A New Year Wish: that Parishioners become renewed people in loving God and their neighbour
New Year’s Day for us Catholics is the feast of Mary the Mother of God. It is also Peace Sunday. It is a message of hope, of good will, of finding a purpose and meaning to life for us.
My own message as your parish priest would be that nobody wastes the time that we have in front of us and in the present moment. Use the time well, use it to grow as human beings, and that means to grow in loving of God and of your neighbours. Who knows how much longer I will be left to serve you as your Parish Priest. It is most unusual these days for a man to be your Parish Priest for 22 years, and that is the length of time so far as I began here as Parish Priest in September 1992 after Fr. Ambrose became Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.
My hope is that in these next years each person will grow and develop to become a person that will make a difference for good in his or her life. When I leave St. Mary’s Leyland I would love to leave renewed people, not renewed buildings or just renewed structures. Buildings and structures are important to nurture the growth of people, but to leave a legacy of a loving people that make a difference to the community of Leyland and to the wider community of the Church and dare I say it, of the world, would be a greater achievement. Structures and buildings will then be improved as I hope has to some extent already happened.
This hope applies to the young and the less young, nobody is excluded. It is a straight forward message which means as renewed people, we will become a community of people together who witness to the presence of Jesus himself in each one and among us as a community. In this way I hope and pray that the town of Leyland with the support of many others of other Christian denominations, of those of other Religions, of people of good will with no particular religious and of the Civic Authorities will become a more friendly town than it is already, for the glory of God and for the good of all of us, and for the Church and dare I say it, to the wider community and even the world. Our hopes and dreams can be as large as our hearts and minds desire.
Pope Francis has developed the theme that all people to live in peace must consider themselves brothers and sisters of each other under one Father. He writes as an introduction to his message of peace as follows:
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PEACE
1 JANUARY 2015 NO LONGER SLAVES, BUT BROTHERS AND SISTERS
1. At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders. In doing so, I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.
In my Message for Peace last year, I spoke of “the desire for a full life… which includes a longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced”. Since we are by nature relational beings, meant to find fulfilment through interpersonal relationships inspired by justice and love, it is fundamental for our human development that our dignity, freedom and autonomy be acknowledged and respected. Tragically, the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love. This abominable phenomenon, which leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity, takes many forms. I would like briefly to consider these, so that, in the light of God’s word, we can consider all men and women “no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters”.
If you wish to read the rest of his message please look at the Parish Website at the tag Documents and Albums, scroll down to Documents and there you will see his full message.
Have a blessed and fulfilled 2015 facing all the challenges that the year ahead will bring in confident hope because of our trust in the Saviour of the World, born of Mary the Mother of God whose feast we celebrate on Thursday 1 January 2014.