St Patrick's Church, Soho

St Patrick's: Restoring timeless beauty to the Church
Damian Thompson recently posted on the re-opening of St Patrick's Catholic Church in the heart of Soho, after a £3.5 million pound restoration project that has made what Dr Thompson described accurately as, "the future" of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. St Patrick's does not disappoint. It is a stunning piece of architecture, truly glorious.

The Solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist was exquisite. Juventutem's schola sang both chant and polyphony beautifully. Fr Patrick Heywood was celebrant, Fr Sean Finnegan was deacon and Fr Tim Finnigan was sub-deacon. Fr Aiden Nichols OP preached excellently on the forerunner of the Lord and herald of the Messiah who was to baptise Christ in the River Jordan and proclaim the beginning of His Ministry on Earth. Fr Ray Blake was tucked away for the majority of the duration of the Mass hearing Confessions.  Now that is what I call Catholicism!

Afterwards, at a meal at a local Goan curry house, Providence sat me next to one of the interviewers for the Mass of Ages job, Dr Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the LMS. We got on well, given that only days before I had been plotting to send him a dozen dead puppies in the post for not giving me the editorship job. That's usually how we do things in Brighton. You can take the LMS out of Brighton but you can't take the Brighton out of the LMS. I also had a chance to talk with Anthony Ozimic of the SPUC who was delightful and he discussed his latest work on abortion and its effects on moral character, available (I think this is the one) as a PDF here.

I had a chance to speak with Paul Smeaton who has a Catholic blog entitled Smeaton's Corner and also the charming anonymous author of The Catholic Youth. I really don't like London as a rule, but when you are attending a Mass at St Patrick's you forget that you are in London because the beauty of the liturgy and the Church itself takes you up to Heaven. I understand that Churches like St Patrick's are built to the greater glory of God, but it really is quite palatial and I think that given that there is so much ugliness in London, as well as great poverty, it is a marvellous thing that a poor Catholic man can walk into St Patrick's and think, "I am home. Thanks be to God."

St Patrick's is a centre of evangelisation as well as serving the homeless community of the district. Both their mission to the poor and the restoration project are covered nicely in this Guardian article. All in all, the newly restored St Patrick's Church does not disappoint!


Tim said…
Timely post. I tried St Pat's this morning (as an alternative to Ely Place which I can't stomach now) and there was a lovely baptism which cheered me up.
Mike said…
Same here Tim.
Ely Place needs a visit from the diocesan exorcist. Let's hope time will heal.
Ben said…
@ Tim, Mike and Laurence.

What would make you feel comfortable about going back to Ely Place?

If you had concerns about a school for example, you can ask to see their written policy on bullying.
Would written guidelines, perhaps dispayed, tempt you back?
Mike said…
@ Ben and Laurence
If you are looking for historical background on procedures this below is helpful. Igore the dramatic title is Is sound research.
Anne said…
As you "can't stomach" the place that is associated with scandal, when you saw the innocent child at baptism were you not moved to act?

If enough make their feelings known, by the time that infant grows to puberty we will be rid of this menace.
Tim said…
@ Ben
I think for me EP would have to be restored from its association with the Rosminians somehow. Perhaps it could be taken over by another order or by the diocese and then reconsecrated - I don't know what the rules are about that.
Tim said…
@ Anne
You are right I know. Recoiling from tainted institutions can only be a first step but it is a step.
Anne said…
Thanks Tim
Your comment to Laurence was another step.

I think your gut, visceral experience related to an actual place and your personal response "recoiling from tainted institutions" would be of value on Father Ray's blog also.
The debate there is scholarly and reasoned but needs also to convey the revulsion felt, not against the Church but against those "tainted" places and people, that destroy its reputation.
Forgive me if you have already done so.