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Welcome to the Parish of Hampshire Downs

– combining the churches of St Peter and St Stephen in Winchester, St Gregory in Alresford, and St Thomas More in Stockbridge

We hope that members of the Parish can use the site to get information and updates about the life of the community, and that visitors can learn about us. Please explore the wepages using the tabs above,

We are part of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth and unite four worshipping communities – St Gregory the Great, Alresford; St Thomas More, Stockbridge; and St Peter’s and St Stephen’s, both in Winchester. Do come and join us, or please contact us if you need further information or if we can help or support you in any way.

25th Sunday of the Year: 21st September

Parable of the Vineyard

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard:

The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard…. the last will be first, and the first, last.  Matthew Chapter 20

picture by Bernhard Keil from the Athenaeum website.

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Changes in Hampshire Downs Parish

Canon Paul writes:  This is Fr. John Chandler’s last weekend here in Hampshire Downs Parish. He will move this week to take up his new appointment at The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Stubbington. As well as being the Assistant Priest here in Hampshire Downs, Fr. John has been the Diocesan Master of Ceremonies, working very closely with the Bishop. He has also been doing very important work in the promotion of vocations to the ordained ministry and religious life. I would like to thank Fr. John for all he has done in our parish and for his support tome personally. Please keep Fr. John in your prayers as he takes up his new appointment as well as continuing his Diocesan responsibilities.

Canon Alan Griffiths has now left us to take up his appointment at Bishop’s Waltham. I would like to thank Canon Alan for his presence among us during the past years and for his wisdom and teaching. He will be returning to us occasionally to celebrate the Extraordinary Form Mass.

Monsignor Tom McGrath, who is at present the Parish Priest in Maidenhead, will be joining us at the beginning of October. Monsignor Tom will be working with me in the celebration of the liturgy and in many aspects of pastoral ministry including working with Sr. Mary Frances and the Hospital Chaplaincy Team. He will also assist me in the pastoral care of the sick and in parish visitations.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the clergy in our parish for their support: Deacon Gerard Dailly, who works immensely hard for us, Fr. Brian Croughan and Fr. John Catlin who are both so generous and willing to help at any time and Fr. Andrew Moore who will continue to help us when his duties at St. Mary’s, Shaftesbury allow.

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Saturday 27th September
 - The Quick Journey Through The Bible in a Day - 
This is a special one day presentation of this eight-week course from 9.30am-5.00pm in the Pastoral Centre. Based on Jeff Cavins’ DVD presentations with short discussions and activities. This will give a great introduction to reading the Bible as a whole narrative of salvation. Cost £5. Please bring a packed lunch! PLEASE reserve a place via the parish office or make contact via the website – click here.
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Feast of the Triumph of the Cross – 14th September

Crucifixion 2014 Walters



Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.  John  Chapter 3

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Parish Faith in Action Appeal


Canon Paul writes:

 I want to express my gratitude to everyone for such a generous response to “Parish Faith In Action” and I would like to mention especially Jenny Robinson our Administrator, everyone in the office, the Finance and Property Committee, the Pastoral Council, the Ambassadors and all those who helped with the campaign.

As I said last Sunday, the generous response to Parish Faith in Action and the time, gifts and talents that are so freely given by so many in our activities and ministries, express in a concrete way the loyalty and commitment of the people of Hampshire Downs to the mission of the Church, to Bishop Philip and to Jesus in whose name we work for the Kingdom. Now, it is for us to pray that the many gifts we have in our parish may be used for the Lord’s work and that through our efforts and the grace of God more and more people, including the young, will come to know and appreciate the riches of the Gospel and come to deeper faith in Jesus. I would like to close with words from the Letter to the Ephesians: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3.20,21) PJT

You can find more details of the appeal, and all the relevant documents, by visiting this page.


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Canon Paul in the Guardian

Canon Paul and Giles Fraser line up against Richard Dawkins


You may be aware of recent controversial remarks by Richard Dawkins on the ethics of aborting a Down’s Syndrome foetus. Giles Fraser, the former Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral, wrote a piece in Saturday’s Guardian newspaper arguing the point – this is part of what he said:

Morally, the category of the human ought to be entirely indivisible: all being of equal worth, irrespective of wealth, colour, class, ability. Some people are better at sport or sums, but nobody is better at being human, neither are there better sorts of human beings. The one thing one ought to expect from humanists is that they would be good at protecting the human, at defending human life in its own terms and for its own sake…[but] It so happens that, when it comes to eugenics, religion has a much better track record at defending the human than science or leftwing progressives.

You can read his article in full (on the Guardian website) by clicking here.

The piece proved provocative and was widely shared and Tweeted, and produced nearly 2000 replies on the website. Today (Monday 1st September) the Guardian printed three letters on the topic, including one from the distinguished philospher Mary Midgley, and one from our own Canon Paul Townsend. This is what he said:

• A huge thank-you to Giles Fraser for his thoughts on Professor Dawkins and eugenics – a beautifully written condemnation of the destructive assumption, rarely explicitly advocated but often used as a basis for decision and opinion, that eugenics is good and solves problems. Human flourishing can only come from seeing human life as sacred and the supreme and absolute good.
Canon Paul Townsend
Winchester, Hampshire

You can see the letter (at the Guardian) here.

Congratulations to Canon Paul: most impressive.

22nd Sunday of the year – 31st August

The Feast of St Gregory the Great, patronal saint of our church in Alresford, falls this week on September 3rd


St Gregory

Gregory was born about A.D. 540 in Rome, the son of a wealthy senator. Like most of the nobility of his time, he was well educated. But unlike many, he was generous and concerned about those who were poor.

In his early thirties, Gregory was made the chief prefect, or governor, of Rome. Gregory was attracted to the religious life and soon left his position. He converted the family estate in Rome into the Abbey of Saint Andrew, became a monk there, and founded six Benedictine monasteries on his estates in Sicily. In about 578, he was ordained a deacon of Rome and sent as the papal ambassador to Constantinople, where he served until 585. When he arrived back in Rome, he was made the abbot of Saint Andrew’s.

In 590, Gregory was acclaimed pope by the clergy and the people of Rome. Unwillingly, Gregory accepted the role, calling himself the “servant of the servants of God.” Because of his political skill, learning, talents, and deep devotion to God, Gregory was able to make peace with the invading Lombards, save the city from famine by reorganizing the property and granaries of the Church, and restore order within the Church. In 596, he sent Augustine of Canterbury and 40 other monks to England to teach the Angles the faith. Gregory is called the “Apostle of England.”

He implemented some liturgical reforms especially in the area of music. The music that we know today as Gregorian chant developed from his impetus; however, his true greatness is found in his humility, his gentleness in dealing with all types of people, his steadfast devotion and love of Christ, His Scriptures, and prayer. All of these traits, combined with God’s grace and Gregory’s love for the people, helped him solve the practical everyday problems of Christ’s Church in a manner that provided a path for others to follow.


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Canon Paul will be away from 1st to 26th September, taking his annual  leave.

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Friday 5th September – Mass at St. Barnabas, Weeke,  at 10.00am.

Saturday 6th September – Mass in Winchester Cathedral at 10.00am.

(And so, 9.00am Saturday Mass in St. Peter’s is cancelled.)

Saturday 6th September – 6.00pm Mass in St Peter’s is an Anniversary Mass in celebration of the commencement of Eucharistic Adoration.

Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa – 26th August

Czestochowska (2)

The Black Madonna is a painting of the Madonna and Christ Child which legend states was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist. St. Luke is believed to have used a tabletop from a table built by the carpenter Jesus. It was while Luke was painting Mary that she told him about the events in the life of Jesus that he eventually used in his gospel.

The  painting passed through many hands, eventually ending up in Poland.  The Lady of Czestochowa became the symbol of Polish national unity and was crowned Queen of Poland. The King of Poland placed the country under the protection of the Blessed Mother. A more recent legend surrounding the painting involves the Russian invasion of Poland in 1920. Legend holds that the Russian army was massing on the banks of the Vistula river, threatening Warsaw, when an image of the Virgin was seen in the clouds over the city. The troops withdrew on seeing the image.

There have been reports for centuries of miraculous events such as spontaneous healings occurring to those who made a pilgrimage to the portrait. It gets its name “Black Madonna” from the soot residue that discolours the painting. The soot is the result of centuries of votive lights and candles burning in front of the painting. With the fall of communism in Poland, pilgrimages to the Black Madonna have increased dramatically.

This is only a part of the story – you can read a fuller version by clicking here.