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Parish priest plans to set up a chapel in city’s shopping area

Fr Ray's blog

A parish priest in Brighton plans to set up a chapel in one of the city’s main shopping streets as a “place of outreach”.

Fr Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalen’s in Upper North Street will open the chapel in the nearby high street. He is currently in talks with a Christian shopkeeper about allowing him use of a shop with a few week’s lease left.

“If its going to come off, it will be for a for a few weeks later this year. We haven’t got any money,” he said.

The shop, he added, had a heavy footfall and was close to Waitrose, whereas none of the Catholic churches in the city were close to shopping areas.

In his blog Fr Ray Blake wrote: “Spurred on by our Beloved Supreme Pontiff’s exhortation to ‘go out to the peripheries’, to ‘bring mercy’ to people, I said in a sermon that the Church needs a presence ‘where people are’.

“Like most Catholic churches we are not in the midst of where people are, ‘location, location’ wasn’t the first thing in the minds in of our Victorian forefathers. In our case I get the impression our Church and Presbytery was built in a side street with a strong memory of anti-Catholic riots. It wasn’t built as a centre for evangelisation.

He continued: “I suggested that it would be great to have a chapel, a place of ‘outreach’ in the main shopping area. I had some vague thought that it could be a place where people could drop in to pray or even go to Confession: a sort of ‘portal of mercy’, a good idea, but I hadn’t quite thought it through.”