Prayer by Pope Francis for October—Month of Mission
Heavenly Father, when your only begotten Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he commissioned his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ and you remind us that through baptism we are made sharers in the mission of the Church. Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and zealous in bearing witness to the Gospel, so that the mission entrusted to the Church, which is still very far from completion, may find new and efficacious expressions that bring life and light to the world. Help us make it possible for all peoples to experience the saving love and mercy of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever.

We are very much back into the full swing of autumn term. Today is your last chance to sign up for an appointment for secondary school transfer. Please bring the self-assessment with you to the meeting (if there were no forms left last time, please collect one this weekend from the shop or from the parish office during the week). Today there is a pastoral letter from the Cardinal on a number of events coming our way soon - not least the imminent canonisation. Today we will also hear the autumn talk from our CAFOD reps at Mass, as this coming Friday is Harvest Family Fast Day.

Today is Home Mission Sunday, and World Mission Sunday follows in a few weeks' time. We are taking a Mission collection for them both today. As those names suggest, the home mission involves the tasks of evangelisation and outreach in our own country. The appeal for the world missions goes to the work of 'Missio' which coordinates the missionary effort throughout the world and especially in developing countries, contributing to evangelisation,  healthcare, education and infrastructure. Today, the Church is growing to its full stature in the world. There are almost 1.3 billion Catholics alive today; there are approximately 5000 bishops, 414,000 priests, and 670,000 professed women religious . The Pope was in Africa last week where there are almost 200 million Catholics but not nearly enough priests to serve the growing churches. But even more important than numbers is the missionary character of our hearts. Whether we can give up our lives to preach the Gospel in far flung lands, or whether our apostolate lies in saying our prayers at home, we are all called to be missionaries who reach out in faith and hope for the common good of all our brothers and sisters.

John Henry Newman was born in London in 1801. He was famous during his life as a theologian, a poet, as a convert to Catholicism, and later as a priest and cardinal. As a thinker and writer, he was ahead of his times and made an outstanding contribution to the life of the nation and the Church. He wrote on many aspects of intellectual life but is perhaps most well known for his work of the primacy of a conscience responsive to the truth, Christian doctrine, and on the mission of a university and the philosophy of education. His famous poem, 'The Dream of Gerontius' was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar in 1900. Newman was also much loved by the poor of Birmingham for his work among them as their priest and pastor. He died in 1890. In 2010, he was beatified in Birmingham by Pope Benedict XVI during the papal visit.
On Sunday 13 October, he will be canonised as a saint by Pope Francis during a Mass in St Peter's Square, Rome - the first English saint to be so proclaimed in almost 50 years. A delegation represening the British State will be led by the Prince of Wales, and many groups from Britain will be attending - hopefully including me! May he pray for us in heaven. DR

I would like to repeat the words of welcome written here last weekend - welcome back to school, college and the new term, and welcome back to the parish if you have been away on your summer holidays. We all hope you had a brilliant summer.
Today is known as Education Sunday. This is a special day on which we are invited to reflect on the deeper truths about education and its profound spiritual and theological meaning. We know that education is a God-given right, which is one reason why the Church has always made it part of its primary mission to bring education to children all around the world. Education helps us to make sense of our own identity as children of God, created in his image and likeness, each with a unique calling. It helps equip us for our important mission in life, that of contributing to the building of a true civilisation of love, a civilisation in which each one of us, and together, strive to live the way that Christ shows us. Today we salute the many wonderful teachers, staff, governors, parents and children in our schools. We keep them and their work in our prayers. Perhaps we can also give thanks to God for the education we received ourselves, often given in love from our parents and families, and from all those whose care it was to teach us to pray and to live. God bless you all.


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