We are now having daily Mass at 10am each day. We have 26 half pews and a few chairs which gives us a reasonable capacity. Mass is only 30 minutes but we advise you to arrive early to allow for seating by the stewards. It is still livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/trish.bonnett.
For details of changes click here Coming back to Mass at Our Lady
An audio and video file of the Mass will be uploaded to the homepage of the parish website by 11.30am each day.
Private prayer in church Monday – Friday The take up of private prayer has been limited. We are suggesting now that if you want to come to the church to pray that you give Trish or Rob a ring (01462 459126 press 4) and if we are there we can open up for you then. This will be after 11am and most days til 4.30pm. There are some times in the afternoon that the church will be closed for cleaning.
Work during lockdown
We helped over 300 people off the street and into temporary accommodation at the beginning of lockdown and supported them throughout the lockdown period with daily food deliveries and personal support. We have moved 60 people into long term accommodation and are supporting those still in temporary accommodation until they move to their new homes.
Reopening the Resource Centre
We have reopened the Resource Centre and are operating a new model in line with government safety guidelines. We have three daily sessions, accommodating 35 people each and separated by thorough cleaning. People book in for advice, and we provide food, laundry, clothing and showers as part of their visit. We are supporting people who do not need to come in for advice by telephone and personal visits. These staggered daily numbers affect how we can use donated goods.
Harvest Festival & other donations in kind
In the past tinned and dried food donated at Harvest Festival have been very useful for us for making up food parcels to provide to those resettled but struggling for food. We are now supporting people who need help with food but do not need to visit us, by distributing supermarket vouchers instead.
Due to the current operating restrictions, we need to be very focused about clothing donations too. In the past we have taken in a mixture of clothing sizes and types and have had ways of making good use of any surplus items. The COVID situation has made this much more difficult. We are still providing clothing as vouchers for resettled clients.
Donating to provide food or clothes
We are very grateful for financial help to assist us specifically in providing food and clothes. If a parishioner who is a taxpayer donates £4 under Gift Aid this can fund a £5 voucher and can be handled much more easily than if £4 of goods were purchased for us.
Please contact Andrew Hollingsworth (details below) in advance about Harvest Festivals or any initiative to support our clients with goods before encouraging a physical collection.
Night Under The Stars
We are excited to be marking the 20th anniversary of our annual Night Under The Stars concert. This year the concert will be virtual on 3 December. Hosted by comedian Rory Bremner, with music from the London Philharmonic Choir, Steven Hough and Hugh Montague Rendall, with more artists to be announced. The evening commemorates 40 years of The Passage’s work transforming homeless people’s lives. We will be in touch with more details shortly.
Presenting the work of The Passage in Parishes
We have for many years been pleased to visit parishes and present our work at the end of each weekend Mass. During the summer I had the pleasure of joining a parish for Mass streamed online via zoom. I was given the opportunity to speak at the end of Mass and take questions, which was extremely useful.
We do very much need your prayer and practical help at this time. I am very happy to appeal in person or online either to a parish or a particular parish group.
40th anniversary of The Passage
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Passage first opening its doors to homeless people in October 1980. Cardinal Vincent will offer Mass in Westminster Cathedral to mark our anniversary at 5.30 on Thursday 21 January. We hope to be able to invite people to attend in person but if that is not practical it will be streamed online.
The Passage is facing the biggest challenge in our 40 year history. Many clients now need support to remain off the street. The Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis means that many more people are now at risk of unemployment or losing their home. Our services are vital for the rough sleeping community in London and those who find themselves homeless for the first time this winter.
Dear Friends and Supporters
I hope you are all keeping well. I realise it is some time since I have been in touch with news of the refugee families settled locally. Time has been rather elastic over the last few months and I apologise for not communicating more frequently.
The Syrian families, by and large, seemed to adapt to the stringent requirements of the lockdown period with resilience and equanimity. Of course, most of them have family in many other parts of the world as well as the Middle East so there was some comfort in knowing that nearly everyone was facing similar restrictions. Our wonderful befriender volunteers continued to stay in touch with the families: for several months this was online or with phone calls but more recently they have been able to visit in gardens or meet up in the park. The families, too, are now beginning to meet up with each other outside and there was a small gathering on Norton Common recently to celebrate Eid together.
School work and college classes all went online in March and thanks to all the generous contributions to our crowdfunder appeal at Christmas time to raise money for laptops, we were able to provide them to most of the families in Hertfordshire who needed one for the children or adults to continue their studies.
A baby boy arrived safely to one family in early June and is thriving. Fortunately we were able to provide most of the equipment they needed from kind donations. There are two more babies on the way, due in late autumn so more causes for celebration in these difficult times. More good news when two people in Letchworth passed their driving test recently. This milestone greatly broadens opportunities for employment.
Those of you who are members of Herts Welcomes Refugees will know that our AGM postponed from March was held online in June which enabled us to comply with the Charity Commission’s requirements. We had planned an event that would involve hearing from several of our refugee partners about their experiences of settling here but this was not feasible online. At some point in the future, we hope to be able to hold a similar evening whenever that becomes possible. Mick Hayter, our much valued treasurer, has decided to step down and we have been fortunate in recruiting Mala Mulholland to take on the role. As well as a sound background in finance, Mala is the daughter of refugees who came here from Sri Lanka so has a good understanding of the issues.
With best wishes and thanks for your continuing interest and support
Pope Francis thanks maritime personnel and fishermen for their important contribution to feeding humanity, and recalls the difficulties they endure during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a video message sent Wednesday to the Apostleship of the Sea, Pope Francis recognized the difficulties facing seafarers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He expressed gratitude for their help in feeding humanity despite the risks involved.
“Your work as maritime personnel and fishermen has thus become even more important,” he said, “since it is providing our greater human family with food and other primary needs.”
Stranded at sea
The coronavirus pandemic, said the Pope, has forced vast changes upon seafarers, leading them to make many sacrifices.
“Long periods spent aboard ships without being able to disembark, separation from families, friends and native countries, and fear of infection,” he said, are a heavy burden to bear.
Anywhere between 150,000 and 200,000 seafarers are currently stranded at sea, according to the UN’s labor agency.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) said recently that lockdown measures have prevented healthy maritime personnel from disembarking. Many completed their tours months ago but were forced to stay aboard.
Mental health issues and physical exhaustion, ILO said, are affecting many.
In his message, Pope Francis addressed suffering seafarers directly.
“Know that you are not alone and that you are not forgotten,” he said. “Your work at sea often keeps you apart from others, but you are close to me in my thoughts and prayers, and in those of your chaplains and the volunteers of Stella Maris.”
The Pope reminded them that Jesus’s first disciples were fishermen, something they should take comfort in.
Protected by Our Lady
Pope Francis then offered each seafarer “a message and a prayer of hope, comfort, and consolation in the face of whatever hardships you have to endure.”
He also encouraged all those who provide them with pastoral care and spiritual support.
“May the Lord bless each of you, your work, and your families,” he said, “and may the Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, protect you always.”
The Apostleship of the Sea is a Catholic charity supporting seafarers. Its patron is Our Lady, Star of the Sea.
Stella Maris was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in the early 20th century as a network of seafarer chaplaincies in ports throughout the world.
The Apostleship of the Sea’s 216 chaplains work in more than 311 ports in over 30 different countries.