The World is a Hankerchief

My wife and I were staying with friends in Liverpool and Paul was telling us about his voluntary work as Chair of the St Bart’s & Friends Community Sponsorship Scheme, by which careful preparations are made for the welcome of a Syrian refugee family into a parish. Paul mentioned the excellent input the group had received from Sean Ryan of Caritas Salford who is the national lead for the scheme. “Sean the musician?” I asked. It was indeed the same Sean that I had been in Rome with a few weeks ago for the Caritas Leadership Week and with whom I’d enjoyed a couple of great sessions of music. Continue Reading

Caritas at Villa Palazzola

I get the chance through my work to meet a lot of great people, in some interesting places (from prisons to palaces), and the Caritas Leadership Week near Rome did not disappoint. We were a group of fifty, representing a range of Catholic charities and dioceses in England and Wales, staying at Villa Palazzola, a 13th century Cistercian monastery perched above a volcanic lake, Lago di Albano, and according to the website ‘Rome’s best kept secret’. Continue Reading

Where’s the Bishop?

Maimie, who is 87 and one of our Seniors, was convinced there was a bishop coming to visit her, and as each of her guests came into her flat and turned out not to be a bishop she seemed to grow more and more disappointed. First in were Paul the Seniors’ Project manager and Joe, one of our wonderful volunteers. They were followed by two special visitors from Ireland: Alan Brogan, former Dublin Gaelic footballer, and Harry Casey who works closely with the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference (which is where she must have got the notion that there was a bishop flying over to see her). As I trooped in last, Maimie asked be, almost in desperation “are you the bishop?”

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Climb Every Mountain

“It’s true; Irish people are everywhere!” So said to me Quitterie, a Frenchwoman (with an Irish mother), as we made our way out of mass at La Grande Chartreuse in the South East of France. I had just explained to Quitterie (who is named after a popular saint in the South West of France where she grew up, and who has a brother called Patrick!) that the Carthusian monk of 30 years who had said the mass in that incredible monastery nestling in the Alps had been born in Dublin.

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Eat a lot of rice please!

I was told many times at the beginning of meals in Korea “eat a lot of rice please”, (i.e. please eat a lot). I’ve just returned from two weeks in the country with my wife (who is Korean), and I think that my stomach is still recovering from the wealth of interesting and spicy food that was given to me, not to mention a variety of alcoholic beverages that it would have been impolite to refuse!

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