Dear parishioner

    Message No 60: 2nd May 2021


    Acts of the Apostles 9: 26-31, 17-19; Psalm 21; 1 John 3: 18-24; John 15: 1-8

    First Reading: not surprisingly when Saul - the former persecutor of the Christians - arrived in Jerusalem he was regarded with suspicion and fear. But Barnabas showed himself to be truly Christian, believing the best of Saul and not holding his past actions against him.

    Psalm: the end of the psalm the Lord quoted on the cross, which begins "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". The psalm which begins with a sense of desertion and uncertainty ends with a triumphant song of praise for the Lord’s mighty deeds.

    Second Reading: faith, truth and love all go together: and love is not just words or thoughts, but "something real and active".

    Gospel: previously in John the Lord had revealed Himself as the bread which sustains life. Now, in the metaphor of the vine - in which He compares Himself to the vine and His disciples to its branches - He makes Himself known as not only the sustainer but also the origin and source of true or real life, a life which can only be had by disciples from and in union with Him.

    ’Priest’s bubbles’
    Hitherto we have kept the priests in bubbles for Sunday Masses during the pandemic. It now seems timely to discontinue this; amongst other things it will enable me and Fr Paul to reconnect with parishioners in the three chapels, many of whom we have not seen for over a year. The Missa privata on Mondays and Tuesdays will also now be discontinued. Other COVID precautions remain in place for now.

    Thus today we welcome Fr Bryan Wells for the 9:15am Mass at St Thomas’s, and Mgr Matthew Dickens for the Otford Mass and the 11:15am Mass at St Thomas’s.

    Mary’s Month of May
    Before Mass at St Bernadette’s today (Sunday) the statue of Our Lady will be crowned, by one of the children.

    Bank Holiday Monday
    Holy Mass on Monday in St Thomas’s is at the Bank Holiday time of 12:00 midday. The Parish Office will be closed on Monday.

    Tuesday: National Day of Prayer for the victims and survivors of abuse
    The Bishops have chosen Tuesday of the 5th Week of Easter as the Day of Prayer for victims and survivors of Abuse. They chose this day as it is in a season of hope and new life. Please also pray for our parish Safeguarding officers: Sally Kelly, Theresa Hood, Margaret Briggs, and Ken Baines.

    Last call for Confirmation 2021
    Attention all those currently in Year 7 or above: registration for this year’s Confirmation Programme is now open. Register on line at where there is an outline of important dates. This is a proposed programme, and the dates may need to be altered due to the coronavirus. Once registered, we can keep you informed of any changes by email. Closing date: 7th May 2021.

    Advance Notice: Ascension Day (13th May)
    Holy Mass for this Holyday of Obligation (or it would be if the Obligation applied at the moment!) on Thursday 13th May:
    St Thomas’s: 8:00am (Latin), 12:00 noon, 8:00pm
    Holy Trinity, Otford: 10:00am
    St Bernadette’s, West Kingsdown: 11:00am St Joseph’s, Borough Green: 6:00pm.

    Advance Notice: Otford May Devotions
    On Sunday 16th May at 3:30pm. We have to avoid the usual procession and singing for COVID reasons, but we will still have May Devotions, including the Holy Rosary and crowning the statue of Our Lady. I shall also bless the new Rosary Garden.

    COVID stewards
    To retain public Masses we are very dependent on (and very grateful to) a small number of stewards in each church. They oversee the Test & Trace registration and the sanitising of hands on entry, ensure parishioners are seated a safe distance from each other, and disinfect the benches/chairs afterwards. We need some more stewards to spread the work load: if you can do this - some Sundays, not always - please volunteer; don’t wait to be asked.

    Most Holy Trinity, Otford
    There has been some confusion about the exact dedication of the church at Otford. I am pleased to report that Mgr Matthew Dickens has verified that it was dedicated (by Archbishop Michael Bowen on 31st May 1981) as ’The Most Holy Trinity, Otford’ and, as Diocesan Chancellor, he has issued a Certificate of Notification to this effect. So we don’t have to alter the external sign!

    Parish Men’s Group meetings
    Pope Francis in an Apostolic Letter (Patris corde) released on 8th December 2020 proclaimed a Year of Saint Joseph. The Holy Father wrote of the impact of COVID-19 and how it has helped us appreciate the importance of ordinary people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this they resemble Saint Joseph, "the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence," who nonetheless played "an incomparable role in the history of salvation."

    A group of men in the parish are proposing to arrange to meet during the month of May to discuss, prayer and discern how we might follow the lead of Saint Joseph more closely in serving the needs of those around us in our work, social, family and parish life. The first meeting, scheduled for the evening of Thursday 6th May at 8:00pm, will be held on Zoom and include sharing video content from a "That Man is You!" programme. All are welcome to join for the first meeting, or others to follow during May: please contact either Andrew La Trobe or Adrian Pinington for further details.

    SVP Second Collection
    The Second Collection on Palm Sunday for the parish SVP totalled £802.29. Thank you for your customary generosity. SVP will use the money to help people in need in this area and elsewhere.

    ’The Day of the Lord’
    The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement - ’The Day of the Lord’ - at their recent Plenary Meeting. The Archbishop has asked that it be shared as widely as possible with parishioners. (A copy accompanies this Message in an attachment to those registered to receive the Message by email).

    Webinar to address vaccine questions
    A Covid-19 vaccine confidence webinar has been organised for the faithful of the dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster, with the cooperation of Hertfordshire County Council and Hammersmith & Fulham Council, and other local authorities. It will take place on Saturday 15th May from 10:00am to 11:30am and will feature a panel of eminent medical experts led by Prof Kevin Fenton, Regional Director of Public Health London. The panel will share the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines. There will be an opportunity for participants to ask questions anonymously. To join the webinar: Zoom Link Passcode: 546617.

    The recording of a previous webinar, held prior to Easter, is available to view at: Vaccine Webinar.

    Please pray

    • for God’s help to end the pandemic;
    • that those who have been anxious about attending Mass or who have lost the habit of coming to church will reconnect with the sacraments and, especially, the Mass;
    • for all victims of sexual abuse and for all who work in safeguarding; for healing and reconciliation
    • for those who use the Food Banks in the area.

    St Roch, pray for us.
    St Joseph, pray for us.
    St Thomas of Canterbury, pray for us.
    St Bernadette, pray for us.
    St Edith of Kemsing, pray for us.

    Fr. David.

    Fr David Gibbons, KHS, Parish Priest of Sevenoaks
    12 Granville
    Sevenoaks01732 454177
    TN13 1ER


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