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