Monday, 18 February 2008

Journeying to the East.

Another night in the Gorton Monastery.

Saint Benedict's Ardwick.

The Gorton Monastery.

If you travel East from Manchester Piccadilly Station, towards Ashton and eventually to Hull, you will very quickly see two grand Churches rising from the slums. The first is St Benedicts Ardwick, once the most famous Anglo Catholic Church in the North and now, sadly, an indoor climbing centre after it took the tragic decision to close it's doors a few years ago after a century or more operating as a community of priests dedicated to serving the urban poor. Not to be outdone, the Roman Catholics invited a group of Franciscans from the continent to open St Francis' Church nearby. St Francis' was built by the local people after they finished their days work in the mills which were, at that time, the only available employment in the area. It was an heroic tale and resulted in that most beautiful Church having three High Masses a Sunday to cater for the huge demand. Sadly, like St Benedicts, numbers dwindled and the decision was taken to close quite a long time ago. However, a man who used to be an altar server in the Church and his wife discovered it's fate and pledged to restore it for the community. Sadly, in my opinion, it is better that it closed as it is now available to hire for any event, it seems, that you wish. How the community benefits from having the old High Altar used for naked dancing and DJ's is unclear to me, and if those stones could talk I think they might fall of their own accord. Maybe this is not representative of the event they usually have, I could not care less, this once is enough. I contacted a third order Anglican Franciscan who is connected in some way to the trust which administers the building and asked him if he would care to give a short meditation to our prayer group and a pro forma invoice for almost a hundred pounds was emailed to me. I have no further comment about this really, apart from to request prayers for the people of East Manchester, who abandoned their Churches and who now, it would appear, have been abandoned by their Church.