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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Notre Dame de France Refugee Centre celebrates ten years
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¬†The Tenth Anniversary of the Notre Dame de France Refugee Centre near Leicester Square was celebrated in prayer, music and dancing on Saturday. Opened in November 1996, the project offers a warm welcome and provides advice, care and support to mainly French-speaking refugees who find themselves destitute in this country - because of new asylum laws which ban them from working or claiming benefits. French speakers are particularly isolated in London because of their language difficulties. Bishop Tom Burns presided over the Mass, which was celebrated in French, English and Lingala. The homily was given by Fr Paul Walsh, one of the Centre's founder members. Reflecting on the day's readings, from the Apocalypse, Fr Walsh said they were particularly fitting, because they spoke of catastrophe and hope. "We are in a catastrophic situation" he said. The plight of the refugees here is extremely precarious ≠ a scandal ≠ a truly apocalyptic situation. Yes there is also a message of hope here. We give thanks for this wonderful project which proclaims the Word of God in midst of the darkest crisis." A powerful African choir sang during the Mass. At the Offertory dancers brought up baskets of tropical fruits and vegetables. At the end of the service a liturgical dance was performed by visitors from Worth Abbey. Following Mass there was a party with lively dance music provided by seven-piece Congolese band Kaisai-Maisai. If you are interested in becoming involved in the work of the Centre please call Christine Diaz on 020 7440 2661 or e-mail her at:
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