Parish News 2020

Archive listing

Pastoral Letter for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph - 26th and 27th December 2020

Please click here for a copy of the Pastoral Letter for the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph from from Cardinal Vincent Nicols, Archbishop of Westminster.

23rd December 2020

Christmas Masses

Last Christmas well over two thousand people attended our Christmas Masses. It is likely that not everyone will want to or be in a position to attend Mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and that numbers this year will be quite reduced. Nevertheless, even if we were to assume a halving in numbers, we would still be faced with the task of accommodating over a thousand people in a church with a current seating capacity of between 58 and 80 at the very most. This would mean our celebrating something like twelve Christmas Masses. We could draw on the support of supply priests to help celebrate these Masses. However, in addition to saying these additional Masses, we would also need to find the stewards to staff them and ensure that there was a sufficient gap between Masses to allow for sanitising and airing. Moreover, were we able to find sufficient volunteers, I am all too conscious of the tensions that allocating seating will inevitably create and that the task of refusing people entry would fall on the shoulders of our volunteer stewards. My fear is that our Masses on Christmas Day could become a recipe for disquiet rather than goodwill. In addition to the logistical challenges it is also worth noting that, apart from a small choir, the current restrictions do not allow for congregational singing. You would have to come to listen and not to sing. On Christmas Day I think that’s a challenge all of its own!

With the return to public worship, we have already received a number of enquiries about the arrangements for Christmas here at St Alban and St Stephen and a decision has to be made. I have consulted with the Parish Pastoral Council and the proposal is that, as it is not practicable to accommodate everyone who may wish to come to Mass in church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, we instead stream the following three Christmas Masses, at which a small choir and readers would be present:

  • 5pm on Christmas Eve,
  • 11pm on Christmas Eve, and
  • 9am on Christmas Morning.

Leaflets to accompany each service, and to facilitate your participation at home, will be available on the parish website.

In addition to these streamed Masses, the Church will be open for individuals and families to visit the crib as follows:

  • Between 6.30pm and 9.30pm on Christmas Eve, and
  • On Christmas Day between 10am and 1pm.

Masses during the week after Christmas will be as follows:

  • St Stephen’s Day, Saturday 26 December – morning Mass at 11am and a Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Holy Family at 6pm.
  • Sunday 27 December – three Masses at 9.30am, 11.30am and 7pm.
  • Monday 28 December through to Friday 1 January – 10am Mass each morning, with evening Masses at 7pm on Wednesday 30 December and Friday 1 January, New Year’s Day.

All these Masses occur during the Octave of Christmas and traditionally the Church treats each of these eight days as Christmas Day.

People are welcome on a first come first served basis for these masses and visits to the crib, except for those listed below where people are asked to reserve a place by contacting the parish office between now and 1pm on 23 December:

  • Saturday evening Mass on 26 December,
  • Sunday Masses on 27 December, and
  • Both morning and evening Masses on 1 January,

I appreciate that this Christmas will be altogether different and that it seems very odd not to have a public Mass on Christmas Day. Please trust me when I say that it has not been an easy decision to arrive at, but my feeling is that for our parish this is the best way to meet the likely levels of demand and be fair to everyone. My sincere hope is for a worthy and safe celebration of Christmas, during which many of you will take up the invitation, to join our streamed Masses, visit the crib on Christmas Day, and attend one of the public Masses celebrated in the Christmas Octave.

Fr Michael

4th December 2020

Parish Christmas Card Competition

These representations of the nativity were entered into our annual drawing competition by children in Years 5 and 6 of St Alban and St Stephen Primary School which is one of our two parish primary schools. This competition runs every year with each of our two parish primary schools competing on a biennial basis.

The Overall Winner this year was Francesca with Martha and Millie being First and Runner-Up in Year 5, and Mia and Esther being First and Runner-Up in Year 6. The winning design can be seen on the front of this year’s Parish Christmas Card. We thank all the children in Years 5 and 6 of St Alban and St Stephen Primary School who submitted entries.

The remaining picture was taken by Pat O’Brien and is of the Crib. This year, it is situated beneath the Main Altar so that it is visible to those reliant on streaming to participate.

8th December 2020

Fr Tom's Memorial Bench

Thanks to the generosity of the parish, the bench dedicated to the memory of Fr Tom Hewitt is now in place overlooking the cricket pitch in Clarence Park. The inscription reads “Fr Tom Hewitt MSC (1946–2018) Much loved Catholic priest and friend to many. He enjoyed watching cricket in this park”.

This bench has proved a positive aspect of the recent lockdown. Many parishioners have searched it out and used it as a meeting point. Certainly I have enjoyed sitting on it, taking in the view, and meeting parishioners as I do. I have heard much about Fr Tom and am sure he would have delighted in a bench that draws people together. When, in early 2019, parishioners made donations to fund a bench in Fr Tom’s memory, nearly £2,500 was raised. The new bench cost just under £500 leaving a surplus of nearly £2,000 and the question of what to do. The suggestion at a recent Parish Pastoral Council was to donate the remaining monies to a charity which Fr Tom would have supported. I suspect that Fr Tom will be remembered fondly for a good many years ahead so my intention is to retain £750 for a future refurbishment of the bench. However, Fr Tom was greatly involved with our parish SVP. Since we have had no collection for the SVP this year I propose to donate what remains to our SVP, specifically for the families they have traditionally supported at Christmas. If you made a donation towards Fr Tom’s bench and are not happy for the remaining funds to be used in this way please contact me. Fr Michael.

7th December 2020

Photos taken of Fr Tom’s bench Clarence Park 

Statements from the Bishops' Conference and the Cardinal

Following their autumn Plenary Meeting, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued a statement on safeguarding. Please click here for a copy of the statement and click here for a personal statement from Cardinal Vincent Nicols.

Resources added to our website

Please see the Liturgy Group section of our website for some new resources we have added to help and support parishioners during the current period.

These include:

  • A ‘Guide to Prayer’ containing practical hints that parishioners have found helpful.
  • A list of prayer and other resources that parishioners may find useful in supporting their daily prayer life as suggested in the recent parish questionnaire.
  • A weekly ‘Liturgy of the Word for Children’ information sheet for those families following mass online.

The members of the RCIA group pictured here being welcomed in to the Catholic Church

The members of the RCIA group, Camla, John, Richard, Dawn, Richard, Maria & Hugh, who began their course in September, 2019, were received as full members of the Catholic Church at the 11.30am Mass on Sunday, 6th September, 2020.

We wish them every blessing on their journey of faith.

Knit and Natter (in Lockdown)

Members and friends of Parish Friends knit and natter group have been knitting squares throughout lockdown to make blankets to take into Care Homes. At a recent garden tea party three knitters got together with Marion Burgess and Helen Bassill to celebrate their achievements. Between them the ladies had made 300 squares which were croquetted together by Marion to make 10 blankets.

If anyone is interested in knitting squares or baby hats while sitting at home please contact Helen via the Parish –  01727 853585 or email –

Shrine to The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

As a memorial to the service of the MSCs in our parish for over 120 years, a new shrine to The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus has been built in our church on the left side of the Sanctuary. The shrine is not yet quite finished, as a plaque will be added, but if you are unable to come to church at present, you will surely be pleased to see the photographs.

Photos taken of the Sacred Heart Shrine to commerorate the MSC’s 120 years service in St Albans 

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Justice & Peace Group invited parishioners to attend a short prayer for peace at the Abbey’s Japanese Peace Obelisk situated on the corner of Sumpter Yard and Holywell Hill at 3 pm on Sunday 9th August, exactly 75 years since the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. (Hiroshima had been bombed three days previously.) Parishioners were also invited to visit the Abbey’s Black Lives Matter installation in the North Transept and then, weather permitting, adjourn to the park for a picnic lunch.

Happy 1st Anniversary, Fr Julian.

Fr Julian was ordained at Westminster Cathedral on 27th July 2019 and joined our parish as Assistant Priest in September.

Over the last 10 months or so, Fr Julian’s homilies in St Albans have drawn on his upbringing on the family hill farm in Wales, his academic studies in Modern History and his diverse experience in ministry among the poor and marginalised in Wales, the Midlands and the South.

Harking back to his roots, he has been quoted as saying that his work is very much like the farmer caring for his flock. Clearly one of his early duties in our parish, to lead the Service of  Blessing of our pets, was no daunting task for him!

We have all enjoyed getting to know Fr Julian over the year: his kindness, deep spirituality and extensive knowledge have inspired us, and his unfailing sense of humour continues to lift our spirits.

Happy anniversary Fr Julian.
We wish you much joy throughout your priesthood.

Photos taken at the service of the blessing of pets – October 2019

Fr Julian Davies

Fr Julian’s ordination on the 27th July 2019

Fr Michael on your 20th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood.

Fr Michael studied for the priesthood at Allen Hall and was ordained a priest on 24th June 2000. His first appointment was to Our Lady Help of Christians, Kentish Town. In 2002, he moved to Westminster Cathedral where he became Sub-Administrator and in 2003, Director of the Agency for Evangelisation, which launched the Small Christian Communities initiative.

As Parish Priest at St Aloysius, Somers Town, Fr Michael became responsible for diocesan youth provision and oversaw the rebuilding of the parish hall as the new diocesan Centre for Youth Ministry, which was completed in 2012. In 2013, he became Dean of Studies at Allen Hall, and subsquently Vice Rector.

In 2019, when the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart handed over the care of the parish of Ss Alban and Stephen to the Diocese of Westminster, to the great good fortune of the people of St Albans, Fr Michael was appointed our Parish Priest.

Ordained 2000 to2020& counting ...

Fr Michael O’Boy

Westminster Record June 2013

Memories of the day.

Church  re-open for private prayer. Temporarily suspended from 5th July

The church is open for private prayer on Mondays to Saturdays in the afternoons from 12noon- 1.00pm and in the evenings from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

Three volunteers are required for each session. If you are able to help, please see the bulletin for full details.

Click on this link to download to download July 5th Bulletin for more information.

Thank you to the volunteers who  are already helping  with the open sessions.

Useful Links

Click here for other useful links

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on the 19th June

As we look towards the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on Friday 19th June, we will be offering the customary novena to the Sacred Heart at the end of our streamed Masses beginning on Thursday 11th June.

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, encouraged by mediaeval mystics and promoted by St Gertrude, St Margaret Mary Alacoque, St John Eudes, Fr Jules Chevalier (Founder of the MSCs) and others, represents a devotion to Jesus in his human nature, in particular referring to the heart as the seat of the emotions especially love.

Click on the button below to download the Novena

Novena Prayer to the Sacred Heart

Letter from Fr Michael on 5th June 2020

Dear Parishioners
As I write, we should have been looking forward to our planned for Parish Assembly, due to take place this weekend, and thereafter to the annual celebrations around the solemnities of the Sacred Heart and our patron St Alban. As it is, the celebrations both here and in the City will be somewhat different this year. Nonetheless, we shall continue with our traditional novena to the Sacred Heart, which will be recited at the end of the streamed Masses from Thursday 10th June. On Sunday 21st June we will celebrate the feast of St Alban. (As St Alban is one of our principal patrons and Sunday 21st June is what we call an ordinary Sunday, we are allowed to transfer the celebration of his feast to the Sunday.) The next day, Monday 22nd June, we will celebrate two of the other great English Martyrs, St Thomas More and St John Fisher.
I have a number of things on my desk at the moment, many in the pending tray. I am conscious that we are still to decide on dates for First Communions and Confirmations, as well as for the reception, baptism and confirmation of our RCIA candidates. Until it becomes clearer when Churches will be open for the public celebration of Mass and what restrictions will be involved there is little more we can do. That said, I can say that we have been asked to prepare for the time when the church can be open for individual prayer.
In order to open the churches we will need to ensure that we deliver as safe an environment as possible. To this end the Cardinal has asked that the churches are staffed by volunteers to help ensure that visitors observe the necessary precautions eg. keeping 2m apart, sanitising hands on entering and leaving the church and after lighting any candles. Needless to say the Church will look a little different; some but not all benches will be available to sit on, there will be markers on the floor to assist with social distancing and a one way system in operation around the church. Moreover, there will be no toilet facilities available as the Parish Centre will remain closed. Given the need for supervised opening it is not possible to re-instate our usual opening hours straight away. To start with we are aiming to open the church for approximately 1 hour each morning (11am to 12noon) and evening (6.30pm to 7.30pm), we will need 3 volunteers for each session. If you are not self-isolating or shielding and you feel you could volunteer to help re-open our church, please contact Melanie (details in the bulletin or via the Parish Office). If there are more volunteers we can look at extending the proposed opening times.

When the churches do eventually re-open for the public celebration of Masses and for some time afterwards, it is likely that there will be some limitation on the numbers who can attend. Moreover, its quite likely that some, particularly the vulnerable and those who have been shielding, will be anxious about large gatherings and will not want to come into church. This being so we will continue to stream a daily Mass and will search out a more permanent less obtrusive solution – at present, the camera rests on a stand situated immediately in front of the altar.

This coming week we are due to hold the usual monthly meeting of the Parish Council by Zoom. It’s interesting, thinking about this and other meetings, how the ‘virtual’ way of doing things can become so ordinary in such a short space of time. Yet for us as Christians the ‘virtual’ way of things must always be second best. At the heart of our faith stands the person of Christ, God incarnate, who gives us his flesh and blood. Take and eat he says at the Last Supper. Touch and see he says to Thomas at the resurrection. Christ was not born virtually, Salvation is not won virtually, and the Spirit does not come virtually. All these things take place concretely and really. It is in and through real things, concrete actions, that salvation comes to us and that we are drawn to God. The ‘virtual’ world will always be just that ‘virtual’. It can never be a substitute, still less a replacement, for the real thing. Certainly, as we spend longer apart from friends and family, unable to see them and to be close, the importance of the physicality of things – of being up close, so to speak – becomes more and more apparent.

With my prayers for you and yours
Kindest regards
Fr Michael

Letter from Fr Julian on Friday 24th April 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I am wondering whether or not you would consider joining me each day in saying the Rosary intentionally. If we do this, we could establish a powerful prayer chain connecting each of our households. We will be reinforcing our community together, praying into the issues which face us and interceding on behalf of those who are most vulnerable at this time.

How you pray the chaplet is up to yourself. You could do the five decades each day or just one decade daily. The important thing though is that we pray intentionally and meditatively for each of the prayer intentions listed below (click here) on each respective day.

Using the basic framework of the Rosary, saying the introductory and bridging prayers, we could say the chaplet with or without the mysteries. If with the mysteries, we could use either the Glorious Mysteries for each day or the conventional four mysteries. As an alternative chaplet you could use the chaplet of the Sacred Heart or Divine Mercy. As we pray let us bear in mind the following.

  1. We are praying also that our hearts would change and for our own responsible attitude
  2. We are praying consciously praising God in the midst of this as other crises
  3. We are praying in the knowledge of God’s love for us and for all
  4. We are praying for repentance, recognising that this like every disaster reminds us of our need to seek forgiveness. That we would repent: for being ungrateful for things which we so often take for granted (health, community, provisions, the natural world); for not recognising that so many in our world face worse crises than this most days; for prizing money and comfort over love of our neighbours; for failing to recognise the damage we have done to the planet; for not speaking out for those who die daily through abortion or euthanasia; for believing in our own self-sufficiency and our ability to protect ourselves
  5. We are praying for divine protection and not just personal protection equipment.
  6. We are praying as Easter people witnessing to the truth of the Resurrection

Yours sincerely
Fr Julian

Daily Prayer Intentions

For all suffering from the virus. For those who have died and those mourning them
For all doctors, nurses and other health professionals working in hospitals
For all working in hospices, care and nursing homes, social and domestic carers
For all ambulance crews, paramedics, emergency services and those keeping routine postal, transport and civic services functioning
For those facing domestic abuse or violence, lack of shelter or food, or loss of livelihood.
For those keeping schools and shops open, and producing and delivering vital supplies
For wisdom for scientists in seeking solutions and the government in their response