Bishop Alan Williams sm made his annual visit to a Franciscan friary last week to share a meal and companionship with the homeless in Canning Town, east London.
Bishop Alan was invited by the hard-working Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, who run Friar Benet’s soup kitchen, to spread a little Christmas cheer as we approach the end of Advent.
“I’m here for the homeless Christmas party that the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal run every year,” said Bishop Alan. “It’s wonderful to be here as you get a real sense of the importance of people, and how vital it is that we love one another, and that we serve one another.”
Bishop Alan stresses that standing in solidarity and being more Christ-like is the key:
“As we look forward to the coming of the Christ Child among us, let’s hope that we can become more like Christ in the way we love each other, the way we love God, and the way we bless each other.”
The friars strive to fulfil the command of the Gospel and St Francis of Assisi to live among the poor, providing for their physical and spiritual needs. They do this by living in poor neighbourhoods, running homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and youth programmes.
Twice a week, the kitchen attached to the friary serves its homeless guests a hot lunchtime meal, provides opportunities to shower, get a haircut, and also pick up some new clothes. Visitors can also receive free care from a nurse and, on a monthly basis, a foot care specialist is available.
The Christmas lunch attended by Bishop Alan Williams was served at Friar Benet’s Kitchen in Canning Town on Thursday, 21 December 2023. Monsignor John Armitage, parish priest at the nearby parish of St Margaret and All Saints, was also present.