Monday, 11 November 2013

London: Service commemorates homeless people who died in last year

Around 120 homeless people are known to have died on the streets of London in the last 12 months. Their names were read out at 'The last shall be first' - a memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square on Thursday.  Following a welcome by Rev Richard Carter, there was a series of readings, music, dance and drama. Sacred Heart Sister Rosemarie Cockayne led movements to the Magnificat, sung by by the Music Group. Rev Carter, David Jackson and Mada gave a powerful performance of Luke's Gospel of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

After the first 25 names were read out, Fr Padraig Regan from the Passage, spoke about one of the people on that list - Paul Aldridge who died on Vauxhall Bridge on 11 June. His brothers had not been able to get to the hospital on time, but an Australian doctor, who turned out to be a Catholic, was present while Paul received the Anointing of the Sick. He was just 46.

Another reader later spoke about Colin Hooker, who died in the summer at the age of 42. He had been a permanent fixture at Adelaide Street - a free spirit who never managed to settle into permanent accommodation, but everyone remembered his kindness and concern for others. After the final group of names was read out, a friend spoke about Dawn Borrow, a homeless woman who was on kidney dialysis. From time to time she would miss her treatment at hospital and eventually died of kidney failure.

Members of the congregation then took part in a symbolic action, placing paper hands on a tree stump representing life and growth. The Choir with No Name gave a stirring performance of Labi Sifri's 'Something Inside So Strong'. Pat Logan, formerly from the charity Unleash, reflected on the scandal of street homelessness in a society which is so wealthy. He pointed out that life on the street can be incredibly lonely and lead to depression and sometimes suicide. He said there is an increasing gap between rich and poor and a desperate need for the two worlds to grow closer.

The service, organised by St Martin in the Fields, The Connection at St Martins and Housing Justice, ended with a reception, after a rousing performance of Va, Pensiero, from Verdi's Nabucco, by Streetwise Opera - the award-winning company made up of homeless people and professional artists.

Source: Independent Catholic News

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