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On 10th December, Bishop Nicholas Hudson visited Mildmay Mission Hospital in Hoxton to bless its newly refurbished chapel. Mildmay Hospital is the only specialist HIV hospital in London. In 2020, Mildmay piloted a new service providing rehabilitative healthcare for people who are homeless or rough-sleeping and recuperating from illness or injury.

The chapel at Mildmay Hospital was temporarily closed earlier this year because the space was not safe to use during the COVID-19 pandemic. The old fitted carpet was removed and replaced with a new COVID-safe type of flooring. Now that the work to the chapel is complete, a blessing was able to take place for the sacred space, which had been left empty and unused for an extended period of time.

Bishop Nicholas led a socially-distanced Blessing service in the chapel, during which the small congregation wore face masks. Before the pandemic this year, the chapel would hold 30 to 40 people for special celebrations. In addition to Bishop Nicholas, five members of the Mildmay Hospital team made up the entire congregation for the Blessing service.

The team members in attendance included Lead Chaplain Sister Bernie Devine, CEO Geoff Coleman, Teri Milewska, Registered and Compliance Manager, Hellen Wambui from the Nursing team and Alastair Chorlton, Estates and Facilities Manager.

In his address during the service, Bishop Nicholas delivered the following words:

‘Having a chapel like this in the middle of a hospital is a statement of our belief that “God is with us”.  The Angel Gabriel promised Jesus would be called “Emmanuel”, a name which means “God is with us”. At Christmas we celebrate our belief that God has visited his people.

'He had visited them many times before. In exile, they were amazed to find that God seemed to follow them, in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night! And God appeared to Moses as a voice speaking from out of a burning bush!

‘Then He came among us as a human being. He entered history. He was born in Bethlehem, a name which means “House of Bread”. And, when the time came for Him to leave us, he left us His abiding presence in the form of bread, the bread consecrated by the priest in the Mass.

‘Which makes it so appropriate that we reserve the consecrated bread which is His Body and Blood here in the chapel, as a way of His being fully present, not just as memory but as Real Presence. It is His chosen way of saying, “Do not be afraid, I am with you”. And every one of us has the right to come and sit before Him and pray to Him in this sacred space.’

Image credit: Mildmay Hospital. Images shows (L-R): Hellen Wambui, Sister Bernie Devine, Teri Milewska, Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Alastair Chorlton.