Night shelters and Empowerment+ in Manchester

As the term starts again in Manchester, one of the largest student conglomerations in Europe, two new staff members join the Jesuit run chaplaincy team. Sr Alicia Pérez from Madrid,  a member of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, joins Sr Cecilia. Alicia finished a PhD in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University before entering the order. She was keen to work In Manchester after a powerful experience in Argentina collaborating with a Jesuit team in Ignatian retreats for young adults. She split her time working in a very poor part of the city of Salta, Barrio Solidaridad, and teaching, research and advising students at the Catholic University. “One of the highlights of my time there was listening to and accompanying young people as they discern their life choices, large and small, is a privilege.”

In Manchester, there will be a lot of opportunities to accompany students in spiritual direction and the retreat programme that has been set up. Also in the chaplaincy, she will be involved in the night shelter for asylum seekers. Alicia explained “Each Saturday between October and April, with a group of wonderful and committed student volunteers, we welcome homeless asylum seekers with a meal, night accommodation, and companionship”

Also working alongside the team is Matt Musialowski, who is from Manchester although currently studying at Newcastle University.  He is spending half of his placement in Manchester working with The Religious Freedom and Business Foundation. “I am helping to coordinate the Launching Leaders programme while based at the chaplaincy and hope to play my own small part in helping improve relationships between different communities in Manchester and improve social cohesion in the area.”  The Empowerment+ programme had the global pilot of ‘Launching Leaders’ in Manchester last year, gathering Catholic, Muslim & Mormon students together in an innovative inter-faith leadership programme.

Professor Brian Grim who set up the foundation said, “I'm thrilled that Empowerment+ is going into its second year in Manchester. The pilot has gone so well that we are able to expand with a further pilot in Korea ahead of the next Winter Paralympic Games. I'm particularly glad that Matthew Musialowski will be helping to lead and expand the programme as a volunteer at the chaplaincy this fall. Of the many opportunities for internships he had, he was particularly attracted to the opportunity to work to help empower others.”

A video is being shared around the world to interest others in the programme: https://vimeo.com/228873880