News

General announcements

Last updated:  11 July 2020

Restarting Mass

Dear all,
You will perhaps already be aware of the fact that the Scottish government will allow the resumption of religious services from 15th July.
With this in mind, I had hoped to resume the celebration of public Masses from Sunday 19th July, however because of the many rules and regulations which are being imposed it is not viable to celebrate a Sunday Mass in any of the churches.
Some of the rules which we have to abide by, and which will make it too difficult to celebrate Mass in our churches are as follows:
The 2 meter self-distancing rule
The need to book online before coming to a service
The need to register your details if you do attend, (name, telephone number, address).
The need to deep clean the premises before each Mass and, after each Mass
The need for all attendees to wear a face mask
There are more!

I do intend celebrating two outdoor Masses every Sunday, (and weather permitting), in the grounds of St. Mary's, Stonehaven. The times and details will be included in the newsletter which will be sent to you shortly.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes and God bless,

Fr. Mark

St Mary’s Blairs Prayer Trail

Everything you need should be in the box beside the front door along with hand gel to use before opening the box and wipes for cleaning what you have used afterwards. If you prefer to bring your own ‘equipment’, for each person, you will need:
  • A gift tag
  • A dark coloured sharpie pen/permanent marker
  • A 6 inch/15cm piece of string
  • A piece of paper
After collecting what you need from the box beside the front door, follow the path up the hill past St Joseph to the sycamore tree by the notice board/gravel path where you will find prayer station number 1.
From here find prayer station number 2 at the statue of St Joseph.
From here, follow the path through the graveyard to the back of the church where you will find prayer station number 3 on the church back door.
From here, go back to the graveyard, turn first left and follow the path until you get to the cross then turn to face it for prayer station number 4.
From here, go back through the hedge on the right to make your way to the statue of Jesus on the cross at Calvary for prayer station number 5.
From here, walk out through the gateway and up the drive to the small gravel path, follow this to find the prayer station number 6 on your right before the sun dial.
From the sundial, turn to see the final prayer station, number 7 at the big fir tree.
Keep safe, God Bless, See you soon!

Mary's Meals - Support our beautiful mission to feed hungry children

I am deeply moved by the way church leaders across the UK have embraced technology to reach out to their congregations at this time. 
You have inspired us to create a series of special messages especially for churchgoers. These short films will include updates on how Mary’s Meals is feeding hungry children through this pandemic and personal reflections on how faith is bringing hope and comfort.
The first message, shared in April, came from our founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow. I am pleased to now share the second message, from Mary’s Meals' leaders in India and Kenya.
Watch our new message here
I hope you will continue to spread the word about our mission by sharing these messages during your services, on your websites or social media. 
Please get in touch if you need this film in another format or to register your interest in hosting a talk from one of our volunteers when it is safe to do so.
Until we can meet again, please know that you and your congregation are in our prayers. Thank you for all your support.
May the Lord bless and keep you,

Daniel Adams
UK Executive Director, Mary’s Meals

[12 June 2020]

March for Life

This year’s March for Life will be a livestreamed event which you can watch online this Saturday. You can share the event on Facebook or just sign up to watch it here where you will also find the schedule for the day.
Dr Alveda King, niece of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, will be speaking.
Shawn Carney, CEO of 40 Days for Life is speaking. 40 Days for Life has seen, 17,226 lives saved from abortion, 206 abortion workers quit that industry and 107 abortion centres close down, including some in England.
Lord Alton will say a few words.
Amy will give her testimony “My abortion was harder to get over than the rape.”
Three Bishops are involved on the day, including one offering Mass.
There will be a Pro-Life Leaders quiz.
There will be other talks, music and lots more throughout the day.
There will be separate livestream for children and young people.
If you weren’t at the March for Life in 2018 you can still see Clare’s, the founder of the Good Counsel Network, speech in Parliament Square here:

Good Counsel Network, speech in Parliament Square


Update from Fr Mark

Dear all,

We have received notification from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland that all churches will have to be closed for the period of the current lockdown.  This is a very sad outcome but obviously a necessary one.

Please note therefore that you will no longer be able to visit the church for prayer, and that Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will not take place.

Please keep in touch via email or telephone and if you have any need at all please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes and God bless,

Fr. Mark

[24 March 2020]

Letter from Fr Mark - Covid-19 suspension of Mass at Blairs

Dear all,

Just to let you know that the Bishop's Conference of Scotland have suspended the celebration of all public liturgy until further notice. Funerals, weddings and baptisms will only be celebrated with immediate family members present.

The last public celebration of Mass will be tomorrow, 19th March, The Feast of St. Joseph, after which I will be celebrating Mass in private.

What this means for Sunday and the coming weeks is that you are under no obligation to attend Mass on Sunday but please remember: the Lord has commanded us to keep the Sabbath holy therefore it is possible for everyone to do something extra on a Sunday - such as spending more time in family prayer, reading the readings of the day together etc.

This weekend I will be at every Mass centre at the usual Mass times to let those who are not linked by email know about the changed circumstances. I will be celebrating a 'private Mass' in each of the locations and those who do turn up are welcome to remain for that celebration.

Subsequent Sunday Masses I will celebrate 'privately' in the church in Stonehaven at 6.30pm (Vigil Mass), and Sunday at 11.30am.  The church doors will be unlocked.

Then after, I will be celebrating the week day Masses 'privately' in the church and at the usual time.  The doors will be unlocked.

It is also my intention to have the church open during the week for individuals to come in to pray privately.  I will inform you of the times via the newsletter which will be published at the end of the week.

Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions.

With all best wishes and God bless,

Fr. Mark

[18 March 2020]

Benemerenti medal award

Pope Francis this year awarded the Benemerenti medal for long and exceptional service to the Church to Pat Pritchard. Fr Mark presented the medal to Pat at the end of Mass on the 10th of February, catching her completely unprepared.


[16 June 2019]

Diocesan Messages

Last updated: 13 June 2020

Bishop Hugh's Pastoral reflection for the feast of the Body & Blood of Christ

Pastoral reflection for the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ from Bishop Hugh


Bishop's Conference - Pastoral Letter

Link to the Bishop's Conference Pastoral Letter dated 5 June 2020.

[6 June 2020]

14th of May as a day of prayer, fasting and works of charity

[Here for the original letter]

Vatican City, 6 May 2020

Dear Friends,
In compliance with the initiative of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity and the appeal by Pope Francis on 3 May 2020, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue invites believers of all religions and people of goodwill to spiritually unite themselves in a Day of prayer, fasting and works of charity, to implore the divine to help humanity in overcoming the pandemic caused by coronavirus.
This day of prayer fixed for 14 May, as is understandable so as to prevent the risks of contagion, does not include any common public manifestation but rather will be lived by each one in his/her own interiority, placing himself/herself before God and his/her conscience.
We shall however be united in living the universal values of prayer, fasting and acts of charity as "a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul" (Document of Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together). This is not, surely, a time for indifference, selfishness, divisions, because the whole world is suffering and must unite itself in facing the pandemic (cfr. Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Easter Message, 12 April, 2020).
Grateful as we are for your kind attention, we send our cordial greetings.
Yours sincerely,

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
President

Msgr. Indunil Janakaeatne Kodithuwakku Kanganamalage
Secretary

[9 May 2020]

Message from Bishop Hugh

Communing Beyond Communion


[8 May 2020]

Letter from His Holiness Pope Francis

Letter to the faithful for the month of May 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.

For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.

I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.

Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist


Pope Francis

Message from Diocesan Finance Office

The present global pandemic is having a profound effect on everyone. It presents an enormous challenge to us all. That challenge is survival, survival in all sorts of ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially.
Apart from the very real difficulties of continuing sacramental and pastoral care, the Church also faces serious financial challenges, particularly as long as churches are closed and there are no public liturgies. In order to secure the future financial viability of parishes, a set of Interim Guidelines has been issued to all parishes by the Diocesan Trustees. I think it’s important to share some of the key points and extracts with you all.
For a number of weeks, the Diocesan finance team has been looking at the financial impact of the present restrictions on the Aberdeen Diocese and its parishes. There are many issues to be considered and it has been important to establish priority actions in a fast-changing situation. The most immediate priority is to ensure that all parishes have access to sufficient funds (cash) to meet existing and imminent commitments. The resulting recommendations have been agreed by the Diocesan Trustees and are consolidated in the Interim Guidelines mentioned above. Here are some of the key points of those guidelines.
Increasing Income
The most immediate task is to secure funds for all parishes and churches for the next 3 months. This is only a short period but it is as far as we can presently look ahead: we must be aware that the restrictions on public worship may continue for longer. The closure of the churches is expected to reduce weekly income by around 70% immediately. The remaining 30% is made up mostly of existing direct bank transfers, such as standing orders from parishioners. It is difficult to ask parishioners to give more to the Church at a time when many people’s own financial situation gives them cause for concern. Nonetheless it is important that parishioners continue to support their priests in any way they can.
Reducing Expenditure
The church needs to survive on about a third of its usual income. Efforts are being made to sustain income as best we can, but the other thing we need to do is to reduce expenditure at both Diocesan and parish level. In summary, all expenditure needs to be reduced to absolute essentials, for example utility charges (electricity, gas, water). What seemed essential a few weeks ago is perhaps not essential now. For example, planned expenditure on fabric issues for church property must be limited to compliance projects mandated by law or to modest repairs to prevent serious fabric deterioration. A limited number of ongoing projects have been sanctioned to continue where the funds have already been committed but all other projects have been deferred. It has also been necessary to place temporary restrictions on expenditure at the parish level.
Diocesan Action
As the financial position varies greatly between different parishes, the Diocese is setting up a Central Parish Support Fund to help those parishes which are already struggling financially. A number of sources of potential grant funding are being actively investigated.
At the end of this present crisis, we need to emerge strong enough to re-build, not only financially, but practically and pastorally. This means that we must not dip so deeply into our reserves that recovery is made extremely difficult, if not impossible. Also, the current volatile state of the financial markets is reflected in the reduced value of investments and their likely annual yield.
The opportunity to benefit from the Government Job Retention (Furlough) scheme for employers has been explored and is helpful in a few cases, as the UK Government will fund up to 80% of a furloughed employee’s salary. However, it is not applicable in every case because it cannot be used for anyone who is still doing any work for the parish or diocese, even from home.
I hope the above has given you some insight into the present financial situation for the diocese and the parishes. If there is anything more I could help with, please get in touch.

[18 April 2020]

Message from Bishop Hugh

Bishop Hugh, 29 March 2020


[29 March 2020]

Bishops Conference letter on Covid-19 measures

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In this time of trial we, the Bishops of Scotland, wish to send you a word of reassurance and encouragement. We are all facing much uncertainty, anxiety and an unpredictable future. This situation touches on every aspect of our lives, individually and collectively.

Sacred Scripture calls us repeatedly not to fear and to look to the help that comes to us from above.

We are called to support one another in every way we can, especially those who are most vulnerable, through age or underlying conditions. Even in the midst of any necessary “distancing” we must stand by each other.

We ask you to pray for the sick, those caring for them, for those in positions of responsibility with difficult decisions to make, indeed for our whole country and the entire human family.

Most of all, we are being asked to put our trust in the living God who has created everything to be and to flourish and whose providence guides the course of world events. We put our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and the true physician of our souls and bodies.

During this Lent, especially, let us all take the opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. As your bishops and with our priests and deacons, we assure you of our continuing commitment to your spiritual, pastoral and sacramental needs.

We want to maintain and foster the life of faith in every way we can, while also being informed by the advice and guidance of Government and health professionals. Over the centuries the Church has often been a source of comfort in times of trial and transformed sadness and fear into confidence and peace. We want the same to happen now.

Given the latest official advice to reduce the spread of Covid-19, we have taken the difficult decision, respecting the prudential judgement of each bishop, to suspend Holy Mass in public for the time being from Thursday 19th March, the feast of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, after all Masses. As pastors of the flocks entrusted to us, we are responding to an unprecedented crisis in modern times and assure all those whom we lead that this decision has not been taken without much prayer and discernment.

Priests will continue to celebrate Holy Mass in private with the particular intention of praying for those suffering from Covid-19 and for those who care for them.

However, our Churches will remain open for personal prayer and we would encourage parish priests to welcome individuals who seek consolation and encouragement from the Lord. We also ask our priests to be available for the reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion as and when they are needed, especially for the sick and housebound.

For the celebration of baptisms, funeral Masses and weddings we would ask that only close family are invited.

We wish to remain close to and with our priests who are on the front line of pastoral care, as we remain close to the Lord, sure of that victory of Christ we celebrate at Easter.
We encourage you where possible to access the live streaming of Holy Mass from the parishes in our country which have that facility.

Our celebration of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum may indeed be curtailed by this government advice and we will seek means of celebrating those most important three days of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil online so that they may be accessible in your own home. We will have the opportunity to be with one another in spirit and in prayer. Moreover, the Holy Father, Pope Francis will be celebrating the Sacred Triduum online from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and that celebration will unite us in prayer with all Catholics throughout the world.

We ask you to join with all the Churches in a National Day of Prayer this Sunday 22nd March, Mothering Sunday. It seems appropriate that as Catholics we pray together the Rosary, the prayer of our Blessed Mother Mary, at 12 noon, asking Her intercession for our country and our world in this time of need.

On this coming Sunday also we were due to have our collection for the SCIAF Lenten Appeal, and it would be good if we could still show our concern for the poorest in the world, even in our own time of need, by sending our donations to SCIAF or making them on-line to the SCIAF Wee Box Appeal at www.sciaf.org.uk.

As Government advice changes, we will update our guidance accordingly in the hope of restoring the public celebration of Mass. In the meantime, please ensure that no one feels abandoned in our communities and do what you can in practical terms to help those who are alone.

We entrust all of you, especially those already afflicted by the virus and all health care professionals, to the care of Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+ Hugh Gilbert
Bishop of Aberdeen, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

+ Leo Cushley
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh

+ Philip Tartaglia
Archbishop of Glasgow

+ Joseph Toal
Bishop of Motherwell

+ Stephen Robson
Bishop of Dunkeld

+ John Keenan
Bishop of Paisley

+ William Nolan
Bishop of Galloway

+ Brian McGee
Bishop of Argyll and the Isles

[18 March 2020]

Pastoral letter ahead of general election

General Election 2019

A letter from the Catholic Bishops of Scotland

This General Election presents us with an opportunity to elect an individual representative who reflects as closely as possible our beliefs. It allows us to revisit Catholic Social Teaching and to connect our voting to our Catholic faith. It can be a chance to proclaim the inherent dignity and value of every human being, made in the image and likeness of God, and to promote the common good.

In recent times, politics has become divisive, principally, though not exclusively, as a result of the EU referendum. Vigorous debate has sometimes spilled over into personal attacks and even acts of violence which are never acceptable.

Uncertain times ought to make us stop and reflect on the One who is Truth Himself. Turning to God in these difficult times is our only hope for true peace. During elections, a range of issues compete for our attention; we highlight some of them here so that we may reflect on them and raise them with parliamentary candidates.

Human Life

It is the duty of all of us to uphold the most basic and fundamental human right - the right to life. We should urge candidates to recognise human life from the moment of conception until natural death and to legislate for its protection at every stage, including protecting the unborn child, ensuring that both mother and child are accepted and loved.

We should remind our politicians that abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are, as the Church has consistently taught, always morally unacceptable. Decriminalisation of abortion unhappily paves the way towards a legal basis for abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth and politicians should be urged to resist it.

Our Governments should also promote a culture of life overseas, reversing the current practice of the UK Government to support anti-life initiatives, which might be described as ideological colonisation.

Marriage and the Family

Society relies on the building block of the family to exist. The love of man and woman in marriage and their openness to new life is the basic, fundamental cell upon which society is built. The wellbeing of society depends on the flourishing and health of family life and MPs and other legislators should respond to this with policies that create economic and fiscal support for married couples and families with children.

Poverty

Sadly, poverty continues to be a scourge for many at home and abroad. Too many people still struggle to make ends meet, homelessness is on the rise, and the two-child limit on tax credits is disproportionately affecting families of faith. This reality cannot and should not endure in our country in the twenty-first century. Reliance on food banks, particularly for families, is a telling criticism of a society that has forgotten its poor people in its midst.

Our concerns should also extend to maintaining and improving the UK's commitment to international development, which helps some of the poorest people in the world. Aid should not be used to support immoral practices such as those which compromise the basic right to life. Legislation in our country should also welcome refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, remove the inhumane policy of indefinite immigration detention, and provide for those people living in and around conflict zones while committing to working towards the peaceful resolution of conflict.

MPs should also commit the nation to responsible stewardship of the earth and all of its resources, and act on Pope Francis' call to be 'protectors of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.'

Freedom of Religion and Conscience

We believe that a creeping intolerance towards religious belief, including but not confined to Christianity, has become part of life in modern Britain. Certain politicians and citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to be true to their faith in an environment that tries to restrict religion to the private sphere. Our MPs should be urged to legislate for a liberal and tolerant society that is truly welcoming to all faiths and none.

Millions of people worldwide are persecuted for their beliefs. People of faith, including Christians, should be able to practise their faith freely and to bear witness to it in their lives without fear of prejudice, intolerance, abuse or violence. Candidates for Parliament should be committed to the right of people not to be forced to act against their conscience, and the next UK Government should campaign against religious persecution and intolerance around the world.

Nuclear Weapons and the Arms Trade

The use of any weapon that causes more than individual and proportionate harm to civilians is immoral and is rejected by the Church. The use of weapons of mass destruction is a serious offence against God and against humanity. While states are entitled to possess the means required for legitimate defence, this must not become an excuse for an excessive accumulation of weaponry which becomes a considerable threat to stability and freedom as well as a misuse of public funds that could serve to address the needs of the disadvantaged. The next UK Government ought to work actively and seriously towards elimination of the UK's nuclear arsenal, and the promotion of a more peace-oriented manufacturing industry, one that doesn't manufacture arms which fuel wars and instability across the world.

Finally, as we engage in this General Election, please pray for those who will be charged with representing the nation's interests in Parliament. May they be guided towards what is good and true; to the One who can bring true peace and freedom for all.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

+ Hugh Gilbert, President, Bishop of Aberdeen

+ John Keenan, Vice President, Bishop of Paisley

+ Brian McGee, Episcopal Secretary, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles

+ Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow

+ Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh

+ Joseph Toal, Bishop of Motherwell

+ Stephen Robson, Bishop of Dunkeld

+ William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway

[23 November 2019]

New parish priest from Pentecost, 4th June 2017

Fr George read out this letter from Bishop Hugh at Mass on Sunday 23rd April announcing that Fr Mark Impson would be appointed as the new dedicated parish priest for Blairs with effect from the 4th of June 2017. Bishop Hugh also announced that Deacon John would be handing over his role as parish administrator to Fr Mark, and that Fr Mark would be serving as the parish priest for both the parish of the Immaculate Conception at Stonehaven as well as St Mary's Blairs. Deacon John will continue to serve in the dioscese as the Chancellor and at the Inter-diocesan Tribunal.
[24 April 2017]