London bankers hear Lenten call

More than 300 bankers from across Canary Wharf came together on Ash Wednesday for a special Mass celebrated by the Papal Nuncio, His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz.

The event was hosted, as in previous years, by Barclays Bank in their canteen. John Varley, the CEO of Barclays, himself a committed Catholic, welcomed the Papal Nuncio. The sermon at the Mass was preached by the Papal Nuncio who said: "This community gathered here today, for me, is a very special one. Though you are not a parish and come from many different parts of the world, nonetheless you all work in different ways at Canary Wharf and are united by your shared faith in Jesus Christ."

"Lent is a God-given opportunity for us to change our hearts and to focus anew on what our priorities really are. It is a reminder too, that we are not individuals living in isolation from one another." He drew upon Pope Benedict XVI's message for Lent saying "fasting in this holy season is not just about fewer calories and reducing our cholesterol levels. Rather, it is about God's relationship of love with each one of us and our own longing for love and the fulfillment which only God can give.  Perhaps we could add that this kind of penance and fasting actually increases our spiritual calories."

Mr Varley said: "There is a very big working community in Canary Wharf, well over 100,000 people, so there are lots of faiths represented here, and plenty of Catholics who have a busy working day. Being able to offer them a service on a day such as Ash Wednesday close to where they work is something that is both convenient for them and, I hope, appreciated."

The Mass was organised by the Canary Wharf Catholic Community (CWCC) a community that has grown up around the weekly celebration of Mass in the Canary Wharf Interfaith prayer room. The CWCC is under the leadership of Fr Peter Harris, who is parish priest of St Edmund, Millwall, the parish of which Canary Wharf is part of.

Mass is celebrated in the Canary Wharf Inter-faith Prayer Room, 2 Churchill Place E14, every Tuesday at 12.30pm. For more information, please email or visit


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