Welcome to our Parish

   Please see below the bulletin for the 11th Sunday of the year, and below this Stella Congregation’s reflections Deaneries and Parishes 2024                                                                                                     

ST. MARY & ST. THOMAS AQUINAS’,

STELLA.

Landline & answering machine: 0191 4142749;

Mobile Number: 07971 354750

Priest in Charge: Rev. Fr. J. G. Rose                                                           www.stellachurch.co.uk Facebook: Stella Church

11th Sunday of the Year.   16th June, 2024.

Saturday 15th June                    Vigil Mass.     5.00 p.m.The Carroll Family.
Sunday 16th June                 11th of the Year10.00 a.m.Kathleen Cunningham.
Monday 17th                   9.15 a.m.Michael Houston.
Tuesday 18th                        9.15 a.m.The November Book.
Wednesday 19th                    (St. Romuald.)6.00 p.m.Muriel Hirst.
Thursday 20th                           (St. Alban.)9.15 a.m.Tom & Petronella Henzell.
Friday 21st                  (St. Aloysius Gonzaga.) 6.00 p.m.Lily Rochester.
Saturday 22nd June (SS John Fisher & Thomas More)                                                                                                        Vigil Mass.                             10.00 a.m.
5.00 p.m.
Our Lady’s Intentions.
Dorothy Gunson.
Sunday 23rd June                12th of the Year10.00 a.m.Joan Holdsworth.

Confessions:- Saturday 4.15 – 4.45 p.m.; Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: Saturday, 4.15 – 4.45 p.m..

Please pray for:- the sick – Mark Armstrong; Joyce Madine; Doreen Hodgson; Jessica Rich; Annie O’Connor; Natasha Rose; D. C.; Matthew Stewart; Margaret March; Bocis Buiuc; Avril & Paul Kimmitt & Pat Brewster;

Recently deceased: Fr. Graham Williams – Requiem at St. Robert’s, Fenham, 28th June at 10.30 a.m. R.I.P.

Offertory Procession:- This week:- Sat.:   Ava Baxter & Family;          Sun.: Amber Preece & Family;

                                       Next week:- Sat.:  Isaac Beadling & Family;     Sun.: Isaac Rosa & Family. 

200 Club Winner. This week’s winner: C. Rea no.159. Congratulations Carlo!

Annual Parish Summer Draw is under way!

Tickets for this year’s Summer Draw are available before our weekend Masses – just 50p a strip! This year’s prizes are:- 1 litre of Scotch whisky; a bottle of cognac; Presentation Pack of Occitane de Provence; 12 bottles of Leffe 6.6% beer; a bottle of Croft Original; La Mere Poulard  St. Michel Fancy Biscuits & Tin; Presentation Pack of red and white wine; Hexland & Whittle of London Votive Candles; 6 Bottles of Biere Ambree 7% beer; another 6 bottles of Biere Ambree 6% beer; Heyland & Whittle of London Fragrance Set; 3 Packs of Crayola Activity 3D & Paint Sets; 2 x Paw Patrol 6 pack of stamps & games; ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’ Game. Proceeds from this year’s draw will be going to buying new slates for the church roof!

Red Mission Boxes. Please bring them to church for emptying as soon as possible. Thank you!

Corpus Christi Procession – Sunday, 16th June 2024.

The Corpus Christi Procession will begin in the back walled garden at 10.00 a.m. prompt, following the back lane up and down the avenue into church. A reminder to parents that the children wear their First Holy Communion clothes again for the procession – sashes for the boys can be obtained from Fr. Rose before Mass… …please do remember to return them to him afterwards!

Parish Summer Fayre – a Date for the Diaries!

The date for the fayre this year will be Sunday, 7th July. Please do remember to leave the day free and to mark it in your diaries and electronic gadgets. It’s always a great day of fun for all family members, and there are some new stalls for this year’s event!

 If you can help with any of the stalls this year, please add your name to the stallholders’ list, which is on the back table. If you have items for the fayre, please bring them along to church, or alternatively, give me a buzz and muggins will come around to collect!

The Diocesan Vision – What is the Lord call us to be and do?

‘In order to grow as a synodal Church it is important that we all have a chance to pray and discern how the Holy Spirit is inviting us to grow in mission in our parishes and communities. To facilitate this, I together with others, offer an initial Diocesan vision for your prayerful reflection. Our discerned Diocesan commitments are: To Walk with Jesus and Enable Others to Encounter Him; To Grow as One Diocesan Family – Rebuilding Relationships; Forming and Developing People for Mission; Living Justly and Caring for Our Common Home. Each of these commitments are developed in the vision. It is not my intention to impose this vision. It is offered for further reflection and I invite all of our parishes and communities to prayerfully reflect on them. Bishop Stephen’

The third session will be held in the parish meeting room on Tuesday at 6.30 p.m. – and will last a maximum of 1 hour!

  • Session 3: Forming and Developing People for Mission – Tuesday, 18th June
  • Session 4: Living Justly and Caring for Our Common Home – Tuesday, 25th June. 

First Confession & First Holy Communion 2025!

It might seem very early to be looking towards celebrations in 2025, but our parish programme for First Confession and First Holy Communion is already being prepared! As always, our programme is open to children who will be in year 4 or older in the school year beginning September 2024. The application forms for our 2024/25 programme are available from the table at the back of church NOW!

Please do read them carefully before completion – they not only outline the dates of the celebrations, but also highlight what our programme entails and the basic requirements from parents if they choose to enrol their child. Completed forms must be returned to Fr. Rose by Sunday, 21st July at the very latest. The parents’ packs will be delivered to home addresses during the summer holidays and the Mass of Commitment and Enrolment will be on the weekend of 7th/8th September.

Congratulations! We congratulate George on his Baptism here at Stella last Sunday. May the Lord continue to guide him in the years ahead with the help and support of his parents, godparents and our faith community.

Thank You! I would like to offer my thanks for donations recently received – £60 towards the buffet for Fr. Noel’s Jubilee celebration, and further donations totalling £150 towards the renewal of the church roof, which, all being well, will be done in April and early May next year.

Fr. James’ Retirement. Fr. James has announced that he will be retiring on Sunday, 28th July. This has provoked speculation that I will be serving St. Agnes’ from that date. I can honestly say that I have not been asked to do so by the Bishop!!! However, should such become the case, it is likely that a slight adjustment in Sunday Mass times would be required (maybe 15 minutes, making Mass 10.15 a.m.). When I know, you’ll know. Watch this space!

More Chuckles… …?!

A magician was working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The audience would be different each week, so the magician allowed himself to do the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem: The captain’s parrot saw the shows every week and began to understand what the magician does in every trick. Once he understood that, he started shouting in the middle of the show: ‘Look, it’s not the same hat. Look, he is hiding the flowers under the table! Hey, why are all the cards the Ace of Spades?’
The magician was furious but couldn’t do anything, it was the captain’s parrot! One day the ship had an accident and sank. The magician found himself on a piece of wood, in the middle of the ocean, with the parrot. They stared at each other with hate, but did not utter a word. This went on for a day, and another, and another.
After a week the parrot finally said: ‘OK. I give up. What did you do with the boat?’






Stella Congregation’s Reflections on Deaneries and Parishes 2024.

Saturday 25th/Sunday 26th May – plus subsequent submissions!

The Stella version of Synodality takes place during weekend Masses, so all have the opportunity to express their feelings, highlight concerns and share ideas. Our conversation began with an outline of the number of churches where the existing priests have announced their retirement for 2024, together with the number of churches currently being served by priests aged seventy-five or older.

Deaneries.

The necessary reduction in the number of priests in each existing deanery was felt to be too small. Deaneries with two or three priests only were felt to be of little value when it came to mutual clergy and parochial support.

Suggested amalgamating deaneries – perhaps linking the two Gateshead deaneries together?

Many of the new estates built in this area are populated by parishioners originating at the other end of Gateshead, particularly the Felling and Leam Lane. Similar backgrounds, common concerns, shared focus – these should help to bind the new deanery together.

Concerns expressed about the future of Prudhoe should such an amalgamation go ahead. Most of Prudhoe parish is to the west of the church, and therefore tends to focus more on Hexham than Gateshead.

Prudhoe was not really involved in the thinking of parishes in this area at Forward Together in Hope (FTiH),, but was suddenly thrust into the deanery, courtesy of the FTiH team – the reasoning given was that Prudhoe was a feeder school for St. Thomas More… …but so was Hexham!

May be that people of Prudhoe would prefer to return to their links with Northumberland and Hexham? This may have merit in other ways too, than just geographical. Hexham is unlikely to retain a curate for the long term. The priest at Bellingham is past retirement age, but is still extremely active… …long may this continue… …but realistically, how long can the parishes depend upon his continued health?

Perhaps Prudhoe could ultimately be served by a very active priest who could assist in the service and support of the communities of the Hexham plus Northumberland parishes? Fundamentally, this is a question for the people of Prudhoe and the Bishop.

Proposed Parish Links – Blaydon/Winlaton/Rowlands Gill/Chopwell & Crawcrook/Stella/ +/- Prudhoe.

Considerable concerns expressed re the lack of activity following on from FTiH. A great deal of work went in, including a joint submission from Blaydon/Winlaton/Stella following on from lengthy discussions with Crawcrook too. Response was extremely disappointing. Opportunity missed to bind communities with strong historical links back together and reduce the property base too.

Too many big churches, so close together, with very small attendances relative to their capacity. Surely some of these big churches are no longer required – there is no longer the huge local Catholic populations in the area – housing density has been reduced with the demolition of the terraced housing.

Our FTiH discussions included demographic forecasts for our communities. The Covid pandemic had sadly accelerated the impact of demographics, with many churches seeing serious declines in Mass attendance. Some communities no longer have the worshipping community of a sufficient size to fulfil even the basic roles of church cleaning, gardening, admin support etc.

Should we be continuing to invest heavily in properties that are no longer required due to greatly diminished numbers? Constant drain in terms of gas/elec/council tax/insurance/water/day-to-day maintenance… …and the impact upon the smaller number of active parishioners, striving to keep everything going.

Should we really be asking our priests to run from pillar to post, providing numerous Masses for churches that are so close together/caring for properties that we realistically no longer need?

Benefit of Stella’s priest having just one church to care for is clear – greater time available for outreach, sick and housebound receive Holy Communion each week, availability for one lunchtime a week in our secondary school, no meeting duplication, very close links with primary school on the doorstep.

Need to remember the needs of the clergy. Two of our deanery priests have reached (or passed) the age of seventy-five. Another will be sixty in October and the fourth is in his mid fifties and has recently undergone surgery. We are fortunate to have Fr Kormos… …but for how much longer in the light of the shortage of priests? Need to take into account their physical, spiritual and mental health, as well as our own!

Can’t we see that it is time to invest properly in our parish communities? Outreach is crucial in terms of the real and lasting impact of the faith that we share. Our scarcest resources are our priests and practising communities – need to maximise the effectiveness and availability of our priests. Do priests have time to spend with us in our homes any more?

Extra support for parents needed. Yawning gap when it comes to providing faith development for those in 18 – 25 age bracket and married men!

Happy with the proposed link with Crawcrook – it’s not just a historical one, many of those living on the new estates at Crawcrook originate from Stella… …many still come here.

We do get on well together and often share ideas and experiences. Our experience of working together through FTiH (Blaydon, Stella and Winlaton plus Crawrcrook) was a very positive one… …although our experiences here of the ‘partnership’ imposed by the FTiH team and their focus, have perhaps been less so – perhaps due to the way people here work together as parish, together with our extensive community links, and the incessant drive by the FTiH team to tick ‘essential’ boxes and focus initially on structures and Mission Statements rather than people.

Content with Blaydon et al suggestion, even though some thought that the original link of Blaydon/Stella/Winlaton recommended in FTiH was still a better one, as those three churches are very proximate and the parishes of Rowlands Gill, Chopwell and Crawcrook had already been working together for a lengthy period of time. Why break up what’s working?

Important to look at the future in terms of areas and local communities served, rather than simply referring to existing parishes and buildings, important though they may be, personally and historically.

Very concerned about the link with Prudhoe – most suggested that this proposed link should be in the hands of the people of Prudhoe, rather than our own! People here tend to look towards Gateshead, rather than out towards Prudhoe… …where do the people of Prudhoe tend to gravitate?

Stella Parish vis-à-vis the future.

Outreach.

This makes the difference at Stella. Very close links with parish primary school on the other side of the back lane – proximity benefits parent/school/parish links – priest currently able to do school gate most mornings and afternoons – impacts upon parishioner/priest relationships, availability of the priest… …and Mass attendance!!! Regular receptions into full communion are an essential part of our parish life – great to see new people.

Current priest is sole remaining clergy governor of St. Thomas More and priest with pastoral responsibility. Most weeks, he spends one lunchtime in school – availability on the yard for both staff and students – important link between parish(es) and secondary school students. Impacts upon the effectiveness of our joint Confirmation programme with Dunston/Lobley Hill/Whickham.

Stella is open all day for private prayer, from 0730 until dusk. Availability of parking (40 places on the main road) plus the parish car parks (and the school yard and car park on weekends), are a real benefit, as are the bus stops right outside the church – the church is on the main bus route. ‘Rare to go into church and not find anyone there’ was a common comment.

How is the Mass attendance?

Despite the pandemic and the number of stalwarts who have gone to God in recent years, the Mass attendance has varied between 280 and 320. Several families commented how welcome they felt due to the number of young people with children and the lack of comment at the noise levels – ‘we don’t stand out like a sore thumb!’ ‘Children’s Liturgy at both Masses is a real benefit.’ ‘It’s really laid back at Stella. The children are really welcome and we don’t feel pressured!’

Is the property and parish in a good state?

The grounds are maintained by a large team of parishioners – ‘everyone who goes past on the bus comments on the change in the last ten years!’

The parish has it’s own building manager, a retired surveyor (and diocesan property manager) – he keeps on top of things and is currently dealing with quotations for the 2025 re-roofing.

We have a very large team of dedicated volunteers who help with everything from the liturgical side of parish life through to the ‘mundane’! Every area from fundraising through to church cleaning, the Sunday Coffee team through to gardening and grass cutting, from handyman (woman) tasks to finance is covered. As with so many parishes, we are always seeking new (and younger) blood, but our parish could not operate without so many people giving freely of their time and capabilities. If we paid all our volunteers for their time and effort, the parish would be deeply into the red!

Does our property and parish meet need?

Stella has a small parish room for meetings/post Mass coffee etc. School hall is available for larger functions. Parishioners benefit from a whole host of after school activities on our doorstep.

The parish cemetery is well kept and continues to provide a focal point for the community – it is still open for the burial of cremated remains and is used regularly.

The parish office is located close to the front door and can be isolated from the rest of the house. The presbytery has two bedrooms (both en suite), a sitting room and a kitchen diner – all that’s needed. The downside is that the church can be accessed from the office, the sitting room, via the attic space… ..and the priest’s bedroom!

Our priest is approachable and readily available – he even publishes his mobile number and is happy to take calls, even whilst on his holidays. He relies heavily upon the advice, support and encouragement of parishioners. We feel that we make a real contribution to our parish and the wider community too.

Most capital projects have been completed in recent years – re-pointing and cleaning the stonework / re-surfacing part of front car park and creating new tarmac surface to the rear / new church lighting / new floor & flooring in meeting room / re-decorating chapel, choir loft and meeting room / refurbishment of presbytery / complete renewal of the parish cemetery / new gates to front and rear. Re-roofing of the main part of the church will be a major project – but we have been saving for this and currently have six figures in the bank.

How are parish finances?

Stella has had no reliance on sale of land/legacies or rental income to make ends meet, fund outreach or to address the major property issues over the last ten years. The generosity of parishioners combined with checks on expenditure (and despite the significant increases in gas and electricity prices), ensure that the parish is more than capable of meeting capital projects when they arise.

Financial support elsewhere too via the Parish Aid Fund. Supported the training of nurses in the Amazon Basin for six years and for the last five we have been funding an orphan project in Africa.

We need to do more!

Conversations in the Spirit are an opportunity for us to see how we can address current and future needs more effectively… …together!

Lots of ideas were highlighted and suggestions made, particularly from the under thirty-fives. The Conversations could (and hopefully will) prove to be lively!