Sacred Heart, Edinburgh
Sacred Heart parish in Edinburgh has been working with Bethany Christian Trust to provide shelter for homeless people during the cold Scottish winter. Last year they opened the doors of the Lauriston Hall over 20 nights to give shelter to up to 50 people each night. Mostly they are Scottish men, about 30% are not from the UK, and about 15% are women.
"Sacred Heart is one of 90 churches we work with to provide shelter from the killer cold nights from October to April" explains Cameron Black, Manager of the Care Shelter programme, "Sacred Heart is a very valued partner as it has the best hall, and is able to offer more nights. Our team works each night with 5-10 volunteers from the parish to cook and serve a hot meal, and to give the homeless guests a warm welcome, and a listening ear. Fr Peter has taken a great interest in the individuals we see and he is known by many as someone who will look out for them."
Ben is a good example of the difference the care Shelter has made. Ben is in his early 40s and has been an alcoholic since his teens. He had moved aboard and married but his wife left him because of his alcoholism and he woke one morning alone with a one way ticket back to Scotland in his pocket. Unable to keep a job and ineligible for benefits, he was found freezing by police last Christmas and taken to hospital. On being discharged he made his way to the shelter at Sacred Heart where he was made welcome. The next day Ben arrived at the hall early and banged on the door. Fr Peter welcomed him, and he stayed another few days. He was referred to another charity which helped him with housing, and with treating his addiction. He has now been sober for four months and was able to make contact with his children abroad. He has also rediscovered his faith and found new energy from it. The last few weeks have seen an amazing transformation.
"Our work starts by just keeping people alive through a cold night, but with the right personal care and accompaniment and the right referrals to charity partners and agencies we can transform lives" comments Fr Peter Scally SJ, parish priest, "if we show people love and let them know their worth, we can see big transformations, which is why we are so glad to be working in partnership with BCT who have the professional expertise and connections. That is what St Ignatius asks us to do - to "help souls" - to help people in their relationship with God by caring for the whole person, body and soul.”
Pray with us
Lord, teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to look for any reward,
save that of knowing that I do your holy will.
Often mistakenly thought to have been written by St Ignatius. Jack Mahoney SJ wrote about this mysterious Ignatian prayer on ThinkingFaith.org
Fr Peter Scally SJ, Parish priest of Sacred Heart, Edlinburgh