Happy New Year!

Where has the last month gone, in fact where has the last year gone?! Here we are about to begin a New Church Year…so Happy New Year! I’ve never been very good with resolutions even though I try my hardest, but I will do my best to make more time to read the scriptures – something that through the Alpha course at St. Maximilian’s I realised I don’t do enough of. What will you try and do this coming year as we listen to the Gospel of Luke?

Anyway, guess what… November was another jam-packed month – probably why it has flown by!

In St. Michael’s I received another lovely welcome as I joined them to celebrate Mass. It was lovely to join in their commemoration of Remembrance Day too, particularly marking the 100 years since the armistice. I wasn’t expecting the laying of wreaths and poppies on Saturday night and the silence before both Masses – it was so powerful and moving. Below shows the wreath and poppies laid by the Royal British Legion and Parishioners.

Poppies .jpg

I also made an appeal for volunteers at St. Michael’s as without volunteers I won’t get far with my ministry! I’m so pleased that a few people spoke to me and offered to help…but the more the merrier! So if you think you can help me, we especially need some men to comply with safeguarding practices, please see me after Mass or get in touch!

After half term, I went into St. Michael’s to introduce myself to the children during assembly, it was also the beginning of the Anti-bullying week so they were all wearing odd socks…I wondered what was going on until they told me!

The Catholicism DVD series on a Thursday afternoon has been going well and I’ve managed to go to a few of these sessions and meet more parishioners – the DVD’s have been engaging and thought-provoking with, I’m sure, each of us learning something new each session.

Just last weekend I helped Parishioners at St. Michael’s plant the trees in the grounds – another chance for me to meet more new people! It was a bit of a cold morning, but it’s true – many hands make light work and within an hour the final trees were planted. Now comes the hard part…waiting for them to grow!

In the middle of the month, I was back at Holywell for another retreat – this time with Catherine, Sophie and Dave from the Shrewsbury Youth Mission Team. Together we continued with our formation using ‘Forming Intentional Disciples’ by Sherry Weddell, watched videos about the youth synod, thinking about what we can do next and personal prayer time. We visited St. Winefride’s Well, Pantasaph and Basingwerk Abbey. (Pictures below)

In Runcorn, November began with an Autumn Craft Fair – I had asked the Faith in Action Group to suggest children’s activities and run them – we had a penalty shootout, nail painting, face painting, lucky dip, making decorations and various games. Throughout the day they signed up to ‘man’ an activity – lots of them ended up staying longer than their hour slot and parishioners were made up to see youth there getting involved – some having their nails painted or a go of a game because the youth were doing it! Not everyone wanted their face painted so they got creative and painted people’s hands!

The Faith in Action group also came up with the idea to do something for the younger children in the Parish so on the Feast of Christ the King we had a film afternoon – children from Year 3 and 4 came along and we had food, sweets, juice and popcorn while watching ‘The Lost Medallion’- a great afternoon was had by all!

Alpha in Runcorn has gone from strength to strength – I have been amazed myself at how well it’s gone. We had our ‘away’ time in November – we spent a day and a half at Norton Priory – the main focus was ‘The Holy Spirit’. I must admit I was a little worried about the weekend, having been the main contact between us and the venue, and prayed a lot for everything to go smoothly and that everyone would be open to the gifts of the Spirit. My prayers were heard and answered! It was an incredible weekend…we’re now looking forward to Youth Alpha and another Alpha course in 2019!

So onto December… lots more in store! Advent prayer day, Team Formation, Parish meetings and much more before celebrating the birth of our Saviour!

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All official now!

Well, I’ve now been officially introduced in both Parishes, although it was strange to introduce myself to people in my home parish where most of the parishioners have seen me grow up!

In St. Michael’s the welcome was great and to be there as they celebrated their Patronal Feast Day was lovely as it was the perfect chance to meet lots of people, (the bbq was a bonus too!) I even got a handful of people who would be interested in helping with youth events and activities….still need a few more though before I can get everyone together and put some dates in the diary.

At the Pastoral Council meeting, it was good to meet more members and find out a little more about what has been going on and what is coming up…it’s all very exciting around Christmas time!

The Parishioners at St. Michael’s have been watching the Catholicism series on Thursday afternoons – do go along if you can – this gave me another opportunity to meet more new people, I’m not sure I’ll remember all the names though!

In St. Maximilian Kolbe people remarked upon how busy I seem to have been already! After Mass, it was the first Faith in Action meeting of the year led by Shrewsbury Youth Mission Team. The young people were really engaged, answered lots and each got something personal from it – the doughnuts at the end were a welcome treat too!

The planning is continuing in both parishes – Youth Alpha will be happening next year in both parishes and the Faith in Action awards will continue in Runcorn and begin in Woodchurch.

In Woodchurch I’ve been speaking to the head teacher of St. Michael and All Angels Primary School and we’re looking at ways to strengthen the school – parish links, I’ll be speaking at an assembly after half term.

My family and friends have all been asking me about my holidays – as a teacher, I’d be off every 6 or 7 weeks for half term breaks, but now I don’t get half term breaks some of them (and my own family) have taken great delight in rubbing it in! I will admit, I have missed it in some ways, but  I have also been too busy to miss it! I did, however, enjoy a couple of days annual leave with my nieces and nephew before they went back to school.

Last weekend I attended the Adult Catholics Together Spiritually (ACTS) retreat at Holywell. It’s always good to take some time away from the everyday busyness of life and take and to think about where you are on your faith journey. It’s a weekend I look forward to each year.

It was a lovely peaceful weekend and Fr Tony McGrath provided thought-provoking input as he talked about the different parts of the Mass and how the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Christian life. On Saturday during some free time, some of us went to visit St. Winefrides Well, we prayed together and then I went to light some candles and have some quiet time. The pictures above are from our visit to the well.

Next month is already looking busy with Confirmation, going into St. Micael’s Primary School to introduce myself, working with prayer leaders in St. Edward’s and National Youth Sunday, so I best get planning…

New beginnings

September saw me start a new job! Exciting times (mixed with a bit of nervousness too!) I left teaching, which I had done for the past 10 years, and I am now a Parish Youth Minister for two Parishes in the Diocese of Shrewsbury – The Parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe and The Parish of St. Michael and All Angels. One a parish I know very well as it’s my own parish, the other a parish that I am very much looking forward to getting to know!

Working with youth is something I’ve been doing voluntarily now for about 10 years, helping to prepare young people for Confirmation, working with groups of youth in the Parish on different projects and going on residentials with them. I have loved having the chance to get to know them and share my faith with them. Over the years I have also had the opportunity to go to two World Youth Days, Madrid as a participant and Krakow as a leader. I’ve also been to many diocesan and national youth events – all of these experiences have allowed my faith to develop in ways I never imagined and I can’t wait to share these experiences with the youth of the two parishes and give them the chance to attend diocesan and national events too.

It’s been a strange few weeks as I’ve had to get used to a totally new way of working – no set lesson times any more, I’m in charge of my own time (mainly 9-5) and have to use it wisely! Plus my last job was 5 minutes down the road, now it’s a little further to travel. I’ve been meeting various people at St. Michael’s (and St. Joseph’s as we work together for the Confirmation Programme) and trying to remember names – think I’m doing OK with that one so far. I have lists for all sorts of things, as I tick something off one, things magically appear on others! But in the words of Julian of Norwich – All shall be well.

So far in the Parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe I’ve been to various meetings of different groups, for example the Parish Pastoral Council and the Alpha training and have put together a list of dates for our Faith in Action Group, as well as research their extensive list of places they want to go for fun and look into fundraising ideas for the group and charities they choose. I have been to my first Local Missionary Area meeting and met more people that I knew off but had never met.

In St Michael’s I went along to the Parish Pastoral Council and I am looking forward to the BBQ they are planning for their Feast day! I’ll be formally introducing myself on the same day too so it will be a great opportunity to meet everyone and learn more about the Parish. I have been putting together plans for youth as it would be great to get a Youth Alpha running and a Faith in Action group set up!

I’m sure next month will be even busier….watch this space!