Welcome to St Vincent's!
Whether you are new to the area, a Catholic visitor, from another Christian Church, from another faith, or have none at all; we want you to know that you are most welcome here. We'd like you to enjoy your visit and find a time of peace and some quiet.
These notes are designed to help you be comfortable with your visit; we also try to explain what you see around you on the Church Fittings page.
If you are here for a service - please ask for a service sheet (if you didn't see one at the entrance) - they are available for our regular Sunday Masses and for special occasions such as weddings and funerals. You may also download the Order of Mass, which is the basic sequence of Mass in England and Wales.
What do Catholics believe?
With all other mainstream Christians, we believe that God created us to love us, and for us to love Him. We believe Jesus Christ to be God Himself who, because of His love, became man to suffer the consequence of our wrong-doing. By accepting Him as our Lord & Saviour, we are set free from the condemnation that we deserve. Because of this we pray the family prayer - The Lord's prayer of 'Our Father' - and we receive the Holy Spirit of God to give us the power to live a life worthy of God's love.
Incidentally the name Jesus means "God saves" ('Jesus' is the same as 'Joshua' in Hebrew) and Christ means "the Anointed one" (which is the same as 'Messiah' in Hebrew.)
We also believe that, with all Christians who have gone before and yet to come, we are God's family who are called to pray for one another and who can ask one another to pray for us. We also believe that God wants this message of His love to be spread among all mankind.
What is the 'Mass'?
The main Catholic Service is the 'Mass', which consists of 2 parts:
The first, after coming before God and admitting our unworthiness, comprises a series of scripture readings (Usually 2 separated by a psalm, except on Sundays when there are three.) These are given from the lectern on the left of the altar and are usually read by a parishioner.
These may be followed by a homily - a short reflection by the priest. After this are 'bidding prayers' where we put the needs of the community and of the world before God.
The second part of the Mass is a time when we recall and celebrate the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper with his disciples. Bread and wine are brought to the altar, blessed and 'consecrated' - they are changed into the living Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and offered to God the Father, by Christ Himself, by the priest, and by the faithful, during which action we believe that Jesus is truly present on the altar offering Himself to God the Father. Through His death, we recall that He has made us worthy to offer ourselves and then receive Him in the form of unleavened bread & wine as we come forward for communion.
If you are not a Catholic, we regret that we cannot invite you to receive communion, but anyone is welcome to come forward, join the queue for communion and receive a simple blessing; please indicate this by approaching the person giving out communion with your arms folded across your chest.
Then, at the end of Mass, we are sent out as God's representatives (the latin word 'missa' from which the word 'Mass' is derived, means 'sent') to do God's work in our lives.
Sit, Stand or kneel?
The general rule is that you do what you are most comfortable with.
Coming into church, before entering a pew, we kneel upon one knee for a moment facing towards the altar. This act of reverence is called a "genuflection" and is an act of faith in and worship of Jesus Christ the Son of God present in the tabernacle upon the altar. Non-Catholics need feel no obligation to perform this same act of reverence unless they already believe in the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Neither do we expect non-believers to sit, stand or kneel with the rest of the congregation.
However we do ask that you respect our Church as the House of God and try to avoid causing distraction to those, who are praying and participating in the Mass.