Jesuit parishes reach out to the homeless
Jesuit parish workers involved with homeless people have described their ministries as “inspiring” and vowed to develop further the services they offer. The representatives from Jesuit parishes throughout Britain met recently at the Church of the Holy Name, Manchester, to exchange examples of good practice and show support for each other. They were joined by Mark Choonara, Community and Faith-based groups Outreach Worker from the Passage Day Centre in Westminster, who helped with the discussions.
“It was an impressive, inspiring and informative gathering,” says Brother Ken Vance SJ, the Assistant for Pastoral Ministries for the Jesuits in Britain. “Participants heard of a whole variety of parish initiatives ranging from multi-faith work with the homeless in Southall to Foodbanks in Glasgow and Manchester.”
Programmes among homeless people with which Jesuit parishes are involved range from central London where the parish of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, is working with several local churches which each provide a night shelter for homeless people on one night per week, to St Wilfrid’s in Preston, which hosts a weekly soup kitchen and support evening for the homeless. It also collects for the local Foodbank.
St Aloysius Church, Glasgow is heavily involved with the Maryhill Foodbank, which is located in a nearby area of hardship and need; while at St Anselm’s in Southall (west London), a recent meeting of local faith groups resulted in a project with St Mungo’s Broadway to focus on Street Outreach, Legal Advice and Accommodation.
Among the other Jesuit parishes which support initiatives for homeless people is St Francis Xavier’s, Liverpool (SFX), whose pastoral assistant is secretary to STREETfaith. Regular breakfast meetings for city-wide faith groups are held to share ideas and highlight day to day concerns regarding homelessness. It also includes work with street sex-workers.
“Along with these impressive projects, most of our parishes have a St Vincent de Paul Society which provides help and support to those in need,” explains Br Vance. “Local homeless centres are also supported by donations from church poor boxes. In the case of the Sacred Heart, Edinburgh and of SFX Liverpool, much practical support is given to the homeless day centres which are practically on their doorsteps.”
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