Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Department for Interreligious Relations

Head of Department: Rev. Arockia Mariadass Pagyasamy OCD,
St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus,
Heaton Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 5HN.

Tel: 0191 265 5290

Mobile: 07740 030900


Courses, Events and News:


There are currently no courses planned. They will be displayed here as announced.


Holocaust Memorial Events 2020 – Stand Together

On Monday 27 January at 6.30pm Sunderland Interfaith Forum are holding their annual Holocaust Commemoration. This will take place in Sunderland Minster (opposite the Empire Theatre). Bosnian Genocide survivor Smajo Baso will give an account of the Bosnian Genocide, which commemorates its 25th anniversary in 2020. The Holocaust speaker is Gerald Stern who will recall his father’s escape from Nazi Germany.

On Saturday 27 January 1945 the concentration camp the largest being Auschwitz–Birkenau was liberated. 2020 is the 75th Anniversary and as a Diocese we are holding two Holocaust Memorial Evenings. The first being on Tuesday 28 January 2020 at 7.00pm St. Mary's Catholic School, Benton Park Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7PE.The guest speaker Mr. Gerald Stern who will tell his father's story. Also we will be remembering the other Genocides this year; 2020 being the 25th Anniversary of Bosnia and we have another guest speaker Mr. Smajo Beso who was eight years of age in 1995. He will be tell his parents' story.

The second event is on Thursday 30 January 2020 at 7.00pm St. Michael's Catholic Academy, Beamish Road, Billingham TS23 3DX. The guest speaker is Mrs Marta Josephs who will be telling her father's story. Also from Monday 27 January 2020 to Thursday 30 January 2020, members from the Diocesan Department for Interreligious Relations and two members from the Jewish Community will be working with the Year 9 pupils of St. Michael's on the Holocaust. There will also be the Anne Franks Display at the St. Michael's during that week. The Academy will be having an open evening during that week for parents and local people to see the Anne Franks Display.

The Council for Christians and Jews talk:

On Tuesday 3 March at 7.00pm in St. Charles Parish Centre, Alwinton Terrace, Gosforth NE3 1UB. The Council for Christians and Jews have organised a talk to promote our theme of the ‘The Year of the Word - The God who Speaks in scripture.’ This talk will be delivered by Rabbi Aaron Lipsey and will focus on, ‘How a Jew says Tehillim,’ the rhythms of life mirrored in the psalms. This event is free and open to all, but booking is essential, all enquiries by tel: 0191 285 1370 or email.

Voices of Faith interfaith dialogues:

Voices of Faith are also planning to hold the following Interfaith dialogues focusing on ‘Faith through Life’ during 2020.

Wednesday 11 March – Birth and Initiation
Wednesday 17 June – Becoming an Adult
Wednesday 23 September – Marriage
Wednesday 18 November – Death

Each meeting will start with refreshments at 6.00pm and the evening will conclude around 8.30pm. More details to follow, but enquiries can be made by tel: 0191 270 4100 or by email.

Prayer for Peace:

The Annual Christian / Muslim prayers for peace will take place on Saturday 27 June at the Lady Chapel in Jesmond Dene. More details to follow.

Events in 2021:

Holocaust Memorial Events:

Tuesday 26 January – St. Mary’s Catholic School, Benton Park Road, Longbenton, Newcastle.

Thursday 28 January – St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, Beamish Road, Billingham.

More details to follow as announced.


Interfaith Newsletter December 2019

There are some interesting items in the December issue of the Westminster Interfaith Newsletter. Available to read or download now.

Pontifical Council’s message for the celebrations of Guru Nanak’s birth and life

This falls on 12th November this year. They are especially important this year, as 2019 is the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak – he is one of the founding teachers of Sikhism. He was born in present day Pakistan in the 15th century (as you might already have worked out!), and is first in a line of ten human teachers (the holy scripture of Sikhism, the Guru Grant Sahib, is revered as the 11th guru). Equality and justice were central to his message, which he travelled extensively to spread – as a reminder to be courageous, and dignified, as well as as a marker of equality within the faith, practising Sikhs still use the same (now usually middle) name – Kaur (princess) for women, and Singh (lion) for men.

As you know, Sikh places of worship – gurdwaras – offer free food (langar) to all comers, and honest work is one of the core values of Sikhism – there is therefore an interesting link, particularly this year, to the World Day of the Poor, which falls on 17th November this year. This particular care for the “poor and the vulnerable” is also referenced in the message from the Pontifical Council. Here are some suggested bidding prayers for our Sikh neighbours around this time, and a little more information on the faith and the festival.

The festival is referred to in a number of different ways, but perhaps the easiest wish is “Happy Gurpurab”, which is a general term for a festival celebrating the birth and the life of Sikh gurus

Pontificial Council's message for the Feast of Deepavali 2019

The Pontificial Council have published this message for the Feast of Deepavali.

Pontificial Council's message for the Feast of Vesakh 2019

The Pontificial Council have published this message for the Feast of Vesakh.

Pontificial Council's message for Ramadan 2019

The Pontificial Council have published this message for the month of Ramadan.

Pontifical Council’s message for Mahavir Jayanti 2019

Please find attached the Pontifical Council’s message for Mahavir Jayanti which, this year, falls on 17th April. It is a festival marked by the Jain community, which is quite small in numbers in England and Wales, so might not have come to your attention.

You might remember Cardinal Tauran’s visit to the Oshwal community, one of the largest branches of Jainism in the UK, here are some images from that visit.

Jainism is a Dharmic religion – the cycle of death and re-birth is at the centre of its beliefs, and non-violence is a central value, to the extent that some Jains monks and nuns will sweep the ground before their feet, and wear a face mask, to avoid disturbing or hurting even the smallest forms of life.

Mahavir Jayanti (the feast day dedicated to Mahavir), or, more formally, Mahavir Janma Kalyanak Diwas, commemorates the birth and the life of the 24th thirtankara (teacher, literally: ford maker – someone who creates a path to salvation) of the Jain religion, and final one for the present era.

Suggested bidding prayers for around the time of the festival and now available also containing more details on the festival itself, and the Jain faith.


Interfaith Evening with Bishop Robert Byrne CO

View images from the evening held on Tuesday 3 December at St. Mary's Catholic Academy, Benton Park Road, Newcastle.

Holocaust Memorial Evening 2019 ‘Torn from Home’

In the presence of Rt. Rev. Séamus Cunningham, Gabriele Keenaghan told the story of her flight from the Nazis on the Kindertransport. Photographs from the evening are available on our Holocaust Memorial page.

The annual Diocesan Christian / Muslim Women`s event to pray for peace took place at the ruined chapel to Our Lady, Jesmond on Saturday 30 June 2018. Read more about it here.