Download - Birmingham Newsletter 19th August 2019

Welcome - All the ACTA Steering Team send greetings to all our members and supporters. Please forward this to friends and family. If you have items for inclusion in the next newsletter in a few months please email Jean at                                                                                

2019 ACTA National Conference which will be in Manchester on 12th October. The title is  Imagining the Church of the future, led by the inspiring international teacher, author and spiritual leader, Diarmuid O’Murchu. 

It’s on Saturday 12 October 2019 at King’s House Conference Centre, King's Church 

Sidney Street, Manchester  M1 7HB    Registration will be 10.30 for 11.00 start. Finish 4.00pm. Tea and coffee provided. As the venue is expensive we can’t include food this year so please bring a packed lunch. The cost is £20. As usual, all under 25’s can attend free.  To book please go to


Warm congratulations on behalf of all our members to two remarkable ACTA women, both celebrating their 50th anniversary of religious life this year: Sister Margaret Walsh of St Chad’s Sanctuary for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and Sister Anna O’Connor, the Vicar for Religious in the Birmingham Archdiocese. Both Margaret and Anna richly deserve our gratitude and love and prayers for the amazing, wonderful work they do. 


ECCLESIAL ETHICS – an ACTA SYMPOSIUM at the Margaret Beaufort Institute in Cambridge:  STOP PRESS!

Following our 2018 Cardiff conference, our speaker Dr Anna Abram, the Principal of the Margaret Beaufort Institute hosted an ACTA  day symposium on Thursday March 28th, on Ecclesial Ethics.   ACTA members from around England and Wales, with a wide variety of professional backgrounds, met Dr Abram’s team consisting of herself, a fellow senior academic Dr Amy Daughton, an academic priest Fr Liam Hayes and the Bishop of Brentwood, Bishop Alan Williams.   This was the beginning of collaborative work to draw up a Code of Ecclesial Ethics for the Church. 

The Margaret Beaufort Institute has in the last few months secured the support of the CBCEW to set up a Centre for Ecclesial Ethics, with its own Director, within the institute. It will be launched in January 2020. ACTA’s involvement will continue. 

If you are new to ACTA or if you were unable to travel to Cardiff to hear Dr Anna Abraham’s paper on ecclesial ethics, but would like to read it, please email and I will forward it to you and keep you in touch with developments of this initiative.


Volunteers needed 


St Chad’s Sanctuary for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Based in central Birmingham, St Chad’s Sanctuary offers hospitality and practical support to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.   It provides for large numbers – sometimes as many as 200 in one day – of asylum seekers and refugees. This includes providing clothes, food, welfare information and English classes.   Activities include learning English through song, art workshops, games and a Conversation Café, which help people develop their language skills in a relaxed and friendly setting. St Chad’s Sanctuary also runs learning sessions for families and children who are asylum seekers and organises excursions during the summer holidays.  St Chad’s Sanctuary is open most weekdays during term time, from 10:30am to 3:00pm. Many ACTA members are already involved – please think about helping! phone Sr Margaret or Abi at 0121 233 3127

The Sandwell Churches’ Link is running ecumenical groups for a variety of projects for social action on poverty – they are associated with the Church Urban Fund, specialising in homelessness and shelter work. They would love to have more Catholics working with them. Their coordinator is Rosie Edwards:


The Black Country Urban Industrial Mission (BCUIM) -  a team of chaplains from a number of Christian churches offering support to businesses and their employees through regular visits to workplaces in the Black Country. Led by Revd Bill Mash, Diocesan Officer for Mission in the Economy, the team seek to connect the church with the economy of the area. In communities of rich diversity, they are there for people of all faiths and none. Bill trains workplace chaplains – it’s work that our Archdiocese supports – but apparently there are very few Catholics involved – with a notable exception being of one of our ACTA members who does this work in Coventry!  Bill is based in Wolverhampton and would be delighted to hear from you.       07714 103007       or 01902 710407

If you are volunteering for a charity that needs more helpers email to have its details included in our next newsletter.

LIVING THEOLOGY- early warning for diaries-

Last summer’s Jesuit-led course in Birmingham was a great success – plans are underway for next year. The date will be MAY 16th-17th at St Paul’s Convent in Selly Park, 


WOMEN WORD SPIRIT is a network of/for women interested in theology, ministry, liturgy and spirituality. 

They publish a quarterly journal on a range of topics. Members and subscribers may be from a Catholic or other background, and some meet locally. Men are welcome to be subscribers too.  For more information, please contact                   


Prof TINA BEATTIE, member of ACTA and distinguished theologian is one of the leaders of Catholic Women Speak. 

Their mission is to bring Catholic Women’s voices into dialogue with others in the Catholic Church, with those churches and traditions, and with the wider society, in order to participate in a deeper richer understanding of the Catholic tradition and its relevance for our times. It’s worth looking them up. https://catholicwomenspeak.                                             


ACTA Membership

Thank you for your continuing support of ACTA. Please help us expand our membership. Please tell people about the website  and invite them to meetings. They don’t have to come to meetings at all to be a member. See Please email me if someone tells you they didn’t hear from ACTA despite being a member. Some members forget to tell us when they have changed their email address, and they can lose contact with us.

2019 – 2020 Diary

Sept. 29th 2019  Married Priests – one person, two vocations.                    Chris McDonnell  who spoke to ACTA about Thomas Merton, is coming to talk about married clergy.  Since the movement began in the ‘70’s, the crisis in vocations to the priesthood has given rise to a rapidly changing age profile of serving priests which is reflected in the closure or amalgamation of parishes. This is now an active issue in many dioceses. This affects us all.   At St Mary’s Parish Centre, Vivian Road, Harborne, B17 0DN. Start: 1.30 (tea/coffee) for 2, finish 4.00.

Possibly October 20th     How can we have an accountable Church? David McLoughlin & Annie Parry ran an open forum on this topic on June 30th.  This ‘have your say’ opportunity was a great success and the meeting asked for another similar opportunity to continue the discussion. The date is not yet confirmed. Information to follow asap by email.

November 17th  2019     Values, Gifts and Struggles, including dementia – older people in our Church: Pippa Bonner speaks about issues of ageing and faith from her wide experience in hospice work, especially in running a bereavement service. St Mary’s Parish Centre, Vivian Road, Harborne, B17 0DN. Start: 1.30 (tea/coffee) for 2, finish 4.00.


February 23rd 2020  Peacebuilding and Reconciliation  speaker to be confirmed.   St Mary’s Parish Centre, Vivian Road, Harborne, B17 0DN. Start: 1.30 (tea/coffee) for 2,  finish 4.00.


April 26th    The Differences between Gospel Accounts :                    Dr Joseph O’Hanlon, the writer of our weekly online ACTA scripture commentaries.  At St Mary’s Parish Centre, Vivian Road, Harborne, B17 0DN. Start: 1.30 (tea/coffee) for 2, finish 4.00.


May 16th-17th:  Living Theology with the Jesuits at Selly Park Convent 


June 28th  The Role of Women in the Church – what it was, what it is and what it could be….Dr Amy Daughton, University of Birmingham Theology Department. At St Mary’s Parish Centre, Vivian Road, Harborne, B17 0DN. Start: 1.30 (tea/coffee) for 2, finish 4.00.


Mid- July  ACTA retreat:  the Steering Group would appreciate your feedback about whether this is an inconvenient time of year to be holding a retreat. If we decide to hold one at St Paul’s Convent, we need to have a good number of people interested before we book such a special – and large – venue. Please email

September 13th or 20th tbc  A Talk about Saint Oscar Romero – with guest speaker to be confirmed    . At St Mary’s Parish Centre, Vivian Road, Harborne, B17 0DN. Start: 1.30 (tea/coffee) for 2, finish 4.00.


For national ACTA information, see ACTA website

For local news please contact the Coordinator                              


  Have you had time to check our weekly SCRIPTURE COMMENTARY on the ACTA website?  An excellent way to prepare in advance for the Sunday Mass readings. Dance of the Merrymakers 


We are very fortunate to have one of the country’s leading scripture scholars Prof. Joseph O’Hanlon writing about the Mass Lectionary readings for each Sunday. Joseph is a priest, 

a member of Nottingham ACTA and is the Vice-Chair of the ACTA National Leadership Team. His writing is eminently readable and relevant. He has also written several most enjoyable books.  Find Joseph’s commentaries on the front page of the ACTA website



Sr Darryll Candy who has been our local ACTA treasurer for the last few years has retired now. She has left Birmingham to live in community with her Sisters at Keynsham. Darryll is our very good friend and is still in touch. The Steering Team are most grateful to her for all her work for ACTA and for her invaluable friendship and wisdom! We’ll miss her at our regular meetings but we can all catch up with her at the National Conference in October.


Thank you for supporting ACTA. 


God bless and love, from Jean Riordan and all the Steering Team- Cathy Wattebot, Anna O’Connor, Cynthia Deeson, David McLoughlin, Moira Hobbs, David Blower, Jonathan Holden and Christine Lewis.