The Brighton Monks in East Brighton
There are four monks from Worth Abbey now in Brighton. Fr Rod has been here for more than three years as the Sussex Uni chaplain, living in Falmer at the Student Centre. Fr Aidan, Br Anthony and Fr Gabriel came two years ago. Our vision is to live out our monastic vocation in an urban location, living as a small community with a simple life-style, listening to the needs of the city and discerning what our pastoral role might be here in Brighton.
When Fr Seb was appointed as PP of St Mary’s, Bishop Richard invited us to collectively take on the role of assistant priest in the East Brighton parish, under Canon Kieron. We are each a third of a curate! Canon Kieron also offered us the opportunity to rent the large presbytery at St John the Baptist’s, which is ideal for us.
We intend to celebrate our Monastic daily prayer in SJB and to make this open to the public – to parishioners and others. The Fitzherbert Hub on our doorstep, presents us with many opportunities for a pastoral outreach within the parish and East Brighton.
Students and Young Adults
A newly configurated Student and Young Adult Ministry Team is up and running this academic year, reaching out to young people and supporting them in their faith journeys. The Team consists of Jo as Coordinator, with Fr Rod as Sussex Chaplain, Fr Gabriel as Brighton Chaplain (Claire O’Sullivan’s maternity cover), and Br Anthony supporting the work at St Joseph’s. During Covid the programme ran at a very reduced level, but now we’re seeing an enormous boom in young adults/students coming to Church (upward of 60 every week at St Joe’s), many of whom are very keen to be fully engaged in a life of faith. The Team’s work extends across the whole of East Brighton, with activities taking place at the Falmer end of town (Sussex Campus and Howard House) and a programme at St Joseph’s in town. Jo and the monastic team have relaunched Deep Waters after a 2 year break, offering a deeper formation in central aspects of the Christian life, with faith-sharing and Adoration; and on Sunday after the 11am parish Mass, we offer a lunch which 20-25 young people attend each week. Some Sundays we’ve invited special guests to come and tell their story of how God has transformed their lives. This has had a profound impact on the participants, witnessing to God’s power to touch people’s lives in a personal way. It’s also enabled the younger generation to meet older members of the parish community, and to feel more integrated in the Church family. We also have a monthly Walk, to get people out into God’s creation, and we’re launching some Theology Conferences on Sundays, to ensure our students are being formed in a vision of Catholic faith worthy of their academic, intellectual ability.
At Howard House, by Falmer Station, the weekly Cathsoc meeting takes place, and is currently exploring aspects of the faith including Love/Responsibility/Relationships, how to have a healthy relationship with social media, and discovering a deep spiritual life. We held 2 retreats last term, and this term we have a Lent Day Retreat coming up, and a Holy Week Pilgrimage and Retreat @ Worth Abbey. There are Masses held on Sussex Campus everyday, and one at Brighton Uni mid-week.
We’re working to empower our students/young adults into different areas of service and ministry, from Welcome to the Choir, Messy Church to the Food Bank. We also have a few young people coming to us who are entirely new to Catholic-Christian faith, seeking baptism, and others who are exploring Catholicism from other denominations: Anglican, Evangelical and even Russian Orthodox! We’re currently preparing a number of students and young adults for full Christian Initiation at either Easter or Pentecost.
A great gift of St Joseph’s Church is its charism of welcome. We have people arriving in Brighton from all over the world, often feeling alone and anxious beginning a new life here. They come to St Josephs and experience profound belonging, and the joy of being part of God’s family. Our students/young adults especially value the experience of being part of a wider parish family, and are finding friends and mentors from amongst the wider membership, as well as enjoying opportunities to participate in cross-generational events like Alpha, the parish Christmas Party, and the International Lunch.
Family and Children’s Ministry
Liturgy of the Word for children- An important focus of our ministry to our children has been to offer a more frequent children’s liturgy at the 11 am masses on Sunday at both of our churches. This offers our young disciples the opportunity to hear the Word of God in a way which they can access and understand, so that they can reflect and participate actively and consciously in their own liturgy based on the Gospel reading. Currently we have a team of Catechists who are offering a liturgy at 2 or 3 Sunday masses per month, during term time. We have also planned special children’s liturgies for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Sacramental Preparation – Our parish is running preparation programmes for all sacraments of initiation. We have 28 children currently being prepared by their families for their First Holy Communion and Reconciliation. Two families are also preparing their children for Baptism. In addition, there are 10 candidates preparing for Confirmation and 8 families preparing to have infants or toddlers baptised into the faith. Many of these families are new members of our community.
Proclaim – In November our youth ministry team re-started our youth group Proclaim. Our group meets approximately twice a month during term-time at St John the Baptist’s, where we have been running a Youth Alpha course with a group of 14-17 year olds. We hope to extend Proclaim next year to offer social activities and catechesis to all our young parishioners of secondary school age.
Messy Church – Messy Church is a Christ-centred way of being church based on creativity, hospitality and celebration. It puts families at the heart of the community and is open to all – people of all ages, and those on the fringes of the community. We are running Messy Church events once a month at St Joseph’s Hall after the 11 am mass, offering lunch, storytelling, prayer, socialising, and messy creativity.
Core parts of our mission as a parish are evangelisation ( telling new people the good news) and discipleship (helping everyone in the parish in their deepening journey with Christ). As a parish we have found that Alpha is a very important and effective way of taking this forward. We have been running Alpha, both in person and online, several times a year, and this has led to a significant increase in the number of adults being baptised or received into the church, and alongside that has enabled lifelong Catholics to deepen their faith.
Fr Kieron has said, “ As a parish we are trying to live out the mission that Christ has given to his church, and as part of that every one of us is on our own personal journey with Christ. I strongly recommend that if you possible you take the opportunity to participate in the sessions.”
RCIA is our programme for adults wishing to be baptised or confirmed, and Alpha is now the mandatory first part of our RCIA programme.
Fitzherbert Community Hub
The Fitzherbert Community Hub is now open and thriving, as a great community partnership between the parish, Brighton Table Tennis Club, The Real Junk Food Project, and Voices in Exile.
The best way of understanding what it delivers is to watch Herb Nahapiet’s video