Sunday, 31 August 2014


When I came to Oadby six years ago in September 2008 the first thing I did before I had unpacked anything more than an alb to celebrate Mass, I conducted my first Funeral in the parish. Now as I prepare to pack my final few belongings and leave for Nottingham, I had the joy of my last Sunday Mass to include the celebration of a First Holy Communion; Archie will be eight years old in a few weeks and desperately wanted to receive Holy Communion from me as his parish priest. It took some hard work on his part and help from our team of catechists, but all came together today for a very special occasion. With family, friends and the congregation at the 10 am Mass watching Archie made received Our Lord in Holy Communion for the first time.

Archie receives the Body of Christ in Holy Communion

proud parents Michelle and Anthony watch as Archie receives the Blood  of Christ
Archie took a full part in the Liturgy today as he proclaimed the Second Reading and helped to bring up the Gifts for the celebration of Mass. Afterwards there were refreshments in the parish room and most of the congregation numbering almost one hundred stayed on to continue celebrating Archie's special day.

Friday, 29 August 2014


Almost eighty parishioners gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass on Thursday 28th August 2014 at 7 pm in Immaculate Conception Church, Oadby. It was the feast of St Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, the date is also the first anniversary of the death of the first parish priest of Oadby; Father John Feeley and it was the date chosen for a celebration to bid farewell to Father Philip McBrien as he prepares to leave for his new appointments in Nottingham.

Father Philip with Deacon Joe Dawson (left) and Father Michael Moore (right)
With a busy sanctuary, Father Philip was assisted by Deacon Joe Dawson from St Thomas More Church, Knighton and Father Michael Moore parish priest of the same parish concelebrated at the Mass with Father Philip. Father Simon Gillespie is on holiday in Scotland at the moment and could not attend. These three men constitute the team of clergy appointed by Monsignor McGovern, our diocesan administrator, to take on pastoral care of Oadby in addition to their duties in Knighton.

Servers of Immaculate conception assisted at the Mass under the leadership of senior servers, Matthew Luke and David Ludlow.

Father Philip and the altar servers after Mass

After Mass everyone moved to the parish room where a marvellous spread had been prepared by the parishioners during the day. The pictures show the crowded parish room; one of the legacies of Father Philip's six years in Oadby parish.

The obligatory cake cutting 

About halfway through the proceedings Mr Vince Hope-Shannon, chairman of the pastoral council, made a brief address,

at the end of the speech, Miss Maura Cotter made a presentation of a cheque which was the sum of all the donations made by parishioners over the past six or seven weeks to Father Philip.

Ever to be the last one speaking Father Philip made a reply thanking all parishioners for their generosity of the presentation, but more especially for the warm welcome he received six years ago when he was appointed parish priest in 2008, for the support over the years and the enthusiastic way everyone has responded to the pastoral initiatives undertaken together in that time. The parish room itself is a fine testimony to the co-operation built up in six years, but more so the activities that take place in the room: the children's liturgy on Sunday mornings; parish council meetings; preparation for the Sacraments of Confession, Holy Communion and Confirmation; fund-raising events and parish open meetings, including preparation for the New Translation of the Missal and the series of meetings in the consultation 'You are Living Stones' begun by Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP. The event wound down soon after nine o'clock; after all it was school in the morning for some of those present! The groaning tables of food and drink for the refreshments were virtually cleared; a fine testament to how all had enjoyed the evening together.
One word to finish: during his reply Father Philip spoke of his confidence for the future of Immaculate Conception Parish Oadby stating his confidence was based on the co-operation and help from many parishioners. He added words of encouragement that younger members of the parish need to step forward and learn from those already heavily committed to working with the clergy of the parish, so that in due time, those who have laboured so hard up to this point may relax a little and handover responsibility for the future of the parish into younger hands, suitably trained and with fresh energy and vision.
"The future is about teamwork, and there is no 'I' in teamwork."

Sunday, 24 August 2014


At Mass today at the end of the Children's Liturgy, Archie was presented with his certificate for making his First Confession in preparation for receiving his First Holy Communion at Mass next Sunday.

Sunday, 17 August 2014


Parishioners of Immaculate Conception, Oadby became familiar with the experience they had this weekend during my Sabbatical from January to March this year, as Father Michael Moore and Father Simon Gillespie took it in turn to say the Masses this weekend while I was visiting the Church of Corpus Christi in Clifton, Nottingham; one of my new parishes where I shall be working from1st September.

at the church sign

at the front door of Corpus Christi

after Mass with my good friend Father Chris Thomas
I drove to Clifton on Saturday afternoon to see around the parish again and look about the house where my few pieces of furniture can fit in the Presbytery. Then after a period of Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 5.15 pm to 5.55 pm I was concelebrant at the parish Vigil Mass at 6 pm which Father Chris celebrated.
In the morning we celebrated Mass at 9.15am - one of the last times this will be the Mass time, as Mass at Our Lady & St Patrick's in the Meadows is at 9.30 am. From 6th September, Mass in Clifton will be at 11 am. After a bite to eat, I made my way back to Oadby to find that all was well during my absence.
From the picture above, you cannot get a true impression of the size of Corpus Christi church. It can hold EIGHT HUNDRED people; easily more than four times as many as Immaculate Conception. In 1965 when he was building, Father James J McGuinness (later Bishop James J McGuinness) was thinking BIG!


Tomorrow the heating engineers are starting the second part of their project to complete our refurbished heating system in the church and parish hall. Mass at St Thomas More, Knighton tomorrow and Tuesday at 9 am, and on Wednesday at 6 pm.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


The Finance group gave the go-ahead for a much needed change to the heating system in the church, sacristy and parish room. During my Sabbatical at the start of the year the heating system needed daily attention to make sure the boiler fired and the radiators worked. When we looked into the situation pipes in the floor were leaking and could not be easily fixed, so we took the decision to re-pipe the radiators and get a new boiler while we were at it. The old boiler was over fifteen years old and had frankly seen better days.

The new Worcester boiler
Work began on Monday 11th September and Mass was celebrated in our Link church of St Thomas More on Knighton Road for the duration of the works. As it is we will need three days (Monday to Wednesday) next week to complete the work.
Parishioners were presented with Mass times for the Holy Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven on 15th August in FIVE neighbouring churches; St Thomas More, St John Bosco, St Mary's in South Wigston, Holy Cross and St Paul's centre (St Margaret's on Wakerley Road). I celebrated Mass on Friday morning at St Edward's on Aylestone Road as Father Peter Coyle is still not quite well-enough to celebrate Mass in public and had an appointment with his consultant anyway.

As you can see from these photos work is progressing well. However all the gleaming copper pipes will very quickly vanish behind secure and unobtrusive housings along the walls.
A team of parishioners joined me in returning the church to a useable state on Friday evening ready for the weekend Masses. Please note we'll have to do this all again on Wednesday evening - other volunteers please be ready this time. Don't leave it to the faithful few!
All is on course for a warm and snug church and parish room whatever the weather throws at Oadby this autumn and winter!

Saturday, 9 August 2014


Between thirty and forty parishioners gathered in the parish room at Oadby on Wednesday 6th August after the evening Mass at 6.30 pm for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Members of the Pastoral Council were joined by Fr Philip McBrien (currently parish priest of Immaculate Conception, Oadby) and Fr Simon Gillespie (assistant priest at St Thomas More Knighton). There follows a summary of the proceedings:

Discussion at the open parish meeting at 7 pm on Wednesday 6th August 2014 concerning the future of the parish in the light of the ‘link-up’ proposed by Bishop Malcolm’s consultation ‘You are Living Stones’ with the neighbouring parish of St Thomas More, Knighton.


Mass Times

Sunday Mass Times

Current situation

Saturday evening (Vigil Masses)

Oadby 5.30 pm – Knighton 6 pm

Clearly this cannot be celebrated by one priest (the situation that must be planned for within the next three, six or possibly twelve months). Fr Michael Moore has indicated that an interval of 90 minutes from the start of each Mass is desirable (that is approximately 30 minutes from the end of one Mass to the beginning of the next). This half hour period would be needed to ensure the priest can speak to parishioners however briefly after Mass and still have time to travel safely the 2 miles between the two churches and still have enough time to get ready in a dignified fashion for the next celebration of Mass.

It was proposed that Oadby Mass time be moved forward to 5 pm and the Knighton Mass time be moved back to 6.30 pm.

Sunday morning Masses

Current situation

Knighton 9 am – Oadby 10 am – Knighton 11 am

This situation is further complicated by the celebration of children’s liturgy at the 9 and 10 am Masses on most Sundays. These celebrations are vitally important to engage and encourage the young families with children in the parishes to play and active part in the life of the Church.

It was resolved that the same principle of 90 minutes should apply here too.
It was further proposed that in fairness both parishes should be prepared to move their Mass times.

A number of ideas were put forward to be published in a consultation to the members of both parishes.

1 - Knighton 8 am – Oadby 9.30 am – Knighton 11 am

2 - Knighton 8.15 am – Oadby 9.45 am – Knighton 11.15 am

3 - Knighton 8.30 am – Oadby 10 am – Knighton 11.30 am

These three patterns would also need to take into account the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism which could possibly take place at the Oadby Mass and the second Mass at Knighton.

In the spirit ‘You are Living Stones’ Parishioners of both parishes should feel able to attend Mass in the ‘other’ church should circumstances make it difficult to attend Mass at their accustomed time and ‘home’ church.

It was resolved that these patterns be put on a sheet to be given to all parishioners asking for people’s views on the preferable option.

Then as parish priest, Fr Michael Moore would then make a decision after consultation with the parishes of the deanery. Consideration of a Mass on Sunday evening was also included in this item.

Holyday Mass times

There are potentially a maximum of three of these celebrations per year, and sometimes as few as one, that little detailed discussion was made of these except for the observation that the celebration of these in our Catholic Schools should be part of a consultation on these in the near future.


Weekday Masses

Current situation

                   Knighton         Oadby

Monday        9 am              10 am
Tuesday       12 noon          10 am
Wednesday   6 pm             12 noon
Thursday      10 am            10 am
Friday           9 am              7 pm (summer)
                                         (10 am winter)
Saturday      10 am               none
After much discussion concerning these items a new pattern was proposed for consultation and a decision from Fr Michael. Flexibility must be built in for exceptional celebrations such as Funerals (particularly Requiem Masses on weekdays and Nuptial Masses on Saturdays). Canon Law permits a priest to celebrate Holy Mass once a day. For genuine pastoral need a priest is permitted to celebrate Mass for a second time on weekdays, and on Sundays he may celebrate up to three Masses.
The following proposal was drawn up after discussion:

                   Knighton      Oadby

Monday        9 am           none
Tuesday       none          12 noon
Wednesday   6 pm          none
Thursday      10 am        none ***
Friday          9 am          none
Saturday      none           none
***   (perhaps a service of Word and Holy Communion?)

Confessions were not mentioned during any item specifically, but would need to be timetabled on Saturdays.

The meeting felt very strongly that a decision, even a preliminary one to adopt a temporary change in the Mass schedule for both weekends and weekdays should be made sooner rather than later, as soon as the consultation can take place in both parishes. It was resolved that this date should be either the First Sunday in Advent (30th November 2014), or the 1st January 2015.
Further development of lay ministries

The whole process of ‘You are Living Stones’ hinged around the necessity of these lay ministries being encouraged in our parishes. Training and support for all involved in these ministries will be essential if our parishes are going to continue as vital and effective communities with the numbers of priests there will be in the future. Lay people must be willing to come forward and be involved in their parishes if our parishes are to continue.

Appeals have been made in the past with only minimal take up. This must change. For a priest to celebrate Mass in two churches for Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings it is clear that there must be support from trained sacristans in each place. It is not enough to rely on altar servers not matter how well trained our young people are: adult involvement is vital too. Sufficient ministries in church will also be needed; altar servers, readers, extraordinary ministers of holy communion, welcomers, vergers/collectors, trained Catechists for children’s liturgy, are but the obvious ones, but cash-counters, tea/coffee makers, stall-holders for repositories, those running the parish Tote should not be overlooked.

Many of these ministries may already exist in our parishes, but probably not as well trained or resourced as they should be, and by and large are carried out by a small ‘core-group’ of (often elderly) parishioners, each one carry out multiple tasks. Younger generations in our communities need to step forward to learn from those already doing these tasks for the community – the key concept here is ‘SUCCESSION’ as any organisation which does not look to training future leaders and key workers will surely fail. This weakness in Oadby was clearly demonstrated during Fr Philip’s Sabbatical in January, February and March 2014; for although all possible preparations were made in advance of his three-month absence this small core-group in Oadby had to carry a considerable work-load on behalf of the whole parish community.

It was resolved that a new approach was needed for promoting lay-ministries as previous appeals have yielded small returns. A personal approach is needed after possible new ministers have been identified. New ministries should not be discounted in this effort.
Possible use of the presbytery
In other parishes where there is no longer a resident parish priest and there is a house near or attached to the church, the diocese has followed the following policy. In the first place the building might be used for accommodation for a retired priest or a small religious community; both circumstances are of benefit to the parish for the sacramental life of the parish. Failing either of those uses the diocese enters into letting arrangements, usually through a professional agency. These are normally on six-month terms, in case the property might be needed when a priest retires and has no accommodation available, but does not require residential home or nursing home care. The policy of the diocese is that the parish receives the letting fee, less the agent’s fees, which is an obvious benefit to the parish finances.

In certain circumstances where the tenant is a parishioner and they are willing to undertake some responsibilities for the buildings, some small reduction in the rental fee is considered by the Directors of the Diocese. This situation latter has obvious benefits for the security of the property.
Sacramental programmes
It is to be hoped that the sacramental life of each parish will continue to flourish under one parish priest. However sharing resources and running parallel celebrations in the two churches should not be overlooked, nor wider participation in the Deanery, across the City of Leicester or at diocesan level. Catechists for each Sacrament: Baptism, First Confession and Holy Communion, Confession, and those to help with Marriage preparation should be considered in the promotion of ministries mentioned in THREE.
It should be possible to continue the celebration of each Sacrament in both communities.
The extra difficulties caused by the requirements of these celebrations was considered briefly. Much of what was said in ONE under the heading of Sunday Mass times will apply here too, but with even greater need for willingness to compromise, see to the needs of parishioners who have no means of transport to get to church, and being prepared to attend a celebration at the ‘other’ church where the need arises.

The Diaconate was not mentioned in great detail as this is mainly in the Knighton parish, however the usefulness of Oadby having a deacon once more cannot be overstated. The availability of a deacon in Oadby to share some of the Sacramental duties his ministry can perform (preaching, Baptism, Weddings, Funerals, Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Services of Word and Holy Communion, Divine Office and other Prayer Services) would be of immense help to the parish priest of the two parishes.
The course at Hothorpe Hall run by the Diocese on parishes and the realities of applying ‘You are Living stones’ was advertised. There is a poster on the notice board; the course is being run on 4th September 2014 and can be financed from parish funds.
The meeting closed at 8.20 pm with Fr Simon Gillespie, assistant priest in Knighton, leading a short prayer and blessing.



This evening Darren Brooks presented a cheque for £900 to the parish as the interim figure for the funds raised for the church building fund by his Run for Home Challenge on 26th July 2014.
We are all immensely grateful to Darren for this effort which will be added to by the addition of Gift Aid on part of the donations. Thanks to all parishioners and friends who sponsored Darren and to Susan and Katie in supporting him in this venture.