Miracles in SohoGEORGE WEIGEL
Soho, in the West End of the British capital, has had a rather dodgy history.
The parish built a church in 1893 and St. Patrick's became a Catholic home for many in the London émigré community. In the 1930s, St. Patrick's was surrounded by bars where inebriated intellectuals and writers argued long into the night. Their drunken revelry, like much of London's life, was interrupted by the German Blitz, during which a Luftwaffe bomb came crashing through the ceiling of St. Patrick's and buried itself in the floor without exploding.
As my colleague Stephen White puts it, Soho today is a "world-class spiritual wasteland … a playground of the middle and upper classes, a trendy night spot that sells just about anything a man could want. It's not so much a poor neighborhood as it is a wicked neighborhood. It's a place dedicated to the appetites and built on prodigality." And in the midst of that prodigality is St. Patrick's – a model Catholic parish and one of the flagships of the New Evangelization.
Eucharistic piety is also at the center of the St. Patrick's Evangelization School, the acronym for which (SPES) is, not coincidentally, the Latin word for "hope." Each year, 10 or so young people come to St. Patrick's for an academic year's worth of intense catechesis, spiritual formation, street evangelization, and work with Soho's down-and-outs, while they take turns manning the SOS Prayer Line during adoration. It's an experience straight out of the Acts of the Apostles, with 21st-century technology providing new opportunities for these young men and women to give witness to the hope that is within the followers of the Way.
George Weigel. "Miracles in Soho." The Catholic Difference (June 29, 2011).
Reprinted with permission of George Weigel.
George Weigel's column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Phone: 303-715-3123.
George Weigel, a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a Roman Catholic theologian and one of America's leading commentators on issues of religion and public life. Weigel is the author or editor of The End and the Beginning: John Paul II – The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action, God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God, Letters to a Young Catholic: The Art of Mentoring, The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church, and The Truth of Catholicism: Ten Controversies Explore.
George Weigel's major study of the life, thought, and action of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (Harper Collins, 1999) was published to international acclaim in 1999, and translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, Russian, and German. The 2001 documentary film based on the book won numerous prizes. George Weigel is a consultant on Vatican affairs for NBC News, and his weekly column, "The Catholic Difference," is syndicated to more than fifty newspapers around the United States.
Copyright © 2011 George Weigel
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