In early November four of our team went to Liverpool to attend a Catholic Youth conference called ‘Embrace’ at Liverpool Cathedral.
‘Night Fever’ was an open night of prayer and reflection at The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Blackpool at the end of October. The new outreach initiative has been hugely successful and popular across Manchester, London and in cities all over the world and recently a team of local ambassadors for the project brought the Night Fever event to Blackpool. The aim of Night Fever is to invite people into a town centre church to experience a moment of candlelit prayer, reflection and spiritual hospitality. The doors of the church were opened from 7.30pm until 10pm and over that time about eighty people were welcomed into the church. Night Fever is about inviting all kinds of different people into the church. There may be people just passing by, people who have never been into a church or those who haven’t been for a long time or people within the community or parish that feel they would like to support the mission and join in. Blackpool has a very thriving and busy evening entertainment scene with theatres, showbars, pubs, restaurants and tourist attractions and right in the middle of all the buzz is The Sacred Heart Catholic Church. So, it was quite fitting that Sacred Heart church should also be an active part of the bustling culture and open our doors and invite people to pop in and make lighting a candle or having a moment of prayer, part of their night out. God is everywhere, at all times and for all people. For many of the visitors this was their first time in a Catholic Church and there was a warm welcome awaiting them: people were invited to just come in, maybe light a candle, say a prayer, talk to a priest, reflect and listen to some music. The motto of the evening was “Welcome, come and go as you please. The church is open for you.” There was a street mission team of volunteers who went out in pairs, made up of local parishioners from other Catholic churches in the area and youth workers from Castlerigg Manor. They were working together and carrying special lanterns to light the way as they invited passers-by to pop in for moment and experience some quiet reflection inside the church on the evening. There was also information sheets, prayer cards and other activities to make people feel at ease and understand about how to pray if they were unsure. It was an open night of prayer where people could experience the beautiful atmosphere of the church at night, with the candlelit ambiance and enjoy a moment of peace. Simon Stewart, Chaplaincy Team Leader at St Mary's Catholic Academy and Secretary of the Deanery Pastoral Council said that Sr Anne Stewart, a Holy Child Sister came across Night Fever initially and suggested it to the deanery. The chaplaincy team at St Marys and Castlerigg enthusiastically followed her lead and the project gathered pace, ably assisted by Fr Peter Sharrock and Canon Robert Dewhurst at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Blackpool. Simon said: "In the deanery we have been exploring ways of reaching out to those who are disconnected from the Church - responding to the Holy Father's challenge to look outside of ourselves. Night Fever seemed a fresh and positive form of outreach, utilising our gifts to welcome people in. The church of the Sacred Heart was particularly well-placed at the heart of Blackpool and we thought we would hold our event during the 'Illuminations season' when town is at its busiest. We hope it will become a regular event and provide a place of quiet and spiritual comfort in the midst of noise and distraction. At the very least it will bring people in the deanery together to pray, worship and find some much-needed space in our busy world."