Showing posts with label Prague English language churches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prague English language churches. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2011

Prague's Anglican Minister: The Reverend Ricky Yates

Happy Good Friday readers! Today I was delighted to see my pastor in Prague, Chaplain Ricky Yates of St. Clement's Anglican Church, properly written up in the Prague Post and recognized for his work serving the English-speaking expat community in Prague.

Regular readers of my blog know how incredibly tight-knight I found the expat church community at St. Clement's and how Pastor Ricky was there for me and my friend Anna when we got in a tight spot with our visas.  I simply can't say enough about the community of people there and his leadership of us.  Click on my title to read the whole article. You can also look to the right of this post and see the link for Ricky's blog.  Best of all though, if you're in Prague, head on down to the church on a Sunday morning at 11 a.m. to tell him hello yourself.  You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

St. Clement's Anglican English-Speaking Church Services will be broadcast globally this Christmas on BBC Radio 4

You've heard that Christmas carol about ''Good King Wenceslas,'' right?  Well who was he? The Czechs know but everyone else could probably use a little background.  My beloved church community in old town Prague has had the great honor to be selected by BBC Radio 4 to broadcast a program about the life and death of St Stephen and also of Wenceslas, tenth century Duke of Bohemia, who became known as St Vaclav, patron saint of the Czech Republic.

Would you like to hear it yourself on Sunday, December 26th?  It will be available online at 08.10 GMT (9.10 CET in the Czech Republic) and you can also listen to it anytime in the next seven days after that.

 I'm so proud to see my friend and pastor Ricky Yates be honored this way and so happy more people will discover this wonderful community of people who gather weekly from all over the world to worship in Prague.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall Visit St. Clement's Church in Prague

  photo copyright Sybille Yates 2010

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall

Prague is one of those cities that seems to host important figures from around the world.  This week Prince Charles came through Prague on his Central European tour and Charles and Camilla (or C & C as my friend and chaplain Ricky Yates affectionately refers to them in shorthand) chose to attend Sunday service at St. Clement's Anglican Church in Prague. As you can imagine the amount of coordination required is extensive and Ricky should be proud as a British citizen for keeping the Prince's visit a secret when diplomatic sources did not!

I respect Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall for visiting St. Clement's church.  If you were looking to get splashed all over the headlines, you probably wouldn't pick going to church as the activity to do it.  But to the people involved at the church it makes a difference.  Expat churches are incredibly hard to sustain financially as there aren't big endowments and the members are constantly coming and going.  By attending services, Prince Charles brought all kinds of great publicity to St. Clement's (including his own web page), doubled the normal attendance and helped the budget of a fantastic community of Christians.

If you want to read more about the Prince's visit, I invite you to enjoy Part I  of the royal visit on Ricky Yates blog here:

Part II follows! One of the coolest parts about the Prince's visit is I'm sure they don't let just anybody preach to the Prince.  Go Ricky Go!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Pope is Coming to See the Infant Jesus of Prague

The Pope is coming to see the Infant Jesus of Prague! If you want to see the Pope, the Czech Republic might be the place to do it. It's probably the most atheist country on the face of the Earth and the crowds might be underwhelming. Click on my title to see his schedule. Here's the link for my own visit to see the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"The Restoration of Order" has begun in Iran

My English-language church in Prague, St. Clements Church on Klimentska, held this incredibly educational series of program on "what it was like to be a Czech Christian under communism." Wow, was that an eye-opening series of programs. Everyone who went was on the edge of their seats listening to our distinguished dissident speakers.

Our last speaker in the series was an expert on Czech church history and I asked him if it was possible to create a list of "dos and don'ts to share with future congregations on how not to get co-opted by repressive regimes." There was a general chuckle at my naivete because this sort of thing is not preventable. Each generation has to learn for themselves. We've all heard the phrase "those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it," right? Well at this session I learned the phrase, "what we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history."

Want some evidence of that (with apologies for sounding so dark, so Czech!)? This article, linked to in my blog post title, shows that the "restoration of order" has begun in Iran. Even the phrase that this young woman uses to describe the regime's actions is the same in English as it was back then in post-1968 Czechoslovakia.

What we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Infant Jesus of Prague

My friend Sher and I decided at the beginning of the year that one of the things we were going to do together was visit each other's churches here in Prague. Now suggesting this to your pals is not something one does in one's twenties, is it? That already tells you something about us.

Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church
in Mala Strana, Prague

Is this idea one you can propose to all of your friends? No. You can have a whole passel of friends and not one of them might be interested. It's awfully nice to be able to share faith with someone though, isn't it? It seems intimate. If you were getting to know someone what greater representation of their culture is there than how they worship?

Sher and I are both Protestants but it's hard to find the same denomination over here that we went to in America. She attends Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Prague and so I joined her there one Sunday.

Sher's big smile
is caused by seeing sunshine!

My friend Sher lives with chronic illness, asthma and the like, and if I can brag about her for a moment, she does so with considerable humor and grace. The three weeks prior to meeting her on this Sunday she had spent in salubrious solitude (otherwise known as quarantine to those of you not euphemistically-inclined).

Imagine, three weeks in a city apartment and not being able to go outside! Could you do it? I don't think I could. She figured out how to turn it into a positive experience by setting all sorts of goals and accomplishing them.

I love going to other people's churches. Back home in America, I especially enjoyed going to black churches because the music was usually gospel and usually amazing. If a Czech went to an African-American church it might seem as exotic and as foreign to them as Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church seemed to me. I had never been to a church that was packed with people from all over the world who had come on pilgrimage to see something.

The church is sooo busy that it has multiple masses over the weekend in Czech, English, French, Spanish, and Italian. Once Sher attended a Japanese mass there just to see what it was like. This isn't the kind of church that builds great local community because the out-of-town attendees are usually here for just one service.

Why have all these people come to this church? Because they want to pray to the Infant Jesus of Prague, otherwise known as The Prague Bambino.

I first heard of the Prague Bambino in Bohumil Hrabal's book "I Served the King of England." But others have heard of it through more conventional religious means. Wikipedia has a nice, short explanation of how the legend started here. Sher also explained that many people find praying to an infant representation of Jesus less intimidating than the full grown man.

While I found the Infant Jesus of Prague statue exotic to my own faith, one thing that happened during the service unexpectedly took me right back to my childhood. The Philipino choir singing for the service sang every verse of the great hymn "How Great Thou Art." My grandmother and mom used to play it on the piano when I was growing up. Mr. Hendrickson, my childhood neighbor who sang at my wedding, also sang this hymn frequently through the years. Hearing it made me homesick. It was beautiful.

The beautiful baroque altar
at the front of the church
is almost fully restored

The priest's pulpit
off to the side.
It's unused
in our more informal times.

Pilgrims from all over the world
pray to the Infant Jesus of Prague
for deliverance from their suffering
after the service.
Note the "thank you" plaques
on the side wall for answered prayers.

The Infant Jesus of Prague
or the Prague Bambino
in his glass case and white clothes

A beautiful baroque side alter
at the church

This is how people
stay warm in these old churches.
The pumice stones attached
to the backs of the pews
radiate gentle warmth.

The spiral staircase up to the Museum of the Infant Jesus.
Seamstresses express their faith by sending the Infant Jesus
clothes from all over the world.
Several of the most spectacular outfits are on display.

The exquisite craftsmanship
on these outfits
is meticulous.

This beautiful red overcoat
with the dragon came from Vietnam.

Immediately after Sher's day out, she had to go right back into her salubrious solitude because she got sick and so did her husband. Her can-do attitude regarding chronic illness is as beautiful expression of faith as this church.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What was it like to be a Czech Christian during Communism?

St. Clement's Church in Old Town Prague

My church, St. Clements, is a happening place full of happening people. I like it. Nobody in the congregation takes themselves too seriously, including our very nice chaplain. I'm adding his blog to my list of Czech Expat Blogs on the side of my home page. Ricky Yates hails from Britain originally. I hope you enjoy reading about his Anglican adventures.

One of the things I enjoy most about my church is our wonderful sense of community. This week after church we had a quite fun and quite silly 'soup luncheon and bottle raffle'. Raffle tickets could be purchased for anything in a bottle. It was fun to chat up my fellow expats and see who would win the single malt scotch (which would be totally wasted on me!) and who would win the champagne and bubble bath (yea! I won these and they are not wasted on me!).

On behalf of my fellow parishioners, I'd like to invite you to join us if you live in the Prague area for a series of thought-provoking lectures about being a Christian during Communist times. Here are the details from Ricky so far with more to follow later:

Lent Seminar Series
2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. But what was it like to be a Christian during the Communist era, particularly the period of religious suppression that followed the Russian invasion of 1968? On five Thursday evenings during Lent, we will have five different speakers from various Czech Christian Churches speaking about their experience. They will either speak in English or be interpreted into English by one of our Czech speaking members.

Venue: No. 18 Klimentska down the street from the church (take the elevator to the 3rd floor). This is our fellowship hall.

Time: 7 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.

Thursday 5th March - Bishop Busan Hejbal of the Old Catholic Church
Bishop Dusan was forced to work as a tram driver and construction worker by the communist authorities. He was also a folk/rock protest singer and he has promised to bring along his guitar and possibly sing one or two of his protest songs!

Thursday 12th March - Professor Tomas Halik of the Roman Catholic Church
Professor Halik was secretly ordained as a Roman Catholic priest during the communist era in the former East Germany. He is a well-known writer and speaker and a number of his books have been translated into English by Church member Gerry Turner.

Thursday 19th March - Professor Jakub (Jack) Trojan of the Czech Evangelical Brethren
Professor Trojan is professor of theological ethics at the Protestant Faculty of Theology of Charles University.

Thursday 26th March & Thursday 2nd April
Confirmation of final speakers to be announced later.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finding a Church Home in Prague: St. Clement's Church

I was taking a look-see around my new neighborhood and noticed a lovely church that I wanted to see up close. The nameplate said St. Clement's Church, with services in Czech, but also, Anglican services in English at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. I already knew my own denomination wasn't represented in Prague. How fantastic it would be to walk to church! I had to try it out.

A couple weeks ago, I went into this beautiful old church and was warmly received by the congregants. The church bells were pealing with enthusiasm calling the neighborhood to worship. It was a cold morning, and my hands were already cold from a morning walk around the neighborhood. They didn't warm up during the service! I discovered later that each seat has it's own individual heater and you just dial up what you need.

The building is thought to have been the site of Christian worship for the last 1,000 years. I haven't heard a date for how old the building is, but the frescos in the apse date from the 14th century. During the Enlightenment, the church was used as a granary, which doesn't sound all that enlightened, does it? It was restored in 1894-1896 to it's present Neo-Gothic style.

Later that night, I went back for St. Clement's Lessons and Carols. Episcopalian friends had always told me how beautiful "Lessons and Carols" are at Christmas time. This was my first time experiencing this Christmas tradition for myself.

Numerous children started the evening off with a fun version of "The Little Drummer Boy" complete with a march down the aisle, plenty of coffee cans, and various drumming instruments to clang away to their heart's content. To hear the congregation booming out those carols in this beautiful ancient building was a wonderful moment, one where I could really feel the Christmas spirit.

There were probably about 100 parishioners. We went down the street for mulled wine, treats, and conversation afterwards and I could tell there wouldn't be anymore church shopping for me. Everyone was just too welcoming. I felt at home.

Expat churches are different than regular churches. A lady told me that the previous rector had been in charge for seven years and had never once done a funeral because expats always go home when they reach that age. So there is also not the usual contingent of "little old ladies" that make up most churches back home. Not that there's anything wrong with little old ladies.

She also asked me if I noticed how male the voices were when we sang. English-speaking men, married to Czech women, often come to church solo because Czechs are atheists, thanks to communism, and don't participate in church as a family. So the guys come by themselves for worship and to enjoy an English-speaking environment for awhile.

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