Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Willie's 75th Birthday Celebrations

Above: Willie with his wee friend Maximus

December 7th was Willie's 75th birthday. Willie who lives in the caravan on our grounds has been with us for nearly 40 years and it is a miracle that he is still alive given his earlier lifestyle. Anyway we had Mass for him up at the Study Centre and then a celebration meal for him with all the students, staff, all of us here at the convent, - and the Parish Priest who has known Willie all the time he has been with us. Philippe who is the Principal of the Study Centre was the Presider at Mass and he has known Willie for some years.

Left: Willie at lunch with Parish Priest Canon Bunce and FISC Principal, Br. Philippe

Right: Winnie reads Psalm

Below left: 
Br. Ninian reads the Gospel

It was a great celebration. Some of the students did a liturgical dance for the presentation of the gifts during the Mass with African music and drums. They had some form of African garment on for the occasion even the blokes! After the homily Philippe made reference to the story of when Archbishop Carey was being installed/inaugurated as Archbishop of Canterbury. On that great day there was a mammoth procession for the Cathedral after the ceremony with all the dignatories and VIP's etc - and at the end came the new Archbishop in all his glory: grand vestments, mitre etc etc etc. Up pops Willie from the crowd and goes right up to the Archbishop, tugs at his sleeve and boldly asks: “When are you going to give us our Cathedral back?!”
Funny story yet true. Philippe continued to explain how Willie has been a part of the life of the Centre since its beginnings. The Mass was beautiful.

Since mince is Willie's favourite food, we had shepherd's pie as the main part of the meal. A friend and neighbour had made him a cake and iced it with green and white icing as he is a Celtic supporter.

He proudly blew out his candles and enjoyed every moment of the day.

Above Centre: Willie with his old friend Br. Brendan

Above left: Willie with Sr. Clare and with Sr. Elizabeth before Mass

Below: Willie Enjoying his cake, cards and gifts at Monte Bre

Below Left: Max ran off with one gift to open himself!

It certainly was a huge landmark in Willie's life and it was an appropriate day to remember the earlier sisters who cared for him:
Sr Agnes, Mother Angela, Sr Immaculata and Sr Paschal. They are now enjoying their eternal reward and smiling down on him. A great day was had by all.

by Sr. Elizabeth

Monday, 20 December 2010

News Update from Sr. Rose

Statue of St. Joseph and the child Jesus outside the Mother House
Since the end of September I have been at the Mother House, St Joseph's Convent, Littlehampton. I have been researching into homelessness in Littlehampton and the surrounding towns. I have also been studying Spanish from CDs in preparation for my trip to our mission in Peru in January. In addition, I help out in the sacristy and refectory and in the work of hospitality at St Joseph's.

Below: Sr. Regina, whom I help in the sacristy

Sr. Fabian, whom I 

help in the Refectory

From 28 November – December 4 I joined the lovely retreat given by Bishop John Crowley in St Joseph's. There were two talks a day based largely on the Gospel of the day. The talks were very clear and easily understandable and at the same time full of richness, wisdom and depth. I found a wealth of material to ponder and reflect on.

Bishop John Crowley in St. Joseph's Community Room
I will mention only two things which impressed me. The first concerns friendship. Our friedship with each other needs much the same elements as our friendship with Christ. Bishop John highlighted four essential ingredients for deepening intimacy between friends:

self-disclosure (so that one becomes vulnerable)
The second point concerns ministry. Bishop John said that it is the most Christ-like ministry to encourage others. I felt very happy to hear this. I felt that everyone is therefore able to be Christ-like because it is a simple matter of choice to look for what is good in another person and to focus on that and take joy in it.

The retreat was open to sisters from our other houses and to secular Franciscans and to friends.

Sr Stanislaus visiting from our convent in Knock,with her Benemerenti medal and certificate which were presented during the course of the retreat to the surprise and delight of all, including Sr Stanislaus herself who knew nothing of this impending distinction!

Sr. Stanislaus with her Benemerenti medal and certificate

For my research into homelessness I recently visited St Anne's, a Christian Day Centre for homeless and lonely people in Brighton. One of the volunteers, Trevor, met me at the station and took me to the centre in Kemptown where I was greated with great warmth and openness. I chatted briefly with Anthony, who manages the centre, before being allowed to mingle with those present. For me this was a grace-filled and memorable time.

Anthony (front) with a few clients and volunteers

My latest visit was to St. Joseph's Night Refuge just outside Chichester, which is run by the charity Stone Pillow. On a previous visit I had been shown round The Old Glassworks a day centre for the homeless in Chichester, another Stone Pillow project. I am very grateful to the Stone Pillow staff who gave me their valuable time to help me understand their work and to enabled me to get some understanding of the complex issues involved in homelessness.

Staff and a volunteer in the sitting room of St Joseph's Night Refuge.

At the moment I am spending a few days back in Canterbury. It is lovely to be here again. To make up for my having very sadly missed Willie's grand 75th birthday Mass and lunch at FISC on December 7th, we had another mini-celebration in Monte Bre sitting room with tea and a cake.
Willie and Sr. Rose

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Multi-cultural Mass in Canterbury

On Sunday 22nd November, all attended Mass for the Feast of Christ the King at the Franciscan Study Centre, at which Stephen King OFM Conv was the main celebrant. Fr. Stephen preached about the universal reign of Christ transcending all national and cultural boundaries. The students planned and led the liturgy, featuring a new banner above the altar and international music and dance.
Below: Offertory dance up the aisle...
...and back down again
From left: Srs. Consolata, Annette and Clarina, Br. Martin, Innocentia.
Innocentia, wearing her national costume, helped to lead the music with singing and drumming. At the entrance and offertory processions, students from many countries participated in dancing African-style.
Willie enjoyed attending this special Mass and meeting the students and many of his old friends.
Below: Wille with Consolata, Uju and Innocentia.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Our Indian Sisters Return to Mysore

Having spent time in our Communities in England for the past 6 months, Sisters Elizabeth and Promodini returned to our FMSL convent in Mysore on 21st October. On their last day in England, a special 'thank you' lunch was arranged by St. Joseph's Community. Sisters from Copthorne, Burgess Hill and Canterbury were also invited. Sr. Anastasia, Mother General thanked the Sisters for all they had contributed to our Communities during their stay in England and promised all our prayers for their community and mission in India. Sisters Promodini and Elizabeth thanked all the Sisters for their kindness and hospitality and promised to remember and pray for them all. They presented the Community with a gift and a 'thank you' picture.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Two Sisters from FMSL India come to England

On Tuesday evening, 11th May, after a very long flight via Dubai, Elizabeth and Promodini, two of our Sisters from St. Francis Community, Mysore, arrived at Gatwick, even as the looming volcanic ash cloud threatened to disrupt flights into the UK. They were met by Sr. Clare Bowers, who took them to St. Joseph's, Littlehampton. On Wednesday evening they gathered with the Community for refreshments and entertained them with Indian singing and dancing.

On Thursday morning, Sr. Clare Bernadette came from Canterbury to collect them and after lunch, they departed for Monte Bre, where Srs. Elizabeth and Promodini will be based until the end of June. After welcome, tea and Evening Prayer with the Community, our visitors went to meet the Communities at the Franciscan International Study Centre. There, they sampled international cookery at a special 'Pot Luck' Supper.

Next day, they went to Hollington with Sr. Clare and Innocentia to meet the Poor Clare Community and hear about St. Clare from Sr. Frances Teresa OSC.

From left: Innocentia, Sr. Frances Teresa OSC, Sr. Promodini, Sr. Elizabeth.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Innocentia Welcomed Into Postulancy

On 2nd May, Innocentia was welcomed into FMSL Postulancy during Evening Prayer in St. Joseph's Convent Littlehampton. She is pictured here with Mother General Sr. Anastasia on her left and, to her right, Sr. Clare Bernadette, representing the Formation Team in Canterbury. After Evening Prayer and tea with the Community in St. Joseph's, Innocentia departed with Sr. Clare for Canterbury, where she will be based during her period of postulancy formation.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Open Day at Kent University Farm

On Saturday 13th March, Sr. Rose visited the farm on Moat Lane to fraternise with the new spring lambs.

Billy the goat was in a bad mood.

But the sheep were very happy.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Lenten Day for Religious at Convent of Mercy, Whitstable. Friday, 26th Feb, 2010.

Icon of the Holy Trinity

Sr. Annette holding a small icon of John the Baptist

Sr Annette of The Daughters of Mary and Joseph gave a talk on her work as an iconographer and explained the language and traditions of “writing” icons. She focussed on two icons in particular: the Pantocrator and the Holy Trinity and we were taken through meditations on these icons while we gazed at them and allowed them to speak to us.

The Sanctuary with various icons displayed

Sr. Rose travelled to the event in the FISC mini-bus with several other students from various FISC programmes.
Michael, OFM postulant chatting with Anne FMSJ over coffee
Above: Monica from Hongkong, Clare from Taiwan, Sarah FMSJ, Annette from Cameroon and Chinyere from Nigeria relaxing together in the conservatory before the talks

We were greeted by the new Vicar for Religious, Marion, a Vocations Sister.

Mass was celebrated by Bishop Pat seen here enjoying a cup of tea after Mass with Sarah, on sabbatical at FISC and another visiting sister

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Shrove Tuesday at the Franciscan Study Centre

Gathered at Franciscan International Study Centre for our traditional 'pancake party', all of us did a star turn. Catherine did a duet of John Denvers 'Country Road', with one of the FISC lecturers Kathleen Ann, also from America. Betty did an African royalty dance with fellow African students Annette, Alice and Jabu, and also an individual song in her native tongue. Sarah read a poem about an 'Irish Immigrant.

Above Right: Clare from Hong Kong tucking into her pancake, a new experience for her!

Below: Jude from Nigeria singing an Igbo song.

Below: Betty, Alice and Jabu doing their
African 'Royalty Dance'.

Philippe, Principal of FISC gave us another Lancashire rendition of a monologue entitled 'Our Albert'.

Dharma from India played a 'picnic song' from Goa, called 'Whose Daughter is She?'

Jack from Ireland sang a beautiful Irish Ballad

Below: Seamus astonishes us with his virtuosity on the tin whistle, the harmonica and guitar.