News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool



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‘I am so angry at the Government’ said Jesuit Parish Priest, Denis Blackledge, of Saint Francis Xavier in Everton, near Liverpool City Centre.


‘Two years ago, they promised 0.7% of gross national income to overseas development, and now they’ve broken that promise by only giving 0.5% of an already depleted gross national income.  So, for the first time in my life, at 78 years of age, I’m going to protest publicly – I’m going to do a water-only 24 hour fast.  I’ll sit in my armchair in front of the High Altar after 12.00 noon Mass on Thursday 3 June until 12 noon the following day, and we’ll keep the church open for the whole 24 hours so people can give their support.’


Having celebrated Mass on Thursday 3 June Father Denis took off his vestments and sat in his chair – to start an interesting 24 hours for him.  As it turned out, between 12.30 pm and 8.30 pm he only had about five minutes to himself.  A procession of people, from friends and parishioners, swimming companions, local City Councillors, the Deputy Mayor, an MP and clergy gathered for conversation and encouragement.  Then the hard part – the vigil hours.  Father Denis got about an hour’s sleep in his chair from eleven until midnight, but from then on people came into church throughout the night to keep him company in prayer and reflection.


From 8.00 am to 11.00 am Father Denis enjoyed the silence in church until his meeting with friend and ecumenical colleague Rev Henry Corbett.  As it was half term, Joint Church School, Faith Primary, sent their support remotely, and one student, Luca, came along and gave a short performance on the violin.  None of this could have been done without the quiet presence of Debbie Reynolds, Pastoral Assistant at SFX Church, coordinating the Church being open safely and attended with covid measures.


The original intention was to protest, not to make money, but, in the end, some £1,557.24 was raised and donated equally to Cafod, Jesuit Missions and the Jesuit Refugee Service, as all were instrumental in helping to raise awareness with facts and figures of this unfair cut to overseas aid, which will cost lives.


Father Denis said, ‘I hope my small gesture will encourage us all to stand up for our poor sisters and brothers in our one world and will awaken our government to respond to their urgent needs.’

Protest Fast at SFX church, Liverpool

I hope my small gesture will encourage us all to stand up for our poor sisters and brothers