A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Church of Notre Dame de France, Leicester Place, London

Sr Catherine Jones SMSM

London West End conjures up images of the world of theatre and entertainment - Evita, 42nd Street, Les Misérables; even a glimpse of Michael Caine on the red carpet at the premiere of King of Thieves!

In the midst of this is Notre Dame de France Church, a focal point for French-speaking Catholics in London. It is a collaborative ministry team of Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Mary, (SM) and two Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM).

As a chaplaincy church, we offer many of the services of a parish - daily Mass, evening prayer of the church on weekdays, programmes for sacramental preparation, provision of religious education to Catholic children in the eleven French-language schools in central London, and Sunday School.

There are also many prayer and support groups, as well as a pastoral outreach through the West End Mission. In collaboration with the ecumenical body, Churches Together in Westminster, Notre Dame de France has a small Prisons Mission, visiting those held in the airport detention centre prior to deportation.

For Notre Dame de France, Les Misérables is not only the West End show of Victor Hugo’s classic.

It is lived all around us in the homeless who sleep on our streets at night because it is safe, in the emerging underworld of trafficked persons in the building industry, sex trade and domestic servitude, of the women who come to our weekly drop-in centre, Sanctuary on the Square. It is most evident in those who come to the Refugee Centre twice a week.

Collaboration with Irish Chaplaincy in Prison visitation

Being a voice for the voiceless

The theme of last year’s Mission Sunday, 21 October 2018, was built around the words of Jesus from the Cross, ‘I thirst’.

Each Monday and Thursday, at Notre Dame Refugee Centre, we are privileged to live this gospel with our clients, who are refugees or asylum seekers. They arrive early in the hope of an appointment with an immigration advice worker or counsellor, help with English and job skills, sewing classes or yoga.

Their first thirst is a literal one - coffee or tea with a breakfast of sandwiches and pizza. Then there is a thirst for the company of people from home, and the chance to speak in their own language. There is a thirst for compassion and respectful listening, which they find in the advice workers who help with their immigration applications.

Occasionally, I have seen a more explicit thirst for God in their lives, especially during Ramadan, which is a particularly difficult time for the Muslims who have no family here in London. They appreciate our respect for their dietary requirements.

Firdous and Nicole receiving
certificates of achievement

Friends of Notre Dame de France on the tube

Ready for lunch at Notre Dame refugee centre. We provide lunch two days a week for up to 90 people

One elderly Christian woman sits quietly in her bubble of silence in a noisy breakfast room, reading from the Scriptures. Sometimes she will share her text of the day with me, quenching my thirst as well as hers.

In key moments of the life of Jesus – the family life at Nazareth, the short years of his public ministry through to his death on the Cross, and at Pentecost in the midst of the early church - Mary was there.

She is here too, at Notre Dame de France, through our Marist presence and ministries.   

Check us out online at


What happened here?

Yeah, a stabbing, yeah

Is he OK?



The Bard presides 

over Leicester Square:

buskers, families, lovers

solitaries, glitterati, homeless.

These too are Body of Christ


The bard presides...

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