Friday 21st January 2022

Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity - We Saw His Star in the East

The story of the Magi visiting the Holy Family in Bethlehem is one very familiar to us. Indeed, we have recently celebrated Christmas; the Feast of Incarnation and Epiphany. The Magi have sometimes been seen as a symbol of the world’s diversity – different religions and cultures – that comes to pay homage to the Christ-child. The story might therefore represent the unity of all created that God desires. The Magi travel from far-off countries, and represent diverse cultures, yet they are driven by the same hunger to see and know the new-born king and are gathered into the little house in Bethlehem in the simple act of giving homage. In this we can find a metaphor for Christian unity: that is, of different Christian peoples drawn together in their common search to recognise Christ, to know him and to worship him and witnessing to wider need for unity and to overcome injustice.

This text has been chosen by the churches of the Middle East, the history of which was, and still is, characterized by conflict and strife, tainted with blood and darkened by injustice and oppression. Since the Palestinian Nakba (the exodus of Palestine’s Arab population during the 1948 war) the region has seen a series of bloody wars and revolutions and the rise of Islamic extremism. The story of the Magi also contains many dark elements, most particularly Herod’s despotic orders to massacre all the children around Bethlehem who were two years old or under (Matt 2:16-18). The cruelty of these narratives resonates with the long history and difficult present of the Middle East.

It was in the Middle East that the Word of God took root and bore fruit: thirty and sixty and one hundredfold. And it was from this East that the apostles set out to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The Middle East has given thousands of Christian witnesses and thousands of Christian martyrs. And yet now, the very existence of the small Christian community is threatened as many are driven to seek a more secure and prosperous life elsewhere. Like the light which is the child Jesus, the light of Middle Eastern Christianity is increasingly threatened in these difficult times.

Jerusalem is a powerful symbol for Christians because it is “The City of Peace”, where all humanity was saved and redeemed. But today peace is missing from the city. Even prayer in Jerusalem has become subject to political and military measures. Various parties stake their claim to it and disregard others. Jerusalem was the city of kings, indeed the city that Jesus will enter triumphantly, acclaimed as king (Lk 19:28-44). Naturally the Magi expected to find the new-born king revealed by the star in this royal city. However, the narrative tells us that, rather than being blessed by the birth of the Saviour king, the whole of Jerusalem was in tumult, much as it is today. Today, more than ever, the Middle East needs a heavenly light to accompany the people.

In this context Christians are called to seek the new-born king, the king of gentleness, peace and love. But where is the star that leads the way to him? It is the mission of the Church to be the star that lights the way to Christ who is the light of the world. By word and through action the Christian people are called to light the way so that Christ might be revealed, once again, to the nations. Yet divisions dim the light of Christian witness and obscure the way, preventing others from finding their way to Christ. Conversely, Christians united in their worship of Christ, and opening their treasures in an exchange of gifts, become a sign of the unity that God desires for all of creation.

The Covid-19 global pandemic; the economic crisis that has followed and the failure of political, economic and social structures to protect the weakest and most vulnerable; and the racism that blights our communities have underlined the global need for a light to shine in the darkness. The star that

shone in the East, (the Middle East), two thousand years ago still leads us to the manger, to where Christ was born. It draws us to where the Spirit of God is alive and active.

After encountering the Saviour and worshipping him together, the Magi return to their countries by a different way, having been warned in a dream. The communion we share in our prayer together must inspire us to return to ourselves, our churches and our world by new ways. But what does this mean in practice? Serving the Gospel today requires a commitment to humankind, especially the poorest, the weakest and those marginalized. It requires from the churches transparency and accountability in dealing with the world, and with each other. This means churches need to cooperate to provide relief to the afflicted, to welcome the displaced, to relieve the burdened, and to build a just and honest society. This is a call for churches to work together so that we can all build a good future according to God’s heart, a future in which all human beings can experience life, peace, justice, and love.

School Dinners from Monday 24th January 2022

Starting from Monday 24th January 2022 all school dinners must be pre ordered and paid via ParentPay.com.

Children in Reception, Year 1 & Year 2 are entitled to universal free school meals, however you are still required to pre order your child's meal. This also applies if you child is entitled to free school meals.

On your child's ParentPay account go to Make or view bookings, then choose which meal option you require from the selection listed.

Confirm your booking.

To top up your child's school lunch account, click on school lunch where you will be able to add credit to your child's account. Each day your child has a school dinner their account will be debited £2.40.

You can start pre ordering for next week's dinners on your ParentPay account.

All orders must be placed by 8am at the latest each morning.

It is very important that all meals are pre ordered.

Council Car Park Closure Time

The council car park will be closed at 5.15pm each day due to ongoing difficulties with ensuring that the site is clear before the school site is closed.  For collection of children at the after school club, please use the staff car park. Thank you for your cooperation with this matter.

Weekly Gifts from God Assembly

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Congratulations to the following children for being chosen for Good Work or for displaying the Catholic virtues (Curious and Active) this week.  Well done to St. Luke's house for gaining the most points too.

Class Good Work Catholic Virtues (Curious and Active)
Reception Ava and Fionn Isabelle and Adrian
Year 1 Violet Elienne
Year 2 Isla A and Eliza Chloe
Year 3 Theo James
Year 4 Ethan Katie
Year 5 Whole Class James
Year 6 Jack and Tyler Alexia and Max

Dudley MBC and Public Health Guidance on Face Coverings

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I am sure that you are aware of the Government's plan to reduce Covid restrictions further within education settings from Thursday 27th January, including the removal of wearing face coverings in communal areas.

However, further guidance from Dudley MBC has been published in association with the Local Public Health Protection Team, as follows:

The number of cases of Covid-19 remain high across the borough, with the largest number of cases in the 5-19 age group. This is leading to a number of outbreaks in education settings.

When necessary, local authorities can introduce local measures to reduce transmission in settings and help keep students and staff safe.

Therefore, in response to an outbreak in an education setting, Dudley Public Health advise that the following measures are maintained:

1. Facemasks are worn in communal areas where social distancing cannot be maintained (this only applies to staff and visitors in primary schools).

2. Any child identified as a close contact by NHS Test & Trace or Dudley Public Health (either within their education* setting or household), should undertake 7 days of Lateral Flow Device tests (LFD). If the result is positive, they should isolate for 10 full days, in line with the guidance.  A child can end their isolation period before the end of 10 days  by taking an LFD from 5 days after the day symptoms started (or the day the test was taken if the child did not have symptoms), and another LFD test on the following day. If both these test results are negative, and the child does not have a high temperature, the child may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result. *only applicable to those 5 years of age or over

Due to the increasing number of cases and outbreaks in certain classes, we will continue to advise parents on site to wear face coverings and for staff members to continue to do so in communal areas within school.  Any visitors will also be asked to wear a face covering in communal areas too.  Thank you for your continued cooperation with this matter.

Updated guidance on the end of Covid isolation period from 17.01.22

The latest isolation guidance which came into force on Monday 17th January, is as follows:

Further information on self-isolation for those with COVID-19 is available.

Covid Family Support Information

We have all experienced challenges and difficulties during this pandemic, but sometimes we may need support from someone else or know of someone who may need additional help.  Dudley MBC have created a 'Support for Families' leaflet which signposts local services to parents. We have also included an updated list of support for parents via a range of local and national agencies.  These documents can be found within the Covid 19 tab on the school website home page.

Synodal Pathway Meetings at St. Joseph's

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Pope Francis has called for the Church to engage in a time of listening, reflection and discernment after an unprecedented time of disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.

This process is called the Synodal Pathway. All parishes are invited to gather, listen actively to one another and reflect on what is said. This is not a time for discussion but of openness to one another, and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

For further information about this Synod, please click on the following link. Watch! Explaining the Synod Process | Birmingham Diocesan Trust (birminghamdiocese.org.uk)

All parishioners are also encouraged to be a part of this process of consultation and reflection.

Meetings will be held in the Parish Centre at Our Lady and All Saints Church every Thursday at 10 am and 7pm from 13th January to 17th February.

Unfortunately, there was a poor level of attendance at the first session on Wednesday evening on the theme of Communion. This is an opportunity for you to feedback about the three key aspects of the Church as part of this Synod Pathway.

The next session on the theme of Participation will take place at St. Joseph's on Wednesday 2nd February at 7pm. Please contact the School Office if you would like to attend.  

Furthermore, if you would like to organise your own meeting, then please contact Fr. Philip at the Parish Office so that a volunteer 'enabler' from the parish can be present to support in the meeting.

Feedback forms will also be available to you to submit your reflections – these are also to be returned to the Parish Office or the School Office. 

Wednesday Word Link

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The Wednesday Word can be accessed via following link: The Wednesday Word Primary School Resource | Catholic Church.  Please go through this with leaflet with your child so that they become more familiar and understand the focus of the Gospel each week.

Prayer of the Week - Christian Unity Prayer

Creator of light,

illumine our path by the light of Christ who moves before us and leads us.

May he be a beacon for our pilgrimage.

Enlighten us and dwell within us.

Guide us to discover a manger in our hearts where a great light still shines.

We thank you for the gift of that unfading Star, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Heal our divisions and draw us closer to the Light that we may find our unity in him.

Amen.

Virtues Focus - Curious and Active

Children at St. Joseph's are growing to be curious about everything; and active in
their engagement with the world, changing what they can for the better.

Pope's Intention for January

For true human fraternity:

We pray for all those suffering from religious discrimination and persecution; may their own rights and dignity be recognized, which originate from being brothers and sisters in the human family.

For more information on the Holy Father's Monthly Intention, please click on the following link: Pope's prayer intentions for 2022 - Vatican News

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