21st June. Cenacolo

As the local priest I get the chance, in a very socially distanced way, to visit the British Cenacolo community that just happens to be in our parish. Cenacolo means the upper room in Italian, and it is the name a nun, Mother Elvira, chose for her new community a few decades ago. She was a simple cook in a convent in north west Italy who went down to the market everyday to shop. Deeply saddened by the young men she saw slumped there on drugs or drink, she felt called to do something about it. For about 10 years she asked Reverend Mother to let her set up help but was always rejected until one day the boss gave in. Elvira was donated a large old house and she gathered a community of young guys needing help, whatever the addiction. After a lot of prayer, she decided they would not use medical or psychiatric help, but that in the community houses the guys would watch over each other. A life based on monastic rules of prayer, work, and rest, it began slowly, but now has houses across Europe, north and central America and Asia and a mission in Liberia. The community is for both men and women, with a thriving married community in Italy too. To visit their festival in Italy in the summer, of prayer, catechesis, dance and song, is to see the Church in full celebration. Naturally it is not a success for everyone, not all stories have a happy ending, and some leave unable to lead the life, but for so many, of any faith or none, it has been the saving of their lives. To discover more about it look at their website cenacolouk.org and look at ‘supporters’ and then ‘listening sites.’

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