St Simon's Parish Blog

Welcome to the Blog of St Simon Stock Catholic Church, South Ashford, Kent, UK. Our address is: Brookfield Road Ashford Kent TN23 4EU

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For nine years up till July 2010, I was parish priest at St Simon Stock Catholic Church, South Ashford, Kent, England. From July 2010 until June 2011 I was Associate Pastor at St Peter's Cathedral, Marquette, Michigan USA and then Pastor at St Anthony Parish, Gwinn, MI until October 2013. I then transferred to the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon to serve as Director of the Tribunal. And that's what I am currently doing. Since February 2015 I have also been serving as Pastor at St Stephen Parish, South East Portland. I miss "da UP" (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) but love being here in the Pacific North West.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Towards a Vision (3)

St. Simon Stock – South Ashford – Summary of Meeting

Together in Hope - Thursday 29th March 2007

  1. What are the resources (strengths and gifts) in our parish?
    Parish Priest.
    Congregation as a whole and their individual talents.
    Welcoming other ethnic groups.
    Parish Groups e.g. youth, choir, bible study, altar servers, cleaners etc.
  2. How would we respond to a situation in which our parish, or a neighbouring parish, had no resident priest? What forms of collaboration and coordination would develop?
    Communion services.
    The Blessed Sacrament exposed.
    Liturgy of the Word.
    Formation of Parish and Finance Committee to act as a focal point for the deanery, and to assist in determining the needs of the parish.
    Coordination of catechesis.
  3. Are there any special areas of pastoral provision in this deanery that need to be taken into account for the future? (e.g. Hospitals? Schools? Prisons? Future housing developments?)
    Major and ongoing housing development in the Ashford area.
    New and growing centres of population in Ashford area may require a review of the appropriateness of the existing Ashford parish church locations and parish boundaries.
    Catholic secondary school for Ashford.
    Growth in population and its effect on hospitals and prisons in the deanery.
    Lay group set up to foster links between the parish and the parish school.
  4. Are there any particular changes in pastoral provision that we can recommend to our deanery?
    Sharing of resources and organisations with other parishes.
    The office of Deacon to be promoted to encourage parishioners to come forward to offer their services.
    More priests from overseas.
    The dean to be more visible and to visit the parish.
  5. Area for further development
    To clarify the role the laity has in a parish with no resident priest.
    To communicate the existing role of the dean and the deanery.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Some good advice for parents

Parents often express concern about the appropriate manner in which to explain issues of life and death to their children. I would recommend watching this short video clip of St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, in one of his catecheses in South America, full of good sense and compassion ... and good humour.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Prayers for sick parishioners

Albert Bishop

Albert was brutally attacked last Sunday by a hammer-wielding intruder into his home on the Hythe Road. He suffered serious head injuries and was transferred from Ashford's William Harvey Hospital to the Queen's Hospital, Romford. Please pray that he will pull through, and also for his daughters Amanda and Sarah and his grandchildren. Albert joined a number of us on a parish pilgrimage to Rome in October 2003 when we went to celebrate Pope John Paul II's silver jubilee as Pope and the beatification of Mother Teresa. He is fondly remembered by all his fellow pilgrims and is photographed above relaxing in Assisi. If you have any information that might be of assistance to the police, please contact them.

Evelyn Leonard

Evelyn, who has recently been diagnosed as suffering from cancer resulting in soft bone tissue in the femur, fell badly today as she tried to enter the confessional before Mass. She suffered excruciating pain as her family and other parishioners tried to comfort her until an ambulance arrived. It transpires she has broken her leg and is now in hospital awaiting treatment. Her fall was probably due to a combination of her weak bone and one of her crutches slipping. Evelyn was received into the Catholic Church on 17th December 2005 and has experienced a truly warm welcome into the family of the parish and of the Catholic Church as a whole. Please remember Evelyn in your prayers, together with her husband Peter, and her children Peter, James, John and Elizabeth (who is expecting a child).

Novena of Prayer
A number of parishioners have decided, on their own initiative, to begin a novena of prayer invoking the intercession of Our Lady, health of the sick, and St Pergrine, the Patron Saint of Cancer Sufferers. A prayer to St Peregrine followed by a decade of the Holy Rosary will be said in the church every evening at 6pm, except when there's Mass going on (i.e. Saturday evening and Sunday), beginning this Tuesday to conclude on Maundy Thursday. If you can be present, do come along. Otherwise, please join in prayer from wherever you happen to be at the time.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Towards a Vision (2)

We had our second meeting yesterday on the topic Reaching out in Mission. I was very impressed, not to say excited, by the wealth of ideas and enthusiasm with which the topic was discussed. What is emerging is that this consultation process, whilst being a diocesan process, is having its effect at parish level, and so there was a warm welcome to the suggestion by one member that there should be a further meeting or even more than one, to take some of the ideas forward, so that they don't simply end up being part of a report on the Archbishop's desk.

Even if you haven't attended either of the previous meetings, I encourage you to come along to the third meeting next Thursday at 7.30pm at which we shall be considering the topic Facing the Future.

My thanks to John Barton for facilitating at the meeting and for managing to get the following summary on to one side of A4.

St. Simon Stock – South Ashford – Summary of Meetings

Reaching out in Mission - Moving beyond ourselves
Thursday 22nd March 2007

1. How do we reach out beyond the boundaries of our own parish community to believers and non-believers?
· Advertising – re Church and Mass and service times in press and leaflets in hotels, estate agents and homes.
· Local press - letters re Catholic point of view and articles on our activities.
· Parish Mission – knock on doors.
· Team of welcomers.
· Through existing and new parish organisations.
· Being friendly – to all, including our neighbours.
· Encouraging – schoolchildren and the young.

2. How do we bring the Good News to those without faith? How do we reach out in dialogue and collaboration to other Christians and to members of other religions?
· Via Churches Together and World Day of Prayer.
· Local Radio – slot for Parish Priest.
· Ecumenical services – and invite non Catholics to attend Mass and other services.
· Mothers Prayers.
· Our example – enthusiastically radiating our faith.
· School non-Catholic mothers – treating them with respect.

3. How could we enable our parish to become a more welcoming home?
· Parish party – and other welcoming gatherings for new parishioners every 6 months.
· Visiting – new parishioners and those in need.
· Befriend – older members of the community.
· Offer lifts – to people to come to Mass.
· Be more friendly.

4. Aware of the joys and sufferings both within our parish community and beyond it, how do we connect with those in greatest need?
· Closer contact – with charities e.g. Age Concern – to focus on groups in need.
· With young mothers etc - provide support.
· To youth.
· Lapsed Catholics – to return to their faith.
· Group of listeners – for those in need.
· Adopt a parish e.g. South India.

5. Areas for further development
· Further parish meetings after these three, to take matters further at parish level.
· Who are those in greatest need and how do we gain access to them?


Monday, March 19, 2007

The best gift a parishioner could offer

On my return from Wonersh today, I found a Mass request for the following intention: Thanksgiving and for Welfare of Our Parish Priest, with an offering too! Thank you kind parishioner. I could find out who you are as your Gift Aid number is on the envelope, but I prefer not to check up on who's giving what - I leave that up to Mark Madsen, our Gift Aid co-ordinator. But your kind thought has buoyed me up no end. God bless you.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

And if you haven't yet signed the petition

Please do so now. Please bear in mind that this is not a 'homophobic' 'anti-gay' petition, simply a petition that we be permitted to follow our consciences and our religious faith. Deadline 26th April, but don't put it off.

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Sexual Orientation Regulations - Call to Action

Please visit my personal blog and, if possible, respond to this call by joining the prayer vigil outside the Houses of Parliament 7-9pm on Wednesday. I intend to be there myself. If any parishioner would like to join me, please let me know. But feel free to make your own way there. This is important.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Folkestone Deanery Youth Evening

Eleven of our young parishioners travelled to Folkestone last night to take part in a youth evening organised by Father Roger Nesbitt, parish priest of Folkestone attended by a large group from the parish of Folkestone itself, as well as some from Hythe and Deal, and a large group from New Addington with their parish priest, my brother, Fr Stephen Boyle.

Sister Roseann Reddy, to whom I have referred on my own blog, gave a talk to the youngsters on her work as a Sister of the Gospel of Life in a rather packed sitting room. The Sisters have been doing their work for ten years in which time they have dealt with 2,222 mothers and about 70 babies have been saved through their work.

In the photo, two of our young parishioners chat with Sr Roseann.


Towards a Vision...

We had our first meeting on Thursday this week on Growing in Communion. Here are the conclusions. Thanks to John Barton for facilitating and to all who attended. Next meeting this coming Thursday on: Reaching out in Mission, 7.30 pm in the church hall. If you'd like to add a comment, please do. In the interests of openness and in deference to those who turned up to the meeting and made their comments openly, no anonymous comments will be accepted.

Towards a Vision for our Diocese

St. Simon Stock – South Ashford – Summary of Meetings

Building Up the Life of the Church - Thursday 15th March 2007
  1. What and how do we celebrate really well in our Parish?
    Preparation for the Sacraments.
    Mass – said reverently and frequently.
    Eucharistic devotion.
    Ethnic Masses.
    Introduction of traditional liturgical customs.
    Occasional and appropriate use of Gregorian chant.
    Whit Sunday International Mass.
    Reading, serving, flowers and singing.
    Activities in evenings e.g. Bible Study, youth club.
  2. What needs to be developed in the community at this time?
    Noise level in Church before Mass.
    Organ too loud – sound system too quiet.
    Welcomers needed to encourage ethnic communities
    Some hymns not known.
    Attracting young people to Church.
    Reaching out to lapsed Catholics, housebound, elderly, those struggling with English and those with special needs e.g transport.
    More volunteers for Extraordinary Minister.
    Establishment of UCM.
    Communications to ensure that all are aware of all parish activities.
    Mass times to be advertised e.g Stringer and local radio station.
  3. How could we exchange our gifts with neighbouring parishes in our deanery?
    Exchange of views with catechists.
    More communications with St Teresa’s, including ideas and social.
    Faith Group to join up with other similar groups.
    Inviting other parishes to our special occasions.
    Maximise the benefit of our hall.
  4. What resources do we need to move our parish and deanery forward?
    Greater parishioner involvement especially including ethnic communities and newer parishioners.
    More income (through having more parishioners).
    More representatives from the younger generation.
    Ethnic minorities from whom we can learn.
    More catechists and Extraordinary Ministers of Communion and those willing to form groups eg. Mother and Toddler.

    Areas for further development
    · Where do our exact parish boundaries lie?
    · Why do parishioners go to St. Teresa’s?
    · Should we share more with St. Teresa’s?


Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Great Talk on Confession for all the Family

Keep the faith video on demand has made available on video streaming an excellent talk by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Do watch it with your family. Two versions available: 300k or 500k depending on your connection speed.


Friday, March 02, 2007


I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt