Following the practice of many people in their Christmas Cards – this seems a good moment to look back over the Year and give thanks to God.
We start our review with Prayer, Formation and Mission: the three areas on which Bishop Richard has invited us to focus. This is part of his plan for the Diocese: The Word who is Life
school for prayer
The diocese worked with the Guildford Deanery and the Jesuit Ministries to organise two days of a School for Prayer. Over 90 people took part, more than had been expected, and the feedback was very encouraging.
During 2019 - 83 babies and young children were baptised. A development in 2019 was that the initial meeting between the clergy and couples now takes place during coffee after Mass. This has given parishioners the opportunity of welcoming parents with an offer of coffee and an assurance of prayers. In 2020 it is hoped to develop this support in each community. If you would like to volunteer please contact the parish office: email firstname.lastname@example.org or 01483 562704.
Throughout the year families were supported in preparing and celebrating the Funeral of our brothers and sisters in faith. On occasion support was offered by parishioners in helping families with their preparations – guiding them through the days leading to the Funeral and being present to coordinate the various ministers and elements of the Liturgy. There were also groups of parishioners who have been willing to organise the halls etc. for those families who wish to have a funeral reception following the Mass. Given that this is dependent on the availability of parishioners more volunteers would also be welcome if this is to develop in 2020. Please contact Kevin.Burr@cpg.church if you are able to help.
The group, based at St. Pius but serving the whole parish, continued to organise a monthly Mass for those who have died. They also organised a Parish Mass for the bereaved in November and offer support throughout the year when it is needed.
In 2019 we bid farewell to Fr. Paul, the Chaplain to the Polish Community who instigated the Saturday evening Mass at St. Edward. We welcomed Fr.Wieslaw in his place. Attendance at the Polish Mass has been growing steadily and is currently attended by 30 people.
The Adoration in St Mary’s church has faithfully continued throughout the year: every Thursday from 10am -5pm all welcome. If you would like to volunteer for a time slot please sign the sheet at the back of church. The numbers attending the St. Pius Monday evening Mass and Adoration – during which the Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated - has remained strong. It is not unusual for the Confession queue to be longer than the time allocated! Stations of the Cross & Divine Mercy continue on Fridays from 2.45pm -4pm In St. Edward the Confessor – a time of Exposition has been introduced on Fridays 5.00 – 5.55 p m, followed by Benediction.
In 2020 it is planned to develop days to support welcomers and sacristans. The St. Joseph Liturgy Committee have been discussing with the Diocesan Liturgy Adviser the possibility of having a Choirs Day in 2020. The day will be an open invitation to all across the parish who would like a good sing! While the number of priests is concern for the future: it is often overlooked that there are other ministries which are needed for the dignified celebration of the liturgy. In 2020 we need to address the challenge of encouraging and forming enough parishioners to undertake these roles.
The new Parish Formation Team has been reviewing the opportunities available in the parish in 2019 and considering how to develop Formation in 2020.
The God who speaks
The Bishops of England and Wales have designated 2020 as The Year of the God who Speaks and the Formation Team are looking at the opportunities to reflect on the Gospel of St. Matthew and develop a pattern of preaching over the course of a number of Sundays during 2020.
In our parish we are blessed to have Rydes Hill Prep School, St. Thomas and St. Joseph’s Primary Schools and St. Peter’s Secondary School all serving the families of our parish. During 2019 St. Peter’s and St. Thomas’s both joined the Xavier Academy Trust – the Diocesan Trust of Surrey Catholic Schools. 2019 also brought the joy of celebrating the induction of Tom Collins as Headteacher of St. Joseph and Sarah Norville as the Headteacher of Rydes Hill Prep School. The priests regularly visit the schools, celebrate Masses and offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Parishioners and priests also serve as Foundation Governors on the School Governing Bodies.
The Celebration of Marriages
Throughout the year couples were married in our churches and these, and others from neighbouring parishes, took part in the Preparation Course which is organised in the parish. The feedback from participants has been very positive and the Diocese have been working with the team to make similar resources available in other parishes.
Ministers Formation Days
In 2019 there were five days of reflection for Readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. Following the days Extraordinary Ministers of Communion were commissioned for service in the parish.
The group journeying with enquirers to the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults continued to meet regularly through the year – covering a comprehensive introduction to the Church. Six adults were baptised or received into theChurch. It speaks well of the group that the participants raised a question of what they would do post reception – when the group concludes.
Early in 2019 the Homegroups hosted a very successful series of ALPHA evenings at St. Pius Church where the discussion, prayer and food were much appreciated. Looking to 2020 everyone is invited to a joint meeting of the Homegroups in the new year. Meet our special guests, the Crick family, founders of Manna Ministries, who work with family members of all ages to create ‘musicals with a message’ that tell inspiring stories from a Christian perspective. Find out how the Crick family dedicate their lives to this call and live by faith for all their needs. www.mannaministries.org.uk/crickfamily Plus, we'll share what the Homegroups have to offer you, along with some great refreshments. Thursday 16 January, 8pm in St Joseph’s Hall.
Formation for Diaconate
Ian Hunt and Sean Evans have continued their formation for the Diaconate. In 2019 they were admitted to the Order of Lector and in 2020 will, please God, be admitted as Acoyltes (Ministers of the Eucharist). Please keep them in your prayers. It is a timely reminder to give thanks for the faithful and generous ministry which Deacons Michael and John already undertake.
2019 saw the parish entrusted with a student for the priesthood: Eddie Hopkins – currently studying at St. John’s Seminary in Wonersh. It was interesting seeing the parish through his eyes and we were grateful for his feedback and suggestions. He has continued his visits and contact with the parish and in turn we have assured him of our prayers. It has also been a privilege to welcome seminarians to be part of the First Holy Communion Programme and the House Groups: both of which appreciate their presence and input. In 2020 we need to increase our prayer for, and encouragement of, vocations to the priesthood.
Formed during 2019, the Mission Team has been reviewing the wide range of activities which are part of the mission of the parish. Alongside the groups and events which seeks to reach out into the wider community the Team realised the need to support those working to support brothers and sisters within the parish. This has led to the inclusion of events such as the Seniors lunches and clubs being included under ‘Mission’ in the Newsletter.
Journey to 2030
At the beginning of Advent Bishop Richard wrote a Pastoral Letter in which he said: “Christ calls us to live lives of virtue and goodness so that we are prepared for the second coming. This Season of Advent calls us to reflect on the world around us; to see where we have been sleepwalking and failed to realise the impact of our actions. … One particular area in which we must “wake up” and seek conversion is in our attitudes towards our common home. So today I write to you about a very urgent matter about which I think most of us are at least aware, even though we may not yet have made a practical response. This urgent matter is climate change, our ecological crisis and how we care for our planet.” The whole letter can be found at: www.dabnet.org. The accompany support material can be found at: www.journeyto2030.org. These resources will help shape our response as a parish in 2020.
Justice and Peace Group
The Justice and Peace Group continue to meet monthly and to welcome newcomers. They have been coordinating our response to various challenges through practical work and in prayer e.g. the Peace Vigil organised in 2019. In 2020 they will be supporting the parish in its response to the Journey to 2030.
The parish is blessed with having a group who work hard to support Refugees – with the annual Meal and other fundraising streams continuing to be very effective. The monies raised are being spent supporting families with those items that they need, but cannot afford. In 2020 help will be needed to transport Syrian refugee families living in the area to important appointments (e.g. hospital, dentist). Volunteers are put on a list. When help is needed, everyone on the list is contacted by email. If you respond positively, you will be sent contact details. By being on the list you are not committing to any dates. If you would like to help and go on the list, please email Diane.Peters@cofeguildford.gov.uk
The Society of St. Vincent De Paul continues the important work of supporting people in need – both in the parish in the wider community. The Guildford Parish SVP Conference depends on the generosity of its members with their time – and the generosity of parishioners in the Annual collection. Over the last weeks they have been receiving items from parishioners to include in Christmas hampers for Guildford’s needy families: Thank you for your support.
The Guildford priests serve both the prisons of Send and Coldingly and celebrate ‘Sunday’ Masses there each week. There are also a group of Guildford parishioners who volunteer as visitors and their time and gifts are much appreciated by the prisoners. In 2019 Bishop Richard hosted a ‘Roadshow’ to encourage more volunteers. Further details can be found by emailing: Parish.Action@prisonadvice.org.uk
We have four hospitals in our parish. Please remember that with GDPR the Hospitals are no longer giving our priests a list of those Catholics admitted as inpatients. If you are well enough you can request to see a Catholic priest via the nurse/ward sister. In emergency you – or a relation - can request that a Catholic priest be called by the ward staff. If you are in the RSCH please note that there is a Mass every Tuesday afternoon at 4pm.
Social & Support Activities
With the Tuesday Lunches (St. Joseph's) Monthly Wednesday Lunches (St.Edward's) and Thursday Seniors Club (St.Mary's) the seniors and others have an opportunity to meet regularly. During 2019 the Film Nights at St. Pius went from strength to strength offering an enjoyable evening and raising hundreds of pounds for Charity. The Social Club at St. Mary’s continues on a Friday evening and has supported social events e.g. St. Patrick’s Night. The Coffees after Mass – Thursday at St. Mary’s & St. Pius and after the last Masses in each community on Sunday Morning continue to be an important part of the community life. In 2020 more help is needed to serve coffees and teas after 11 am Mass at St. Josephs. Please contact email@example.com or 01483 574583 if you can help.
St Joseph’s Shop news
The Shop is open after all Sunday Masses making it possible for parishioners to support Catholic charities and small producers in developing countries by buying a Fairly traded goods. In 2019 the Supermarkets further reduced their support of the Fairtrade Foundation making our parish involvement more vital. Please note: Contactless payments are now possible.
St. Mary's Traidcraft The organisers thank you for your support during the last year. The total collected for the year is £840. We are always looking for more helpers especially after 11am Mass on Sunday. If you feel you could spare half an hour monthly. Please contact Kathy Roots either on 07786592914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you also to Theresa, Errol, Aleksandra and Liz for their help. St. Pius Traidcraft 2019 saw the semi-retirement of Michael Combes. The parish is very grateful to him for all that he has done over the years for the stall in the Narthex and on the High Street as part of the ecumenical effort. Tony Corning has now taken on the stall and this year introduced the possibility of Contactless payments which has been well received.
Children, Youth & Families
Revamp of Youth Groups
This Autumn term we relaunched our youth groups: Fearless (for school years 3-6, meets Mondays 5.15-7pm in St Joseph’s Church Hall) Fusion (school years 7-9, meets Tuesdays 5.30-7.30pm in St Joseph’s Church Hall) Focus (school years 10-13, meets Mondays 7-9pm in St Joseph’s Church Hall). Our weekly term-time youth groups are safe spaces for young people to grow in community and faith, whilst having lots of fun. This term we have had on average 95 young people join us at one of youth groups weekly! The youth programme that the parish offers is a shining light in the Diocese and beyond – a real treasure in our parish. If you have a child in school years 3-13, we’d love to see them at one of our youth groups! Find out more here: www.cpg.church/youth
In July 2019 we had a fantastic weekend away Rooted, for ages 10-18. We had 50 young people join us split into two streams. It was such a special time to retreat from the outside world and grow in faith. We had a packed programme that included prayer, engaging talks, live music, creative workshops, fun games, a bonfire, supervised outdoor activities like archery and high ropes and so much more! This year we had a few young people join us from the Deanery, and have had lots of interest for 2020 – taking place on Friday 3rd-Sunday 5th July 2020. Registration opens in January. Find out more here: www.cpg.church/youth
Part-time Youth Intern
This Autumn Term, Philippa started in her new role as parish youth intern - a fantastic addition to the CYF team and especially our youth groups. You can find out more about what Philippa does watch her vlog: www.cpg.church/youth
154 children made their First Communion in 2019 from across the 4 communities. In 2020, the preparation of the Children is once again being offered through Parents Evenings, Family Days and the monthly FHC Masses which are celebrated in each of the churches of the parish. Thank you to those parishioners have undertaken to keep the children and their families in your prayers. The Parish of Cranleigh have joined with us for the family days and are sharing the materials which the CYF Team have created over the last few years. Other parishes have also been asking about the resources that have been created.
47 young people were Confirmed in 2019 from across the 4 communities. It’s been lovely to see some of our young people carry on their faith growth through the youth ministry and weekly Mass attendance. In 2020, 47 new young people will be embarking on the journey of preparing to be confirmed on Saturday 23rd May. Please do pray for them.
Baby and Toddler Groups
Around 70 families attend our Parish Baby & Toddler groups each week. We have three groups that meet on: Mondays 10-11.30am in St Joseph’s Hall, Tuesdays 10-11.30am in St Pius X Hall and Fridays, 9.45-11.15am. These groups are run by Parish volunteers and hope to show God’s love in action week in, week out. They provide a welcoming space for anybody who cares for children in our parish and local community. They encourage friendship and support to families at this important time of life. We always need more volunteers for this vital ministry. Find out more and contact us: www.cpg.church/baby.html
During the year the recently formed Communications Committee has met and developed the new Parish Logo, parish formats etc. These will give a more uniform identity to the parish. The Database was used to send out some focused emails and the responses are being evaluated. The Newsletter was refreshed, a Parish Blog developed and the Parish Introductory Handbook revised. The number of Handbooks being reprinted indicate the number of new parishioners finding it helpful. Early in 2020 the Committee will be publishing a Parish Manual on the Parish Website. This will enable parishioners and groups to reference our various policies and procedures and see how the groups and ministries fit together. They Committee will also be developing the way we communicate with the wider community, Media etc to help share the story of our parish.
The parish is also grateful to Willian D’Souza who coordinated the Finance Appeal which took place in the first half of 2019. The results, which were fedback to the parish in the summer were published on the Website as the annual accounts will be as soon as they are approved. (see www.cpg.church) ensured that the parish accounts were returned to the black and the Capital Fund has been increased to cover the cost of current building projects. This was year 1 of a year 3 project to raise all the money needed to ensure that the parish properties are properly maintained. Following the appeal plans are being drawn up for the renewal of the Lady Chapel at St. Mary’s alongside urgent work to the Church windows. The issues with the stairs and use of the loft have been successfully resolved. St. Edwards has been working with the surveyor to establish the cause of the crack in the church and to ensure the appropriate repair work. At St. Pius the boundary fencing has been replaced / repaired and in St. Joseph’s the new boilers are installed and working efficiently. A plan has been drawn up for key building and Health and Safety works in 2020. We look forward to the appointment of the new parish administrator who will share the workload of the parish’s fantastic, but overloaded, staff.
In the autumn the Legacy Group (a working party of the Finance Committee) prepared and presented materials to support those parishioners who wish to leave a legacy . Copies of the materials are available from the Parish Office. November saw the celebration of a Mass for all those who had left a legacy of time, talent or treasure to the parish over the years.