Celtic Cross

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Message From The Parish Priest

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My Dear People,

Have you noticed in the Holy Gospels that it is nearly always St. Peter who pipes up with a response when Our Lord poses a question or a challenge? Peter jumped out of the boat when our Lord invited him in order to join Jesus who was walking on the water at the time. He sank but Jesus' hand was holding him straightaway and he did not drown. He was the one who proclaimed that he would suffer and die with him even hours before he denied him. It was Peter who would say to Jesus after the teaching on the Eucharist as Christ's Body to be eaten - "Lord to whom would we go-? You have the message of eternal life and we know and believe that you are the Holy one of God."

Our Lord had said to the twelve with Simon Peter present - "Satan wanted to sift you all like wheat but I have prayed for you Simon - and when your faith returns you will be the strength of your brethren". In this way Jesus indicated that he would be the first Pope. The Pope even now strengthens the brethren does he not as Christ's representative on this earth. Long live our dear Pope Benedict., the modern "Peter".

Today in the Gospel our Lord asks the others who people think he is. It is Simon Peter who pipes up "(You are) The Christ of God". And Our Lord tells them to keep quiet about it for the Son of Man has to suffer terribly in the hands of sinners and be put to death but on the third day will rise again. The apostles forgot all that though didn't they as soon as our Lord was arrested. They all fled. But our Lord knew that they would come back and Peter would be their great strength. Peter is referred to more than any other apostles in the New Testament.

Then our Lord tells us all that if we want to be his, we have to live in the royal road of the cross taking it up daily and following in his footsteps.

Now you do not have to go looking for crosses. Everyone reading this at Mass today will know very well the crosses our Lord has given them to bear patiently and in the spirit of faith and discipleship. Even the children will have had crosses to bear. It is a secret from most people, your secret crosses and only God knows them. There are some crosses like loss of a child, the loss of health, spouse, job, reputation or of being persecuted unjustly. One could go on but we all have our crosses. If we bear them with Jesus and walk with him on the royal road of the Cross we will save our life and live it fully and meaningfully. Indeed that person will experience life to the full. One thing is for sure the decades of widowhood and loneliness that often touches your heart - the loss of a that there is no resurrection without dying to self and to sin. It is the Christian secret - that it is giving that we receive and in dying that we come to eternal life. It has always been that way and we have prospered when we have had to suffer for Christ.

God Bless,

Father Tom Connolly.


As soon as this Year was announced by Pope Benedict and St John Mary Vianney the French Parish Priest proclaimed as the Patron for all Priests - our Vicar General (Mgr Mark Davies- now a Bishop) organised this pilgrimage for our Salford Diocese so that we could be gathered with the Holy Father for the Concluding ceremonies.

What a wonderful moment in my life as a priest of the Catholic Church. 12,000 priests from around the whole earth came together with the Pope. On the Wednesday there were so many that the huge Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls was filled by 6,500 and over 4,500 were in St Mary Majors within the City of Rome at the same time. On the Thursday night we kept Vigil with the Pope in St Peter's Piazza. We had to start going into the Piazza by 5pm so we could all get security checked for the 8.30 start. At 9 the Litany of the Saints began to be chanted in Latin and eventually as we got to the end the Pope began to enter the square of St Peter's on his electric jeep. What an atmosphere! The air was electric and we welcomed him with arms outstretched and voices uplifted - to the Vicar of Christ on earth. You could see the Pope's eyes glistening emotion on the large screens, as he looked at us from the steps of the Basilica built over St Peter's bones. He addressed us beautifully with the full pastoral love which we have come to know in Benedict - it reflects the heart of the Master. There was a questions and answer session from priests in different apostolates from the slum dwelling kids of Rio to the PP in Frankfurt and lots in between and he had wonderful and simple advice and insight to given us all.

Then the Blessed Sacrament was brought into the Square under a great and huge canopy - This was a sight to behold and eventually the Holy Father Exposed the Blessed Sacrament and we all knelt in silent adoration with him for a long time. The vigil ended at 12.10. The next morning we had to leave the hotel at 7am for the Pope's final Mass with us was at 10am and we had to vest of course. 12,000 or more priests came to this and at the end of a most moving celebration with a Homily of great encouragement and new insights for us all, from the Pope, he dedicated the universal Catholic Priesthood to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with a Prayer that was so detailed I am going to print it on a card for you. He sent us all away with a lump in our throats and a memory on a minds seared forever such was the emotion experienced by us all. Bishop Brain took 22 of us.

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