News & Photos
Highlights of parish life in Houghton Regis
Today marks the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine war in numbers: 8.1 million refugees fled Ukraine - 5.4 million people were driven from their homes (internally displaced) - 17.6 million people in Ukraine needing humanitarian aid - 8,006 confirmed civilian deaths - Around 9,000 Ukrainian troops killed - Around 200,000 Russian troops killed - Over 65,000 suspected war crimes reported.
Figures from The Independent (24 Feb 2023)
Can you help? Even small acts of love and compassion can alleviate the sufferings of others. Visit our website to find out about our collection of good and funds for Ukraine. We need: Blankets, Winter Clothes, Tents, Sleeping Bags, Waterproof Gear, Long Life Food, First Aid Essentials, Medicines and Medical Supplies. Funds raised so far have been transferred to the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (Luton). Cash donations should be clearly marked "Ukraine".
The year opened with a celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, with our friends at Holy Cross Church on 1 January; we welcomed Katherine, a Reader-in-training, from Leighton Buzzard on placement with us for a month; an image of Our Lady was installed at St Thomas' Church (Our Lady of Lowry Drive?); and the weekly Thomas Whitehead Academy gathering at All Saints' resumed on Tuesdays with Stef and Lindsay joining Fr Diego in leading worship.
As Accession Day approached, Fr Diego and parish volunteers went hunting for "Treebilees" (Jubilee Trees) to be planted in the churchyard.
On Accession Day we marked the beginning of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee by planting six treebilees in the churchyard.
See more about that occasion here.
Bell-ringers from Oxford University visited All Saints' on their ringing tour; we planted bare-root roses on the churchyard access paths; care homes visiting resumed after months of severe restrictions.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, we collected money, food, clothing, medications, and first aid goods for the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (Luton Branch). The generosity of local people has been amazing!
Holy Week and Easter celebrations took place in April. We welcomed the Rev Tim Hines as our preacher on Palm Sunday.
See more about Palm Sunday here;
and about Good Friday here.
The Platinum Jubilee weekend brought joy and community spirit across the town with so many lovely events organised to mark the historic milestone.
See more about our celebrations here.
June also brought around the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the day when we give special thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ we receive at Mass. It was a great joy to mark the occasion with Sung Mass, Procession, Benediction, and refreshments.
See more about Corpus Christi here.
Over the summer we welcomed many a number of weddings at All Saints', we took part in town events, and Fr Diego celebrated the 10th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
September was marked by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Accession of King Charles III. A book of condolences was opened at the Parish Church and we hosted a number of services to pray for the repose of the soul of our late Queen and for the reign of the new King.
See more about the Solemn Requiem here
and about the Commemoration Service here.
Autumn saw maintenance works carried out at the Parish Church and the initial works to set up a tryptic above the high altar in memory of Father Colin Gay, former Honorary Assistant Priest of Houghton Regis.
Christmas preparations got underway with volunteers organising a wonderful Christmas Fayre and Advent services.
Snow day in Houghton Regis, see here.
Carols by Candlelight, see here.
2022 has been a whirlwind of a year that brought us many blessings, but also challenges and our town community faced great sorrows.
For all the graces, blessings, joy, and comfort we have received from God over the past twelve months, let us thank and praise the Lord!
We gather this evening, people from all walks of life, to honour and pay tribute to the lives of those who have died. We are here because in one way or another, their death affects us all. We come so that we may bring comfort to the family and friends, as we stand with them in their pain and grief.
We come to renew our trust in God who has said: “I will not fail you or desert you” (Heb 13:5), and to stand together in our shock and brokenness.
We come to say this is not what Houghton Regis is known for, nor do we want it to be in the future, as together we seek peace and reconciliation, justice and hope.
Reading - Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Father, we lift up to God the families caught up in this, those who are frightened, and we pray for peace into the community acknowledging the trauma this incident has caused. Bless those who mourn with the comfort of your love that they may face each new day with hope and the certainty that nothing can destroy the good that has been given. May their memories become joyful, their days enriched with friendship, and their lives encircled by your love.
Loving God, you call us to turn our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. Begin your work of transformation in all whose lives are overshadowed by knife crime, replacing violence with peace, grief with comfort, fear with your perfect love.
Eternal God, we pray for unity, love, and peace to drive our thoughts, actions, and words. Where our communities are broken, send your Holy Spirit to heal, and show us how we can join in your great work of reconciliation, as you mend and restore all things.
We make these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
In the Bible we are told, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) Today of all days, light can feel quite distant. It is easy to be here, and to think that death has won. But the Bible tells us that love is stronger than death, because God is love.
Maybe this evening, even in the shadow of such pain, grief, and brokenness, our most powerful response, is to live our lives as people of peace, hope, joy and love. And so in a symbolic, defiant act, against the evil that has happened, I invite you to break your glow stick, light a candle, turn on your phone torch as together we let light shine in this darkness, and say that no more, will darkness overcome it.
Glowsticks are lit
Reading - Matthew 5:3-19
Jesus said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Lord of light, we pray that unity may prevail in our town. Help us to be instruments of Your peace. Help us to come together to resolve the issues that affect us all.
We pray for our community leaders, officials, teachers and emergency services. May you bless them with wisdom, so they be thoughtful in their decisions and listen to the voices of the community.
We pray that our schools will be a safe, positive community for our students.
Today, we stand together as one. We call for an end to the violence and aggression in our town that causes division, despair and death. We long for a shared future where our homes and our streets are safe places again. We declare that the power of love and forgiveness is stronger than the power of fear, violence, and revenge. We will each play our part. We will not be afraid. Today we choose to believe in hope.
We make these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
let us bring our personal prayers to God
As children of the same heavenly Father,
we have the confidence to say together,
All: Our Father,
who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
A minister gives the Blessing,
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always
Go in the peace of Christ.
All: Thanks be to God.
Tithe Farm Road remains closed until 8pm. People may stay around in quietness.
If anyone wishes to speak to church representatives after or for prayer, they can.
The tragic events that have claimed two victims and have devastated the lives of several families in our town happened as we were preparing to celebrate Remembrance Sunday, the solemn time when we stop as a nation to commemorate those who have given their lives for our freedom and livelihood. In the morning, as we gathered at All Saints’ Parish Church, we listened to the words of Jesus saying to his followers “You are my friends if you do what I command you… I have called you friends” (John 15:14-15).
Two commands of Jesus are found in the story of his arrest. In the four gospels we are told that as an armed, angry mob bent on violence came to arrest the Lord, Saint Peter pulled out his sword and struck one of the assailants. In this moment Jesus replied to him, “Put down your sword!” (John 18:11), and “Enough of this!” (Luke 22:51). What may seem passing words of Jesus, the “Jesus thing to say”, are in fact more than that. They are commands to one of his friends and, by extension, they are commands to us all who strive to follow Him.
Put down your sword!
Enough of this!
There are laws to deter and protect our society from awful events like this, and laws that bring to justice those who perpetrate them. We also have the commands from the gospel. But rules, from the state or from God, can only go so far. As one of Macklemore’ songs points out, “No law's gonna change us. We have to change us”. We need a change. We need to change, as individuals and as a community, and Jesus offers us a model to work towards.
When we look at the story in Saint Luke’s gospel, we see Jesus’ distinct sense of frustration at the violence that is engulfing Him, but in this frustration the Lord does something extraordinary; “the Jesus thing to do”. He touches the assailant who had been wounded by his disciple and he heals him. Jesus intentionally reaches out; He touches one of those who wanted Him dead and makes him whole.
Jesus points out that the only way out of cycles of violence is through kindness. We see this elsewhere in the Scriptures where it says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
So, as we hold in prayer before God all those caught up in Sunday’s violent incident, let us listen to the Lord Jesus who, calling us friends, says to each of us to put down our weapons (not just physical ones!); to work to heal our community from anger, resentment, aggressive attitudes, and desire for violence; to embody kindness towards everyone.
Father Diego Galanzino
Priest-in-Charge of Houghton Regis