To be read at all Masses
on the weekend of 18-19 October 2008
Dear brothers and sisters
I wish you the peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, and I pray that it will guard our hearts and our thoughts, in Christ Jesus.
You will recall that in June I asked your views and suggestions on my initial thought to link Holy Name with Our Lady and St Anthony’s, forming a single parish with the parish church at Our Lady’s, and closing the Holy Name church. Over the summer I have reflected very carefully on your views from the two consultation meetings and the letters and emails you sent me, and for these I am most grateful. However, particularly in view of the need to use the limited number of my priests to serve the Catholic community in the most effective way, and the continuing vandalism to Holy Name church, I have decided, after discussion with my advisers, to form one parish dedicated to Our Lady and St Anthony with Father Norman Jacobson as parish priest, and to close the Holy Name church. Father Jacobson will also assume pastoral responsibility for the Holy Name primary school. This will ensure that sacramental preparation and provision can be arranged jointly by school and parish.
In your comments to me, you highlighted the need for provision for those who needed transport for Sunday Mass, and I have asked Father Norman to organise for such transport for all who wish to participate. Care of the sick and elderly is also a major priority for me, and again in the consultation process you indicated this was important to you, and Father Norman in collaboration with you will take this as a priority as he integrates both communities into one.
Over the years, this parish has made major contributions to evangelisation not only in North Hull, but also across the City. From among your parishioners have come two current diocesan priests – Father John Wood and Father Paul Farrer, and it was from this parish that Holy Cross, Cottingham, developed. I know also that even in recent years as Mass attendance has fallen, the parish liturgy has been positive and uplifting. These are all things which I hope you will contribute to the new parish of Our Lady and St Anthony. I want us to recognise all this and the work of the past 75 years, and so I will celebrate the final Mass here on 2 November at which we will all have the chance to share our experiences and give thanks for all the efforts of those who have gone before us, and all the priests who have served this community.
In recent years there has been an increasing level of vandalism to this church and presbytery, but I do want to keep the buildings intact and serving the community in a positive way for as long as possible. The Endike Community who provide day care here in North Hull has expressed an interest in leasing the church and presbytery as they plan to extend their activities. I have asked the Diocesan Financial Secretary to work with them to explore their plans in detail and, if possible, reach an early agreement with them. I have asked him also to discuss with the Social Club future arrangements for their activities.
At times like this it is so easy to be pessimistic and think only of the past. That is not the way. We are as much in God’s providential care today as we ever were. The Lord is still caring for us and looking after us. Times change and we move on in hope and trust. I pray that you will take up the challenge of the future, and together with the parishioners of Our Lady’s, build together a strong Catholic community serving the needs of this area of the City. I have asked Father Norman to gather both communities together as soon as possible to prepare for the celebration of the final Mass, to agree how you will meet the pastoral needs of the sick and housebound of the new parish, how you will alert all the local community to your services, and of course, the transport arrangements for the future. This is the first act of the new parish, and I feel sure you will be successful.
So I commend you and all you do to the care of Our Blessed Lady of Perpetual Succour, Patroness of our Diocese, and St Anthony, and I assure you of my prayers for the new parish.
God bless you and keep you.
Rt Rev Terence Patrick Drainey
Bishop of Middlesbrough