St Aloysius, Glasgow
The care of souls, through the sacraments, preaching and works of mercy, gives St Aloysius' parish in central Glasgow a unique Jesuit flavour which makes the church a haven of solace and peace in the midst of the city centre. It has a long history of Jesuit presence, and very close relationship with local Jesuit school St Aloysius’ College.
A recent project has flourished in the church in response to the refugee crisis.
“As a parish we were wondering how we should respond to the refugee crisis, but unsure what was most needed and most practical” explains Fr Tim Curtis SJ, parish priest. “We asked the advice of Glasgow City Council and they told us that the greatest need was for English language lessons. So the parish council began to plan how we could best use our gifts, talents and resources to support this. Luckily there are many teachers and retired teachers among our congregation who were keen to help and we have put together a great team of thirteen volunteers.”
On the first day there were only four students – however by the end of the next week, around 40 had attended for basic English lessons. Now into its fifth month, around 40 students a day attend the classes five days a week, Monday to Friday. They have been boosted by much-needed school equipment donated by St Aloysius’ College.
The demographic of students is mainly Eritrean, Sudanese, Syrian and Iraqi. Every class is led by a qualified volunteer teacher, usually retired, with up to four other volunteers who sit alongside the students. They encourage the more experienced students to sit with new ones, building peer support.
Thomas Graham is the parishioner who co-ordinates the classes. He is surprised and moved at how well the project has expanded in such a short time. He feels the strong Jesuit ethos of St Aloysius’ Church has directly contributed to the success of the classes. He explains:
“I feel this is the core of Jesuit outreach work, rather than preaching about religion. The students who we are teaching can see the religious influence behind it. On Good Friday two students asked if they could be heard in confession. On Sunday seven more asked for confessions, and if they couldn’t translate into English the priest let them confess in their own language. This shows the refugees are talking together about how the church can meet their own spiritual needs.”
The project has become influential in surrounding areas, as other parishes have come to observe with a view to starting their own lessons. This is important for continuity as refugees are sometimes only in the city centre for a short time before being moved out to other parts of the Glasgow region.
Glasgow City Council estimates there to be around 3,000 destitute asylum seekers living in Glasgow, and on top of this they have agreed to take 200 vulnerable Syrians via the government’s resettlement scheme.
Pray with us
These images and quotes make up a novena of short prayers leading up to the anniversary of the death of John Ogilvie SJ.
St John Ogilvie SJ
On 10th March 1615 John Ogilvie SJ was tried for high treason, found guilty and executed at Glasgow Cross and his body buried in an unmarked grave. He was beatified in 1929 and, after a miracle was attributed to his intercession, he was canonised in Rome in 1976. He is Scotland’s only martyr of the reformation period.