Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint John’s,
This Sunday we are celebrating the great Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Before you say we are a day early and that it is normally celebrated on 29th June, this year it has been transferred to the Sunday by the Bishops. What a beautiful Feast Day of two great Saints to coincide with the re-opening of our parish church for private prayer and reflection! Please God it won’t be too long before we are able to resume Masses but until that day comes, at least we are now able to pay a visit to the Lord in the tabernacle on the sanctuary. (Please read the guidance about coming to visit the church attached below. The main point is that FACE MASKS MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES IN THE BUILDING and also to follow the directions of the volunteer stewards who will be on duty while the church is open. I have to say a huge thanks to all those who stepped up to volunteer both now and when we resume the celebration of Holy Masses. In true St John’s style, we have the most volunteers of any parish in the diocese, so well done to you all!)
As I say, this is a beautiful Feast Day for the re-opening of our parish church. Both St Peter and St Paul, spent their lives bringing the Good News of Jesus’ teachings to as many as possible. St Peter, the humble fisherman called by the Lord and first Pope entrusted with leading the Church on earth after the Lord’s return to His Father in Heaven, spent the majority of his life trying to spread the Faith among his fellow members of the Jewish race. St Paul, the great persecutor of the Church who oversaw the martyrdom of St Stephen and who was converted to become a believer on the road to Damascus, spent his life journeying far and wide to bring the Faith to the Gentiles who were not members of the Jewish people. Both men were put to death – martyred – for the Faith in Rome. St Peter was crucified on an inverted cross and buried on the site of what is now St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and St Paul was beheaded just outside the gates of Rome, the great Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls marking his burial spot.
We draw so much inspiration and example from these two great champions of the Faith — their courage, tenacity, fearlessness in doing the right thing; also their simple yet profound love for God and desire to follow and serve Him as best they could every single day. Both men had their human faults and imperfections but both strove to overcome these with the help of God. The message for us is, of course, even in our imperfections and faults, God still loves us! Of course, we always strive to do better and we draw encouragement and guidance from these two great Saints.
So, as our church re-opens for private prayers, let’s make it our intention to pray for certain things—an end to this horrid virus, the resumption of our Holy Mass and the deepening and spread of our Faith in and through us.
May St Peter, St Paul and St John — all close friends of Jesus — inspire and pray for us!
Reflection for 12th Sunday of the Year (A)
This Sunday's Gospel contains the beautiful words of Jesus urging us to trust in a loving God: “Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing… So do not be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows!”
Jesus is sending out his disciples to begin witnessing to him. He knows they are apprehensive at what might happen to them: will they be accepted or rejected? Will they be treated well or maybe even stoned to death? It takes real courage to stand up for what we believe in if others are opposed to it. It’s so much easier just to keep the head down, say nothing and toe the line, even if we know in our hearts it is not correct. For those disciples two thousand years ago and for us today, knowing that God is with us, watching over us, that He knows and sees everything, gives us the encouragement and strength we need to face whatever this world throws at us for believing in Him. The words of Jesus are there to guide and help, to allay fears and inspire trust.
As I have said to you often, our faith is not there to shield us from life, helping us live in a comfortable wee bubble but rather it’s there to help us face the trials and issues this world throws up every day. I never cease to be amazed at how the Holy Spirit is at work! Just this week, someone sent me a link to an Irish singer, Eimear Quinn, singing a beautiful song called “The Watchman” – maybe try to google it or look it up on YouTube. The words are very comforting about how the Watchman, God, watches over us and the person who sent it to me was saying how she finds such comfort in the lyrics. That conviction that we are loved and being watched over gives us strength in times of difficulty and danger and we have certainly been living through such times over the past few months with this Coronavirus!
So this week, as we look forward to the re-opening of our parish church next Sunday for private prayer, let’s thank God for his watchful love and ask Him to help us deepen our faith and trust in Him. God bless you.
Note from Bishop John
Re-opening of Churches in Paisley Diocese
Following the guidelines issued by the Bishops Conference Covid-19 Infection Control Group, we are delighted to announce the opening of our churches from Sunday 28th June.
While other parts of the country may re-open sooner, we are particularly aware that the virus has impacted our local community more heavily and tragically. The people of Paisley diocese were disproportionately harmed by it and, sadly we now know, Inverclyde had the highest level of infection and deaths in Scotland. In light of this it is good for us to be sensitive, steady and careful in our approach, ensuring our people’s trust that all our parishes are fully prepared for re-opening, with volunteers and PPE in place.
From Sunday 28th onward, churches may also open on weekdays for limited periods of time if all the sanitation and social distancing guidelines laid down by the Covid-19 Group can be followed. Parish priests who are not comfortable that such guidelines are in place will be supported in their decisions to hold off for up to another week after Sunday 28th June.
All of us who have been looking forward to the day of our churches re-opening, clergy and faithful, are glad at this news. I know that those who hoped our doors would be open immediately for private prayers from Monday will understand our short delay and the particular considerations in play in our diocese that make it more appropriate for us.
I thank Canon Tom Boyle, Father Paul Brady and Monsignor Gerry Gallagher who are our diocesan representatives on the Covid-19 Infection Group both nationally and in the diocese for all their good work and continuing to advise us well as things develop around the country.
I assure you all of my prayers and blessings.
Note from Fr Joe
As Bishop John says, nothing would please myself and father Laurent more than to be able to throw open the doors on Monday, the day the First Minister says we can re-open. We have waited for the day since March 19th but a few more days to ensure as far as possible the safety of everyone visiting churches throughout the diocese, given all we have already been through, is not too big a cross to bear. Difficult as it is, it is just one more small sacrifice we unite to the Lord’s great sacrifice for us on the cross!
Next Sunday, 28th June, we will be open for private prayer and reflection from 11am until 3pm! Let’s count down the days together!
Meeting of Volunteers for re-opening the church
Would all those who volunteered to help in the re-opening of our parish church, please come along to a meeting in the church on Wednesday evening at 6pm. We will discuss then the roles which must be in place for the re-opening next Sunday. We have a great group of volunteers so far but would like even more—the more, the better!!
PLEASE NOTE: There is a change in the guidance of who can be a volunteer! Anyone, including those aged 70+, who is in good health (no underlying conditions) is now able to volunteer.
If interested, please contact Fr Joe and give him your contact details before Wednesday.
Live streaming of daily Mass
Until we are able to join together for Holy Mass in the church (please God, sometime next month), remember we now have a camera installed in the church which streams daily Mass live at 10am every day, including Sunday. Even if you miss the Mass, you can rewind over the course of the day to when it started.
Online Day for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
Saturday 27th June, 1:00pm-2:30pm
Talks by Fr Matthew Carlin, Fr Jonathan Whitworth, Monsignor Denis Carlin on the Spirituality of Adoration, Scripture and the Eucharist and a history of Eucharistic Adoration. There will be Adoration and Benediction at the end of the meeting.
To access Zoom, either download the Zoom App onto your tablet or computer or click on the link and type in the meeting ID below.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 981 0940 8120
The camera has finally been fitted to the church which means we can now have Mass each day at 10am live streamed! Obviously everything is new and there may be some teething issues but we welcome any constructive comments to improve for the future.
To link in, just clink the link on this website, visit sjte.uk/live or type “St John’s Church, Barrhead” into the YouTube search box and it’ll take you to us. If you have the YouTube app on your phone, tablet, TV or other device, you can also search for us there. Remember also, if you miss Mass you can simply rewind until it started.
A special word of thanks to all those who support the Ladies Nights in the parish—it was money raised at these events which has paid for the installation of the camera and licence. Thank you, ladies! We promise to support you all the more when things get back to normal!
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
This Sunday the Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, formerly known as Corpus Christi. This is the central sacrament of our faith in which we remember and give thanks for the tremendous gift of God given to us by the Lord himself at the Last Supper and given over and over again at every Mass celebrated throughout the world. He gives us Himself in Holy Communion because He knows we need to be strengthened by Him to face the trials and struggles of this world. We all know only too well how, left to our own devices, it is very easy for us to be drawn away from what is good to follow what can indeed be very damaging for our souls and our relationship with God.
This is why Holy Communion is SO important to us and why the Mass isn’t just something we opt into when we feel like it but something we NEED to at least once per week to help, strengthen and guide us. So many great miracles in the history of our Church have centred around the Holy Eucharist. I encourage you, if you are able, to Google or search on YouTube the ancient “Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano” or the modern “Eucharistic Miracle of Buenos Aires” or many more. Not that we need them but these are proofs of the real presence of God with us in the Eucharist and are really quite awesome in content! I am sure you will be struck by these and many other miracles of our Faith.
This great Feast would normally be marked with processions all around the world, including the annual procession here in St John’s but as we all know so well, the Coronavirus has robbed us not only of our procession but also the very chance to come together to celebrate Holy Mass as those who have gone before us have done since the Last Supper. It hurts! We all feel it! And yet, through everything, we know our God is with us, walking with us, sharing the pains and sorrows as well as the joys and the laughter and we thank Him for that. On this great Feast, let’s renew that thanks as we ask God to bless us and those we love in a spiritual Communion with Him.
I have some great news for you! Firstly, it looks as if we may be able to reopen the Churches for private prayer, beginning next week. This is of course, all dependent on the virus contagion levels remaining as low as possible. Listen to the First Minister’s statement on Thursday to see if we can move into the next Phase of relaxing restrictions. If permission is given, I will put a note on our website immediately. Remember, this is not yet a full return to Holy Mass but if will be a huge step in the right direction. There’s an attachment from the Bishops of Scotland about how things might look which is well worth reading. On that note, please, I am appealing again for volunteers under the age of 70 and not in the “at risk” category (which means qualifying for the winter flu jab) to step up and help with parish stewarding and disinfecting of the church after all Masses. Thanks to those who have responded so generously already but the more, the better!! Please think about it and contact me if you are willing to help.
My second piece of great news is that finally we are hopefully(!) getting cameras fitted in our church this week. This will give us a continuous live stream, meaning you will be able to link into Mass every day and also in the future to join in devotions, novenas and everything else that goes on in the church! This should have been done before lockdown started but everything happened so quickly and then the company itself went into lockdown for two months! That’s why the majority of parishes in the diocese, like ours, don’t have the facility but hopefully this week we are on the list to get our camera fitted! (Keep up the prayers this happens, please!) Also keep an eye on this website. As soon as we’re up and running, I’ll put a note on as to how you join us for Mass. I know so many of you have been commendably linking into other parishes since lockdown began and even touring the world for Mass but finally, please God, you will also be able to come home and link into our own parish to join myself and Father Laurent for the prayers.
So, brothers and sisters and dear friends, we have a lot on this week—between thinking about the marvels of Corpus Christi, Eucharistic Miracles, hopefully reopening for private prayer and cameras being fitted!!
Keep up the prayers and the good work, everyone. Fr Laurent and I are looking forward to seeing you all soon, please God!
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint John’s,
Last Sunday the Church worldwide celebrated the great Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles gathered in the upper room. For many it is affectionately known as the “Birthday of the Church” because it was on that day, after receiving the Holy Spirit and his gifts, the followers of Jesus bravely and joyously opened the locked door and went out into the world to begin the work of the Church, telling people of the goodness and love of God through the teachings of Jesus. Each year the great celebrations of Pentecost mark the end of the Easter Season begun on Easter Sunday and the beginning of the return to Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar. It’s hard to believe how much the world and us personally have gone through since the lockdown began mid Lent on the feast of Saint Joseph! That day we asked our God to watch over and protect us as we invoked the intercession of Our Lady, Saint Joseph and the angels and saints.
All these weeks later, having journeyed through Lent and the entire Easter season, we are still not yet able to return to Mass and the sacraments and I know this pains you as much as it does me and Fr Laurent. Through this difficult time, Holy Mass has been offered twice per day in our parish church for all your intentions and for an end to the horrid virus. Rosaries and Marian devotions have been prayed- all in private in the church but I know our prayers here have linked with yours at home every single day. As I said to you before, I am so cheered and lifted up by your messages and stories of how you have been keeping up your prayers, attendance at Mass on the internet (for some, travelling the world each day for Mass!), your kindness in reaching out to others and generally living your faith daily in prayer, words and actions. Thank you also for your donations to the parish handed in to the house and to all those who have set up standing orders to the parish through your bank. Well done to you!! Please keep up the good work.
On a very happy and positive note, the Bishops have asked parishes to begin putting in place what is necessary for the re-opening of churches, so things are certainly moving in the right direction!! This will still be a few weeks away and will begin with opening for private prayers and not the full celebration of Mass and everything is, of course, all dependent on the virus not increasing in our country but at least there is light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel. I will keep you up to date on this website with all that is happening but for now, please read the letter from the Bishops of Scotland attached and also the appeal for help in putting things in place for the re-opening of our parish church. There is also a link to the Bishops’ documents page, highlighting everything that is happening in moving towards the safe re-opening of churches and other church institutions.
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, when we are called to reflect on the Holy Trinity-- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- three Persons who constitute the one God whom we worship and adore. Let’s pray in a special way this weekend for the blessings of God upon each of us, our families and especially upon all those affected by the virus.
May God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit protect and bless you and those dear to you!
Fr Joe and Fr Laurent
Appeal from Fr Joe: PLEASE HELP SO THAT WE CAN RE-OPEN ST JOHN’S CHURCH!!
Please God, if the virus remains at a low level of contagion, we will be able to begin re-opening our parish church in a few weeks’ time. Initially this will be for periods of private prayer each day and eventually the resumption of Holy Mass. To do this, Saint John’s needs your help!
Before we can re-open, there must be necessary restrictions in place regarding numbers, social distancing and strict cleaning protocols. At this stage I am needing people to volunteer to help welcome parishioners when they arrive, show them to seats and guide them when leaving the church. I am also needing volunteers to help with cleaning the church after every Mass (when Mass resumes) but before that, when open for private prayer, to keep watch and wipe down seats after they have been used. All cleaning materials and PPE will be provided by the parish. This must all be in place before we will be allowed to re-open.
There are, however, some restrictions on who can volunteer. All volunteers must be under the age of 70 and have no underlying serious health problems. (This basically means if you qualify for the flu jab each autumn, you CANNOT volunteer). Obviously the restrictions are there to keep everyone as safe as possible and reduce risk of infection.
I know right away there are a number of you who will be very disappointed at not being able to volunteer- like many of our usual team of fantastic cleaners who keep the church immaculate from week to week—not giving away any ages, ladies!!—or a number of the parish Saint Vincent de Paul who are our normal stewards and passkeepers.
Please God those unable to volunteer at present will resume their good work at a later date but for the immediate future, what I am needing is volunteers under the age of 70 with no underlying serious health conditions. If you are interested and would like to do this for God, the parish and fellow parishioners, please phone the church house on 0141 876 1553 or email me at email@example.com to give me your contact details. The sooner we get the list of volunteers in place, the sooner we will be able to re-open when given the green light by the Bishop and government!! Conversely, without the volunteers, we will not be able to re-open, so please think about it.
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
As the Easter Season progresses, we find ourselves still in Lockdown. We are all affected by the many physical restrictions placed upon us, one of the most difficult of course being the inability to gather as a parish family to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments. We think of all those affected in so many ways by the virus and its repercussions and also of parishioners, friends and neighbours who have died and families who are mourning and hurting.
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint John’s,
These are indeed unprecedented times we are in! With people falling ill, social isolation, social distancing, the closure of schools, restaurants, cinemas, etc. there is no one in society who is not being affected by this horrid Coronavirus. I know this is felt so keenly by all of you with the stopping of public celebrations of Holy Mass. For us people of faith, this is one of the most difficult restrictions to live with, especially during the holy season of Lent and the upcoming Easter celebrations. The postponing of Holy Communions and Confirmations is obviously difficult for our children. However, for the safety of others and ourselves, we have a duty to do everything we can – a duty rooted in our faith and the Lord’s teachings to love and have a genuine concern for those around us.
During this difficult period, I urge you to deepen your relationship with the Lord – speak to Him every day, pray the Rosary, ponder the Stations of the Cross, where possible attend Holy Mass via computer or television. Bishop John is currently having our cathedral fitted out so that he can celebrate Holy Mass daily for us, enabling us to join him by live stream. As soon as this is up and running, I will let you know via this website and also notices in the church porch. It is also worth logging on to the diocesan website (www.rcdop.org.uk) where there are a number of spiritual resources as well as further information and useful links.
I encourage you to reach out in concern to those isolated, especially the elderly and lonely, some of whom have literally no one to turn to. Remember though this must be done always keeping in mind the restrictions which will keep them and you safe. Phoning to chat or popping a card through their door asking if they need anything is an excellent thing to do.
As people of faith, we always trust in the guidance of God watching over us and our world. We know that these times will pass but, in the meantime, as we live through them, pray to be strengthened by God. Pray for the health workers on the frontline, for the leaders of our society who have such difficult decisions to make and for all affected by this virus here in Scotland, in Uganda and all around the world.
Our church will be open for personal prayer every day from 9am until 5pm. Call in to visit and spend time with the Lord truly present in the tabernacle and know that Fr Laurent and I will be celebrating private Mass every day for you and all your intentions. If you need us, we are here for you!
May God bless and protect you and all those dear to you!