Our Church Our Lady & St.Cuthberts RC Church
Church Hill
Crook
County Durham DL15 9DN
Tel: 01388 762724
A liturgical journey

Christmas is celebrated in great style, the Men and Women of the parish give the church a special clean, the floor is washed, the dust brought down (before the floor is washed - usually! ! !)

The Flower Arrangers come out in force with one or two extras - although everyone is welcome to help and join in. On Christmas Eve the church is busy with putting up banners - some of which go back well over one hundred years and represent the Our Lady, the Sacred Heart and the principal saints. Our new banners both on the Ambo and hanging at the front of church have been crafted by talented parishioners.

The Christmas theme of new life and light coming into the world, is established by dozens of candles, lots of greenery and flowers and Father bringing the image of the baby Jesus as the choir and congregation sing Silent Night in Candle light. The Crib (Donated by Father Lowrie twenty five years ago and carved by an Italian Sculptor) is blest, all the church lights are switched on and we begin Mass with one of the great carols of Christmas. The Morning mass is family and child centered, with bidding prayers read by the youngsters, presents blest and singing in front of the Crib.

Christmas tide and the Epiphany continue to be celebrated with great gusto and enjoyment - but Lent never seems far away. Our Liturgy Group meets well before Lent to plan any themes, which the Bishop or we we, feel important. There is always a Special Lenten Newsletter produced with details of all the services, talks, and events - such as the Passover Meal and very importantly the Holy Week Services. Ash Wednesday is well attended and again during Lent we have our own printed mass sheet with all the hymns, psalms and readings. We also use it as a tool for reflection with Lenten thoughts and prayers and selections from the Stations of the Cross reprinted on the back page. Churches together have a weekly meeting and discussion group and there is a Prayer followed by Soup session on Friday lunchtime at the Salvation Army Citadel. On Friday evenings the parish meet for Stations of the Cross with different groups taking the lead each week. In the final week of Lent we usually have a Penitential Service.

Holy Week and the Triduum is truly celebrated in all three parishes of Our Lady Immaculate & St. Cuthbert's, Crook, St. Thomas of Canterbury, Wolsingham and St. Joseph's, Tow Law. The Mass on Palm Sunday and the Good Friday Service is held in all three Churches, but for the first time, Holy Thursday was celebrated at St. Joseph's, Tow Law. The services were all well attended, involving every section of the community; Readers, Servers, Choir Welcomers, Church Cleaners, Sacristans, Flower Arrangers all work to make the services meaningful.

For Holy Saturday and our Easter Vigil the church of Our Lady Immaculate & St. Cuthbert's, Crook is wonderfully decorated and the banners put in place. The Service of Light takes place in the darkened church with the readings, the Blessing of the Easter candle and the Procession of Light heralding our celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord in a most inspiring and uplifting way.

The effects of Easter last with us up to Whit Sunday with the coming of the Holy Spirit. This year we had several young people making their confirmation and a number of children making their First Holy Communion. Catechists including the Sisters who serve in the Parish carry out the preparation. The programmes both start months earlier and seek to give a deeper and long-term meaning to the receiving of the sacraments.

Each week at the 10.30.am. Sunday Mass the Children from 3yrs to 11yrs is offered their own special liturgy from the start of Mass to the Offertory -not a crèche but learning and thinking time for the youngsters at their own level.

Throughout the year we celebrate the special feasts and events of the parish

  • The Blessing of the Graves on the Sunday after the Garden Fete.
  • Mass for the Sick.
  • A yearly recollection of those who have died during November.
  • Harvest with Churches Together.
  • Times affection in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

It may be thought that we are not as a parish at the cutting edge of liturgy - we are lacking a group of instrumentalists, we use the traditional hymn book; our approach might appear to be sticking to the tried and tested and perhaps not taking enough risks. We do need to keep watching and learning from others - there is a great challenge in keeping young people involved and committed to the church.

We are lucky in having Priests who guide us and encourage us. Nevertheless as we reflect on what has taken place in the last thirty or forty years, parishioners can see that we have tried to be open to new ideas and initiatives. We have Special Ministers who visit the sick and house bound every Sunday; we compose the Bidding prayers for mass each Sunday; have a group of dedicated readers; altar servers ( of both sexes ); talented folks who create an atmosphere of welcome and thoughtful contemplation with flowers each week;

Parish Photo

Sacristans; Children's Liturgy leaders; a group of Singers who at the drop of a hat can lead the psalms or sing a solo piece to capture a moment in the life of the Parish or the Nation with music that ranges from ancient to modern.
We have much to be thankful for and yet we have much to learn - we ask for God's continued help in our liturgical mission.

Outreach

In 1975, in his Evangelii Nuntiandi Pope Paul VI stated:

"The question of how to evangelise is permanently relevant because the methods of evangelising vary according to the different circumstances of time, place and culture and because thereby present a certain challenge to our capacity for discovery and adaptation. On us........rest the responsibility for reshaping with boldness and wisdom, but in complete fidelity to the content of evangelisation, the means that are most suitable and effective for communication the gospel message to the men and women of our times."

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Parish Photo
Bishop Ambrose greets parishioners after a recent confirmation ceremony.