The Olympic Park in Stratford, east London (Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire)
CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT: Twenty-four hour exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will be held in St Francis of Assisi’s church, Stratford, east London, throughout the Olympic Games, it has been announced.
Not just in London but throughout the country the Church is gearing up for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Priests and religious will be on hand in the Olympic Village for athletes, coaches and officials, with chaplains available for visitors to the Games. Spiritual and pastoral hospitality centres at St Francis’s church and at Westminster Cathedral will offer Masses in different languages, talks by priests, and will also provide a place for volunteers at the Games to “chill out”, according to Frank van Velzen, assistant Catholic coordinator of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Church is a leading participant in More Than Gold, an ecumenical venture to involve Christians in the Olympics, supporting competitors and visitors with “outreach”, hospitality and service. Every parish is being encouraged to become involved, providing a Gold Champion who will be a link between More Than Gold and the local Christian community.
There will be festivals both in London and around Britain, and Christian witness on the streets, with “street pastors” at stations around London. In just one of many activities being planned, four Christian theatre groups will put on plays related to the Olympics.
The Church will also be promoting Christian activity at sports fields around the country. Mr van Velzen said: “Sports mission is about taking the Church outside the building in the hope of getting people back into it. It’s meeting the people where they’re at.”
Major sporting events often lead to an increase in prostitution, and with the Olympics thousands of athletes, journalists and spectators will converge on London – as will people traffickers. More than Gold will raise awareness of this issue and provide safe havens.