Know Jesus Better (Adult Formation)
Deepening Your Faith, Knowing Jesus Better is open to all our parishioners and is an opportunity to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ. Watch the newsletter for up to date details. We usually gather together on a Wednesday evening at Saint Josephs or on a Thursday afternoon at Saint Michael’s. Over a brew we watch a DVD, and then share our thoughts, reactions and deepen our faith and knowledge of Jesus. Our time together usually ends with a short time of prayer. We look at a different topic each time ranging from Scripture to the Sacraments, who Jesus is, how to pray, and lots lots more.
For more information contact: The Parish Office
Extraordinary Ministers Communion and Ministers of the Word
RCIA –Rite of Catholic Initiation of Adults
Are you thinking about becoming a Catholic?
Are you interested in what the Catholic Church teaches?
At Saint Philip Neri Parish Birkenhead we have a full programme of instruction where you can discover what it means to be a Catholic Christian in today’s modern world.
We meet informally in comfortable surroundings using video presentations and small discussion groups.
Through the implementation of this ancient rite of Christian initiation, candidates are supported on a journey of faith through to full communion with the Catholic Church.
So, if you are not yet baptised, baptised but not as a Catholic or baptised as a Catholic but not yet received first Holy Communion or Confirmation and want to know more, then perhaps we can help.
Contact the Parish Office to arrange an introductory meeting with Father Chris or Deacon John to discuss your needs.
St Vincent De Paul
Aiming to tackle poverty in all its forms through the provision of practical assistance to those in need.
The motto of the SVP is “Turning Concern into Action” and the conferences based at both St Joseph’s and St Michael and All Angels Churches work very actively to carry out this mission. Following the merger of the two former parishes into that of St Philip Neri, our conferences continue to operate as separate entities, because most of our work is carried out on a geographical basis. Sadly, many neighbouring parishes no longer have an SVP conference so the areas we cover are continually widening. There is also an ever-increasing need for our services, more often than not to provide material support through, for example, the provision of white goods or furniture and assistance with food and fuel costs. We still find time to visit the sick, elderly and lonely in their own homes, in care homes or in hospital. Help is often given with shopping, collecting medication and transport to church or other places. Both conferences support the work of the SVP in poorer parts of the world through the twinnage programme. We try to involve parishioners in many of our activities: St Joseph’s Strawberry Teas are ever-popular with the housebound and St Michael’s Easter Raffle is always great fun! Both conferences liaise well together and sometimes work on joint projects, such as the Annual Healing Mass, followed by refreshments.
If you wish to learn more about our work or offer your help, please approach any of our members or contact us through the parish.
Parish Youth Group
Join the Faith in Action Group
The young people in the parish, those in Year 5 and above, are invited to join the Faith in Action Group. We meet once a month and literally put our Faith in to Action!
The actions we do count as credits towards badges and certificates awarded by the Shrewsbury Youth Mission Team. There are 4 different levels, each building up the amount of credits needed, responsibility and leadership – similar to the Duke of Edinburgh awards.
Putting our faith into action might include, serving or reading at mass, helping to welcome or tidy at the end of Mass, raising money for charity, making Christmas cards for those visited by the SVP or Eucharistic Ministers, helping to lead prayer times…the list really is never ending and involves doing things in the Parish and other areas.
However, it’s not all ‘work’, we do make time for fun as group too with, just to name a few things, film afternoons, trips out bowling and crazy golf! Plus, there is always food involved at our meetings – whether it’s hotdogs and snacks watching a film or pizza while we get crafty making things.
If you want to find out more information about what we’ve got coming up please email Clare Williams who is our Parish Youth Minister email@example.com or visit www.parishyouthminister.co.uk
We want our liturgies to bring our parishioners in contact with God and be a source of uplifting, meaningful prayer and hope for them.
God always wants us to draw closer to Him in prayer.
Liturgy is how we pray together and good liturgy fosters “full and active participation” in the life of the Church. It enhances and supports us in living out our Christian faith.
Our Parish Liturgy Team is here to help us all enrich the time we spend together in prayer, so that it can truly be ’the source and summit’ of all that we seek to be as a Christian community.
Its members include:
the musical directors for each of our two churches – Stella at St. Joseph’s and Jim at St. Michael’s.
the leaders for the Ministry of the Word – Lynn at St. Joseph’s and Deacon John at St. Michael’s
others with particular skills in this area.
Members of the team organise music and Ministers of the Word for regular Sunday worship. In addition, the team provides input for services and events and prayer material for significant parts of the Church’s calendar
Sister Catherine Bibby
Deacon John Birch
Deacon Gerard Boyle
Members of the Team can be contacted via the Parish Office.
Singing in Praise
The Music Groups of our Parish
St. Michael & All Angels’ Music Ministry
Our objective as a music ministry is to enable the wholehearted, active participation of the congregation of St. Michael & All Angels by leading it in tuneful praise when glorifying God’s presence during various liturgies, the most important of these being the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Our aim is to encourage the participation of the church assembly in singing God’s praises by using music written in a variety of styles and chosen to reflect the cultural and generational diversity of those present.
The music is provided by St. Michael’s Music Group, comprising both vocalists and instrumentalists, which currently plays at both Masses each weekend.
We are also blessed with a really wonderful church organ, which is, at present, used periodically.
Though the group has been together for a little while now, nevertheless we are always ready to welcome new members. So, if you feel like joining us, why not come forward ? Likewise, if there is anyone out there who is willing to play the organ, we would love you to hear from you.
Contact Jim through the Parish office
St Joseph’s Choir
St Joseph’s Choir has been steadily growing and developing over the last few years. A regular group of sopranos, altos and men sing at Sunday morning Masses and other services throughout the year. This group is augmented by a number of other singers to create a choir of about 25 singers, which regularly sings at large Diocesan events. A section of the choir also sings at funerals and weddings in both churches in the parish, and in other churches in the area. Donations following these events have raised money for the parish funds, and missionary work in Zambia. We are fortunate in having two excellent musicians who accompany the choir on piano and organ. The choir is a lively group which enjoys music, and the sense of belonging to and contributing to the wider parish community. New members are always welcome.
During the periods of Lockdown, the choir is not singing, but at Sunday Masses and funerals in both churches, a solo cantor and organist have continued to deliver short pieces to support the Liturgy. Meanwhile, the choir is patiently waiting to return to weekly rehearsals and services.
Contact Stella through the Parish Office
St Michael’s Ladies’ Group
We are a group of Ladies from the Parish that meet on a regular basis, usually on the first Thursday of the month in St Michael’s Meeting Room.
Our meetings are very varied, from talks from Members of the clergy and representatives of different charities, to theatre trips, meals out, musical evenings and craft sessions.
Details of all our meetings can be found in the Church Newsletter.
New members are assured of a very warm welcome.
Contact Sally via the Parish Office
St Joseph’s Ladies’ Group
St Joseph’s ladies group meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 8pm at St Joseph’s parish centre.there are approximately 36 members.We have visiting speakers and demonstrations such as paper crafting,pottery moulding,flower arranging cake decorating. The Ladies meet for meals out including trips on the barge at The Mill in Chester, Italian and Greek restaurants and parties at the parish centre. Sadly due to covid-19 like all social groups were have not met since March 2020, but are looking forward to the day we can meet up again.
Contact Liz Brookes via the Parish Office
Parish Pastoral Council of the Parish of Saint Philip Neri
The Parish Pastoral Council replaces the former Saint Joseph’s Parish Pastoral Team and Saint Michael’s Parish Council. Its purpose is setting and ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategy in consultation with the Parish Priest. It has a role in building and advising on the direction of our new Parish.
The Parish Pastoral Council is a discretionary body rather than a Diocesan requirement. The Council is very much welcomed and encouraged by Father Chris The Council exists to make a major and practical contribution to Parish affairs especially the lay voice.
It is made up of:
Ex officio members, i.e. those who are engaged in pastoral ministry in the parish (Priests, Deacons, Youth Minister)
Chair who is appointed by the Parish Priest.
Vice Chair who is elected by the members of the Parish Pastoral Council.
Secretary who is appointed by the Parish Priest.
Members appointed by the Parish Priest, in consultation with the Parish Clergy Team and the Chair/Vice Chair.
Members are appointed initially for a period of four years, with the possibility of reappointment for one or more terms, according to the needs of the parish.
The Council meets six times a year.
If a new Parish Priest is appointed, then the composition and membership will be reviewed within six months.
The Council is not directly involved with practical matters. These will be carried out by designated Teams across the Parish and groups within each Church.
So for example:
The Council may decide it wishes to have additional liturgies during Lent or Advent but it is up to the Liturgy Team to decide on these with support from others as necessary.
The Council may decide that it wishes to have a Parish Christmas Party but it is up to the Social Team to organise this.
The Council may decide it wants to make more use of Social Media and develop its online presence but the task will be passed to the Communications Team.
The Parish Council recognises the need to reach out to the whole community both through the two Churches and more generally. It seeks to involve a wider range of parishioners in this work whilst remembering that many churchgoers in the Parish need help and support.
Meet the Clergy Team
Reverend Father Christopher Matthews VE AChLJ BA (Hons) MA
Welcome to our Parish website. My name is Father Christopher Matthews and I am the Parish Priest of this Parish dedicated to Saint Philip Neri in Birkenhead. I am a local lad being born in Wallasey where I grew up. I trained for the priesthood at Saint Cuthbert’s Seminary, Ushaw College in Durham and was ordained by Bishop Brian Noble in Saint Alban’s church Wallasey on the 26 May 2007. Prior to my appointment here I served in Stockport, the Cathedral in Shrewsbury and in Wythenshawe. In November 2016 Bishop Mark invited me to take up the appointment of Parish Priest of Saint Joseph’s Birkenhead and Saint Michael & All Angels Woodchurch, which I was delighted to do. Alongside my parish responsibilities I am also the Episcopal Vicar for the Diocesan Department of Worship, and the Diocesan Master of Liturgical Ceremonies.
Reverend Father Humphrey Agbim
I am Fr. Humphrey Agbim, from the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara, Imo State Nigeria, ordained in 2008. After my ordination, I served for seven years in my Diocese, on the following capacities: as an Assistant Parish Priest, and Parish Administrator. I joined the Diocese of Shrewsbury, as among the Oversea Priests on mission since second of September 2017. I have served at Holy Angels Parish Hale Barns, from 2nd of September, 2017 to 20th of March, 2020, on the capacity of assistant Parish Priest. I have been here at St Philip Neri Parish, from 20th of March, 2020, till present, on the capacity of an assistant Parish Priest. It has been nice serving here.
Reverend Deacon Gerard Boyle
I have been a member of St Joseph’s Parish all of my life, except for a few years when living in Bristol. My Wife Margaret and I married in St Joseph’s Church in 1984. We have been blessed with three wonderful sons. I worked for many years in Export Sales and Marketing. In July 2002 I was Ordained to the Permanent Diaconate by Bishop Brian Noble and have been serving the Parish in that role for coming up to nearly twenty years. Following my ordination, I took up the role of College Chaplain, ministering in The Catholic High School in Chester and for the last fifteen years in St John Plessington Catholic College in Bebington. I also have Diocesan Responsibilities as Assistant Master of Liturgical Ceremonies as well as serving on the Commission for Liturgy
Reverend Deacon Les Arch
I am married to Mary and we have three children who have blessed us so far with 3 grandchildren who continue to keep us young. The new look (bald) is the result of Alopecia and not a razored look on my part hence the new photo. Along with Patrick Reagan and three others I was Ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on the 7th July 2007 by Bishop Brian Noble at Shrewsbury Cathedral. I have been part of parish life at St Joseph’s for close to 35 years (2021) nothing compared to the other deacons, and served as a Foundation Governor at the school until 2020. Since 2012 I have been appointed (with a break in 2019) as a Chaplain for Wirral University Hospital Trust, a part of my ministry, I find so rewarding even during the “Covid” time that I had no idea I would be suited. I am honoured that so many parishioners have recognised and welcomed me as part of the life of the church life in both St Michael & All Angels and Saint Joseph’s which made the transition to becoming the Parish of St Philip Neri so smooth for me.
Reverend Deacon John Birch
I was born in Birkenhead and have been a member of the parish since 1963. I am married to Norma and our wedding was in Saint Michael and All Angels Church. We have three grown up children and three grandchildren. After taking early retirement from work as an Engineer and Senior Consultant in the Water Industry I studied to be a Deacon for four years at St Mary’s College, Oscott in Birmingham. I was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in July 2018 in Shrewsbury Cathedral by Bishop Mark Davies. Also, I have been a Foundation Governor of Saint Michael and All Angels Primary School for thirty years. I regard it a privilege to assist at Mass and serve the parishioners of our newly amalgamated parish of Saint Philip Neri.
Sister Catherine Bibby F.C.J.
I am a religious sister in the order Faithful Companions of Jesus. I was born in Leeds and lived there until I qualified as a teacher. I taught in Leeds until I became a Sister and since then have taught in schools in Brussels, Middlesbrough, Jersey and for 25years in Upton here on the Wirral. I taught Maths and R.E. at Upton and was also Chaplain there. I loved teaching especially teaching Maths. I also qualified in Massage, Reflexology and Indian Head Massage. As a hobby I went to classes in Sugarcraft and have made many wedding cakes, christening cakes, birthday cakes, and celebration cakes for friends and relatives. I have lived here on Wirral since 1981 and love it. In 2008 I celebrated my Golden Jubilee of Religious Life with a special Mass and celebration here at St Josephs in our Parish of St Philip Neri. Since retiring from school I have been on the Parish Pastoral Team, Eucharistic Minister, Choir member, Flower Arranger and Liturgy Team member. For many years I took youth to Lourdes to help with the sick there. There is always something to do in a busy Parish -- life if never dull!!
More profiles due soon