A Synodal Church in our Parish

Led by Jayne McFarlane and Becky Newton, our Synod Reps, we as a Parish submitted our Report in preparation for the International Synod of Bishops next year. As a starting point they have produced a sketch of the basic structures needed to keep the Parish alive and thriving and you can find these documents on our Synod page.

St Helen’s, Caerphilly – Synod 2021-22 Parish Report

Shortly before the pandemic the retirement of some members of the ageing Parish Council brought on its closure. In 2021 a ‘Parish development’ group was formed to discern the impact of the Pandemic, and the way forward after. When one member of this group was asked to be the Parish Synod Representative, the other Representative was co-opted, and the group morphed into a Synod Discernment Group, now working to take the process forward in the Parish.

This is the report that they have taken much time to create, please take an opportunity to have a look at our Synod Report.

Book of the month: The Caliph’s House

Last month our book club members read Dylan Thomas’ masterpiece Under Milk Wood, another book (play, sorry!) which went down well with everyone. This month we are delving into the world of travel writing and our selection for the month is The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah. It pipped Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” to the top position by one vote! If you’d like to join our book club, we’d love to see you (details below).

The blurb

In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader.

With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it.

Endlessly enthralling, The Caliph’s House charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble. As we follow Tahir on his travels throughout the kingdom, from Tangier to Marrakech to the Sahara, we discover a world of fierce contrasts that any true adventurer would be thrilled to call home.

What people are saying

“Tahir Shah’s highly readable account of moving his young family to Casablanca is…. an outrageously black comedy [written] with the straightest of poker faces.”—The Washington Post Book Review

“A wonderfully entertaining book – Tahir Shah’s talent is to make you 
laugh while you are admiring the insights given by his most original 
and lively view of life.”—Doris Lessing

“Reminiscent of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.”—Entertainment Weekly

Our next book club

Please remember that anyone can join our Book Club. The next one will be held on Tuesday 3rd August at 7.30pm. At this event we will discuss The Caliph’s House and select our next book.

Buying the book

  • You can buy this book from Blackwells (often cheaper than Amazon and with FREE postage), Waterstones, WHSmith or other bookshops in Cardiff
  • It can be purchased quite cheaply on Kindle (around £3.99 I believe)
  • If you type the title in to Google and click the Shopping tab, you can find quite a few sellers (New and used)
  • If Amazon is out of stock, check Amazon “New” or “Used” options from other sellers through Amazon. Kindle is another option. Waterstones and Blackwells sell it as do many suppliers on eBay. 

Can anyone join the Book Club?

Of course! To join the St Helen’s Book Club, please click this link. You can then enter your details and you will be sent joining instructions. Alternatively, you can always email Canon John on caerphilly@rcadc.org.

Book of the Month: Under Milk Wood

To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobble streets silent and the hunched, courters’ and rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

For the first time we will be reading a play this month – Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood. Our play selection this month included Look Back in Anger (John Osborne), Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw), Mother Courage (Bertolt Brecht), Billy Liar (Keith Waterhouse) and A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams). There was no contest actually as Under Milk Wood proved to be the overwhelming favourite. Though Brecht did get 2 votes.

Our next book club

Please remember that anyone can join our Book Club. The next one will be held on Tuesday 6th July at 7.30pm. At this event we will discuss Under Milk Wood and select our next book.

Buying the book

  • You can buy this book from Waterstones, WHSmith or other bookshops in Cardiff.
  • Blackwells sells it and the price is usually the same as Amazon and includes FREE Delivery.
  • It can be purchased quite cheaply on Kindle (around £4.99 I believe)
  • If you type the title in to Google and click the Shopping tab, you can find quite a few sellers (New and used)
  • If Amazon is out of stock, check Amazon “New” or “Used” options from other sellers through Amazon. Kindle is another option. Waterstones and Blackwells sell it as do many suppliers on eBay. 

Can anyone join the Book Club?

Of course! To join the St Helen’s Book Club, please click this link. You can then enter your details and you will be sent joining instructions. Alternatively, you can always email Canon John on caerphilly@rcadc.org.

The Easter Triduum

On Holy Saturday, after a day in the tomb with Christ, the Church gathers for the great Easter Vigil and Mass. If you cannot join in, in person or live-stream, try to gather as a family with a large candle, the children’s Baptismal candles, and a candle each for the adults. By their light, read some of the old
testament readings, at least the 3rd one, Exodus 14:15 – 15:1; then the Mass reading, Romans 6:3-11. Then sing a good Alleluia and read the Gospel, Mark 16:1-7. And have a late night party!

And on Easter Sunday, if you don’t get to the Morning Mass, then after
the Easter Egg hunt, or just before your Easter meal, read together the
disciples’ race, discovery, and joy: John 20: 1-9.

Here are the service sheets for each of the three-days of the Triduum. You can download and print off or simply click and view them on your iPad or Smartphone.

The first document below contains the Maundy Thursday liturgy  for the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper (7.30pm). At the end of that liturgy it says that compline will be celebrated at 9.45pm, so you will need the last, large document, for compline tonight, and for the office of Readings and Morning Prayer tomorrow and on holy Saturday. The second document is the service sheet for the good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion (3.00pm). The third document is for the great Vigil and Mass of Easter, Holy Saturday, 8.30pm. And the fourth document for the Mass of Easter in the day (10.30am).

Maundy Thursday (PDF)

Good Friday (Word, PDF)

Easter Vigil and Mass (Word, PDF)

Easter Morning (Word, PDF)

The Prayer of the Church for the Easter Triduum (PDF)

March Book of the Month – The President is Missing

Last month’s book of the month was Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and we had a very good discussion about the book on Tuesday. This month we have gone for a political thriller and Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President is Missing just pipped John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field.

Book blurb

Here’s a bit of blurb about the book:

In an unprecedented collaboration, James Patterson and President Bill Clinton have joined forces for an incendiary thrill-ride, told with gripping factual accuracy only a former President can bring.

An unprecedented collaboration between former US President Bill Clinton and bestselling thriller writer James Patterson. The President is Missingbrings together first class fictional credentials, with unique inside information on the workings of the White House and the president’s inner circle.

The President is Missing.

Amid an international crisis, the impossible has happened. A sitting U.S. President has disappeared.

What follows is the most dramatic three days any president has ever faced – and maybe the most dramatic three days in American history. And it could all really happen.

Full of details only a president could know, Bill Clinton and James Patterson have written the most authentic – and gripping – presidential thriller ever.

What people are saying

The dream team delivers big time … Clinton’s insider secrets and Patterson’s storytelling genius make this the political thriller of the decade.’ – Lee Child

A bullet train of a thriller.The Day of the Jackal for the twenty-first century.’ – A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window

‘This book moves like Air Force One. Big and fast.’ – Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series

“Working on a book about a sitting President — drawing on what I know about the job, life in the White House, and the way Washington works — has been a lot of fun. And working with Jim has been terrific. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time.”

— Bill Clinton

Our next book club

Please remember that anyone can join our Book Club. The next one will be held on Tuesday 6th April at 7.30pm. At this event we will discuss The President is Missing and select our next book.

Buying the book

  • You can buy this book from Waterstones, WHSmith or other bookshops in Cardiff
  • It can be purchased quite cheaply on Kindle (around £3.99 I believe)
  • If you type the title in to Google and click the Shopping tab, you can find quite a few sellers (New and used)
  • If Amazon is out of stock, check Amazon “New” or “Used” options from other sellers through Amazon. Kindle is another option. Waterstones and Blackwells sell it as do many suppliers on eBay.

Can anyone join the Book Club?

Of course! To join the St Helen’s Book Club, please click this link. You can then enter your details and you will be sent joining instructions. Alternatively, you can always email Canon John on caerphilly@rcadc.org.

Ash Wednesday

A Liturgy for the Home

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day on which Catholics traditionally observe fasting and abstinence. This means resisting eating between meals (fasting) and avoiding eating meat (abstaining). Many Catholics also attend Mass or have special prayer liturgies when they receive ashes on their foreheads. This year you may be celebrating a liturgy with your family at home.

Please follow the service by opening (downloading) the Ash Wednesday Service or even printing it off.

Important Notice

PLEASE BE AWARE:
The new, much more contagious strain of the Corona Virus urges us all to take serious precautions.
So, like several other local churches, the churches of Saint Helen Caerphilly and Saint Peter Bargoed will close after Christmas day. From Saturday until further notice there will be no public Mass in either church.
Christmas Mass will be celebrated, as advertised.
However despite the apparent success of the strict measures used in both churches to keep us all as safe as possible, I urge anyone with health issues, or past retirement age, to seriously consider, in the words of Mr Drakeford, ‘not what you can do, but what you should do’, for our own safety and for that of our fellow-parishioners. If, on consideration, you decide not to take your pre-booked place, please inform the Parish office caerphilly@rcadc.org.

World Gifts for Christmas

What can I give to my family and friends when they already seem to have everything?


Cafod World Gifts Catalogues are available as you leave church, or on their website. World Gifts are a range of virtual charity gifts that will delight the family and friends you give them to as alternative Christmas presents, and at the same time help transform the lives of families living in poverty.