Sunday 4th February 2024
Pastoral Letter from
Most Rev. Donal McKeown
Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Down and Connor
Every year, Safeguarding Sunday provides us with an opportunity to highlight the fact that Safeguarding is not just one task among many in the life of our Church. Rather, it is a vital ministry that touches all aspects of parish life. Today is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to maintaining and fostering a culture of Safeguarding in our parishes. This is a responsibility shared by all of us in making our parishes and Church spaces safe and welcoming for young people and adults at risk.
Furthermore, we as a Diocese are engaged in working alongside other Christian Churches, groups and agencies. With them, we are trying to address issues related to Safeguarding in areas such as reducing domestic violence, supporting children with disabilities and welcoming new-comer families.
National Board Report
On this particular Safeguarding Sunday, I as Apostolic Administrator, draw your attention to the publication of the National Board Report on Safeguarding Practice in the Diocese of Down and Connor. You will find it on the Diocesan website and your parish websites.
In 2022, Archbishop Noel Treanor invited the National Board to carry out an independent and external review of Safeguarding. This review was undertaken by two senior, experienced social workers commissioned by the National Board. They spent a week meeting with Safeguarding staff and parish volunteers from across the Diocese. And most importantly, the voice of a victim was heard. As part of their remit, the Reviewers visited three of our parishes and met with a youth group who had been engaged in pastoral youth ministry, where they observed Safeguarding Practice in action.
My thoughts go to those who have experienced abuse within our Church and who carry with them the scars of their experience. I hope this Report would give you some solace.
As a Diocese, Down and Connor will strive to ensure that their experience in the past will not be repeated in the future.
We continue to owe victims and their families a duty of care with compassion and healing in their spiritual and personal lives.
The conclusion of the Report states that the Diocese of Down and Connor, ‘has a strong Safeguarding structure, which promotes and delivers on engagement with and support for parishes and their Safeguarding personnel.’
The Report goes on to say, ‘None of this would be possible without the commitment and dedication the Reviewers witnessed from people at all levels.’
The fact that the Diocese has been found to be in full compliance with the Safeguarding Standards of the National Board, is due in no small measure to the professionalism of the Safeguarding staff and the immense generosity of hundreds of Safeguarding volunteers. It is with heart-felt sincerity that I thank them for their continued commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for our young people in every parish. While we recognise the good work that has been done, we fully appreciate the need to avoid complacency and remain focused on responding to the significant challenges inherent in the ministry of Safeguarding.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the significant contribution of Archbishop Noel Treanor. Throughout his time as bishop of the Diocese, he worked conscientiously to promote a culture of Safeguarding at all levels. We trust that such a culture of Safeguarding will continue to facilitate the development of good practice and the delivery of effective pastoral care.
In today’s Gospel story, Jesus went to meet the mother-in-law of Simon Peter, who was ill. We are told that Jesus, ‘took her by the hand and helped her up’. This same Jesus, as the Risen Lord, continues to reach out and lift up those in need of his healing touch. It is the mission of the Church to imitate Jesus in this ministry of healing, not least with those who have been abused and their families. In this work, we all have a vital part to play in supporting the work of Safeguarding through our prayers and actions.
St Agnes’ Parish Novena to:
Our Lady of Lourdes starts this weekend from
3rd to 11th February 2024
Preachers: Fr Laurence Gallagher &
Fr Derek Meskell C.Ss.R.
Sunday: 9.30am & 12.30pm
Monday to Friday: 10am & 7pm
Saturday: 1pm & 6.30pm (Vigil)
Novena Mass for the Sick: Sat 10th Feb at 1pm
ALL NOVENA SESSIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON-LINE THROUGH
THE PARISH WEBCAM
WEEKLY OFFERTORY PROMISE The collection amounted to £1590.00
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
BAPTISM COURSE During Covid, baptism courses were stopped. They have now resumed and are compulsory for first time parents. The course will take approximately one hour and where appropriate, both parents are expected to attend. Full information will be given when you book a baptism for your child. Thank you.
ASH WEDNESDAY 14th February. Ashes will given out at the 10am and 7pm
Masses. This year’s Trocaire Boxes will be available from this date onwards at Church entrances
SERVICE OF LIGHT AND COMMITMENT at 2pm Wed 7th February.
CONFIRMATION will be celebrated on Wednesday 28th February at 1.30pm. Refreshments afterwards in Holy Child PS.
COMMUNITY SAFETY EVENT. Come along to our Tea Dance on Thursday 8th February 2024. St Galls GAA Club, 4 Milltown Road ( Just off Falls Road) 1pm-4pm. Light lunch, live music and a dance. For more information & to book your place please contact Paula Kerr on 02890 301521 or by email email@example.com
Sat 03 (6.30pm): Sally Mc Vicker, Special Intention
Sun 04 (9.30am): Arthur Loughran
Sun 04(12.30pm): Teresa Shevlin, Teresa Spence, Rita Mc Cann, David Mc Allister, Kathleen Morgan
Mon 05(10am): Special Intention
(7pm): Priest’s intention
Tue 06(10am) : Priest’s intention
(7pm): Priest’s intention
Wed 07 (10am): Priest’s intention
(7pm): Priest’s intention
Thurs 08(10am): John (Johnny) Clayton
(7pm): Priest’s intention
Fri 09(10am): Joseph & Eileen Hughes, Patrick Herald, Brian Fitzsimons
(7pm): Cathal Mc Garrigle
Sat 10(1pm): Mass of the sick
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: Elizabeth Wynne, James (Jim) Zemrowsky, Anne Stevenson, Mary Rodgers, Gerard O’ Rawe, Gerard Mc Keown
Anniversaries: Mary Agnes Fox, Archie Mc Vicker,
Maureen Mc Glennon, Marie Forbes, Brendan O’ Donnell,
Lynda Hartley nee Morgan, Patricia Cormican,
Richard & Mary Mc Greevy
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord!
SAFEGUARDING SUNDAY Every year, Safeguarding Sunday provides us with an opportunity to highlight the fact that Safeguarding is not just one task among many in the life of our Church. Rather, it is a vital ministry that touches all aspects of parish life. Today is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to maintaining and fostering a culture of Safeguarding in our parishes. This is a responsibility shared by all of us in making our parishes and Church spaces safe and welcoming for young people and adults at risk. If you wish to read more on this, Bishop Donal’s letter is now available at the Church entrances and here on our Parish website. www.stagnesbelfast.com
4 Corners Festival 2024: The annual 4 Corners Festival will run from 1st – 11th February. There is a packed lineup of events including talks, discussions, exhibitions, music and literature. Now in its 12th year, the festival was conceived as a way to inspire people from across the city to transform it for the peace and wellbeing of all. The theme this year is “OUR STORIES…Towards A Culture Of Hope.” All festival events are free of charge, with most open to the public, although advance booking of tickets is mandatory. Select events will be streamed online on the official 4 Corners Festival YouTube and Facebook accounts. Tickets for the event will be available to book on the website. Visit 4cornersfestival.com for more information and tickets.
Accord (NI) – Let us help you support your Marriage & Relationship. If you feel your marriage or relationship is in crisis or need a little guidance and feel that you both could benefit from Marriage & Relationship Counselling, either face to face or online, contact your local Centre. Every year we help thousands of couples rebuild and sustain healthy relationships.Call us on 02890 233002 for all N. Ireland centres:N. Ireland Regional Office, Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Derry, Enniskillen, Maghera, Newry & Omagh Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.accordni.com.
Copyright and Music Licensing This topic has been on the agenda of the Diocese for some time, and arrangements have now been made to offer advice and guidance to parishes to help them overcome some of the difficulties they may encounter if they do not have compliant processes in place. Presentations covering Copyright and Music Licensing will be held at the following venues from 7.30pm until 9pm. Tea/coffee will be served from 7pm. St Brigid’s Hall, Belfast on 15th February. All Saints’ Parish and Community Centre, Ballymena on 27th February. Patrick’s Place, Downpatrick on 5th March. The presentations will be particularly relevant to choir directors, choir members, cantors, psalmists, parish musicians and parish contemporary music groups. Those who are responsible for setting up or maintaining parish websites are especially welcome. This will be an invaluable resource for our parish that will help us to be compliant, and I would encourage as many participants as possible to attend one or other of these presentations.
Reading St Paul’s Letter to the Romans together today With insights from Augustinian priest Kieran O’Mahony, Scripture scholar and Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church 2012-2017. 6pm (optional Dinner) 7-9pm Lecture and discussion Starts 13 Feb (Shrove Tuesday) and continues on Tuesdays in Lent: 13th, 20th, 27th February and 5th, 12th and 19th March Book your place on Eventbrite (Find the link on our Belfast Jesuit Centre Facebook page or website www.belfastjesuitcentre.org )
Mass for Temperance Sunday & World Day of Prayer for the Sick will be broadcast next Sunday 11 February 2024 at 11am on RTÉ TV & Radio.
The West Belfast Historical Society is meeting on Friday the 9th of February at 7.30pm in St. Michael’s Parish Centre on Finaghy Road North The February talk is entitled:
’THE VATICAN PIMPERNEL’The Guest Speaker will be: Mr CLIVE SCOULAR
All are Welcome to Attend
(Refreshments will be provided)