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Sunday 13th April 2008

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER TIDE. IN CYCLE A READINGS + "GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY" 13th April 2008. 150th anniversary of the appearances of the BVM in Lourdes.


My Dear People,

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the worldwide Day of Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood and the Consecrated Life. The Holy Father's Message to the entire body of the Faithful on this important and vital topic is availble at the back of the church. Please take it and read it.

The second collection will be for the education of our Salford Diocesan seminarians, Please give generously to this great cause, and remember them in your Will. The Collection will remain open for Four weeks for people to send in their contributions for young priest's education.

Naturally, our thoughts turn to the shepherding of the flock of Christ when we hear our Lords own words "I am the good shepherd and I lay down my life for my sheep." The mark of the true shepherd is the one who "lays down his life". It is not a "Job" - it is a divine calling which causes a man to respond to Christ's personal invitation to serve Him as His Priest.

Vocations come from the heart of the Christian family circle usually. God works in many ways but in the past vocations have certainly been the product of a faith filled married life. The two sacraments are two sides of one coin. If marriage is under pressure (and it is) then the Priesthood is certainly under pressure.

So we must put this intention at the heart of things. No priests - no church - believe me. No babies - no church. We are a greying population. Married people - be generous with life and have large families - go on - show the world where true happiness lies. The press this week said that many couples are not having kids at all because they want the good things of life instead like good houses - holidays etc. Be a sign of contradiction and show the world what happiness is.

Pray for more priests and consecrated persons. The world we live in needs the spiritual oxygen only a priest can give with his unique ministry in persona Christi. Our Lord told us to pray for that specific intention - for labourers to be sent to the great harvest just waiting for the priestly reapers to come and gather the souls into God's barns.

The love of Christ impels us to address you young men and ask yourselves if Christ could be calling you to be priests. I was quite young when the thought occurred to me but it took time to really mature. It is a love affair really with he Divine Redeemer. To love him is to serve him in himself and in his people and it is an exclusive love - hence the rule of priestly celibacy. It is wrong to judge that if priests were married there would be a plentiful supply - believe me there would not. That is no he solution. Times will change and there will be a super growth and the world will long for more priests to be sent to the harvest. May be the vocation will come in your family. Encourage it won't you?

So GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY will remind us that we all need shepherding and if we fulfil our role to be the carer of the ones Christ has given us charge of there will be in that number those whom the Good Shepherd calls to the priesthood. Where the Catholic faith is fully lived - there are plenty of vocations and the seminaries are full. Throughout the world there are more priests than ever but in our region - the West - there is a great shortage and too many grey hairs. It is a spiritual and faith problem partly based on the lack of marriage, too few children through contraception and a cultural deficit of secularism where the loss of God in the western mind means that few a listening for the call of the Good Shepherd.

Enough of analysis - the Catenians are doing their bit for vocations and we as a parish community must pray for them. We have thanks be to God we have 2 applying to be priests between the two parishes this year.

Father Tom Connolly with Father John Flynn

Diocesan Statistics.

In 1980, 3860 men were ordained to the diocesan priesthood worldwide (that excludes Religious Orders). In 2000 this number has increased to 6814. Even in Europe the number of ordinations rose from 1682 to 2321 during the same period, though many of these were in the ex communist nations.
In 1871 the ratio of priests to Catholic population in England and Wales was 1/ 774. In 1941 it fell to 1/ 411. The present stands at 1/750. In the USA it is 1/ 1250 and in Brazil 1/ 8659.
Over the last three years there has been a modest increase in entrants to seminary in England and Wales after a few decades of decline. The average age to begin seminary is now 30 compared to 25 twenty years ago.



"Walk for Life" On Sunday 27th April get sponsored to walk among the daffodils and ducklings along the Macclesfield Canal and Middlewood Way and at the same time help LIFE to save the unborn Child and the mothers. Whatever the weather - you will be doing something worthwhile. Pick up Sponsor forms at the back of church.

THE NIGERIAN CATHOLIC CHAPLAINCY MANCHESTER welcomes all Nigerians and friends and families to the Nigerian Catholic Community Mass on 20th April at the Cathedral of St John, Chapel St, Salford M3 5LL at 2pm. www.ncchap.org.uk

THE FRATERNAS consecrated women at St Edwards and Blackley would like to invite you the Presentation of the Christian Life Movement, an ecclesial movement approved by the Holy See. During this Presentation we will talk about the CLM is and its presence here and in other nations, its different works and particular Charisma, which is shared by the Fraternas, ie The Marian Community of Reconciliation, Come to the Presentation on Saturday 10th May at 5pm in St Edward's hall , Thurloe St.

FRANK McKEOWN does anyone know where he is? He had a warehouse fire 20 years ago and owned a Night Club in town and his family are looking for him. If you do know phone Frankie Martin, Athlone, Co West Meath 0877542253 / 0851660313.

LAYDEWELL PILGRIMAGE led by Mgr Mark Davis Vicar General will be on Saturday 6th September at 2pm.

CHARITY DINNER FOR THE CATHOLIC CHILDREN'S RESCUE SOCIETY to be held at the Alma Lodge Hotel, Regis Suite, 149 Buxton Rd Stockport, SK2 6EL, Fri April 25th 7.15. Attended by John Thomson. Dress: Lounge Suit. Tickets 25. Call Sarah Broomhead 445 7741.

Bidding Prayers

Bidding Prayers Vocations Sunday, 4th Sunday of Easter - 13th April

PRIEST We now turn to the Father in prayer, confident that He will hear us and will respond in love.

READER For the Shepherds of the Church. We pray that Pope Benedict, our bishop Terence, and the priests of our diocese will be strengthened in their ministry and be ever more faithful witnesses to Christ Jesus. Lord hear us...

We pray for our parish community, that we may understand the richness of our baptismal calling and be a people ready to respond with generosity to the call of God in our lives. Lord hear us...

We ask the Lord to guide young people as they make important choices in their lives. We also especially pray for parents, teachers and all those who work with young people. May they all reflect on God's Call. Lord hear us...

We pray for all our sick: Father Keane, Mgr Michael Quinlan, Sean Whelan, Bridie Elmore, Michael Kelly, Kevin Devanny, Betty Wallace, Joe Christie, Patrick Creamer, John Francis Walsh, Stephen Sharples, Ida Sheehan. Lord hear us...

For those in formation to be priests for our diocese. We pray that they may have the courage to accept the call to the Priesthood of the New Covenant in the Church and be willing to serve the Lord in trust and faith. Lord hear us...

FOR THE SUNDAY EVENING MASS ONLY Lord watch over the Catenian Assocation in all their family life - may their members be enriched in faith and bear fruit in every kind of good work as they pray for an increase in priestly vocations in this Mass. Lord hear us.

We pray for all those who have died recently and for those who mourn them: Tom Duffy, Norma Crellin, John Mitchell , Fr Kitchen and Fr Burke.

We remember all those in the ordained ministry who served this community over the years and who have died. We also remember all the deceased bishops, priests and consecrated of our diocese and all whose anniversaries fall about this time: Patrick Stenson (11am mass), Joan Levin, Margaret McDonough, Eileen Brady (Vigil) Joseph Bill O'Brien, Paddy Lydon. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

We ask Mary, mother of Christ our Good Shepherd to pray for us as we say: O Mary, Conceived without sin. Pray for us who have recourse to thee. Hail Mary...

PRIEST Father, teach us to follow Christ your Son more faithfully. By listening to His voice may we become a community more attuned to your call in our lives. We ask you to hear the prayers we make to you today, those made out loud, and those made in the silence of our hearts. We ask you to grant them through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.