Faith and Formation


Catholicism is the most ancient and enduring Christian Church.  Jesus established his Apostles under the authority of St Peter to go and proclaim his love to the world.  Today the Catholic Church continues this same mission guided by the Bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles, and under the leadership of the Pope, who is the successor of St Peter.

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The Catholic Church believes that Jesus becomes truly present in Holy Communion and that we encounter God in a special way in the sacraments of the Church. At Clifton Diocese, we live this Catholic faith and invite you to come and experience our joy in the Lord Jesus.

For Catholics, “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” Through the words of Consecration spoken by the Priest, Catholics believe that our Lord Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharistic or Holy Communion. The Bread and Wine become Christ’s Body and Blood. Why do we believe this? Because Jesus tells us in John 6:55: “… my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink,”

The Mass is the most important prayer for Catholics. Within Clifton Diocese, there are daily Masses and the opportunity to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. It won’t cost you anything, but this most profound gift from God is available, whenever you come to Mass.

Ongoing and Continuing Formation

‘Ongoing formation is not merely in-service training. It is all that will help priests and deacons to grow and mature emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and to care for themselves physically. It is also all that will help them develop and improve those personal and professional skills which are necessary for the successful exercise of their ministry’.

The Ongoing Formation of the Clergy – Committee for Ministerial Formation, 1994

The diocese commits itself to supporting our priests in their ministry, nurturing them spiritually, academically, pastorally and, of course, as a human being.

Each year, our priests are given an array of opportunity to allow them to participate in something that will support them in their priestly ministry, draw them together fraternally with other priests working in the diocese, and send them away (hopefully) nourished for the ministry that draws on their gifts and their service.

OGF invites our priests to participate in days of study, in days of recollection, in opportunities to meet socially with brother priests, to celebrate the Prayer of the Church and the Sacraments together, moments of pilgrimage and retreat, and moments to celebrate and reflect upon priesthood.


Many parishes are wanting to re-start their sacramental programmes this autumn, even though many of the Covid restrictions remain in place.
The Sycamore resources can be used as a programme of catechesis and sacramental preparation, or as a supplement to the courses that you are already running. One advantage is that they can be run in both physical and remote groups. They are also completely free to use.

There are over a dozen sacramental and catechetical courses that can be run using Sycamore, including RCIA, Confirmation, Infant Baptism, Marriage Enrichment, and sessions to support parents with children in First Communion and Confirmation groups. See the full list of sacramental pathways here and the new Marriage Enrichment pathway here (more details to follow soon).

Each session includes professionally produced videos, testimonies, discussion questions, and online follow-up resources. The films are presented by Fr Stephen Wang, a priest in the Diocese of Westminster, and they are filmed on location in the UK.

For detailed information about how to plan and run your sacramental programmes click here. And follow these links for more general information about Sycamore planning and leadership training.

If you haven’t come across Sycamore before please read the “Why start a group” page here, to understand the Sycamore vision and how it can benefit your parish.


PAULINE (RCIA catechist in Abingdon)

Sycamore has been an overwhelming joy for many people. It has enabled them to open their hearts and to share their faith in ways they never imagined possible. Many people who were reluctant to speak about faith openly, have gained confidence and trust through participation in the discussion topics, and have been amazed at the difference it makes to their prayer life, to their understanding of scripture, and to their desire to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. This is for us a grace filled and blessed moment in the life of our parish, the foundations go very deep in these groups. Friendships develop and grow each year, and it’s wonderful to witness people’s growth in faith and commitment to the Lord


Sycamore has allowed me to live the priesthood in such a life-giving way. Priests need to know about Sycamore for their own sake and not just for how it will help their people!