Tuesday, 5 November 2013

We've Moved!

You can now find the SPES blog on the SPES website here

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Inside the Carmelite Monastery

Paddy, the Carmelites dog
This weeks theme for lectures was Community Life so after an early start and a lecture in the morning, the SPES community headed for the Carmelite Monastery in Notting Hill. We were quite apprehensive as to what to expect, considering the most that some of us knew about Carmelites was from a short film about St. Therese! We were greeted by a nun and a lovely big dog who immediately befriended Ambrose who we, of course, had brought along with us.

The grill from our side of the parlour, before it was opened
Entering the parlour room, we were faced with a closed window that led into another room. We heard what sounded like a stampede of elephants entering the room on the other side of the wall however, when the grill was finally opened we were met by 17 radiant Carmelite nuns all eager to see us and introduce themselves! The age varied among them as did the accents; from Scottish to Malaysian to South African! After such a warm welcome from the nuns, only two were able to stay to give us a talk on community life. One of the nuns was from Yorkshire which seemed to excite one of our community members and they spoke in a strange language for a couple of minutes that the rest of us could not understand... These nuns had both been in that Carmelite monastery for almost 30 years, compared to our just over 3 weeks in SPES, so they had a lot of experience on the topic we were to discuss.
The sisters kindly gave us a run through of what their typical day is like. They wake up at 5.20am which is slightly similar to us although we have breakfast together at 6.30am. They pray the hours of the day and have a very structured timetable, similar to ours, squeezing as much as possible into the little time available. They have work time which includes making of the hosts for the surrounding parishes and is where they get their main income from, gardening, making the habits that they wear and doing the washing, cooking and cleaning. They are in total silence apart from recreation time which is twice a day and during this time they sit around in a circle and talk to each other while doing something for fun like knitting for example. They spoke about the importance of sharing as a community because otherwise you don't fully know the people that you are living with, so they thoroughly enjoy and appreciate these recreation times they get to spend together.
We were curious as to what their rooms were like and were told that they in fact were called 'cells' and were very simple rooms with a bed, a desk and some drawers but that this was sufficient and one of the sisters even called them fashionable because most of the decor in the room is wooden!
The joy that radiated from these nuns was infectious and gave us hope, because if these ladies can live together for almost 30 years and still be so joyful, then we will definitely be able to survive these next 9 months!!
(Photo of Paddy and Sister's cell from Carmelites website http://carmelitesnottinghill.org.uk/ )

Monday, 21 October 2013

Our First NightFever together

On Saturday, 19th October, we had our first Nightfever London together as SPES. Before the evening started, we had a short introduction with Laura, who was the evangelisation leader that evening. We met our evangelisation partners, guys from Father Steven Language´s vocation centre.  We got to know them and went together to Mass. After that we went downstairs for a short briefing with a copious number of other volunteers.

The main part of the evening began with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The nice music started and we prayed together for our fist street evangelisation. Outside we invited people who crossed Soho Square to light a candle in the church and enjoy the nice atmosphere of prayer and music. Many meetings and conversations later we went inside to stay very close to the Blessed Sacrament for a personal time of adoration. Later some of us did welcome ministry: we stood at the door and welcomed the people entering the church; others went outside again for another time of street mission. At half ten all volunteers met inside for conclusion prayer and the amazing evening ended with the Benediction and a wonderful Salve Regina. After tidying up, some of the volunteers shared the experiences they had that evening. For each of us it was a splendid evening with many great experiences. Tired but full of joy we caught the bus and went home.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Open House Volunteer Retreat Day

In the gardens of the Kairos Centre
Although we have not yet started volunteering at Open House we were invited along on their Volunteer Retreat Day yesterday.  It was out at the Kairos Centre in Roehampton.  It was a great day, both in terms of weather and the retreat.  We headed off at 9.45am in the minibus and made it there in 45mins, which is pretty good so we are told.  We were greeted by the Sisters who run the Kairos Centre.  They are the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, the same congregation as Sr Mary, our Parish Sister.  The Kairos Centre has some very beautiful gardens which we were free to wander through. 

SPES were definitely here
There was tea, coffee and biscuits available for us also when we arrived so of course we all had to have a cup of tea.  No point wasting time sitting inside so we took our tea outside. Don't worry we were good and returned the cups, once we collected them all off the grass.  The others gradually arrived and it was time to begin. 

Fr Alex speaking to us about Open House
We began our retreat with a prayer before Fr Alex gave us a spiritual talk/reflection.  He spoke beautifully about our need for God's mercy and forgiveness and how we must extend it to others.  His talk focused on how we can do this with our guests at Open House.  After Fr Alex's talk we had some time to go away by ourselves to reflect on what we had heard and to pray about it.  We gathered again for some lunch and then we shared some of our thoughts about Open House, about what is working well, what we can improve on and generally how we can best bring the love and mercy of God to our guests at Open House. 

Since we have not yet been to Open House we listened more than talking.  We learnt more about how Open House was run before we had our beautiful community centre.  Things have changed over the years but the same principles are there; we want to be a welcoming place for our homeless guests and to feed them both physically and spiritually.  We are very much looking forward to volunteering at Open House and thankfully now we have met some of the other volunteers it won't be as difficult the first time.  We finished the day together with Mass.

Ambrose enjoying all the attention!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Divine Providence and Outreaches

Another whole week of lectures has just flew by. We've have now finished 3 weeks of SPES!  Where has the time gone.  So far we all seem to be settling in well and getting on with each other.  Each day we are discovering more and more about ourselves and each other.

This past week our lectures were focused on Divine Providence and Outreach.  We were introduced to some of the Parish's outreaches which we will be involved in.  Alexandra introduced us to the SOS Prayerline, which has been running now for over 11 years. We are looking forward to being a part of it soon. All the prayer books from the past 11 years are kept in the Chapel downstairs.  It is amazing to think that there are all these requests for prayer by telephone and soon we were be there to receive the calls and offer the prayers to Our Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament.

As well as this we also learnt more about Open House, which is when the Parish feed some of the homeless and less fortunate in our area. It happens twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Normally there are approximately 60-80 guests each night.  The evening relies on the support of volunteers.  We will be helping on one of the nights each week.  The idea of it seems a little scary at times but after learning more about how it is run we are looking forward to helping out and meeting some of the guests.

There were lectures about some of the other outreaches we will be involved in such as LumiNations and NightFever. This weekend we were able to experience our first NightFever together as a group. We have been looking forward to it all week. (We'll do a separate update soon all about our first experience of NightFever at St Patrick's).  Paula, from the Cenacolo Prayer Group, came along this week and spoke to us about the Cenacolo Community and providence.  It is amazing to hear how God has worked in the community.  It truly shows how God provides for us.  Robert, from 40 Days for Life, spoke to us about some of the pro-life issues and in particular the 40 Days for Life campaign, which is happening in London at the moment. Yesterday we headed out on a Catholic History Walk with Joanna Bogle. It was a fantastic experience, there is so much Catholic history right here on our doorstep! (Again we will do a separate post about Joanna's walk.)

Our First Catholic History Walk with Joanna Bogle

After a fascinating session of storytelling from Joanna Bogle, we ventured out, in her words, for "a romp around London".  We first discussed a little history of St Patrick's Church, the parish we are based at. In 1940, during a bomb raid, a bomb became lodged in the floor, but miraculously did not explode. This church was founded by Irish immigrants while Catholicism was still outlawed in England. 
Our first stop was not far from our St Patrick's. St Giles-in-the-Fields is an Anglican church, which was once a hospital for lepers while it was Catholic before the reformation. We then walked past Lincoln Inn Fields which is now a large square, but once fields in which Catholics were martyred for their faith after King Henry XIII had outlawed Catholicism. 
The Ship Tavern, from 1549, which has a nice amount of character, was a place where Mass was held in secret while Catholicism was illegal. Embassy chapels were a place that Mass could be celebrated legally as technically each London embassy was not a part of England, but of the country it represented. 
We popped into St Anselm and St Cecilia's Church at Lincoln's Inn Fields, a place of beautiful peace.   Another lovely church, St Brides, is the three tiered church that inspired the classic wedding cake design.
Our last sight was the ornate Anglican cathedral of St Paul's, which as many churches were, was Catholic before Henry XIII named himself head of a new church. Because of this, much of the art of Catholic churches was stripped.
The afternoon ended on a delightful and refreshing note of three pots of tea and carrot cake at a tea shop across from the cathedral, by the Thames. Here is to a year of exploring history and faith with hundreds of cups of tea to come!
With Joanna outside St Paul's

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Today was an interesting day. We got to experience our first 'Cookathon' which is basically when we all gather together for a full day of cooking at St Patrick's.  Each of us cooked a different dish and cooked enough to make a few meals.  We cook everything from fresh and then freeze it so that we have some nice dishes for our lunch and dinner over the coming weeks.  Means a little less cooking everyday.  The meals that we have cooked are cottage pie, fish pie, Thai green chicken curry, tomato and coriander chicken, meatballs, roast veg, and some burgers and garlic bread as well as some cupcakes and rhubarb crumble.  Some of us have done some cooking before while as others have only been used to a little cooking for ourselves or not at all! Thankfully Della had kindly organised all our ingredients before we arrived and had our instructions written out on a page for us.

Philip, who lives at St Patrick's, also came along to help us. It was a great day and we had lots of fun and laughs.  Everything seems to have went well, except for the first lot of jam tarts which ended up in flames! We shall be nice and not name names but it wasn't us girls!

After the flames had been put out!
We are now very much looking forward to trying out our different dishes.  It will be nice to be able to say that we made them ourselves.

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Lectures Have Begun ...

We have just finished our first week of lectures, much quicker than we thought it would be!  This week the topic that our lectures were focused on was prayer.  We have had a number of different lecturers in talking to us about the different types of prayer that there is and which we will encounter in our daily life in SPES.  It has been nice to at last meet some of our lecturers and to put a face to the name.  

So what have we been learning about and what is the prayer life in SPES like??  In SPES our whole timetable is made around the different times of prayer that we have.  Prayer is at the centre of everything we do.  Each day we pray Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer from the Divine Office, which is the official prayer of the Church.  Fr Alex spoke to us about the Divine Office this week.  Although we have been praying it from the day we arrived it was nice to learn more about it so that we may understand it better.  We have been singing some of the Psalms from the Office and look forward to learning to sing more of it in the coming weeks.  Together each day we also pray the Rosary.  We had a beautiful talk about Our Lady and the Rosary on the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, how very special and it was also our first lecture.  That evening we had Mass in the SOS Prayerline Chapel for the restarting of the SOS Prayerline after their short break.  It was nice to have Mass in the small Chapel and on Friday we were back in the Chapel again for a hands on explanation of the Mass by Fr John Farrell OP.  It was amazing and really helped us to understand more about the Mass.

Our SPES timetable has some time in morning dedicated to Spiritual Reading so we were blessed to have a full day session with Sr Margarida and Anne-Marie from the Verbum Dei Community.  They spoke to us and explained Lectio Divina and we had some time to put what we had heard in to practice.  Each day we have the opportunity for an hour of silent Adoration together as a community, which can sound and feel a little scary to begin with.  What are we supposed to do for an hour everyday in front of the Blessed Sacrament!  Well thankfully Fr Alan came along and talked to us about what Adoration is and gave us some helpful tips as to how to spend our time in Adoration and how it will not always be easy.  Friday afternoon gave us an opportunity to learn what Spiritual Direction is and to meet our Spiritual Director as a group.  In a couple of weeks we will begin to meet with him individually.

It really has been quite a packed week with all the lectures and trying to get into our new routine of early starts and long days, but we are enjoying it and looking forward to all that we will experience in the next nine months!  Please keep praying for us.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Our First Week @ SPES

Outside Tyburn Convent
Our first week at SPES was a relatively relaxing one.  As mentioned in the previous post we walked to St Patrick's on the Monday and spent the afternoon with Fr Alex, learning more about SPES and what was in store for us.  After a quiet morning at St Mary's on Tuesday we paid a visit to Tyburn Convent for a talk about the Tyburn Martyrs and a tour of all the relics. For some of us this was all new and we are looking forward to learning much more about the Martyrs during this next year.  It is hard to believe that the site of Tyburn Tree, where the majority of our Martyrs were killed during the Reformation, is just sitting there on a traffic island in the middle of the busy traffic of Marble Arch and so many people don't realise.  We are sure many also don't realise that the Tyburn Nuns are right beside it and have perpetual adoration going on in their Chapel.  We were very impressed with Tyburn and feel very blessed to have been able to visit and see the many relics.

Fr Richard Aladics joined us on Tuesday evening in preparation for our introductory retreat beginning on Wednesday morning.  Fr Richard has been great and really has given us plenty to think and pray about as we begin our year.  As many of us our new to London and to give us an opportunity to get to know each other a little he took us on a boat trip on the Thames. (Wouldn't it be nice if all our retreats included a boat trip or afternoon out).  Our retreat finished on Friday afternoon.  Fr Alex and Ambrose joined us for dinner on Friday night.  We have been spoiling Ambrose and he is very much enjoying having 5 girls to fuss over him.

Busy being artistic
Saturday was a fun and relaxing day as we joined in with the Open House Art Class, which will now be happening on the first Saturday of every month.  One of our homeless guests taught us all how to make some very beautiful paintings - he is amazing at it (and he was also so patient with some of us who are not natural artists).  On Sunday we were all at St Patrick's for the 11am Mass and then tea and coffee after Mass with a chance to meet some of our parishioners.  We already enjoy the Sunday tea and coffee time.

Now that we have survived our first week of SPES it is time to prepare for our first week of lectures!  This coming week the topic we will be looking at is Prayer, in particular the prayer life that we will be living together here at St Patrick's.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

SPES 2013-14 has begun!!

Saturday 28th September was the beginning of our new SPES year. Slowly one by one our new students arrived at St Mary's. This year the SPES community is made up of 5 girls from various parts of the world.  We have Lucy from America, Alicia from Canada, Laura from Germany, Alice from England and Hannah from Scotland. On Saturday evening we chatted and got to know each other a little before going to Mass in the Parish and having dinner together afterwards. Fr Keith, the Parish priest at St Mary's welcomed us at the Mass and joined us for a little afterwards to meet the students.

On Sunday we all headed over to St Patrick's for the 11am Mass. Some of the students had not yet been to St Patrick's or met Fr Alex in person so this was their first opportunity. The tea and coffee after the 11am Mass started up again this Sunday so it was a good opportunity to meet some of our regular parishioners. Philip, our newest resident in St Patrick's, made us all a lovely lunch and Della made us some fantastic cupcakes with the students initials and SPES on them. They looked great and tasted lovely. Thank you Della and Philip.

Monday morning we were due to be at St Patrick's in time for the lunchtime Mass which meant we were able to enjoy a lie in (which won't be happening too often this year!) and walk to St Patrick's through the park. Ambrose, the dog, joined us of course. He is very much enjoying having 5 new girls to fuss over him! Monday afternoon Fr Alex spent some time getting to know the students and speaking to them about SPES and this coming year.

It has only been 3 days but it feels like more. We are all enjoying getting to know each other over many cups of tea.  Hopefully we will be able to keep you posted on all that we get up to over the next 9 months. Please keep us all in your prayers. Thank you.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

SPES Road Trip!

Today has been a great day.  It started off pretty early but we can't complain as we started with a lovely cooked breakfast at St Patrick's.  After breakfast we quickly washed up and piled into our minibus along with Fr Alex, Pauline and of course Ambrose (He tends to go everywhere!).  The weather was absolutely lovely today and thankfully we weren't having to sit in the minibus for too long.

Our first stop of the day was Alyesford Priory.  Aylesford Priory, or 'The Friars' to give it its traditional name, was founded in 1242 when the first Carmelites arrived from the Holy Land.  For some of us it was our first time visiting and we were very excited as we had heard quite a bit about it.  Tradition has it that Alyesford is where Our Lady appeared to St Simon Stock and gave him the scapular and promising her protection to all who wear it with devotion.We had Mass at Alyesford and prayed the Rosary together as well as having a nice cup of tea/coffee with some of the community there.

We had a lovely picnic at Alyesford in the sunshine before getting back into the minibus to head to our next destination.  Our second stop of the day was Canterbury.  We visited the Cathedral in Canterbury where there was a shrine to St Thomas a Beckett, until it was destroyed during the Reformation.  The Cathedral is beautiful and you can easily see how it was built at different times due to the pillars and arches inside.  There was a lovely cloister at the Cathedral which we were able to enjoy in the sunshine.

As we were leaving Canterbury we made a quick stop off at a very important small church called St Martin's.  St Martin's is the oldest parish church in continuous use in this country.  It dates back to the 6th century, before St Augustine arrived from Rome.  It was a beautiful little church where there is still part of a roman wall.  After our short visit it was time to head back to London.  It was quite a long trip compared to what we expected due to much traffic.  Safely back in London surrounded by tall building and ridiculous traffic we will now wait patiently for our next trip out of London (hopefully soon!).

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Scarborough Mission Day 5

Today we spent most of our day in St Augustine's Secondary School, which was fantastic.  We started the morning leading the assembly, this time it was Alfonso was spoke about being a witness and gave some of his testimony.  He spoke very well and the students were engaged with what he was saying.  After the assembly we were given the opportunity to visit some classes. We split up into two groups so we could visit both Year 7 classes and then for second period we were back together to speak to a Year 11 class.  The students had some great questions to ask us and seemed to enjoy us being there.  At first we're sure they thought we were a little crazy standing in their class talking about Jesus and how He loves us.  We enjoyed the class visits and the chance to hear back from the students.  In the assembly we can tell them quite a bit but there isn't that chance to answer their questions.

After we spoke to the Year 11 class it was back to St Peter's Church for adoration and Mass before we tucked into a lovely lunch in the Parish Centre.  One thing we definitely have to say is that the food and hospitality in Scarborough is amazing, absolutely out of this world!  Big thank you to all who looked after us and cooked for us!

In the afternoon we were back up at St Augustine's to visit some more classes.  Again we separated into two groups so that we could visit more classes in the time that we had.  At times during the assemblies we wondered how much the students were actually listening to us but when we visited the classes we realised that they had been listening and some of them had questions they wanted to ask us.  Each of us enjoyed the class visits and look forward to doing more at St Augustine's on Friday.

We had a lovely supper today (seriously the food is great here!) and then packed up to go and see the Confirmation group.  Tonight they were having two sessions, we were leading the second session.  The first session they had was on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and was a great session led by Sarah.  Our session had the title 'Witness' and we began firstly by asking each of the Confirmation candidates to tell us their name and why they had chosen to be confirmed this year.  There were a range of answers but the most popular seemed to be that their parents wanted them to get confirmed and some of their friends were doing it this year.  Although at first it may not have been their choice to be confirmed this year we congratulated them on being there tonight and having in a way made the choice themselves.  We spoke to them about what it means to be a witness and how we can be witnesses but we must choose to be.  We divided them up into four groups and gave them a scenario where they had to decide what the correct thing to do was and which gifts of the Holy Spirit would help them to make that choice.  They were a fantastic group and a very honest group.  We will continue to pray for them and we would ask that you do the same please.  At the end of the night we each lit a candle from the Paschal candle and prayed that we would receive the light of Christ, as we had done at Baptism.  It was very beautiful and prayerful.  We are loving our time here, what will the rest of the week have in store for us!?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Scarborough Mission Day 4

This morning our first stop was St Augustine's secondary school where we were leading their morning assembly.  The theme for our assembly was 'Witness'.  This week the students are in House assemblies.  Each student belongs to a House (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John - good choices).  This meant that in each assembly this week we will students from every year group (Years 7-11).  We found this was a very important point in our planning of the assembly; we had to ensure that each student could get something out of the assembly despite the age differences. 

We began the assembly with a prayer and introduction of who we are, what SPES is and what we do in London and this week in Scarborough.  Maisie joined us to help us with the song we were to sing, she is a fantastic singer! Today Ola spoke to the students about what it means to be a witness and gave a testimony about times when she has found it difficult to be a witness to Jesus.  She spoke very well and I'm sure many students can relate to her story.  After this Armel spoke about how to be a witness and choosing to follow Jesus.  He challenged the students to make that choice.  We finished with a beautiful prayer by Ben.

From St Augustine's we went over to St Peter's Primary School.  At St Peter's we grabbed a much needed cup of tea/coffee before leading an assembly for the KS2 students.  Ciara and Armel were greeted by some familiar faces from their visit last year.  The assembly for St Peter's had the same theme of 'Witness'.  As it was younger kids after we introduced ourselves and prayed we taught them an action song, which they loved and were fantastic at.  Now there's no point teaching a song if you don't explain the lyrics of it and why we sing it so that's what Armel done for us.  We asked the students some questions about how they can be witnesses (ie how do they show they are a follower of Jesus). They gave us some great answers such as praying and going to Mass, we even had one boy answer with going to Confessions but they also gave us some very practical answers of how to live our lives showing love to others through helping at home, visiting the sick and lonely.  If we all did half the things these kids suggested there would be a lot more love shown and felt in our world.  After the assembly we visited the Year 5 and Year 6 classes.

After lunch, now that we have Armel with us, we had some time for preparation for the Confirmation session that we are taking tomorrow evening.  Once we finalised our plan for the session and ensured we had all the equipment it was time to pack up our music, instruments and evangelisation materials and head for the town centre.  We had another lovely afternoon in the town centre talking to people and sharing our Faith through music.  Some people were very surprised to find young people singing and playing Christian music in the street and so full of joy.

We finish off our day with a beautiful Holy Hour and Mass at St Edwards.  All the Church in Scarborough are lovely and the people are so welcoming.  After Mass we all piled into some cars with some parishioners and headed off to Whitby for fish and chips.  It was a nice evening and we really enjoyed it.  The company was great and the fish and chips were very tasty.  Then it was back to Jane and Hugh’s for a cup of tea, chat and then bed.  Can’t wait for tomorrow!  We are really enjoying this week.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Scarborough Mission Day 3

It's Monday and thankfully we don't have that Monday feeling! We were up nice and early and ready for the road. Our first stop was to St Joseph's Church for adoration and Mass.  We joined the parishioners for Morning Prayer and the Mass was a special Mass for a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Very beautiful.

From St Joseph's we walked over to St Peter's. Fr William gave us a map yesterday and Ben's map reading skills found us a nice public footpath away from the road. It lead down along a play park, some playing fields and a cemetery.  The weather was sunny with a bit of a breeze, yet again we seem to have brought the sunshine to Scarborough, lets hope it keeps up for the week.

After a quick tea break we packed up guitar, music, Scriptures and Miraculous medals and headed for the town centre. We found a nice spot on some steps outside Poundland and the music really worked.  Many people stopped and listened to the music or at least looked over to see what we were doing. There were some great conversations with people. Some people were very pleased to hear Christian music being played on the street and others were very happy to receive a Miraculous medal and Scripture quote as well as the offer of prayer.

Back at St Peter's we tucked into lunch and chatted about how our morning had been before going back down to the town centre to take up our spot again. The afternoon was a little quieter but still people seemed to be attracted by the music. We had a lovely supper at the Parish Centre and were at last joined by Armel, who has come up to help us this week.  Armel is a friend of ours from Notre Dame de France Church in Leicester Square.  After supper we went up to St Edward's hall for the youth club, which takes place every Monday night.  We taught them some action songs and spoke to them about how we can praise God through music. They were a lovely group and we look forward to seeing some of them in the schools and also at our Youth Night on Friday night.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Scarborough Mission Day 2

Our first full day in Scarborough was a nice quiet relaxing one.  We attended the 10am Mass at St Joseph's and the 11.30am Mass at St Peter's.  It was Ben and Alfonso's turn to introduce SPES to the parishioners and explain a little about what we do (sorry no pictures to prove this due to beautiful Paschal candles being in the way).  We have been made to feel very welcome here in the Parish.  After the Mass at St Peter's we joined some of the parishioners in the Parish Centre for tea and coffee.  It was lovely to have the chance to speak to some of the parishioners, who were all very nice to us.

We were then picked up and whisked off to an absolutely fantastic lunch with Jennie out at her sisters lovely caravan park.  Fr William and Jennie's friend Mike joined us and it ended up being quite a long lunch with a lot of chatting. The rest of our afternoon was nice and relaxing also as we took a walk up through the town centre and down by the seafront, harbour, and castle with Fr William.  We met Maisie when we were in town so she joined us for the rest of our walk and will hopefully be helping us out during the week as she has done in the past.

In the evening we had a lovely quiet Holy Hour in St Peter's before heading back to Jane and Hugh's house. We had a good evening with time to chill out, chat and have a lot of laughs together (and some tea and cake of course!).  It looking like this is going to be quite a 'sweet' week!  The boys will be happy especially our sweet toothed Ben, who even had cake for breakfast!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Scarborough Mission Day 1

Today we had a pretty early start, well for a Saturday that is. We left St Mary's at about 7.45am to head towards Victoria Coach Station. It's a good thing we left in plenty of time cos when we arrived at our bus stop towards Victoria it was Out of Use!! A burst water main at Notting Hill Gate was causing there to be a number of diversions. So we gave up on the bus and headed to the tube station lugging our suitcases, backpacks and guitars - so many steps!! But we arrived safely and in good time to catch our coach to Scarborough.    We were not looking forward to the journey, leaving Victoria at 9am and not seeing Scarborough til 5pm! Seriously ridiculous! At least we had a bit of a stop off in Leeds to stretch our legs.

We filled up our time on the coach by praying a few Rosaries, listening to music, putting some finishing touches to mission stuff and of course sleeping!  It could have been worse. As we left London we had a group of very talkative girls who were enjoying a drink on the coach. Thankfully after an hour or so they fell asleep too :)

We arrived in Leeds at 1.20pm where we tucked into some nice ham & cheese sandwiches as well as chocolate, crisps, fruit & of course a hot chocolate. Then it was on to a local bus service to get to Scarborough.  Another two and a half hours of travel.  Thankfully when we arrived into Scarborough we were greeted with smiling faces from Tom and Maurice, who were going to drive us up to St Peter's.  Scarborough is definitely the hospitality capital! Delicious food was waiting for us at the Parish centre served up by Lesley and her daughter Maisie (our honourary SPES member).

Supper had to be quickly eaten, dessert had to be left for later in the evening as we were due to be at the 6.30pm Mass at St Edwards.  Ola spoke at the end of the Mass about who we are and what we will be doing this week.  She spoke very well.  We were made very welcome by the parishioners, they were all very friendly and supportive of us and offering to keep us in prayer, which is probably the best thing anyone can offer us during this week.

After Mass we met Hugh and Jane who are our hosts this week.  They are a lovely couple and have made us very welcome and at home in their home, as has Buddy their 16 year old Beagle dog. And we thought we were going to be dog less this week!  We spent the evening enjoying a cup of tea with our dessert and chatting about pretty much everything and anything.

We are shattered but so excited for this week! Please pray for us and those we will speak to.

Friday, 12 April 2013

St Patrick's Weekend

This year St Patrick's Day fell on a Sunday, which kind of meant we could celebrate all weekend. (Well he is our Patron Saint and it is very good to celebrate his feast day as best we can).  Although because it fell on the 5th Sunday of Lent we had to use the readings etc for the 5th Sunday of Lent rather than for St Patrick's Day, but they were very fitting.  To prepare to celebrate our Patronal feast we held 40 Hours of Adoration in the Parish.  It was a beautiful time and many people came to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. 

Decorating the community centre

As well as preparing spiritually we also needed to prepare some practical things for the weekend, such as decorating the community centre and preparing the Shamrocks that were to be blessed and distributed at all the Masses over the weekend.  We had a lot of fun deciding where to put all the different decorations.  There were loads of them!  The Shamrocks were interesting, there was absolutely tons of them!  They took forever and we had very green fingers when we finished.  But it was all worth it when we seen how pleased people were to be given some at Mass.

Some of our shamrocks ready to go
Fr Alex blessing the shamrock

Community centre all decorated

We were very blessed over the St Patrick's weekend to have Fr John Harris OP with us as our main celebrant.  Fr John is the Regent of Studies for the Irish Dominican Province and also the National Spiritual Director of Youth 2000 Ireland.  He was great, a true preacher.  He spoke well about the New Evangelisation and how we are called to show we are Christian and to proclaim Christ to all.  Before Fr John left on the Monday morning he found some time to give us a lecture about the challenges of the New Evangelisation.  We very much enjoyed having Fr John with us for St Patrick's Day and we learnt a lot from him.

Instead of the usual tea, coffee and sweet stuff after the 11am Mass on Sunday we had some traditional Irish food.  We had some very tasty Irish stew and colcannon as well as some lovely cakes, apple tart and cheesecake.

TOB, Evangelisation Prep, Goodbye to PBXVI, Assignments and Laetare Concert... busy as always.

The last week of February was a week focusing on the Theology of the Body, which is a topic some of us are very interested in.  We were privileged to have an amazing set of lecturers, thank you to each of them.  Tuesday that week was a lecture free day which we spent doing some street evangelisation preparation, in particular putting Miraculous Medals on colourful string, which is surprisingly quite a relaxing activity.  In the afternoon we headed over to Tyburn Convent to do our Holy Hour, which we used to pray for the Church as Pope Benedict prepared to step down and after the news from Scotland. 

Thursday 28th February was a historic day and in some ways quite a sad day as our Holy Father Pope Benedict stepped down from the See of St Peter.  To mark the occasion we held a Holy Hour and Mass on Thursday evening to give thanks for the ministry and care of Pope Benedict XVI as he left office, and to pray for a worthy successor to lead us towards Jesus Christ.  It was a lovely, prayerful evening, and thanks to all those who joined us especially Fr James Bradley. 

The first week of March brought with it another assignment, this time we were studying Liturgy and the Sacraments.  It was very interesting to learn about each of them and the links between the Sacrament and the Liturgical celebration.  We also learnt how each of the three persons of the Trinity work in all the Sacraments. 

On Sunday 10th March, both Laetare Sunday and Mother's Day, we enjoyed The Choir of St Patrick's Laetare Concert, which took place in the Church.  The music was beautiful and it was great to hear the restored Gray Organ being played.

We're Back (again!)

Well it’s been a while and we do apologise for going missing. March was an extremely busy month for us here at SPES; we had two assignment weeks, a week of visiting communities, our Patronal Feast celebrations for St Patrick’s Day (Weekend), and then we were into Holy Week and Easter. It has been non stop around here but definitely good. After Easter we had a week off to relax and recharge ourselves before coming back to prepare for our Scarborough Mission, which is this coming week (13th - 21st April).  Over the next couple of blog posts we will try to bring you up to speed on what we have done and what we are doing next.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

NightFever - another awesome evening!

Every time we have NightFever here at St Patrick's I am left in total amazement at how well it works. Looking at it and explaining it to others it just sounds so simple, but actually seeing how easily it draws people into the Church and the experiences they come away with, well let's just say it must be The Lord at work.

For those of you who aren't sure what NightFever is I'll give a short explanation; Basically the evening begins with the Saturday night vigil Mass after which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration. Volunteers sign up to different roles during the night. Some stay in the Church to pray, others go out in pairs with candles to invite passers-by in to the Church, and others are present are the entrance/back of the Church to welcome people into the Church.

At the front of the Church in from of the Blessed Sacrament there is a prayer intention box for people to write down their prayers as well as space to light a candle and a basket of Scripture quotes that you may pick up. While all of this is happening there is beautiful music playing which can be heard outside. There are priests available to hear confessions or just to talk to.

Really there are not words to describe the evening, one must experience it for themselves. Listening to people as they leave the Church and thank you for giving them such a lovely evening is, well it's humbling, we don't really do anything other than invite someone in. Jesus does the work really. The evening finishes with Benediction at 10.30pm.

Ambrose exhausted after an evening of evangelising

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Another Busy Week of Study and Outreach

This week we have been working on our third assignment, which has been focused on the second two parts of our Creed; God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Our lectures were based on the Catechism and the coursebook from Maryvale. We looked at different parts of the Life of Jesus and how the Holy Spirit was present in them. In particular we have studied the Incarnation, Jesus’ public life, His Passion and Death as well as the Resurrection, Ascension and Second Coming. We also looked at how the Church is described as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. There was a lot of stuff to take in this week but it has all been so interesting. Let’s hope our assignments explain it all well enough. There’s been a few late nights this week, hopefully all worth it.

As well as our studies this week we have been busy with our outreaches. Monday night we had Catholicism, which was about Mary, Mother of God. It was a very interesting evening and Mary always causes questions with those of other faiths so it is good to learn more about what we believe about Mary and how to explain it to others. Thursday night two of us were helping with Open House, which is always a great evening and the food looked amazing! The other two of us were on SOS Prayerline for Thursday evening.  Each of us love doing SOS Prayerline, it is awesome to see the faith that so many people have that they call in to ask for prayer or to thank the Lord for prayers that have been answered.   Last night we were down at Notre Dame de France for LumiNations.  It was absolutely freezing but that didn't stop us setting up the music on the steps and get out the evangelising materials.  It was a great night and many people stopped to have a look at what we were doing and to listen to the music.  Inside we have Adoration going on and people praying for those of us who were outside. Tonight we shall be out on the streets again for NightFever, here at St Patrick's.  We start with Mass at 6pm followed by Adoration and our street mission.  We are all very much looking forward to it and if you can join us please do.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Upcoming Retreat Day

When we were in Rome we had an amazing tour of the Vatican Museums and St Peter's Basilica by Sr Emanuela from the Missionaries of Divine Revelation.  The Missionaries of Divine Revelation are a relatively new congregation and their main work is catechesis.  They are official guides of St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums.  At present they have one English sister, Sr Emanuela, who is originally from Wigan.

Sr Emanuela is coming back over to England soon to take part in a retreat, which sounds like it would be a great day.  The retreat is taking place on Saturday 9th March in Birmingham.  Below is the poster and information for the day.  I would seriously encourage anyone who is able to go TO GO!!  Sr Emanuela is lovely and speaks about her faith in such a loving way that brings it alive to all who hear her.

And what better way to prepare for Easter than a day of prayer, reflection and fellowship with other young people and an opportunity to ask those questions that you have.

So check out the retreat but also check out the Missionaries of Divine Revelation (no other tour guide compares to them in Rome!)

Their website is www.divinarivelazione.org/index.php?lang=en and they have a facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Missionaries-Of-Divine-Revelation/131815806858352

Friday, 15 February 2013

St Claude de la Colombière - Patron Saint of SPES

St Claude de la Colombière (2nd February 1641 – 15th February 1682)
Faithful Servant and Perfect Friend of the Sacred Heart
Feast Day: 15th February

St Claude de la Colombière was born at Saint Symphorien-d’Ozen, Diocese of Lyons in France.  He entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon in 1659 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1669.  After ordination he was sent to be the spiritual director to the sisters at the Monastery of the Visitation in Paray-le-Monial, a surprisingly lowly appointment for one of noble background and so highly educated.  God’s Providence was soon apparent, however as Sister (later Saint) Margaret Mary Alacoque began to have revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Fr Claude soon recongnised as authentic. 

In 1676 he was sent to England to be chaplain to the Duchess of York, wife of the future James II.  Open about his Catholicism, he ministered to those who wanted to receive the Faith at court, and amongst the ordinary Catholics of London, who were otherwise deprived of a priest.  Staying in contact with Sister Margaret Mary by letter, he zealously spread the revelations given to her, making the streets around here the first place in  the world to hear the message of the Sacred Heart.

Eventually his evangelisation became too bold and he was imprisoned and sentenced to death.  By the personal intervention of Louis XIV of France this was commuted to exile.  His health never recovered and he died two years later at Paray-le-Morial.
He was beatified in 1929 and canonised by Pope John Paul II on 31st May 1992.

For his zeal in spreading the Gospel in the face of adversity, for his relationship to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and for his connection with the streets around St Patrick’s he was chosen as a patron of St Patrick’s Evangelisation School.