Welcome from Fr Fretch Ballesteros
I was born in the Phillipines in 1989 and was raised by my mother and Father with my brothers and sisters. At the age of 16 I joined the seminary after deciding I wanted to become a priest. Later I travelled to the UK and completed my theological studies at St Mary’s College Oscott. I was ordained a deacon on 29th September 2016 and was ordained a priest at Corpus Christi Church in Stechford. In January 2023 I became the Parish Priest of Holy Family Church in Small Heath and work closely with the two schools in the parish, Holy Family School and St Bernadette’s.
As a Vocationist Father, I live in a community and took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Our Founder was Father Justin Russolillo.
On 20th September 1913, Justin was ordained a Priest. While kneeling before the Bishop for the ordination, he vowed to the Lord to found a religious Congregation to cultivate vocations to faith, priesthood and holiness.
On 15th May 2022, Pope Francis canonised 10 new saints of the Catholic church during a Mass in St. Peter’s Square including Blessed Justin Russollilo.
Sister Maura Halpin
A Sister of Mercy
When I joined the Sisters of Mercy in London 60 years ago I had no idea what ‘JOB’ I would be doing. I could have been working in the convent or parish, as a nurse or as a teacher because our Foundress, Venerable Catherine McAuley founded our Religious Order to give education, healthcare and support to the poorest families in Dublin in mid-19th Century. It was a shock to leave rural Ireland and find myself in a very busy city.
Becoming a teacher was my second Vocation as being a Sister came first. I taught in a number of secondary schools throughout my teaching years. I was called away from teaching 30 years ago to do pastoral work within our Religious Order. This ministry took me to some countries that I would otherwise never have visited as some of our Sisters were working abroad.
Now that I am ‘retired’ I feel so grateful to God for all the Blessings I have experienced. I have learned so much from saintly Sisters who are no longer with us. They were women of prayer and were totally committed to the people among whom they worked. Teaching colleagues too have inspired me and now I have time to reflect on how much the Church and society owe to all who work in education.
Nowadays prayer has a special place in my day. It always was important but when I was busy I was often distracted in my prayer, always planning ahead. Now I value Mass daily and in particular I listen more attentively to the Word of God, to hear what God is saying to me each day, how much He cares for me and all his people. I hope this makes me a more compassionate and attentive Sister of Mercy when I meet people.
I meet people in the local Care Homes and those who are housebound when I visit with Holy Communion because these people cannot come to Church. I am privileged to feel welcome when I visit our schools, especially St Bernadette’s & Holy Family where I join them at their Masses. I support them in their joys & sorrows with my prayer and occasionally do home visits if asked by the Head Teacher.
Another ministry that is very special to me is support for the bereaved both in giving a listening ear and in helping them plan the funeral Masses and Services for their loved ones. This ministry sometimes reconnects me with former pupils in their time of grieving. Perhaps I could sum up my life as a religious Sister in the words ‘availability’ and ‘prayer’ and I am grateful to all who have supported me in my vocation over the past 60 years.
If you would like support I can be contacted on the following email address: