News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
The following Pastoral Letter was read at all Masses on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday and a day of prayer for the work of Nugent.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The entrance antiphon for Mass today opens with the words, ‘Rejoice, Jerusalem and all who love her.’ That is why today is called Laetare Sunday, the Latin for word for rejoice. On this Sunday, roughly halfway through Lent, we take a pause from the rigours of Lent to consider the joy that awaits us at Easter. You may well ask, ‘What do we have to rejoice about?” but I believe that as Christians there is always good cause to rejoice despite the coronavirus and the uncertain economic future, we still have much to be happy about.
The gospel passage that we heard today reminds us that Christ is the Light of the World, and that only by seeing things with his eyes can we see the world as it really is. So often we are blinded by our prejudices and we fail to see the love of God at work among us. In the archdiocese, Nugent, our own catholic social services agency, works quietly from day to day supporting many people who have needs that cannot be met by the person’s family alone. It has been doing this for over 139 years. But there is probably no need for me to tell you this as you will remember from your school days the Nugent Good Shepherd Appeal.
Some examples of Nugent’s current work with children and families include the adoption team, helping families struggling with food poverty and supporting refugee families fleeing torture and oppression. All this is done in addition to the ongoing work of care of the elderly and support of children and adults with additional needs of one kind or another. In naming these areas of work I have only scratched the surface of Nugent’s wide-ranging activities which take place in our name. The Nugent Good Shepherd appeal is one of the longest standing appeals in the country with its origins dating back to Victorian times. Although times have changed there is still great need in our society, so I ask you to give generously to the Nugent Sunday collection. In so doing your act of kindness will positively change the lives of those supported by Nugent.
Like the man born blind who was healed by Jesus, my eyes were opened recently when I visited Syrian refugee families who have been settled in some of our parishes under the auspices of Nugent as part of the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship Scheme. In response to the appeal of Pope Francis to welcome a family into our community, teams of parishioners have been formed to find housing and put in place all that is necessary to welcome refugee families from Syria.
So far, four families have arrived, and one hundred volunteers have been registered with Nugent. This initiative has brought hope to these families as their accommodation in a refugee camp is replaced by a house which soon becomes a real home, children settle in school, and parents and children together learn English and our customs as they take their place in the wider society. A wonderful side effect of this project has been the way in which parishioners have been brought together – people who were once strangers are now friends.
We have another reason to rejoice on Laetare Sunday. Next week I will take part in the rededication of England as the Dowry of Mary. This will be a spiritual renewal to facilitate the New Evangelisation and will be the offering of the faith of the people of this country to the Mother of God, to seek Our Lady’s prayers for the loving care and protection of our country. Unlike the first dedication of England by King Richard II in 1381 this dedication will not offer our country as a gift to Mary but our individual faith.
You can do this on your own with a short prayer or it can be done collectively. Whichever way you do it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that in this act we deepen our own commitment through Mary to live and to spread our faith which is so precious to every one of us. The New Evangelisation which the rededication heralds is in the first place living our faith in a joyful way so that others may be attracted by who we are and what we do. St John Paul II often said that faith is caught not taught, and how true that is. When the English and Welsh bishops met Pope Francis in 2018 His message was simple: we are to live the gift of our faith with joy. Joy was his great emphasis, he explained that this joy is rooted firmly in our relationship with Jesus.
It is a joy of knowing that he is with us; of knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, drawing and guiding us towards the will of God; a joy of knowing our Heavenly Father is waiting for us, longing to hold us in his embrace of loving mercy. This is the joy of the faith by which we are to live. Pope Francis added that this joy is the source of lasting peace in our hearts and lives, no matter our circumstances.
Nugent is a joyful organisation at the heart of the diocese and is an expression of our deep faith. May the joy which Nugent brings to others in our local communities bring joy to you and your families as we look towards Easter.
With every good wish and blessing,
Most Rev Malcolm McMahon OP
Archbishop of Liverpool