Written by Sherry
Thursday, 22 March 2007 20:21
Welcome to St Patrick's Parish, Soho Square, London. I've tracked this extraordinary 200 year+ old parish in the heart of Soho for two years and am delighted to see how things are continuing to develop.
Soho is known for sex, seediness, poverty, drug abuse, and homelessness. The church, on the corner of Soho square is vast, in desperate need of repair, and has a congregation of only 150. St. Patrick's is attempting to raise 4 million pounds to renovate the church while keeping all its outreaches afloat. Yet, St. Patrick's has risen to the challenge in a remarkable way. Led by their dynamic pastor, Fr. Alexander, St. Patrick's had undertaken some very creative initiatives.
(The image is that of Hogarth's famous "Gin Lane" painted of Soho Square in the 18th century. It hasn't changed much)
SOS prayerline. Every evening from 7 - 11pm, volunteers answer a prayer line and pray for people's requests in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Since May, 2002, the prayer line has received over 19,000 calls.
Open House: Every Tuesday night, the parish cooks a meal and welcomes the homeless to St. Patrick's
The Central London Fertility Care Clinic is located at the parish. Here they teach the Creighton method of natural family planning and help those struggling with infertility.
Communities: St. Patrick's is the center for the Chinese Catholic community, the Brazilian Catholic community of the West End and the South American Catholic Community. Every Sunday St. Patrick's celebrates Mass in Cantonese, Portuguese, Spanish and English.
Catholicism for the Curious: a weekly meal and lecture series on different aspects of the Catholic faith.
Cenacolo prayer group: Cenacolo is a movement set up by Sister Elvira in Italy to support young men and women who have suffered from addiction. It happens that most are addicted to drugs. We started a prayer group here in St. Patrick’s giving an opportunity for those who support the movement and the addicts we meet on the street and elsewhere to come together in the spirit of prayer, solidarity and togetherness.
St. Patrick's Evangelization School (SPES) SPES is a 9 month formation in evangelization/discernment of vocation program for young adults.
What an inspiration! Parishes have been center of mission and innovation throughout Catholic history but so often the story of what God has done through them is lost. It is wonderful that the internet makes a place like St. Patrick's accessible to Catholics throughout the world.