Parish Groups

The altar servers of the Parish are an enthusiastic group of boys and girls whose job is to support the priest and deacons during Mass. They regularly serve at Sunday Masses, some others during the year and the important liturgies during Holy Week, Easter and Christmas.
We hold several practices during the year, and an occasional evening of fun together - always advertised in the newsletter.
Any boy or girl who has made their First Communion can join, and there is no upper age limit!

We are a small group which meets in the Church Hall from 2pm – 4pm each Wednesday with the exception of a small break at Christmas, Easter and during August. We meet to enjoy our art and each other’s company.
Our motto is ‘Art is to be enjoyed’. The media used by different members of the group include water colours, oils and pastels, while subjects covered include landscapes, seascapes, flower painting and portraiture.
We are always happy to welcome new members. Enthusiasm is the only requirement.

CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, the official overseas development and relief agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. CAFOD was born when volunteer members of the National Board of Catholic Women organised the first Family Fast Day on Friday 12 March 1960. CAFOD works with more than 500 partners both overseas and in the UK - all working to reduce poverty.
CAFOD’s vision draws inspiration from Scripture, Catholic social teaching, and the experiences and hopes of people who are poor, marginalised, or oppressed. CAFOD is committed to building a world free from poverty and injustice.
CAFOD’S mission is to promote human development and social justice in witness to Christian faith and Gospel values. To fulfil this mission CAFOD raises funds from the Catholic community and beyond.
If you wish to find out more about CAFOD log on to or contact your CAFOD Parish representatives..


This takes place during the Liturgy of the Word at the 11am Mass each Sunday (apart from Easter, Christmas & Summer holidays). The group is run by a team of volunteers and parents. The children spend about 20 minutes unpacking that Sunday’s Gospel with the use of play, song, pictures and any other visual aids to help them understand the Word of God. There is no age limit, although we tend to cater mainly for the three to nine year olds.
Extra volunteers are always welcome.

Download a ‘brochure’ here.

Cleaning takes place in the church once a week and we currently have five cleaning teams operating in the parish, so people are asked to come along for no more than an hour or so every five weeks.
We also have an annual Spring clean during Lent when everyone joins in together to prepare the church for Easter.

We have two ecumenical groups operating in the area -
The Churches Together of Nailsea and District and the Backwell Churches Together, with St. Francis being represented on both. Representatives, both clergy and laity, meet together on a regular basis, attend joint services in each other’s churches when appropriate and act together when they can in fund-raising for Christian Aid, CAFOD etc.
There are joint Church Lent groups each year as well as public Acts of Witness and other ecumenical events during the year.

We offer tea/coffee, biscuits and occasionally cakes, in the parish hall, after the 11am Mass each Sunday, with the proceeds going towards good causes. Everyone is encouraged to come along and make the most of this opportunity to meet other parishioners for a drink and a chat.

Most of our teenagers would have been baptised as infants to be “marked for Christ” when their parents and godparents spoke on their behalf. In the Sacrament of Confirmation they are expected to speak for themselves and to be challenged as to their beliefs and understanding by drawing on their experiences as young Christians growing into adulthood. St. Francis parish is blessed in that it can offer an appropriate programme of teaching, liturgy and activities in a lively and fun way over a two month period. In our parish, currently, there is a Confirmation course every second year, and the Bishop comes to celebrate the Confirmation Mass in one of the deanery churches during the season of Pentecost (May-June).

Traidcraft is the U.K’s leading Fair Trade organisation – established in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty.
It offered farmers in developing countries a fair price for their crops; mainly then of cocoa, coffee and tea. This enabled them to have a better standard of living and to educate their children. The Fairtrade Mark – now recognised by 57% of our adult population, hit our supermarket shelves 15 years ago and has grown to a turnover of over £290m in 2007. Our own stall, which we have had for about 20 years, now has an annual turnover of over £1500, thanks to the awareness and generosity of our parish, here at St. Francis.

St. Francis Church runs a First Holy Communion and Reconciliation preparation programme for 7 and 8 year olds. Our meetings include fun activities that try to help us understand God's love in our lives. Some of our activities have included making plasticine models of the Gospel stories, role play, writing prayer leaves, painting the Last Supper and the celebrating of a Passover Meal.

For details of the current programme look out for information in the newsletter or speak to Deacon Paul.

Flowers are arranged in the church each week. Anyone who is interested in getting involved would be very welcome. They are done on a rota basis which involves different arrangers every five weeks.

St. Francis is very lucky to be surrounded by lawns, shrubs and flower beds. In the Spring of 2006, parishioners decided to ‘Ground Force’ the enclosed garden in time for the Easter celebrations and in readiness for the children making their First Holy Communion in the June. It took several weeks of clearing brambles, nettles and weeds which culminated in a weekend of re-planting and re-turfing. Since then, work on the garden has been ongoing and most Friday afternoons (weather permitting) some of the parishioners meet for a few hours ‘social gardening’. If you enjoy gardening and could spare some time, we would love to hear from you.

The Julian Trust provides a night shelter for the homeless of Bristol. Many people in the city have no home that they can call their own and live life out on the street.
The Julian Trust provides a night shelter with some food for these people. They find there acceptance and understanding. As a parish, we have a few people who volunteer to help with the shelter. They provide staff for the night and prepare breakfast in the morning. Once a month on the first weekend of the month, we have a collection of breakfast food and toiletries such as razors, toothbrushes etc. These may be left in the church porch at any time.

St Francis Parish Liturgy Group meets about five or six times a year.
We plan and prepare our parish liturgies and ensure that we have all the necessary resources available. As well as the Sunday Masses and all the liturgies for Christmas and Holy Week, we arrange such things as Taize liturgies, Holy Hours, Stations of the Cross, and liturgies of Reconciliation.
We respond to requests from the Parish Pastoral Council for specific days and liturgies, including arranging training and days of reflection for those who exercise liturgical ministries within the parish. The meetings are open to all – watch the newsletter for details.

We are an ecumenical group of Christians who come together each Monday evening in the Parish Hall meeting room at 8pm to practise ‘the prayer of the heart’. This means joining our prayer to the prayer of the Spirit of Christ going on within us. We do this through silence, stillness and the repetition of a sacred word or phrase.
There has been such a group in the parish for at least 20 years! The purpose of the group meeting is to encourage and support one another in the daily practice of contemplative prayer, and to offer it to others who might be drawn to this way of praying.
Contemplative prayer does not replace any other form of prayer such as liturgy, vocal prayer or scripture - rather, it enhances them. Anyone is welcome to come and join us. If you would like to make contact first, click here to email or call Shelagh on 463727.

The Church has a music group which provides the musical accompaniment for one of our two Sunday masses as well as for most Christmas and Easter masses.
While the Group has some core members, additional players join us from time to time to embellish the sound.
We welcome anyone with musical ability to come along. If you’re interested in joining us, please contact Tony O’Rourke.

Each week a small team collates and prints our newsletter. Items for the newsletter should be left in the sacristy or e-mailed to the newsletter contact by Wednesday morning for inclusion in the newsletter for the following Sunday.

Each year parishioners are encouraged to nominate projects to support, some of which are adopted by the parish. Ideally these projects do not have another major source of funding and if possible there should be someone who can keep the parish informed of developments with the chosen project. Projects are funded in several ways including collections, donations and profits from social events. Projects have included building a water pump in Malawi, helping reduce birth mortalities in Sierra Leone and providing audio visual equipment for Ham Green respite care unit locally. Our parishioners have always been very generous in their support for our projects.

St. Francis Parish Pre-School is a sessional group which opens from 9.15am to 12 noon, Monday - Friday during term time. It takes children from their 3rd birthday right until they start primary school. It operates the Early Years Foundation Stage principles and is registered with Ofsted. The group is supported by North Somerset Council and is run by a well qualified, professional team.

RCIA (This is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)
Calling all Non-Catholics!
Are you interested in learning more about the Catholic faith?
Are you perhaps married to a Catholic and would like to know about their beliefs, but don't like to ask?
Please come and join our sessions starting soon in Portishead.
They are very informal and you might even enjoy the experience.
We meet on Tuesday evenings 7.45pm. until 9.00pm. in the parish hall at St. Joseph's, Portishead.
For more information call Gill on 01275 882211 or speak to Fr. Tom.

The Rosary has been said in our parish on a Tuesday evening for well over thirty years. It was started by Pat and Elizabeth Dillen, friends of Margaret Brady who with the Bishop’s permission had begun a Rosary Group in Bristol. We pray for our parish and disasters in the world.
Anyone is welcome to come along and join us on Tuesday evenings from 6.00pm, for about half an hour, or on Tuesday afternoons at 2.00pm.

Our Parish representatives details are shown in the weekly newsletter.

‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10)

There is a wonderful line in St Mark’s Gospel which speaks volumes about the early Church’s attitude to healing: ‘and he could work no miracles there, though he healed a few sick people by laying hands them’ (Mark 6:5). In Jesus’ time, healing was not considered to be miraculous and the practice of praying for healing accompanied by the laying on of hands was quite common – as were the healings that accompanied it, but over the years and centuries this has ceased to be an everyday part of the life of Christians and has become far less used. This is a great shame because it is clear from the Gospels that Jesus wanted His followers to take the same uncompromising stand against sickness, be it of body, mind or spirit, that He did. When He commissioned the twelve to preach (Luke 9:1-2) and when He sent out the seventy-two (Luke 10:1-9) He also instructed them to heal the sick and to drive out evil spirits.

We have held Healing Services here at St Francis’ since February 1989; initially monthly then more recently we have held them quarterly. From now on (2013) we will hold a Mass of Anointing twice a year. Transport can be arranged.

Several social events are usually held throughout the year. These events encourage parishioners to enjoy spending time together whilst often raising money for a charitable cause such as one of our Parish Projects. Social events have included Quiz Nights, a “St Francis’ got Talent” Evening and a Pig Race! Anyone is encouraged to organise a social event and there is always a willing band of helpers to assist them.

Wellspring Counselling opened in 1995 with a vision from local doctors and churches in response to the needs of local people. It has continued to grow and provides affordable professional counselling usually without a long wait. It maintains its original Christian ethos with our counsellors giving all or some of their time for free. Wellspring is a registered charity and is an organisational member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).


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