iThirst is back

A Vicar on a Harley and Nuns in the Pub…

St Mary’s Parish and Sunderland Catholic Chaplaincy are very excited to re-start the iThirst faith-based pub talk series. Fr Marc and Mary have invited renowned speakers from across the country to come and share something of their stories and their faith, in the new city-centre pub “The Central,” Bridge Street.

Our first speaker was Rev Nigel Rostock, a biker vicar from Leicester who is chaplain to the “God Squad” biker gang. He has great experience working with the homeless, rocking up in his leathers and meeting people where they’re at. After working as a teacher, he felt a calling to serve God in the Anglican church which initially struck him – he’d never met a vicar on a Harley Davidson before, so could he be one? After discerning this call, he is now in his second year as a curate in Leicester where he continues his parish ministry, working with the homeless and reaching out to “guys on the edge” through the God Squad biker gang.

The iThirst speaker event also features live music by local young musicians. The first event featured Ruth, a local guitarist and singer who is currently volunteering with young people in the North East as part of the Youth Ministry Team. Her jazzy acoustic covers of popular songs got everyone singing and clapping along, and set a great atmosphere for our first event. We look forward to welcoming more young musical talent for the rest of the iThirst series.

The November iThirst event welcomes nuns to the pub, and celebrity nuns at that! After starring in Channel 5’s series “Bad Habits Holy Orders” Sr Anna and Sr Linda travelled all the way from their convent in Norfolk to speak at iThirst. The TV series featured “a group of wild twentysomethings” who left behind their party lifestyle for four weeks in a convent. Mobile phones, social media, swearing and alcohol were banned, as the girls joined the sisters’ weekly routine. They initially struggled with the £25 weekly allowance, 10pm curfew and modest lifestyle of the Sisters, but real friendships developed between the girls and the sisters by the end. Together they explored self-worth, family values and volunteering within the teachings of the Catholic faith and wider society.

Since the Channel 5 series, the Sisters have been interviewed on TV and radio including This Morning, and have travelled the country with their #loveyourself campaign. They have also opened a pay-what-you-can soup kitchen called “Nundos”.

Mary and Fr Marc look forward to welcome you to iThirst events which will continue in the new year: “The aim of iThirst is to get people chatting about big issues in the pub. Everyone is welcome, whatever your views, faith or political stance. In the new year we look forward to welcoming a Catholic MP, comedian priest and climate activist for this monthly event. Come along, get a pint and join the conversation!”