Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
As the new school year begins, I want to take this opportunity to assure you of my prayers and best wishes for the year ahead. I know that returning to school this year comes with its worries and concerns for many people and that things may seem strange to begin with.I hope though that the beginning of the term will also be a time of joy and excitement as friends and colleagues are reunited.
For some of you, staff and pupils alike, this will be the first day in a new school, an important occasion in your lives, full of new hope and challenges. However, I know that there will be some sadness that the time you spent in your previous schools will have come to an end without the celebration you may had hoped for.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone, but some people have suffered its effects more directly. As we now to look to the future, let us take time to pray for all those who have died and those who mourn for them, for the sick, for healthcare workers, for priests and deacons caring for the sick, for the scientists working to find a vaccine, and for those who govern our country. Let us pray, too, for the many people and families who are experiencing uncertainty or hardship as a result of the pandemic.
During the first few months of the pandemic, it was wonderful to see and hear so many people expressing their gratitude to NHS staff and key-workers each Thursday evening. Throughout the country, a Mass was offered in a different Cathedral each week, including Leeds Cathedral, to pray for all healthcare staff. One of the symbols associated with this is expression of thanks is the rainbow; it is still present in many windows across the country. The meaning of this symbol for us has its origins in the Bible. In the story of Noah’s Ark, after the flood subsided, God placed the rainbow in the sky as a sign of his faithful love and care. When we see the symbol of the rainbow, or even an occasional rainbow in the sky, let us remember that in all our worries and sufferings, the loving care of God our Father will always be there to support us and that his love is reflected in the ways inwhich we love and serve each other.
As this new academic year begins, we place ourselves, with all our hopes, with all our concerns, into God’s hands, and renew our trust in his love for us. I pray that this year will bring many blessings and much happiness to you all. Seize every opportunity that is given to you to learn, to be kind, to forgive, to make friends, to pray and to grow closer to the Lord Jesus. I will keep you all in my prayers and I ask you, please, to pray for me.
With every blessing,
Marcus Stock Bishop of Leeds