St Ignatius, Stamford Hill
A parish of over 2000 people established by the Jesuits in 1903, St Ignatius Stamford Hill is in one of London’s most diverse boroughs. Communities from Ireland, Poland, Ghana, Nigeria, and all across Latin America lend the vibrancy of cultural exchange to liturgy and parish life.
During Lent this year the parish team responded to Pope Francis’ call to hold 24 hours for the Lord, as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. “We took a risk” says Sr Eugenia OSM, a member of the parish team, “we just didn’t know if anyone would come to an all-night prayer vigil but as a team we really felt Pope Francis was asking a wonderful thing, and we wanted to take action. In the end we were deeply moved by the extraordinary response from our parishioners, and by the feedback since from people who came closer to God during this special time.”
The 24 hours began with Mass at 10am on the Friday and ended with the 10am Saturday Mass. During the day there was Exposition and Stations of the Cross in English and Polish. The night vigil was divided into 13 hours between 9pm and 10am. Each hour focussed on a different prayer intention: “There is so much to pray for” says Sr Eugenia, “and Pope Francis has given us such a strong lead to deepen our prayer especially for the poor, and all disadvantaged and troubled people”.
Topics included Forgiveness, and praying for our enemies, as well as mental illness, human trafficking, refugees, those who have died, those who have lost their faith, and the homeless.
As Sr Eugenia explained “Each hour began with a short reflection by a member of the parish team, sometimes we had singing or quiet music, sometimes group prayer such as the rosary, and always time for quiet prayer. People lit candles and placed them along the altar rails, it was truly uplifting to be present in the quiet prayerful church.”
Around 3-400 people attended throughout the 24 hours. And through the night there was a continual flow with around 150 people in the church at all times. A large number attended an anointing of the sick liturgy held at 8am.
Parish Priest Fr David Smolira SJ commented, “There seems to be a real desire among a whole range of parishioners to develop their prayer life and deepen their relationship with God in this way. As a result of the 24 hours we have extended the time for our weekly Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from one hour to ten hours, and there has been a higher uptake of communal prayer such as praying the rosary.”
Pray with us
Stamford Hill have two masses for Polish speakers and a mass for Spanish (Latin American) speakers every sunday. For all times visit their website >>
Join us in praying with Pope Francis this month for Latin America and the Caribbean: That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.