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From time to time it is good to have a break from the normal routine and go away and do something else. It is that time for me. I am going on a little bike ride to see some of England, sleep in a tiny tent and probably get quite wet.

Whilst I am going to take my phone, I am going to be constrained by limited phone battery. Hopefully there will be chance to charge it in cafes and so forth, The little capacity that I have will be spent on navigation, searches for the next campsite and photographs. For that reason I suspect I will not be able to maintain the normal level of postings of news and new events.

I have no idea when I will get back but it will be before the end of June.

Happy Birthday!!!

If like me you are shying away from Birthday celebrations when the cake looks like the Towering Inferno and there is more wax on it than Madame Tussauds, well today let’s make an exception.

Happy birthday to one and all! On this feast of Pentecost, we celebrate the birthday of the Church, not just any Church, but the Missionary Church. Today we are reminded that we are to continue the mission of Jesus, to be the proclaimers of Good News to the ends of the earth and to build up his Kingdom, here!

The disciples filled with the Spirit spoke to all in their native languages – yes even Glaswegian! The Spirit came to empower the motley crew of followers to move from fearful, frightened people to become a fearless, feisty power, that is the Church. The community is to go, to reach out, to be bearers of good news to all peoples in all parts of the world.

Our decision to take over from the Carmelites, was a spirit filled discernment, a Pentecost moment. The resources, the contacts, the good will, the challenges, the opportunities… are exactly what that first community faced when from a small group in a little corner of the world, it grew to become the world’s largest religion – 2.2 billion that is a third of the earth’s population.

And we too continue that mission in our trying to be Church here in Preston. In the activities that so many people attend and organise, in the coming together, in our reaching out, the new initiatives, in the searching to be more of a resource and service to the local Church and community as well as thinking globally, we try to keep Pentecost alive!

The Xaverian Mission Spirituality Centre uses the reference to Spirit, not loosely but deliberately. We are inspired by the Holy Spirit to be the missionary Church, here and now.

The D Day remembrance 75 years on and the 250 major wars since the end of the Second World War where over 50 million have been killed reminds us that the Spirit of Pentecost which unites the divisions and celebrates the differences, must be re-discovered.

Let’s repeat the words of Saint Pope John XXIII at the beginning of Vatican II – “Renew in our days oh Lord, your wonders as in a new Pentecost!” and lets try to repeat the bold actions of the first community. We still have plenty to do and extra miles to go. Let’s joyfully do it together. Happy Birthday!

Calendar update: A talk on parenting the teenager you love

Sarah Marie Place is giving a talk on parenting teenagers at the Centre on Tuesday 25th June at 7pm. The talk is applicable to both Parents and Grandparents. As usual there will be an opportunity for tea/coffee and conversation both before and after the event.

The talk is based on a book by Gary Chapman called “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers”.

If you want to ask Sarah anything beforehand then please use the contact form on the the calendar event which can be found by clicking here.

Reminder: Spirituality for Summer retreat 22nd June

A retreat day led by Rose and Greg McCrave.  A time to refresh, renew and restore our souls by drawing closer to the warmth of God’s love .

Date: Saturday 22nd June 2019

Time: 10.30am – 4.00 pm (with refreshments from 10.00am)

Cost: £15 please bring lunch

To book: Contact Rose McCrave by email using the form here.

Something New For Women of All Ages


If you would be interested in coming along to chat about starting a women’s prayer group monthly on a Wednesday from 2-3pm at the Xaverian Missionary Spirituality Centre you are welcome on 12th June 2019

Please contact Rose by email using the form here or call her on 07866 736067

New Calendar Event

The World Community for Christian Meditation (North Manchester and Lancashire Region) are holding four Quiet Days in Preston at the Centre during the remainder of 2019. Each day runs from 10.30am to 4.00pm

The dates are
Saturday 22nd June
Saturday 24th August
Saturday 5th October
Saturday 7th December

You can find more details by following this link to the calendar.

The week ahead: 2nd June – 8th June

A new event hits the calendar this week. On Tuesday 4th June 2019 we have the first session of the Dementia Singing Group. This group is aimed at both sufferers as well as carers and friends. Come along and sing your old favourites. Tea/Coffee biscuits and good company are all on offer. 10am until noon.

Also on Tuesday 4th there will be the monthly Rosary Service at the Carmelite Monastery from 2pm until 3pm. Prayers will be offered for expectant mothers and their unborn children.

On Wednesday 5th June we have our monthly Labyrinth walk. If you have never done this traditional walking meditation then why not come and try it 7pm to 9pm.

Carmelite India Fund event: 12 May 2019

Written by Jennifer Holden

On Sunday 12th May, Chris Lloyd, Fr Bideri and myself welcomed 80 people to a wonderful celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Carmelite India Fund, a charity that began in 2009, as a tiny mustard seed, sown in response to a meeting with the poorest of the poor in a Bangalore slum and with the Carmelite Missionary Sisters who have been supporting and empowering them for over twenty years. Despite all sorts of adversity, this tiny seed has managed to sprout and spread further and further afield, supporting the sisters in their care of the untouchables, victims of a cruel caste system that believes an untouchable’s shadow or breath contaminates anyone it falls upon.

It was a beautifully sunny day for the event, all the windows and doors open onto the gardens of the Xaverian Centre in Preston. The Liturgy Room had been transformed into an oriental bazaar of exotic Indian materials, pashminas, saris, jewellery, embroidered cushions, painted Indian peepal leaves, exquisite hand made greetings cards, freshly baked cupcakes, tray bakes, chutneys, takeaway curries …all made by passionate supporters of the fund.

The story is a mysterious one. I had been working on the Carmelite Retreat Team at Tabor Spirituality Centre (now the Xaverian Centre) for a number of years, when Fr Eugene, the Prior, offered me a three month sabbatical. I was surprised and suggested Llandudno in North Wales to which he replied, quite forcibly for him, ‘No! I want you to to go somewhere right out of your comfort zone!’

So, a fearful traveller, afraid of snakes, spiders, amoebic dysentery and having to wash in a bucket, set off for India and the Ragigguda slums in Bangalore. Sr Celine was my guide and took me along the dark, narrow alleyways of the slums where I came face to face with India’s shadow. The people who shyly greeted me are forbidden to enter a temple, to have access to running water, forbidden to have any education or medical treatment, forbidden to have a proper roof over their heads or to do any sort of profitable work.

I was struck dumb to see that these people had nothing, nothing at all except the love and devotion of Sr Celine and her community and that these broken ones who had nothing, welcomed me, a stranger, with such graciousness and generosity.

I was taken into the nursery and infant schools Sr Celine has set up and met women from the slums who were being trained to work alongside the sisters. I saw women being supported in setting up ethical loans and others who were being trained to set up networks of self help groups which have now spread far beyond Bangalore. I also saw women being trained to be classroom assistants and met others taking responsibility for administrative work.

I asked Sr Celine what she needed to continue this special work with the poor and was struck dumb by her reply. She needed so little to make a dramatic difference to the lives of her people – not much more than I spend on chocolate each month!

Father Eugene rang that night, knowing I had been spending time in the slums. I could barely speak but managed to say, ‘We have to do something!’ to which he replied ‘We’ll come in with you on this. We’ll back you up!’

And so, the Tabor India Fund, (now the Carmelite India Fund) was launched. We were able to send £250 a month to Bangalore and now send £550 each month to support the wonderful work the sisters are doing with rural slum-dwellers in Andhra Pradesh as well as their work in Bangalore. Every penny given to the charity goes directly to Sr Celine. Chris and I pay for all other costs the charity incurs with our own money. In this way, the fund is different from most other charities.

At our recent celebration, we were able to thank all those who have supported Chris and myself in struggling to keep the fund alive and to treat everyone to a beautiful afternoon tea created by Master-Baker, Davina. The day ended with a thrilling dance performance of Indian classical, folk and Bollywood dance. As a grand finale, everyone was invited to join in the dancing and, at this point, Fr Bideri who had taken such an active part in the whole day, stole the show!

More pictures here.

If you would like to help the mustard seed continue to grow, we would be delighted to hear from you. You can contact Chris or Jennifer by clicking here.

Preston Xaverian News: 26th May 2019

Here in Preston things have been quite busy. Last Saturday (18/05) there was a day exploring “Being Church in Smaller Groups” as part of the Formation for Mission agenda of the ACTA Group. Facilitated by Rose and Greg McCrave, the day gave the 40 or so participants a chance to identify and celebrate where we can be Church in smaller group settings. It was a very life giving and enthusiastic time together and we look forward to the next day on July 13th, where we will be aided by Simon Stewart to look at the Emerging Church.

On September 14th we will have a day organised by the Xaverians where we will present the Xaverian Charism, explore together how to live the mission spirituality and make the Xaverian Centre here a place of formation and nourishment, but also one of outreach. Come and take part and see how we can put in practice our aims of interfaith dialogue, lay formation and mission on the margins by cultivating a mission spirituality.

This week Jim will be in Rome with Hugh Foy, our director of projects and programmes, taking part in a Conference at the Gregorian University on “Cultures of Unbelief.” This is part of our commitment to interfaith, interreligious dialogue. We will keep you posted on how it went.

On July 1st we welcome Phil Callaghan who will work with us here in Preston. Phil is a young lay man who has great experience in youth and lay formation and was the Chair of the YCW in the UK. He will help in both administration but also in creating and delivering programmes. We are excited to have him on board.

We wish to thank all who continue to put on events and courses here at the Centre and to all who work behind the scenes in collaboration with us. Please keep abreast of all that’s going on via the web site or by contacting the Centre.

God bless

Jim Clarke, s.x.

Dementia Singing Group starts 4th June 2019

Come to our new singing group if you or your partner suffer from Dementia.

As well as being good fun singing is recognised as being hugely beneficial for well-being as it can impact positively on our physical, emotional and social health.

Music and Singing offer a unique and important way for people with Dementia to communicate with others and to continue to feel connected and valued. The carer, wife husband or partner attending the group will feel extra support from the other group members who are in the same situation as them.

Sessions start each Tuesday at 10.00am for a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuits before singing. We aim to finish by noon.

There is ample parking at the centre, wheelchair access and disabled toilets.

If you want more information then you can either call Alan directly on 01772 717122 or why not send him an email by using the form here.

If you know anybody who would like to join us let us know.