To coincide with the Olympics, last week saw Nightfever once more at St Patrick’s, Soho Square. Nightfever has been running in London on a regular basis but this was the first time that an entire week was given over to street evangelisation and adoration, with the particular intention of providing outreach to tourists visiting London for the games.
The format couldn’t be simpler. Holy Mass is celebrated at 6pm, together with those who will be helping run the event, after which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration and priests set themselves to hear confessions. Until about 10pm each evening, pairs of people then set off into the local area with a lantern and an unlit candle to invite passers-by to come into the church to pray. I was there for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and each night we had around 250 people visit the church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
Nightfever is relatively new to the UK but in Germany it’s really taken off and is now held at a large number of venues. To help with the week we welcomed a group of German Catholics who stayed in the house and helped with the setting-up and running of the event, as well as the ‘home team’ and a number of recent SPES graduates who returned to help out.
St Patrick’s is in such a transient area that it’s difficult to see how ongoing catechesis or formation might work. We see people walking past once or twice, or even every day to work – but really very few residents in the parish. This sort of hard-hitting evangelistic outreach is an important part of the life of a central London parish, but it’s only any good if there’s follow-up in places where these people live. A parish like this can, and does, give people a taste of the goodness of the Lord, but they will need ongoing nourishment and food if they are to be transformed into faithful followers of the Lord we seek to serve.
I’ve posted some photos from the event here.