On 20th July 2019 Bishop Nicholas celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving at Our Lady Refuge of Sinners and St Catherine of Siena at Bow to mark 150 years exactly since Archbishop Manning laid the foundation stone. Special recognition was paid to Fr McQuoin who founded the first Catholic Centre in Stratford from where he served Catholics of the East End in the early 1850s.
Fr McQuoin first established the school chapel of St Agnes in 1865, which was served from Stratford. Meanwhile Mother Margaret Hallahan, foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Stone, was praying to Our Lady, ‘Give me Bow, give me Bow’. She died before the convent of St Catherine was opened but her prayers for a parish church were answered shortly after her death when Archbishop Manning came to lay the foundation stone for the church of Our Lady Refuge of Sinners and St Catherine of Siena on 20th July 1869.
Bishop Nicholas thanked the priests and people of Bow parish for being a beacon of Catholic faith at the diocese’s easternmost outpost. The readings for the Sunday being all about hospitality, the hospitality of Abraham and the hospitality given to Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary, Bishop Nicholas said, ‘We see in Bow parish a radical commitment to St Paul’s plea to “Make hospitality your special care”. This they have shown through decades of welcome to the poor and needy, most especially in recent years to the foodbank which serves as a lifeline to countless people who would otherwise be without food and other essentials and which, being ecumenical, makes a profound statement of their desire to give a shared Christian witness.’
The tradition of hospitality was also evident in the generous reception offered in the parish hall and garden after the Mass. Bishop Nicholas congratulated Fr Javier Ruiz and the parishioners of Bow for bringing together so many people in this way to launch a year of centenary celebrations.