Christian Celtic Cross (18Kb)
St. Joseph's Presbytery, Birtley Lane, Birtley, Chester-le-Street DH3 1LJ.

Part of the St Benedict Partnership of Parishes
(Birtley, Chester-le-Street, Easington Lane, Houghton-le-Spring, Penshaw, Sacriston, Washington)

Father Mark Millward: 0191 416 3583, Father Paul Hopper: 0191 410 2923, Father Jim O'Keefe: 0191 416 3805.

Deacon: Peter Lavery
: (0191) 410 2530. Mobile: 07743 807 312. Email:


Go to ongoing Parish Events
Go to Courses in the Diocese

(Please notify the Webmaster by email: or telephone him on: (0191) 410 9852 of any changes to the meetings or events below)
Sunday - 16th September 2018: SVP - Meet in the Presbytery after 10.00 am Mass - every 2nd Sunday of the month (Sunday 2nd September 2018). New members are always welcome.
Sunday Church Pastoral Council - Next Meeting is at 7.00 pm on Sunday (TBA).
Monday Womens' Guild - Meet as usual in the Parish Centre.
Monday: Youth Club - is open from 6.30 - 8.00 pm for Y3 - Y7. The Youth Leader is Chris Cowie (tel: 07411438787).  Click Here: to view our Facebook page of Youth Club activities.
Tuesday: Catholic Mens' Society -
Tuesday: Parish Centre -
Tuesday: Rosary is said at 9.00am, in St Joseph's Church (during term time).
2nd Birtley Rainbows: meet at 5.30 - 6.30 pm in the Parish Centre.  
2nd Birtley Brownies: meet at 6.00 - 7.30 pm in the Parish Centre.  
All enquiries for new Girl Guide members may be made through Guide Headquarters: or telephone 0800 169 5901.
Wednesday: Young Mothers' Guild - Members please meet at the Wheatsheaf, at 7.30, for Sheelagh's birhday meal.
Thursday: Annointing Mass - A monthly Annointing Mass will initially take place on the on the first Thursday of the month at 12.05 pm
Friday: PM Club - Meet as usual.
1st Birtley Guides: Meet at 7.00 - 8.30 pm in the Parish Centre. Guide Leader: Jackie O'Sullivan, tel:(0191) 370 1654
Friday: Parish Centre - Monthly Quiz on the First Friday of every month, at 8.00 pm. £1 per person.

New members to the groups are always welcome......................

In the Parish Centre every Sunday morning at 11.00 am (after the 10.00 am Mass) - in support of various parish & other charities.
All are Welcome!

Please email the Webmaster with the details, if you have an event you would like shown on this page.


Marriage Care helps couples and individuals to build and sustain strong, healthy relationships as well as providing counselling in times of difficulties.  If you are willing to offer your time and commitment you can find more information on the poster at the rear of the Church or visit or contact Deacon Peter Lavery on (0191) 410 2530.


For the latest information about 'Forward Together in Hope' (FTH) and for access to the range of resources, please visit

To contact one of the 'Forward Together in Hope' (FTH) team, (Jim O’Keefe, Tony Sacco and Nancy Gash) e-mail: or phone (0191) 243 3304.

To read the input by Parishioners of St Joseph's of Birtley, click on the above link: 'Parish Questionnaire'.

Thanks to all who attended the two meetings on Wednesday, 13th July 2016, in the Parish Centre to discuss the current position of the FTH project.  Parishioners contributions and views have been very helpful.  Copies of the Bishop's letter and the 'Imagine New Ways' leaflet, with a tear off section for your use, are at the back of the Church if you have anything further you would like to say.

The FTH Team have now submitted their observations on the Parish Questionnaire we completed at the end of 2015.  A full copy of their observations and the parish profile can be read by clicking on the two links at the top left of the 'homepage' of the parish website.

FTH - PARTNERSHIP PROPOSAL: A partnership proposal for St Joseph's to form a partnership with St Bede's, Sacriston, and St Cuthbert's, Chester-le-Street, has been submitted to the Diocese.  You can read the full proposal by following this link: Partnership proposal (.pdf) or from the link(s) on the homepage.

On Thursday 9th February 2017 - 18 new partnerships have been announced within the Diocese; our Parish forms a partnership with the following parishes: St Cuthbert, Chester-le-Street, St Mary, Easington Lane, St Michael, Houghton-le-Spring, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Penshaw, St Bede, Sacriston, Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, Washington, St Bede, Washington, and St John Boste, Washington.  There is a message from the Bishop and a map of our partnership area on the notice board at the back of the Church - It is also available on the Diocesan website:

Tuesday 11th July 2017 - Feast of St Benedict - an Inaugural Mass - for our partnership with other parishes will be held here, at 7.00 pm, in St Joseph's Church, Birtley. Parishioners from our partnership parishes are invited to attend and take part.  Afterwards there will be a social evening in the Parish Centre. Click here: to print-off a poster.

Tuesday 19th September 2017 - Journey of Faith - the next 'Journey of Faith' will begin with an information evening at 7.45 pm in the Parish Centre.  Everyone is welcome, including existing Parishioners who wish to deepen their Catholic Faith and also those who are enquiring and searching for Faith.

Wednesday 18th October - Journey of Faith - this will begin at 6.00 pm in Caroline's Library at St Benet's School.  If you wish to join, please contact Deacon Peter Lavery, telephone: (0191) 410 2530.

Sunday 24th December 2017 - Partnership Development Group - Mick Davison has been elected as the Lay Chair for the group so there is now a vacancy on the group for the parish representative.  If anyone is interested in the role, then speak to Mick for more information.


In 2016, the Government promised to lift the 50% cap on faith admissions for new religious schools in England saying the cap was unfair to the Catholic community.

The Conservative party even included a commitment to remove the cap in its manifesto. Our bishops would like as many Catholics as possible to contact the Secretary of State for Education urging her not to break the Government’s promise.

You can write to the Secretary of State (copying in your local MP) by clicking on this link:

  • Saturday 2nd June 2018 - Apostleship of the Sea - a Day of Prayer and Pilgrimage to Holy Island. For details please see the poster on display in the Church.
  • Saturday - Sunday 2nd - 3rd June 2018 - Body & Blood of Christ - our Ministers of Communion will renew their commitment to serve our parish community.
  • Tuesday 5th June 2018 - Planning For Fr Tony's Retirement Celebration - a meeting will be held in the Parish Centre, at 7.30 pm, to plan for Fr Tony's retirement celebration. Anyone interested in helping with the catering is invited to this meeting. Contact: Margaret Taylor, telephone: (0191) 410 0776.
  • Thursday 7th June 2018 - Jazz in Birtley - by Bob Wade's 'Classic Swing' - 23 years of Jazz in Birtley so come along and enjoy a great night out to live music in the Parish Centre from 8.00 - 11.00 pm. Trad Jazz at its best, so bring along your dancing shoes. Admission: £5.
  • Saturday 9th June 2018 - Mass for the Sick & Housebound - will be celebrated in Church at 2.30 pm, followed by a social event in the Parish Centre. Letters of Invitation are available for Eucharistic Ministers are located at the back of the Church.
  • Sunday 10th June 2018 - Holy Hour - will be celebrated in Church at 3.00pm, with an hour of Adoration before The Blessed Sacrament with Benediction. Afterwards there will be an Afternoon Tea in the Parish Centre. Everyone is welcome.
  • Tuesday - Sunday, 12th - 17th June 2018 - Ushaw Flower Festival - promises to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some fantastic displays set within the stunning setting of Ushaw College. Pauline Lavery, who arranges our own Church flowers, is creating one of the displays and would be delighted to arrange a parish outing, perhaps with afternoon tea. If you are interested call Pauline on telephone: (0191) 410 2530.
  • Saturday/Sunday 16th - 17th June2018 - 'Day for Life' - Over this weekend the 'Day for Life' will remember all those who are suffering or have survived human trafficking and modern slavery. 'Day for Life' is celebrated yearly by the Catholic Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. The proceeds of the special collection this weekend is used for the promotion of the dignity of the human person.
  • Sunday 17th June 2018 - Fr Tony Duffy's Anniversary - is the 56th anniversary of Father Tony’s ordination - please remember Father Tony in your prayers, giving thanks for his years of service and asking God to bless him with a happy and rewarding retirement.
  • Friday 22nd June 2018 - Fr Tony Duffy's Retirement Celebration - starts with a Concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving at 6.30 pm in the Church when we join Father Tony, his family and friends to give thanks for his priesthood including the last thirty year service here in St Joseph’s. Afterwards there is a Social Evening on the Parish Centre. The evening will reflect on Fr Tony's 30 years in the the Parish, with an exhibition of photographs, entertainment and a buffet supper. Everyone is welcome. If you have any photographs of Fr Tony's time in Birtley we would love to use them in the exhibition. Please email digital photographs to or if you have non-digital photographs please put them in an envelope marked 'Exhibition Photographs' and post them through the Presbytery letter-box (remember to include your name & address so we can return the photographs to you).
  • Saturday/Sunday 23rd/24th June 2018 - Diocesan Festival 2018 - at the Emmaus Youth Village, Consett. Activities for everyone, adults, familes, young people and children. Full details and booking forms are in leaflets at the back of the Church.
  • Saturday 30th June 2018 - Fr Paul Hopper - has been appointed by Bishop Seamus to the Benedict Partnership. He will reside in the Presbytery, at St Joseph's Birt;ey, and will serve the Partnership as a whole. Fr Paul will arrive in Birtley on Saturday, 30th June 2018, and will celebrate Masses in St Joseph's during that weekend. Fr Mark Millward is the Dean and Parish Priest of the Partnership and Fr Paul will assist him, along with the other Priests, Deacons and many committed lay people, to serve the worshipping comunities in this area.

    As far as possible the House Mass host will invite parishioners from their own locality.
    Attendance is by invitation of the host since he/she knows how many can be accommodated in the space.
    We recommend that there be no lavish refreshments, if at all, only tera/coffee and a bisuit.

  • Sunday 1st July 2018 - St Benet's Summer Fayre' - (12.00 –3.00pm). Tickets: £1.00 (adults) & 50p (children & concessions) can be purchased from the school office.
  • Sunday 8th July 2018 - Parish Pastoral Council Meeting - at 7.00 pm in the Presbytery.
  • Tuesday 10th July 2018 - St Joseph's Infant School Fayre - will be held at 1.30 pm weather permitting. If anyone would like to donate a prize for the raffle or have something we could sell, we would be very grateful.

    Initilly this will take place on the first Thursday of the month at 12.05 pm.
    Will those with cars kindly offer our sick & housebound neighbours a lift.
    Those with extreme walking difficulties could be dropped off at the Church door and then park the car in the Parish Centre car park.

  • Wednesday 11th July 2018 - Benedict Partnership Mass - a Mass of all the Parishes in our Partnership will be said at 7.00 pm at St Michael's of Houghton-le-Spring. Refreshments will be served after Mass in the Parish Centre and all are welcome. The group of parishes to which we belong is named the Partnership of St Benedict in recognition of the Benedictine priests who served Birtley and the surrounding parishes after the Reformation. Fr Paul Hopper will be installed as the Partnership Priest at this Mass - please come along to welcome him.

    Visits started on Thursday, 12th July 2018. 
    Initially Fr Paul will accompany Eucharistic Ministers who take communion to sick & housebound parishioners.
    Any sick/housebound person who does not receive communion from a Minister and would appreciate a visit from Fr Paul, simply drop a note into the Presbytery, giving your name, address & telephone number.

  • Monday 16th July 2018 - Autumn Fayre Planning Meeting - there will be a meeting at 2.00 pm in the Parish Centre. We look forward to seeing anyone who would like to help with the Fayre in any way and new ideas are always welcome.
  • Friday 27th July - Friday 3rd August 2018 - Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage - Please keep the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes in your prayers.
  • Saturday 18th August 2018 - 175th Anniversary of The First Mass - Mass will be said at 6.00 pm in celebration of the first Mass said at St Joseph's in 1843. Fr Geoffrey Scott (Abbot of Douai Abbey) will join us and after Mass there will be a social evening in the Parish Centre. An invitstion has been extended to the other parishes in the Benedict Partnership to join in the celebration.
  • Thursday 30th August 2018 - Induction of Fr Mark Millward as Parish Priest - at 7.00 pm there will be a Mass during which Fr Mark will be inducted as Parish Priest at St Joseph's of Birtley.
  • Saturday 1st September 2018 - Cafod Holy Island Pilgrimage - leaving from the Church at 9.15 am (note the departure time has been brought forward) and returning from Lindisfarne at 5.00 pm. Cost £10 for adults. £5.00 for children. Please add your name to the list at the back of the Church.
  • Sunday 2nd September 2018 - SVP Meeting - the next meeting of St Joseph's SVP will be in the Presbytery after the 10.00 am Mass.
  • Thursday 6th September2018 - Jazz in Birtley - by the 'Mississippi Dreamboats' - so come along and enjoy a great night out to live music in the Parish Centre from 8.00 - 11.00 pm. Trad Jazz at its best, so bring along your dancing shoes. Admission: £5.
  • Friday/Sunday 7th - 9th September 2018 - Ministeracres Retreat - The partnership have been invited by St Michaels, Houghton-le-Spring, to join them in a weekend Retreat at Ministeracres. All ages & families are welcome. Please telephone Mrs Edna Harrison for more details/bookings on (0191) 682 2541 or Ministeracres direct on (0143) 467 3248.
  • Saturday 8th September 2018 - Adoremus - this is a National Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress to be held in the Liverpool Echo Arena. It will include Holy Mass, Keynote Speakers and a drama highlighting the beauty of reverance and devotion.  Each parish has been allocated two tickets and St Benedict's Partnership will pay for the entry tickets and for transport.  Contact Deacon Peter Lavery for further information.
  • Tuesday 18th September 2018 - Prayers for Birtley - at 9.30 am, in the Methodist Church.
  • Saturday 29th September 2018 - Ministers of Communion - there will be a Day of Reflection for all Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist in the Benedict Partnership in St Robert's School Washington. Please put the date in your diary, more information will be available soon.

    In October 2018, Bishops will gather in Rome to consider "Young People, Faith & Vocational Discernment". In preparation the Bishops of England & Wales would like to hear from young people and those regularly in contact with them.  If you are aged 13 - 29 please take part in the Mega-Youth Poll at:
    Parents, Teachers, Catechists and Youth Leaders can participate at

  • Friday 5th October 2018 - CAFOD Family Fast Day.
  • Saturday 6th October 2018 - Autumn Fayre - will start at 1.00 pm in the Parish Centre.  We hope that everyone is collecting items for the Fayre.  We would welcome unwanted gifts, children's toys, fancy goods, bric-a-brac, cuddly toys, DVDs, books, costume jewellery etc.  There will also be a cake & homemade preserves stall. For collection of items of bric-a-brac, please telephone Monica on 4109007.
  • Saturday 3rd November 2018 - 'War's End' Concert - presented by the Rotary Club of Chester-le-Street in St Mary's & St Cuthbert's C of E Parish Church, Chester-le-Street, to celebrate the end of WW1 and remember those who gave their lives in that war. Tickets: £8.50 (Adults), £5 (under 16 years old). Click here: to view or print-off an A5 poster. All proceeds from the Concert will go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Tickets from Past-President Fred Richards, tel: (0191) 388 2312 or email: or from Kevin Jobson, tel: (0191) 410 9852 or email:
  • Saturday 13th October 2018 - Canonisation of Oscar Romero - Bishop Seamus will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving, at 11.00 am, in St Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne, to mark the canonisation of ArchBishop Oscar Romero in Rome in October 2018. All are invited to attend Mass.  ArchBishop Romero was assassinated while saying Mass in San Salvador.
    5000 POPPIES

    St Joseph's have been asked to make poppies to hel celebrate the 100th Anniversary of theend of World War 1. If anyone would like to help us to achieve this, then leave any poppies either crafted or made at the back of the Church or give them to any member of the SVP.

    The will be a display at the Church of Our Lady of Peace, Penshaw, which will include these poppies.

  • Friday/Saturday 16/17th November 2018 - Singers & Musicians Workshop - our Partnership has organised a workshop for anyone imvolved in the Music Ministry, or anyone who would like to be involved.  The Workshop will be led by the inspring church musician, Jo Boyce, at the Emmaus Youth Village. Put the dates in your diary. More details to follow.
  • Saturday 17th November 2018 - CAFOD Retreat - at Ministeracres from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm, entitled 'Countering Consumerism'. Please book directly at:

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If one of your family is in hospital and you want the Chaplain to visit them, you must ask the Ward Sister specifically for the On-Call Roman Catholic Chaplain.
(The Hospital Trust claim that, under the Data Protection Act, they are not allowed to divulge a person's religion even to the Chaplains).
The Hospital Chaplains' telephone numbers are:
Durham - (0191) 333 2333. Gateshead - (0191) 482 0000. Newcastle - (0191) 233 6161.
In an Emergency ask the Ward Sister to contact the 'On-call' RC Chaplain.


Is a fund run by the Secular Priests themselves - it goes back to about 1600 - which also helps sick Priests.

Please make a donation to this fund, monthly by Direct Debit, if possible. In return you get lots of prayers and Masses!


Your support is also required for sick and retired Priests please? There are leaflets at the back of the Church - donations can be by the Gift Aid Scheme whereby we can reclaim tax of 28p for every £1 donated at no extra cost to the Donator.

Spiritual Development and Formation for All.
Current and forthcoming diocesan formation courses and events are open to all
Click here for
Course details then click on 'Courses'.

There are some posters at the back of the church advertising various talks and courses. Please take time to have a look at them.

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