Friday, 6 September 2013

St Patrick's and Pope Francis

During his few words at the end of the Mass to celebrate his 25 years as a priest (brief report by Auntie here), Fr Alex Sherbrooke borrowed the words that Pope Francis uses at the beginning of his Angelus address each Sunday: Buona sera a tutti (Good evening, everyone - but of course Pope Francis uses buon' giorno, given the timing of the mid-day Angelus). At the end of his few words, as he encouraged those present to partake of the refreshments being provided after Mass, he added the Buon appetito with which Pope Francis ends his Sunday meeting with the faithful in St Peter's Square.

But it was a conversation later in the evening, which suggested some disappointment with the resignation of Pope Benedict and the advent of Pope Francis, which prompts the following thought.

Fr Alexander wished that the celebration of his 25 years as a priest would be a celebration of the ordained priesthood as such, and that those attending the celebration would in some way take a part in the mission of his parish in Soho Square. The collection, for example, was to help meet the costs of the parish's twice weekly "open house" which provides a meal for homeless people in the local area.

The thought is: if we look at the themes that Pope Francis has expressed to characterise his mission as Successor of St Peter, they are all lived out in the mission of St Patrick's Soho Square.
Reaching out to those on the margins? The Cenacolo group which meets each week in prayer for those affected by addictions, and their friends or relatives.

A Church for the poor? The twice weekly open house which provides a meal for vulnerable guests in an area of London that contains both extreme poverty and hedonistic wealth (Oxford Street).

Going out to the peripheries? The regular street evangelisation associated with the St Patrick's Evangelisation School, Marian and Eucharistic processions through the nearby streets, taking part with other nearby Catholic churches in Spirit in the City.

The developing of personal relationships with Jesus Christ? Regular times of Eucharistic Adoration and the hosting of Night Fever.
Rather than feeling a loss as Pope Benedict resigned, St Patrick's appears to me a parish that can feel entirely confirmed in its mission by Pope Francis.

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