Vicariate for Faith & Mission Update (July 2023)

July 1 2023

Update from the Vicariate

Walking and Listening Together

As the one People of God, therefore, let us journey together, in order to experience a Church that receives and lives this gift of unity, and is open to the voice of the Spirit.

Pope Francis on the Synod

Pope Francis has called for the Church to walk alongside one another, to be a community that listens and moves forward together. This pathway prioritises relationships and asks the Church to accompany one another in the realities of life and mission. Pope Francis calls for us all to “Take on the smell of the sheep”.

During the process of Vatican II, we were called as Church to “read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel” and respond. Some of the most significant signs of the times for us include: our emergence from the pandemic; the return of war to mainland Europe; the continued ‘cost of living’ crisis; and the recent issues and events within the Diocese. Currently the people of the Diocese have specific needs in reading these signs of the times, reacting to them, and co-creating the way ahead.

At a difficult time for the Diocese, it is important to give space for voices to express the pain people may be feeling and to re-emphasise to all, the common priesthood of the baptised. There are four initial meetings offered to the lay people of the Diocese:

  • Monday 10 July: St Mary’s RC Church hall, Forest Hall, Newcastle NE12 7AB.
  • Tuesday 11 July: St Bede’s RC Church hall, Bedlington NE22 5TZ.*
  • Wednesday 12 July: St Michael’s RC Church hall, Houghton-Le-Spring DH5 8NF.
  • Thursday 13 July: English Martyrs and Ss Peter & Paul’s, Stockton-on-Tees TS19 9BY.

Meetings start at 7.00pm prompt. No booking required.
(* Additional parking available at St Bede’s school.)

These meetings will give space to hear how people are in light of the recent events in the Diocese. A second set of meetings will take place in the Autumn looking at the culture and future we want to co-create in order for it to have a safe, healthy, sustainable Diocese, that has clarity and a unified vision.

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

A Day for Catechists: A Fresh Approach to Faith Formation

A day for exploring Catechesis, Accompaniment and Evangelisation.

Are you involved with Baptismal Preparation, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, Marriage Preparation, RCIA, Children’s Liturgy or other faith sharing initiatives?

To be a catechist is to echo the love God has for each one of us to those in our parishes, our communities, our society. It is to pass this love on in sharing our faith to others. This can be daunting. We are not alone. Through our baptism, we are united in our calling to support one another, to come together and nurture the calling of being able to better witness to the joy of the Gospel.

  • Has the global pandemic accelerated the need for a new approach in your parish?
  • Are you passionate about your Catholic faith and committed to sharing it with others?
  • Would you like to be involved in sharing the faith, but lack confidence or don’t think you have the skills?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then come and join us for our upcoming Day for Catechists, where you can deepen your knowledge and connect with other Catechists in our Diocese.

Date: Saturday 15 July 2023 10.00am – 3.00pm.
Venue: St Robert of Newminster Catholic School, Washington NE38 8AF.
Cost: Free

Refreshments provided, but please bring your own packed lunch.

Individuals and parish groups welcome.

Register your place using the link opposite.


The Joy of the Gospel

Faith also means believing in God, believing that he truly loves us, that he is alive, that he is mysteriously capable of intervening, that he does not abandon us and that he brings good out of evil by his power and his infinite creativity.” [EG 278]

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.

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


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.

Holy Hour

The Association of the Eucharist will be holding their monthly Holy Hour on Sunday 2 July at St Andrew’s, 9 Worswick Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6UW from 2.30pm to 3.30pm followed by refreshments. It is open to everyone.

A Resource for individuals and groups

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)

Mailing List

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

Come Holy Spirit: Hope for the present and the future

We thank Andy Drozdiak, our team member, for sharing the story of our Mass for Pentecost in the Universe Catholic Weekly and Marie Wheeler for her reflection. We look forward to hosting a Mass for Pentecost at St Mary’s Cathedral again next year on Saturday 11 May 2024.

Life in the Spirit Seminars

We met for Mass and a team social on Saturday 3 June 2023, along with family members, to sustain and enrich communion in the team. As a team we also used this opportunity to start planning for a delivery of Life in the Spirit seminars in the autumn. We hope to be able to share more details by the end of July.

Further opportunities

The next event hosted by the Emmanuel Community will be held on Saturday 22 July 2023 at St Mary’s Catholic School, Benton Park Road, Newcastle NE7 7PE. For more information and to book a place contact Pat Kennedy by email: or phone: 0191 284 1690.

On Saturday 4 November 2023, the Emmanuel Community will be hosting Fr Chris Thomas from Liverpool at St Mary’s School, Newcastle. 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.

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

Deepening Our Faith

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.


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.