Vicariate for Faith & Mission Update (February 2024)

February 1 2024

Update from the Vicariate

As we move closer to Lent you will see there is a whole spectrum of opportunities to grow in your faith included below. Lent is the time in the Church’s year where we are asked to spend time in prayerful reflection considering how we reflect the image and likeness of God. In what ways are we faithful in our unique calling and when do we fall short? This year we are invited to invest time and energy in renewing our prayer life, taking the Lord’s prayer as our starting point. Perhaps this Lent you might commit to making more space in the busyness of daily life for prayer or to try praying differently. Resources to help your prayer life are available via our Diocesan website here and more will be added soon.

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


Youth Ministry & Practical Theology Conference:

A day to reconnect and reignite as we “invest in the fearlessness of youth.

We are excited to relaunch our Youth Ministry Conference since lockdown, and over the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing some of our speakers and workshop themes. We hope it will be a great day to reconnect and reignite as we “invest in the fearlessness of youth”! Confirmed speakers include David Wells, The Reverend Professor David Wilkinson FRAS, and there will be a range of workshops including ways to pray, mental health, social media, music, available too. We hope it to be a practical and encouraging event for anyone involved in youth ministry within a parish and school context.

Saturday 3 February, Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Old Durham Road, Gateshead NE9 6RZ.

For more information, visit: or email Nicole at: To book online:

The Trinity Conference 2024: Reawakening the Catholic Vision:

Saturday 17 February, 9.00am – 5.00pm, Leeds Trinity University, LS18 5HD.

What is the future of our Catholic parishes, schools and homes, when much of what we see appears in decline? TC24 will explore the contextual climate of our Western, ‘post-Christendom’ society, and the implications this has for the Church’s mission today.

To book or for more info, visit:

For enquiries, email:

Year of Prayer 2024

In preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year ‘Pilgrims of Hope‘, 2024 has been designated a Year of Prayer by Pope Francis.

Please visit our Diocesan Year of Prayer webpage for more information and regular updates.

We Dare to Say: A resource for faith-sharing groups on the Lord’s Prayer

We Dare To Say is a resource for small group faith-sharing and for individual meditation, featuring five sessions each based on a line from the Lord’s Prayer. Each session includes scripture, prayers and a reflection with questions. The connection of the Our Father with the sacraments and the devotional life is explored, and wisdom from the saints is offered for the spiritual growth of group participants and individuals alike.

‘­This single short prayer of Christ has everything that needs to be said about God, his kingdom, his life, about all of us’ – Fr Alexander Schmemann.

You can access the ‘We Dare to Say‘ resource by clicking here.


The Joy of the Gospel

Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always “new”.” [EG 11]

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.

Synod Meetings - Finchale Partnership

In October, Pope Francis hosted an Assembly of Bishops, priests, lay people and religious from all over the world, as part of the Synod on Synodality. The Assembly produced a report with proposals for further discussion and recommendations, covering a wide range of topics.

During 2024, we are being encouraged to carry on the conversation in our parishes.

In Durham, we are planning a series of meetings for the Finchale Partnership, to talk about the many aspects of the assembly report that are particularly interesting as they relate to the conversations we had for the first stage of the process, 12 months ago. As a first step we held a meeting to talk about what has happened so far, and we were joined by Avril Baigent, of Nottingham Diocese and the School for Synodality. Avril was able to give us some advice on how to hold the conversations, and how to involve as many people as possible. Our next 3 meetings are planned for early 2024 and we’ve chosen 3 subjects from the Assembly document:

  • Formation: in our Partnership discussions last year, we talked about the fact that many people have not had a chance to learn more about their faith since they were at school. The Synod Assembly document has lots of recommendations for formation, in subjects from Vatican II to Catholic Social Teaching.
  • Ministry: the document has sections on many aspects of ministry, including the role of Permanent Deacons, women in ministry and whether new ministries are needed.
  • Structures and decision making: at parish and Diocesan level.

For more information about the meetings, please email Margaret Doyle:


Diocesan Lenten Reflection Booklets

Last year’s Lenten Reflection booklets were very well received. As we prepare to commemorate Jesus’ salvific death and resurrection at Easter, we hope that this year’s edition will once again foster prayerful reflection on the Scriptures and a renewed sense of purpose and hope amongst the people of the Diocese. The reflections have been produced by a great number of people to express the richness of our Diocesan community.

The daily reflections will be available for viewing, downloading and printing from the Diocesan website, using this weblink: This weblink will go live in time for Ash Wednesday (Wednesday 14 February).

Liturgy Courses and Events

Courses for Spring 2024 will be advertised shortly. Please visit our webpage for the latest information

Holy Hour

The Association of the Eucharist will be holding their monthly Holy Hour on Sunday 4 February at St Andrew’s, 9 Worswick Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6UW, from 2.30pm to 3.30pm followed by refreshments. Everyone welcome.

The Eucharist: A Gift to be Nurtured

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.

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.

Rite of Election Service (RCIA)

The Rite of Election is a significant step in the journey of faith of those who have been preparing over a period of time for the Sacraments of Initiation in order to be received into the Catholic Church.

The Diocesan Rite of Election for those currently preparing to be received into the Catholic Church at Easter will be held at the Cathedral Church of St Mary, Newcastle on Sunday 18 February at 3.00pm.

We ask you remember all the candidates in your prayers as they continue on their Journey in Faith.

Dialogue & Unity

Watch this space for news for an important event in preparation for September. The Interreligious Relations Team are planning an evening of ‘Faith and Fellowship’. More details to follow.

Quick Link: Dialogue & Unity

Charismatic Diocesan Service of Communion (CDSC)

Life in the Spirit Seminars

We, in the CDSC, are very much looking forward to our first delivery of Life in the Spirit seminars, starting on Wednesday 21 February 2024 at 7.00pm at St Mary’s Church Hall, Bridge Street, Sunderland. The Life in the Spirit seminars will be an opportunity for people to re-affirm the fundamentals of our faith: that we are loved, saved and redeemed. An opportunity to let go of any obstacles to us receiving all that God, through the Holy Spirit wishes to give us. An opportunity, through Baptism in the Holy Spirit, to receive these gifts.

Please see here for details of all seven seminars and details of how to book a place. We are particularly grateful to Bishop Stephen Wright, Pat Kennedy and Amy Cameron for agreeing to provide three of the talks and Fr Hancock for the use of the Hall.

Mass for Pentecost

We will be hosting a Mass for Pentecost at St Mary’s Cathedral again at 1.00pm on Saturday 11 May 2024. Pope Francis, in a recent address, emphasized that CHARIS’ role is to point all communities of the Charismatic Renewal, which he called a “current of grace” to “communion on the path ahead.” The annual Mass for Pentecost is proving to be a blessed opportunity for sisters and brothers in Renewal to come together in communion on the path ahead for us in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle.

News from the Emmanuel community

On 8 June, from 10.00am at St Mary’s School, Newcastle, the Emmanuel community will be meeting to reflect on the input of their previous speakers, Fr Chris Thomas and David Wells.  All are welcome.

The Emmanuel community will be hosting Michelle Moran again from 10.00am at St Mary’s School, Newcastle on Saturday 12 October 2024.

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


Quick Link: CHARIS

Diocesan Church Music Association

The DCMA have been asked to share information about an event titled ‘Monastic Musical Hours’ which will take place at Minsteracres Retreat Centre, Friday 8 to Sunday 10 March 2024. Led by experienced musicians and liturgists, you will experience a weekend immersed in the beauty of the monastic office hours singing and learning about these musical traditions. for more information visit: here.

Quick Link: DCMA

Marriage & Family Life

Marriage Preparation Days


Saturday 9 March: St Joseph, Blaydon NE21 5AE.
Saturday 16 March: St Mary’s, Bishop Auckland DL14 6PQ.
Saturday 13 April: St Hilda’s, Sunderland SR5 2JD.
Saturday 18 May: St Robert of Newminster, Morpeth NE61 1QF.
Saturday 21 September: St Robert of Newminster, Morpeth NE61 1QF.
Saturday 9 November: St Mary’s, Bishop Auckland DL14 6PQ.

(Other dates and venues will be notified to each Parish Priest and Deacon as arranged.)

Engaged couples can find more information at

To find and book on a course, please visit: or call the booking service: 0800 389 3801 (NB. In person and online courses are available).

Fees payable to MarriageCare are given on the website and will cover the costs of the resources and materials that will be provided on the day for each couple; they also include an element of cost towards the counselling arm of MarriageCare, an important facility very well called upon in present society. At the end of the day of attendance, couples will be provided with details to go online to MarriageCare to print their certificates, one of which should be handed to the Parish Priest and the other retained.

Priests, Deacons and lay people may email: for further information or Deacon Rob Wareing directly, if required.

Marriage and Family Life Mass 2024

Bishop Stephen will celebrate Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday 17 February 2024 at noon to give thanks for the Sacrament of Marriage and Family Life. This is taking place during National Marriage Week. All married couples will be invited with particular focus on those celebrating a significant anniversary together with bereaved spouses, separated individuals and families experiencing or having experienced domestic difficulties. In these unprecedented times we remember couples in crisis and individual adults and children experiencing difficulties and abuse in their family relationships. We wish all to know that none is forgotten and that the Sacramental life is very much alive and prayed for.

Anyone celebrating a significant anniversary has the opportunity to receive a certificate of celebration on the day. Anyone celebrating a special anniversary can request a certificate by completing this form or by calling the Faith and Mission admin team on 0191 243 3316.

This day promises to be a wonderful Diocesan celebration and will provide a positive affirmation of the graces of Marriage to the entire North-East community. A poster for this event is available to download here.

A Christian marriage is rooted in faith; that means faith in God, as the giver of life and the one who promises eternal life to those who believe in him.”

Visit the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales website here for information and resources about Marriage Week 2024, which is being celebrated 7 – 14 February 2024.

If you require any further information, please contact:

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 online) 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

Sycamore Online Sessions for Lent 2024

And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

Immediately afterwards the Spirit drove him into the wilderness, and he remained there for forty days…” [Mark 1: 11-12]

As Howard Thurman said in his lecture, “Mysticism and Jesus”,

“These experiences deepened his sense of self and his intimacy with God… they made him sure of God’s presence, love and commission for a ministry of love…”

We too need this time with God, in order to affirm us, so that we can live out our own ‘ministry of love’ in our times.

So, in this Season of Lent, why not join us online (via Zoom) for the following Sycamore sessions, which will focus on knowing God and our response to this in faith, freedom and love.

The sessions will take place on Thursdays throughout Lent from 7.00pm to 8.15pm:

  • 15 February “The Existence of God
  • 22 February “Who is Jesus?
  • 29 February “The Holy Spirit and the Church
  • 7 March “The Gift of Faith
  • 14 March “Finding True Freedom
  • 21 March “The Meaning of Love

All are welcome! Each session can stand alone so there is no obligation to attend all if you can’t commit to every week. Some of you may have had experience of Sycamore previously, so we’ll be using an alternative set of questions which will give you more opportunities to reflect on your own experiences of faith.

Please register your interest to receive the Zoom link. You can do this by completing the online form or by calling the admin team on 0191 243 3316.

Constitutions of Vatican II

In this section, you can find resources to help explore the four Constitutions of Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium – the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Lumen Gentium – Light of the Nations, Dei Verbum – Word of God, Gaudium et spes – the Church in the Modern World.

Groups may wish to organise talks/prayers/reflections on these four constitutions, and we hope you find the resources useful and helpful.


Are you thinking about running an Alpha group?

Visit: or email:


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.