Pastoral Letter for Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

To be read and made available in all Churches and Chapels in the Clifton Diocese on the twenty third Sunday in Ordinary time, 8/9 September 2018.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

September is for many people the beginning of the new academic year.  Welcome back to our schools and colleges especially if you are starting at a new place.  Congratulations to those of you who took part in public exams earlier in the year even if you did not get the results you were expecting.  The future still holds much promise for all of you.

Recent reports in the media have spoken of the shortage of teachers especially in maths, physics and religious education.  I would like to thank all teachers in our Catholic Schools as they face this new year.  Teaching is not a job but a vocation – to help form the lives of young people preparing them for the challenges and pressures of today and their future as adult members of the Church and Society.   Good teachers are first good people enabling young people to explore the truth about God, themselves and the whole of creation.

Our Catholic schools should be no less zealous than other schools in the promotion of culture and the human formation of young people.  It is however, the special function of the Catholic school to develop a community of learning animated by a spirit of liberty and charity based on the Gospel.  This is what we call the ‘ethos’ of the Catholic school.  It is particularly the responsibility of Senior Management in the school and the school Governors to support and develop this ethos.  For this, I thank them.

In Liverpool this weekend the Eucharistic Congress is taking place at which people from all dioceses of England and Wales will celebrate the Eucharist, Eucharistic devotion and deepen their understanding of what it means for all of us to be a Eucharistic community in our daily lives.  The Eucharist makes the Church and enables the Church – that is all of us – to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.  We are not an isolated people but exist for the common good of all.  The congress in Liverpool is not just for the immediate participants but is an invitation to us all to reflect upon the meaning of the Mass.

The Catholic school does not stand alone.  It is part of the wider community of the Church both in family life and in parishes.  The school has a particular part to play in the formation and evangelisation of young people.  For many young people the school is their main connection with the life of the Church.

In the Gospel today, we hear of the deaf man who also had an impediment of speech.  He comes to Jesus.  Jesus says to him ‘Be opened’ and his ears are opened, his tongue loosened, and he spoke clearly.  Education opens us to life and enables us to speak with others about what it means to be a human being in communion with all humanity and the whole of creation.

In his Eucharistic theology St John talks about the washing of the feet.  In schools, parishes and at home we are called to wash each other’s feet and become with Christ, bread

broken for a new world.  In the words of St Peter; Lord, to whom else shall we go?  You have the message of eternal life.

With my best wishes and prayers

Rt Rev Declan Lang

Bishop of Clifton