Our Church Groups
There are many ways in which you can get involved
and contribute to our Parish community, as teams of
volunteers run a number of groups/activities open to
everybody. Some of them have been running for a long
time, like the music groups, some of them are
relatively recent, for example the Communication
While most of them are linked to the life of the
Church in one form or another, either liturgically
or practically, some are not faith-based and are
more social, like the Baby and Toddler and the Cake
and Conversation Groups.
Normally, all our activities and events are
advertised weekly in the newsletter distributed
every Sunday at Mass. For more information, or if
you would like to get involved in any of them,
please contact the Parish Office.
The Parish runs the Alpha Course each year.
This course looks at the key tenets of Christianity
in a social and relaxed way. We start with a cooked
supper followed by a talk, sometimes on a DVD, and
then break into small discussion groups. We
follow the model that is used in many countries
around the world. We have found the course to
be as helpful and inspiring to existing parishioners
as it is to those who aren’t Christian or feel they
know little about their faith.
Friendships are often formed and guests often
comment on the friendly atmosphere. We often
organise a joint Launch Supper with the other
Christian churches in the town that run Alpha
Courses and that has proved to be a big blessing.
is the largest faith-based provider of marriage
preparation and relationship counseling in the UK.
Founded in 1946 it provides marriage preparation,
information, education and relationship counseling
to thousands of people each year. Near 800 highly
trained practitioners and support volunteers work in
53 Centres across England, Wales and Gibraltar.
During last year over 71,500 people
accessed information about marriage and
relationships from Marriage Care, and 7,600 clients
took part in 9,716 sessions of face-to-face marriage
preparation or relationship counselling. There are
regular days in Oxford for married couples, and our
Parish representative would be pleased to talk to
you about this.
The Rite of Christian
Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
(RCIA) is the process established in the church for
individuals to become members of the Catholic Church
and receive the sacraments of initiation: Baptism,
Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. The initiation
process involves a Parish community experiencing a
renewal of faith as it prepares and welcomes new
members into the Church.
Who is the RCIA for? Participants vary from
people in need of Baptism, to people baptised in
another Christian tradition and willing to become
Catholic, and finally to those baptised Catholic and
in need of First Communion and/or Confirmation.
RCIA sessions take place in the Parish every year
from September until Pentecost, and are held weekly
on Tuesday evenings 7.30-9.00pm.
FAITH IN ACTION
The Parish Covenant with the Poor (see below)
commits us to continuing support for CAFOD, the
official Catholic aid agency in England and Wales.
The parish works closely with the Portsmouth office
- www.cafod.org.uk/cafod-in-your-area/Portsmouth -
using opportunities such as the Lent and Harvest
Fast Days to inform the community about the causes
of poverty, to campaign for change and to give
financial support to CAFOD`s work.
Christian Aid aims to deliver on the ground
real practical benefits to the poor and the
destitute in countries where the need is greatest,
to speak out where there is injustice and to
campaign for change. Abingdon Christian Aid Group is
a friendly group of people drawn from all of the
churches in Abingdon. We organize events and
meetings to raise awareness of the work of Christian
Aid and to raise funds for its work.
Church in Abingdon (CiA)
Along with 13 other churches of various
denominations in Abingdon, St Edmund’s belongs to
the union of churches together called the CiA. We
aim to pray, study and work together in order to
deepen our Christian faith and put that faith into
practice within the community of the town of
Abingdon. The CiA gives encouragement to various
action groups, such as Christian Aid and Bereavement
Support, and supports financially certain projects,
such as Street Pastors, 35 Ock St Cafe and the
Abingdon Passion Play.
Collection for the Homeless
The Advent collection for the homeless is to help
those people who are living on the streets,
particularly during the cold months of December &
January. We look for new warm clothes, particularly
scarves, hats, sweaters, and socks, but toiletry
items are also welcome. We deliver donated items to
different homeless organizations in Oxford each week
Covenant with The Poor
Inspired by Pope Francis` s challenge to
become a Church FOR the Poor and WITH the Poor, and
prompted by Bishop Philip`s call that we must ALL
have a special concern for justice, peace and social
responsibility, our Parish re-drafted and renewed
our Covenant with the Poor. Originally drawn up at
Pentecost in 1998 at the instigation of Bishop
Crispian Hollis, we have recently re affirmed our
commitment to this new Covenant at the Parish Day in
2014. Meetings are held periodically in the parish
to review how we fulfill these commitments and are
open to all. To read the text of the Covenant,
please click here.
The Foodbank collection started in our
Parish as an Advent project and over the past two
years has extended to run throughout the year. All
contributions are taken to the Abingdon Emergency
Foodbank, based at Christ Church in Northcourt Road.
Food items and toiletries are distributed to people
who have been referred to the Foodbank by local
The Foodbank is open twice a week and those in
need are given sufficient food for their family for
3 days. Normally they can re-apply twice or three
times a year for emergency support. Our Parish
contributions have made a big difference and it is a
privilege to be working with the Christ Church
community. To view their website,
Life is a national charity that provides a
nationwide care service for pregnant women, girls
with a problem pregnancy, infertility or suffering
from the effects of abortion. Life cares by offering
free pregnancy testing, confidential counselling,
practical help and accommodation for pregnant women
in a crisis. There are Life CARE Centres throughout
the UK and a number of Life Houses locally (e.g.
Didcot and Oxford).
Life also runs an education programme by giving
talks to schools, colleges and other groups. If you
would like a Life Speaker to speak to your group,
contact the Parish Office.
In its commitment to the Covenant with the
Poor, our Parish is to continue and develop its
support for a number of organizations working for a
world of justice and peace within the framework of
the Catholic Social Teaching. One of these is Pax
Christi, whose goals of world peace, reconciliation
and non- violence draw inspiration from the Sermon
on the Mount down to current Papal teaching. In
particular, the parish celebrates Peace Sunday in
January. Further details about Pax Christi can be
Any parishioner can participate in a more
meaningful way at Mass by becoming an Altar Server.
It is one of the lay ministries of the Church and
provides an opportunity to explore a new path for
growing closer to God. It involves preparing the
altar and sanctuary with all the sacred vessels and
accessories and assisting the Priest during the Mass
Many of our servers have also joined The Guild of
St Stephen, a group that brings together those who
serve at the Altar to help them foster a reverence
for all they do and to participate more fully in
liturgies. We are always looking for new servers,
particularly for feast days and the bigger
celebrations such as Easter and Christmas. Children
are welcome to become Altar Servers once they have
received their First Holy Communion.
The purpose of the Children’s Liturgy is to
provide an adapted Liturgy of the Word during Mass
on Sundays for children from Reception to the end of
year 6. It takes place during the 10:15am Sunday
Mass in term time, with the exception of the first
Sunday of the month, when there is a special
children’s service, and on special occasions. There
are two Children’s Liturgy groups: the younger group
is for children from Reception to the start of Year
3; the older group is for children in Year 3
to Year 6.
An adult must accompany children under the
age of 5 years, and a consent form must be completed
for all children aged 4 years and above. Although
parents are welcome to accompany their children to
the younger group, we request that if parents would
like to join us, you limit attendance to one adult
per family, due to the number of children attending
and the size of the room. We are always looking for
new helpers and leaders to join the team of
volunteers who run the Children’s Liturgy.
Eucharistic Ministers are commissioned
primarily to assist the Parish Priest with the
distribution of Holy Communion at Masses in Church.
They also take Holy Communion to the sick and
housebound in the Parish. Training is provided for
all those new. A Day of Recollection is organized
annually for all the Ministers.
Liturgy Steering Group
The Liturgy Steering Group is an umbrella
group of all the ministries involved in our
liturgies, from music and Reading the Word, to
Eucharistic Ministry and Welcome. It strives to
ensure that many people of all ages are actively
involved in our worship, and that there are styles
of worship which appeal to a variety of
parishioners, whether it be at regular services or
liturgies for special occasions.
All readings during the Masses at Our Lady and St
Edmund are undertaken by a group of volunteers –
usually two readers for each Mass. New volunteers,
especially young people, are always welcome and
training is available. For the Readers’ rota, please
see the home page.
Fabric and Finance Committee
The Finance and Fabric Committee oversees and
is responsible, together with the Parish Priest, for
the financial running of the Parish and the
maintenance of the Church, Presbytery, Parish Centre
and grounds. It meets about four times a year, and
some of the members have been on it since it was
officially established back in the late 90s.
The members responsible for financial matters
attend, in the main, to the following: the counting
and banking of all monies and cheques received by
the Parish from all sources; the payment of all sums
in connection with the running of the Parish; the
submitting of the Annual Parish Accounts to the
Diocese on time; the keeping of Gift Aid records so
that our Annual Claims can be submitted to the
Inland Revenue; the payment to the various Charities
of the additional retiring collections made and of
any Gift Aid due to them.
The members of the Committee dealing with the
fabric of the buildings are usually experienced in
buildings works or the maintenance of buildings. A
report on the condition of our buildings and
external areas is prepared every five years by a
local architect. It includes a list of all the
defects observed together with an indication of the
urgency of repairs. The Committee obtains quotations
for the repair works and ensures that they are
carried out as recommended in the report. In
addition, any problems occurring with the buildings
at any time are referred to the Committee, who
arranges for rectification. Recent projects include
the removal of asbestos from the Church and
Presbytery, followed by complete redecoration, new
lighting and new boilers for the Church. The
replacement of the old heating distribution system
throughout the Church and Cloisters is next.
Our formal church choir sings in harmony at
the 10.15am Mass on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the
month and also provide music for the major
liturgical feasts of Christmas and Easter, including
Holy Week. Around Christmas, a Carol Service is
organised to which the Abingdon Society of Bell
Ringers is usually invited. We rehearse in church
from approximately 8.00pm to 9.30pm on the Tuesdays
preceding the Mass at which we are singing, apart
from August when we have a summer break. When
preparing music for Christmas and Easter, we have
Most of our hymns are taken from the Laudate
Hymnal, but our repertoire also includes motets,
classical music and music composed by some of our
members. There are no auditions to join the choir,
but the ability to sight sing to some degree is
essential. We are a friendly group, and occasionally
meet socially. New members are most welcome but we
need some commitment in terms of attending choir
practices and singing at Mass on a regular basis.
The Parish Folk Group normally provides
music at the 10:15am Mass on the 1st and 3rd Sundays
of the month, including the special Children’s
Masses which takes place the 1st Sunday of the month
in term-time. The music played by the group is the
most eclectic within the Parish varying from Taizé
and traditional hymns (e.g. Thine be the glory),
through to modern Catholic Liturgical Music (e.g. by
Dan Schutte/John Foley) to more recently composed
worship music (e.g. by Robin Mark and Darlene
The group membership varies from youngsters
playing Grade 1 clarinet, to adults and young people
with guitars, flutes and violins. There are no
auditions and we are rarely able to have formal
practices as most of us have families. For this
reason the membership may vary weekly, especially
during school holidays! If you’d like to join us,
please simply approach us after one of our Masses.
To quote Marty Haugen: “All are welcome”.
The Safeguarding Team supports group leaders
in the safe recruitment of volunteers working with
children and vulnerable adults. It is
essential to make sure that volunteers understand
their roles, have undergone DBS checking where
necessary, have references suitable for their roles,
and have undergone safeguard training before
commencing their ministry. The Parish
Safeguarding Team works with the Diocesan
Safeguarding Office to ensure that our Parish is a
safe place for everyone.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
A local group of the SVP has been
established in the parish in 2014. It exists to
‘turn concern into action’ by helping the poor or
those in need. So far our work is mainly visiting
the housebound. We are not social workers or experts
– just volunteers who are willing to befriend and
help. We meet fortnightly in the Parish Centre for
As far as we know, Our Lady & St Edmund’s
Church cleaning group has always been in existence.
The group now consists of thirty-one parishioners,
and given its size, individuals only need to clean
the church three times a year. We are always looking
for new cleaners to help. It is a very calming,
peaceful and rewarding task.
We are a small group of volunteers,
whose aim is to ensure that our church is
prepared for Sunday and special celebrations.
We make sure that the altar and shrines are dressed
to reflect and celebrate the various feasts over the
Liturgical year, especially Christmas and
Eastertide. It is an enjoyable task and we have a
very supportive group. We welcome new people, with
or without any experience. We do not do wedding
flowers but are happy to liaise with the couples to
ensure their florists have easy access to our
The duties of the Stewards are as follows :
to help people find a seat, to carry out the
collection and arrange the offertory, to offer first
aid, to provide fire cover and anything the priest
requires to run the service. Our church needs up to
four stewards per Mass, and spares to cover sickness
and holidays. First Aid training and fire training
can be provided.
Mothers' Prayers is a prayer group for mothers
who wish to pray together for their children and
grandchildren. The group uses a specific
booklet of prayers that are used by mothers
throughout the world. The group meets in the
church in front of Our Lady’s statue at 10:15 on the
first Saturday of the month, for about half an hour.
Wednesday evening Charismatic
We have a flourishing and growing prayer
group at St Edmund's, with a wide spread of ages,
from children to senior citizens. Every 2nd and 4th
Wednesday we have a Praise & Worship meeting in the
church from 7:45pm to about 9pm, where we come
together for an informal time of Prayer, Praise and
Worship. Each meeting is different as we open it to
the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Usually we start with a time of Praise,
worshipping the Lord through song and prayer. This
is followed by the reading of the Scriptures, times
of silence where we listen to what the Holy Spirit
has to say, and offering up intercessions for our
needs, the needs of our family, our parish and our
community. We also offer individual Prayer Ministry.
You are warmly invited to come to our meeting and
join us - everyone is very welcome!
Baptism Preparation in the Parish is undertaken
by the Pastoral Area, and is led by a group of
dedicated lay catechists from the parishes within
the PA. It is co-ordinated by Deacon Richard Budgen
and takes place on the first Wednesday of the month
(excluding August and December) at 8.00 p.m. in the
Abingdon Parish Centre. It is a requirement to
attend one preparation evening in order for the
sacrament to be administered.
The Confirmation programme is for all young
people from Year 8 and above in the Pastoral Area
of Abingdon, Didcot, Hinksey, Grandpont and East
Hendred. The programme consists of a day’s
retreat and 12 to 15 sessions, currently on Sunday
tea-times in the Abingdon Parish Centre. It
currently starts in January each year, with the
actual Confirmation taking place around June.
There is also a programme of events for parents,
which is greatly appreciated. We also aim to
offer activities for these young people in the year
after their Confirmation, and encourage them to grow
in their faith in a variety of ways.
First Holy Communion
First Holy Communion is celebrated in the Parish
each year in June. The programme is aimed at
children from our Parish in year 3 at school, or
slightly older. Parents are invited to attend a
meeting in November to enrol their children and
to receive details about it. Saturday morning
sessions are held from January to May and take place
in the Church and in the Parish Centre. The
Sacrament of First Reconciliation, which is a
part of the programme, is administered in March.
This is undertaken by Fr Jamie McGrath, our
Parish Priest. Please contact the Parish Office to
make an appointment.
Baby and Toddler
St Edmund’s Baby & Toddler Group meets
every Friday during school term time from 9.30am to
11.30pm at the Parish Centre. It is aimed at babies
through to children of preschool age together with
their parents/carers. It is a friendly drop-in group
providing opportunity for play, crafts, singing and
refreshments. New comers are always welcome.
costs £1 per family per week. Please come along if
you are the parent, grandparent or carer of a baby
or preschool child, even if English is not your
first language. It is a great place to meet other
adults with children your child’s age and your child
can make new friends too.
Cake and Conversation
This is a friendly, informal group of people who
meet in the Parish Centre on Wednesday mornings from
9.30 - 11 am. It is part of the welcome outreach
into the local community and provides an opportunity
to practise English language skills for anyone whose
first language is not English.
The Parish Lunch is held once a month on a
Wednesday at Our Lady and St Edmunds in the Parish
Centre. It was originally intended for 'older'
parishioners or people on their own as a social
get-together, but it has evolved into a lunch for
anyone. It is an opportunity to meet socially and
exercise a little parish hospitality. A rota of
cooks and "bottle-washers" ensures that there is
good food available and a friendly group with whom
to chat. New volunteers are always welcome as the
current helpers are ageing fast! Transport is
arranged for those who require it.
The Parish has a youth group for ages 11 –
16 which meets on some Sunday afternoons during term
in the Parish Centre. We also organise Youth Masses
and attend diocesan youth events, where possible.
Some of the youth help out in various ministries in
the Parish and we always encourage young people to
take a full part in Parish life. We are
a very friendly group and welcome new young
people to come and see if the youth group is for