CAFOD Urges United Front Against Coronavirus


CAFOD is asking Catholics to sign a petition asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure that the most vulnerable people are the priority in the UK’s international efforts as well as at home.

The charity says: “We are living through the biggest public health crisis in a century.

“Right across the UK, coronavirus is having a devastating impact on all of our daily lives, and many people have lost precious loved ones. But in many developing countries where poverty is widespread and healthcare systems are much more fragile, the effects are likely to be disastrous.

“We must never forget that we are one global family, united in this struggle. Now is not the time to build barriers, but for the world to unite in love and compassion.

“Out of love for our sisters and brothers overseas, sign our petition asking the Prime Minister to ensure that the most vulnerable people are the priority in the UK’s international efforts as well as at home.”

You can sign the petition here

Diocese Launches ‘Mass-by-Phone’ Service

Bishop Terry saying Mass at the cathedral – Photo by Father Albert Schembri

The Diocese of Middlesbrough has launched what it believes is the country’s first Catholic Mass available to listen to directly by phone.

The new Mass-by-Phone service, specifically provided for those without internet access, follows the success of online services introduced since churches were closed when the coronavirus lockdown began. 

Thousands of people have been tuning in to online Masses broadcast on YouTube from St Mary’s Cathedral in Middlesbrough.

Parishes throughout the diocese have reported numbers far greater than their usual congregations taking part in daily services on platforms including Facebook Live. St Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Ingleby Barwick saw 4,700 views of one of their services over Easter.

But priests were aware that many people, especially older worshippers, were missing out because they don’t have smartphones or wifi at home.

However, they were contacted by Andrew Gardner, grand knight of the Middlesbrough council of Catholic men’s organisation the Knights of St Columba, who had heard about church groups using the Twilio phone system to host “dial-a-sermon” services.

After Bishop Terry Drainey enthusiastically welcomed the idea, a phone number was set up and Father Albert Schembri, of St Mary’s Cathedral, recorded the first Mass. Exactly  

100 people called the service on Sunday (May 3) it was launched.

Canon Derek Turnham, who oversees communications in the diocese, said: “Parishes including my own in Redcar have been reaching out through YouTube, Facebook and sending out emails to try to keep in touch with people. But we also knew there are a whole lot of people who don’t have smartphones or internet access.

“We’re delighted we’ve been able to set up this system, which enables people to hear Mass broadcast from our cathedral at any time of day and share in our worship.”

The new phone service comes just days after a survey of more than 2,000 people carried out by Tearfund revealed that a quarter of UK adults have listened to a religious service since the lockdown began – including more younger people (18–34) than those aged over 55. Twenty per cent those who said they have done so said they’d never gone to church.

Bishop Terry said: “Everyone needs hope and encouragement at this time and I’m delighted that through digital technology, the Church is able to is give comfort to Catholics and also to others who are not churchgoers and may not consider themselves to be Christians.

“There’s a dark cloud hanging over us and our world and situations like this often bring out the worst in people but they also bring out the best in people.

“We’re seeing a new growth of community spirit – a realisation that we can’t make it on our own and we need one another if we’re going to get through this crisis, which we will. We all belong to the human family and to God’s family.

“It’s sometimes easer to believe in God’s providence when all is going well and the sun is shining. When times are a little bit darker and more difficult, we can begin to doubt. But this is not what we’ve been experiencing at this time. Instead, we’re seeing people’s faith becoming stronger than ever before.”  

The diocese thanked Knights of St Columba Council 29, which has offered to meet the cost of providing the phone service, which the diocese believes is the first that doesn’t require any special codes to access.  

The number to call is 01642 130120. Calls are charged at local rate and free if in your included minutes.

The diocese is also planning to run a “virtual” Lourdes pilgrimage after being forced to postpone its usual visit to the French shrine at the end of May. This will involve services on Facebook as well as special prayers and reflections.

Catholic churches in the Diocese of Middlesbrough which are regularly streaming their services include…

Driffield: Our Lady and St Edward’s

Hull: Our Lady of Lourdes and St Peter Chanel

Ingleby Barwick: St Thérèse of Lisieux 

Middlesbrough: St Mary’s Cathedral, St Gabriel’s, Holy Name of Mary

Redcar: Blessed Nicholas Postgate

Scarborough: St Peter’s

York: St Wilfrid’s, English Martyrs, Our Lady’s 

Join Us On Our Lourdes Walk Of Hope

We all know we’re not able to go on to Lourdes this year, so we’re going to bring you the next best thing – a virtual pilgrimage!

Bishop Terry has agreed to lead a programme of online services from St Mary’s Cathedral at around the times our various celebrations would have been taking place.

And to prepare us for our week, we’ve decided to invite you to join us on a 16-day Walk of Hope from Middlesbrough to Lourdes, travelling around 65 miles each day through England and France before arriving at the shrine for the start of our virtual pilgrimage on Friday May 22. 

You can take part in this journey of faith – which has the theme “Lourdes I am” – to visit Our Lady and St Bernadette by walking, running or travelling in your wheelchair for anything from 100 yards up to a few miles – while observing the rules concerning social distancing, of course – to add to our daily total.    

This could be part of your existing exercise or especially for the journey – every step helps! Simply email the distance you’ve completed to by 5pm each day.

We’ll use our Middlesbrough Diocesan Lourdes Facebook page to record our journey and post daily updates and we welcome you to post photographs and comments about your own day’s journey.

The 16 days of our journey will be themed around the first 16 Apparitions of St Bernadette, ending on the day of the 16th apparition when Our Lady says, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Our journey begins on Thursday May 7 with 10am Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, which will be celebrated by Bishop Terry and streamed via YouTube. We will then begin our journey.

The Middlesbrough Diocesan Pilgrimage and Hospitalite Facebook group is a closed group but anyone who has ever been to Lourdes or ever plans to go is welcome to join on request. Search for the group on Facebook and ask to join.

Daily Itinerary

Morning prayer and theme for the day

1pm: A personal reflection from a different pilgrim each day posted on Facebook

5pm: We’ll update everyone with how far we’ve come, including details of who has contributed to our journey

7.30pm: Night prayers and Rosary streamed on Facebook Live.

Our journey will end with Rosary at 7.30pm on the evening of Friday May 22, when we arrive in Lourdes to begin our virtual pilgrimage.

Our journey…

Day 1 – Thursday May 7: Leave St Mary’s Cathedral for Richmond, ending the day in Scarborough

Day 2 – Friday May 8: Scarborough to York

Day 3 – Saturday May 9: York to Hull, ending the day in Scunthorpe

Day 4 – Sunday May 10: Scunthorpe to Grantham

Day 5 – Monday May 11: Grantham to Cambridge

Day 6 – Tuesday May 12: Cambridge to Gravesend

Day 7 – Wednesday May 13: Leave Gravesend, board the ferry at Dover and travel to Calais

Day 8 ­– Thursday May 14: Calais to Arras

Day 9 – Friday May 15: Arras to Compiegne

Day 10 – Saturday May 16: Compiegne to Angervilliers

Day 11 – Sunday May 17: Angervilliers to Lussay

Day 12 – Monday May 18: Lussay to Velleches

Day 13 – Tuesday May 19: Velleches to La Fort-Monjault

Day 14 – Wednesday May 20: La Fort-Monjault toSaintes

Day 15 – Thursday May 21: Saintes to Toulenne

Day 16 – Friday May 22: Toulenne to Lourdes

A People Who Hope in Christ: A Message From Our Metropolitan Archbishops

Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The radiance of the risen Lord shines upon us. At a time when so many shadows are cast into our lives, and upon our world, the light of the resurrection shines forever to renew and restore our hope. In the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: ‘In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.’ (March 27 2020)

The impact of Covid-19, both nationally and internationally, has been immense. So much of what we take for granted has changed. Our health and physical interaction, our capacity to travel and gather, have all been affected. There is uncertainty in our future, especially with work and the country’s economy. As we know, very sadly, large numbers of people have died because of the coronavirus, and others have been or remain seriously ill. Keyworkers, not least in the National Health Service and care sectors, are serving selflessly to sustain the life of our nation. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone who is suffering because of Covid-19, and to all those battling to overcome its effects. May those who have died rest in peace and those who are bereaved find comfort.

When the Prime Minister announced the lockdown, this included places of worship and therefore Catholic churches. These measures were put in place to stem the general transmission of the virus. It is right that the Catholic community fulfils its role in contributing to the preservation of life and the common good of society. This must continue until the restrictions applied by the Government are lifted.

None of us would want to be in the situation in which we find ourselves. While the live-streaming of the Mass and other devotions is playing an important part in maintaining the life of faith, there is no substitute for Catholics being able to physically attend and participate in the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments. Our faith is expressed powerfully and beautifully though ‘seeing, touching, and tasting.’ We know that every bishop and every priest recognises the pain of Catholics who, at present, cannot pray in church or receive the sacraments. This weighs heavily on our hearts. We are deeply moved by the Eucharistic yearning expressed by so many members of the faithful. We thank you sincerely for your love for the Lord Jesus, present in the sacraments and supremely so in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The bishops and priests of every diocese are remembering you and your loved ones at Mass each day in our churches as we pray ‘in hope of health and wellbeing.’ We thank our priests for this faithfulness to their calling.

As the government’s restrictions are relaxed step by step, we look forward to opening our churches and resuming our liturgical, spiritual, catechetical and pastoral life step by step. This will also be of service to those beyond the Catholic Church who depend on our charitable activity and outreach through which much goodness is shared by so many volunteers from our communities.

None of us knows, as yet, how or when the lockdown will end. There is likely to be a phased return to travelling and gathering. As a church, we are now planning for this time and our discussions with the statutory public health agencies and government representatives are ongoing. Together with Catholics across England and Wales we desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments. Until then, we are continuing to pray and prepare.

We want to acknowledge with gratitude the service of our fellow bishops and priests, our deacons and religious, our families and lay faithful, together with all our parish and school communities, for the wonderful ways the life of the faith is being nourished at this time, especially in the home. We also pay tribute to the Catholic organisations and networks that are working to support the vulnerable and needy.

On that first Easter day, the disciples were in lockdown and the doors were closed. In their isolation the Lord Jesus came among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

May the peace of the risen Lord reign in our hearts and homes as we look forward to the day we can enter church again and gather around the altar to offer together the Sacrifice of Praise.

We unite in asking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady and assure you of our prayers and blessing

Yours devotedly in Christ,

? Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

? Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool

? Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham

? George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff

? John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark

May’s Clergy Anniversaries

Father Tony Storey at his desk at St Charles in Hull – Photo courtesy of Marian Hall

We pray for the following priests of our diocese whose anniversaries are during May…

1          1994               Rev John Eaves-Tinsley                                        Middlesbrough
1          2007               Rev Anthony J F Storey                                         Hull
2          1889               Rev John Leadbetter                                              Hedon
2          1911               Very Rev Canon Thomas Holland                          Yarm
2          1986               Rev Francis Hyland                                                Everingham
3          1912               Rev William McNaughton                                       Beverley
5          1892               Very Rev Canon John Doud                                  South Bank
6          1917               Very Rev Canon Charles Wood                             Hull
6          1978               Rt Rev Mgr Provost Michael O’Sullivan                 Redcar
10        1943               Rt Rev Mgr Canon Jules Claus                             Middlesbrough
12        1992               Rev Joseph McDonagh                                         Middlesbrough
14        1963               Rev Michael Nerney                                              Dormanstown
14        1970               Rt Rev Mgr William Brunner                                  Hull
15        1970               Rev Basil McCreton                                               Scorton
15        1972               Rev Joseph Beasty                                                Dormanstown
17        1979               Rev Patrick Breen                                                  Ulshaw Bridge
19        1978               Rev Martin Vasey                                                   Marske
19        1998               Rev Alfred Dodds MHM                                          Freshfields
20        1982               Rev Patrick O’Rourke                                             Sleights
22        1940               Rev Louis Tils                                                          Northallerton
22        1994               Rev Michael Lynam                                                 Middlesbrough
23        1955               Very Rev Canon John Chadwick                             Saltburn
25        1882               Rev Robert Gibson                                                  Ulshaw Bridge
27        1886               Rev Thomas Danson                                               Howden

CAFOD Launches Emergency Coronavirus Appeal

Catholic aid agency CAFOD has launched an urgent appeal to respond to the unprecedented global challenge of tackling the spread of the coronavirus in some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

“Coronavirus is a tsunami heading towards the homes of millions of poor communities who have nothing to protect themselves from its devastating impacts,” said Christine Allen, CAFOD’s director.

Aside from the many deaths that are likely due to infections, millions of people around the world who already struggle to feed their families will face extreme hunger as jobs are lost and markets shut down because of coronavirus.

“The potential scale of the pandemic across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East – as well as among refugee and displaced populations in places such as Syria, South Sudan and the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh – is truly frightening.

“These are vulnerable families who are unprepared to fight this virus and are being pushed to the brink of hunger and poverty,” said Ms Allen.

CAFOD is scaling up its support to local aid experts who are providing food and improving handwashing and sanitation facilities in communities and households. It is also helping churches use their networks to share hygiene messages through Catholic radio stations and producing posters in local dialects on infection prevention.

“We have a narrow window of opportunity to reach communities with the basics for life – food and clean water, and the messages they need on how best to keep safe,” said Ms Allen.

“Our local aid experts are already responding and trying to alleviate what is likely to be a catastrophe in terms of hunger, poverty and death as a result of this pandemic.”

According to the UN over a third of households in Africa have no access to handwashing facilities, and almost another third has limited access with either no water or soap. Millions of lives are at risk, with estimates that between 300,000 and 3.3m people could lose their lives as a direct result of coronavirus (UN Economic Commission for Africa COVID-19 in Africa Report, 2020).

Trust is essential for winning over communities, changing behaviours, and reducing the spread of coronavirus,” she said, adding.

“We will maximise the reach of the global Catholic Church aid network, particularly in Africa – where a third of healthcare is provided by the Catholic Church, and trusted faith and community leaders are known in their communities.

“We must not wait until we see the terrible headlines about millions of people whose lives have been lost to the coronavirus,” said Ms Allen. “Donations have never been more urgent, providing steadfast support to those who are in greatest need.

“We can all be infected by the virus, but this crisis has revealed just how unequal our world and society are. Its economic and social impacts will be long-lasting and most devastating for the poorest. That is why we are calling for the cancellation of debt owed by some of the world’s poorest countries so that they can finance their response to coronavirus, shore up fragile health systems, and relaunch their economies.

“It is our collective actions now that will make all the difference and save countless lives,” concluded Ms Allen.

In Pope Francis’ Urbi et orbi Easter message called on the world not to “yield to fear” regarding the spread of the coronavirus, but to unite and take action, “…because the challenge we are facing is shared by all without distinguishing between persons.”

Donations to CAFOD’s Coronavirus Appeal can be made via or by calling +44 (0)303 303 3030


Charities Share Catholic Women’s League Windfall

Middlesbrough Food Bank

Charities are to share a £1,000 windfall to help with their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The money has been donated by the Middlesbrough branch of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) to Teesside Hospice, food banks in Middlesbrough and Driffield Foodbank and to provide food parcels for needy children.

The CWL trustees released £1,000 to each of its diocesan branches to help alleviate some of the suffering caused by the outbreak by giving it to charities of their choice.

Middlesbrough branch president Elizabeth Rodgers said the money was sent with continuing prayers of CWL members for the fantastic work being carried out.

CAFOD Appeals For Pandemic Response Support

A letter from CAFOD chair of trustees Bishop John Arnold and his fellow trustee Bishop Patrick McKinney appealing for support for the charities work during this time…

We wish you, belatedly, a hope-filled Easter and we trust that you are keeping safe and well. What strange and difficult times for all of us as we adjust to the challenges of our present circumstances. But even in the sadness and anxiety, there is much for which to give thanks in the generous response of people in engaging with live-streamed liturgies and in the generous help given to those in need, both by individuals and by agencies such as Caritas and SVP.

This present crisis also presents opportunities for us all to adjust our priorities, to recognise the pressing needs of our brothers and sisters. While here at home we can do much to address social needs of homelessness, domestic abuse and forms of social degradation, we must also renew our awareness of the appalling suffering of so many millions of our brothers and sisters in some of the poorest countries of the world.

What havoc may Covid 19 cause in countries where there are minimal healthcare facilities (ten African countries have no ventilators at all!), where millions of Rohingya and Syrian refugees are crowded in the squalor of unsanitary refugee camps and millions of workers exploited?

As trustees of CAFOD, we have seen for ourselves the enormous need that so many in the world face. We fear for the people and communities we have met in our travels and the catastrophic effects on those communities. We recognise that the scale of this pandemic is unprecedented.

This is why CAFOD is launching an appeal for funds to help support their response to the global pandemic that is COVID-19. All around the world CAFOD’s partners and Caritas agencies are responding.

CAFOD is repurposing its own grants and programmes of support but in the face of this pandemic we need a concerted effort. We know that this comes very soon after the CAFOD Lent appeal but this is an essential moment when we need to generate funds to support so many around the world. The impact of this virus on the poorest is incalculable. Research indicates high levels of deaths in the short-term but the lasting impact on economies and livelihoods of those who already live on the edge is potentially disastrous.

We are writing to ask that you be vocal in supporting this urgent appeal and encourage the Catholic community to respond to this crisis not only here at home, but for our brothers and sisters around the world.

Please encourage your priests and parishes to promote the CAFOD Coronavirus appeal, especially encouraging giving online. If your social media and communications teams could share the CAFOD posts on Facebook and Twitter, that would best publicise the message.

It is likely that there will be a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal in early May and this will further raise the profile of the impact of this virus on the world’s poor. This would be another opportunity to promote the CAFOD appeal, as a member of the DEC.

Thank you for considering this. CAFOD is our agency of which we are rightly proud. This appeal will make a real difference in the lives of so many.

Click here for details of CAFOD’s appeal



Stepping Into Cambodia With CAFOD Gappers

CAFOD "gappers" Hugh, Daisy, Francis, Orla and Rebecca

Graduates of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme are inviting other young Catholics to an online webinar to explain how their lives were transformed when they travelled to Cambodia to see the charity’s work first-hand – and maybe even to follow in their footsteps.

Hugh, Daisy, Francis, Orla and Rebecca saw the work of two CAFOD partners, Cambodian Organisation for Children’s Development and Karuna Battambang Organisation and were inspired by some remarkable people.

They visited a variety of agricultural projects such as chicken rearing and vegetable farming as well as water and sanitation projects.

One project was focused on accessing toilets safely where people wouldn’t have to journey into the jungle, another taught schoolchildren how to wash their hands.

“The happiness and joy of the people has been undeniably infectious, making each encounter as beautiful as the next,” said Orla.

“Going to Cambodia was really life-changing for me, I saw how the Catholic community of England and Wales, by supporting the work of CAFOD, does really make a difference to so many people’s lives around the world.”

Hugh added: “We were so blessed to be able to spend time with the communities that CAFOD works with and to learn about their lives as well as the difference chicken rearing and other projects can make.”

As well as this three-week visit to CAFOD’s partners, the gappers spend their year in placements including youth retreat centres, university and school chaplaincies where they develop leadership skills and share their passion for social justice with the wider community.

It offers young adults between 18 and 30 the opportunity to gain new experience and inspire a generation of people to act for the poorest and most marginalised.

Now back in the UK, the gappers were hoping to return to their placements and share the stories and lessons they learnt in Cambodia but with the lockdown, the gappers are coming up with alternative ways to share about their experience.

Two of the participants would love you to join their interactive webinar: Cambodia and Step into the Gap on April 30. You can register close to the time on CAFOD’s website

There are still placements available for September, so if you are between 18 and 30 and want to inspire others to create a fairer and more just world, then visit As part of the programme you will have the opportunity to see the work of CAFOD first-hand for three weeks and spend the year in one of our UK placements.


School Staff Join Fight Against Covid-19

The face masks made at St Francis Xavier School in Richmond

The technology department at St Francis Xavier School in Richmond has been helping the national effort in the fight against Covid-19 by producing face masks for local care homes, hospitals, prisons and the ambulance service.

Sandra Bradley and Stuart Lister in the Technology department, alongside SFX governor and Mowbray School teacher Nigel Wilford, produced more than 100 visors per day, working tirelessly to make and then distribute the masks locally.

Headteacher Stuart McGhee said: “What Nigel and the Technology department have done is fantastic.

“Staff have given up their Easter holidays to not only look after the children of key workers but to produce the masks. There has been a huge demand for them locally and we are just happy to help in any way we can.”

Anyone with a request for the visors should email the school at

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This