noses!

France: We heard sadly last week of the death of Piarra (Peter) Anghelu at St.Palais in the Basque country. Companions of Betharram from Olton will recall our 2019 pilgrimage there to the farm where he lived, where the young Michael Garicoits worked as a farmhand when a teenager in about 1801. Both Piarra and his sister spoke devotedly of St.Michael as though he had been there only yesterday. Already 90 & frail, 2 yrs ago he came to life when he sang for us in Basque his mother tongue.

France, Nay: February 2 the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple & feast of Light was the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. So religious communities of the “Plain of Nay” (nr Betharram) gathered in the house of “Community of the Beatitudes" for a time of prayer & sharing.

An archbishop drops in:  Our community at Albiate Brianza (20km north of Milan) had a surprise visit from the Archbp Mgr Mario Delpini, at 7.30 am as part of a pastoral visit to the nearby parish of Agliate. Happily all the brethren were up & ready!

Milan Diocese has a great history: The See of  St Ambrose in the 4th century, it has produced a few popes, including Pope Paul VI. In 2005 its former Archbp Cardinal Carlo Martini ran a close second to Cardinal Ratzinger in the papal conclave.

Milan, a mega-diocese like Cologne or Chicago, has as many priests as all dioceses in England put together. Tragically the Covid outbreak has taken a terrible toll on them.

MARRIAGE MATTERS: 2nd Sunday in Lent (Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18 Romans 8:31-34 Mark 9:2-10) Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by each other’s generous sensitivity, thoughtfulness and kindness which have helped us grow in confidence to share our deepest feelings, fears and joys. Let us try this week to find ways of growing in that confidence and trust so that in our relationship we radiate God’s joy through the way we love each other.

Lenten Soup in aid of The Friary: Many  thanks for your support on Wednesday for our homemade soup deliveries in aid of The Friary funds. If you would like to have soup delivered to your home Wednesday after midday (Cost £5.00), please ring Jenny & Steve. Some people have thoughtfully used the opportunity to gift soup to their next door neighbour. A simple Lenten outreach.  This week’s soup? Carrot & Coriander. Call 0121 705 1737 or email steve6162@icloud.com   

MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT IN LENT:  A New Imagination of the Possible: Life after Covid from Fr Augusto Zampini-Davies of Pope Francis’ Covid Commission Wednesday 3 March 19.00. Register via ACTA  https:/www.acalltoaction.org.uk/

REST IN PEACE: PLEASE PRAY FOR

* Clare Brewer: funeral at 11.15 March 2

* Neville Anthony Neal: funeral March 3

* Denis Bernard Lynch: funeral 1.15 March 4

* Vincent Daly: funeral will be 8 March

* Marguerite Deval: funeral March 10 (in Worcester)

* Brian Granger: funeral March 17

* Robert Swailes: funeral March 22

Please note that because of Lockdown rules, only family can attend funerals

LOVE OF SCRIPTURE IN LOCKDOWN

The Diocese sends a whole range of resources for love of God’s Word in our homes in lent:

For Lent at Home we have new resources & updates:godwhospeaks.uk/lent-at-home

*Finding Hope in Scripture this Lent

Lent Scripture Retreat from the Dominican Sisters in Portsmouth Diocese

godwhospeaks.uk/lent-at-home/finding-hope-in-scripture

Online Groups?

*Echoes of God - David McLoughlin’s journey through the whole Bible in this wonderful 7 week course. Great resource for personal use or online groups to share together this Lent. godwhospeaks.uk/lent-at-home/ideas-for-online-groups

*I AM MARK – dramatic retelling of Mark’s gospel by a Christian actor brings the gospel to life with energy and power - https://iam-mark.com/on-film

*LISTENING WITH LOVE - invites people to reflect on impact of abuse  on individual &  Church.  Let’s be Honest Group has prepared with Survivors gospel reflections in the form of conversations between survivors. www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/listening-with-love/

*Stations of the Cross & prayer resources godwhospeaks.uk/lent-at-home/personal-devotions

200 CLUB JANUARY DRAW-1st: £100, 155 Mr M Clay, 2nd: £50, 34 Mrs J Timmons, 3rd: £20, 87 Mrs C Taylor, 4th: £10, 210 Mrs Claire Troth, 5th: £10, 60 Christina Beirne , 6th: £10, 101 Mr Edward Lawes.  Many thanks to all the loyal 200 members who continue to support the parish in this time of stress during lockdown.

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

Testing.testing after 9 months & many hiccups there’s a reliable testing system in place to know if we carry the C-19 virus. Solihull Council has set up a testing centre at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, and any-one who is a church volunteer of any kind can go for a free lateral flow test. The test is not invasive, and the results are quickly available. It is on offer even if you have received a vaccination as it is still possible to be a ‘carrier’ and be unaware. Booking can be made online.

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!

 

TAKE CARE: message from Ruth Tennant, Director of Public Health Solihull: Vaccinations are being given across Solihull: many over 80 & 70 have now received it.  Because it’s unclear if those protected can transmit, they must follow the safety rules.  Some are reluctant to isolate when friends have symptoms. Please do not relax on isolating. It’s vital to keep the virus under control & protect our hospitals now under huge pressure. Thanks for all your efforts!

Ruth Tennant Director of Public Health

Solihull Council has told us local GPs find some 20% of phone numbers & addresses they hold for patients are out of date. Ensure your Surgery has correct details.

We still need more stewards for the work of keeping church open. We are striving not to cut opening times. Please contact Fr.Biju via parish office if you can help.

Sadly no baptisms or live meetings are allowed at present. Marriage Prep & JIF continue by zoom.

Life of the Spirit in Lockdown. As you all know we are in lockdown till February school half term but unlike last March when churches were shut we can be open provided we stick to the Covid safety rules. These are not always easy to follow and they often change at short notice but as far as we can tell:

· Our church can be open for mass provided we adhere to distance and sanitising rules. For this we rely on the goodwill of volunteer stewards.

· The experience of being in church will feel abnormal. E.g. shepherding in & out …cold draught to minimise infection .. no time to linger after mass .. But we have to do this for the safety of all.

· People who are vulnerable in any way should shield and stay at home

· Funerals are allowed with very restricted numbers

· Weddings are allowed with even fewer so postponement is advised

· Baptisms are allowed within mass. Max 30 people altogether

· Family ‘bubbles’ should not mix in church or even outside church

· Confessions can be heard by appointment in a room by the parish hall or in the narthex. We have been told that the Confessional is too risky.

CHARITY BOXES: Please return any collection boxes you may have filled up these last few months to the Parish office. In these difficult times it would be vital for charities to receive these donations asap.

COVID-19 Important Message from the Director of Public Health at Solihull Council

The vaccination programme has successfully started in Solihull, with the immediate priorities being over 80s and care homes. The next three phases are: 75-80 year olds, 70-75 year olds, and those with underlying health conditions. GPs will contact you when it’s time to arrange your vaccination appointment. The most important thing is to register with a local GP if you have not previously done so. Try not to contact your GP to raise questions about the vaccine, as this will slow down the rollout. There’s lots of information available about the vaccination programme at: https://www.birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk/what-you-need-to-know/

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.