Friday, 31 August 2012

The Countdown has begun

Hard to believe but yes it is 30 days until our new students arrive!!!  We are still working hard in the office preparing for their arrival and planning the new school year.  It's looking like it's going to be a good one, lots of amazing and inspiring lecturers lined up as well as some other exciting activities for the students to do.

Please keep the preparations, new students and potential new students in your prayers at this busy time.  There are still many things to be done in the next few weeks but it's all looking good and we are getting very excited!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

SPES @ Medjugorje Youth Festival Part 3

On the Friday morning of the festival we rushed down to the morning programme so that we could get a good spot to see and support Magnus McFarlane-Barrow, who had been invited to speak from the main stage.  Magnus is the founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals ( and his parents started the Craig Lodge House of Prayer ( after visiting Medjugorje in 1983.  The story of Mary’s Meals is inspiring, to think that such a simple idea can make such a big difference to so many children in the world.


 Friday night after the Mass was the procession through the village.  Many of the villagers had made small altars with statues and candles outside their homes.  It was such a wonderful evening.  While walking through the village we had the chance to meet and talk to other young people from different countries and to share our experiences with them.  At the front of the processions there were representatives from each country carrying their country’s name, flag and torch.  Unfortunately we had missed out on starting the procession but along with our sign we eventually made it to the front towards the end.  We probably looked like quite a confused group of young people – we had our Scottish flag and sign but no torch, Deanna had an American flag in her hair and I had the Irish flag dripped on my shoulders.  Being able to be so close to the Altar when Our Lord was exposed on the Altar was a real privilege.  Earlier in the day Deanna had talked about possibly trying to get closer to the Altar during Adoration that night; well ‘ask and you will receive’, we couldn’t have gotten any closer!

The testimonies on Saturday morning were by young people from the Cenacolo Community (  It is fantastic to see how with the help of God and a good community someone can turn their life around again.  

In the afternoon Deanna had the opportunity to speak about SPES from the main stage.  She done a great job of it, well done Deanna!  It was lovely to speak about SPES to a few young people who approached us afterwards and even now we have had some emails from young people who heard Deanna speak at the festival.

It was a great opportunity to share with the young people what SPES is all about and the experiences that you can have in SPES.

Saturday evening was a very special evening for our group; we were invited to Ivan’s private apparition.  It is difficult to describe the feeling of peace that we had during the time that Our Lady was appearing to Ivan.  Even afterwards it was hard to believe that we had been there.  What a way to spend our last evening in Medjugorje!  Afterwards we made our way back to the Church for Mass and Adoration before then watching the musical show by Cenacolo; an awesome performance (although to be honest I didn’t watch it all since it was in Italian and I couldn’t cope with the crowds, but I’m sure it was all awesome).

On Sunday we had a few hours to chill out, buy the last of our souvenirs and say goodbye to Medjugorje as well as ensure we had an ice cream before leaving.  Having waited many years before finally being able to go to Medjugorje I have to say it was well worth the wait.  I had a fantastic time and have had many graces and blessings from my time there.   Thank you to all those who made my trip possible and for all those who made it special, especially those who I was able to share the week with.  May Our Lady continue to protect us all and guide us to her Son Jesus.

Friday, 24 August 2012

SPES @ Medjugorje Youth Festival Part 2

Wednesday 1st August was the official start of the Youth Festival.  We started off our day in the usual way with breakfast, prayer and Mass.  Medjugorje had already been busy with people since we arrived but there seemed to be more and more young people arriving each day.  Around the Church it was starting to get more crowded and colourful as each group of young people brought with them their flags and banners.  There was also a giant helium Rosary floating around all week, it looked awesome!

As the Youth Festival was not kicking off until the evening time we joined an afternoon talk and presentation by Pure in Heart (, an International Catholic Movement of young adults who through prayer and friendship, strive together to learn, live and share the truth, beauty and meaning of human sexuality.  The presentation covered many topics including: What is Love?; Dating and relationships; Sex and sexuality; Modesty and Respect; and Chastity - the forgotten virtue.  Although I have met the team and heard the presentation many times there is always something new in it for me and their personal testimonies are so inspiring.

The Youth Festival began with a time of welcome from each of the countries who were in Medjugorje for the Youth Festival.  Our group were given the opportunity to do the welcome for Scotland so armed with some Scottish flags, the signpost for Scotland and the all important Scottish accent they headed for the main stage to encourage all the young people to have a brave heart and let Jesus give them His Freedom!  Following all the welcomes there was an International Mass.  One of the most important things you need if you ever go to Medjugorje is your radio, otherwise you’ll be lost.  Thankfully with a simple little radio you will get the translation for everything that is happening.  After Mass there was a beautiful time of Adoration and reflection.  The young people were encouraged to love God now, to love Him wherever we are in life, that if we wait until we are saints or holier then we may never love Him.  Jesus is standing knocking at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to open it and to let Him in and to love Him.

Thursday was the first full day of the Youth Festival.  Both the morning and afternoon sessions were packed with lectures, music and amazing testimonies.  The choir, made up of young people from many different countries, was fantastic.  And how could we not mention the Dancing Nuns, absolutely amazing.  They had us all up on our feet dancing to all the songs.  Although the young people came from many different nations, countries and languages we were united through our faith, the celebration of the Sacraments and song.

Medjugorje has been called the ‘confessional of the world’; this is very true.  Everywhere you look there are queues of people waiting to go to confessions and although this year a new block of confessional was opened there were still many priests hearing confessions outside.  Many people come to Medjugorje looking for something and feeling overburdened, many want to get close to God but do not know how.  Through the loving care of our Mother Mary we find the courage to respond to her call and to allow her to guide us to her Son.   Our desire is to better our lives in the love of Christ.  We kneel before Jesus and we ask Him to transform and change us.  Through the graces that are poured out in confession, Mass, and Adoration we are strengthen in our desire to follow Christ.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Olympic Fever

OLYMPIC FEVER truly hit the streets of London... the atmosphere was electric and the excitement palpable as we tuned into the sports events taking place only a short distance from our parish in Soho. St Patrick's Church is the venue for the Mother Theresa of Calcutta Exhibition and also hosted NightFever, we were keen to take full advantage of the crowds flocking into the city.

The exhibition is beautiful, informative and really touches the heart. Each day, the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa's Order of Sisters) were full of infectious enthusiasm and zeal for the Lord. They encouraged many passers-by to visit the exhibition. It was special to volunteer at the exhibition as it gave me an opportunity to learn more about the life of such an extraordinary woman and also to witness the impact her life continues to have on people. Guests to the exhibition are able to view Mother Theresa's actual bed, desk and her few possessions including a cross and a picture of Christ crucified. Also there is a chapel to place prayer intentions, the main exhibition hall and an area to watch her life and mission on DVD. I was in awe of the life she led and it was inspirational to work alongside her Sisters who continue to carry the torch once lit by Mother Theresa. Their shining radiance was a testament to the love of Christ within each one of them.  The Exhibition is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-7pm until 15th September, please do call in to see it.

NightFever once again captured our imagination at the power of God through each one of us. The event began in Germany after World Youth Day 2005 and they brought it to Soho, London in February this year. During the Olympics, the event took place over a period of 5 nights and what an impact it had! Personally it was amazing to see a continuous stream of people come into the Church from the streets. It was such a gentle way of inviting people in to light a candle at the foot of the altar. The transforming effect of the love and healing of Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament was evident to all. Most left the Church with beaming smiles and many others with tearful eyes. Those who were invited into St. Patrick's Church were from various cultures, backgrounds and religions, yet it was beautiful to be united together in One Spirit.

Monday, 20 August 2012

SPES @ Medjugorje Youth Festival Part 1

Deanna and I are not long back from an amazing week in Medjugorje where we attended the 23rd Annual Youth Festival.  We flew out on Sunday 29th July and after a long sleepy journey we arrived safely in Medjugorje at Midnight.  This was Deanna’s second pilgrimage to Medjugorje and a long overdue first time for me.  We were honoured and privileged to join with the group from Craig Lodge community in Scotland (

After breakfast we began each day with a time of prayer.  We prayed the prayers of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which were dictated by Our Lady to Jelena Vasilj of Medjugorje on 18th November 1983.  We continued our prayer with Morning Prayer from the Divine office and a prayer for Mary’s Meals (, a charity which feeds over 600,000 hungry school children every day.  Following this we had Lectio Divina on the Gospel of the day; this gave us a time to individually reflect on the Gospel and also to share with each other.  For the first half of the week we then went to the 10am English speaking Mass, where each day we were treated to inspiring homilies.

On Monday after Mass Nicky, from Craig lodge, gave us a brief introduction to Medjugorje and the history surrounding it.  We spent some time reading the messages from Our Lady about Prayer and sharing with each other how the messages spoke to us in our lives.  After lunch we visited the Cenacolo Community (, a community which helps those struggling with addictions and brings them close to God.  While at the Cenacolo House two of the community members spoke to us about how the community began and gave their own testimonies.  It was wonderful to hear how God had worked in their lives.

Monday evening we climbed Apparition Hill, where Our Lady first appeared to the visionaries.  As you ascend and descend the Hill there are bronze reliefs depicting the mysteries of the Rosary.  At the statue of Our Lady, which marks the place where she first appeared, we paused to pray for a time.  Although there were many people on the Hill that evening there was a great sense of peacefulness about the place.

After Mass on Tuesday Fr Philip Conner, who was with our group, spoke to us about Mass; how to prepare for the Mass, the great gift that it is, how Jesus is truly present to us in the Eucharist and the love that Jesus has for us.  In the afternoon we listened to Marija’s testimony (one of the visionaries).  She spoke to us about how it felt to see Our Lady and about some of Our Lady’s messages.  That evening we climbed Mount Krizevac (Cross Mountain).  We prayed the Stations of the Cross on our way up the mountain.  At the top of the mountain there is a large white cross which was erected by the parishioners in 1934, many years before the apparitions began, as a sign of their faith.  As we approached the top of the mountain the light was beginning to fade.  It was beautiful sitting up at the large cross in the moonlight.  The climb up was difficult as many of us chose to do it bare foot but the climb down was also tough as it was so dark.  Makes you think what Jesus had to go through as He carried His Cross.

To be continued ……

Monday, 13 August 2012

Summertime: Don't worry, we're still here

Looking at our blog you would think we were having a nice quiet summer - I assure you this is not the case, yes it is nice but it certainly isn't quiet!!  Although the classroom has gone very quiet now that we have no students over the summer it is quite a different story in the office and the parish.  In the office work is continuing in preparation for the new intake of students in October.  There has been a great interest in the school for the coming year and we are constantly in contact with potential students.  We ask that you keep the potential students in your prayers and us also as we discern about each applicant.

Although we are all working hard there is always time for a little break and time of rest.  Deanna has been to Poland for a pilgrimage while Edna had the opportunity to go to Ireland and visit Knock Shrine.  Both Deanna and Ciara were at the Medjugorje Youth Festival at the beginning of August.  Ciara also attended the Youth 2000 Clonmacnois Summer Festival in Ireland.

The Parish has also been buzzing lately with the arrival of the Mother Teresa Exhibition which is taking place in the Community Centre until 15th September.  Definitely worth a visit!  During the second week of the Olympics St Patricks was home to NightFever for a whole week! An amazing week of Adoration and evangelising was had.  Both Anne-Marie and Laurie have been back to St Patricks to help with events in the parish.

Over the next couple of weeks we will hopefully be posting some more detailed information about what each of us have been up to over the summer along with some photos.  Please continue to keep the school, parish and us in your prayers.

Keeping you all in prayer also