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Holy Cross Christmas Hamper Evening
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1 John 3:17: But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

The Holy Cross Catholic Church Christmas Hamper evening was held on Friday, December 8. The Christmas celebration, the fifth since Father Nelson Cabral came to London to lead the church, was a parish wide effort befitting a congregation that is so immersed in the local community.

The hampers were put together by volunteers from the parish. Neighborhood families, over 150 of which took part, signed up for a hamper and specified items needed and the ages of their children.

As is customary, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) was instrumental in the effort. The Society provided many of the items needed for each hamper and, in conjunction with the Angel tree gifts collected by the parish, made many families happy on the night.

The night was not simply about gifts, however. A couple of generous parishioners provided a lovely meal and one of the church prayer groups made beautiful desserts as everyone sat down to celebrate a Christmas meal together.

For Father Nelson (as he is known) the grace and love shown to the members of the community is second nature. A humble and welcoming man, Father Nelson grew up in a large Catholic Portuguese household where he went to church and “played priest” as a child. This cultural Catholicism he grew up with provided a foundation and desire to pursue his personal relationship with Jesus.

“I began to listen to the Holy Spirit,” says Father Nelson. “I began to search out, ‘Where do I fit (in the church)?’ I was then led to go to seminary.”

Thirty-six years on in the ministry he is as passionate about Jesus and the church as ever, but it was also obvious at the celebration that he inherited a loving church. There was a small army of volunteers serving the meal, enticing people with rich desserts, passing out the hampers, and warmly greeting the members of the community.

Manny Morais, president of the SSVP in London, was one of the volunteers at the meal and headed up the Society’s efforts to meet the needs of the community in the Holy Cross Parish. Morais has been a long-time volunteer with the Society, and he sums up his motivation for his work:

“I see the face of God in these people.”

Holy Cross is located at 10 Elm Street (Elm Street and Hamilton Road). Mass is held at 9 am Sundays (in Portuguese) and 11 am (in English). Mass is also held Tuesday-Friday with an evening vigil on Saturday (

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has two thrift stores in London (585 York St and 1005 Elias St). If you are interested in volunteering with the Society you can go to for more information and to sign up. If you need the Society’s assistance, go to