Letter from Bishop William Kenny

Rt. Rev. William Kenney CP

Regional Bishop Coventry, Oxfordshire & Warwickshire                                                              

St. Hugh's House
27 Hensington Road
OX20 1JH
Tel: +44(0)1993 812234
Email: bishop.wkenney@rcaob.org.uk


Sacred Heart Parish, Blackbird Leys, Oxford

Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, Cowley, Oxford

Dear Sisters & Brothers,

I am now in a position to inform you that we have been able to appoint a new Parish Priest to both of your parishes.  He is Fr. Harry Curtis, who is at the moment Chaplain to Warwick University and Parish Priest of St. Joseph the Worker, Coventry.  He will take up his new appointment on September 1st, and will reside at Our Lady Help of Christians.

We are not combining the parishes but there will be the same Parish Priest for both parishes. 

I must particularly thank the parishioners of Sacred Heart for their patience.  It has taken too long to appoint a new Parish Priest, but as you are aware we do not have an “oversupply” of priests at the moment. 

I am sure that Fr. Harry will be keen to support the vibrant life of both parishes, and he will be in touch with you as soon as possible after 1st September.  Until then the present arrangements will continue. 

If there are any questions which you feel cannot be answered by Fr. Harry, please feel free to get in touch with me.  As we go forward in this new phase of the life of the Catholic Church in south Oxford let us prayer for our parishes and for one another.

God bless

(Rt. Rev.) William Kenney C.P.

Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.


Our overall priority is to keep everyone safe. Those who have been shielding and those with underlying health conditions are still encouraged to stay at home. The Sunday obligation REMAINS SUSPENDED. Live streaming will still occur from St Anthony’s on week days via Facebook, and from other churches on Sundays.

Please DO NOT visit the church if you have a fever, new cough or have noticed recent changes in your ability to taste or smell.

Please wear a face covering (unless you are in an exempt group).

Please arrive in plenty of time for Mass, bearing in mind the seating process will take longer than normal and there may be a queue. If it is raining please wear suitable rainwear or bring an umbrella, as only limited numbers will be able to queue undercover.

Family members will sit together but otherwise there will be at least a metre between members of the congregation. All children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Please use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the church.

Please do not touch the door handles.

Please do not touch/kiss any statues or go onto the sanctuary.

Unfortunately congregational singing is not allowed but on Sundays we will have a cantor with keyboard accompaniment.

Please follow the instructions from the stewards and respect the one-way system inside the church, leaving by the side door on the left.

Please note there will be NO TOILET FACILITIES available.

Please limit your personal belongings as much as possible and be sure to take them with you when you leave the church. Any items left in the church will be disposed of.

Holy Communion will be given row by row starting at the front, Please follow the instructions from the stewards and maintain at least 1 m distance from the person in front. Return to your pew by the side aisle. Communion will be given into the hand only, and in silence.

If you are a wheelchair user and are attending Mass with a family member who can negotiate the step at the church entrance then please do so. If you are alone or your chair cannot negotiate the step, the steward will direct you to the side entrance with a ramp.

If you become ill with symptoms of Covid-19 within 48hrs of visiting the church please inform Fr Pius or the parish administrator (stanthonyop.oxford@rcaob.org.).

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England

Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

On Tuesday we heard the announcement that, from the 4th July this year, places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services. We welcome this news with great joy. Since the lockdown began, members of all faiths have faced restrictions on how they have been able to celebrate important religious festivals. Our own experience of Easter was unlike any other we have known. Now, in our churches, and with our people, we can look forward again to celebrating the central mysteries of our faith in the Holy Eucharist.

The recent reopening of our churches for individual private prayer was an important milestone on our journey towards resuming communal worship. Our churches that have opened have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus transmission are minimised. This includes effective hand sanitisation, social distancing, and cleaning. We remain committed to making sure these systems of hygiene and infection control meet Government and public health standards.

We want to thank everyone within the Catholic community for sustaining the life of faith in such creative ways, not least in the family home. We thank our priests for celebrating Mass faithfully for their people, and for the innovative ways in which they have enabled participation through live-streaming and other means. We are grateful for the pastoral care shown by our clergy to those for whom this time of lockdown has been especially difficult, and, in particular, towards those who have been bereaved. We recognise too the chaplaincy services that have played a vital role
in supporting those most in need. Gaining from the experience of all that we have been through, and bringing those lessons into the future, we must now look forward.

With the easing of restrictions on worship with congregations, we tread carefully along the path that lies ahead. Our lives have been changed by the experience of the pandemic and it is clear that we cannot simply return to how things were before lockdown. We remain centred on the Lord Jesus and His command at the Last Supper to “do this in memory of me.” We must now rebuild what it means to be Eucharistic communities, holding fast to all that we hold dear, while at the same time exploring creative ways to meet changed circumstances.

It is important to reaffirm that, at present, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended. A significant number of churches may remain closed as they are unable to meet the requirements for opening for individual prayer. Fulfilling these requirements is a precondition for any church opening after the 4th July for the celebration of Mass with a congregation.

Please be aware that there will be a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches. This will determined locally in accordance with social distancing requirements. We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going ‘back to normal.’

We ask every Catholic to think carefully about how and when they will return to Mass. Our priests may need to consider whether it is possible to celebrate additional Masses at the weekends. Given there is no Sunday obligation, we ask you to consider the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday. This will ease the pressure of numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for more people.

Moving forward, there will still be many people who cannot attend Mass in person. We therefore ask parishes, wherever possible, to continue live-streaming Sunday Mass, both for those who remain shielding and vulnerable, and also for those unable to leave home because of advanced age or illness.

When we return to Mass there will some differences in how the celebration takes place. For the time being, there will be no congregational singing and Mass will be shorter than usual. None of this detracts from the centrality of our encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. We ask everyone to respect and follow the guidance that will be issued and the instructions in each church.

“As I have loved you,” said the Lord Jesus, “so you must love each other.” (Jn 13:34) The lockdown has brought forth remarkable acts of charity, of loving kindness, from Catholics across our communities as they have cared for the needy and vulnerable.
We have seen love in action through charitable works, and through the service of many front-line keyworkers who are members of our Church. Now we can begin to return to the source of that charity, Christ himself, present for us sacramentally, body, blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion. As we prepare to gather again to worship, let us, respectful of each other, come together in thanksgiving to God for the immense gift of the Holy Eucharist.

Yours devotedly in Christ

✠ Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
✠ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool
✠ Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham
✠ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark

This letter is addressed to the Catholic Community in England; the opening of the Catholic Churches in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Assembly who are still evaluating their position on opening Places of Worship.

Church reopening for private prayer – further volunteers are needed

My dear Parishioners
Although live streaming and Zoom have allowed us to join together online to pray, I am sure you will agree that the ability to open the church building for private prayer is a tremendous step forward in easing the lockdown process, and being able to pray in front of the altar in St Anthony’s  is something that will provide many people with tremendous comfort at this difficult time.
As you will remember from last weeks bulletin, I was hoping to open the church this week, but this plan was dependant on having sufficient volunteers to do so safely. I would like to thank those who have already offered their help, but as yet we don’t have enough people to set up a rota so that the commitment is not too onerous – I was hoping that each person would only have to be on duty every four weeks or so.
I would like to open the church at the weekends, ideally on both Saturday and Sunday for two hours, so please give some thought as to whether you could help me do this. Fr Vincent and myself will be part of the rota, but we need additional responsible adults (18-70 yrs) to come forward. As outlined last week, PPE and training will be provided, and a minimum of two people will be on duty at any one time, so maybe couples or friends would like to volunteer together.
If you feel you could help me make this partial reopening  a reality, please contact me at the presbytery or email jane.kennett@googlemail.com.
God bless you all and keep you safe in the week to come,
Fr Pius.

St Anthony of Padua Feast Day: Saturday 13th June – final arrangements

Please see below for the final details of the arrangements for this Saturday, the Feast Day of St Anthony of Padua.

The details and live-stream mass are available at http://www.stanthonyofpadua.org.uk/feast/ (or just go to the usual home page and follow the links). The Zoom joining instructions are given in the flyer hopefully shown below, and also from the weekly bulletin on the web site.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

With best wishes, 

The St Anthony of Padua Pastoral Team.

Maryvale Sacred Heart Novena

Maryvale Sacred Heart Novena

All are invited to join online for the Annual Novena to the Sacred Heart at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart at Maryvale Institute.

There will be a Mass, Sermon and Novena live streamed each evening at 8pm from Thursday 11 June to Friday 19 June 2020 (Feast of the Sacred Heart).

Archbishop Bernard Longley will be celebrating Mass on Sunday 21 June at 11am (on the day the ‘physical’ Pilgrimage would have taken place). It will be live streamed from St Chad’s Cathedral.

Full details, and how to access each event, are available on the Diocesan website: https://www.birminghamdiocese.org.uk/news/join-online-maryvale-sacred-heart-novena and Maryvale Institute website: https://www.maryvale.ac.uk/novena-2020.html

Friends of the Holy Land – Pentecost Challenge

22nd May 2020

From the Archbishop:

Friends of the Holy Land – Pentecost Challenge

As a Patron of Friends of the Holy Land (FHL), I am kept informed of the wonderful work they are undertaking with a very small team of paid staff and many volunteers both over here and in the Holy Land. Coronavirus is changing the lives of all of us but for so many Christians, especially in the West Bank but also Gaza, Israel and Jordan, it is devastating.  So many are dependent for their income on pilgrimages and tourism which disappeared overnight in early March.  For many they have no government support nor even a health service which can handle this crisis.

So, FHL launched an appeal in March for those impacted in Bethlehem and widened it on 3 April as a Pentecost Challenge to cover the whole of the region. They secured match funding for the first £100,000 and, with a few days to go to Pentecost, are close to reaching the target but are seeking help from us to get over the line.

www.friendsoftheholyland.org.uk/pentecost-challenge will direct parishioners to the FHL website where more information is available.  You may also wish to view the news story on our diocesan website www.birminghamdiocese.org.uk/news/fhl-launch-pentecost-challenge.

Thank you for your support to help those worse off than ourselves, as FHL strive to maintain a Christian presence in the Holy Land and please keep the FHL staff and volunteers plus those in the Holy Land in your prayers.

With my prayers and kindest wishes.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

Bernard Longley
Archbishop of Birmingham

A message from Archbishop Bernard Langley and the other Archbishops of England and Wales

A People who Hope in Christ

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops
of the Catholic Church in England and Wales

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The radiance of the risen Lord shines upon us. At a time when so many shadows are cast into our lives, and upon our world, the light of the resurrection shines forever to renew and restore our hope. In the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: ‘In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.’ (27 March 2020)

The impact of Covid-19, both nationally and internationally, has been immense. So much of what we take for granted has changed. Our health and physical interaction, our capacity to travel and gather, have all been affected. There is uncertainty in our future, especially with work and the country’s economy. As we know, very sadly, large numbers of people have died because of the coronavirus, and others have been or remain seriously ill. Keyworkers, not least in the National Health Service and care sectors, are serving selflessly to sustain the life of our nation. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone who is suffering because of Covid-19, and to all those battling to overcome its effects. May those who have died rest in peace and those who are bereaved find comfort.

When the Prime Minister announced the lockdown, this included places of worship and therefore Catholic churches. These measures were put in place to stem the general transmission of the virus. It is right that the Catholic community fulfils its role in contributing to the preservation of life and the common good of society. This must continue until the restrictions applied by the Government are lifted.

None of us would want to be in the situation in which we find ourselves. While the live-streaming of the Mass and other devotions is playing an important part in maintaining the life of faith, there is no substitute for Catholics being able to physically attend and participate in the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments. Our faith is expressed powerfully and beautifully though ‘seeing, touching, and tasting.’ We know that every bishop and every priest recognises the pain of Catholics who, at present, cannot pray in church or receive the sacraments. This weighs heavily on our hearts. We are deeply moved by the Eucharistic yearning expressed by so many members of the faithful. We thank you sincerely for your love for the Lord Jesus, present in the sacraments and supremely so in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The bishops and priests of every diocese are remembering you and your loved ones at Mass each day in our churches as we pray ‘in hope of health and wellbeing.’ We thank our priests for this faithfulness to their calling.

As the Government’s restrictions are relaxed step by step, we look forward to opening our churches and resuming our liturgical, spiritual, catechetical and pastoral life step by step. This will also be of service to those beyond the Catholic Church who depend on our charitable activity and outreach through which much goodness is shared by so many volunteers from our communities.

None of us knows, as yet, how or when the lockdown will end. There is likely to be a phased return to travelling and gathering. As a church, we are now planning for this time and our discussions with the statutory public health agencies and Government representatives are ongoing. Together with Catholics across England and Wales we desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments. Until then, we are continuing to pray and prepare.

We want to acknowledge with gratitude the service of our fellow bishops and priests, our deacons and religious, our families and lay faithful, together with all our parish and school communities, for the wonderful ways the life of the faith is being nourished at this time, especially in the home. We also pay tribute to the Catholic organisations and networks that are working to support the vulnerable and needy.

On that first Easter day, the disciples were in lockdown and the doors were closed. In their isolation the Lord Jesus came among them and said ‘Peace be with you.’ May the peace of the risen Lord reign in our hearts and homes as we look forward to the day we can enter church again and gather around the altar to offer together the Sacrifice of Praise.

We unite in asking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady and assure you of our prayers and blessing

Yours devotedly in Christ,

✠ Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
✠ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool
✠ Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham
✠ George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff
✠ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark

Coronavirus Information – Updated 24/03/20

In line with the government advice of 23rd March the Church building will no longer be open, and will remain closed until further notice.

Masses will continue to be said in private by the Parish Clergy for the scheduled Mass intentions, and new Mass intentions can still be made on request.

In case of urgent need due to illness, whether Coronavirus-related or otherwise please get in touch with the Parish Office by emailing stanthonyop.oxford@rcaob.org.uk, or phoning 01865 762 964. 

If you or someone you know in the parish is self-isolating and is in need of any support, such as help with shopping or a chat on the phone, please get in touch with the Parish Office by emailing stanthonyop.oxford@rcaob.org.uk, or phoning 01865 762 964. 

It is anticipated that Corpus Christi Parish in Headington will continue to be live streaming weekday and Sunday Mass without a congregation, and more details can be found at https://corpuschristiheadington.co.uk