Wednesday, 31 January 2007

St. John Bosco altar and Westminster Cathedral

Today Fr. Alex celebrated Mass at the altar of St. John Bosco, and afterwards we were able to venerate a relic of the saint which belongs to St. Patrick's. Don Bosco was a wonderful saint with incredible gifts and a way of drawing the most stubborn and hardened people in society to God through the joy that he radiated. May we follow his example here in Soho, and 'be always happy'!

This evening we went to Westminster Cathedral for the launch of CTS's video 'The Joy of God's Plan', about a new means of regulating fertility within marriage that is natural and in accordance with Church teaching (N. B. not the old rhythm method that many people assume to be all the Church offers). It was hosted by Edmund Adamus, Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark and Bishop Bernard Longley of Westminster (pictured below, left). Among those there were some of the priests who have given us lectures, including Fr. Stephen Langridge who gave us an engaging talk on the Ten Commandments yesterday, Fr. Philip Miller, and Fr. Angelus, a Friar of the Renewal.

Interesting tidbit

We learned in class with Fr. Francis the other day that the reason cardinals wear red is in remembrance of the martyr St. John Fisher, who was the last cardinal to die for his faith. A real honour for English Catholicism! Anyway, Happy St. John Bosco Day.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

More Thoughts from Our Holy Father

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God.

Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.

There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.

-Pope Benedict XVI, Sunday 24th April 2005

Friday, 26 January 2007

This last week

Last week was an interesting mix of things. On Wednesday evening we went to Youth 2000 at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane. There was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a Eucharistic healing service led by Fr. Angelus, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal. He held the Blessed Sacrament before each and every person with such patience and devotion, it was very moving to see. On Thursday we had our weekly community day out, this time to City Farm in Whitechapel to see the animals!

On Friday we had our fortnightly Theology of the Body talk in St. Patrick's from Matthew Nichols on 'Establishing the Ethical Sense' in Theology of the Body. There will be a Theology of the Body lecture this Friday as well on the role of the body in art - should be worth going to if you're free at 7. On Saturday the girls went to the house of Ann and Dan Hill, two big supporters of the school. An American couple, they invited us to a Thanksgiving dinner last term which was to die for! Speaking of good cooking, last night in St. Patrick's there was a big sending off for Dino the Brazilian chef. Here he is being presented an apron by Fr. Alex (who is just back from the Land Down Under). Dino, we will miss you!

Feast of St Thomas & St Titus - Today's Gospel

Feast of St Thomas & St Titus Holy Gospel: Saint Mark 4,26-34. He said,"This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come." He said, "To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade." With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Happy Feast Day!

Today is the Feast of St Francis de Sales, Patron of Writers.

Born in a castle to a well-placed family, his parents intended that he become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the family line and power. Studied at La Roche, Annecy, Clermont College in Paris, and law at the University of Padua. Doctor of Law. He returned home, and found a position as Senate advocate.

It was at this point that he received a message telling him to "Leave all and follow Me." He took this as a call to the priesthood, a move his family fiercely opposed. However, he pursued a devoted prayer life, and his gentle ways won over the family.

Priest. Provost of the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland, a stronghold of Calvinists. Preacher, writer and spiritual director in the district of Chablais. His simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to the Roman Church.

Bishop of Geneva at age 35. Travelled and evangelized throughout the Duchy of Savoy, working with children whenever he could. Friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. Turned down a wealthy French bishopric. Helped found the Order of the Visitation with Saint Jeanne de Chantal. Prolific correspondent. Doctor of the Church.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Ampleforth retreat pics

Here are some pictures which Angela and Ewa took during our retreat to Ampleforth in Yorkshire a few weeks ago. The retreat was led by Fr. Richard Aladics, a priest from Huddersfield who does a lot with Youth 2000 and has his own blog 'Friends with Christ'. The abbey church is very striking , designed by the same architect who was originally commissioned to do Liverpool cathedral (not the hideous spaceship that is there now). We also spent a day at the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey on the feast day of St. Aelred who was abbot at Rievaulx. It is amazing to think that at one time there were 600 monks gathering to worship God in that church! The pictures here are: (top left) part of the enormous grounds of Ampleforth school, (top right) the rood of Ampleforth church, (bottom left) Mandy and Jeanine horsing around, (bottom right) Angela and Iwona getting touch with their monastic side.

Study Day

Today we've got the day off to work on our essays. We are doing the Maryvale course on the Catechism which means writing 6 essays during the year on different aspects of the Catechism, this time on Sacraments. Our teacher is Fr. Francis Selman, who comes in from Allen Hall seminary 3 days a week to give us lectures. He's a great teacher, and isn't perturbed by any question we might throw at him, however strange!

Tonight we will be taking part in SOS prayerline and Open House in St. Patrick's. SOS prayerline is a telephone prayer service which takes place in a tiny chapel in the bell tower of St. Patrick's. Two volunteers take the calls, and pray for and with the caller in front of the Blessed Sacrament which is exposed. It is amazing and humbling to pray with these callers, some of whom call regularly and whose trust in God is awe-inspiring. Open House is an outreach to the homeless, providing them with a meal, company, and prayer every Tuesday evening. 40 or 50 homeless come each week, and two of us volunteer along with other helpers in the parish to serve them and talk with them. It is a wonderful time for us to learn charity through service to others, and often we receive as much as or more than we give.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Thoughts from Our Holy Father

If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ and you will find true life. Amen. - Pope Benedict XVI, 24th April 2005

Friday, 19 January 2007

Street Evangelisation

Last night we hit the streets to talk to the people of Soho, equipped with prayer cards, scripure passages, rosaries and miraculous medals. Many people didn't want to know, but we had some good conversations nevertheless; it's really a chance for people to re-encounter their beliefs (or lack of belief), and in many cases to experience again a religion that they have long ago abandoned. Here Ewa and Iwona are talking to a young Polish boy riding one of those carriage thingummies.

Weekly Update - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The students have returned to St Patrick’s on a full-time basis once again! They enjoyed their week-long retreat (in silence!) at Ampleforth and have returned to regular scheduling and lectures. This past week Sister Helen Carroll, a Dominican sister from Oxford, came to speak to us about Anger Management, which is part of the human formation module of SPES. We have changed our roles and responsibilities within the community and are in the midst of a ‘changeover’! Coming up this week, we have a full day of study time in preparation for our 3rd essay due – wahoo!

A SPES Graduate Update

Below is an update sent to all past students of SPES:

Goodbye Dino
After over 5 years here at St Patrick’s, Dino will return to Brazil this February. We are having a goodbye gathering here at St Patrick’s on Sunday 28th January after the 5:00 Mass (for you locals!). If you would like to ring up at that time to say goodbye - that might be a good time to catch him and a few others too! However, you could always ring Dino in Brazil too! The number at the parish: + 44 (0) 207 437 2010. Do let me know if you will be around and will be coming so we can sort catering needs!

Also – we have put together a scrapbook for Dino of all the past students’ (and coordinators!) pictures – if you would like to send a little note for the scrapbook, email it to me, and I will cut it out and paste it in. Please have it to me by 27th January.

An update from Budi (2004-2005)
at the moment, i am in the dominican mission house in pontianak, west borneo, indonesia. the dominican fathers live in the interdiocesan Borneo Seminary. so that i have a formation in the mission.
my task is to learn about Indonesian Mission (because i already left Indonesia more than 5 years

Wedding Bells
Barbara Gornik (soon to be ‘Toolan’) (2005-2006) is engaged! Terry proposed just before Christmas while they were visiting Barbara’s family in Poland. They have set a date for 26th July 2008 and the wedding will be in Poland.

Nursery Rhymes
Congratulations to Voytec (2002-2003) and Marie Jarosiewicz who have JUST found out that they are expecting a baby (or ‘mishamenu’ as some might say!) on 4th August! EEEKS – Babies! They went for a scan yesterday and all is very well!

Above is a photo of Little Tamas … Grace and Tamas’ (2002-2003) 3-month-old little Tamas! They move into a new flat soon too, so please keep them in your prayers during this transition.

So far …
All is ticking along here at SPES! We have changed the students’ roles and responsibilities for Term 2 and are settling into community life, once again, after 10 days away with our family and friends after Christmas Day. We went to Ampleforth (North of England) for the New Year Retreat, which was led by Father Richard Aladics, a parish priest based in Leeds, who does a lot of work with young people for the New Evangelisation. We are looking forward to a few days away with Father Alexander in February and getting ready for our trip to Rome in March!

Please feel free to send updates whenever you would like on your whereabouts and what you are up to these days. We can post them on the Blog as well, if you would like (please just let me know) this way others can check-in on how you are too!

Please continue to keep us in your prayers … and all of you are most certainly in ours!

The SPES Community - 2006-2007

This picture of all of us was taken on Christmas Eve when we went ice skating at the Natural History Museum - lots of fun, and a few bruises! The students are:

Top left - Susie, German
Middle left - Iwona, Polish
Bottom left - Ewa, Polish
Back middle - Mandy, Chinese
Front middle - Henry, American
Top right - Wadim, Polish and
Vincent, British
Bottom right - Angela, American

You'll notice the Polish predominance here. There's a saying in St. Patrick's that the Polish make us holy. It is an advantage to have a group made up of so many cultures and backgrounds; Mandy has come all the way from the persecuted Church in China and is teaching us to appreciate what religious freedom we have here.

I don't know how Vincent feels about being the lone Brit. Perhaps as more people hear of SPES it will attract some of the home crowd...

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Hello one and all! Welcome to 'Hope in the Heart of Soho', a blog which we at St. Patrick's Evangelisation School have begun in order to keep a journal of things that we are involved in, particularly in Soho Square where we are based. We are a group of 8 students who have come from different parts of the world to spend 9 months from October to June deepening our faith through study of the Catechism, prayer, community life, involvement in the parish and outreach to the wider community in London. The school was started five years ago by our parish priest, Fr. Alexander Sherbrooke, in response to JPII's call for bishops and priests to encourage the 'New Evangelisation' among young people. The school has brought many fruits so far, not least our three coordinators this year, Anna, Basha and Jeanine, who were all students last year. Some of the previous students are now seminarians or have entered religious communities, some are married, some have jobs in the world, many still keep in contact with St. Patrick's parish. This blog is partly so that they can keep in touch with the school, but it is also for those who want to know more about the witness to the Gospel that is taking place in the heart of secular culture. Please spread this blog, and keep Soho (and us) in your prayers!

Tuesday, 16 January 2007


So ... Hope!