Thursday, 13 December 2012


A view from the balcony

No, this is not a case of John Bosco by day, John Travolta by night! ‘Nightfever’ is organised by young Christians whose faith is central in their lives and who seek to bridge between individuals, parishes and communities.

The night starts with Mass; this is followed by Eucharistic adoration when the church is illuminated by candle light, until Benediction at around 22.30.

Candles are lit
for many different

During this time of Adoration we and other volunteers head out onto the streets surrounding St Patrick's with lanterns, candles and small information cards. It is a simple invitation to people to come into the Church to light a candle in front of the Blessed Sacrament for any intention they may have, (Or just for them to get out of the cold!).

It is very simple and very effective, confessions are heard throughout the night; also there is a great music team that comes and provides music throughout the evening inside the Church, which is also wired to play out the front of the Church which helps to draw more people inside.
We all enjoy Nightfever and all the fruit it bears, and we are all looking forward to the next one in the New Year!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Two Ambroses

St Ambrose

In the Catholic Church the 7th December is an important day, it is the day we remember the first Doctor of the Church, St Ambrose.  He was born between 337 and 340 AD in Trier, Germany.  In the year 374 St Ambrose was unexpectically made Bishop of Milan.  After being made Bishop, St Ambrose gave up all his wealth to the poor.  According to legend, St Ambrose immediately and forcefully stopped Arianism in Milan.  He was a great preacher and teacher; helping to convert St Augustine.  It was St Ambrose who baptised St Augustine into the Catholic faith.  He died on 4th April 397.  St Ambrose is patron of bee keepers; bees; candle makers; domestic animals; French Commissariat; learning; Milan; students; and wax refiners. 

Our Ambrose, looking quite 'saintly' and innocent

Speaking of domestic animals, there is one domestic animal in particular who shares his name with the famous Bishop of Milan, our own Ambrose here in St Patrick's.  For those of you who don't know, Ambrose is Fr Alex's King Charles Spaniel and a very important part of the Parish.  Ambrose joined the Parish 5 years ago this month and has been a popular member since.

I'm not sure if there are many similarities between St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, and our Ambrose, who at times seems to think he is Bishop of Soho!  (so much so that right now he has decided that the best place for him to lie is on my lap while I now try to type one handed since he thinks my other arm is there is rest his head on!).  The two Ambroses do, I think, share a few characteristics.  The Doctors of the Catholic Church website states that in 'sketches of him [St Ambrose], his face is thin with big eyes set deep within a long, gaunt face.'  Our Ambrose has amazing big eyes that would melt any heart, so they share big eyes :)  St Ambrose had great presence and was one of the most influential men of the fourth  century; well our Ambrose most definitely has great presence here at St Patrick's and dare I say it he is surely one of the most influential here, if not the most influential!  St Ambrose is well known for evangelising St Augustine; on many a Friday night you will find our Ambrose out on the streets of Soho 'evangelisng' potential saints. 

Some Adoration to begin the morning

Prayer That We May Seek God and Find Him

Lord, teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you. For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, nor find you unless you first reveal yourself to me. Let me seek you in longing and long for you in seeking. Let me find you in love, and love you in finding.

~ St Ambrose of Milan, Bishop, Writer, Doctor

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

It's that time again - Advent Mission Preparations!!

The preparations are well under way for our Annual Advent Mission which is taking place in just a few days time!  The Advent Mission is a weekend of Adoration, Prayer, Music, Evangelisation (with Hot Chocolate and Mince Pies) to prepare for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas. It is a great opportunity to remind ourselves and others that Advent is a time to prepare and to wait on the Lord's coming.

It all kicks off on Friday evening with Adoration, prayer and music in the Church.  During this time some of us will head out into the streets of Soho to chat to people in the area about life, God and Christmas.

Adoration last year with the Nativity scene below

On Saturday we will set up our table of refreshments, you can't beat a nice cup of hot chocolate on a cold December day.  There will be Adoration and music in the Church.  It will be a place where we can invite people to come for a moment of peace and quiet away from the crazy shopping streets here in the West End.  A chance to speak to people about the real meaning of Christmas and why it is that we celebrate this time of the year.

Enjoying a mince pie, hot chocolate and a nice chat last year

Saturday night sees the return of NightFever, a very popular and powerful event here at St Patrick's.  Seriously if you have not experienced NightFever and you are in London this weekend there is only one place you should be - St Patrick's!

Sunday afternoon is quite similar to Saturday afternoon but we head down to Notre Dame de France in Leicester Square.  Again there will be a good supply of hot chocolate, mince pies and some music on the steps of the Church.  Sunday evening we gather back at St Patrick's for Solemn Mass with our international communities who are based here.  After Mass to celebrate the Immaculate Conception we will process with Our Lady from St patrick's through the streets of Soho to Notre Dame de France singing and praying.  The Marian Procession is always a beautiful event.

Check out our flyer for more information about the different events happening over the weekend along with times and locations.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Our Relaxing Retreat

The lovely Chapel at the
Vocations Centre

Recently we returned to the Southwark Vocations Centre in Whitstable for a short retreat. Once again Fr. Stephen made us all very welcome. The main theme of the retreat was to prepare us for this time of Advent we are just about to begin, particularly with our upcoming Advent Mission!!

Since our last visit the centre has come along well, new sofas downstairs, new and improved pillows on the beds, but still the odd armchair in the downstairs toilet.

Keeping watch out at the beach
The retreat itself was great, we had plenty of time for recollection, to look back on our first couple of months together and to see how we are going to approach the rest of the time here. We had plenty of prayer and meditation led by Fr. Stephen, providing us with some great talks on Advent, Mass and other such things.

A bit of piano to entertain us
We also had the pleasure of being joined by two Australian seminarians, Marcus and Trevor, who are staying at St Patrick's through ‘till just after Christmas, so they provided plenty of hymns and chants for our prayer, as well as chocolate cake to accompany regular tea sessions.

The singing nuns
that have a 'habit'
of moving around the place

We are all back now, refreshed and excited to begin the Advent mission. (More info to come)


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Refreshed and ready to go again :)

We've had an amazingly relaxing week!  It began with a lovely retreat out in Whitstable with Fr Stephen.  He gave us some inspiring talks to help us prepare for Advent and we took advantage of the beautiful surroundings to go for walks.  Trevor and Marcus, the two Australian seminarians, joined us on retreat and we showed them a little of the English seaside – a bit colder than what they are used to.  We will update a little more about the retreat and some pictures in a couple of days.

Wednesday we were back at St Patrick’s for a long but most enjoyable day.  Trevor and Marcus gave us some music lessons, teaching us some beautiful chants, which hopefully we can put into practice during this year.  Wednesday evening saw a lot of cleaning taking place – not only did we have our monthly Church cleaning but Ambrose also had a bath!  Thankfully Thursday was another relaxing day with a trip out to Greenwich Park where we had a lovely walk and a picnic before having a look around the Maritime museum.

Last night (Friday) we took part in our first LumiNations night.  LumiNations is an event which SPES helps to co-ordinate and takes place at Notre Dame de France, the French Church in Leicester Square.  There is Adoration in the Church and some beautiful music on the steps outside the Church.  Notre Dame de France, like St Patrick's, is located in a busy area of Central London.  With all the noise, bright lights and craziness of a Friday night in Central London we try to be that gentle light to the nations and invite people into the quiet of the Church to meet Jesus.  There's also  an opportunity to offer some tea, coffee or biscuits to the passers-by or those who stop to listen to the music.  We all had a good night and are looking forward to the next one.

Next week will be a quiet week with regards to lectures but there will be lots of work done to prepare for next weekend, which is our Advent Mission weekend– a weekend of Adoration, Prayer, Music, Evangelisation with Hot Chocolate and Mince Pies to prepare for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas. It will be a great opportunity to remind ourselves and others that Advent is a time to prepare and to wait on the Lord's coming.  Please keep it in your prayer.  More information and details will be uploaded to our blog tomorrow (I hope).  On Tuesday we will take a break from the preparations to join Joanna Bogle on another of her Catholic History Walks around London.  If you would like to join us we will be leaving from St Patrick's at 1.30pm.  There is Mass before at 12.45pm.