Christmas 1907 at Providence Row

The Tablet Page 23, 5th January 1907

THE PROVIDENCE (ROW) NIGHT RFFUGE.—Some four hundred poor people, men, women, and children, irrespective of creed, were entertained to a Christmas dinner at the Providence (Row) Night Refuge, Crispin-street, E., which was founded by the late Mgr. Gilbert in 186o. The large refectories were tastefully decorated for the occasion. Mr. E. J. Bellord (Chairman of the Committee) presided, and was supported by Mr. W. H. Foreman, Mr. J. G. Bellord, Mr. J. W. Gilbert (Secretary), Mr. N. S. B. Kidson, Mr. G. Dutton, Mrs. Bellord, Mrs. E. J. Bellord, Mr. E. M. Barry, Mrs. Rolpb, Miss Gilbert, Mr. G. R. Dutton, Miss Raynes, Mr. R. O’Bryen, Mrs. R. O’Bryen, Miss Barry, Mr. A. Bellord, Mr. C. Bellord, Miss F. B. Goold, the Misses Bellord, and others.

In the men’s refectory before dinner, Mr. E. E. J. Bellord, on behalf of the Committee, wished all the inmates a very happy Christmas. It was a matter of deep regret, he said, to all concerned in the management of the Refuge that they had night after night during the present severe weather to send a numbers of applicants for relief through lack of room. He hoped, however, that the severe distress would soon pass away. He asked them all that day to think very gratefully of the founder of the charity, the late Dr. Gilbert, whose work the Committee were carrying on, and he also trusted that they would remember how much they owed to the Sisters of Charity, who devoted their lives to the service of the poor. The dinner, which consisted of soup, beef, potatoes, bread, and plum-pudding, with oranges by way of dessert, was served by the Sisters and visitors. Afterwards each child received a toy, each man a small packet of tobacco and each woman a small packet of tea, all the gifts generous friends of the charity. Later on in the day there was tea with cake, and entertainments were provided both in the men’s and women’s sections by the girls in the boarders’ and servants’ homes and others.

A NEW KNIGHT OE ST. SYLVESTER . MR. J. W. GILBERT’S  INVESTITURE. —On Friday last, at the Convent of Mercy, 50, Crispin street, E., the Archbishop of Westminster invested Mr. J. W. Gilbert with the insignia of the knighthood of St. Sylvester, which has recently been conferred upon him by the Holy Father. A large gathering of friends witnessed the ceremony in the guild room of the Convent. The visitors included the Archbishop of Westminster, the Bishop of Southwark, Mgr. Brown, Canon St. John, Canon Murnane, Canon Moncrieff Symth, the Very Rev. Prior Kelly, D.D., 0.S.A., the Revv. T. Ring, D. McCarthy, W. Cooksey, 0. Fitzgerald, A. Walsh, D.D., 0.S.A., P. W. O’Connor, C. Donovan, G. II. Palmer, W. Donovan, H. E. Daly, and B. McFadden, the Rev. Mother and Sisters of the Convent of Mercy, Lady Parker, Messrs. E. J. Bellord and W. H Foreman, Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Bellord, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Parker, Mr. and Mrs. W. Towsey, Messrs. J. Arthur Walton, E. A. O’Bryen, R. O’Byren, S. P. Jacques, Wm. J. Price, Mr. T. G. King, K.S.G., and Mrs. King, Messrs. V. M. Dunford, K.S.G., C. J. Munich, K.S.G., J. P. McAdam, W. Keane, Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Ryan, Messrs. J. Fox, J. Fentiman, G. E. Anstruther, P. Johnston, Misses Munk, Gilbert, Pattman, Upton, W. Campbell, H. Barton, Fox, Dunn, Feeney, Goss, Keeffe, Ryan, M. Head, M. S. Weale, K. McCathy, V. Edwards, Lenihan, K. Leithan, M. Dwane, P. McCrudden, and others. The Archbishop of Westminster, who presided, said that he did not think it would be necessary to say many words as to the object of their meeting that afternoon. Mr. Gilbert’s work for the Catholic cause was known not only in London, but throughout the country. It was most fitting that the presentation of the insignia should be made at Crispin-street, where the chief work of Mr. Gilbert’s life—his work amongst the poor in connexion with the Night Refuge—was carried on. They had all had opportunities of witnessing how the charity, since the death of his uncle, Mgr. Gilbert, had under his care not only maintained its position, but had gradually developed. Mr. Gilbert had also done much for the cause of Catholic education. They would remember that upon him had fallen the greater share of the work in connexion with the organisation of the Albert Hall demonstration in 1906 against Mr. Birrell’s Bill, the results of which meeting had been so striking. Mr. Gilbert had also rendered particularly valuable service in London in connexion with their efforts to obtain equal treatment for their schools from the local authority, and in their struggle against the other Education Bills of the Government. He made no reference to work in connexion with the Eucharistic Congress, except in passing. They had felt—and he knew that Mr. Gilbert agreed with him—that the unique success of that gathering, and the public thanks of the Holy Father, were sufficient reward for all those who had taken part in its organisation. The knighthood of St. Sylvester was a distinction which was not easily given. It had been granted to only a few in this country, and the Holy See had had this in consideration in conferring this honour on Mr. Gilbert for his exceptional work. He would like to conclude by expressing his own personal gratitude to Mr. Gilbert for the valuable service he had rendered him both whilst Bishop of Southwark and since he had been Archbishop. He thought he could not put it more strongly than by saying that whenever he had called upon Mr. Gilbert for his help, he had never failed him.

The Bishop of Southwark cordially supported everything that the. Archbishop had said. He pointed out that although much of Mr. Gilbert’s work lay within the archdiocese of Westminster, he lived in the diocese of Southwark, and therefore was a subject of his diocese. Catholics in Southwark had a good reason to be grateful to Mr. Gilbert for his work in connexion with their schools since the London County Council had become a local education authority, for his efforts on behalf of the Southwark Rescue Society, and for the valuable assistance he had given in connexion with the Catholic Boys’ Brigade. Mgr. Brown, on behalf of the Sisters of Mercy at Crispin-street, spoke of the happy relations that had existed for more than twelve years between them and Mr. Gilbert in all affairs connected with the conduct of the charity which had been founded by his uncle. He also personally wished to express his thanks to Mr. Gilbert for his work for education in Southwark, attributing his own success at two London School Board elections to Mr. Gilbert’s organising capabilities. Mr. E. J. Bellord, on behalf of the Committee of the Providence Row Night Refuge, of which he is Chairman, expressed the thanks of all concerned for the work which Mr. Gilbert had carried on in connexion with the Refuge for the past twelve years. Mr. Gilbert, in reply, expressed his very grateful thanks to the Holy Father for the honour he had conferred upon him. There was no honour more valued by a Catholic than a distinction granted by the Sovereign Pontiff, whom the whole of Christendom regards with the deepest veneration, respect, loyalty, and affection, and who has won universal admiration and devotion by his unique work as priest, Bishop, and Sovereign Pontiff, and by his saintliness and charm of character. Mr. Gilbert also expressed his thanks to his Grace the Archbishop of Westminster, to whom he was indebted, not only for this honour, but for all the marked kindness he had always met with from him, both as Bishop of Southwark and as Archbishop. He attributed any success that might have attended his efforts on behalf of the Catholic cause to the generous encouragement and practical help of the leader of the Catholic Church in this country, who last September was acclaimed by the whole Catholic world as the champion of Catholic liberty, who had not hesitated to join issue with an English Prime Minister, and who came out of the conflict triumphant. He also offered his sincere thanks to the Bishop of Southwark, to Mgr. Brown, to Mr. Bellord, and to the Sisters of Mercy, who were really responsible for the gathering. Mr. Gilbert spoke with the warmest praise of the self-sacrificing zeal and perseverance of the Sisters in their work amongst the poor.

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