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Cardinal: Obligation to Easter Duties removed this year
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Easter message from Cardinal Vincent Nichols

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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

Message from Fr. Michael on 19th April 2020

Dear Parishioners

Before coming to St Albans I was a member of staff at Allen Hall, our diocesan seminary, where those discerning a calling to the priesthood are formed. As a rule the training takes six years and it includes an range of  topics covering the seminarian’s pastoral, human, intellectual and spiritual development, but nowhere on the list was there a course on ‘Parishes in times of Pandemic’. The same was true for me when I was a seminarian. The time and events we are living through are unusual, and it’s no surprise that there was no course on preparing for them, but such times are not unprecedented. Witness the plagues and epidemics that others have lived through on these islands. Indeed the vulnerability we are living through, the fear of disease and dying, the way in which our lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down, and the separation from family and friends, are all too familiar to thousands if not millions of people across the world; it’s just that these realities, where health systems are straining and certainties are fewer, are usually for others, for the war torn countries of the Middle East, for the peoples of Africa but not for ‘us’. And yet, if truth be told, the reality is that whatever the current virus will visit on us as a community the threat it poses to people where health systems and infrastructures are weak or non-existent is infinitely greater. As an undergraduate I can well remember courses offered on the global village, on how small and interconnected the world is, and this pandemic teaches us just this – that we are connected and that seeing off this pandemic is not simply a matter of our dealing with it here and for us, but our tackling it abroad and for others.

The Coronavirus has not only meant the suspension of public Masses. The decision to postpone the forthcoming parish assembly and the MSC thanksgiving has already been made, but the virus has also meant that the RCIA programme for adults wishing to be baptised or received, the Confirmation programme, and the First Holy Communion programme have been put on hold. It has also disrupted many couples’ wedding plans, forcing some to move their weddings into next year. One of the most immediate priorities on our return will be to ensure that these programmes are completed and dates rearranged for our catechumens and candidates to be baptised and received and for our younger parishioners to celebrate Holy Communion. In terms of the Confirmations I suspect we will be very much dependent on Bishop Paul’s timetable and availability.

I am grateful to all those who have worked on our parish website and contributed to the Holy Week services. Unfortunately, we were not in a position to live stream the services taking place in Church, but I think we have every reason to be pleased with the team effort that enabled people to celebrate the Triduum at home. One new initiative during Holy Week was the formation of a virtual prayer group which met every evening at 7.30 pm. The prayer group will continue to meet at 7.30 pm on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. If you wish to join us please contact Brendan Roche  (please contact the parish office for details).

Now that Holy Week has passed, some of the busyness of these last weeks has subsided. You may be wondering what myself and Fr Julian are doing with our time. Well, I suspect that like many people, it has taken a little time to work out what it is – apart from social distancing and staying in – that we should be doing. Well, there is more time to pray our office and less cause to miss any of it, and even though there is no congregation, and Mass seems to take longer, there is a profound sense of being connected to all of you. For me, the blessing at the end of Mass has a particular significance, when I have all of you in my mind’s eye, calling down the Lord’s blessing. And yes, with several members of staff being furloughed we are being re-acquainted with all sorts of domestic routines and appliances. But amidst all of this, please remember we are always at the end of the phone and happy to speak. There doesn’t have to be a reason, it may simply be to say hello. And if you think somebody, particularly an elderly relative/ parishioner would appreciate a call from us, please let us know. The same is true for families in difficulties. Let us know. We will do what we can.

Of course alongside the challenges, and all that has been lost for now, there are also highlights. One of these for both Fr Julian and I have been Thursday evenings when ‘socially distanced’ neighbours have gathered on the street to clap for the NHS and care workers looking after the sick and vulnerable. As well as ringing the Church bell as a sign of our appreciation it has also been an opportunity to get to know people on the street.

Towards the end of this week Cardinal Vincent wrote to the clergy of the diocese. He asked that two initiatives be drawn to people’s attention. The first is a small initiative on the part of the bishops in England and Wales whereby every Thursday evening, at 7pm, one of them in turn will celebrate a live streamed Mass in his cathedral for frontline workers in the NHS and care homes and for the sick and their families. This will begin next Thursday with Mass in our own Cathedral. The second initiative is a virtual retreat to be led from Walsingham by Mgr John Armitage between 19 April and 26 April. The retreat conferences will be live streamed from Walsingham at 10.30am and 4pm each day. Please visit

Finally, since we entered into the current lockdown a number of parishioners, and former parishioners have died:

Renee Yvonne Denise Lucas, Joao Paulo Martins, Jean Yves Theanne, Philomena Lines, Eileen Drurie, Anne Lynch, Catherine Mannion, Margaret Sweeney, John Taylor, Mary Jozwiaka, Mariano Casotti, Edward Turner, Mary Malik, Mary Harper, Sr Angela Gallagher, Elaine Gatta.

Please pray for them and please pray for their families who have to say their farewells without the funeral Masses they and we would wish for as well as the support of extended family and friends. When we are allowed to celebrate public Masses again there will be opportunities to gather with these families to celebrate Requiem Masses for those buried or cremated in this period.

With my prayers for you and those dear to you.

Fr Michael

Novena to Our Lady of Walsingham

On Sunday, 29th March, 2020, England was rededicated as Mary’s Dowry, renewing a title first bestowed by King Richard II in 1381, in thanksgiving for his kingdom being saved. England was set aside as a gift for Our Lady under her guidance and protection.

At the Catholic National Shrine & Basilica of Our Lady, at Walsingham, the Novena in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham is being said daily throughout the current Coronavirus crisis,  requesting her intercession  for her Beloved Son’s protection from, and an end to, the pandemic.  You may wish to join in the Novena which can be found here:

Click here for the Litany of the Saints and Martyrs of England