Dear in Christ, the Fathers and Laity of our Archdiocese,
God bless you!
“But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” (Romans 10:18)
I hope that you are enjoying a good and fruitful Lent. Last month, I wrote to tell you about changes within the Archdiocese, and I said that I would write more about the Mission Regions.
The Archdiocese is very large, covering the whole of the British Isles and Ireland. Because the parishes are so spread out, it is necessary for small groups of parishes to work together for mutual support, and for the furtherance of the mission of the Church. I have therefore established three regions, known as Mission Regions. Each region will be represented by a Regional Mission Coordinator, elected by the priests of the region, and serving in that role for a period of three years. The Regional Mission Coordinators are leaders-by-example, and encourage and support their region in its mission of Evangelisation. They ensure that the Metropolitan is aware of everything going on within their region, and that every parish in their region is aware of activities within the wider Archdiocese. They also help to coordinate cover in parishes where the parish priest is absent for any reason. They serve on the Synthronon for the duration of their term of office. It is important that we all meet together regularly, to share our life in Christ and to support and strengthen one another. I hope that we will soon return to Archdiocese-wide meetings (and I will write more about that soon), but I also strongly encourage each Regional Mission Coordinator to arrange pilgrimages, retreats and other activities within their region, as best suits the needs at the time. Because the whole purpose of our life as an Archdiocese is to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to a weary world, I also expect the Regional Mission Coordinators to be proactive in the establishment of new missions, and fully supportive of any parish within their region that seeks to explore such activities.
Please understand that the Mission Regions are not meant to behave like separate dioceses – we are all one archdiocese! Nor should any priest or layperson feel that they are unable to communicate directly with me. On the contrary: I am your Bishop and I want to hear from you, especially from the parish priests. Please make sure that I am kept well informed about your parish, your hopes and plans, so that I may be involved in these and both pray for you and bless everything that is happening. I shall visit each parish as often as possible with the hope that I will be able to come at least once a year and hopefully more frequently. It is very important for me to get to know the clergy and every parish very well. The Regional Mission Coordinators will also help to coordinate my visits, so that every parish and mission feels that it is fully part of the Archdiocese. Although the exact make-up of the regions will change over time, as new parishes and missions are established, the current arrangement is as follows:
· The Eastern Region, led by Fr Michael Alexander: Northeast England, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, and Norfolk.
· The Western Region, led by Archpriest Gregory Hallam: Northwest England, the West Midlands, Scotland, and Wales.
· The Southern Region, led by Fr Filip Lommaert: London (excluding the Cathedral) and Southeast England, Southwest England, and the rest of East Anglia apart from Norfolk.
· The Cathedral, led by Fr Michel Touma.
Please support the new Regional Mission Coordinators both with practical assistance where possible, and with prayer unceasing. Help them to help the whole Archdiocese to live and grow in Christ.
I remain your Father in Christ