An initiative at St. Patrick’s, Soho, London. Not complicated, it just works.

If you want to see what a Catholic newspaper should be like, check out this article in The Catholic Herald, the UK’s best Catholic weekly.

Here is a great story.

Preamble: Keep in mind as you read that NCR in the USA touted a piece by Notre Dame’s dissident liberal columnist Richard McBrien which ran down Eucharistic adoration.

Now here is the photo and article from The Catholic Herald about a great initiative at St. Patrick’s on Soho Square in a trouble area of central London.  Fr. Sherbrooke is pastor there.  I have visited St. Patrick‘s a couple times during my stays in London.

My emphases and comments.

St Patrick’s prayer line greets its 50,000th caller

5 March 2010

Eight years ago the historic St Patrick’s church in Soho Square, London, instituted an "SOS prayerline" service to offer prayer and support to those who call on the telephone.

Two weeks ago the prayerline recorded its 50,000th telephone call since it opened on May 13 2003. To mark the occasion Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster came to pray, meet some of the volunteers and offer his blessing for the future of the prayerline.

The telephone sits in a chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed from seven o’clock to 11 every evening, 365 days a year. [Fantastic.] The lay volunteers who answer the calls give their time generously to this simple but effective service.

There have been many occasions over the years when callers have phoned to say "thank you" as a result of prayers answered.

Monica O’Shea works on the St Patrick’s appeal for restoration of the historic Soho church.

She said: "They receive a call and the caller requests a prayer. Then usually the volunteer prays with the caller over the phone." Often callers ring up to express their gratitude and to ask how to donate so that the work can go on.

All the prayers that have ever been received are recorded in a special book. They are kept in perpetuity and callers’ petitions are regularly prayed for.

Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, the parish priest, […], said: "It is a service that offers only prayer. It does not give counsel or information and simply endeavours to use the telephone as a means of bringing callers closer to the source of mercy.

"At the heart of our parish life is the celebration of Holy Mass and the daily Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from which flows all the various parish activities and makes the church a spiritual oasis in what is probably the busiest part of one of the busiest cities in the world."

The appeal for the restoration and expansion of St Patrick’s has so far raised £2.7 million and efforts to raise funds continue. In addition to the restoring of the church, a redevelopment is planned to provide a kitchen and cafeteria to give meals for homeless people, a safe house programme for addicts and better rooms for the church fertility advice clinic and the School of Evangelisation[Would that such leadership could be implemented so effectively also at the level of dioceses.]

It was the first church in England since the Reformation to be dedicated to St Patrick and was one of the first churches established after the Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791.

Fr Arthur O’Leary, an Irish Franciscan, directed the consecration of the chapel in 1792. The church houses relics of St Oliver Plunkett, one of the Tyburn Martyrs. During the 20th century Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the television evangelist, regularly celebrated Mass at St Patrick’s, preached from its neo-Renaissance pulpit and stayed in the parish house on visits to Britain. The church has also survived Hitler’s attempt to destroy London: during the Blitz, on the night of November 19 1940, a bomb pierced the roof of the church but failed to explode.

During the restoration works the SOS prayerline will continue daily from 7pm to 11pm. In mid-March, however, the church itself will close for 12 months and Masses have been relocated to various churches in the vicinity.

The weekday 12.45pm Mass will be in the day chapel in St Patrick’s presbytery. The Saturday 6pm Mass will be at the French Protestant church and the Sunday 11am and 5pm Masses at the House of St Barnabas.

The Sunday Chinese Mass [St. Patrick’s is right on the edge of London’s Chinatown.] will be at 2.15pm at Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory in Warwick Street. The Sunday Spanish Mass at 6pm moves to Notre Dame de France in Leicester Place as does the Saturday 4pm Portuguese Mass.

For SOS prayerline telephone 020 7434 9211.


Here is a link to St. Patrick’s page.   They have an appeal donation button, which I am sure you will click!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. That’s really beautiful. I remember Joanna Bogle calling for donations for this restoration, but I had no idea they did so much.

  2. patrick_f says:

    Hail glorious St Patrick, Pray for Us!

    I have no doubt it is the powerful intercession of this Church’s saint that helped with this

    Of course…I am probably partial ;)

  3. catholicmidwest says:

    This is another huge way of drawing people into hope, and eventually into the church. It humanizes the church and opens up the moral eyes of those in trouble.

    I’ve written elsewhere on this blog of the tendency of people in trouble to narrow their options rapidly when they believe they’re in trouble. This tendency is very dangerous, because of the one or two options anxious people immediately believe that they have, usually at least one is a moral & spiritual disaster. There are ALWAYS more choices to resolution of a problem than the ones that rapidly come to mind in the heat of the moment.

    Just talking to a friendly voice and hearing someone else listen sometimes brings those other choices out into the open. And the church becomes a friend. This is huge.

  4. catholicmidwest says:

    And prayer, well. Prayer needs to justification by the likes of me. IT does more than all the rest combined. And asking for it is an act of faith, even an act of prayer, that sometimes comes from desperate people who would not ordinarily pray for themselves. Also huge.

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    I meant to say “prayer needs NO justification from the likes of me.” Sorry Fr. Z. Typo.

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