Vicariate for Faith & Mission Update (August 2023)

August 1 2023

Update from the Vicariate

Walking and Listening Together

In July, we began our Diocesan Listening Exercises. The hope of this being, that not only do we walk together in our local parish community, but that we also walk together as a Diocesan Family. It is important and essential that as Church we hear how one another has been affected by recent Diocesan events. This is uncharted territory for us all and despite it being an imperfect attempt to be there for people in a time of need, feedback received indicated that it went well.

We had approximately 500 lay people attend from around the Diocese. It was very clear that choices of location did not suit some people who expressed that they couldn’t attend. We are very grateful for those who did make the journey, some travelling a good distance. We appreciate that the Diocese is over 3000 square miles and that the current offer can only supplement the support that we hope, as the Church, people are offering one another. The plan for the Laity is that as we move into phase two of the Listening Exercises in the Autumn, we are able to offer more locations, although with the size of the Diocese this will still require some travel for most people. The details for these events will be announced after the summer.

Other groups within the Diocese were also offered the opportunity to be heard including Diocesan Priests who gathered in good number to hear about the listening process for them. A significant number of our Deacons and Religious also met for listening in July.

At this point on our journey our focus is on hearing how people are and holding a mirror up for ourselves to be able to reflect. As we move towards the next steps, we want to begin to look at the kind of Diocese we wish to become; to look at how we grow in light of the Gospel and the calling of Christ for his Church.

Day for Catechists

On Saturday 15 July we had over 160 Catechists come together to reflect on their ministry and to explore how the theme from the New Directory for Catechesis of ‘Accompaniment’ could be embedded in the ministry. Accompaniment offers us the mechanism to shift our culture to be one of people who take time with one another. People who walk together, attentive to the needs of the other, who let the people being catechised go at a pace that is comfortable for them. It asks us to encourage one another to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings and to tune into God who is always calling each one of us to new life. The day was a source of hope and encouragement and demonstrated the great number of people we have in the diocese working to build and share the faith.

Skills in Pastoral Ministry

For a number of years now, the Diocese has been running a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry through the Chicago Loyola Institute. This course is fully flexible as it runs entirely online and can be fitted into a busy lifestyle. A couple of people from our Diocesan groups have completed this while pregnant and having a newborn baby as well as other people juggling studying while planning their wedding and working full time. The course provides a flexible approach to learning the practical skills and knowledge needed for serving in ministry. It involves watching videos, reading key texts, and engaging in online discussions. It works through an online learning community supported by experts in the fields of scripture and faith development. We currently have full funding for a small number of people from the Diocese to complete this two-year course, which will begin in September.

If you think this might be for you, there is an opportunity to attend an online information evening on Tuesday 1 August at 7.00pm to find out more about this course. There is no need to register for the information evening, just join using the Zoom link below:

Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 878 6484 5453
Passcode: 955206

Alternatively, Please visit for more information or contact

Amy Cameron, Co-ordinator for the Vicariate for Faith & Mission.


The Joy of the Gospel

Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigour!” [EG 109]

Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel, looks at the new evangelisation for the transmission of the faith and has chapters on the following subjects:

  • The Church’s Missionary Transformation
  • The Crisis of Communal Commitment
  • The Proclamation of the Gospel
  • The Social Dimension of Evangelization
  • Spirit-Filled Evangelizers

The full text of Evangelii Gaudium can be downloaded here.

Quick Link: Sharing the Faith.


The Diocesan Liturgical Formation Team will be offering the following Days of Reflection and Courses this coming Autumn:

Days of Reflection:

  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion: Saturday 23 September 2023 (10.30am – 3.00pm), St Joseph’s, Gateshead. View here
  • Liturgical Leaders of the Celebration of the Word and Holy Communion (Lay Leaders): Saturday 7 October 2023 (10.30am – 3.00pm), St Joseph’s, Gateshead. View here


  • New Readers of the Liturgy of the Word: Commencing Monday 9 October 2023 (2 sessions), St Aidan’s, Benton. View here
  • Liturgical Leaders of the Celebration of the Word and Holy Communion (Lay Leaders): Commencing Thursday 26 October 2023 (6 sessions), St Hilda’s Diocesan Resource Centre, Newcastle. View here

Click the ‘view here’ links for further information and booking details for each event.

Weekend Liturgy Resources

Suggested Prayers of the Faithful (bidding prayers) and Reflections will be updated each week.

Other resources include suggested music, Children’s Liturgy of the Word and Cycle of Prayer.

Resources and signposts to the coming weekend’s liturgy resources, kindly provided by people within our Diocese, will be available to view and access on the Diocesan website every Thursday for the following weekend’s liturgy.

Click here to enlarge image.

Visit our Weekend Liturgy section here.

Carlo Acutis Exhibition: 14 – 28 October 2023

The Association of the Eucharist warmly invite you to attend an exhibition about Blessed Carlo Acutis and the late teenager’s inspiring documentation of Eucharistic Miracles from around the world. The exhibition will be held at St Joseph’s, Gateshead, NE8 1LX from Saturday 14 October to Saturday 28 October. Further details about the launch event on 14 October and timings for the exhibition to follow.

Holy Hour

The Association of the Eucharist will not be hosting their monthly Holy Hour during August.

As part of our aim to promote growth and knowledge of the Eucharist, the Association of the Eucharist offer The Eucharist: A Gift to be Nurtured, which gives us words from Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis to guide time before the Blessed Sacrament. This resource can be used by both individuals and groups.

Quick Link: Liturgy & Prayer

Dialogue & Unity

Visit the What’s On page for events and talks from various groups and communities.

Quick Link: Dialogue & Unity

Charismatic Diocesan Service of Communion (CDSC)

Deacon Alison Rebello

Congratulations to Deacon Alison Rebello for his ordination to the Permanent Diaconate at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday 8 July 2023. Deacon Alison already serves the CDSC as Secretary and Newsletter Editor. We look forward to the many other ways he will now serve Our Lord in the Diocese.

Life in the Spirit Seminars

We are continuing to plan a delivery of Life in the Spirit seminars in the Autumn and hope to be sharing more details shortly.


Five members of the CDSC, along with other sisters and brothers from our Diocese, travelled to West Bromwich on Saturday 1 July to be part of a 1000 strong gathering hosted by the national CHARIS team. A reflection on the day by Andy Drozdziak, with further reflections from Alison Rebello, has been shared with those on our mailing list. A further reflection by Alison Rebello will be shared in our next newsletter.

Further opportunities

On Saturday 4 November 2023, the Emmanuel Community will be hosting Fr Chris Thomas from Liverpool at St Mary’s School, Newcastle. The theme will be “Without a dream the people die”. More details available nearer the time.

Prayer groups

We now know of 7 charismatic prayer groups in our Diocese. Details can be found on here. If you are in a prayer group which is not listed, please let us know.

We are pleased to share that, following our event at St Aidan’s in Ashington, a new prayer group has started in the Morpeth area. There is also interest in forming new prayer groups in Hartlepool and Hexham. If you are interested in being in a prayer group in either of these places, let us know.

The Fourth CDSC Newsletter

Our fourth newsletter is close to being ready to share. A copy will be available on the CHARIS page of the Diocesan website.

Mailing List

We continue to add to our mailing list. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please email us:

Please continue to pray for the work of our team.

John Wheeler, Co-ordinator Hexham and Newcastle Diocesan Service of Communion.


Quick Link: CHARIS

Marriage & Family Life

Marriage Preparation

The following face-to-face Marriage Preparation Sessions to be held in our Diocesan parishes are available to book:

  • Saturday 23 September 2023: St Robert of Newminster, Morpeth NE61 1QF.

Bookings can be made on the MarriageCare website where venues, course content and costs are detailed:

Please contact Deacon Rob Wareing for further information:

Deacon Rob Wareing, Diocesan Lead for Marriage and Family Life

Mobile: 07841 530991

Quick Links: Family & Sacraments Marriage Care

Spiritual Accompaniment

Exploring Spiritual Accompaniment

Spiritual Accompaniment has been part of the Christian tradition and a ministry in the Church since the days of the early Church. It is often called Spiritual Direction, although we prefer the term ‘accompaniment’ because it suggests walking alongside someone in their spiritual/faith journey, rather than telling them what to do!

Spiritual Accompaniment is not about solving problems so much as exploring our relationship with God, through prayer and reflection on our experience of faith and life.

A Spiritual Director is not there to give advice or tell you what to believe in, but rather to listen attentively and act as a ‘sounding board’ for whatever you bring to the session.

Spiritual Accompaniment sessions usually take place every couple of months or so, depending on the circumstances of the individuals involved.

Maybe you feel called to this ministry or know someone who might be interested. St Antony’s Priory in Durham offers training. Sr Sheila McNamara RSCJ, the Diocesan Lead on Spiritual Accompaniment, is part of the training team for the two-year course.

Training in Spiritual Accompaniment

Exploring Spiritual Accompaniment’ is a two-year programme of formation that provides both an opportunity for personal spiritual development, as well as offering practical and experiential training in the skills applicable to accompanying others on their faith journey.

Our approach to Spiritual Accompaniment is ecumenical, drawing on a broad range of Christian wisdom and spirituality, as well as being informed by the Guidelines for Spiritual Directors, published by the Retreat Association.

A key principle undergirding the course is that it should be congruous with the process of spiritual accompaniment itself. Rather than simply being a programme of training in skills or knowledge, it should also be seen as a process of discernment and formation in the charism of this distinctive ministry.

The course will comprise eight modules taught over two academic years. Each module will include a significant element of self-directed learning. This will provide an opportunity to reflect on matters considered between sessions, as well as enabling a focus on the development of listening skills and the practice of accompaniment.

The course has vastly exceeded my expectations on every level. The depth and spread of topics covered, the reading and the materials (physical and on-line) and individual and group experiential aspects have all been extremely rich and stretching.

Please see St Antony’s website – Spiritual Direction section – for more information or email Sr Sheila:

Quick Link: Spiritual Accompaniment

Deepening Our Faith


Please join the Hogarth Partnership for their next Alpha course fromm 20 September 2023 to November 2023. Please email: for enquiries or to register.

MA in Catholic Theology by Distance Learning

Starting in September 2023, the new MA in Catholic Theology by Distance Learning led by the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) and the Department of Theology & Religion at Durham University. The programme is distinctive because it is both academically rigorous, but highly flexible; students can work through material at their own pace, studying equally well in any time zone and in many different life situations, alongside work, ministry, family or caring obligations.

Visit here for further information and contact details for this programme.

Engaging the Disengaged: How to accompany ‘Non-Religious’ persons

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, along with the Diocese of Portsmouth, will be hosting an Online Seminar featuring the eminent evangelist, speaker and author Sherry Weddell. This seminar will provide an opportunity for people who work within the fields of evangelisation to explore how Catholics can fulfil their mission to bring all to Christ.

The seminar will take place on Tuesday 21 November 2023 at 6.00pm. Tickets are priced at £10 (non-refundable). For further information and booking details for this event can be found here.


The Catechism in a Year

Sign up for Ascension’s Catechism In A Year podcast with Fr Mike Schmitz, and you can:

  • Read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church in 365 days
  • Understand the essentials of the Catholic Faith and why they matter
  • See how Church teaching is rooted in Sacred Scripture
  • Absorb over 2,000 years of Sacred Tradition
  • Encounter God’s plan of sheer goodness
  • Transform their relationship with the Church that Christ founded.

The Bible in a Year

Ascension’s Bible in a Year Podcast, hosted by Fr Mike Schmitz and featuring Jeff Cavins, guides Catholics through the Bible in 365 daily episodes. Each 20 – 25 minute episode includes:

  • Two to three scripture readings
  • A reflection from Fr Mike Schmitz
  • A guided prayer to help you hear God’s voice in his Word

Ascension’s Bible in a Year Podcast for Catholics follows a reading plan inspired by the Great Adventure Bible Timeline® learning system, a ground-breaking approach to understanding Salvation History developed by renowned Catholic Bible teacher Jeff Cavins. Tune in and live your daily life through the lens of God’s word!

Bereavement Support

People continue to request support following the death of a loved one. Most requests have come via the dedicated phone (07732 980740) and people are put in touch with a member of the Bereavement Support Team very quickly. Some people have been personally encouraged by a friend or relative to contact our service.

The Emmaus Bereavement Support Service number is 07732 980740 a member of the team will contact you promptly.

Quick Link: Accompaniment in Difficult Times.


Fr Sean Hall continues to offer his weekly reflections on the Sunday Readings and Pat Kennedy her monthly reflections, both available to read online or download in the Prayer Resources section.

Contact Us

Contact the Vicariate of Faith & Mission by email: or by telephone 0191 243 3316 / 07375 934713 during office hours.

Visit our Vicariate for Faith & Mission News page here.