SDC activities in London

The captions and images shown below give an idea of activities and special events held at our SDC centre in London. Our main contribution in parishes mainly involves running catechism groups but other activities are held throughout the year for other groups for young people and adults.

2020

New Publication - Reflections of a Saintly Priest

In July a new booklet was printed with a selection of writings by founder St George Preca. It is made up of 30 extracts from a range of writings by the founder, including some of the best known ones such as the Sanctuary of Christ’s spirit or the Discipleship, as well as other writings that are not as well known. The booklet with the title ‘Reflections’ also includes a short biography of St George Preca. We have already started to use readings from this booklet for reflection and discussion at our SDC Friends meetings. It is also our intention to present a copy of this publication to confirmation candidates to encourage them to read and reflect on key spiritual themes included in the book such as Christ’s spirit, humility, Our Lady and other themes.

Online Meetings

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Needs must. As it was not possible to meet for any sort of gathering we have resorted to technology for our SDC Friends and Bible Study group. A tentative initial gathering was arranged for Thursday 23rd April 2020, feast of St George, patron saint of England. Notwithstanding a few technology related hiccups at the beginning it was a good experience. We had a reflection on the life of St George, a reflection on a short Gospel reading, a few prayers and some music. A good number of people joined us and everyone agreed we give it another go so we continued meeting once a week. We carried on with our meetings until the end of July and plan to continue after the summer break. We also set up groups for children in catechism groups, some on Thursdays for the Confirmation candidates but mainly on Saturdays for the children preparing for First Holy Communion.

Coronavirus Interruptions

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The Covid 19 epidemic resulted in many activities involving gatherings such as catechism groups in various parishes having to be suspended. This was an unfortunate development that was however a must in everyone’s effort to stop the spread of the virus.

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In order to stay in touch with various groups of children, young people and their families efforts were made to produce material that we sent by post or electronic mail or published on our SDC website. These included some worksheets children could use while at home and a PRAY, REFLECT, LEARN flyer with ideas how to use different resources to support spiritual growth and practice in such different times.

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Lent Reflection Day

On Saturday 7th March 2020, a Lent reflection day was organised for those who attend the SDC Bible study groups at the Holy Rosary Parish in Brixton and the SDC House, Upper Norwood. This was the first time such an event was organised for both groups together. We first went to the Carmelite Priory in Aylesord for Mass and a short reflection session. We then went to the nearby parish of St John Fisher in Rochester for our main session on the chosen theme ‘The Spirit of Christ’. As it was also the SDC Vocation day and the 113th Anniversary from the foundation of SDC, we also shared ideas and reflections on some of the writings of our founder and used some of his prayers such as the ‘Coram Domino’. We then ended the day with a stroll in the Rochester town centre where we also visited the castle, the Cathedral and High Street.

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The God who Speaks

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales declared 2020 to be a year of special focus on the Bible. This marks the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, (The Word of the Lord) and the 1600 years since the death of Saint Jerome - who translated the Bible into Latin. On the invitation of our Bishops, this year we thought of using our SDC Bible Study groups at the SDC House as well as the one at the Rosary Parish to explore and celebrate the Word of God through the Scriptures and discuss how we could respond to the "God who speaks" in the way that we live.

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Calendar 2020

For the first time ever this year we have printed copies of the English version of the SDC Calendar that is published every year by SDC in Malta. This A3 size calendar which was given out to friends, parents and others who attend different SDC groups includes posters with quotes by our Founder St George Preca for every month as well as information about feastdays and special seasons of the Liturgical year.

Caught on Camera

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One Christmas tradition that SDC has now been keeping in Brixton centre for many years is the Carol singing service on the Saturday before Christmas. As in previous years, this year we gathered at the Rosary Parish Hall and walked for Carol Singing by the Tube Station. It was a good group of children and a good number of supporting parents and other adults too. While singing amidst the noise of shoppers and traffic on Brixton Road we caught the eye of a camera crew who stopped and filmed the children singing and also interviewed one of the adults helping the group. The clip was posted on Facebook with links on Twitter and other sites. Many commented so positively about the joy the children’s singing brought to them. One of the comments said: ‘Lovely sound of children singing carols, none better. I'm clapping’ and another said, ‘Isn’t this what Christmas is all about? Beautiful.’ See clip on this link: Caught on Camera.

SDC Juniors

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From September 2019 we slightly changed the SDC Juniors programme and we are now meeting at the SDC House in Upper Norwood twice a month, on the second Sunday and third Friday of each month. Our meetings are an opportunity to come together to spend social time together, have something to eat and share some time talking about issues relevant to our Catholic faith. Termly planners with information and dates when this group meets can be downloaded from this website too (see SDC Groups section).

Catechism Groups

Our catechism programmes for the new catechetical year started once more in September. These include preparation programmes for the sacraments at the Holy Rosary Parish in Brixton, Virgo Fidelis Parish in Upper Norwood and St Andrew’s parish in Thornton Heath. Some groups meet in the evenings while others meet at weekends.

Three adults from the SDC Friends group started helping out in different groups this year. Hope this will continue. Year planners for the programmes we run in the various parishes can be downloaded from this website too (see SDC Groups section).

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New Bible Study Group

Following a presentation on the life of St John H Newman at the Holy Rosary Parish in Brixton, it was deemed fit to carry on meeting with a group of parishioners on a monthly basis for Bible studies, prayer and reflection in this parish where SDC has now been working for many years by leading the Sacraments preparation programmes. Our new Bible Study group meets on the second Monday of every month in the Annunciation room.

Meet a New Saint - John H Newman

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The canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman was an opportunity for us to reflect on this ‘new’ saint given to us by the church to imitate when he was formally declared a saint by Pope Francis in the Vatican on Sunday 13th October 2019. To mark this occasion, presentations about the life, works and impact of this English convert were organised for different groups in different parishes. These included a presentation for parishioners at the Rosary parish and to other groups.

Pilgrimage

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On the occasion of the canonisation of John H Newman, a pilgrimage to the Birmingham Oratory took place on Saturday 29th September for members of the SDC Bible Study group. We first attended the celebration of the Mass at the Oratory itself. This was the oratory founded by Newman following his conversion to Catholicism. Mass was followed by the devotional prayer and blessing using Newman’s relic. After some time to look around the oratory church itself, there was a presentation on the life and work of this remarkable new English Saint. Our gathering concluded with a reflection and prayer. Later that day we also visited the Catholic cathedral of St Chad and other places of interest in central Birmingham.

2019

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Weekend retreat

On the last weekend of August five SDC members, four of whom are currently working or studying in the UK gathered for a reflection weekend at Turvey Abbey, Bedfordhire. This was a good time to stop from daily routine and spend quiet time in the stillness of the Abbey and reflect and share ideas on the chosen theme, ‘Living the Interior life in a busy world.’

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St George Preca feastday

The feast of our SDC Founder St George Preca was marked this year in a number of ways. The main event was the concelebrated mass at the Rosary Parish Brixton on Sunday 12th May which was attended by a good number of friends, parishioners, parents and children from our catechism groups. Around the time of the feast of the Founder we also had extra special sessions for various groups to talk about the life and works of our founder.

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Baptisms at Easter

A number of children from the Catechism groups we run at the Rosary Parish, Brixton and the RCIC group at St Andrew’s, Thornton Heath were baptised at the Easter vigil celebration on Saturday 20th April 2019. This is always a moving occasion when children, sometimes together with other members of their family, formally join our Christian communities through the sacrament of Baptism.

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SDC Juniors

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Our SDC Juniors group continued meeting regularly throughout the year. We regularly meet for our formation and social gatherings at the SDC House and we looked at a range of topics related to our Catholic Faith in many different ways. These gatherings for young people are also naturally a way how to come together to share and enjoy other things - not least, foods from different parts of the world. The star cook this year was Rebecca with her Jallouf Rice which she prepared for everyone before one of our sessions.

Other activities and trips have been organised from time to time. These included for example, day trips to various places in Kent, a trip to Chichester and a couple of Barbeques in July.

Bible Study Group

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Our monthly gatherings continued regularly this year. We have been meeting every month on the second Friday for Bible reflection and catechesis. Our focus this year is on ‘People in the Bible’, some of the well known ones such as Abraham and Jonah and other more obscure ones such as Caleb and Achan. New members joined us this year both for our meetings as well for the trips or away days we organised.

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Away Days

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Our Annual May Reflection day for the SDC Friends group this year was to Worth Abbey, near Crawley in Sussex. For this occasion we were joined by Superior General Natalino Camilleri who also led one of the reflections. The day included a Bible reflection as well as discussions on SDC spiritualy, time for prayer including the Rosary in the quite garden of the Abbey and the celebration of the mass with the Abbey monks and local community. Earlier in March, we also visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in East Sussex followed by a visit to Worthing on the South coast.

2018

Trips

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Recent trips for our SDC Juniors group included visits to places in London as well as outside. In April we braved the weather and went on a trip to Brighton on a grey and rainy day. On the 1st June we went to Greenwich to explore a number of special places from historical churches to markets and the cable cars and the tunnel across the river Thames. On Sunday 22nd July we went for a picnic and games at Crystal Palace Park.

Birthday boy

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During a presentation on the life of our Founder St George Preca at a First Communion class in May this year, one of the presentation slides showed the date of his birth - 12th February. One of the children called out, "That’s my birthday!" It was a bit of a surprise for the catechist to hear that one of the children celebrated his birthday on the same day as the founder. But that’s not all – it also turned out that this particular boy is called George! Our George is an 8 year old boy who has since then made his First Holy Communion. Just before this special day he wrote about what he remembered about St George Preca and his experience in SDC catechism groups. This is what he wrote: "St George Preca was born in Malta on the 12th February. Once when he was little he stepped into the water and was drowning. Luckily a man saved his life and he remembered this for his whole life. When he grew up he became a priest and started SDC which helps many children like us to learn and get ready for First Communion and other sacraments". May St George Preca continue to bless little George and all the children and make them true disciples of Christ like he was.

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Reflection Day

On Sunday 20th May a reflection day was organised for the SDC Friends group. We went to a Dominican convent in Hook, Hampshire. The day included talks and time for Reflection with a focus on leading a life of virtue, prayers written by the founder, the Holy Mass and the Rosary Prayer.

Feast of St George Preca

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During the month of May the feast of our founder St George Preca was celebrated through various activities. Talks and presentations about the founder were planned for children who attend our catechism groups in different parishes. On Sunday 13th May a mass was held at the Rosary parish in Brixton, South London, for friends, children and their families. The main celebrant was Fr Anthony Psaila, assisted by another four priests from different parishes in London. The mass was followed by a reception in the parish hall.

Rosary on the Coast

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On Sunday 29th April we took part in the ‘Rosary by the Coast’ event together with the parish of the Faithful Virgin. We drove to Ramsgate on the Southeast coast and joined with a number of other parishes to pray the Rosary and give public evidence of our Faith and the truths we hold to. This was part of a larger event organised by the Catholic Church in England aimed at a "re-flourishing of the faith, for the grace to build a culture of life and for true peace to reign in the hearts of all peoples and nations". Around 200 gatherings took place on the same day around the coast of the British Isles.

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Lent and Holy Week events

A number of special events were held to the special season of Lent for different groups. Apart from special reflection meetings about the significance of this ‘favourable time’, a number of reconciliation services were organised for First Communion and Confirmation groups in different parishes. During Holy Week itself, daily reflection meetings were held at the Rosary Parish and at the SDC House to give young people to reflect on the passion of Our Lord.

SDC Juniors

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Our SDC Juniors group continued to meet regularly to provide an opportunity for young people to get together for a range of activities. Regular meetings are held at the Rosary parish in Brixton but we also hold a monthly meeting at the SDC House in Upper Norwood. Young people who attend this group enjoy social activities and trips we organise from time to time as well as the opportunity to meet regularly to talk about and explore issues related to our Faith in more depth.

2017

Carol Singing

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Our latest addition to the annual carol singing service in Brixton, London, was a group of children dressed as Nativity story characters. These included Mary and Joseph as well as shepherds. Children enjoyed playing their different parts as well as singing. Parents, shoppers at Brixton centre and passers by stopped to have a look and listen to our carols. The carol singing service is our way of celebrating the Christmas ‘demonstration’ with Baby Jesus started in Malta by St George Preca.

Catechism Group Programmes 2017-2018

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At the beginning of the new Catechetical year we have again started our groups in different parishes. This included Confirmation and First Communion catechism groups at the Rosary Parish, Brixton, St Andrew’s Parish in Thornton Heath, Our Lady’s in Addiscombe and our local parish Virgo Fidelis, Upper Norwood.

Website Resources

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Our SDC website www.sdc.me.uk continued to provide new resources for catechists and RE teachers in English. Apart from the well established programmes for First Communion, Confirmation and Sunday Liturgy, recent resources included a new set of resources for the RCIC programme, a series of photo galleries on Religious objects and places used in liturgy and worship, as well as new powerpoint presentations and some new biographies of saints.

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Confirmations

Sunday 25th June 2017 was a special day as we had the Celebration of Confirmation in two different parishes where we run this programme. 38 young people were confirmed by Archbishop Peter Smith in the morning at the Holy Rosary Parish in Brixton while another group of 15 candidates received the same sacrament in the evening at Virgo Fidelis Parish, Upper Norwood.

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Feast of St George Preca 2017

The feast of the Founder was celebrated this year on Sunday 12th May 2017. A mass was organized for friends, parents and other parishioners at the Holy Rosary Parish. It was led by Fr Victor Camilleri assisted by two other priests. It was encouraging to see a good number of parents as well as children from various catechism programs attending the mass which was followed by a reception in the parish hall.

Reflection day

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The group that attended the Reflection Day

A retreat day was held on Sunday 7th May 2017 for members of the SDC Friends Group. The reflection day was held in a Dominican Convent in Hook, Hampshire. The day consisted of Bible Study and reflection session, prayer sessions including the Rosary prayer as well as the celebration of the Holy Mass. The theme chosen for this reflection day was ‘The Virtues’ with special reference to the six virtues in our SDC daily resolution prayer. The SDC Friends group is a group of adults who meet regularly every month for bible reflection sessions at the SDC House in Upper Norwood.

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St Vincent Ferrer

SDC Friends meetings

During this year in which SDC is reflecting on the set of six virtues we resolve to practise every day, we are having our SDC Friends meetings to reflect on these virtues inspired by St Vincent Ferrer and adopted by our Founder. We use Scripture readings and reflections on these virtues in order that more people will have the opportunity to share in our SDC spirituality and try to practice the virtues of poverty, simplicity, meekness, humility, love being despised and loving others with great charity.

2016

Catechism programmes 2016-17

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Our contribution in parish catechism programmes continued this year in a number of parishes in south London where we lead or contribute to the running of First communion or Confirmation programmes. Our programmes usually follow the school year. Some groups meet in the evenings while others meet at weekends. Apart from the regular sessions for children a number of parents meetings are held for each programme – a good opportunity to meet parents and share ideas for family catechesis.

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SDC Juniors Activities

A number of activities are regularly organised for our group of SDC Juniors. Apart from our youth group meetings at the Rosary parish, Brixton, we also meet once a month at the SDC House in Upper Norwood. A number of trips were also organised this year such as football or sports activities, barbecues and others especially during school holidays.

Christmas Activities

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Christmas is always a most important event for all of us in SDC as we reflect on ‘The Word of God that became flesh’. As in other years we continued to hold meetings about the real meaning of Christmas for all those in the different groups we run. In a number of parishes we were also able to give our Christmas gifts to children and young people in the form of cribs or statues of Baby Jesus which are always treasured so dearly by all those who get them. Our Christmas carol service in Brixton took place on Saturday 17th December 2016.

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Pilgrimage to Aylesford - SDC Juniors

On the 25th September 2016, a pilgramage to Aylesford Priory was held for the SDC Juniors Group. Apart from attending mass we had reflection sessions as well as a Rosary walk. This was also an opportunity to do the Year of Mercy prayers and go through the Jubilee door at this shrine in Kent. At the end of the day we went for a bowling game and food in nearby Maidstone.

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Founder's Feast 2016

For the feast of our founder we had presentations for children of different ages from the various groups we work with including first communion and Confirmation Groups. On Sunday 8th May a mass was organised at the Holy Rosary Parish in Brixton, which was followed by a reception in the parish hall. Other presentations and discussions were prepared for the Bible study group as well as the group who attended the Year of Mercy pilgrimage at Aylesford. We also invited a group of young people from St Andrew's parish where we run a youth group to come over to the SDC House where we also had a presentation on the life of our Founder.

Year of Mercy Pilgrimage

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A year of Mercy pilgrimage was organised on Sunday 1st May 2016. A group of twenty one people took part - some from our monthly Bible study group and others from nearby parishes. We went to the Shrine of Our Lady and Saint Simon Stock in Aylesford, Kent and we had a programme of activities which included Holy mass, Bible reflection; prayers and reflections taken from writings of our Founder as well as a Rosary walk which ended with prayers and entrance through the Jubilee Door.

Holy Week Programm

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For this year’s Holy Week programme we were accompanied by Tonio Caruana and Ruben Pace from the SDC General Council. Some of the sessions were held at the SDC House in Upper Norwood while others were held at the Rosary parish in Brixton. We also took part in the Holy Week Triduum Liturgies in different parishes. At the Saturday Easter Vigil a number of children as well as adults from some of our groups were baptised or received into the Church. In the afternoon of Sunday 27th March SDC Juniors were invited for a sports afternoon and Barbeque.

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The Echo Newsletter

More issues of The ECHO, a newsletter continued to be published every term. The last edition of this newsletter which is mainly intended for catechists and RE teachers, included a reflection on the role of the catechist and an article about Eugenio Borg – a role model catechist and first superior general of SDC. The ECHO can be downloaded from the SDC London website www.sdc.me.uk.

2015

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Visit

SDC Superior General Natalino Camilleri visited our London Centre at the end of December through to the first week of January. Apart from our discussions in our community we also had the opportunity to spend a weekend away at a Retreat Centre in Sandymount, Liverpool.

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Year of Consecrated Life Meetings 2015

On the occasion of the year of the Consecrated Life, the SDC Friends meetings were about saints who were members of a religious order such as St Augustine, St Therese of Lisieux, St Ignatius and others. This groups meets on the second Friday of each month at the SDC House in Upper Norwood. Meetings usually include Bible reflection and meditation, prayer time and discussion about the chosen theme.

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SDC Youth Group

Our SDC Youth Group started meeting again after the August break. We meet twice a month on a Sunday afternoon in the parish hall at the Holy Rosary Parish in Brixton, London. Most of the young people who attend are also part of one of the Confirmation groups of the parish. They engage in a range of activities, indoor games as well as discussion time.

The Echo - Newsletter for Catechists

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In September 2015 the first issue of ‘The ECHO’ was issued. This termly newsletter aims at providing parish catechists and teachers of RE in schools some support in terms of reflections, ideas, useful resources they can use and so on. The Newsletter’s name was inspired by the very meaning of the word ‘Catechist’ which refers to someone who echoes a message they heard from someone else. As catechists we try to echo Jesus’ message to others. The ECHO is distributed to local catechists and mailed to a number of parishes but there is also an online version anyone can download from our website www.sdc.me.uk.

RCIC

Christian Initiation for Children

The RCIC group at St Andrew’s parish this year is meeting on Tuesday nights. This group is for children who are above the normal First Holy Communion age who come together to prepare for Baptism, First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Parents attend and take part in each session with a view that they can help and support their children at home as they prepare for these three important sacraments.

2014

Visit by Mrs Ruth Lassiter - June 2014

In June 2014, Mrs Ruth Lassiter visited our centre for a few days. Mrs Lassiter has asked and is working towards the setting up of an SDC centre in the US. Having seen how SDC operates in Malta where it was founded, this visit was an opportunity to get to know more about the activities, mission and way of life of SDC members outside of Malta.

Visit by Superior General Natalino Camilleri - March 2014

In March 2014 Superior General Natalino Camilleri visited our London Branch. It was an opportunity for us to get to know more about SDC work elsewhere and to discuss issues related to our mission and future direction of SDC in London.

2013

Catechesis and Programmes 2013-2014

During this last year members of our London branch continued to lead or help out with a number of catechism programmes in four different parishes in the south London area (Diocese of Southwark). These included programmes in which children and young people came together to prepare for the sacraments of Baptism Confirmation and Holy communion, youth groups and other similar gatherings.

Training for Catechists - October 2013

On the occasion of the end of the Year of Faith, a series of three meetings were organised for parish catechists of the Croydon Deanery in October 2013. The sessions were held at the Addiscombe parish, Thornton heath and at the SDC House in Upper Norwood. Catechists from Holy Comunnion, Confirmation and RCIA programmes took part. At these meetings different aspects such as 'the Role of the Catechist, the Object of Catechesis and planning and preparation were discussed.

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Bishop Paul Hendricks - auxiliary bishop of Southwark Diocese

Visit by Bishop Paul Hendricks - July 2013

On Monday 8th July Bishop Paul Hendricks, visited our SDC House in Upper Norwood. This was the first visit ever by a bishop to our SDC centre. It was a good opportunity for us to welcome Bishop Paul, talk to him about our Society and many other issues and also share a meal together. Bishop Paul usually celebrates confirmation ceremonies in three of the four parishes where we lead confirmation programmes.

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Founder's Feast Day
May 2013

The feast of SDC founder St George Preca was celebrated in London on Sunday 12th May 2013. A mass was celebrated at the Holy Rosary Parish Church which was followed by a reception in the Parish Hall. Other initiatives around this feastday included presentations and special sessions with children from various groups we run in different parishes.

Year of Faith Meetings - January to July 2013

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To mark the special year of Faith we are currently holding our monthly SDC Friends meeting on the theme of ‘Our Creed’. At each of these meetings which are aimed at adults who want to find out more about our Catholic Faith, one or two of the articles of the Creed are addressed. Meetings are held at the SDC House in Upper Norwood every third Friday of the month and consist of presentations on the main theme, discussions, bible study and prayer.

2012

Catechism Programmes 2012-2013

This year we led a number of catechism programmes in four different parishes in our area – Virgo Fidelis in Upper Norwood, St Andrew’s in Thornton Heath, Our Lady’s in Addiscombe and the Holy Rosary Parish in Brixton. These included confirmation programmes, First communion and RCIC groups.

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Fr Hugh Thwaites SJ

Death of Fr Hugh Thwaites - August 2012

On Tuesday 21st August 2012 Fr Hugh Thwaites passed away and moved on to meet the risen Lord at the age of 95. Fr Hugh played a key role in the establishment of SDC in London as it was him who in 1988 asked for SDC members to assist him in running the ‘Brixton Youth Project’ which he had set up in South London. He was a convert to Catholicism and became a Jesuit priest. He worked in a number of parishes and other organisations and touched the lives of many people.

SDC Youth Encounter - July/August 2012

An SDC Youth Encounter was held in Malta for a group of young people from UK, Peru, Albania, Kenya and Malta. During this fortnight (24th July to the 7th August 2012) young people had the opportunity to visit a number of SDC Centres and many places of interest in Malta and Gozo. They also had the opportunity to gather together to reflect on SDC spirituality and its founder St George Preca.

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The SDC Youth Members from London in Malta: left to right - Mirwet Semra, Charles Lwanga, Nnamdi Nnadi and John Camilleri (in charge).

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S George Preca by artist Joseph Pulo

50th Anniversary - Death of St George Preca
July 2012

The 26th July 2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of the death of St George Preca, Founder of SDC. Among the special occasions organised for this special anniversary there was a mass at the SDC Auditorium in Blata l-Bajda, Malta on Thursday 26th July and an exhibition of paintings on Dun Gorg by Maltese artist Joseph Pulo.

Unofficial Patron Saint of Podcasts - March 2012

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Two seminarians, Daniel Fitzpatrick and Frankie Mulgrew who produce a catholic podcast called ‘Vocationcast’ have nominated St George Preca as the unofficial patron Saint for Podcasting. They say they were struck among other things with his zeal to promote the ‘Voice of the beloved’ and his lifelong efforts in spreading the Gospel.