Representatives from Passionist Partner groups - working with the homeless, refugees, people with HIV, and parish projects, as well as running campaigns on many social, peace and environmental issues and the Catholic media - gathered at Minsteracres Retreat Centre last week to meet each other, pray and share ideas.
Among the participants were Brother Rodrigo de Castro Amedee Peret a Brazilian Franciscan and Thiago Alez da Silva who came with Richard Solly from the London Mining Network. They were in England to attend the BHP AGM in London in order to protest at the massive environmental damage caused by the Samarco dam disaster. More than one 1.4 million people lost their homes and livelihoods and a huge ecosystem has been destroyed.
The London Mining Network works in support of communities around the world who are badly affected by mining - mining by companies based in, or financed from, London.
Vincent Manning from Catholics for Aids Prevention and Support (CAPS) spoke about Positive Catholic - a resource which is the first of its kind in the world - including videos and a website, offering advice and pastoral support for anyone concerned about or diagnosed with HIV, See: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33592 for more information.
There were speakers from the Vestibule, a community-building project in Liverpool and Green Christian which runs groups around the country campaigning on environmental issues. Br Johanes described the work of Maria Skobtova Catholic Worker House with homeless young refugees in Calais . See Calais: Nobody should live like this - report from Westminster J&P visit: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33321
Speakers from the Catholic Worker House in north London described their work with homeless refugees. Scot Albrecht from the Catholic Worker Farm and Mary House described how they provide accommodation, food, English lessons, counselling and other services for 19 destitute (without access to public funds) female asylum seekers and their children, at no charge. All of the women are street homeless, and are referred to the CW Farm by refugee services/agencies. The CW Farm /Mary House meets the physical needs in relation to shelter, food and clothing, but just as importantly enables the guests to live in a supportive and loving environment.
Speakers from the Catholic Worker House in north London described their work with homeless refugees.
Jo Siedlecka spoke about Independent Catholic News.
The last day of the gathering was also the feast day of St Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionist Order.
Passionist Partners is a new initiative. A note from the Passionist Order on their website explains: "We see in them something of ourselves. Mainly Christian groups, they are all committed to the crucified of today and we hope to deepen the relationship we already have with them. We value their work and wish to support them in practical ways. We also hope to learn from and be inspired by them. Their life and work reflects values of God's Kingdom, of peace, justice, care for creation, freedom and human rights."
Fr John Kearns cp, the Passionist Provincial said: "This gathering was both inspiring and challenging. Our Partners are working at the coal face, facing overwhelming needs with few resources, making do with what they have. Their commitment and willingness to make personal sacrifices for their sense of mission is evident. It is really a witness to the Kingdom of God made present among us."
Fr Martin Newell cp said: "We are trying to answer the call of Pope Francis to become a poor church for the poor, in harmony with God's earth."
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