Saturday, 15 October 2011

AGM of Josephine Butler Society

The Annual General Meeting of the Josephine Butler Society held on the 12th Oct, 2011 at St. Peter's Church Eaton Square, London.
I left with Valerie who is the chairman of the society at 1.30pm to board a train at Faversham. She began by looking into the minutes of their last meeting which were approved by the members.
Valerie Gore, Chairing the Meeting

After that, there was refreshment of sandwiches, soft drinks and tea which was followed by an input by a retired Chief Constable who has always worked hard against human trafficking,
Dr. Timothy Brain.

The Josephine Butler Society is a society of people who work hard to stop human trafficking and help those who are victims, whether they chose to do that or they have been forced into it. Much mention was made of children, and he praised THE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY for raising awareness of children on the street prostituting and BARNARDO'S for doing a report with recommendations. Both charities are organisations whose work is to help children involved in any kind of abuse. Dr. Brain said that human trafficking and prostitution has been an issue in this country and that they have been working hard on it. Any kind of work relating to that should always be dealt with and not be ignored. He said that one of the major problems police face today concerning prostitution is that some police look at it as if it is a distraction to their work. They feel that they have to pay more attention to burglers, or any other offence more than that of prostitution.
He said that in recent years, it has increased and decreased. The number of those who are brought into Britain for this always gets higher in number. They come mostly from Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and Africa. Though some of these ladies are forced into it, when they have a way to escape and get the help they need, they can care for themselves. He said that children of 16+ should not be treated the same way as adults. Though it is a crime, there should be some consideration, because these children are victims. Therefore the best thing for them when they are caught is not to subject them to more punishment but to help them find a better way of life.

Some of these 16+ might have had difficult relationships, and then gone away from home, eventually getting involved with 'friends' who pretend to love them. They then teach them to drink, take drugs, keep secrets from adults, go to pubs and stay out late at night. Then these 'friends' will start selling them to men for money.

The meeting finished at about 8:20 pm. We helped to clean and put things in order and then headed for the train station.
By Sr. Innocentia

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Making a Big Hash of It

Sister Attracta, now one month in Novitiate, has begun to join Sisters Innocentia and Clare in voluntary kitchen work at the Catching Lives Centre for homeless people in Canterbury. On Friday 7th October they were working with volunteers David, Roz, Rebecca, Lawrence and Terry (staff). What can you make for lunch with vast quantities of donated apples, lots of potatoes and not much else? The answer was apple crumble and corned beef hash. After Innocentia made the crumble, more of the apples were peeled and stewed, to be frozen and used later. Here's how they went about making corned beef hash for around 20 people:

Wash, peel and boil around 30 potatoes together with 2 giant (or four average) chopped onions
Empty out 9 tins of corned beef (carefully) and divide into two large, deep trays. Chop up into small chunks.
Add to these trays:
The cooked potatoes and onion
a whole white cabbage chopped (cooked from frozen)
a large tub of blanched garden peas (from freezer)
several cans of mixed veg and carrots
sprinkle with salt and pepper
a generous splurge of a variety of bottled sauces: eg. ketchup, brown sauce, horseradish
Mix together.
The hash can now be warmed in the oven and served. It has a reputation for tasting much better than it looks.
From left: Sr. Attracta, Lawrence, Rebecca and Sr. Innocentia, peeling apples. Front: two trays of magnificent hash.
For more information about the Catching Lives charity, visit

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Day for Religious at Aylesford Priory

On 23rd September 2011, Srs. Attracta, Innocentia and Clare Bernadette attended a day for religious for Southwark Diocese at Aylesford Priory. Sr. Anne, Mother General, came too, as she was visiting Canterbury for a few days. Sr. Anne Bross FMSJ also travelled with us from Canterbury.
Fr. Martin Poulsom SDB led the day. He is a Salesian of Don Bosco, a lecturer at the Religious life Institute, Heythrop and an activist for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. Martin is also a singer-songwriter and illustrated parts of his presentation by playing guitar and singing songs he had written. Bishop John Hine also attended the day, since Archbishop Peter Smith was otherwise engaged.
Fr. Martin gave a thought-provoking reflection about the state of religious life today with the need to unite its contemplative and active or 'prophetic' aspects. I was heartened to hear St. Francis of Assisi mentioned together with Hildegard of Bingen as two mystics who inspired a contemplative approach to creation. Yet it struck me as he spoke that the spirituality of Francis offered the very unification of contemplative and prophetic ('being' and 'doing') approaches that Fr. Martin was seeking to establish for Religious Life today. The value of this talk for me was to place Francis' significance for ecology in a wider context of Religious Life than the Franciscan family. It showed me the potential fruitfulness of dialogue, collaboration and networking with other Religious persons and groups involved in JPIC today. It was good to meet and discuss with representatives of so many different religious groups from diverse cultures.
Fr. Martin Poulsom SDB delivers his talk, 'Religious Life in the Midst of Creation, the Challenge of Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation.'
Srs. Innocentia and Attracta meet Sr. Elizabeth Obbard, a Religious Solitary attached to the Priory. Having been learning about the lives of women hermitesses and recluses at the time of St. Francis, they were delighted to meet in the flesh a modern version of the solitary vocation and to learn that Sr. Elizabeth follows the spirituality of Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English recluse.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Renewal of Vows and Reception of Novice Sister

On 8th September, Sr. Rose of Lima renewed her vows in St. Joseph's Convent in the presence of Sr. Anne, Mother General and a large gathering of Sisters and other witnesses.  After lunch, Srs. Rose and Clare Bernadette took a walk on the sea front.

Later, during Evening Prayer, Attracta was received into Novitiate by Sister Anne, Mother General.

Mother General, having accepted Attracta's wish to enter Novitiate, asked Sr. Clare Bernadette, Novice Formator, to present her with the Bible and San Damiano Crucifix. Mother General then presented Attracta with the FMSL Rule and Constitutions. Finally, she was given the simple white veil of a Novice Sister.

After the Prayer, many FMSL and other witnesses were waiting to congratulate Sister Attracta. That evening, she returned with the Sisters from Canterbury to the Formation Community there, where she will be based for the next 2 years joining her fellow novice Sister Innocentia.

Please remember Srs. Rose and Attracta specially in your prayers as they continue their Franciscan journey in response to God's call.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Diaconate Ordination 6th August 2011

On the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Sister Innocentia from the Canterbury community attended the Diaconate ordination of one of their Franciscan brothers, Martin Mikuskiewicz. It took place at the Capuchin friary in a beautiful church of Our Lady of the Angels in Erith.

It was a lovely ceremony that was celebrated by one of the auxiliary bishops, Pat Lynch.

Martin's parents and his elder brother came over from Poland. Many friends from his Mum's parish in London and friends from his former community in Oxford were all there.

The African sisters who were his fellow students at the Franciscan Study Centre did an African offertory dance. Some made it more interesting by showing some African way of dancing while carrying their offertory on their heads.

After the Mass, there was a nice buffet with cooked meals and finger food. There were many other Franciscan brothers present too.
Thanks to wonderful Merlyn and John her husband who drove us down and provided the bread and grapes for the offertory. We all enjoyed the evening and we continue to pray for Bro. Martin in his service to the people of God.
by Sr. Innocentia

Sunday, 19 June 2011

FMSL Centenary 5th June 2011

On 5th June 2011, the FMSL celebrated 100 years since we were established as an independant diocesan Congregation in 1911. To mark the occasion, we had Mass in St. Joseph's Convent chapel. The principal celebrant was Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton Diocese. Mass was followed by celebratory lunch and talks regarding our history.
A group of students travelled from Canterbury to participate in a Nigerian song and dance for the Offertory Procession.
William Anderson came with the Sisters from Canterbury. He very much enjoyed the day and meeting again all the Sisters whom he knew when they were based in Canterbury.
Sr. Clare sang the Psalm.

In his homily, Bishop Kieran Conry spoke about the witness value of religious life for today. He picked out the key dimensions of prayer, community and service from our centenary banners.

Sisters, students and staff from Canterbury led the Offertory Procession with a Nigerian song and dance, joined also by Angie from the SFO Littlehampton. Attracta played the drum.

After Mass, Sr. Anastasia, Mother General, thanked everyone who had helped prepare for the day and joined the celebration.

The photo of Mother Mary Patrick Brennan, our foundress was arranged on the sanctuary.

This tree, illustrating the growth of our Congregation over 100 years, was made by Attracta and Sr. Innocentia. It has our Foundress, Mother M. Patrick at the roots and also William with Maximus on the Canterbury branch! There were many other displays of photos illustrating our history.
Celebratory cakes were made for the occasion

New portable centenary banners, which Sisters in initial formation helped to design and prepare, were produced for us by Tony and Kevin of the Homelink charity.
Kevin gave a talk after the lunch about how he had put the final design together. Several people who, as children, had been cared for and educated by our Sisters returned to celebrate the day with us.

Monday, 28 March 2011

From Peru: First Sunday in Lent

13th March 2011: First Sunday in Lent. This Sunday Sr Clara planned to go to the First Communion of her godson Solim from the Therapy Centre.

Solim at the Therapy Centre. Solim is seated on the right. This was on the birthday of one of the other boys. The sister in a habit is a Peruvian sister, Secundina, who belongs to a Mexican order. She helps in the Therapy Centre.

The table the children are sitting round was one of five donated by Sr Clara from her Golden Jubilee funds. She entered discussions with a local carpenter and had the tables custom made.

The Centre was set up by Michael Murphy a retired Irish engineer. He has just moved to new premises to expand. This is a picture of Michael, Clara, Brigid and Ada the Peruvian administrator outside the Centre in the crucial last days before the opening ceremony of the new centre

Sr Ann decided to take me to visit a lay community, Foyer de Charité Santa Rosa, in the mountains at Ñaña outside Lima, for Mass and a day of recollection. To get to the Foyer we needed to take two buses, one into Lima and then another to the mountains. We were very fortunate to get seats on the bus into Lima, so I was able to read Ann's booklet about Marta Robin, the French woman (born 1902 & died 1981) who inspired and founded the movement Foyers de Charité. Martha spent over fifty years confined to her bed and in dreadful pain.

Marta Robin

On our arrival in Ñaña we immediately felt the benefit of the cleaner mountain air as we stopped at a roadside shop to have a snack of bread-sticks and a yoghurt drink.

Sr Ann told me about the times she had been here on retreat in the past, sometimes with Sr Angela and at other times with Señora Domingo from our parish. In a sense we were making a memorial pilgrimage for Angela. We took a motor-taxi to the Foyer and once inside I saw my first Peruvian llamas grazing in their lovely green chacra (farm or smallholding).
llamas grazing

We went to pray quietly in the chapel until Mass, but a little humming bird distracted us. It was beating against the wall of glass behind the altar ,struggling to get out, yet unable to see the glass. Sr Ann managed to rescue the bird. When it rested she cupped it in her hands and took it to an open window at the back of the chapel. She put her hands out of the window and released the bird, but it lay still on her palms and we were afraid that it had died, maybe from fright. Then, thanks be to God, it suddenly came alive and flew away.

The statue of Our Lady and the Child Jesus in front of the Chapel

Picture of view from the Chapel

We joined the Mass of a group called Bodas de Cana (Wedding Feast of Cana) who were having a day retreat under the direction of the French priest who guides the Foyer.. The members of this group are couples who seek to emphasize the value and importance of the sacrament of Christian marriage. They went up to communion as a couple and even up to the ambo to read as a couple. After the Mass people were going up for blessings given by the priest and another man and woman. As they received their blessings many people fell down backwards and lay on the carpets spread in front of the altar. (There were people ready to catch them, so no-one was hurt.) I had not seen this before. Sr Ann said it was a charismatic phenomenon and the people were considered as resting in the spirit, or as some say, “slain in the spirit”. Ann asked if I would like to go for a blessing and I thought that I would. I went up to the woman and she asked me my name. I said, “Rosa” quite loudly and then the person put her hands on my head and began to pray. I felt the pressure of her hands and I found myself slipping down away. It was not like falling and I did not fall, but I realized I was lying on the ground and quite still. After a little I thought I would like to get up, but it seemed to me that I would not be able to move. Then I began to move and someone else helped me and she gave me a lovely smile and supported my arm and helped me to walk back towards my seat. The best way I can describe what happened is that it was like being suspended. After Mass Ann asked if I felt ready for more prayer as there is a beautiful way of the cross that zig-zags up the mountain behind the chapel. We agreed that it would be good to make the way following our own pattern. We prayed for the people of Japan and again for the recently dead especially Sr Angela.

Sr Ann in contemplation on the way of the Cross

By this time the afternoon was well on. I wanted to go on foot back down to the village as it is a lovely walk.

Sr. Rose on the Way of the Cross

Sunset from the bus window on the way to Puente Piedro.

by Sr. Rose of Lima

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Pilgrimage to Santa Rosa de Quives, 6 March 2011

Santa Rosa de Quives is a village in the mountains outside Lima. It houses the national shrine to Santa Rosa, the first canonized saint of the Americas. Rosa died at the young age of thirty-one and seven of those years – nearly a quarter – were spent in Quives where her father was sent to administer a mine for precious stones.
View of valley from Quives

Rosa's house is a small solidly-built stone house consisting of basically two rooms with a small part sectioned off at the back of one room as Rosa's prayer cell.

Rosa's house

The shrine decked with garlands from brides married in the chapel where Rosa was confirmed

The stone she used to recline on when praying

Quives can be extremely hot and is renowned for its mosquitoes, therefore, despite my eagerness to be present at Sunday Mass in the chapel where Rosa was confirmed by the second Archbishop of Lima in 1596, I felt the need to brace myself for a day of mixed trials and blessings.

There is as yet only one small road to Quives. To reach this road, it is necessary to go into the vast, sprawling suburb of Comus, an extremely poor district of Lima which is littered with piles of rubbish and is very barren and dusty. Once out of Comus, we began the long painfully slow ascent to Quives. We had allowed about four hours for the journey, but the road was so full of potholes and its surface so bumpy, that Sr Clara was obliged to drive with great caution and we began to wonder if we would arrive in time for midday Mass. In the event we made excellent time, arriving at eleven.

The mountain road, despite its shortcomings as a highway, leads through gorgeous picturesque scenes. The valley below is watered by the River Chilloñ and is quite lush.

View from Quives looking down into the valley below

The shrine occupies a large area and is enclosed by an iron pallisade put in place by Vincentian Fathers. In addition to Rosa's house and the chapel, there is a large retreat house. Sr Clara brought a group of forty young people in the past for a retreat here and said it was excellent. On the day of our visit, sadly, we were all sorry to see how neglected and poorly maintained the site is, probably because there is now no group of religious living there.

Srs Anne, Rose and Clara outside the Chapel where Rosa was confirmed.

Chica de Jora stall just outside the sanctuary - a refreshing local drink made from maize and wheat

Flowers in the village

A goat on her knees in the grounds of the sanctuary - perhaps in prayer?

The Priest who said Mass for us blessing someone's new car after the Mass

Sr Anne kindly treated us for lunch in one of the semi-open-air restaurants that serve pilgrims and visitors. I was privileged to try a Pachamanca, a Peruvian speciality prepared by burying the meats in the earth to cook on hot stones. The meats were served with potatoes cooked in their skins, corn on the cob, broad beans and finely sliced onions garnished with lemon-juice. It was a great feast. We were advised to share one between us, but even so there was so much left over that we had enough for Monday's lunch!

Brigid, Sr Clara and Sr Anne at lunch

I had anticipated a day of both great blessings and challenges. This turned out to be so, but not in the way I had thought. I expected extreme heat, but we were blessed with lovely coolish, breezy air. It was not at all hot or uncomfortable. I had expected to be plagued with mosquitoes even if we used repellent, but apart from one little bite at the beginning of the journey (Brigid), and one on arrival (Clara), we were remarkably free from insect trouble. Finally, the joy of praying in the very place where Santa Rosa lived her formative years and took the name of Rosa at confirmation outweighed any small inconveniences.

Sr Rose sitting on the wall outside the sanctuary with the view from Quives behind

by Sr. Rose of Lima