Passion for the Inner City

The second edition of our new Passionist magazine is out now. See here: Passio 2

I particularly like the article about “Re-Formed”, two sisters from the black community in Liverpool 8 who have re-bounded from their own experience of prison to work with gangs in inner city Liverpool. I’m proud that by supporting their work, we are able to continue the legacy of Austin Smith CP, the first Passionist I heard of.

Reformed 2018It was back in 1989. I was living in Liverpool 8 and volunteering at a couple of local charities working with people with mental health problems. It was part of a year spent with the Jesuit Volunteer Community 12 month program. I shared a small council flat with three others including Helen who had lived there for three years previously as a student. She had met Austin and also knew Nicholas Postlethwaite CP who had been living on the ‘front-line’ in what the media call Toxteth since 1971. The third Passionist living there was Joe Ward.

I was impressed to hear of these priests who had been living in the area for 18 years by then, who had stood outside their home as the ‘disturbances’ or ‘riots’ had raged outside their door. And who had remained. I can understand now the significance of that presence which is not just about being there, but about being their in the hardest of times. And not leaving. The people of Liverpool 8 and Granby went through the same traumas again in 1987. And the Passionists were still there.

In our evening prayer at 29 Berkeley Street L8, we were reading ‘A City Not Forsaken’ the Jerusalem Community ‘Rule of Life’ . I was inspired by the vision I found there of a contemplative community in the heart of the suffering city. These Passionists seemed to be living this vision less than a mile away.

Somehow I never met Austin, Nicholas or Joe then. But when I went to Seminary to train for the Diocesan priesthood a year later, I found Austin’s books in the Seminary library. I was about to be led on a long and wandering path that has led me to this Passionist life.


For “Passion for the Inner City” : and “Journeying With God: Paradigms of Power and Powerlessness” – both by Austin Smith: See Passion for the Inner City



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