CATHOLIC HERALD REPORTER
TWENTY "guardian angels" this week started an experiment in a London East End parish. Their goal is to break the "lace curtain mentality" of the city parishioners and to create a "one-for-all" spirit among the people in them.
The plan was started by 50year-old Fr. Denys Lucas, who went to Mile End as parish priest nine months ago. It was his first experience of parish life in 24 years. And he said: "I found the general attitude in the cities seems to be `I keep myself to myself."
His answer was to set up a network of contact people, one to each street. Their duties:
1. To meet all the people in the street: 2 To keep a close eye on people in trouble ; 9 To welcome strangers. ex.
Because the parish is named for the Guardian Angels, he calls them "area guardians".
These first 20 men and women belong to the parish's two Family and Social Action groups. In a few months Fr. Lucas hopes to have 40 guardians on the job. And by then he hopes to start a round of "house churches", Mass regularly in each guardian's home with all the Catholics in the street invited.
For the past three months a visiting Irish priest has canvassed
the district, counting the number of baptised Catholics in it. He found more than 3,000. Only 750 go to Mass on Sunday.
At this week's inaugural meeting, Fr. Lucas handed each guardian lists of local welfare agencies and of all his known Catholic neighbours.
One guardian questioned a name on her list. "These people don't go to church," she said. "and they don't want to talk about it."
Fr. Lucas answered: "Your job is to make contact — not to get people to come back to church. By being real Christians yourselves — ready to help in any way — you'll eventually attract them back.
"And don't just talk to Catholics. We've got to be Christians to everybody. That means serving, not looking it over anyone."
Before Fr. Lucas went to Mile End he was headmaster at the prep school for St. Edmund's College, Ware. His inexperience in parish work makes him say: "I'm cursed with administration". He has to tackle all his problems from scratch.
But the parishioners sympathise. They are eager to help and speak their minds freely. Especially the people in the Family and Social Action groups.
The youngest is about 20, the eldest in his late 50s. One is a policeman, one a printer, one a motor mechanic. Two work at
Ford's; a few teach: several are housewives, One is a student.
Most people in Mile End earn their living as builders' labourers, lorry drivers, factory workers. There are many tailors, growing numbers of clerks and secretaries and a few dockers. The majority leave school at 15 and go straight to work. Many marry young. There is a widespread desire to move out into the suburbs of Essex.
Fr. Lucas wants every parish activity to he organised under the beading of Family and Social Action. "My whole idea is to be non-exclusive," he says.
The two formal groups meet on alternate Thursdays after Benediction and Bible readings. They discuss a Gospel passage in relation to current events and plan a practical project, like the club. they have opened for old age pensioners.
And now as guardians the members will break out of their groups to build up informal gatherings throughout the parish. Fr. Lucas hopes the house churches will he the key meeting points.
"After a Mass in somebody's house, everyone in the street can meet and talk over tea," he explains. "Not just the people who would join an organised discussion group. Lverybody. Then we can really make the Church live in Mile End." FROM time to time we have published lists of convent guest houses in various parts of Europe. In Italy there are many willing to accommodate men and women.
However, in Spain the position appears to be different and there does not seem to he any convents catering for married couples. A reader has, however, sera us some very useful information on some esecond alas hotels
The daily charge for second class hotel rooms is generally in the region of 135 pesetas (167 pesetas to the El and about the same again per person, for meals, if all are taken at the 'hotel. The charge for breakfast alone is usually about 25 pesetas, If you fly to Madrid, without previously securing accommodation. there is an accommodation bureau at the airport which will help you. In Madrid, our reader writes, he found a boarding house (third class category hotel) at 100 pesetas. There is no lift, but the hotel is clean and has the advantage of being located quite close to the main thoroughfare of Madrid the Avenida Jose Antonio usually called the "Gran Via".
The address of the hotel is Hosial Nuesira Senora del Carmen, 4, San Bartolome, Madrid. The proprietor's name is Senor Antonio Guesta Blasco. The Plaza Vazquez de Melte leads to it.
Meals a re provided, but there is also a very good restaurant nearby : the Pagetesari 7 & 8 Calle del Barco, only 10 minutes walk from the hotel.
The Hotel Covadonga, 596 Avenida del Generalissimo at Barcelona is a second class category hotel, where the charge is normally 135 pesetas for two. But you are likely to pity more during the Fiera. The rooms are comfortable and the hotel is only 12-15 minutes walk from the Plaza de Cataluna — the main centre of Barcelona where the Gamuts "Rambles" meet.
Avoid Seville during Holy Week, unless you have booked rooms a long. time ahead. The world famous religious processions attract visitors in their thousands. What is more the festival really lasts two weeks after Easier as well, so don't imagine it is over after Holy Week, or even the week after.
A cheap third class category hotel at Cordoba is worth mentioning. The Recidencia Ulia, 4, Victoriuno Rivera, just off the Plaza Jose Antonio, ihe centre of the town. The coat of a twin bedded room with hot and cold water only 100 pesetas for two persons. The splendours of Spain's Christian heritage are legion, but you shook[ not miss the cathedrals of Seville, Burgos, Toledo, Barcelona (shown in our picture) and the one time Mosque at Cordobo, which bus been converted into kt cathedral.
Enquiries regarding travel should be accompanied to a stamped, addressed envelope and sent to: "Going Away", Catholic Herald, 67 Fleet Street, London, E.C.4.