We are pleased that our ‘Bakhita Project’ from St C’s is developing. The project is the name we give to our community outreach work, and includes our work for the trafficked, the homeless etc. We call the project ‘Bakhita’ after St Joosephine Balhita, a Sudanese woman who was trafficked. Our Chi Rho group at Church is overseeing our Bakhita Project, and has nominated Venerable Elizabeth Prout as a ‘patron saint’ too along with Josephine Bakhita. Wayne, of our congregation, has kindly contributed this information about Elizabeth Prout (commemorated on January 11th):
Elizabeth Prout was born in Shrewsbury, England, in 1820. Her parents baptised her in the Anglican Church. In her early twenties she became a Roman Catholic.
Elizabeth moved to Manchester in 1849. There, touched by the misery and deprivation of the poor, she and a few companions came together to form a community to help the voiceless, downtrodden workers in the large industrial towns of nineteenth-century England. In Manchester Elizabeth worked self sacrificially in whatever way she could to assist the destitute of Manchester. In particular she visited the sick and poor in some of the most deprived areas, taught children and provided educational and training opportunities for women, especially mill workers.
The community was directed and helped by two Passionists, Father Gaudentius Rossi CP and Father Ignatius Spencer CP. The rule was based on that of St Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists. Elizabeth recognised that the Passion of Jesus is the great sign of God’s love reaching out to those in pain.
Now known as Mother Mary Joseph, Elizabeth continued to meet the challenges presented to her in her life of suffering, and to grow in solidarity with the crucified of the world. She died on 11th January 1864 at Sutton, St Helens, Lancashire. In recent years a call has been made to canonise her and in 2021 the Vatican declared her to be ‘Venerable’ – a step towards canonisation.
Her body, together with that of Blessed Dominic Barberi CP. and Venerable Ignatius Spencer CP., lies in the shrine of St Anne’s Church, Sutton. People gather around the shrine annually to commemorate their lives.