Monday, 31 March 2008


Some Easter reflections from Jenny:

Christ is Risen! Indeed He has Risen! This Easter has been so amazing for me. Since the students practically live in St. Patrick's, this year I really noticed the difference in the church with the statues covered during Holy Week and the tabernacle empty on Good Friday and Holy Saturday
. But then there was the Easter Vigil Mass! The church was pitch dark and you could smell the smoke from the Easter fire at the church doors. Father and the six alter servers found there way to all of us gathered in the back for the church and we began the walk together into the church. I was amazed at the light all of our candles produced when they were lit! We had all seven readings and there was beautiful organ music throughout. When we got to the Gloria, where we proclaim the Risen Christ, the lights came on, the cloths came off the statues and bells were ringing! It was so much to take in. So beautiful!! We had one parishioner Baptised and another receiving Confirmation and Holy Communion for the first time. It was so touching to hear them make their profession of faith. Since the Eucharist was not celebrated on Friday and was not in the church all for two days, I realised how special it was when the priest began the Eucharistic prayer. Before the Mass ended, we had a grand procession through Soho Square with the Blessed Sacrament. It was beautiful and lively (our Brazilian community followed with plenty of music and clapping). I've never rung in Easter quite like this. When Mass ended we met up with all our parishioners in the parish house for wine and food. Looking at our watches we noted that it was a 3-hour Mass! After our celebration and a bit of clean up we drove home to St. Anne's and made it into our beds by 2:30am. Easter morning was just as joyful. The students and staff enjoyed a leisurely lunch and now we are off for a week to Worth Abbey. We're helping out at the national retreat held by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Should be spirited! :)

Good Friday

Some reflections from Jenny on Good Friday:

Today, Good Friday, the church is stark and cold. Not only do the alters not have any flowers, but the tabernacle in the middle of the sanctuary is wide open and empty. It has given me a very real sense that Jesus is not with us, he has been taken away... This moring was Stations of the Cross out in Soho. Many people gathered with us in St. Patrick's before processing out through the streets. With a plain wooden cross and Fr. Alexander leading the way, we passed and stopped in front of the businesses and shops of Soho. We got lots of confused looks, but no ill words or threats. I found it was an amazing way to reflect on the humiliation of Christ as he carried his cross through the crowds in the streets outside Jerusalem. Right now we are getting ready for the Passion service in the Church. At the moment I am in the basement of St. Pat's and can hear the beautiful choir warming up. The whole Gospel reading is sung! After that we will have some traditional English hot crossed buns with the parishioners. I'm looking forward to trying them for the first time, they looked delicious as Arnold was preparing them in the kitchen. This evening we will be watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in the parish room.
More to come as we finish up Easter Triduum and arrive at the long awaited Vigil Mass!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Entering into the Easter Triduum

Last night, After the Mass of The Lord's Supper, we went up to the Parish room and watched with Christ in our Garden of Gethsemane.

This morning we went out on to the streets and walked the Way of the Cross our Lord.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Emmanuel School of Mission Update

On our Rome pilgrimage we were able to meet up with the Emmanuel School of Mission (who came to London before Christmas to help with our Advent Mission). ESM live on the top floor of a hotel right in the centre of Rome - looking out on their balcony they have an amazing view of St Peter's basilica! We had great fun catching up, talking about the affects of the Advent Mission, and everything that had happened after Christmas.

They showed us a DVD about the World Youth Day Cross our late Holy Father, John Paul II had started. It was moving to see JP2 passing the cross from nation to generation for each new WYD, even at the very end of his life. The ESM students then took us to San Lorenzo Youth Centre where the cross is kept and displayed at the front of the church.

For San Lorenzo's 25th anniversary, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass there with the Emmanuel School of Mission each taking part in the Mass! There was a holy jealousy from SPES when they told us that four of them would be receiving communion from our Holy Father!

We were supposed to go out and evangelise with them in the afternoon, but it was cold and raining so we had praise and worship with them instead, which was a lot of fun! It was great to see them all again, and hopefully won't be the last time.

Monday, 17 March 2008


We are celebrating are patron Saint on the sly this year because of Holy Week! But we are wasting no time spreading the life of St Patrick to those in Soho, showing that there is more to his feast day than drinking!

St Patrick was born in Scotland in the year 387. At the age of 14, Patrick was carried off into captivity by Irish marauders and was sold as a slave. During his captivity, while tending the flocks, he prayed many times throughout the day: "The love of God and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it."

After escaping from his master in Ireland, Patrick went back to Britain and pursued a Christian lifestyle. He became a priest and after many years of study, he became a bishop and returned to Ireland and began teaching the Christian faith there.

It is said that St Patrick, when teaching the faith to the Irish, picked a shamrock and explained the unity of the three persons of the Trinity with it. He travelled throughout the country teaching, building churches and performing many miracles. He is now patron saint of Ireland.

St Patrick, pray for us!

Monday, 10 March 2008


We have just come back from an exhausting, but more that worthwhile pilgrimage to Rome. Although the schedule was action packed, we had just about enough time to take in everything we were doing!

After a cold 2am start in London on Tuesday morning, we were greeted in Roma with a beautiful blue sunny sky; Barbara had us wasting no time at all! Fr Vittorio from the Missionaries of Charity met us at the airport and took us to his house to meet the other priests for coffee. They were very welcoming, and great fun to be with!

In the afternoon, we visited the Colosseum and Forum. It was humbling to remember the Christians who were martyred on the same ground we were walking on, who were so full of faith and courage; ready to embrace death for their resurrection with Christ. I thought of Little Therese of Liseux who, on her one and only trip to Rome, ran to kiss the earth in the middle of the arena.

To be continued with lots more fun!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Wherefore art thou students?

Did someone say Roma? St Peter's? Pilgrims?

The students are away this week on a pilgrimage in Rome ... and are also taking a day trip to Assisi! Barbara has planned an exciting week of visits, tours and excursions that will keep everyone on their toes, and in need of good coffee to stay awake.

As Father Alexander said during the students pilgrimage preparations - this is no 'holiday'. They are up very early - touring, visiting, praying, learning - the list goes on! Father Francis is with them in Rome looking after the sacramental life of the pilgrimage and Father Alexander joins the students at the week-end.

Please pray for the students as they journey through and discover the Eternal City!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Culture nights

February was an exciting month for good food from all over the world. Allen and Edna both had their culture nights to celebrate Chinese New Year and Carnival, respectively.

Allen prepared a feast of vegetables, dumplings, soup and spring rolls that are traditional for festival times in China. Not only was the food interesting, but the act of eating it with chopsticks added to the meal as well. After dessert, we retired to the common room for visiting with our guests, which included Br. John Paul and Br. Bosco from the CFRs, Fr. Gisepi who is a visiting missionary priest from the Servants of the Poor of the Third World, and Ronnie, a Jesuit seminarian studying in London. Watch out for the friars and their party tricks! They kept us entertained.

For Brazilian night, the meal took place in the common room, which was a nice change of pace. Edna provided a buffet of different Brazilian meats, vegetables and breads. She made her personal favorite dish, torresmo, which is a tasty mixture of beans and meats. Brazilians have a reputation of liveliness and this evening was no exception!