Vicariate for Faith & Mission Update (October 2023)

October 1 2023

Update from the Vicariate


Linking with the first session of the Synod on Synodality in Rome (October 2023), Clifton Diocese will be exploring the same themes through a series of webinars (7.30 – 9.00pm) through October. They include:

Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ: 4 October; ‘For a Synodal Church – an integral experience’ – Continuing our series, we are delighted to welcome Sr Gemma, a senior research fellow at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge and an international speaker and lecturer. Sr Gemma brings wisdom, insight and a wealth of experience within the Church. Click here to register

Dr Greg Ryan: 10 October; ‘A Communion that Radiates’ – we are delighted to welcome Dr Greg, an Assistant Professor of Ecclesiology and Receptive Ecumenism (CCS) for the Centre of Catholic Theology at the University of Durham. He will be exploring with us the themes of service and mission within a Synodal Church. Click here to register

Jenny Sinclair: 19 October; Co-responsibility in Mission – How can we better share gifts and tasks in the service of the Gospel?– we welcome Jenny, the founder of Together for the Common Good (T4CG), a writer and a lecturer. She will help us to explore how we can walk together towards a shared awareness of the meaning and content of mission. Click here to register

Canon Christopher Thomas: 24 October (to be confirmed); Participation, governance and authority in a synodal Church– concluding our series we welcome Canon Christopher the secretary to the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. Working closely with the Bishops of England & Wales, Canon Christopher has chaired the national Synthesis Process and is well equipped to explore with us how our Church governs in a truly synodal way. Click here to register

Each webinar will be focusing on a different element of the work of the Synod. You are welcome to sign up for any of the sessions on offer.

More locally, Ushaw will be hosting a synodal conversation following the guidance given for those meeting in Rome in October. This free event will take place on the 1 November with myself and the Ushaw synod group. Further details can be found via the following link; we would love you to join us. To book follow this link, or phone: 0191 373 8500.

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


The Joy of the Gospel

“God constantly renews his faithful ones, whatever their age. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40: 31) [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:

Days of Reflection:

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


  • New Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion: Commencing Tuesday 3 October 2023 (3 sessions), St Joseph’s, Hartlepool. View here.
  • New Readers of the Liturgy of the Word: Commencing Monday 9 October 2023 (CANCELLED due to unforeseen circumstances), 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.
  • Children’s Liturgy of the Word Autumn Programme: Commencing Monday 30 October 2023 (2 sessions), St Hilda’s Diocesan Resource Centre. View here.
  • New Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion: Commencing Tuesday 7 November 2023 (3 sessions), The sacred Heart and St Cuthbert, Amble. View here.

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

Eucharistic Miracles of the World’ Exhibition: 14 – 28 October 2023

The Association of the Eucharist will be hosting an exhibition about Blessed Carlo Acutis and his 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.

On Saturday 14 October, Bishop Emeritus Séamus Cunningham will celebrate Mass to mark the opening of the exhibition; there will also be a guest speaker and a time of Adoration. For the remaining two-weeks, the exhibition will be available to visit, for a period of time, on a daily basis. More details about the launch day and timings to follow.

Event details can be found here.

Holy Hour

The Association of the Eucharist will be holding their monthly Holy Hour on Sunday 1 October 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.

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)

Alpha course

When we co-hosted a day at St Augustine’s, Darlington with the Bethany prayer group last year, Gerry Connor shared the inspiring experience of delivering Alpha courses, and a plan to deliver another course this year. A new course started on Wednesday 20 September. Please pray for the success of this course.

Fr Chris Thomas

The Emmanuel community is taking bookings for their day with Fr Chris Thomas from Liverpool, on Saturday 4 November 2023 at St Mary’s School, Newcastle on the theme, “Without a dream the people die”. To book a place email Pat Kennedy at:

Life in the Spirit Seminars

After the CDSC prayed a Novena for guidance on the delivery of Life in the Spirit Seminars, Fr Shaun O’Neill, Andy Drozdziak and I discerned the following.

Fr Shaun has discerned a tagline, “The Holy Spirit: a place for all to rest”, through which he understands that our delivery of the seminars is to be for all, not just those already involved in renewal.

Andy collated reflections shared by members of the CDSC during our praying of the Novena. He discerned the word, ‘I want to send a river of grace upon your Diocese. Let my living waters move among you for healing and new life’ and the following summary:

It seems to me that the Lord is calling us to be bold and to step out. He is doing something new, and we need to let the Holy Spirit go ahead of us and take the lead. We need to act in obedience to His call confidently, being bold in sharing of the Gospel, and doing so will bring refreshment and refresh dry hearts.

I discerned that whilst we are yet to know the details, we are being strongly encouraged to deliver the seminars, recognising that this comes at a time of particular need in our Diocese. We are to trust that the right people will come forward to do the talks and, above all, trust that what we do will be driven by the Holy Spirit.

Our current hope is to deliver the first Life in the Spirit Seminars in-person from mid-January 2024. Please pray for the further discernment we need to decide on the remaining details, including where and when to deliver the seminars.

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

Diocesan Church Music Association

Calling all musicians and singers, save the date! On Sunday 12 November there will be a workshop with the renowned composer Will Todd to learn his new Mass setting, Gaudete. This Mass setting has been commissioned by the Bishop Chadwick Catholic Educational Trust and made available for all churches and schools in our Diocese. Gaudete is upbeat and accessible and has been written to work in all sorts of settings, including parishes with limited musical resources. More details to follow. Register your interest by email:

Quick Link: DCMA

Marriage & Family Life

Marriage Preparation Days


Saturday 4 November: St Mary’s, Bishop Auckland DL14 6PQ.
Saturday 18 November: Sacred Heart, Gosforth NE3 5EB.


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

Saturday 17 February 2024 at St Mary’s Cathedral Church, Newcastle at 12.00 noon.

I am very pleased to announce that Bishop Stephen has agreed to preside at a Mass to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage and the graces received in 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 have experienced domestic difficulties. I shall be very pleased if you will note the date and look out for further details, which will be given in future editions and widely circulated throughout the Diocese to all parishes and via media outlets.

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


Please join the Hogarth Partnership for their next Alpha course from 20 September 2023 to November 2023.

Please email: for enquiries or to register.

Are you thinking about running an Alpha group?

Visit: or email:

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.