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Sermon for 26 April 2015



Good Shepherd Sunday each year reminds me of my own vocation to become a Priest in the Catholic Church.

I will never get used to or take for granted the fact that the good Shepherd called me to be his fellow shepherd - to share His Sacred and unique Priestly Office. To act in the name and in the Person of Christ for the whole of one’s life is such a gift. To offer the Holy Sacrifice at the Altar every day (except Good Friday) is indeed a privilege that one never gets used to. He is in my hands in the Host and the Chalice after I have Confected the change from bread and wine in to His Body and Blood , Soul and Divinity.

Is it any wonder that the Bishop (Bishop Holland in my case) who ordains you smears the Sacred, scent filled Oil of Chrism all over the palms of the newly ordained priest's hands? From then on those hands are handling sacred things - they hold Christ Body and give Him to others- they hold out the hand in Absolution from Sin. The same hands are laid on the sick and the dying in Christ's name to confer healing and strength and anoint the sick and poorly with the Oil of the Infirm. The same hands pour the water in the name of the Holy Trinity and Original Sin is washed away and the baptised enter Christ’s Kingdom of Light. Couples have their Marriage rings blessed and so on.

When the hands are anointed they are wrapped in a linen cloth in case they drip. That oil stained linen cloth is wrapped around the priest's mothers hands in her death. Not many know that. My mother was dead a long time before I was ordained in 1976. She went to God in 1960 - only in her forties. May God be good to her.

I want you all to commend your priests to Almighty God for them to be kept safe from sin and be true Good Shepherds with the Divine Shepherd. Our Lord gave himself that title – "I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for my Sheep." - Those sheep and you and me.

To preach the truth when it is unpopular is not easy you know. Many things in our neo pagan culture have made people enter a world where the Truths of the Faith become marginal. The Priest or Bishop or Pope has to explain it and persuade others to believe it.

It is a wonderful way of life and in my experience one which really does require of me the gift of self in a way which does not include the vocation to be Married at the same time. The Pope has made exceptions for convert clergymen and I am glad for them.

Today the Second Collection is to help to pay for the expenses of education our Salford Seminarians who are training in the various seminaries to be priests. You know it is not cheap to upkeep a student. But you will be happy to know that they will not spend your hard earned dosh on drinkin and smoking!! Be generous in your Offering. It goes to the ECCLESIASTICAL EDUCATION FUND if you are thinking of doing a cheque. I accept Euros too!

God Bless you all my Flock, and all you little lambs.

Fr Tom Connolly

THE CHRISTIAN HOLOCAUST. Turkey is not happy about the Pope referring to the massacre of tens of thousands of Christian Armenians in 1915 in Turkey. History proves though that it was organised. Whole towns and villages were abandoned and the women and children who could not get out were forced to become Muslims and then sold into slavery. Pope Benedict XV protested to the Sultan and wrote to the Western powers to protect the Christians but to no avail. The Christian intellectuals were rounded up and executed, then whole towns were told that they were going to be "re-settled" and started on a death march to nowhere and all their worldly goods were stole. Most died on the way of starvation.

That was 1915 and the same is happening in Iraq and Syria and parts of Egypt today. The Christians were given three choices: convert to Islam - Isis style or pay the huge TAX(they could not afford) or get murdered. Naturally they chose to flee - I am talking about NOW - in our days. As they left in great columns bringing what they could with them like family photos and heirlooms and cash - the check points manned by al-Qaeda who had swept over the Armenian town of Kassab in Northern Syria robbed them of all their possessions. This is a repeat of the terrible events commemorated by Pope Francis in St Peter's Basilica last week with the Catholic and Orthodox Armenian Archbishops.

In 1914 there was 2,133,190 Christians in what is now Turkey and in 1922 only 387,000 were left - exile and annihilation because of their Christian Faith - Many were expelled to Greece even though they had lived and worked in Asia Minor for a thousand Years!! The Government wanted a muslim State you see. They became strangers twice over – in Turkey and in Greece. AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED IS A GREAT HELP to them and I am donating much of the Lenten Alms to this great need. The Islamic world persecutes us. In Pakistan every week another Church or Christian school is torched and people set on fire for their faith. Pray for these poor, poor fellow believers- they have lost everything they owned. Imagine how we would feel?

Bidding Prayers

Bidding Prayers 4th of Easter B Vocations Sunday.

Priest: Christ is the true Shepherd who provides us with green pastures of pure water. Let us turn to him in our every need.

For our nation as it faces the dryness of spirit which comes through having no faith in the Living God - that our nation may re-discover its roots in the Christian faith and so find life and joy. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For all those who are discerning a vocation to the priestly ministry, the consecrated life or the life of Christian Marriage – that each will find their true vocation in life, and so play their part in the work of bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For our fellow Christians who are the victims of persecution in Syria and Iraq and Pakistan and many other places – that the Lord may sustain them in their suffering and our help may reach them. Lord in your mercy.

For all our clergy who have been given the Office of Pastor and Shepherd and Priest – that they may truly sanctify, order and guide God’s faithful flock as true imitators of the Supreme Pastor. We commend also to the Lord our seminarians. Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For the sick that they may find green pastures even in their illnesses: Elizabeth Mallett, Patrick Grimes, Algis Kup-sties, Licy My-la-door, Michael Nolan, Elizabeth Layden, Christine Booth, Mark Colbert, Marian Farrelly, Ann Brady, Aiden Kennedy, Denis McLoughlin. Lord in your mercy.

For all those who have been called by God recently that they may see the Risen Christ: Frances Woodworth, Margaret Rose Peet AND for those souls whose anniversaries fall about this time: Maureen Waring (6.30pm Sunday), Mary Page, Sarah Lindley, (May 2nd) Mary Kerrigan (11.30 am Sat 25th April), Mrs Josephine Blake (11am), Roseanne O'Sullivan (9am), Elizabeth Coughlan, Christine Coughlan.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

O Mary, you are the Mother of all the living and Jesus gave your mothering to us from the Cross – pray for us now for we are your children..O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Hail Mary...

Priest. O Lord and heavenly Father listen to our heartfelt prayer on this Sunday dedicated to vocations in your church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.