Mark’s 200 Miles Cycling Adventure

For most Sheffield teachers, the summer holidays are a time to relax ahead of the new term in September. Try telling that to Mark Conway.

Mark Conway, ready to set off on his journey

  The selfless St Wilfrid’s Primary School: a Catholic Voluntary Academy teacher has just completed a gruelling charity bike ride to London which totalled around 200 miles.

  Mark completed the challenge in just two days and cycled over 110 miles to Wellingborough on Saturday, 29 July before completing his journey the following day.

  Mark, who is Head of RE at St Wilfrid’s, raised over £1,000 for aid agency CAFOD and finished his journey at their head offices in Westminster.

  CAFOD works in over forty countries, helping people to tackle poverty and injustice wherever the need is greatest.

  Mark said, “CAFOD does a lot of good work and I wanted to raise some money in an exciting way.

  “I stayed away from the M1 and got lost around Milton Keynes which added about 10 miles to my journey.  This made the second day a bit of a killer and I was dreading it a bit, cycling around London can be quite hairy!

  “It was great to have so many people cheering me on, including kids from my class and other members of staff at St Wilfrid’s.  I also got to meet a lot of people on the way who were very supportive.  I won’t be doing it again but I will definitely think of something else to do next year!”

  Mark initially hoped to raise £200 but has gone well beyond his target, with donations reaching £1,145.

  CAFOD’s representative in Hallam, Jeremy Cain, said, “Thank you to Mark for taking on this remarkable challenge – we are very grateful for the time and effort he gave up.

  “It sounds like a gruelling journey and it is testament to Mark that he was able to battle through.  He quite literally went the extra mile for CAFOD and we are all very proud of his efforts.”

  To donate, visit Mark’s JustGiving page at

  For more information about CAFOD’s work, visit

Lourdes 2017

The Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes is an important event for many people.

Alex Prior, the Pilgrimage Director, tells us about this year’s Pilgrimage, which was a particularly special journey for Jayne and Brian Lowson.

Parishioners of St Patrick and St Thomas More Parish, Sheffield, Jayne and Brian met in Lourdes thirty-three years ago. They have been regular pilgrims ever since.  Their sons Matthew, James and Thomas have also been frequent pilgrims.  This year Jayne and Brian celebrated thirty years of marriage.

Brian and Jayne with Bishop Ralph on the 2017 Lourdes Pilgrimage

The 2017 Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes took place from 2 to 7 July led by Bishop Ralph, with over four hundred and sixty pilgrims, including two hundred and fifteen with Hallam Youth travelling from all the High Schools in the Diocese. Two charter flights operated from Doncaster Sheffield Airport direct to Lourdes, together with five Youth coaches.

  There were many highlights during the Pilgrimage – Mass at the Grotto with the Diocese of Derry, Anointing of the Sick and many inspiring homilies.  We took part as a Diocese in the Torchlight Procession on Monday night and in the Blessed Sacrament Procession on Wednesday afternoon.  Many pilgrims commented on the very powerful Holy Hour in St Joseph’s Chapel when Fr Lee Marshall led us in Adoration.  Our young people follow the main pilgrimage programme but with some additional items, so on Tuesday afternoon all of Hallam Youth spent time together.  Due to the temporary closure of the High Stations, at very short notice they improvised and created their own Stations of the Cross with some of the youth leaders, before a liturgy in the chapel up at the Youth Village.

  In previous years, one important feature of the pilgrimage, particularly for the Youth, has been the opportunity to spend time at the Grotto late at night, when it is particularly quiet and peaceful.  Due to the increased security measures in Lourdes, access to the Grotto is currently not permitted after midnight, but the Sanctuary generously granted our pilgrimage exclusive access after midnight on Tuesday night.  For around two hundred and eighty pilgrims, including all Hallam Youth, this was the very much the highlight of the week, and the Vice Rector of the Sanctuary commented on the quiet and prayerful way that our pilgrimage used this opportunity.

  From the feedback forms received from pilgrims it is clear that 2017 was a very special pilgrimage and everything ran very smoothly.  One particular comment flowed through all the feedback received, and that was how wonderful the young people from our Diocese are!  The care and friendship they provided to the eighty plus “Assisted pilgrims” using wheelchairs in Lourdes was exceptional, and everyone on the pilgrimage commented on how wonderful this was to experience.  All of the Hallam Youth are a credit to their parents, their schools and to themselves.  Thank you to all our youth helpers, and the leaders, school staff and Chaplains who travelled with them.

  During the pilgrimage we each served one another – not just the sixty plus volunteer Helpers, Doctors and Nurses and two hundred and fifteen Youth Helpers helping our Assisted Pilgrims, but all pilgrims served one another in different ways, eg spending time talking in a café, or reflecting on what we’ve heard at a liturgy, or a simple word of encouragement or support.  Thank you to everyone involved.  If you haven’t experienced the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, please do consider travelling in 2018.

Dates for Your Diary

There will be a follow up event “Lourdes@Home”, for those who travelled with Hallam Youth, at St Bernard’s Catholic High School from 6pm, Friday, 15 September to 1pm Saturday, 16 September. Further details available by email from

  The 2017 Lourdes Reunion will take place at St Bernard’s Catholic High School, Herringthorpe Valley Road, Rotherham, S65 3BE at 7.30pm on Friday, 27 October.  All welcome.

   Our 2018 Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes will take place from Sunday, 1 July to Friday, 6 July.  Booking forms will be available towards the end of the year.  Enquiries: 01302 247910 or 07724 650066 or

60th Birthday Celebrations

St John Fisher Primary, a Catholic Voluntary Academy, Hackenthorpe, Sheffield celebrated sixty years as a school community on 22 June, the Feast of St John Fisher.

The celebrations began when the school chaplaincy team welcomed Bishop Ralph and Fr Paul O’Hara, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Hackenthorpe, to share a specially prepared lunch with the school community.

Fr Paul O’Hara opens the celebratory garden party

In the afternoon everyone came together in their church to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving concelebrated by Bishop Ralph, Fr Paul and former Parish Priest, Fr Chris Posluszny.

The Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Anne Murphy, was shown around the school and introduced to children, parents/carers, staff, governors, Parents, Teachers and Friends Association members and former staff. She was very interested in the school and wanted to meet as many people as possible.

Liam McGurrin, former Headteacher of St John Fisher, with members of his staff

Events started with a Jubilee Balloon Race











I Am With You Always

Pastoral Letter Read at all Masses on the weekend of the Feast of The Ascension 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

Today’s feast celebrates Jesus ‘coming full circle.’ He came to us from the Father to accomplish his own unique mission and now he returned to the Father having achieved what he was sent to do.  It must have been a particular joyous moment for Jesus but one of the most difficult moments for the disciples on their journey with Jesus.  Their Master and Teacher who had opened their eyes and had been taken from them in a most horrific way and returned from the dead and had walked with them.

  Now, it would seem, they are going to lose him for a second time.

  But today’s feast is also about ‘passing on the baton’.  At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus set out his stall announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was close at hand, calling the people to repentance and to believe in the Good News.  Now the responsibility for the task/ministry was being passed on to the apostles and disciples.  He mandates them to continue his saving work, drawing all nations to the truth of the gospel.  He knows that his life’s project will only continue if those whom he commissions are committed to make it work.

  Matthew reminds us that Jesus’ mandate to his disciples, then and now, is to go, to make disciples, to baptise, and to teach.

  To go:  Communion and Mission are intrinsically linked.  At the end of every Eucharist, for example, we are dismissed with these or similar words: “Go forth.  The Mass is ended.”

  To make disciples:  As Jesus called the fishermen and trained them up as “learners”, imitating his way of life and, little by little, understanding his message, his followers ever since have been entrusted with the responsibility of calling others and training them to understand his message and follow his ways.

  To baptise:  Baptism is not an optional extra for the followers of Jesus.  Rather it is the public and visible way by which we are marked out as his disciples and share in the name of the living God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  To teach:  The Gospel of Jesus promotes a lifestyle that is different.  As his disciples we are to give the time and energy to learning and practising this lifestyle ourselves and sharing it with new disciples.

  Last weekend marked the third anniversary of the announcement of me as your Bishop.  It has been an interesting period in my life to say the least!  As I have moved around the diocese, I have been touched by the warmth of your welcome and encouraged to see for myself the many good initiatives that are happening in the parishes.  It has been my special joy to visit the schools in the diocese.

  But as I have moved around the diocese I have also observed for myself a diocesan structure created to serve a Mass-going population of over 30,000 when the diocese was set up and now serving a Mass attendance of under 12,000.  My judgment is that the present cannot be sustained and the work of renewal can no longer be deferred.

  In Evangelium Gaudium, Pope Francis spells out my role as Bishop in this regard:

      The Bishop must always foster this missionary communion in

      his diocesan Church,  following the ideal of the first Christian

      communities in which believers were of one heart and one soul.

      (Acts 4:32).  To do so, he will sometimes go before his people

      pointing the way and keeping their hopes vibrant.  Other times

      he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and

      merciful presence.  And yet at other times, he will have to walk

      with them, helping those who lag behind – above all – allowing

      the flock to strike out on new paths.

  With this in mind, in recent weeks there have been discussions and consultations across the diocese about the future of the diocese in general and about the shape of our parish communities, in particular, and, how we might, given our present resources, make them ‘a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey and a centre of missionary outreach.” EG28.  Some of these discussions have concluded and decisions taken.  Other discussions are on-going and there will be more difficult decisions to be taken at the end of these.  I know that my name will be held less than ‘hallowed’ over the next few weeks and months that lie ahead!

  Inevitably, there will be a sense and experience of personal loss for some as we look to the possibility of mergers and closures.  Of all, I seek understanding, flexibility and spirit of self-sacrifice.  I genuinely fear that not to act now, would risk the future of our diocese.  I am conscious, too, that one day I will have to give an account of my stewardship as the Bishop of the diocese.

  One thing I wish to make clear is that the decisions I have already made and will take in the future are not about managing decline, but rather preparing and planning for the future of the diocese, so as to enable it in the years to come to effectively carry out Jesus’ mandate in this corner of the Lord’s vineyard: to go, to make disciples, to baptise and to teach.  Above all, we must not give way to pessimism for we have his promise in today’s gospel, ‘And look, I am with you always; yes, until the end of time.’

Yours sincerely in Christ, the Redeemer


Celebration Mass for Councillor Jim

May 2017 marked the end of the Civic year for Councillor Jim Anderson of St Joseph’s Church in Retford. Jim is a District Councillor and in May last year was elected to serve as Chairman of the whole of Bassetlaw District Council; a great honour and privilege last enjoyed by a St Joseph’s parishioner when Wendy Quigley served in 2007/8.

  Jim asked Fr John Nwadike CM, Parish Priest at St Joseph’s, to celebrate the Civic Service with a Mass, and a packed church saw St Joseph’s school children sing, Headteacher, Mr Richard Hilton read, and Fr Bill Bergin returned to beautifully sing the Credo and guide the service.  Worksop Deanery Deacon Peter Hunt assisted, and the Deputy Lieutenants and Readers from other Christian denominations joined with the local Imam to make the service a truly Ecumenical event for the glory of God.

  It was a great day for St Joseph’s, the Churches in Retford and Bassetlaw.  The local Air Training Corps squadron also sent a detachment to assist in the management of the day, and they are pictured below with Fr John, the Deputy Lieutenant and Councillor Jim.

Children Celebrate

Welcome to the Children’s Liturgy Section

  The May edition of the Hallam News sees the introduction of an exciting new initiative which aims to engage our children in thinking about the key celebrations, messages and themes of the Liturgy they will be celebrating in the weeks following the publication of the paper.

  We begin this feature with the story of the Ascension, activities for children to work with and questions for them to consider.  We hope that these pages will help our children to be able to follow liturgical celebrations more closely and in a way that is increasingly more meaningful to each one of them.

  We, as adults, may like to share these pages with children to both help the children appreciate the celebrations of the Church, as we progress through the year and remember the significant events in the life of Christ and also to give us a means of thinking through at our own level, what the message of the Ascension means to us and the impact and meaning this celebration has for each one of us.

The Story of The Ascension

This month we celebrate The Ascension of Our Lord

  When Jesus was ready to return to heaven, he took his disciples aside to make sure that they understood everything that had happened to him.  He explained why it was important for him to be crucified and to be raised from the dead to fulfill what the Scriptures had said about him.  He also told them that he was going to return to his Father in heaven, and that the Holy Spirit would come to be with them.

  At first, the disciples were sad that Jesus would be leaving them, but then the Bible tells us that Jesus opened their minds so they would understand.  Then, an amazing thing happened.  The Bible tells us that Jesus lifted his hands and blessed his disciples.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  The disciples stood and watched as Jesus ascended higher and higher until he disappeared from view.  What an amazing sight that must have been!

I wonder ….

which part of the Ascension Gospel you like the best?



what the friends of Jesus felt?



where Jesus went?



when you feel close to Jesus?



Word Search


Happy Birthday Church!

Pentecost is the birthday of all of us in the Church because we are the Church. It is a day of celebration in the Church.  Pentecost is a Greek word for 50th day.  It is 50 days after Easter Sunday.

We remember the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and the start of their work to spread the Good News. The Priest will wear red vestments.  Maybe you could wear red too on this special birthday?

Easter Gallery

The theme for next month’s picture gallery is ‘Hallam Clergy’.

Have a good look at your Parish Priest – no, really look at him carefully!  Do you think you could do a picture or model of him?

Yes, you can.  We know there are some brilliant artists out in Hallam.

We would love you to send in photographs of your pictures or models of your Parish Priest. Please attach your name and age, the name of the Priest and the name of the Parish.

We will try to include as many as possible in next month’s edition, but all will be displayed on our website gallery.

Please send to

Take a Look Around You

Instead of just walking without paying attention, open your eyes to the needs you see along the way.

A group of parishioners at The Annunciation Church, Chesterfield, have decided to help support the parents and carers of children with additional needs.

St Angela Parent/Carer Support Group

St Angela Parent/Carer Support Group was an idea that came from a parent who was facing the tough challenge of raising a child on the Autistic Spectrum. She realised that there were other parents too within our Catholic community and beyond who would benefit from reaching out to one another and offering much needed parent to parent support.

  The meetings take place once a month during term time at The Annunciation parish centre, Chesterfield, and there you will find a friendly, warm and welcoming group who are willing to listen to each other non- judgementally, share ideas, concerns and together celebrate the achievements of their children.

  There is laughter, tears, hugs, lots of tea and coffee and plenty of homemade cake and biscuits.  The group always finish with a quiet reflection, candles are lit and we gather round a prayer table to be mindful of the journey we are on.  It is really powerful to feel strengthened by our faith as a group and gives us courage and a sense of peace to carry on with the challenges ahead.

Convention in June

St Angela Merici

  We decided to find out if there are any other families in the Dioceses who meet up regularly – hence this article.

We are hoping to hold a Convention in June 2017 at Chesterfield, and we will be inviting enlightened speakers and all interested parents or carers to come along.

Our website is  If you are would like further information, please contact

HOPE – Five Ways to Follow Mary’s Example

Signs of Christmas have gone from our everyday environments. The liturgical calendar has moved to Ordinary Time.  As Christians we recognise that every day God is with us and in us and works through us.  Read Bishop Ralph’s message to us all in these early days of 2017.

Bishop Ralph

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

We all have the need for the closeness and the warmth of a mother’s love. Many of us know from our personal experience that it is a need that remains, long after our mother is no longer with us.  It should come as no surprise to us, therefore, that the Church begins each New Year with this wonderful Solemnity of the Mother of God.  Knowing what we experience deep within us it seems perfectly reasonable for us to want a motherly touch from God Himself, to sooth, to strengthen, to comfort us on our journey of faith.   At the beginning of each New Year we are reminded that God has provided this for us in the person of Mary.

Just as Mary brought forth Christ and watched over him, so she watches over all those of us who are the children of God baptised into Christ, and as church, His body on earth. Paul reminds us today we are heirs to the Kingdom on that account.  This also makes us family and Mary is the mother of the family.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Doncaster

Like any other year, 2017 will be a year with challenges for us as individuals, as families, as the family of the diocese and indeed the wider world. Events in 2016 have made many of us less certain about the future.  Many parts of the world remain unstable often threatening the peace of places beyond their borders.  Today, once again the Church places the intention for world peace under the watchful gaze of Mary as we begin a new year.

The invitation and challenge at the beginning of a new year is, despite all that we see happening about us and in the world at large, to witness to the hope that is in us.

I would like to suggest five ways that we can do this.   These are not original to me.  They are received wisdom and I share them with you.

Be confident in faith for our faith is true!   During these days we are celebrating openly and boldly the truth that Christ came, that he is still with us and will come again.  We can and should be equally confident in celebrating our faith through the year.

Recognise your obligations to spread the Good News: At the opening homily of his Pontificate, St John Paul II told his listeners “Do not be afraid.  Open wide the doors to Christ”.  Pope Benedict took up this theme in the opening homily of his Pontificate too.  Speaking to the young, he said, “Do not be afraid of Christ.  He takes nothing away and gives you everything … yes, open wide the doors to Christ and you will find true life”.

And on Twitter last October, reaching out to millions, Pope Francis echoes once again those words of St John Paul II:

“Opening wide the doors to Christ” means not only opening your own heart to be touched by God, but also by sharing your personal experience of the life of Christ and the Church with others in whatever circumstances you find yourself.

Challenge evil: None of us is perfect.  Nonetheless we are called to challenge evil in all its forms:  injustice, oppression, lack of respect for human life from the womb to the tomb etc.  We must do what we can, however limited, to hold up the light of Christ where darkness abounds.

Reflect on what God has done for you: Luke tells us that Mary treasured all things that happened to her and pondered them in her heart and found it a source of strength.  Changing the world for the better takes energy.   Prayer and the Eucharist make it possible.

And finally, decide what you, personally, are going to do to open wide the doors for Christ in the coming year: Maybe it will only be the Lord Himself who will know what you choose to do and that is more than enough.


So, I pray the blessing in the Book of Numbers that we find in the first reading for you all.  Throughout 2017:

May the Lord bless and keep you

May the Lord let His face shine on you and be gracious to you

May the Lord uncover His face to you and bring you peace.

Bishop Ralph Closes Holy Door

The Holy Door at the Cathedral Church of St Marie has been officially closed by Bishop Ralph to mark the completion of the Year of Mercy.

The Cathedral’s South Door was designated the Holy Door after Pope Francis announced an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and broke with tradition by allowing bishops throughout the world to designate their own Holy Doors, instead of having only one Holy Door at St Peter’s in Rome.

Announcing the Year of Mercy last year, Pope Francis said, “The Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope.”

As part of the Jubilee, the Cathedral created its own pilgrimage route, starting at the Holy Door on Norfolk Row and visiting the Cathedral’s Lady, St Joseph’s, Blessed Sacrament and Mortuary Chapels, as well as the Shrines of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Pilgrims also prayed before the Rood Cross, added their names to the Pilgrimage Wall and blessed themselves with holy water taken from St Marie’s baptismal font as part of their personal pilgrimage.

Members of St Marie’s congregation and visitors had the opportunity to join communal pilgrimages before the Holy Door was closed on Sunday, 13 November.

The Holy Door of St Peter’s is normally sealed by mortar and cement from the inside so that it cannot be opened. The door is ceremoniously opened for pilgrims during Jubilee years designated by the Pope. Holy Years or Jubilees normally occur every 25 years, but a Pope can declare an extraordinary Jubilee when he deems it necessary.