When I first moved to London, it was as a student. London’s Universities and study centres, swarming with experts from all four corners of the earth, women and men endlessly pursuing all the disciplines you can think of – this was all very attractive to me. Moreover, London is not just a never ending Babel of professors – thank God for that! – but of peoples, cultures, faiths and worldviews. For a Classics graduate, London had the attraction of a novel Alexandria, a modern era Constantinople; it is a place of encounter for the entire world. This was different from the familiar uniformity of an Italian University town like Bologna where I had studied previously, the museum-like atmosphere of Rome, the city of my adolescence, or the unchangeable and traditional ways of my native Sicily. And yet, five years in London have taught me how a metropolis has a dark side. City life can be anonymous and mechanical. People can often relate not as whole personalities, but as economic actors or pleasure seekers, looking for all that may distract or help them escape in their spare time.

St Martin’s, with its unique ministry of encounter, its commitment to create a real community at the centre of an ever-changing London, is a potent antidote to this metropolitan sickness. And that’s why I am here among you, to learn from this unique community where lost and searching modern individuals can begin to find themselves in relationship to God and to others. I am looking forward to get to know you!

Francesco Aresco