REVEREND BERNARD LONGLEY
FOR THE 11th SUNDAY
IN ORDINARY TIME, 12/13 JUNE 2021
will take a shoot and plant it myself…it will sprout branches and bear fruit.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
am delighted to welcome you back to church, as the pandemic restrictions are
easing, if you have recently returned.
With all the hardships we have endured over the last year, we are
learning to deepen our trust in God’s loving care and to respond in ways that express our
care for each other.
though our church buildings haven’t been fully open, the communal life of
our Church has continued. I have
seen wonderful work from so many people across the Archdiocese. People have continued to witness - stepping
forward to support foodbanks, or to make PPE, helping to keep our churches open
by becoming stewards or simply checking their neighbours’ wellbeing. In such difficult times you have risen to the
your time and energy to serve others.
are now making a fresh beginning in a very different setting. Following Pentecost, we pray that the Holy
Spirit will guide and inspire us as we build-up the Body of Christ. The pandemic has focused our minds on our faith and on
the role our churches play in society. We
now have a fresh opportunity to make sure the Gospel is heard and seen through the example of
our daily Christian lives.
invite you today to reflect on what we have learned about our faith during this
time. For my part, I have very much
missed being able to visit you in the parishes and schools of the
Archdiocese. At the same time, it has
been a blessing to spend the whole liturgical year as part of the Cathedral
community at St Chad’s and to keep in touch through the live-streaming service.
wonder what you may have learned about yourself and your faith in the past
year? What has fanned the flames of your
faith? What will you do differently in
present moment offers an opportunity to focus on renewal here in our
Archdiocese – being open to change. I
want us to look at how we can each respond to God’s call to be
missionary disciples in the Church and in our local communities, working
joyfully together to spread the Word and undertake the
work of God. How are we to unfold God’s
plan for our Church?
Our vision is to be a Catholic diocese which is faithful to the
mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ, full of missionary disciples who work
together co-responsibly in vibrant communities of faith, joyful in their
service of God and neighbour.
Francis has recently announced that every diocese will be asked to consult the
People of God in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in 2023. That consultation is due to begin in October
this year. Over the coming weeks, we
want to begin a dialogue with you about how we fulfil our diocesan vision, and
how each one of us can use the charisms given to us through baptism to play our
prepare the way for this dialogue I invite you to think about the four essential
aspects of our diocesan mission:
Evangelisation – Encouraging others to know God’s love for them by inviting them to
church, to pray and to encounter Christ – inviting them to parish groups where
they can learn about Our Lord - helping to form missionary disciples and
Formation - Nurturing future
Catholic leaders in our churches and schools by providing both spiritual and
pastoral formation and support – helping us to play an active role in the parish
community - helping us to understand more about our faith so as to
deepen our personal relationship with God.
Liturgy and Worship - Invigorating and deepening our worship and sacramental
celebrations so that we share in and reflect the divine life of the
Trinity - encouraging
others to join us in praying to our Heavenly Father.
Social Outreach - Building up the common good through our charitable
outreach - offering our time, our resources and our love to those who need them
most - inviting
others to join us in our charitable work.
have all had to review our plans because of the pandemic, and now I am
inviting you to join me in looking with fresh eyes at our diocesan mission. Where is the mustard seed that the Lord is
asking us to plant for him? Can it take
root and flourish in one of these four areas of growth?
are the actions that I shall be taking:
ensure that priests, deacons, Religious and parishioners are supported to work
together, so that we can share responsibility for the mission of the Church and
deepen our relationship with God.
put the structures of the archdiocese at the service of our mission. This will begin with a re-arrangement of our
deaneries, enabling us to begin a dialogue about how our parish structures can
change so as to create or enhance vibrant parish communities.
put young people and families at the centre of our diocesan planning. Working with and through our wonderful
Catholic schools, we will listen to them and actively encourage and support
them to use their talents in the life of the Church and thus build even stronger
relationships between our schools and parishes.
two weeks’ time some leaflets will be distributed at Mass and you will be able
to find a new dedicated space on our diocesan website about the vision,
together with more details of the diocesan plan to deliver it.
July I will be inviting parishes to participate in a summer event, supported by
the Archdiocese’s Evangelisation group, to extend a hand of welcome to their
year we will be supporting parishes with more training, resources and events to
help us in our mission to serve God and to enable the Church to grow – like a mustard seed which…is the smallest of
all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of
will be praying about all that lies before us as we continue this pilgrimage of faith. I invite you to pray the vision prayer with
me and to make a pledge: to pray for our Archdiocese, asking the Holy Spirit to
guide us forward and to make our faith fruitful in good works.
let us pray together:
on me this day.
me the Spirit of joy, to lift me,
Spirit of hope to inspire me,
Spirit of love to surround me and
Spirit of truth to enlighten my path.
pray for a new outpouring of your grace,
that I may grow in worship of your name
love of you in my prayer
in my actions towards others.
Holy Spirit into my life to guide me.
and defend me,
that I may be drawn ever closer to you.
me this day and always
be a channel of grace
all I say and do
invite others into relationship with you.
devotedly in Christ
Given at Birmingham on the 3 June 2021 and appointed to be read in all Churches
and Chapels of the Archdiocese on the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(12/13 June 2021).