Plans for a 'spiritual lighthouse' in Soho

 A Mass for the Poor, followed by an evening of hospitality, is soon to become a regular feature at St Patrick's church in London's Soho. The parish is also hoping to set up a telephone prayerline, and a restaurant, providing jobs and work experience for the homeless. These ideas with many others, were unveiled at a day-long meeting with prayers, discussions and Mass, held on Saturday, to launch St Patrick's Volunteer Project. Parish priest Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, and Marie Barbieri, a member of the Emmanuel community, based at the church, shared their vision for setting up a mission team, consisting of people of all ages - parishioners and friends of the parish - to reach out to the poor. Marie said: "Our symbol is the four men who carried the paralytic to Jesus. He couldn't walk by himself. They came with him." The first Mass for the Poor is being held on Holy Thursday, 28 March, at 8pm. After Mass there will be an evening of hospitality, with listening and refreshments. On Saturday, Fr Alexander also proposed starting up an SOS telephone prayerline, where people can call and have someone pray with them. Marie said: "We would like to set this up in the tower. We are also hoping to have a chapel up there where we can keep the Blessed Sacrament. There is already a little room with a small round window, which looks as though it could have been a chapel at one time. The tower will become a spiritual lighthouse looking out over Soho." The project is also hoping to set up is a restaurant for the general public. Marie said: "There isn't one in Soho Square at the moment. It will provide a useful service for people working locally, and jobs for ex-prisoners and women who have come out of the sex industry." Marie said project members plan to canvass local businesses for funding. The next meetings for St Patrick's Volunteer Project take place on Thursday 14 March from 6.30-9pm and on Saturday April 13 from 10-4. For more information call: 0207 437 2010 or e-mail:

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