Vicariate for Faith & Mission Update (March 2024)

March 1 2024

Update from the Vicariate

Over the past couple of months, the Vicariate for Faith & Mission has been reflecting on its priorities for Mission. How do we orientate ourselves better to reach people and enable discipleship to develop? A series of meetings have taken place with representatives that are accountable for the Mission in the Diocese, these meetings have been a time of synodal discernment to discover where the Holy Spirit is leading. This discernment, coupled with the Listening Exercises, has led to the consideration of the key question; What kind of Diocese do we believe we should be? As every member of the baptised in Hexham & Newcastle contributes to the kind of Diocese we are, during this Lent perhaps this might be a key part of our prayer? Focusing on the Lord’s prayer ‘Your Kingdom Come, Your Will be done.’ It is a worthy reflection to consider God’s will for us as individuals and community as we move into the future.

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle extends the invitation from Cardinal Vincent Nichols asking for a special focus of prayer on Friday 8 March for peace in the Holy Land. Read the full article here.

Our Lenten resources continue to be available here. Part two of our Lenten Reflections are now available.

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

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.

At the Foot of the Cross

It’s an early Lent this year and as such, the focus of ‘At the Foot of the Cross’ is very much on the three pillars of the season – prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Canon Christopher Thomas, our General Secretary, joins us to talk about what’s crossing his desk at the Secretariat of the Bishops’ Conference. Firstly, we talk about Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ statement on the war in the Holy Land echoing Pope Francis’s call for a lasting ceasefire, the release of all hostages, for humanitarian aid to be allowed through to help those most in need in Gaza, and for hospitals, schools and places of worship to be protected.

Listen to the podcast here.

Deliver Us From Evil

A set of useful prayers and supplications, humble requests for the Lord’s help, that can be used by Catholics in times of fear, distress and temptation.

The Catholic Truth Society (CTS) has published a new booklet by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales offering a treasury of prayers drawn from Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition that can be used by Catholics to protect themselves from the powers of darkness.

Discover the new booklet here.

Walk With Me (Easter edition)

The Eastertide edition of Walk with Me, in which we continue our meditation on prayer in the Christian life, is now available.

Our focus during Lent was the perfect prayer, the Our Father. Our focus during Eastertide is our call to be prayerful Pilgrims of Hope. Eastertide invites us to renew our relationship with the Holy Spirit, our greatest gift, the Counsellor, the Lord and the giver of life.

Please order copies of Walk With Me from Alive Publishing here.

Read a sample of this publication here.


The Joy of the Gospel

“To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world. [EG 176] Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” [EG 127]

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.

St Cuthbert, Patron of the Diocese, c. 634 – 687

Feast Day – March 20

Cuthbert spent his early life in north Northumberland. As a teenager, he joined the monastery at Melrose under St Eata. After the Council of Whitby, he was made Prior of Lindisfarne, where he persuaded the community to change from Celtic to Roman customs and practices. During his years as a priest, Cuthbert was an indefatigable worker, travelling long and arduous journeys to minister to people in the remotest parts of the Diocese. His love of solitude took him to St Cuthbert’s Isle, just off Lindisfarne, but he later sought permission to live as a hermit on the remote island of Inner Farne. In 684 Cuthbert was asked to become Bishop of Hexham, but he immediately exchanged his see with St Eata of Lindisfarne. Once again he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the care of his people. His time as a bishop was short and, sensing that his life was drawing to a close, he returned to his beloved Inner Farne, where he died in 687. Eleven years later, during the transfer of his remains to a new shrine, his body was found to be incorrupt, and it immediately became an object of special veneration. When the Vikings destroyed Lindisfarne in 875, Cuthbert’s body was removed for safe keeping. It travelled all over the north – just as it had during his life – reaching Durham, its final resting-place, in 955, where a Saxon church was built to house the relics. Many miracles were attributed to Cuthbert’s intercession, and during the Middle Ages his shrine became one of the most popular places of pilgrimage. The present Romanesque cathedral is a fine tribute to this great northern saint.


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:

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 take place on Saturday 2 March 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.

Dialogue & Unity

Fragility of Freedom

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day was ‘Fragility of Freedom’. The theme highlighted the importance of defending freedom and democracy, and provided an opportunity to reflect on those who lost their lives during the Holocaust and all genocides.

Read the full article here.

Faith and Fellowship’ Evening

The Interreligious Team will be holding an evening of ‘Faith and Fellowship‘ on Wednesday 25 September 2024, at 7.00pm. This event will take place at English Martyrs Hall, Stamfordham Road, Newcastle. More details to follow.

Quick Link: Dialogue & Unity

Charismatic Diocesan Service of Communion (CDSC)

Life in the Spirit Seminars

Life in the Spirit seminars are now underway at St Mary’s Church Hall, Sunderland, and we are pleased to see so many taking advantage of this opportunity to re-affirm the fundamentals of our faith: that we are loved, saved and redeemed and to let go of any obstacles to receiving all that God, through the Holy Spirit, wishes to give.

Please pray for the speakers for the remaining talks, myself (John Wheeler) on the ‘New Life’ (6 March), Pat Kennedy (13 March) on ‘Receiving God’s Gifts’, Fr Shaun O’Neill (20 March) on ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’, Deacon Alison Rebello (24 April) on ‘Growth’ and Bishop Stephen Wright (8 May) on ‘Transformation in Christ’.

Please pray, in particular, for those who will receive Baptism in the Holy Spirit on 20 March, that they will be open to all that the Holy Spirit wishes to give.

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. More details are to be shared shortly.

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.

World Day for Grandparents

‘Loneliness’ at heart of Pope’s theme for 4th Grandparents Day.

On Sunday 28 July, Catholics around the world will be invited to take time to reflect on the great heritage and wisdom passed on by their grandparents and the elderly.

The Pope has chosen the theme, “Do not cast me off in my old age” (cf. Psalm 71: 9).

According to a press release from the Dicastery, it is meant “to call attention to the fact that, sadly, loneliness is the bitter lot in life of many elderly persons, so often the victims of the throw-away culture.

Read more about this 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

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.