In our our latest Personal Insights we publish a submission we received from an elderly resident of London who, on seeing the kindness shown by an Irish priest and a group of Irish volunteers in the Parish of Saint Patricks in London's Soho Square, was moved to write to us. She has asked to remain anonymous.
The Newman hymn, written by Saint Cardinal Newman “lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom” could not me more apt for the Parish of Saint Patricks in London's Soho Square. A Church which has no creed when it comes to compassion.
The Parish Priest is Fr Alexander Sherbrooke. A tall towering man he is no stranger to providing meals for the homeless.
In these extraordinary times, Father Alex as he is better known, is a giant in Soho Square.
Loved by all he comes in contact with, not because he is perfect, which he humbly admits, but because everyone he meets he provides a whisper of comfort.
Soho Square sees homeless people gathering each day for breakfast and lunch during this pandemic, ran by a handful of volunteer’s put together by Father Alex .
Due to #Covid_19, there are no public masses for the foreseeable future. However, we will be open for prayer & adoration every day. Let us unite in prayer - God go before us & through us in all we do to best serve one another. Father Alexander & the community of @Stpatricksoho— St Patrick's Soho (@Stpatricksoho) March 21, 2020
Samani and Michael, co-ordinators, have spearheaded what can only be described as an oasis of hope in the City of London.
The opportunity to have a shower is a small blessing, during this period, all public toilets have been closed. The government have been doing everything in their power to assist homeless people, but some have slipped through the net.
In the middle of a major feeding programme ran twice a day during the week, and a breakfast event at the weekend now, in which the main doors of the church are opened and an orderly queue is maintained, fun and laughter can be heard, the metropolitan police are there providing constant support.
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is held every day, an alter erected, accompanied by Father David and Father Alex, Christ graces spilling into the Square.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip thanked the waste collectors for their dedication this week in Britain. How fitting this was, witnessing these men stopping and reverently bowing before the blessed sacrament, the scenes of two meters apart men and women praying, some on their knees for this beloved country for the end to this pandemic, also praying for leaders to be guided by a true light.
122 Breakfasts given to London's rough sleepers this morning. Thanks to St Patricks Soho Sq. Thanks to God for the food and the volunteers.— Hope Community Church (@HopeCommunityC3) April 18, 2020
The sun keeps shining and the prayers go up, the work goes on. One of the many beautiful things which is happening during this time of crisis.
People from all nations united.
Then there in the midst of it all is the Irish man, who goes on his knees to pray, he knows everyone by name. His gratitude for the food provided by the parish obvious and alongside him a young generation of Irish volunteers living in London. United for a common cause.
This submission is part of a digital initiative on irishexaminer.com called Personal Insights.
As part of the Personal Insights initiative we are asking readers, creative writing groups and writing enthusiasts in general to share personal essays chronicling an experience which has impacted their lives and any learnings from that life experience they would like to share with a wider audience.
The essays cann be sent via the form at the bottom of this piece or directly to the executive editor for news and digital, Dolan O’Hagan, at email@example.com for consideration.
Please note all submissions should be given the subject line ‘Personal Insights submission’ to ensure they are picked up and should include any related imagery and a contact telephone number.
Only submissions which meet the Irish Examiner’s own strict journalistic, ethical and legal guidelines will be considered for publication.
The Irish Examiner reserves the right to edit submissions in line with those guidelines and before publication direct contact will be made with the person who has submitted the content.
No payment will be made for submissions and our decision as regards publication is final.
Our goal is to publish one submission per week and use all our powers to make sure it is seen by as wide an audience as possible.
We look forward to reading your stories.