Monday, 28 May 2007

Relics of St. Claude

Bone fragments of St Claude de la Colombière, Apostle of the Sacred
Heart, are being brought to St Patrick's Church
for a special season of festivities in June!

A missionary and ascetical writer, St. Claude was born of noble parentage at
Saint-Symphorien-d'Ozon, between Lyons and Vienne, in 1641, and died
at Paray-le-Monial, 15th February 1682. He entered the Society of
Jesus in 1659. In 1674 Father de la Colombière was made superior at
the Jesuit house at Paray-le-Monial, where he became the spiritual
director of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Jesus gave the
revelation of His Sacred Heart, and was thereafter a zealous apostle
of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In 1676 he was sent to England as preacher to the Duchess of York,
later Queen of Great Britain. Although encountering many difficulties,
he was able to guide Margaret Mary by letter. While awaiting recall to
France due to ill health, he was suddenly arrested and thrown into
prison, denounced as a conspirator. Thanks to his connections to the
Duchess of York and to Louis XIV, he escaped death but was condemned
to exile in 1679.

He was canonised by Pope John Paul II on 31 May 1992. His relics are
usually preserved in the monastery of the Visitation nuns at
Paray-le-Monial. He is the patron of Saint Patrick's Evangelisation

"The past three centuries allow us to evaluate the importance of the
message which was entrusted to Claude. Devotion to the Heart of Christ
would be a source of balance and spiritual strengthening for Christian
communities so often faced with increasing unbelief over the coming
centuries." John Paul II, at St Claude's canonisation Mass

Friday, 25 May 2007

Pentecost Vigil This Saturday 6.00 pm at St. Patrick's Church, Soho Square. Mass with the Brazilian and Chinese communities followed by a prayer vigil until midnight. 'I will pour out my spirit upon all humanity.' Come and be present as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church and as we call upon the Spirit to aid us in the New Evangelisation, so that the world may know the love of the Holy Trinity.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Parish Mission

This week the wheels don't stop turning. On Wednesday we had a lovely lunch after Mass with the parishioners of St. Patrick's, some of whom have been coming for over twenty years (quite an achievement in a place where no one stays still long enough to bat an eyelid). There were a few relatively younger faces as well - people working or studying in London who come for Mass or for Morning and Evening prayer at the parish. Maybe our singing is getting better... Now we are in the process of visiting all the residents in the area, trying to find the Catholics and see if they are interested in information about the parish. It's actually quite hard to get access to a lot of the flats where residents live, and most of them are not at all interested. One man leaned out of the window when we rang and after listening to our introduction said, 'I'm in the bath and I'm an atheist.' But we did talk to some people who wanted to know more about the church and that made the visits worthwhile. Soho, and England in general, is a place that is not very open to the discussion of religion, particularly if it is a religion that in their view had its chance and blew it. I wonder what they would think of the evangelisation linebacker...

Monday, 21 May 2007

Christ Alive in the North

We're just back from a weekend up north, staying with Fr. Richard Aladics in Huddersfield. He's on his own in an area that is largely lapsed (and also the product of a drug and binge drinking mentality) and he feels that if he is to do anything significant there then he needs the help of a community. 'It's not a parish, this - it's missionary territory.' On Friday he held a prayer and healing hour in his church, and we spent the morning handing out flyers as he processed through the streets blessing them with Holy Water and saying 'May the peace of Christ reign here!' We also handed out flyers at the local Catholic primary school. For the prayer and healing hour Fr. Richard heard confessions as we prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, and then he blessed individual people with the Blessed Sacrament as they came up. He said to us there were more parishioners there than at any other event he had held in the parish.

On Saturday we went to Bradford to help the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal with their event: Christ Alive in Bradford! A tent had been put up in the green, in which there was an afternoon of talks, testimonies, adoration, a May Crowning of Mary, and praise and worship. Fr. John Wilson from Leeds gave a particularly good talk on the Eucharist and the family, stressing the importance of families spending time together and praying together. The weather was not on our side for most of the day, but that did not stop the friars and the rest of us from going downtown to invite people to the event. A few people came to the tent from off the streets, merely because they were curious, but left noticeably changed. It was a wonderful event and hopefully the first of many like it.

Fr. Richard's 'unctious food' should not go without special mention. It's not often you find a priest who cooks like a Mediterranean chef. Cheers Fr., it was boss.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Past Student Update - Budi Nahiba

We received an update from Budi Nahiba, from Indonesia, who has spent two years with the Dominicans in the Phillipines in formation for the Priesthood. Below is an update from him, on some of his recent experiences! Budi was a student from 2004-2005.
Last month, I joined the parish priest (diocesan priest) in West Borneo. We visited the villages and celebrated Mass in the jungle. There was not any road transportation except by river or by foot. We used the boat and motor cycle for transportation. The road is very bad and muddy. We walked more than three hours to reach the village. We stayed overnight in the village, camping, and there were a lot of insects and mosquitoes.

The people in jungle in this village were happy to receive us, as usually the priest can visit them only twice a year to celebrate Mass. The people are very poor and have low education. They do not have a strong knowledge about the Catholic Faith (lack of the catechist).

I enjoyed the journey. I could practice the evangelization lesson from SPES. The priest asked me to teach the Our Father and Hail Mary Prayer. Also I spoke about the Faith to the villagers. It reminded me of my experiences in Soho, from when I used to discuss the Faith with the people in Soho.

During the Triduum, I returned to the parish Saint Marie John Vianney, once again. This is a new parish that just opened three months ago. On Good Friday, I taught the passion and music. And on the Saturday Vigil, I taught the choir about the song (two of my friends helped me with music, because I can not sing very well!). The people in the parish did not know much about the Triduum liturgy (because the parish is new and the celebration the Easter is new and strange for them. I am very happy because I can share the resurrection with the poor people in the middle of the jungle.

The education in that parish is very poor. The school building in the village is very poor and they lack teachers - especially the catechist/Catholic religious teachers.

In the centre of the parish, they have the dormitories for girls and boys - the students from the village. The dorm is also very damaged and needs refurbishment. At the moment, I tried to help the parish priest to raise the money for the parish and dormitory.

The villagers don't understand that the Priests don't have have money - they think they do because the Missionaries from Europe would also give money or food - so they think all people with the Church are rich. The situation is changing though. I brought the religious articles from the city to the village - Some of the benefactors gave me money to buy the religious articles.

I have spoken to my Dominican superior and I still want to become a priest and continue my formation, but I will take some time out to discern further the will of God. I want to give up my life totally for CHRIST. Follow HIM where He will send me
So, at the moment, I wait my new place.

To be honest, the evangalisation formation in the School of Evangelisation is useful for my journey. I can share the Faith with the people any where, with my deepened spirituality and I can talk about GOD with confidence as I now have a basic knowledge of the catechism.

Our Motto of SPES is to bring Hope to other: I believe God guides me to bring the Hope in middle of the jungle and I can practice my lessons from SPES!

Yours brother in Christ,

Budi Nahiba Vincentius (SPES Alumni: 2004-2005)

Thursday, 17 May 2007

mission in Huddersfield

We're off to Huddersfield to help out Fr. Richard Aladics (Friends with Christ blog) in a parish mission there. He said it's a deprived area, particularly spiritually, and we hope the few days will do something good for the area. There will be a prayer and healing service on Friday evening, followed by a BBQ in the presbytery garden with Fr. Richard's unctious food!

Friday, 11 May 2007

In the wake of Humae Vitae As we come closer and closer to the end of this year's Theology of the Body course, we were led by Fr. Anthony Doe tonight to look at its immediate context: Humae Vitae. Written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 as a definitive statement regarding the Church's teaching against contraception, it came as a shock to many inside and outside the Church who had thought of Pope Paul as a liberal-minded pontiff. Fr. Anthony said he could remember a culture of dissent at the time, in which laypeople stopped practicing, and priests and religious left the Church. Bishops and catechists fell silent on the topic and refused to get tangled up in it. At the end of the day, Fr. Anthony said, all our present conflicts in the Church revolve around this short encyclical. Yet the work is prophetic because 'it spoke the truth out of season.' It foresaw the increase in marriage breakdowns and the sexualization of the young. It perceived that behind the contraceptive mentality was a desire to control: '[man is] endeavouring to extend his control over every aspect of his own life.' Fr. Anthony pointed out two consequences of contraception that we might not immediately consider:
  • The loss of a sense of fatherhood. Instead of the instinctive masculine drive being united to an awareness of responsibility, men are encouraged to remain highly sexualized adolescents. Their actions have no consequences. For this reason Fr. Anthony suggested that men are the biggest victims of the contraceptive mentality.
  • The failure to comprehend the mystery of the Eucharist, the mystery of Christ's death and Resurrection. People are no longer open to or dependent on God, and they can't relate to a nuptial meaning of the Passion in which Christ gives himself to us totally, as man and woman give one another totally in a non-contracepting relationship.
Working also as a psychotherapist, Fr. Anthony said that the deepest yearning of the human heart (which he has seen manifest time and time again) is to be chosen in love. For this reason Christ's words to his disciples in the Last Supper are fundamental to Christianity: 'You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.' Contraception removes the vulnerability and openness in which we can receive God's love and allow him to choose us. It was a wonderful and thought-provoking talk, well-attended too, and we are grateful that Fr. Anthony could come. The last Theology of the Body talk is on May 25th, given by Edmund Adamus also on Humanae Vitae. Please come along if you can!

Past Student Update

Christine Hunker, pictured above with fiancee, Chuck, was a student at SPES in 2003-2004. She stayed on to support the school, giving back what she had received during her time at SPES as a student, until December 2004. We are delighted to hear that her and Chuck are getting married ... and here is a word from her:

After leaving SPES in December 2004, I returned to the United States, but not to my home in St. Louis, Missouri. Instead I moved to sunny Miami, Florida, where I began a job as the manager of a Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory at Florida International University (FIU). What a change from London! All of a sudden I was immersed in the working world again. It was a bit of a tough move for me, not really knowing anyone in Miami except for my boss. However, I found great comfort and strength in all that I had learned during my time with SPES. The year (plus) that I spent in prayer, formation and community made me realize that God must always be at the center of my life. Although I struggle and quite often fall, He is always there to help me stand up, dust off, and try again. And even though I was unsure of the future, I felt a certain peace knowing that God was in control.
Once in Miami, I sought out the closest Catholic Church (St. Agatha’s), which was conveniently located right across the street from the FIU campus. My schedule in the lab was flexible, and I was(am) able to attend Mass each day before work. I received much strength from Christ throughout the transition from SPES to the “real world.” It was, and continues to be, a blessing to be able to begin each day with Our Lord in the Eucharist.
After about a year of working and finding my way around a new city, I made the decision to go back to school to get my Ph.D. in Biology. Last year at about this time I was accepted into the program at FIU. I began my studies in the fall of 2006, and will continue in school for another 2-3 years until I finish my degree. Also right around this time last year I started dating a young man named Chuck Goss whom I met after morning Mass at St. Agatha’s. Upon speaking with him for the first time, I learned that he was an Ecology grad student at FIU and that he was also from the Midwest (Michigan). I found out that although he was attending Mass, he was not Catholic. In fact, he had recently begun his search for Christ, and had been attending different Christian churches. He had become involved in a nearby Baptist church, but felt in his heart that Our Lord was calling him to something more. After much prayer, soul-searching and studying of the Catholic faith he made the decision to join the Catholic Church. He was baptized last month at the Easter Vigil, and I was blessed to be his sponsor throughout the RCIA process. Together we have become involved in various ministries, including Habitat for Humanity and a weekly prayer group.
Chuck asked me to marry him this past January, and now we are engaged! We are getting married on August 18, 2007, in St. Louis. We are so excited that Fr. Alexander will be able to celebrate the Mass. We are blessed in so many ways, and it is certainly through the prayers of many people (including all the members of SPES and St. Patrick’s), and the grace of Our Lord that we came to find each other. We look forward to our wedding day—to our future life together, with Christ always at the center. And hopefully, sometime in the near future, we will be able to visit London. Then Chuck will get a better picture of what I am always talking about when I reminisce about my time with SPES. Hopefully he will also get to meet the people who were important in my faith journey.
I think back often with fond memories to my time with SPES, and continue to hold you all in my prayers. May the Lord bless you all with many gifts, and may He continue to show you the Way as you journey toward Him.

Christine Hunker (Alumni: 2003-2004)

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

A varied weekend

Last weekend we were present at the 40th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Westminster Cathedral. Cardinal Cormac celebrated the Mass, without stretching out his hands exuberantly or speaking in tongues but he managed to get an enthusiastic round of applause from the congregation who had come from all over England and even from Scotland. There were talks and testimonies during the day, including ecumenical speakers from other denominations and most significantly Fr. Raniero Cantalemessa, the papal preacher. Most of the 2,000 strong congregation were older Catholics, though there was an event in the evening for the younglings... Interestingly there seemed to be an inverse proportion between age and behaviour, the adults being more ready to dance and flail their arms about. On Sunday Fr. Tim Finnegan and Msgr. Stark led a pilgrimage group to St. Patrick's to venerate the relics of two Tyburn martyrs on their way to Tyburn convent. They venerated the relics of St. Cuthbert Mayne and St. Oliver Plunkett, the first and last martyrs from seminary abroad.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Student profile: Angela Danaher

Meet Angela from Kansas City, Missouri...

'I am American, 23, and I like reading, writing, drawing, and praying. I especially like cooking, John Singer Sargent, el Greco, Flannery O'Connor, and the fact that I have studied the entire Catechism. I came to London last October to join SPES, expecting an experience of the Catholic Church in England. One of the few aspects of SPES that were recognisably English were the daily 'elevensies' and tea time, other than that the Church and community was very international, a microcosm of the Universal Church. This isn't to say the Church in England is suffering from diversity, rather is rich in its assimilation of nations and people. But London and Soho is poor in spirituality, something I learned very quickly going on the streets and talking about St. Patrick's to people who don't believe in anything, except maybe themselves. My time here has really asserted the opposite, that I can't and shouldn't believe in just myself, and that when I do try to forge my own way, not follow God's will, I generally get knocked off my high horse and realize exactly how difficult it is when I try to make myself and my will into a god. Solid Catechesis, and it's all found in each days' formation. I can say there have been roughly 224 lessons thus far, and I look forward to the 50 or so remaining. God Bless.'

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Friars of the Renewal - Canning Town On Thursday we went to visit the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in Canning Town, East London. It's the second time that we've been, and a few of the friars have been involved in the SPES year in one way or another. Brother John Paul told us a bit about how the order began, when eight Capuchins decided in the eighties that they wanted to go back to a life more like that of the early Franciscans, that would be in line with Vatican II and that would witness to a renewal in the Church. The friars run a soup kitchen Monday to Thursday for those hard up, seeking jobs, or just lonely with no one to talk to... Many of the people who come are Eastern European immigrants (Lithuanian, Polish, Russian) who have come to find work. We stayed for a bit and helped out in the kitchen, talking to those who came. The friars also seem to play a lot of chess with one or two of the guys, and they have a basketball court where people can relax and shoot a few hoops! Though, in the true spirit of poverty, the ball is somewhat flat... Check out their website here.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

'Come and See' - SPES Open Day

On Saturday 12th May there will be an open day in St. Patrick's, Soho Square for anyone who is curious about the School and who is considering joining next year. For those who are not familiar with it it is a year of academic, spiritual, community and evangelisation formation for young men and women aged 20-30, based in Soho and seeking to live the New Evangelisation that John Paul II encouraged at the turn of the new millennium. As a student this year I would heartily recommend it as wonderful opportunity to pray and live the Gospel in a place that is desperate for the love of God, and it has borne many fruits for me and others. The open day will begin at 10 am, and includes Mass and lunch. If you would like to come please contact Jeanine on 020 7434 9965.