A thank you letter from Fr Mark

A thank you letter from Fr Mark:

Dear beloved parishioners of St Anthony of Padua,

I express my profound thanks to you all for the welcome I received last weekend. May the Lord continue to bless each one of you and your families. Thank you for all the help sincerely rendered to my predecessors, particularly to my immediate predecessor: Rev. Fr. Pius Duke, MSP. Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work, eat, worship, associate with each other. Indeed, it has changed everything about us. It is with great joy in my heart that I welcome you all to this weekend Eucharistic celebration. Covid-19 has made it impossible for many parishioners to participate in our parish weekly Eucharistic celebration physically. Nevertheless, I am duly informed that several parishioners follow the parish worship virtually.

In those days before the pandemic era, when I see people covering their faces with masks, I used to imagine the level of contamination within the environment that prompted facemasks usage. Our experience today is not based on pollution, but a strange virus known as Covid- 19. The pandemic experience has gripped the whole world with the fear of danger’s death, and our lives are no longer what we expected. We now live in a unique environment with each other. It is strange because the pandemic has changed the course of our history. It has triggered much death, and yet, the end seems not to be near. The year 2020, indeed, has been a “wonderful year”. We hope that the celebration of Christmas that we concluded two weeks ago brings healing to our world.

Despite the pandemic, the Lord Jesus still came into our world and community, into our lives, and our hearts today! He came that we may have life, life in all its fullness, grace upon grace. Like the Wise Men, the Lord invites you to give the homage of your hearts and rejoice because the King of peace is with you now and forever.

As your Parish Priest and Spiritual Director, I invite you to the family of St Anthony of Padua, to collaborate, build and nurture God’s family in our parish. No one should feel that he or she is a stranger. We all have a lot to contribute to the progress of our parish community. As we join hands together to develop our parish, it is my prayer that the joy of the Lord may continue to radiate in your hearts. May you and all your loved ones experience the peace that the birth of the infant King brings into our world. May the closeness of friends, home and family members’ comfort, and the unity of love renew your spirit as we work together. May God bless you and those you hold dear in your heart today and always. Indeed, thank you very much for all your kind welcome. As you continue to kindle the light of Christ in one another and the life of your Priests, may that light, Christ, continue to shine in your home and life.

I wish you the Lord’s blessings of peace and joy.

Thank you, and God bless you.
Rev. Fr. Mark Ehichioya Odion, MSP

Information from Fr Mark:

Information from Fr Mark:
We thank parishioners for their generosity in supporting individual priests’ projects from Africa and Asia. We are appealing that when individual priests from abroad request that we support their projects or ask us for funds, please discuss with our Parish Priest. He will help us discern and channel our donations to the right sources.

Message from The Pastoral Council.

Message from The Pastoral Council.
As Fr Pius moves on to his next appointment this weekend, we thank him for his dedicated service here with us in the Parish and at the local hospitals, throughout the challenges of the past year. We wish him every blessing, health and happiness for his future ministry. We also extend a warm welcome to Fr Mark Odion, who joins us this weekend as parish priest.

Fr Mark Odion.
A letter from Fr. Innocent Abonyi MSP (the Regional Superior of the Missionary Society of St Paul) was sent out earlier in the week on the parish email. An excerpt from this letter tells us about Fr Odion:
“Fr. Odion was ordained a priest in 2001. He started his ministry in England in 2005. He served in the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St. George, Southwark, as a curate for a few years. He was subsequently appointed a parish priest in the Catholic Church of the Annunciation and St. Augustine, Bechenham Hill, London. He was engaged in hospital chaplaincy in his parochial ministry. After a few years of excellent service as parish priest and hospital chaplain, he was reassigned to the International Department of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, with a specific ministry on Trafficking. In this capacity he worked very hard and delivered on many outstanding projects. He brings with him some experience that will surely benefit you and the Archdiocese of Birmingham”.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 18th to 25th January

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 18th to 25th January. This is to be celebrated by the seven churches within the Fellowship of Churches Together in Marston and Northway with an Ecumenical Service to be held on Sunday January 17th at 6 pm at St Anthony’s. 

There will also be short daily prayer services as follows:

Monday 18th, Tuesday 19th, Thursday 21st, Friday 22nd, Saturday 23rd and Monday25th at 9:30 am

and on Wednesday 20th at 8:00 pm.

You are especially invited to join in these services which will be held by Zoom, using the following details. Meeting ID: 4276663979; password: 2520.

Single-click link: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4276663979?pwd=cTRETSsxNUZ1T0RXVDVod0R3SXc3UT09

More details in the poster. http://www.stanthonyofpadua.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-jan-21/

From the Pastoral Team: Fr Pius leaving gift.

From the Pastoral Team: Fr Pius leaving gift. Fr Pius will be leaving the Parish in mid January. Although we will not be able to say goodbye to him as we would want because of Covid, we will be holding a special collection this weekend. If you would like to give but will not be attending Mass, please place your donation
in an envelope marked “Fr Pius’ leaving present” and put it through the letter box by the parish office.

Booking for Christmas Masses.

As you know, we have set up a booking system for attendance at Mass over the Christmas period. The church is now FULL for the Vigil Mass at 6 pm on 24th December, and so any further attendees will be seated in the hall. There are still places available for both Midnight Mass and the 10 am Christmas morning Mass. Please send any requests to SaopXmasMassbooking@gmail.com


Live streaming of public masses.

St Anthony’s is planning to start streaming public masses from Christmas. Fr Pius, servers, Eucharistic ministers and readers will need to sign a consent form allowing their image to be broadcast. The congregation will not be visible when seated in their pews but, having received Holy Communion, those who turn to the right will be briefly on camera. If any member of the congregation who wishes to receive communion but who does not want their image to be broadcast please can they sit on the left hand side of church, or return to their seats via the left side aisle.

Letter from Bishop William Kenny

Rt. Rev. William Kenney CP

Regional Bishop Coventry, Oxfordshire & Warwickshire                                                              

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

To:

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.

GUIDANCE FOR VISITORS ATTENDING PUBLIC MASS AT ST ANTHONY’S

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.