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 and they have a facebook page at

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.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Day 6 - Monday - a free day to do as we pleased!

Monday was our last day in Rome and we were given the chance to do whatever we wanted as long as we were back at 3.30pm to go to the airport.

Some got up early and headed to St Peter's to find a Mass (none of which seemed to be in English!) while others had a long lie in and even missed breakfast! St Peter's was beautiful first thing in the morning (see picture below).

We all had a pretty relaxing day. Some went back to the English College to continue catching up with friends, a couple of others 'broke' into the NAC for Mass and Confessions while the rest continued touring the many Churches there are to see in Rome.

In the middle of the day we all heard the news that everyone is now talking about - Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI announced that he is to resign at the end of this month. I think we are still in shock. We did have a few emails and messages asking what we had done on our trip to make the Pope want to resign. I assure you we were all on our very best behaviour while in Rome! Now we must take this time to pray for our Holy Father and for our Cardinals.

We made it safely back to London on Monday night and are now getting back onto the swing of things at St. Patrick's.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Day 5 - Sunday - A day of rest??

A day of rest, on a pilgrimage - no chance!!

It was such a busy day it has taken me three days to write about it here! Well in all fairness we did have a more relaxed breakfast, we did not need to leave the hotel until 8.45am, which is late in comparison to some of the other mornings we've had. Our first stop was up the hill to the NAC (North American College), where we had a beautiful Mass and then brunch with the seminarians. They were all very welcoming and showed us around. They definitely have one of the best views in Rome from their rooftop.

From the NAC we headed down to St Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the Pope and to listen to his message. We were in for a big surprise - he welcomed us, the young people of St Patrick's Evangelisation School! We all looked at each other wondering if we had heard him correctly. Yes we had! We were shocked and very pleased that our Holy Father had mentioned us and welcomed us to Rome.

Still in shock we headed towards the Venerable English College where we were due to have lunch and a tour. Again we were made very welcome. For some of us it was a chance to catch up with some of the seminarians that we know from back in England and a chance to see how they are getting on. We arrived during exam time so both seminaries were a little quieter than others.

From the English College we began our afternoon of being 'tourists' rather than 'pilgrims', although we still ended up in some Churches on route. We visited the Patheon, Trevi Fountain and finally Spanish Steps - all of which were beautiful, especially on such a nice day as we had. AtSpanish Steps we had some real Italian ice-cream, which was long overdue.

Right beside Spanish Steps is the congregation that Sr Mary, our Parish Sister, belongs to so we had arranged to call in and visit them. They are a lovely congregation and considering two of them that we met are Irish they had some real tea for us. We were told the story of their congregation, the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, which has its roots here in Soho. We had a lovely evening with them and then it was time to head back to our hotel for our last night in Rome.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Day 4 - Churches tour!

Another early start on Saturday and a couple of crazy Italian buses took us out to the Catacombs, which believe it or not was very close to where we had walked to the night before. We were privileged enough to be allowed to celebrate Mass in the Catacombs before then being given a tour and explanation of them. Our tour guide was very good. The Catacombs that we visited show the first picture of Mary thereby showing that devotion to Our Lady was present in the life of the early Christians.

Our next stop was the Church of St Lawrence the Deacon. There was a funeral happening when we arrived but God rewards those who wait patiently. After the funeral we were allowed to stay a little longer in the Church even though it was being locked for the lunch break. We were even allowed to view the private cloister which was beautiful and had many interesting things on the wall. The Church of St Lawrence has in it the body of St Lawrence, St Stephen and St Justin. It is an amazing Church.

By the time we had done all this we were starving. We found a place to sit in the sun and eat our picnic. It was good just to have a bit of time to sit and chill in the sun. Some even decided to lie down (see picture below). We then took a walk towards San Clemente, which unfortunately was closed for lunch, but seeing as it is such a beautiful Church we decided to wait a while. Some went for a quick walk down to look at the Colosseum. San Clemente was well worth the wait!

The next Church we visited was a favourite of a few people, it was Santa Maria in Aracoeli which is known as the Church of the Baby Jesus. Absolutely stunning Church. After this we walked around a little more and Fr Alex explained a bit more about Rome and the significance of some of the Churches. Then it was back to our awesome hotel to meet Anne-Marie who was a student at SPES last year. Just happens that her mid-term break falls when we are in Rome. For some of us it was a reunion and a catch up, for Alfonso it was an introduction. It was lovely for Anne-Marie to be able to join us for supper. We had supper with Fr Kevin, who is a Carmelite and a very good friend of SPES. He took us to a fantastic restaurant where we had our first real Italian pizza - it was very good! All in all another busy full day.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Day 3 - Friday Penance

Our afternoon was time for some Friday Penance. It all began with catching a couple of buses out to the Scala Sancti (the Holy Stairs), which are believed to the steps that Jesus climbed up to Pilate. There are 28 steps in total and the only way to climb these steps is on one's knees and they are not the smoothest set of steps. But a bit of pain and penance does us a lot of good, so we're told. I believe each one of us found it a very moving experience.

After the Scala Sancti we crosses over the road to visit San Giovanni Laterano (St John Lateran). It is the Diocesan Basilica of Rome and the Pope's Church. We spent some time praying there before walking on over to Santa Maria Maggiore. Santa Maria Maggiore is beautiful and is situated on one of the hills of Rome.

On our way to Santa Maria Maggiore we stopped in for a moment at St Alfonso's Church since we have our own Alfonso with us. The Church of St Alfonso is also a shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

From Santa Maria Maggiore we started the 'short' walk to meet some friends of Father's who had invited us over for supper. Our 'short' walk turned into an hour long march as we realised it was further out the road than first thought! Oh well, on the bright side we had walked off whatever dinner we were about to receive! We had a wonderful time with Father's friends who were very welcoming to us.

This trip has been fantastic, there really is so much to see in Rome and although we are only here a short time we are seeing loads. Keep checking back for updates of what we are doing and hopefully when we get back we will update with more information in some of the places we have seen.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Day 3 - St Peter & some Friday penance

What a start to Day 3 - Mass at the tomb of Blessed John Paul II!! Was having difficulty believing that Fr Alex could pull it off successfully but he did. An unbelievable experience. I think it may turn out to be one of our highlights of our time here in Rome.

After Mass and a quick prayer it was a very quick walk back up to Domus Carmelitana for what I believe you could safely say is an amazingly good breakfast. Our boys are definitely enjoying it! Seriously good food - there's even desserts for breakfast!!

Our morning has been very busy. We also visited he Scavi, where yet again we were treated to a great tour with a very good tour guide, Luke from the English College. It is impossible to describe how it felt as we walked around the Scavi under St Peter's and then came to the actual location of the bones of St Peter, exactly where tradition has always said they were. The evidence that there is to say that yes these are the bones of St Peter and yes this is where he was buried is overwhelming. A truly amazing and unbelievable experience.

Just finishing our lovely picnic lunch on the beautiful roof terrace of our hotel. This place is so great. Today's has been quite sunny, although not all of us want to sit in the sun. Plenty planned for the rest of the afternoon so pop back later to find out where we've been and what we've been up to.

Day 2 - Art, Faith & St Paul

The morning of our second day was focused on Art & Faith, touching very much on this Year of Faith. We had a tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica by Sr Emanuela. Sr Emanuela is from the Missionaries of Divine Revelation, which is a relatively new order. Her order are some of the official Vatican guides. She is amazingly awesome!! We would recommend her to anyone! Best tour guide ever! Sr Emanuela is not difficult to spot - she has a emerald green habit!! During the tour she explained to us some of the artwork in the museum and the significance of it and the Year of Faith. It was a very inspiring tour and left each one of us thinking about our own Faith and what we can do to be true witnesses to the Faith. After the tour Sr Emanuela joined us for some coffee and a chat. She truly is a remarkable witness.

In the afternoon we grabbed a couple of buses to have an afternoon of St Paul. We went to visit Trefountane (sp?) where St Paul was beheaded and also St Paul's outside the Walls, where St Paul is buried. What a magnificent Church! To be honest I think all of us have been in awe of the places that we have visited. To think that this is where the apostles Peter and Paul were and where they were martyred for their Faith, the Faith that today we still profess!

We had Mass with the seminarians at the Venerable English College, where some of us had a chance to catch up with some friends. Four of the students from Westminster Diocese joined us for a lovely supper. It was nice to get to hear about the College and their studies and to also explain to them what SPES is. Not too sure who has the most full timetable! ( I personally think SPES do!) but both are worthwhile programs and intense for a reason.

Rome is awesome! What will Day 3 have in store for us!!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

And we're off…

This morning has went very well, I don't think any of have ever been so awake and ready to go at 5.50am before!! We made it perfectly on time for the bus and train and thankfully no queues when we arrived at the check-in desk.

After a quick picnic breakfast at the airport and a hot drink we headed off to Gate 10. Presently writing this as we wait to take off but won't have it posted until I find some WiFi in Rome.


So we have taken off… and as usual there are 101 announcements so now is the time to turn the music on and chill til we land.


Plane journey good, albeit a little turbulent. We quickly made it through passport control and thankfully our only non-EU citizen didn't take too long either. Bag pick up was a little more interesting- Fr Alex's bag was the first one out but it got stuck, not that Fr Alex noticed since he was chatting away. After quick a bit of trying from Ben and another passenger it didn't look good - til of course Fr Alex wandered over, gave it one pull and free it came, typical!

Now we are just settling into our rooms before we have Mass at 3pm. Once we have Mass we will grab some lunch and have a walk around.

Day 1-Finding our way around

As mentioned above we had Mass at 3pm. Isn't it handy to have a priest in your group!? We grabbed some lunch after Mass and then began our tour of Rome. We went to St Peter's Square first so we could all see St Peter's, the sun was shining so brightly it was difficult to look up at The basilica. From St Peter's we began to walk up one of Rome's seven hills, passing the North American College (NAC) on our way, where we shall be having Mass and lunch on Sunday morning. At the top of the hill we sat down and looked out over the city of Rome. Fr Alex explained some of the history of Rome to us and pointed out some of the main sites of Rome.

From there we walked down through some of the city visiting different Churches on our way. We visited Santa Maria in Trastevere, which was so beautiful. We took time to pray in the small Church that is built where St Benedict's residence was in Rome. We visited a few other Churches as we wandered around Rome, each one of them was beautiful and truly fit for giving glory to God. The artwork and general design of each Church is unbelievable, there are no words to describe it.

As we walked around we crossed over a bridge which dates from (oops I forget the date it said on the sign but definitely before the time of Jesus) - which means Peter and Paul and others would have actually walked on that exact bridge! Really brings it all alive to you to think that not only are you standing where they would have stood but you are actually standing on what they would have stood!

To finish the evening off we had a lovely supper and then it was back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

'twas the night before ...

'twas the night before Rome, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Wait!! That doesn't sound right!! Or look right from where I am.

Let's try again:

'twas the night before Rome, and all through our home
SPES were still packing, yes packing for Rome!!

Hopefully we will be able to get some wifi and keep you posted on our pilgrimage so watch this space. So excited!!