Lenten Pastoral Letter of the Bishop

My dear brothers and sisters,

Christ’s victory over the temptations in the wilderness is recounted at the beginning of every Lent. In each temptation, the Devil proposes to Our Lord a seemingly easier path to accomplish His mission than the Sacrifice of the Cross and His total self-giving in the Eucharist. Turning the desert’s stones into free food, seizing political power or becoming a spectacle to entertain the crowds might momentarily win applause, but will not save humanity. These temptations are recounted because we can be tempted to seek deceptively easier paths in our Christian lives and in the mission of the Church. It is why we need this Lenten time of conversion so we may truly “worship the Lord our God and serve Him alone”.

This year, in our parishes we are re-starting in adverse conditions and with diminished resources. We are deeply concerned for the Ukrainian people and the peace of the world as the shadow of war has fallen over Europe. At such a moment, I want us to be sure of the inexhaustible resources of faith and grace given us. As Saint Paul reminded the beleaguered faithful in Rome, by relying on the Name of the Lord we will never lack all we need.ii Diminished we might be, as we emerge from a pandemic, yet we can never doubt from our Baptism, that we have been sustained by every grace, above all, the supreme gift of the Holy Eucharist.

Thanksgiving must surely be our starting point, in recognition of all we have received in the life of the Church. Thanksgiving is the characteristic of Christian prayer.iii I was especially struck by the words of the last testament of the saintly Pope Paul VI, who constantly repeated “Lord, I thank you.” Pope Paul asked, how can we ever thank the Lord sufficiently for the gift of life and the still higher gift of faith and grace. So many graces, so many mercies, so many examples given us. Above all, Saint Paul VI insisted we must give thanks that we have been brought into the life of the Catholic Church where all the means of grace and salvation are found.iv

The people of Macclesfield will this year give thanks for 200 years of renewed Catholic mission in their district. As we look back with them to the founding generation of our Diocese, we recall how “few in number”v they were and lacking in material resources; yet they knew the gifts of faith and grace were their true riches. As Saint John Vianney reflected, we might see ourselves as poor when vast riches of grace have been given us in prayer, in the Sacrament of Penance and, above all, in the Eucharist. The Cure of Ars compared us to someone dying of thirst beside an immense river of fresh water. If only we would reach out, he said, yet we fail to see! Lent is an invitation to recognise God’s grace and the very presence of Christ Himself is now within our reach.

This Sunday, we pray for the Ukrainian people and for the peace of the world in response to Pope Francis’s call to draw upon the spiritual resources of Lent to overcome “the madness of war”.vi The Holy Father has echoed the call of Our Lady at Fatima who entrusted this same message to poor children, amid the carnage and destruction of the First World War. The children of Fatima, two of whom have been declared among the Saints by Pope Francis,vii had no human means to end a war, yet recognised the power of prayer, of receiving and adoring the Eucharist, of offering the small sacrifices of each day with great love. This Lent invites us to take up these same means as we intercede for peace and unite our prayer and penance to the practical help we offer to the suffering.

In the great re-start of Lent, let us recognise the gifts and graces which mark our Christian lives; above all the supreme gift of the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Altar. Let us return to the Altar and the Tabernacle of our parishes in the joyful recognition of faith and prayer, and wherever possible in prolonged Eucharistic Adoration. This is surely the best place for us to start anew.

United with you in this prayer,

+ Mark

Bishop of Shrewsbury

i Cf. Mt. 4: 10; Lk. 4:8
ii Cf. Rom. 10: 13
iii Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2637
iv Cf. The Second Vatican Council Unitatis Redintegratio No.3
v Dt. 26:28
vi CF. General Audience, Wednesday 23rd February 2022
vii Cf. Saint Jacinta and Saint Francisco Canonised by Pope Francis in May 2017

Via Crucis

5.30pm every Friday of Lent

Walk with our blessed Lord and retrace the steps of His sorrowful Passion in reparation for our sins, for which He was crucified.

With confessions during, followed by veneration of the relic of the true Cross.

“If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16. 24)

Invitation to Easter polyphony

We are holding three polyphonic choir practices in preparation for the Easter Triduum.

We warmly invite anyone interested (men and women, experienced or beginners, parishioners or visitors from other churches) to join us at 7.30pm at the back of church:

Monday, 7th March Monday, 21st March & Monday, 4th April.

May the Lord bless our efforts to praise Him in song this Easter!

Ash Wednesday 2nd March

Holy Mass will be offered at 12 noon in the day chapel and at 6.30pm in the main church. Distribution of ashes upon the forehead will take placebefore both Masses. Let us all begin this holy season of Lent with great humility, remembering that we are dust, and to dust we shall all return.

SPUC Event

What? The UK’s largest pro-life youth conference
When? 25th through 27th February 2022

Where? Yarnfield Park Training & Conference Centre, Stone, Staffordshire

Who? Everyone ages 16 to 35.

Why? To stand for what you believe. Stand with life. Stand for life.

Memory Project Update

A big thank you to all who have shared their happy memories of New Brighton!


These memories help set the cultural context of the Dome of Home. The postcards have proven so popular that we are reprinting another 2,500! We hope to read some of them out on radio Merseyside and Dementia radio for others to enjoy, and some will be used to accompany our forthcoming mobile vintage photo exhibition as well as augment the reprint of our guidebook. If you haven’t yet taken the time to write a memory, please do in the narthex!

Look for the Memory post cards and the red, Memories Post Box

Shrine success in gaining key National Churches Trust grant

National Churches Trust (NCT) has awarded a £4868 Foundation Grant to restore 3 corroded steel framed windows at Ss Peter, Paul and St Philomena’s Shrine Church, New Brighton.

This Shrine church, fondly known now as The Dome of Home, is a major landmark overlooking Liverpool Bay for the last 86 years since it was built and is cared for by the Institute of Christ the King. Since 2013, it has undergone five major restoration projects funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, AllChurches Trust, National Churches Trust and private donations large and small.

While undertaking the redecoration at The Dome earlier this year, three further windows were found to need repairs badly. Scaffolding had been installed to allow access to the high ceiling, but unexpectedly, when the architect examined these high-level windows, the corroded steel frames pushed through. As this was not included in the large National Lottery funded project to restore the dome, drum and main Sanctuary roofs, it was an extra strain on already stretched resources. Thank goodness for this well-timed grant award from National Churches Trust!

The Rector of the Shrine, Canon Amaury Montjean said, “We’re very grateful to NCT for this Providential award. I’m hoping all the work, decorating, lighting scheme and these windows will be completed by Christmas, ready for visitors.”

The Dome of Home has begun a programme of activities to engage a wider audience: from free monthly Heritage Talks in-person or on YouTube entitled ‘Organ music shaped our heritage’; to conferences for conservation professionals; to Liverpool TV films about the Restoration Project; to becoming a Dementia-friendly church with a Postcard Memory Project with schools, the local community and Care Homes to save and archive memories that may be lost.

Canon Montjean added, “The church is open, daily, and welcomes everyone. The Organ Recitals are completely free-of-charge to showcase and explain liturgical organ music.  Next Recital is Sunday 12th December at 4pm. All welcome! We’ve even overhauled the heating system so that it’s warm when you pop in!”

Anne Archer, Project Manager commented, “Many people have happy memories of Merseyside’s own traditional English seaside resort – New Brighton. To celebrate the church’s restoration, we will be launching a Memory Project in January 2020 to collect memories about ’New Brighton: 86 years under the shelter of The Dome’, for local exhibitions, submission to our Guidebook and archived with Wallasey Central Library.”

If anyone is interested in submitting memories of New Brighton in general and/or the church, or helping with the collection and sorting, please email .

The National Churches Trust is the national, non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and promoting churches of all Christian denominations in the UK.

It aims to:

* Provide grants for the repair, maintenance and modernisation of church buildings.
* Act as a catalyst to improve and bring resources to the management of church building.
* Promote the value of church buildings to the community at large.

 

Appeal: New Lighting & Chandeliers for the Shrine

Our project to restore the main sanctuary roof, dome and drum has been completed successfully. The church has been decorated in a colour similar to the original 1930s scheme to match the beautiful marble on the main altar. This was largely and providentially funded by a single private donor. Deo gratias!  The contractor will begin to remove the scaffolding at the end of September. 

As you know, the Institute relies on Divine Providence in our undertakings, and to date we have not been disappointed. Many good people have responded to His inspiration to help, so thank you, everyone for your time, prayers, patience and financial donations.

However, during these projects, we realised that to make this church fitting for Our Lord, it was imperative to commission several additional work.

Repair the Sacristy

 

The windows were rotten and roof leaking. This work was urgent, so we instructed the architect and contractor to proceed immediately, but we still need extra funds to pay for this.

Lighting replacement

We must now replace the old, orange lights in the nave and Sanctuary for new lights that are unobtrusive, economical, easy to control and compliment the new decor. The contractor discovered many of the existing lights were broken when he inspected from the scaffold. These fittings can’t be reinstalled so, unless we want a dark winter, we don’t have much choice but to press on. We have only a few weeks left with the ‘bird-cage’ internal scaffold, so we can save money on the installation, if we can raise funds quickly. Our Lighting Designer recommended that the failing lighting installation be replaced with 52 LED floodlights that are dimmable and provide better glare control and better colour rendition. This is not cheap and unexpected.  We need your help!

New chandeliers fittings for the Nave

Have you seen the beautiful sample Chandelier hanging from the scaffold? Such lighting fixture would really enhance our very bare nave, more in keeping with its original Italianate design. This bespoke design in the picture opposite, is made of wrought iron, electrified with 15 LED lights on 2 tiers in an Antique gold finish, manufactured by a company in the South of France. The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales have very kindly donated £10,000 towards this exciting enhancement. But we still need more funds to buy three more!

National Lottery Heritage Fund has already funded the restoration of roofs and windows of the church for approximately £1.2 million but they won’t fund any decoration or lights. We will be contacting our previous funders such as AllChurchesTrust and National Churches Trust for help, but these applications take a long time to complete, and success is not guaranteed.

To download this appeal on a PDF format, please click here
To download the Donation / Gift Aid form, please click here

We rely on your generosity for this last but important phase to give glory to Our Blessed Lord!

Thank you and God bless you all.

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days are almost upon us again and this year, Ss Peter & Paul and St Philomena has two events that we hope you will find of interest. They are free of charge, although we will not refuse a donation toward the restoration of this unique Wirral landmark church.

Heritage Open Days at the Dome of Home feature Scaffolding tours and the Organ recital. We also seek volunteers to help make the events a success.

Scaffolding Tour – Saturday 18th September

Explore the inside of the Church in a unique way – using the scaffolding! Also meet the Architect overseeing the current interior refurbishment works.

High level tours 2pm, 3pm, 4pm & 5pm – Accessible to physically able with alternative low level discussion
Low level discussion 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm & 4.30pm – for the less physically able.

A display of the works programme and a film by Liverpool TV on our project will be available to watch in the narthex.

Due to the limited number of people being permitted on a tour, free tickets must be reserved via Eventbrite here:

Organ recital – various dates below – all performances start at 4pm

19 September 2021   French Organ Mass (F. Couperin Messe pour les paroisses)
17 October 2021   Italian Organ Mass (Frescobaldi Fiori musicali)
14 November 2021   Lutheran Organ Mass (J. S. Bach Clavier-Übung III)
12 December 2021   Bach & Daquin for Advent & Christmas
23 January 2022   Gregorian Chant in Lutheran Liturgy & Organ
27 February 2022   Music for Lent
27 March 2022   Magnificat: Music for Our Lady
24 April 2022   Music for Easter
22 May 2022   Lutheran Hymnody
19 June 2022   Veni, Sancte Spiritus: Pentecost

Featuring:

Mr. Christian Spence (organist)
the Canons of the ICKSP and the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus (singers)

Free of charge.

All followed by a National Lottery ‘thank you’ cuppa!

Volunteers

Volunteers are required to help with these events, if you can help with :

Refreshments
Preparing the hard hats between tours
Welcoming visitors and answering questions about our church
Distributing posters and flyers to the local area

To volunteer, contact us here.

Publicity posters:

Scaffolding Tours flyer click here.
Organ Recitals flyer click here.