Face to face with Jesus Christ in Haringey

Helping out: my mum won't believe I'm capable of cooking something!
Helping out: my mum won’t believe I’m capable of cooking something!

I recently had the pleasure of spending an evening at the Catholic Worker’s north London house of hospitality, Guiseppe Conlon House, in Haringey.

The Catholic Worker Movement was started in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin as a movement of radical Christian communities, committed to building a ‘new society within the shell of the old, a society in which it will be easier to be good’ by putting into action the Corporal Works of Mercy.

With the Gospel of Jesus Christ as their manifesto, men and women from all walks of life work with those on the margins and campaign for justice, peace and integrity of creation.

After a warm welcome I was soon put to good use in the kitchen preparing the evening meal where – under the careful supervision of volunteer Jessie – I did my best at peeling potatoes and talked to a former guest who is an asylum seeker from Sri Lanka.

After six years of waiting for a Border Agency decision he anxiously awaits a ruling on his case. He’s now volunteering at the Catholic Worker in gratitude for the sanctuary they have provided to him in the past.

Visiting and ‘live-in’ volunteers at the Guiseppe Conlon House provide accommodation and hospitality for asylum seekers who have no recourse to public funds. The community pray together, maintain the house together, cook together and socialise together.

They are a remarkable group of people – young and not so young, from Britain and overseas – who give generously of their time to perform the works of mercy and advocate for those Christ called ‘the least of these’.

Earlier this year, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visited the Guiseppe Conlon House where they praised the work done by the community.

Archbishop Welby commented that he had found himself “face to face with Jesus Christ again.”

Performing the works of mercy with the Catholic Worker movement is indeed coming face to face with Jesus Christ. To support the work of the Catholic Worker visit: http://www.londoncatholicworker.org

Please pray for the Catholic Worker community, giving thanks for the work that they do and asking that they may be supported in their important ministry. May the hearts of each of us be opened to the sufferings of those in need. Amen.

Tom Robinson, St. Francis of Assisi parish Middlesbrough

“Let peace begin with me”

The Pax Christi flag on the altar at St. Francis Church & the justice & peace candle

Over 100 people attended the ‘No More War! War Never Again!’ peace vigil to mark a century since the beginning of the First World War.

The vigil – held at St. Francis of Assisi RC Church in Middlesbrough – incldued readings, reflections, intercessions and a blessing of candles.

The vigil was organised by members of the Diocesan Justice & Peace group to ask for the gift of peace in our troubled world. Despite the First World War being predicted to be “the war that will end all wars”, the past century was one of unbroken warfare.

Tom Robinson opened the vigil with the words of Franciscan priest Fr. Mychal Judge, urging people not to lose hope in the face of conflict – “I don’t know how He’s going to do it, but someday God will make the headlines instead of the devil. So don’t give up.”

Fr. Peter Ryan from Lealholm gave a thought-provoking reflection which challenged each of us to be peacemakers in our families, communities and world. Love is the only reason that God created life and if each of us says “let peace begin with me” our world will start to become a more peaceful place, reflected Fr. Ryan.

This was a wonderful opportunity which brought together Christians and all people of goodwill to reflect on past conflicts and strengthen our determination for a more peaceful future. The Justice & Peace Group are grateful to the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist and Quaker churches for their support; to Canon Loughlin of St. Francis of Assisi Church; to Fr. Peter Ryan for his reflection; to Andy McDonald MP for his participation and to all those who supported the vigil through their prayers and assistance.

Walking for peace in memory of the ‘Richmond 16’

In this year that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War there is much in the media concerning the acts of courage and compassion of so many alongside the appalling effects on families and communities who lost so many.

Pax Christi, together with other agencies who work for peace, have planned events and created resources to ensure that the commemorations also reflect the need for a commitment to future peace making.

Mindful of this aim and as a fitting remembrance of the courage and bravery of the ‘Richmond 16’ the Justice and Peace Commission is planning a ‘pilgrimage walk’ from Richmond Castle to Easby Abbey on Saturday September 6th.

The Richmond 16 were men in the North East who took a stand for pacifism when conscription was introduced in 1916 and were incarcerated in Richmond Castle. They included Quakers, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and socialists.

During the Somme offensive in 1916, in order to send a powerful message to recruits, Kitchener decided to make an example of the conscientious objectors who were imprisoned in the UK. They were secretly taken to Boulogne and forced to watch a ‘deserter’ being shot. In France they were now subject to military law and, after refusing to obey a direct order, they were condemned to be shot by firing squad.

Fortunately one of the condemned men was allowed to send a postcard home and ingeniously coded the format to indicate their whereabouts. Arthur Rowntree, the Liberal MP for York, himself a Quaker, took up their cause and asked questions in Parliament which resulted in their safe return to England. On release in 1919 they were often reviled and abused for the stand they took, treated as social outcasts and unable to find employment.

In Richmond Castle are 8 small cells whose walls bear the pencilled graffiti sketched by the men; drawing, notes and devotional quotations. The cells are undergoing renovation and will be open to the public in 2016. Meanwhile there are facsimiles in the museum. A garden in the castle grounds is dedicated to their memory.

The strong moral convictions of conscientious objectors during the First World War led the way to a change in public attitude towards pacifism. There were many in the Second World War who took a similar stand.

The need for peace making is every more urgent in today’s world.

Our walk will begin at 11.00a.m. with a short liturgy in the Garden where there are 16 topiary pieces made up of green and golden yew trees. We will then walk along the banks of the river to Easby Abbey (approx. 1 mile) for the conclusion and a picnic lunch.

You are most welcome to join us but please let us know if you are coming as we need to know numbers for a group booking for the Castle.

Contacts: bhungin@yahoo.co.uk / marg@blatchford.name