Monday, 26 November 2012


Last Thursday we were invited to join Anne and Dan, friends of SPES, to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving at their home in Ascot. We were welcomed warmly into their beautiful home. A Carmelite priest from India, Father James, who is currently serving in a Parish in Florida, celebrated Mass for us in Anne and Dan’s private chapel. This was extra special because it really helped emphasize the true meaning of thankfulness which often gets lost in a secular society. So we ate the Bread of Life, and then we dug into some delicious traditional Thanksgiving food! It was a wonderful night with great food and great company. We are so thankful for Father James for celebrating Mass for us and joining us for dinner.  We are ever grateful for Dan and Anne for their hospitality and support to the school.

Pictures will follow shortly :)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

And so the study begins . . .

After our busy week last week you'd think we would have had a bit of a break but no such luck.  Instead we are thrown into our first week of studying the Catechism.  Sounds a little silly but we are starting off with Unit 6 (the last unit!), which is all about Prayer.  So far this week we have been reading through the corresponding section in the Catechism and the Maryvale study book.  It has been very interesting, so often we are being referred to Scripture, writings of the Saints and also to documents of the Church, such as those from Vatican II.

For each of us I think it has been the first time we have actually sat down with the Catechism and properly read it.  We have also had some great instruction and guidance from Fr Francis, Deacon Michael and Wisam - I think we'd be lost without them.  This afternoon's session be our last guided session and then it will be time to knuckle down and get writing.  This year we do not need to write essays as students in previous years had to, instead for each Unit there are a number of shorter tasks that we need to answer.  Not sure which one is better but we shall see how it all goes.  We have stocked up with tea and biscuits for some late night assignment writing!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A Very Busy Week . . .

This week has definitely been one of the busiest weeks we've had so far - but it has also been very good and very interesting.  This week's theme was 'Evangelisation and Apologetics'.  We started the week off with a well illustrated lecture on Faith and Reason by Fr Hugh MacKenzie, editor of the Faith magazine.  Other excellent lecturers included Fr Paul Keane, Fr Richard Aladics, Fr Sam Medley (SOLT), Msgr Keith Barltrop and Fr Marcus Holden.  What an amazing bunch of lecturers we are blessed with here, we truly are spoilt!

Tuesday night saw the opening session of the 'You Believe'  programme, a monthly celebration of faith, catechesis, praise and worship led by SPEC and Westminster Youth Ministry.  This month's catechesis on faith and belief in the world was given by Archbishop Vincent Nichols.  You can watch a video of the Archbishops catechesis here. 

Altar set up for the Mass
On Thursday morning Fr James Bradley spoke to us about the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, explaining to us a bit about what the Ordinariate is and some of the differences between their liturgy and ours.  Friday afternoon was a big afternoon for those who are part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, with Mass being celebrated for the first time here at St Patrick's according to their own liturgy.  We had the great pleasure of being able to attend the Mass and to also meet some of those who are part of the Ordinariate.  Here are a few photos from the Mass.


Friday night was also our first night of Street Evangelisation in Soho.  At first we were a little worried about going out and how we would approach people to talk to them but once we were out there it was fine.  We got speaking to quite a few people and had a really good night. 

This week was so busy that we even had a lecture on Saturday morning, not that we minded, considering it was Dr Gerard O'Shea.  Dr O'Shea is a Senior Lecturer at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, Australia.  He spoke to us about the different stages of human development and how these stages are also present within religion and how we can relate it to evangelisation.

So that has been our busy busy week.  This week will have less lectures but we will also be starting our first assignment on the Catechism.  Our first module is on Prayer, if you have a few spare prayers they'd be greatly received. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Officially signed up and committed to SPES!

That’s it – we’re all officially signed up and committed to SPES.  Thank you to all those who came along to our Commitment Mass last Thursday or kept us in prayer.  It was a beautiful and wonderful celebration of Mass, especially being the Solemnity of All Saints.
Signing our commitment
Publicly proclaiming our commitment

All fully committed and ready

We are now all set to take on some responsibilities within the community and get started properly on our mission outreaches.  Each of us have now been given different roles and responsibilities within the community;

Alfonso has been given the tasks of Music & Liturgy Coordinator as well as Social & Cultural Coordinator (ie he will not only organise a good party but also ensure there is some music and prayers also!)

Ben has taken on the roles of Sacristan and Team Coordinator.  Let's hope he remembers the easy way to be a happy Sacristan (happy Priest = happy Sacristan)

Ola has been entrusted with the roles of Resource Coordinator, Transport Coordinator and Evangelisation Coordinator (ie Ola will be the 'key' to almost all that the boys will need within their roles!)

And finally Terry will be running a tight ship as Housekeeper as well as Hospitality Coordinator.  Our visitors will be warmly welcomed into our lovely clean SPES area with a cup of tea/coffee as well as a few biscuits.

Last night we had our first experience of two of the outreaches that happen here in St Patrick's.  Two of us were helping at Open House, making sure all our guests had milk for their teas and coffees as well as a bit of chat with them.  A longer night was had by the other two who were manning the SOS Prayerline from 7-11pm.  All of us had a great experience and we look forward to doing much more of it in the future.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Our Day with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal!

We recently spent a day in Canning Town with the Grey Friars.  When we arrived we immediately began by helping with the preparations for the soup kitchen which they run for the poor and homeless.  This involved opening plenty of cans, chopping potatoes, getting stuff ready for tea and coffee and then serving the soup and toast to the people that came along to the Friary.  We had the opportunity to have a chat with many of the people that came along; both the helpers and the homeless and we were really able to see how God is working with and through this mission.

After getting some soup for ourselves we were given a lecture from Fr. Emmanuel on Community Living.  He made no secret that the next few months are going to come with many challenges and hardships, but, he also let us know that from these 9 months will come great graces and so much joy; this, everyone found very beneficial and we look forward to putting much of what he said into practice.  After a bit of free time, along with some basketball, we settled down for Evening Prayer and an hour of Eucharistic Adoration.

The whole day was rounded up with a lovely chicken dinner prepared by Fr. Emmanuel and some good social time with Br John Bosco, Br Angelo and Fr. Emmanuel.  We are all looking forward to any other opportunity that may come to meet up with the Franciscans again!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

'No Pain No Gain'

'No Pain No Gain' - this beautiful truth became more familiar to us than ever before on Sunday 29th October when we joined a group of pilgrims on their 20-mile-in-one-day (!) walk from Westmister Cathedral to Hampton Wick (Kingston). For some of them it was a reunion after their walking pilgrimage to Walsingham in the summer, but for the rest (including us - SPES) it was a venture into the unknown.

Some of the group waiting to cross the road

The pilgrimage was organised by Sr Hyacinthe and Joanna Bogle - two women inexhaustible in their passion for walking and bringing people to God. We first attended Mass, then marched along the Thames path and after 7 hours reached our destination which was the Shrine of Our Lady of Westminster. This is where we gladly offered Our Lady our blisters and sore feet.

Striding along listening to Sr Hyacinthe

However incredible it sounds, the pleasure of walking 20 miles brought us many joys - we made new friends, enjoyed the picturesque views but, most importantly, prayed for the conversion of England and gave witness to our faith by saying the Rosary and listening to Sr Hyacinthe's talks on the Church. Being in the company of Catholics of all ages and walks of life strengthened our faith and gave us the sense that although we're all different we form one community in Our Lord Jesus. Praise be to Him!

Still smiling at the end (even after our train was cancelled!)

Friday, 2 November 2012

Some pictures . . .

Well it's about time we got ourselves sorted and put a few pictures up so here they are:

Lunch with some of the past students

Too busy eating to look at the camera
Some old, some new and one for the future!
Deanna's Leaving Party

We may be smiling on the outside but we were crying inside

Ola's amazing dish

Cooking can be messy!

Praying it'll taste good
Looking well pleased with the result
I think he may be chuffed

Two Cathedral's Procession of the Blessed Sacrament

Starting fromWestminster Cathedral
Through the busy streets of London

There were Priests, Brothers, Sister, and young and not so young people

A beautiful finish at Southwark Cathedral

And the SPES Mascot who also attended all of the above events