bethnal green community 2020
When, in 1901, the religious orders in France were persecuted, Cardinal Vaughan, then Archbishop of Westminster, expressed the desire that the Assumptionists would establish themselves in his diocese. Fr. Picard decided that his sons should inaugurate their work in the poorer parish. It was that the first Assumptionist mission was opened in Bethnal Green - London in 1901.
Since then, the community in Bethnal Green has been important in the United Kingdom. It was a provincial house and the formation’s house for the young assumptionists. It has still taken care of the parish “Our Lady of the Assumption” which represent a diversity of culture and nationalities. It worth mentioning that catholic is a minority in the UK.
We are now four brothers in the community: Father Justin (Superior- Congolese) Fr Paul Hai (Vietnamese), Fr Antigon (Tanzanian), and Br Joseph Cuong (Vietnamese). Our principal mission is the Parish (Our Lady of the Assumption – since 1912), Ecumenism – in action having mutual dialogues and activities with other churches, youth pastoral. We have opened our door for days' reflection and to welcome the young students and professionals having a community experience. Living community life can indeed be challenging and yet enriching for one who opens oneself to others in the spirit of respect and fraternity. We would like to help those who in need, to make it a place where they have opportunities to share, to grow and enrich in faith, in action to build a Christian life with others as Our Father prayer and our Assumptionist motto for “The Kingdom of God” comes in us and around us. So that we can witness to our faith through lives of love, joy, generosity, service, and a commitment to evangelization.
The community at Hitchin (40 miles north of London) was founded in 1926 when the Assumptionists took responsibility for both the parish and St Michaels College. Today the college is at Stevenage under the patronage of St John Henry Newman. We are four in the community; Fr Tom O’Brien who is superior and parish priest, Fr Euloge Katsuva Kasine (Congolese) and Andrew O’Dell (retired). We await Br Jerome Adams who will come this year
Before the corona virus pandemic we were very active in the parish, now due to the pandemic meetings and events have been drastically reduced. We hope to return to normal activity as soon as possible. At the moment ecumenical meetings are by zoom as are contacts with Churches Together and Interfaith work. Parishioners care for a food bank and Feed up Warmup which provides a hot meal for those most in need. The parish hall has also been used for food parcels for families in need.
The pandemic has really made us change our lives and our apostolate by finding new ways of spreading the Gospel. Our parish is one of the centres where people can bring recycling materials.
In this uncertain world (pandemic and leaving the European Union) we have to be prepared for whatever may happen confident that we will always receive the grace we need to be faithful to our commitment to work for the coming of the Kingdom.
Father Andew O’DELL