Blog Template Theology of the Body: Perhaps the best Catholic Parish... in London

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Perhaps the best Catholic Parish... in London

My husband and I concluded our recent trip abroad with a wonderful week together in London. Before we left, we had conducted a quick online search for a Catholic parish where we could attend Mass, since for each of us this would be our first time in that magical city as Catholics. We did not find anything as readily as we had hoped, and so off we went, thinking that we would rely on our hotel's concierge to guide us (fully expecting to hear, as we did hear, "A Catholic parish? Well now, you don't hear THAT request very often now, do you?"). Furthermore, we fully expected to be attending Mass in London's barrio, whatever that might be.

Imagine my surprise when one quiet evening in posh Mayfair, my husband gestured towards a beautiful church set in a lovely garden- the rose window was particularly glorious... could it be? "Of course not," I mumbled, "we've lost all the best church buildings to the Anglicans. There won't be anything so grand for Catholics in London." Characteristically, husband persevered, and sure enough, once we actually ventured in, we found ourselves within one of the most glorious Catholic churches I have ever seen. This eighteenth century Jesuit church is Immaculate Conception, Farm Street. It is glorious, and truly English. There was a large side chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham; there was a gorgeous altar by Pugin; there was a majestic choir.

Even more importantly, this parish is a vibrant and healthy parish. There is daily exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and there are daily Confessions before each daily Mass. There is a religious community on site, the members of which provide spiritual direction and classes for spiritual enrichment, on topics like evangelisation in the workplace and Catholic family life. There is a robust community service program. And when we attended Mass there, there was hushed reverence and beautiful preaching, and prayers for the Holy Father, and preparations for his upcoming visit to England.... all in England.

Edit: I have omitted the latter paragraph of this post due to several objections from Anglican readers, who took offense. My apologies to them.