Church donations and community support in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy
December 1, 2017 by Tim Hunt
Recounting the events from the early hours of Wednesday the 14th of June 2017
In a world in which fear and terror are now part of everyday conversation it is an uncomfortable realisation that donations to victims of senseless and avoidable tragedies are becoming increasingly common.
However, it is perhaps more shocking when an immense tragedy strikes our shores and it can only be described as a terrible accident and of which the repercussions reach far beyond the direct victims, their families and those in the communities.
It was at around 1.00 am when the emergency services attended a call to the Grenfell Tower Block, Kensington, West London. The tower block was home to hundreds of people occupying some 129 flats, across 24 floors. It is believed that the blaze originated in a flat with a faulty fridge-freezer and it had spread ferociously -aided by the external cladding used on the tower block – which had reportedly failed safety testing. However, until a formal investigation has been conducted it is hard to say with absolute certainty the exact cause of the fire and the contributing factors that lead to such devastation.
Acknowledging the efforts made by ALL in the wake of such heartache
The emergency services, chiefly the London Fire Brigade, battled valiantly against the blaze into the early hours of the morning and beyond. Moreover, without hesitation and with a single minded ambition to the rescue the injured and free the trapped they threw themselves into the inferno.
Subsequently, the aftermath saw them recovering those who had been trapped in the building and offering further assurances to the public that they would not give up hope of finding more survivors ,despite the odds. Tragically, it is being reported that at least 80 people are thought to have been lost in the blaze, although this number is yet to be confirmed whilst the recovery effort is still ongoing.
There will be memorial days, there will be candle light vigils and ultimately calls for accountability to determine the cause of these shocking events.However, rather than attempt to foretell the future, it is more appropriate to reflect on the ways in which the people came together and how the Church was at the heart of much of it, as it served as both a meeting place and a hive for relief activity.
The aftermath of the tragedy saw local communities nationwide come together, united in their collective grief and shock. The victims benefited from a great generosity which saw people opening their homes to the tired and homeless, with children donating their toys to offer comfort to those children suffering the consequences of the disaster.
Welcoming those in need on their own doorsteps
There are numerous examples when looking through reports of the local churches placed at the centre of comfort and prayer. However, a few stories of churches within the immediate vicinity of the Grenfell Tower earn a notable mention in this discussion.
St Clements Church in Notting Dale was inundated with donations in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. It lay witness to grieving families and members of the public as they attended mass and made donations of food and clothing to the victims. Additionally, several politicians including Jeremy Corbyn and Teresa May reportedly visited the church to offer their own condolences and assurances relating to the handling of the response effort which was already underway. Through a collective effort and the opening of doors the local churches warmed hearts during a time of confusion and anger they had touched on something more than a call to worship. It demonstrates a basic human desire to show compassion and solidarity , so often forgotten in modern society.
Meanwhile, in Notting Hill similar events unfolded at St Francis of Assisi Church crowds gathered to dispense food and water to those in need. Samantha Cameron, wife of former Prime Minister David Cameron, was seen amongst their numbers. As volunteers continued to migrate to their churches the donations continued to offer provision for those in dire need.
The decision made by communities to walk out onto the streets on mass transcended all cultural and social divides – it was for everyone. Church donations allowed volunteers to fulfil the most basic needs of those seeking basic comforts at a time when the needs of some where most prevalent.
Reflecting on what has come to pass…
In what has been described as a ‘Blitz spirit’ by some,the Church at large found itself at the centre of the local community in Kensington and its surrounding borough. Moreover, it has continued to serve as a point of refuge beyond the immediate wake of the events as people are still trying to come to terms with the events of these recent traumatic events.
It is hard to place the value on church donations and equally the generosity of all in involved cannot be questioned. Ultimately, the effort was a collective, as people of all ages, race, traditions and gender found themselves welcomed into arms of the Church and in return their church donations provided for those in dire need.
The repercussions of this event are far reaching and will prove to be lasting and it is likely that church donations, community support and charitable organisations will continue to find themselves called upon as families attempt to rebuild their lives and make sense of the events that have unfolded.
Recently, the Grenfell Tower enquiry has commenced and it’s aims have been summarised by the presiding judge, as he begins the long task of bringing together all available evidence in order to make a judgement. We can only hope that their is accountability for those involved and that lessons are learnt for the future.
We work closely with churches throughout the UK and beyond and recognise how much charitable and valuable work they provide to their communities day in, day out and we have the up-most respect for the dedication they show whenever they are called upon.
Fully Customisable Church Collection Envelopes from Lockie Limited
by Tim Hunt
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The Importance of Remembering the Holy Souls
by Tim Hunt
The Month of the Holy Souls begins on 2nd November and we discuss the month dedicated to the souls of the departed…..
What is All Souls Day?
All Souls Day is a chance for us to commemorate and honour those who have passed. The Western celebration of All Souls’ Day is on 2 November and follows All Saints’ Day, which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision.
Catholic belief is that the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.
Those who, within the octave of All Souls Day, visit the cemetery in a spirit of piety and devotion and pray, even only mentally, for the departed may gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions (confession, Holy Communion, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and prayers for the intentions of the Church, such as an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be) on each day of the octave, applicable only to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Reciting prayers or performing other devout exercises for the departed during this month may gain an indulgence of 3 years each day of the month, and a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions daily for the entire month.
During November, we take part in public services held in a church in intercession for the faithful departed may gain an indulgence of 7 years on each day of the month, and a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions if they do so at least 15 days.
History of the Holy Souls
In the sixth century, it was customary in Benedictine monasteries to hold a commemoration of the deceased members at Whitsuntide. According to Widukind of Corvey (c. 975), there existed a time-honoured ceremony of praying to the dead on 1 October in Saxony. But it was the day after All Saints’ Day that Saint Odilo of Cluny chose when in the 11th century he instituted for all the monasteries dependent on the Abbey of Cluny an annual commemoration of all the faithful departed, to be observed with alms, prayers, and sacrifices for the relief of the suffering souls in purgatory. Odilo decreed that those requesting a Mass be offered for the departed should make an offering for the poor, thus linking almsgiving with fasting and prayer for the dead. From there the 2 November custom spread to other Benedictine monasteries and thence to the Western Church in general. The Diocese of Liège was the first diocese to adopt the practice under Bishop Notger (d. 1008).
Prayers for the Departed
We should pray for the dead throughout the year, especially on the anniversary of their death, but in this Month of the Holy Souls, we should devote some time every day to prayer for the dead. We should start with those closest to us—our mother and father, for instance—but we should also offer prayers for all the souls, and especially for those most forsaken.
One of the most commonly recited of Catholic prayers in times past is Eternal Rest. This prayer has fallen into disuse in the last few decades. Prayer for the dead, however, is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform, to help them during their time in Purgatory, so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven.
We also say prayers for our parents, not just simply out of duty but out of joy. They gave us life and brought us up in the Faith; we should be happy that our prayers can help end their sufferings in Purgatory and bring them fully into the light of Heaven.
For most, it was our mother who nurtured us and helped us understand our Faith. Our fathers are the model of God in our lives and provide guidance when we need it most. We can help repay them by praying for the repose of their souls and help them through the sufferings of Purgatory and into the fullness of Heaven.
The Meaning of Offering
The Month of the Holy Souls is a time for us to be selfless and charitable in the eternal suffering of others. When we offer up our own daily sufferings, we benefit, too, because we learn better to cope with the challenges of our daily life. Whenever we find ourselves in a bad situation, we should remind ourselves that we’re offering it up for the Holy Souls, because the merit of our offering increases when we cope with situations with Christian charity, humility, and patience.
Children, too, can learn to “offer it up,” and they’re often eager to do so, especially if they can offer up the trials of childhood for a beloved grandparent or other relative or friend who has died. It’s a good way to remind them that, as Christians, we believe in life after death and that, in a very real sense, the souls of the dead are still with us. That’s what the “Communion of Saints” that we refer to in the Apostles’ Creed (and every other Christian creed) means.
Lockie provide many churches throughout the UK with Month of the Holy Souls envelopes for parishioner contributions during the month of November. These envelopes can be purchased from the link below: