St. Alban the Martyr

Summer Letter

14 Aug 2019 • General news

Dear all,

August is a quiet month, many people on holiday and not many big festivals. There is one coming up though, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have arranged this year’s holiday so I can be back for the feast. This feast celebrates the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into heaven at the end of her earthly life according the beliefs of Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. While the belief itself is ancient it was only dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII on 1stNovember 1950.

September is a busier month. Recently it has been designated the season of creation. In 1915 Pope Francis asked Catholics to join the Orthodox church to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. In 1917 Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gave a joint statement (see Below).

I hope that we will celebrate the season of Creation from 1stSeptember to 4thOctober (St Francis’ day) at our Sunday and weekday Masses, our multimedia mass, and Celtic Evening prayer on Sunday Evenings. We will have an Animal Blessing on Saturday at our 5pm multimedia service during this season. Harvest Thanksgiving also falls during this period.

Looking further into the future we face some difficulties. Our Income has dropped and we will have a short fall in our finances this year. Other challenges are the Clean Air Zone, and potentially the Council will impose a parking scheme on Highgate. In addition, our Musical director, Graeme has resigned. Never the less we also have may opportunities.

After an heroic effort Chris has submitted our application for a National Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the roof. We are looking to appoint a new Musical director. The new houses on Gooch Street will soon be finished. There is a proposal to develop the Highgate area including the turning the river Rea into a vibrant feature bringing new life, new shopping and community facilities and a lot of new housing to our parish.

To face these difficulties and make the most of the opportunities I am discussing how to run a Stewardship Campaign at St Alban’s Church. I am also making contact with people in the diocese that can help us make the most of the opportunities we have to grow our church when Highgate is developed. This is very much in the spirit of the Diocesan People and Places plan, so I expect to get a lot of help.

Increasing the church’s and Fr Gerry’s profile in the parish must be an important part of or future plan. We already do a lot of community action with the food bank and giving space and facilities to Local Welcome. To enable Fr Gerry to do more community work we are going to move the time of the Thursday low mass an hour earlier to 11:30am from September 5th. This simple and small change will enable Fr Gerry to be more involved with the Thursday lunches at Stanhope hall and reach out into the community more effectively.

Please pray about these issues because they are vital to the survival of St Alban’s as centre of excellence of Catholic Worship.

Fr Gerry

Joint Message of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the World Day of Prayer for Creation

The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.

However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs.

The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting. The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.

Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1 September. On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labour in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps 126-127), if prayer is not at the centre of our reflection and celebration. Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.

We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation. We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.

From the Vatican and from the Phanar, 1 September 2017

The Thursday 12:30pm mass will move an hour earlier to 11:30am from the 5thof September. Please put this new time in your diary.