We are delighted to share an article by a parishioner from the parish of Our Lady and St Neot in Liskeard, Cornwall. Read on to hear an inspiring story of a welcoming community.

Like many churches, Our Lady and St Neot was forced to lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Mass continued to be said, but without a congregation. We are gradually welcoming back our congregation. After Sunday Mass, our St Neot room, which is open to all, whether attending Mass or just passing by, offers free tea, coffee, homemade cakes and biscuits. Motivated by a desire to live out our faith in accordance with Gospel values and the Diocese of Plymouth’s aspirations to live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society. Going forward we look to be the Catholic presence in the community for the next century.

We pray that as the ties of friendship deepen and as a material expression of our spiritual desires, once more we may all come and join in worship, fellowship and love. Every Thursday evening, we have an hour of quiet prayer and meditation before the Blessed Sacrament. All are welcome to come and have an hour of peace and meditation. On the first Saturday of the month we have Open Church; where all may come and look around, someone is always ready to greet you and give you a warm welcome, as they say in Cornish ‘Wolcum yth-ough gh’agan eglos.’ There is always someone who will take you around our church and and tell you about its history and show you our beautiful stained glass window of St Joseph and St Francis. Afterwards there is tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits in our St Neot’s room. Last year, every Friday at 12 Noon we did Lenten lunches, serving homemade soup, rolls, quiches and cheese and biscuits. Donations went to help the suffering people of war-torn Ukraine.

This year for January and February every Saturday from 10.30-15.00 we have opened the church as a ‘warm space’ as well as offering hot drinks, cake, biscuits etc and from 11.30 we offer a hot meal and pudding.

One story of welcome: a homeless person came in for a hot drink and to keep warm.  He left with a warm jacket, woollen scarf, thick jumper, a tent and sleeping bag. He could not believe how caring and charitable people can be and was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity. He came back the next day for a hot drink after Sunday Mass and continued to come every Saturday and Sunday. He was given contact numbers and support and now has a place in St Austell. Another  man who came in for company and warmth discovered how to pray again. There are many stories like these in parishes all across the county and country, all we need to do is take the time to listen.

This year we will again be offering Lenten lunches; though they will be more frugal as Lent after all is a time of fasting, so homemade soup, cheese rolls and butter. Our donations will go to St Petrocs charity, which helps the homeless here in Cornwall. We also have a collection box for items for the foodbank and our Harvest Festival donations go to the food bank. Our projects are uplifting and heartening examples of faith, hope and love in action, and a Christian witness in our local community. It is rewarding for both volunteers and receivers alike.

If you would like to have some help and support in setting up a warm space in your local community, or have an inspiring story to share, please email caritas@prcdtr.org.uk