Archdiocese opens spirituality and outreach centre

By Father Chris Thomas

On Sunday 2 August it was announced that St Thomas of Canterbury in Waterloo was closing, with the buildings to be used by the Irenaeus project. On 9 September we celebrated the final parish Mass there so now it’s full steam ahead as we try to turn these wonderful buildings into a centre for spirituality and outreach.

The development of a centre will enable us to continue to offer short courses on methods of prayer and the Scriptures. During the Liturgical seasons of the year there will be evenings and days of prayer and retreats of various sorts. We will still be able to provide opportunities for spiritual direction and accompaniment and will be involved in diocesan training for Eucharistic ministers. We will also be available to go into parishes and support other groups as we have done for the last 20 years. Our prison ministry will continue too.

We hope that the centre will be open Monday to Friday from 10am–4pm for people to access a prayer space in the wonderful sanctuary area of the Church. There will be a bookshop and a coffee drop-in for those in the wider community. We hope that on two days of the week there will professional counsellors available to chat with people.

As many of you know, for several years we have organised a sing-along for those living with dementia and their carers. As soon as we are able, this will be resumed but we will also have the capacity to offer more support through the drop-in. A local GP wants to run groups to support those with mental-health issues, particularly in the area of spirituality, and a part-time prison chaplain hopes to establish groups for ex-prisoners who often find themselves alone on release from prison.

As other needs arise, we will try to respond to them now that we have the space to do so. Additionally the different rooms in the centre will be available for hire for various diocesan, parish and other groups.

As you can imagine, all this is very costly and we have almost exhausted our very kind supporters who have raised a lot of money for this project. Therefore, we have set up a small fundraising group because there are alterations that have to be made to the church to make it fit for purpose.

If you think you can help us in any way, please call us on 0151 949 1199 or email jenny@irenaeus.co.uk.