Sunday, 27 January 2008

A day out in the country

Every saturday, we have a community outing day where we can visit anywhere from churches and monastries, to ice rinks and parks. Yesterday, we went to visit two great friends of the school in Ascot. Anne and Dan Hill are a married couple originally from America. Their house is right in the middle of the countryside with a beautifully big garden! We took with us Fr Alexander's new puppy, Ambrose, who couldn't believe his luck when he found himself surrounded with so much grass!

Anne showed us true hospitality, and demonstrated the importance of how the table should be layed; making sure no one is left alone at the end of the table. Edna and Allen also made homemade choc chip cookies for everyone - the true American way which were very delicious!

Dan told us some amazing stories about his encounters with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. Since he met her in 1992, he has built a number of orphanages for the Missionaries of Charity. Anne and Dan have a deep trust in the power of the Holy Spirit and it has clearly affected their whole lives. They are a truly inspirational couple to meet.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Vincent Gardiner (Student 2006-2007)

Vincent was a student of the School of Evangelisation last year and has since gone on to prepare for studies for the Priesthood! It was wonderful to hear from him the other day ... and we look forward to having him visit us here in Soho for a few days next week. In the meantime, we wanted to share with readers of the blog just how Vincent is doing and what some graduates of the School get up to! Read on to find out ...

I'm studying for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Southwark - a step I would not have taken so soon if I hadn't been at the School of Evangelisation. This year I'm at The Royal English College, Valladolid, Spain, for a propeaodeutic year of human and spiritual formation, with some catechetics and pastoral formation thrown in too. The College is beautiful and comfortable, with an excellent combination of the best parts of Spanish (food and siestas) and English (everything else) cultures. Living with 20 other men discerning the priesthood would perhaps seem quite intense if I hadn't had the year at St Patrick's to prepare me!

I'm spending January in a parish in Liverpool (i.e. somewhere I've never been before), seeing what a parish priest does; visiting hospitals and schools, taking Holy Communion to the housebound, praying with the families of the dead; bringing hope. Next year I will be moving away from Spain, perhaps to a seminary in England. Though there are six and a half years before I might be ordained a priest, I am sure that God is guiding me gently towards whatever He has planned for me, and that I am in the right place at the moment.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

English Culture Night

Last Saturday we had our second culture night of the school year. Anthony and I "prepared" (or bought!) traditional fish and chips from the chip shop. We also made a steak and ale pie, apple pie and trifle - which no one had had before, but I think was well liked!
It was Allen's 23rd birthday too so we made him a very british victoria sponge for his birthday cake! We were blessed to be joined by Fr Francis, Sr Elizabeth and Fr Dennis - an American priest from Maryknoll who is good friends with Allen. It was a great evening playing the detective game, Cluedo, and of course watching Fawlty Towers!

We're Back!

We're finally settling back into normality at St Patrick's. All the students had a refreshing break after Christmas visiting family, friends, and catching up with sleep!

We began the new year with a silent retreat at Ampleforth - a Benedictine monastry up north. We were surrounded with the silence and beauty of the countryside for 5 days.

It was quite a challenging retreat - our longest period of silence yet! But it was very fruitful for a lot of us - it's obvious that Christ uses every moment of this silence to draw us closer to Him and fills us with His grace to prepare us for our next busy term.