4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT –JOY Our Advent journey is now drawing to a close and the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour is imminent. The focus today is on Mary, our role model in faith. Mary is depicted in Scripture as a person of similar virtues to Joseph, dignified and exemplary in her total trust and faith in God’s plan for her and for the world. We pray today for all expectant mothers, that our Blessed Mother will watch over and protect them and their unborn children. We ask that the beauty and joy of the life that mothers bring into the world may always be cherished as a miraculous gift of God. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Pause for Thought – Peace
The words “Do not be afraid” are words for us too. In the quiet of your heart talk to God about the things you are frightened of. Now remember these words: “The Lord is with you.” Take time to acknowledge God’s presence and entrust your worries, fears and concerns to Him, for God has promised to be with us always to the end of time. “Nothing will be impossible for God.” Today we light the fourth candle on our Advent wreath. The theme this week is peace. Jesus, Prince of Peace, brings healing to a broken world.
BISHOP DONAL MCKEOWN’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2023
My dear brothers and sisters,
This Christmas, it is poignant to remember a pilgrimage I made earlier this year to the Holy Land. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we visited the sacred sites of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, recalling and contemplating the birth of the Messiah, his Galilean ministry of healing and reconciliation, his passion, death and resurrection and his entrusting of his mission to his Apostles and disciples. Christmas celebrates how God became one like us, entered into our human history, and lived in the reality of our human experience. He walked the paths of our world so that we might share in the reality of his divine nature.
It is very moving to kneel at the site of his birth within the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, reflecting on the precarious circumstances in which the Christ-child was born. Jesus knew the never-ending reality of how conflict, violence and war threaten, endanger and overshadow our beautiful world. Despite – or perhaps because of – our highly developed technologies the world continues to be a precarious place for children to be born. This Christmas, many families will live in the rubble of destruction, or in the chill of destitution and homelessness. So many families carry the grief and loss of loved ones who have died. As we kneel in prayer before the crib this Christmas, we are accompanied by our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer throughout this world. We ask God to listen to the cries of his children.
It was into this reality that God entered and where Emmanuel, God with us, continues to be present. The Christmas message of hope and joy is to be found in this abiding presence of God precisely in the reality of our lives, in spite of this reality of pain and suffering. This Christmas, we are all called to walk in the footsteps of Christ, to carry on his mission and ministry of reconciliation and healing, not only in the Holy Land of his birth but in the holiness of our daily lives.
This year, we also marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The difficult and challenging path of reconciliation and peacebuilding is ongoing. Addressing the trauma and pain of the past needs to continue. Across this land children of a new season of peace will celebrate Christmas with expectation, hope and the light of a new future- but tinged with the clouds of violence and uncertainty. We owe it to these children of the season of peace to continue the journey together towards reconciliation, learning to live, work and govern together.
As we approach Christmas, I commend all of those who have engaged with the diocesan consultation as part of the Pathways to the Future initiative. In recent months, significant numbers have attended the regional information sessions to voice their expectations, hopes and concerns as the diocese continues to reflect together on how to meet the future sacramental and pastoral needs of all parishioners and of our wider community. This diocesan consultation will continue into the new year with ongoing reflection at the parish and vicariate level to enable the Diocese to discern the most effective way for families of parishes to work together.
May God bestow his blessing upon all of you this Christmas and into the new year, as you continue to walk in the footsteps of Christ and to be missionaries of his peace in the world.
Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Down and Connor
CHRISTMAS MASS TIMES
CHRISTMAS EVE : 9.30am, 12.30pm
CHRISTMAS VIGIL 7pm
CHRISTMAS DAY: 9.30am & 12 Noon
TUE 26th -FRI 29th DEC: Mass 10am
THURS 28th DEC: Feast of the Holy Innocents Mass 10am
SAT 30th DEC : 1pm & 6.30pm Vigil Mass
SUN 31st DEC: Feast of the holy family 9.30am & 12.30pm
MON 1st JAN: Feast of Mary, the Mother of God 10am Mass
TUE 2nd JAN: NO MASS
WED 3rd & THURS 4th JAN :10am Mass
FRI 5th JAN: 10am Mass
6.30pm VIGIL FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY
SAT 6th JAN : HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION 1pm & 6.30pm Vigil Mass
SUN 7th JAN: 9.30am & 12.30pm Mass Baptism of the Lord
(FROM MONDAY 8TH JAN NORMAL MASS TIMES RESUME)
WEEKLY OFFERTORY PROMISE The collection amounted to £1991.00 Thank you for your generous financial support. You can make your envelope contribution via the donate button on the Parish website home page also at www.stagnesbelfast.com
ST AGNES’ CHRISTMAS CARD & CALENDER 2024 Is now available at the entrances to the Church for you to take home. Our Christmas Card has all the Christmas & New year Mass times please take one home.
CONGRATULATIONS To Reagan Haughey from P5A Holy Child Primary School who won the competition to design the front cover of our Christmas Card. Well Done Reagan!
SPECIAL THANKS To all who volunteer in our Parish throughout the year. Thank you for your dedication and hard work it is greatly appreciated. We wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
OFFICE HOLIDAY’S The office will be closed from Monday 25th Dec and will re-open on Tues 2nd Jan. There will be no parish bulletin on the 31st December. We would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2024 and thank you for your continued support to our wonderful parish.
CHRISTMAS MESSAGE Bishop Donal McKeown’s Christmas Message is available to read on the Parish webpage and Facebook, and also is available at the side entrances of the Church. Please take one home with you.
LIVE STREAMING If you would like to view the 7pm Vigil or any other Masses over Christmas and New Year please go to www.stagnesbelfast.com
Sat 23 (6.30pm): Bridget Morgan, Martin Morgan, Mc Grillen & Derby family, Marie & Sean Mallon
Sun 24(9.30am): Patricia Cairns, Vilma Macatubal, Katherine Kelly,
Sun 24(12.30pm): The Higgins & Tohill family, Mary Mc Greevy
Vigil: (7pm) Priest’s intention
Christmas Day: (9.30am): Priest’s intention
(12noon): Priest’s intention
Tue 26: (10am) Special intention, Seamus Kennedy
Wed 27(10am): Peter Mc Ilwaine, Frank Brady
Thurs 28(10am): Mass of the Holy Innocents
Fri 29(10am): Priest’s intention
Sat 30(1pm): Special Intention
NB: In the event of a funeral, the assigned intention will be offered privately by the priest at his first available mass.
REMEMBER IN PRAYER
Recently Deceased: Rosaleen Doyle RIP
Anniversaries: Eileen, Michael, Mairead & Martin Darragh,
Eamonn Friel, Annie & Alfie Simpson, Tom Culbert Vera Mc Elroy,
Maura Mc Cartan, Grace Kemp, Brian & Colin Canning, George & Peggy O’Donnell, Margaret & William Burgoyne, John Carmichael,
Joseph Rodgers, Jim & Kathleen Deneen, John & Patrick Shields,
Eileen Mc Aleavy, Frankie Shields, Margaret Hernan, Alfie Love,
John Graham, Annie & John Milligan, Gerry Mc Allister, Bobby Rooney
Raymond Crossey, Ellen Smith, Gerry Mc Allister, Cornelius, Mary & Mary Ann Small.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord!
ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
ST LOUISE’S COLLEGE Open night Wed 10th Jan 2023. Principals’ Address 4.30pm and 6.30pm
ST GENEVIEVE’S HIGH SCHOOL OPEN DAY. Thursday 11th Jan. Principal’s Address 1pm.
ST MARY’S CBGS OPEN NIGHTS Wed 10th & Thurs 11th Jan at 7pm.
ST DOMINIC’S OPEN DAY Saturday 13th Jan 2023. 9am-1pm. Principal’s Address 9.30am and 11am. Primary 6 and 7 pupils are welcome.
Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible includes 8 weekly sessions. Course participants will receive a resource pack. The programme requires one hour of study per week. Venue: Online via zoom Beginning Wednesday 17th January @7pm online for 8 weeks. The program will conclude with a Retreat Day on Saturday 23rd March 2024 Venue: Holy Rosary Parish Centre, Belfast Facilitators: Fr Paul Byrne & Aishling Steen. The cost of the program is £30. To book your place click on the registration link: https://forms.office.com/e/HTLtfTXUaD *Places are limited. Booking early is advised.
Trócaire School Volunteers Are you a retired teacher or someone who has experience presenting to groups of school children? Do you have a passion for making this world a better place, especially for the most vulnerable? Trócaire is looking for volunteers to support our School Talks Programme for Lent 2024 in the Down & Connor Diocese Area. If you think you have the right skills and experience and will have a few free hours during Lent then we would love to hear from you! For more information call Casey Schell on 02890 808033 or email email@example.com
NEW YEAR’S EVE MASS
Mass will be celebrated at St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street, Belfast to mark the end of the Old Year and welcome the New Year. At 11pm on December 31. All Welcome!Homilist Fr. Brian McCann, Cantor Mr Louis McVeigh.
Down and Connor Diocesan Pilgrimage to Fatima 2024 Spiritual Directors Fr Gerry Mc Closkey, Fr M Graham, Canon S Gilmore 20 Aug 2024. 7 Nights £799 per person sharing. Direct return flights from Dublin to Lisbon afternoon flights. 20KG bags included. Return airport transfers in Fatima. 7 Nights Hotel Avenida. Full board: breakfast, lunch & dinner each day. Guided tour of the Sanctuary & Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. Optional: Travel Insurance & Single Supplement. For further information please contact: Joe Catney 07776 425 631 / 02890714001
Christmas Eve Vigil Mass Times In Our Pastoral Community.
St Teresa’s Christmas Day 10am
Holy Spirit –5pm
St Matthias’- 8pm
St Oliver Plunkett –5pm & 9pm
Hannahstown – 6pm
St Michael’s – 5pm & 7pm
Fr Raymond would like to wish you and your family
Christmas Joy and Peace and a very Happy New Year