It’s time to listen


The most important thing to happen to the Catholic Church since Vatican II … that’s what is taking place across the world this year and next as a period of listening and discernment is undertaken ahead of the gathering of delegates at the Vatican to chart a way forward for the Church in the 21st century.

Read more…

John Paul I

‘Smiling Pope’ to be beatified

Pope Francis will beatify the ‘smiling pope’ – John Paul I – later this year, on September 4, 2022.
Read more…

Words of hope

Pope Francis writes to you and your family

Dear married couples throughout the world!
Read more…

Year of St Joseph

Joy in Croy as St Joseph the Worker statue recalls mining heritage

Parishioners of Holy Cross, Croy, united in faith and pride to mark the end of the Year of St Joseph with the blessing of a new statue of the saint which will also serve as the first memorial in the church grounds honouring the community’s cherished mining heritage.
Read more…

January issue

Read now
Download the January 2022 issue of Flourish (PDF, 6 MB)

Recent issues

‘Smiling Pope’ to be beatified

Pope Francis will beatify the ‘smiling pope’ – John Paul I – later this year, on September 4, 2022.

Pope John Paul I

The Pope who reigned for only 33 days in late summer 1978 will be beatified in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Bishop Renato Marangoni of Belluno-Feltre, the Italian diocese where the future Pope was born opened the process of investigation and gathering of evidence of his sanctity in 2003, and completed it 2017, with the proclamation of John Paul I’s heroic virtues.

Pope Francis recognized a miracle obtained through the intercession of his papal predecessor in October last year.

John Paul I – whose name was Albino Luciani – was elected Pope on August 26, 1978, following the death of St Paul VI. A priority of his short pontificate was carrying forward the work of the Second Vatican Council.

He died unexpectedly on September 28, 1978, at the age of 65, and was succeeded by St John Paul II.

Even before he was elected Pope, Albino Luciani was known for his humility, his emphasis on spiritual poverty, and his dedication to teaching the faith in an understandable manner. His book, Illustrissimi, of letters to famous figures from history and literature, is still a bestseller, filled with simple anecdotes and words of wisdom.


The miracle attributed to John Paul I’s intercession is the 2011 healing of a girl in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from a severe form of encephalopathy, a disease affecting the brain.

Last year, Pope Francis instituted a Vatican foundation to promote the thought and teachings of John Paul I.

John Paul I is one of six (out of nine) 20th-century Popes whose causes of beatification and canonisation have been introduced. Four of them have so far concluded in canonisation: Pius X, John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that “Pope John Paul I was and remains a reference point in the history of the universal Church.”


It’s time to listen


The most important thing to happen to the Catholic Church since Vatican II … that’s what is taking place across the world this year and next as a period of listening and discernment is undertaken ahead of the gathering of delegates at the Vatican to chart a way forward for the Church in the 21st century.

The process – known as Synod 2021-23 – sees the whole Church convoked in Synod (which means journeying together) to question itself on how to operate and be effective in the modern world.

The Holy Father Francis is clear that in order to “walk together” and listen to the Holy Spirit we need to pray. There can be no synodal way without personal and community prayer. As the official Vatican Synod website says: “Prayer prepares our hearts to listen carefully to others and helps us to discern the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the world”.


The vision of the synod has been summed up in a special logo which has been produced by the Vatican to accompany the process: A large, majestic tree, full of wisdom and light, reaches for the sky. A sign of deep vitality and hope which expresses the cross of Christ. It carries the Eucharist, which shines like the sun. The horizontal branches, opened like hands or wings, suggest, at the same time, the Holy Spirit.

Below, the logo shows the people of God ‘on the move’ as 15 silhouettes sum up humanity in its diversity of life situations of generations and origins. This aspect is reinforced by the multiplicity of bright colours which are themselves signs of joy. The Synod office in Rome is very clear: “There is no hierarchy between these people who are all on the same footing: young, old, men, women, teenagers, children, lay people, religious, parents, couples, singles; the bishop and the nun are not in front of them, but among them”.

Pope Francis has been very clear that the process must not be ‘more of the same’. His aim is for each local parish to reach out beyond the ‘usual few’ to listen to the opinions of those on the periphery of church life … those who have stopped practising the faith, those who have ‘fallen out’ with the Church, the poor, the marginalised, those who have felt hurt by some of the Church’s pronouncements. He wants to involve those outside the Church too, in asking the question of how can we be an effective, caring, inclusive Church today.


Pope Francis writes to you and your family

Dear married couples throughout the world!

Pope Francis addresses families

I am writing to express my deep affection and closeness to you … Families have always been in my thoughts and prayers, but especially so during the pandemic, which has severely tested everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us. The present situation has made me want to accompany with humility, affection and openness each individual, married couple and family in all those situations in which you find yourselves.

We are being asked to apply to ourselves the calling that Abraham received from the Lord to set out from his land and his father’s home towards a foreign land that God himself would show him (cf. Gen 12:1). We too have experienced uncertainty, loneliness, the loss of loved ones; we too have been forced to leave behind our certainties, our “comfort zones”, our familiar ways of doing things and our ambitions, and to work for the welfare of our families and that of society as a whole, which also depends on us and our actions.

Our relationship with God shapes us, accompanies us and sends us forth as individuals and, ultimately, helps us to “set out from our land”, albeit in many cases with a certain trepidation and even fear in the face of the unknown…

Like Abraham, all husbands and wives “set out” from their own land at the moment when, in response to the vocation to conjugal love, they decide to give themselves to each other without reserve. Becoming engaged already means setting out from your land, since it calls you to walk together along the road that leads to marriage.

Different situations in life, the passage of time, the arrival of children, work and illness, all challenge couples to embrace anew their commitment to one another, to leave behind settled habits, certainties and security, and to set out towards the land that God promises: to be two in Christ, two in one.

Your lives become a single life; you become a “we” in loving communion with Jesus, alive and present at every moment of your existence. God is always at your side; he loves you unconditionally. You are not alone!

Dear spouses, know that your children – especially the younger ones – watch you attentively; in you they seek the signs of a strong and reliable love. “How important it is for young people to see with their own eyes the love of Christ alive and present in the love of spouses, who testify by the reality of their lives that love for ever is possible! Children are always a gift; they change the history of every family. They are thirsty for love, gratitude, esteem and trust.

Being parents calls you to pass on to your children the joy of realizing that they are God’s children, children of a Father who has always loved them tenderly and who takes them by the hand each new day. As they come to know this, your children will grow in faith and trust in God.

To be sure, raising children is no easy task. But let us not forget that they also “raise” us.

The family remains the primary environment where education takes place, through small gestures that are more eloquent than words. To educate is above all to accompany the growth process, to be present to children in many different ways, to help them realize that they can always count on their parents. … Children need a sense of security that can enable them to have confidence in you and in the beauty of your life together, and in the certainty that they will never be alone, whatever may come their way.

You have the mission of transforming society by your presence in the workplace and ensuring that the needs of families are taken into due account. Married couples too should take the lead in their parochial and diocesan community through their initiatives and their creativity, as an expression of the complementarity of charisms and vocations in the service of ecclesial communion…

Marriage, as a vocation, calls you to steer a tiny boat – wave-tossed yet sturdy, thanks to the reality of the sacrament – across a sometimes stormy sea. How often do you want to say, or better, cry out, like the apostles: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38).

Let us never forget, though, that by virtue of the sacrament of matrimony, Jesus is present in that boat; he is concerned for you and he remains at your side amid the tempest. In another Gospel passage, as they rowed with difficulty, the disciples saw Jesus coming to them on the waters and welcomed him into their boat. Whenever you are buffeted by rough winds and storms, do the same thing: welcome Jesus into your boat, for once he “got into the boat with them... the wind ceased” (Mk 6:51). It is important that, together, you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Only in this way, will you find peace, overcome conflicts and discover solutions to many of your problems. Those problems, of course, will not disappear, but you will be able to see them from a different perspective…

With these biblical passages in mind, I would now like to reflect on some of the difficulties and opportunities that families have experienced during the current pandemic. For instance, the lockdown has meant that there was more time to be together, and this proved a unique opportunity for strengthening communication within families. Naturally, this demands a particular exercise of patience.

It is not easy to be together all day long, when everyone has to work, study, recreate and rest in the same house. Don’t let tiredness get the better of you: may the power of love enable you to look more to others – to your spouse, to your children – than to your own needs and concerns.

In this way, the time you spend together, far from being a penance, will be become a refuge amid the storms. May every family be a place of acceptance and understanding.

Think about the advice I gave you on the importance of those three little words: “please, thanks, sorry”. After every argument, “don’t let the day end without making peace”. Don’t be ashamed to kneel together before Jesus in the Eucharist, in order to find a few moments of peace and to look at each other with tenderness and goodness. Or when one of you is a little angry, take him or her by the hand and force a complicit smile. You might also recite together a brief prayer each evening before going to bed, with Jesus at your side.

For some couples, the enforced living conditions during the quarantine were particularly difficult. Pre-existing problems were aggravated, creating conflicts that in some cases became almost unbearable. Many even experienced the breakup of a relationship that had to deal with a crisis that they found hard or impossible to manage. I would like them, too, to sense my closeness and my affection.

The breakdown of a marriage causes immense suffering, since many hopes are dashed, and misunderstandings can lead to arguments and hurts not easily healed. Children end up having to suffer the pain of seeing their parents no longer together. Keep seeking help, then, so that you can overcome conflicts and prevent even more hurt for you and your children. The Lord Jesus, in his infinite mercy, will inspire you to carry on amid your many difficulties and sorrows. Keep praying for his help, and seek in him a refuge and a light for the journey. Discover too, in your communities, a house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.

Remember also that forgiveness heals every wound. Mutual forgiveness is the fruit of an interior resolve that comes to maturity in prayer, in our relationship with God…

Here I would like to address a word to young people preparing for marriage. Even before the pandemic, it was not easy for engaged couples to plan their future, due to the difficulty of finding stable employment. Now that the labour market is even more insecure, I urge engaged couples not to feel discouraged, but to have the “creative courage” shown by Saint Joseph, whose memory I wanted to honour in this Year dedicated to him.

In your journey towards marriage, always trust in God’s providence, however limited your means, since at times, difficulties can bring out resources we did not even think we had. Do not hesitate to rely on your families and friends, on the ecclesial community, on your parish, to help you prepare for marriage and family life by learning from those who have already advanced along the path on which you are now setting out.

Before concluding, I would like to greet grandparents, who during the lockdown were unable to see or spend time with their grandchildren, and all those elderly persons who felt isolated and alone during those months. Families greatly need grandparents, for they are humanity’s living memory, a memory that can help to build a more humane and welcoming world.

May Saint Joseph inspire in all families a creative courage, so essential for these times of epochal change. May Our Lady help you to foster in your married lives the culture of encounter that we so urgently need in order to face today’s problems and troubles. No amount of difficulty can take away the joy of those who know that they are walking with the Lord ever at their side.

Live out your vocation with enthusiasm. Never allow your faces to grow sad or gloomy; your husband or wife needs your smile. Your children need your looks of encouragement. Your priests and other families need your presence and your joy: the joy that comes from the Lord!

I greet all of you with affection, and I encourage you to carry out the mission that Jesus has entrusted to us, persevering in prayer and in the breaking of bread…

And please, do not forget to pray for me, even as I daily pray for you.




Joy in Croy as St Joseph the Worker statue recalls mining heritage


Parishioners of Holy Cross, Croy, united in faith and pride to mark the end of the Year of St Joseph with the blessing of a new statue of the saint which will also serve as the first memorial in the church grounds honouring the community’s cherished mining heritage.

Celebrant and Blessing by Mgr Hugh Bradley, “a Croy Boy”. Mgr Hugh, PP Fr Joseph Sullivan and Servers with Tommy Bolan and John Waters. Photo: Paul McSherry

For years locals wanted that legacy to be marked and, at the suggestion of parish priest Father Joe Sullivan, a statue to both saint and miners has been combined.

And in the same spirit of their mining forefathers who freely gave their time and donations to build the original church, parish groups immediately began raising funds for the long awaited project which culminated in the blessing of the statue by Archdiocesan Administrator, Monsignor Hugh Bradley, himself a native of the village.

Father Sullivan said: “This was truly a team effort with so much support from all sorts of groups and individuals making it possible and I pay tribute to them all.

“The early population of the village were Irish immigrants who worked in the mines and that legacy live on and so when I was approached to have a memorial built outside Holy Cross, I suggested that we combine both a statue to St Joseph and a memorial to the miners.

“And when it came to asking someone to bless our new statue, ‘Croy Boy’ Monsignor Hugh was the obvious choice”.

On the day of the blessing in early December, marking the end of the Year St Joseph initiated by Pope Francis to encourage greater devotion to the saint, a wreath was laid at the foot of the memorial.


The inscription reads: “Dedicated to the men woman and children of Croy who worked in the Mines. The year of St Joseph 2021.”

Among those who raised money for the project was the Holy Cross Acoustic Group whose regular music nights in the church hall with banjos, guitars and mandolins has raised over £50,000 since the group was formed 11 years ago.

Founder member Michael Clinton, a retired electrical engineer said: “Nearly everyone in this village can trace their families back to the original miners and it’s something we are very proud of.

“There are 12 miners’ lamps, one for each apostle, inside Holy Cross today – fair play to Father Joe for that – but we always wanted a memorial outside so when he suggested the idea of a memorial on a statue of St Joseph we thought ‘right let’s go for it!’

“We pick a different charity every month and when we nominated the memorial people were very generous and we raised enough money to pay for the statue pretty quickly.

“It will be there in perpetuity and I must say it looks brilliant.”

Other groups and individuals including local building firms, paid for the area to be landscaped and for benches to be provided.