A word from Fr Joe
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
There are three big pieces of news for you this week!
Number one, our church is re-opening for Sunday and daily Masses!! It has been a LONG wait and there are many restrictions still in place but at last, we’re getting there! Remember there is a booking system in place for the Sunday Masses as we are allowed a maximum of only 50 in the church at any given time. Last week the Masses booked out within hours for this weekend. The system will open again on Monday morning for next weekend’s Masses. You are asked to book online if possible via our website but there are some places kept back for those unable to book online who can then phone Fr Joe at the parish house. There is no need to book for daily Masses unless the numbers start to rise above 50, so we will keep an eye on this. When coming to Sunday Mass, the stewards will check your name against the booking list. At weekday Masses they will ask your name and contact details. This is for the government “track and trace” system in case there was a further outbreak of the virus locally. The livestreaming of all Masses in the church will continue, so it is possible to follow Mass from home. In fact, the Bishops still encourage those who are elderly or shielding or have underlying health conditions to join in Mass from home rather than take any risks by coming into a busy church. Keep in mind also that the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays was lifted by Pope Francis during the pandemic and continues to be lifted until the Holy Father tells us otherwise. This means there is no sin in missing Sunday Mass but you are very much encouraged to join in a Mass via the internet, if possible, or indeed one of the weekday Masses where numbers are not as busy. You are obviously encouraged and expected to continue with your daily prayers as you do already.
Thanks be to God, we are back for Sunday Masses and let’s continue to pray it will not be too long before we are back to normal altogether!!
Our second big piece of news is that Father Laurent will be leaving us at the end of July. He was due to return to Uganda in September but has been given permission to remain in Scotland for another year. However, Bishop John has informed us that he wishes to move Fr Laurent to St Mirin’s Cathedral in Paisley. We are very sad to hear the news and we thank him for his two years of service, fun and much joy and laughter he has given us in St John’s. It has certainly been a joy to have had Fr Laurent with us. A small consolation is that he is not going far-- Paisley is only a few minutes away by car, so no doubt we will be seeing him again often back in Barrhead!!
To replace Fr Laurent, Bishop John has decided to move Fr Jonathan Whitworth, currently in St Mirin’s cathedral, to join us here in St John’s. Fr Jonathan will also take over from Fr Joe Balmer as the lead Chaplain to St Luke’s High. So while we are sad to see Fr Laurent go, we are very happy to welcome Fr Jonathan to Barrhead. I know you will all give him a St John’s welcome when he arrives at the end of the month!
The third and final big piece of news is the new parish timetable. Please take note of the small changes so you know what is on and when in the parish during these days;
Sunday Masses—no change
Vigil (Sat) 4:30pm; Sunday 10am, 11:30am, 5pm (Places MUST be booked in advance for all Sunday Masses)
Weekdays, excluding Thursdays Morning Mass 10am
Exposition of the Blessed sacrament for Private Prayer and Adoration
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10:30am to 1pm. (If there is a funeral at 10am, the Exposition will begin after the funeral)
10:30am onwards. (Please note confessions are not being heard in the confession boxes during the pandemic but rather in the Oratory. Bigger room with better airflow, as directed by the Bishops.)
So, Friends, this is a big week for us. Let’s continue to pray for each other as we take another very important step on our coronavirus journey and also let’s offer a special prayer for Fr Laurent and Fr Jonathan.
God bless you all!
Please keep in your prayers
Funerals this week
Marie McCormack (Service in St Conval’s Cemetery Tuesday at 10:30am)
Maureen Coogan (Requiem Mass in church Thursday at 10am)
May McVitie (Requiem Mass in church Friday 10am)
Also the anniversraies of: Maisie McMaster, Bid McGauley, Hugh McManus and Patrick McGowan,
As well as all those who have asked us to pray for them. Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
Reflection on this Sunday’s Scripture
This weekend’s Gospel presents us with another parable from Jesus. This time He gives the image of weeds growing among the wheat and what should be done about this. With all Jesus’ parables, as you know, he is using imagery the people will easily understand to give a much deeper teaching. The passage isn’t really about weeds and wheat but about sinners and good people existing side by side. Because of the existence of evil (the weeds) which seeks to undermine good (the wheat) and stop good flourishing, Jesus is teaching us there will always be those led astray by satan who will seek directly or perhaps without even realising it, to undermine the work of God. This may happen in the world at large, or in local society, or even our own Church or families.
How do we deal with this? Well, we are asked to be like the patient farmer in the parable who represents God. He sees what is happening, he recognises where it is coming from and the purpose of the enemy who wants to stop good flourishing but he is patient. The patience will not last forever, a time of harvest and judgement will come when the weeds will we rooted out so that the good will flourish. He sees everything, knows everything and is always watching over us. Following that example, we are asked to be understanding, patient, merciful, forgiving. The Pharisees will would weed out sinners, cast them off and leave them to wither. We are called to be not like them.
So, this weekend we are told two things by the Lord: firstly, God sees EVERYTHING and we should take comfort in that. Even if evil at times seems to have the upper hand, the Just Judge will act in His own good time and always be victorious. Secondly, in our attitude towards sinners, we are called to be not like the judgmental and condemnatory Pharisees but rather like our God—understanding, patient, merciful—because we know that in each one of us there can be weeds growing among the wheat, that we too are sinners in need of God’s patience and mercy.
Wonderful news!! We have been given the go-ahead for the celebration of Holy Mass in our parish. Things are going to look a bit different, so please bear this in mind.
The first and most important change is that YOU MUST BOOK A PLACE TO ATTEND SUNDAY MASS. The reason for booking is so that we have a list of everyone attending Mass in case there was a further outbreak of the virus in our local area. We are then able to “track and trace” all who attended church. Although our church has capacity for more, there is a maximum limit of only 50 people allowed at any one Mass. This is imposed by the government to reduce any risk of contagion. For each Mass there will be 40 places available to be booked on line by clicking the button below:
The other ten places for each Mass are available by phoning Fr Joe at the parish house 0141 876 1553 on a first come, first served basis. The booking system for the following Sunday will open each Monday so that it is not possible to book weeks in advance. This makes it as fair as possible to give everyone the chance to book a place. The times of Sunday Masses remain the same for the moment—Vigil 4.30pm on Saturday and then on Sunday at 10am, 11.30am and 5pm.
Weekday Masses will be at 10am daily, excluding Thursdays when the church is closed for deep cleaning. There is no need to book a place at weekday Masses at the moment as we do not expect numbers to exceed 50. This may need to change, however, if numbers increase. For weekday Masses, the stewards on duty will take your contact details when you arrive.
When you arrive at the church, all the sanitising and social distance guidelines from the government will be in place. You will be met by our volunteer stewards who will sanitise your hands and ensure you have a face covering (please bring one with you but there are extras available in the porch). The stewards will check your name against the list of those who have booked and show you to a seat. There is a one way system in place — entry via the main doors and exit via side doors at the Sacred Heart and Our Lady altars. PLEASE DO NOT COME ALONG WITHOUT BOOKING AS YOU CANNOT BE PERMITTED ENTRY AND THIS ONLY EMBARRASSES EVERYONE INVOLVED.
The structure of the Mass has been tweaked also: you will notice there is be no Offertory Procession, no Readers, no Altar Servers, no Eucharistic Ministers, no singing, and Holy Communion will be distributed at the end as you leave the building. Please follow the directions of the stewards who will ensure everyone is kept as safe as possible. All these changes have been put in place by the Bishops to ensure a smooth flow and reduce any risk of contagion.
Although Fr Laurent and I are are so looking forward to celebrating Mass with you again in the church, please remember and consider a few points:
I know this is a lot of information to get your head around but over the next few weeks it should become much easier for us all.
God bless you all and we look forward to seeing you at Mass.
Fr Joe and Fr Laurent.
Reflection from Fr Laurent on this Sunday’s Scripture Readings
On this 14th Sunday, mother church invites us all, to reflect in a special way on Jesus’ humility, kindness, gentility and compassion for the poor, weak and unprivileged. These virtues of our Master and saviour, are very necessary for us all in our Christian journey; to help us live and relate well with others .
The first reading this Sunday, foretells the humility of the king who was to come; Christ Jesus. The reading gives great hope of good life to the poor in spirit and the oppressed.
In the second reading we are reminded of the need and importance of living in the spirit of the creator. God’s spirit makes us His own beloved children. Let us pray for the grace to submit to God’s spirit, because once we accept to give in to God’s spirit, (to allow the spirit to direct our lives), then just like Jesus we shall possess the fundamental virtues necessary for our Christian life.
Jesus in the gospel reading reveals to us the master key to find favour with Lord. This key of humility and gentility is necessary for us to unlock the secrets that God would never make known to the proud hearted.
We pray for the grace to be humble, kind and gentle children of our heavenly father, so as to do His will. Amen.
Note from Fr Joe
“This has been a momentous week in the near one hundred and eighty year history of our parish. After months of locked doors, we are now open again for private prayers and reflection. Please God, it won’t be too long before we can celebrate Mass again together! As Parish Priest, I must say a HUGE thank you on behalf of the whole parish community to the scores of people who volunteered to be Stewards and cleaners for the re-opening of the church. It would have been simply impossible to re-open without their generosity. All has gone very smoothly and we were able to re-open the church in a safe and sanitised way.
Remember we are open every day, excluding Thursdays, from 11am until 2pm for you to visit for private prayer and reflection. If visiting, please follow the directions of the Stewards on duty who will ensure you have a face covering, sanitise your hands and give some general guidance. Remember, the toilets in the church must remain closed due to the coronavirus--sorry!
God bless you all and maybe see you if you are visiting this week.”
Funerals this week
Jim Geddes – Requiem Mass on Tuesday at 9.30am
Jim McCaffrey – Requiem Mass on Thursday at 10.00am
Please remember, there are strict restrictions on numbers attending funerals to reduce the risk of contagion. Only immediate family and friends may be in the church, agreed with the family beforehand so we know exact numbers attending. Thanks to the camera now installed in the church, you can follow live from home funerals or anything else happening in the building 24 hours a day. To do so, just click here or search St John's Barrhead on YouTube.
Please also keep in your prayers
Canon Barney Canning (former PP in St Thomas’, Neilston), Annemarie Cassidy, Maureen Coogan and Margaret Brown who all died recently.
As well as William Breslin, James Wilson and Maisie Fitzgerald whose anniversaries occur around this time.
May they all rest in peace with the Lord in Paradise. Amen.
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
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!