Vicariate for Faith & Mission Update (January 2024)

January 1 2024

Update from the Vicariate

As we walk together into 2024, I pray that God’s blessings shower upon you and that they collectively bring us new beginnings. There is much to look forward to in 2024, particularly the call from Pope Francis for us all to enter into a renewed prayer life. We are invited to go deeper in prayer paying particular attention to the Lord’s prayer – watch out for lots of signposts to resources and events which will be coming to our Diocesan website this month.

A new calendar year is also a good time for us to consider how we collectively grow in our call to discipleship and there are two opportunities I would like to draw to your attention below. It would be great to see some of you at these events.

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

Youth Ministry & Practical Theology Conference:

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

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

To book or for more information:
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, see
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.


The Joy of the Gospel

“By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness”. With this newness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities, and even if the Christian message has known periods of darkness and ecclesial weakness, it will never grow old. Jesus can also break through the dull categories with which we would enclose him and he constantly amazes us by his divine creativity.” [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.


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


  • New Readers of the Liturgy of the Word: Commencing Monday 15 January (2 sessions), St Mary, Dockendale Lane, Whickham, Newcastle upon Tyne NE16 4EN. View here.
  • More Liturgical Formation courses coming soon.

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

Holy Hour

The Association of the Eucharist will be holding their monthly Holy Hour on Sunday 7 January at St Andrew’s, 9 Worswick Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6UW, from 2.30pm to 3.30pm followed by refreshments. Everyone welcome. No booking required.

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.

Dialogue & Unity

Holocaust Commemoration 2024: ‘Fragility of Freedom’

The Interreligious Relations Team will be holding their annual Holocaust Commemoration on Tuesday 23 January 2024 at 7.00pm. The venue is St Mary’s Catholic School, Benton Park Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE7 7PE. The guest speaker is Mrs Deanna Van Der Velde from the United Hebrew Congregation.

Visit here for more information.

The Sunderland Interfaith Forum Holocaust Commemoration will be held on Thursday 25 January at 6.30pm in Sunderland Minster, High Street West, Sunderland SR1 3ET. The guest speaker is Lesley Urbach.

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)

Life in the Spirit Seminars

A booking form, dates and speakers are now all in place for a delivery of Life in the Spirit seminars at St Mary’s Church Hall, Sunderland starting with refreshments at 7.00pm on 21 and 28 February, 6, 13 and 20 March, 24 April, and 8 May 2024. We are particularly grateful to Bishop Stephen Wright, Pat Kennedy and Amy Cameron for agreeing to provide three of the talks. A poster for the seminars with details of how to book can be found here.

For anyone new to the Life in the Spirit seminars, Andy Drozdziak, who helped facilitate a recent delivery of the seminars in the Southwark Diocese, writes as follows.

The Life in the Spirit Seminars are designed as an introduction to a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. They provide an opportunity for you to find out more about that life, and to be helped in taking the first steps of a new, dynamic relationship with the living Lord. They are being run by the Diocesan CHARIS group and you will be very welcome to attend. Many have spoken of how it has given their faith a real boost and helped them experience God’s love in tangible ways. The Life in the Spirit Seminars came from Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In 2019, Pope Francis asked CHARIS International – the newly established Catholic body serving the worldwide Catholic Charismatic Renewal – to make the Baptism in the Spirit available to everyone in the Church. At the recent International gathering in Rome Pope Francis urged CHARIS to make this a particular priority, so why not take up Pope Francis’ invitation and be filled with the Holy Spirit by taking part in the seminars?

Pilgrims for Hope

The Emmanuel community are continuing to take bookings for their hosting of David Wells from 10.00am on Saturday 20 January 2024 at St Mary’s School, Newcastle. David has chosen the theme of ‘Pilgrims for Hope‘ to help us prepare for the 2025 year of Jubilee. On the day, David will take us through a short exploration of the virtue of Hope; what it is, why we need it and why Pope Francis is calling us to a Holy Year in which he wants us to be Pilgrims of Hope.

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


Quick Link: CHARIS

Diocesan Church Music Association

Almost 100 musicians from parishes across the Diocese attended a music workshop on 12 November led by the acclaimed composer Will Todd. The workshop was facilitated by the DCMA to help the roll-out of a new Mass setting to parishes in the area. Gaudete! is a new Mass setting commissioned by the Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust. It is the culmination of a year-long project between the composer and children from schools in the Trust. For access to the full report see the following link:

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. See here for further information and booking details.

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 12.00pm 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.

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


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.