Tree of Life

Our world, our parish
Although our lives are being affected by the need to isolate, it does give us an opportunity to think about the things we value most. It also asks us how can we start to change what we do in our lives to better protect and enhance our beautiful, but fragile world.
We have created this page to provide suggestions, summaries of what we are doing now and also a place where we can share details and ideas.  Please see the Work with Nature section below for our parish children and teenagers (and grown ups too!) who have collected sunflower seedlings from the church entrance, these have been grown by Frances McDermott.  Frances has produced some lovely posters with more information about sunflowers, you can find them here.  Also see below the story of John’s new solar panels.

Laudato Si
Did you know that we are celebrating today the 5th Anniversary of “Laudato Si” It was on the 24th May 2015 Pope Francis signed his landmark encyclical “Laudato Si”: On the Care of Our Common Home, it can be read here. A whole year of prayer and special intentions begins today. This is a great encouragement for us, in our Parish Family to continue the work and projects we have begun.

Renew the Earth: A Liturgy for Pentecost – we have received this from Helen Hayden of the J&P Commission:
“We would be delighted if you could join us for an online liturgy to celebrate Pentecost and to renew our commitment to caring for our ‘Common Home’ Friday 29 May 11:00 until about 11:45. This is an online liturgy and will be delivered using Zoom videoconferencing. Please email if you would like to join us and we will send you the link. Thanks for your help.
Warm regards, Helen

Our parish response
At the end of 2019 we asked how we would respond to Pope Francis’ message in Laudato Si’, encouraging us to do more to care for creation. We had an amazing 383 suggestions, these have been summarised on new posters now on display in the church foyer, these are collated into three main themes:

The first is Reduce, reuse, recycle, renewable – or not wasting resources. Examples include buying only what we need, lowering temperatures a little in our homes, installing solar panels on roofs, changing lights to LEDs, carshare or walk to church, use showers rather than baths, insulate our homes better, stop single use plastic & waste, recycle more and better, eat less meat, buy local in season food, and do not buy cheap fashion but quality clothing that lasts.


The second is Work with nature. Examples include planting & growing trees & flowers that help bees & insects, improving ecosystems, buy and/or grow organic vegetables & fruit, and stop using products that impact adversely on the environment or cut down trees. Frances McDermott is going to co-ordinate the work of this group, please see below for Frances’ thoughts.


The third is Petition & educate. Examples include asking supermarkets to stop using single use plastics, petition for better, cheaper public transport, come to an extra mass each week, work to save animals that are in danger, and publicise and share what we are doing.

Our Parish Council thought engagement with our students and children should be a high priority. This will help and encourage them to bring forward their ideas. We will provide a summary each month to be included within the bulletin, it will have a section for our students and children.
So what’s happening now?
At this moment we have to put many activities and all meetings on hold, but there are a number of things we can do now, your suggestions can be brought forward and activities planned for the future.

Some have already started – click here for John’s  great story about his new solar panels.
Let us know if you would be interested in having solar panels installed on your house. If you already have solar panels, how they have changed your lifestyle? email

Frances McDermott has grown 20 sunflower seedlings for children and teenagers.   This is Frances’ message:

“Please help yourself to one plant pot from outside the church porch, take it home, and grow it in your own garden.  It’s best to plant into a larger pot or into the ground and look after and water it regularly.  Could you grow it, either for your own family, or for someone else you might be separated from, e.g. a grandparent, or someone else you might know who is having to isolate themselves at this time.

“It would be lovely if you could take regular pictures of the sunflower as it grows to see how it is changing (say once a month?) and hopefully flowering at a later stage.  Please email these with your message to 

“I would even encourage the sunflower grower to give the plant a name, or name it after someone for whom you are growing it, and therefore encourage your love and care of that person, as well as for the plant. Sharing pictures and messages about it might just bring a smile or just some contact between people who are separated at the moment.
Thank you,

Work with Nature
Frances is co-ordinating the Work with Nature branch, this is what Frances has suggested.
“I have a passion for, and interest in nature. In particular how growing plants, flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables in a community setting can be harnessed and channelled into a respect and love for all living things – plants and animals.
“In carrying out this project, it would be great to see people of all ages coming together, contributing whatever they can, in order to make our church grounds more beautiful, to lift spirits and encourage friendships; and at the same time put into practice some of the things people of the parish have written on their Tree of Life leaves a few months ago.
“The aims of the group project would be to encourage growth and development – of wild flowers, insects such as bees, worms, and plants for food; as well as employing the principles of sustainable water collection, responsible waste disposal, re-using and re-cycling items such as plant pots.
“An initial meeting or two will be proposed for those interested in coming along to share ideas (and a chat along with Cake!) However this will now have to be after we are able to meet and use the church again.
In the meantime can you let us know what ideas will you bring to this first inaugural tea and cakes meeting?
CAFOD’s Livesimply award
We plan to apply to CAFOD’s Livesimply award, this is an opportunity to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us”. This is awarded to communities who can show how they have been living:
• simply
• in solidarity with people in poverty, and
• sustainably with creation
We are working with the diocese’s Justice & Peace climate change group to promote and share ideas, see  for lots of information.
Please let us have your stories and ideas, it would be good to share these to show how we are responding to Laudato Si’ and make this a great and rewarding journey for us all.


Anne Judge

ANNE JUDGE – REFLECTIONS 20th February 1928 – 19th March 2020 Anne was born on the 20th February 1928 in Granard, County Longford in the Republic of Ireland and after a lifetime of loving service, this smiling and gracious servant of God, returned peacefully to the Lord on 19th March 2020. She was the last […]

Parish Family Events

Today was the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and the children spent time finding out about the Sacrament of Baptism, which most of them received when they were too young to remember !! Robyn the baby doll proved the perfect baptismal candidate.

Sacrament of Reconciliation 2019

Eleven younger members of the Parish Family made their First Confession on Saturday 23rd March. Canon Michael thought them the best group ever! The children told their Catechist James, helped by Gabby and other parents, they had had a lot of fun in their preparation sessions. After receiving the Sacrament the celebrations continued in the […]

Christmas vigil mass for children

The mass was directed at our children, our young parishioners did the readings and the bidding prayers. Children read the Gospel story whilst others gathered on the altar steps when their part was mentioned. We had Mary and Joseph, lots of lovely angels, shepherds and lambs—plus the kings. Fr Michael blessed the crib and then […]

Special mass for altar servers

On 21st September Bishop Marcus celebrated a special mass for the altar servers of the diocese. About 80 attended with their families. 3 of our servers represented our parish family. Bishop Marcus thanked the servers for their loyal service to God.  It was a wonderful way to show the servers how important they are to us all.

Parish family walk 2019

A very happy and chatty bunch gathered after the ‘Back to School’ 11am Mass  for a picnic in the Parish Hall.  Next a short walk led by Martin, was enjoyed by all from 2 years old to where “80 years young” has been celebrated!!  As the walkers ran back across the car park  the heavens opened!  […]

First Holy Communion

Congratulations to all of our children celebrating their first holy communion on 15&16 June.  Fr Michael said, ‘It has been a wonderful occasion for our whole parish family. I am hoping that many of the children will now wish to train as altar servers and many take part in the Children’s Liturgy of the Word […]

Ilkley half marathon

Sunday 14 July was a great event, the weather was fine, not too hot, and our runners were cheered on throughout the route. We would like to thank all the Burley churches, families and friends for your generous support, both on the day and your donations to support Zakari and his colleagues as they strive to […]

Celebrating Mothering Sunday

Children of the Parish Family presented all the ladies with daffodils galore. Thank you to this year’s Flower Fairy Godmother Pat for preparing all the lovely daffodils!

DAY OF REFLECTION: Caring for the Earth – Our Common Home:

The Justice & Peace Commission held its Day of Reflection on 30 March at our church.   It was a day of prayer and personal reflection about our place in God’s creation and our responsibilities towards looking after our common home. We discussed some main themes in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si.  We heard about what […]

Sacrament of Confirmation 2019

On 28th February 2019 26 year 6 & year 7 students received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Canon Michael. Our Catechists Rachel and Liz thoroughly enjoyed the preparation sessions. It was wonderful to hear Saint John Paul being chosen as her Confirmation name by one of the students. Laughter was the keynote of each session […]

Bishop of Leeds’ annual appeal for Catholic Care

Bishop Marcus has asked us to support our diocesan charity Catholic Care.  You can read Bishop Marcus’ letter here.

Bishop of Leeds’ letter to the clergy and faithful of the diocese

Bishop Marcus has responded in his capacity as Bishop of Leeds to the publication on 20th August 2018  of the Holy Father’s Letter to the People of God on the need for ‘…combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience’.  You can read Pope Francis’ letter here and […]

Our parish prayer

God our loving Father, You made us your children in baptism. Pour out on us the gifts of your Holy Spirit. Help us as a parish to know the paths we must follow so as to build up your kingdom. Teach us to grow in faith, to encourage one another with words of hope, and […]

Catholic Care

Catholic Care is one of the charities we support.  A link to a short video describing its work can be found here and further information is given on our charities webpage.

Catholic Care Bulletin Spring 2019 – SS John Fisher & Thomas More parish family receives a mention … Bags of Dignity

A huge thank you goes to Parish Family of SS John Fisher and Thomas More Parish, Burley-in-Wharfedale; who had the novel idea of filling used handbags with toiletries, ladies products and men’s personal hygiene and shaving necessities for those in need.  Six bags have been given to Sheila Pickles from St Monica’s Housing to give […]