May - the Marian Month
May is the month when we especially honour Mary. This year, Pope Francis invites Catholics and Marian Shrines around the world to dedicate the month of May to a marathon of prayer for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Day of Prayer for Survivors of Abuse
The Bishops have designated Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter as a special day of prayer. Coming in the Easter season of hope and new life, this is a day of prayer for those who have been abused, rather than a penitential day for the failure of the Church and others to respond to the scourge of abuse.
India is facing a devastating second wave of coronavirus. The country reported more than 386,000 new confirmed cases on Friday, and one in four of the world’s Covid deaths, with concerns that under-reporting means that the true numbers are much higher.
In some cities, there are world-class medical facilities, mainly privately run; even these are struggling to cope. Rural areas are much less well-served at the best of times.
The Catholic Diocese of Bangalore in southern India is making school facilities available for temporary hospitals. CAFOD is working with Caritas India to set up temporary treatment centres and provide PPE. More than 40 countries have pledged aid. For India, the help cannot come a moment too soon.
Environment and climate
Earth Day 2021 was 20-22 April - so actually three Earth Days this year, which perhaps emphasises the seriousness with which the environment and climate chages are seen in many quarters.
US President Joe Biden has hosted a virtual summit of world leaders. Pope Francis sent a message saying that the summit encourages nations to "take charge of the care of nature, of this gift that we have received and that we have to heal, guard, and carry forward."
"Our concern is to see that the environment is cleaner, purer, and preserved," said the Pope, "and to take care of nature so that it takes care of us."
The UK is scheduled to host the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June and COP26—the UN Climate Change Conference—in Glasgow in November this year. As CAFOD has put it, the eyes of the world are on us. Read a poem about this written by a young Egham parishioner.
Meanwhile, Catholic weekly The Tablet reports that "Gin fuels green-spirited Catholic Church"
Who Can Receive Communion with Us?
The National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW) have published a new leaflet which clarifies what is meant by sharing Communion, outlining when Communion may be shared, and provides advice about how to ask to receive Communion within the current guidance.
The Day of the Lord
The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued a reflection entitled The Day of the Lord on post-pandemic recovery.
The Bishops praise the many people who have worked tirelessly during these challenging times and also acknowledge the creative and diverse methods of outreach in the last year.
While it is impossible to predict the pace at which we will emerge from the pandemic, the Bishops state “what is clear is the challenge we face of bringing our communities and the practice of the faith to a still greater expression and strength.” They urge us all to "restore to its rightful centrality in our lives the Sunday Mass".
A new report from the Refugee Council reveals the dehumanising conditions people fleeing war, violence and persecution endure while living in hotel accommodation during the pandemic.
The report, I sat watching life go by my window for so long, reveals that people have routinely lacked basic essentials such as shoes and coats, have been confined to their rooms for days on end while waiting for their one set of clothing to be cleaned, and have been left unable to access even basic healthcare despite many having complex health needs.
The Jesuit Refugee Service has renewed its calls for people seeking asylum to be provided with safe and dignified accommodation in the community.
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St George's Day
It was lovely to be able to come together to celebrate St George's Day, at St George's Church, of course. After Mass, we moved outside, where we enjoyed fish and chips despite the falling temperatures of an April evening.
An occasion appreciated by all.
There are some photos further down the page.
The usual parish newsletter has been suspended during the pandemic.