On 3 December Archbishop Bernard welcomed invited guests to a service of blessing at Tabor House, Birmingham’s new night shelter.
Members of the clergy, religious sisters, representatives from Father Hudson’s Care, and parishioners joined Tabor House volunteers, guests and members of the management committee for the event. On entering, all guests received an uncut key, engraved with the name Tabor House.
His Grace thanked all in attendance, singling out Fr Bob Murphy, in whose parish Tabor House is sited, and Andy Quinn and Mairead Shaw of Father Hudson’s Care. The blessing opened with the hymn, ‘This is what Yahweh asks of you’. This hymn contains the commandment from which Father Hudson’s draws inspiration: “As I have loved you, so love one another.”
Fr Michael White, Chair of Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham, read ‘Prayer for people experiencing homelessness’ from the Caritas prayer book. Mairead Shaw, Tabor House Co-ordinator, gave a reading from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
Steve Martin of the management committee spoke about the uncut keys, saying they are keys that open no door. Just as Mary and Joseph experienced closed doors in Bethlehem, so homeless people today cannot open doors to safety and shelter. He asked those present to keep their uncut key on a keyring with their house or car keys to remember our homeless brothers and sisters. Archbishop Bernard put his with the keys to Archbishop’s House.
Archbishop Bernard then blessed Tabor House, its volunteers and guests, praying for us all to help people in need.
Roy, a guest staying at Tabor House, thanked all involved in setting up Tabor House and those who run it. He especially praised the dedicated volunteers, saying “We’re not always easy, but we are grateful.”
Fr Michael praised everyone involved in getting Tabor House off the ground, speaking of the gifts and talents required. He said Father Hudson’s professionalism and dedication was instrumental in initiating this and many other community projects in the Archdiocese. He then gave out an information sheet and encouraged people support by making a regular donation to Tabor House.
The service closed with a second prayer from the Caritas prayer book – Prayer for the destitute.
The blessing was supported by City Kitchen, who provided the catering, the Artume string quartet, who entertained guests with music by Vivaldi, Handl and Corelli, and Martin the Bromsgrove Cobbler, who provided the uncut keys.
Tabor House provides a warm welcome to its guests. It’s not just somewhere to rest for a night, but a homely place where people feel at ease and comfortable. As the festive season is approaching it has been decorated for Christmas, as homes up and down the country have been. The decorations strengthened the cheerful atmosphere, reminding us it’s somewhere guests can call home as they begin their new journeys.
A partnership project between Father Hudson’s Care, the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, Housing Justice, St Vincent de Paul Society, Midland Heart, Birmingham Irish Association, corporate philanthropists and local homelessness specialists, Tabor House supports men and women experiencing homelessness to turn their lives around. Through practical support, friendship and advice, Tabor House works with people to move into more permanent accommodation.
It has an ongoing need for volunteers and donations of household essentials, toiletries and food. To find out more about supporting the shelter, visit www.fatherhudsons.org.uk.