Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Renewal of vows: Sisters Innocentia and Attracta

On 9th August, Sisters Innocentia and Attracta renewed their vows for one year.  This took place during morning Mass at the Franciscan Study Centre.  The vows were witnessed by Sr. Clare Bernadette, as delegate of Mother General, and by Fr. Thomas Reist OFM Conv, Principal of the Study Centre.

 Afterwards, they were congratulated by other daily Mass goers.

Please keep our Sisters in your prayers during the coming year, as they continue their prayer, study, training and voluntary work as Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Littlehampton.  
Thank you, and God bless you.

Reception of a new novice

What is a novice?

The period of novitiate is currently based in Canterbury and lasts for two years, after which, a novice  Sister may request to make her first profession of religious vows.

The purpose of the Novitiate is to:
A Initiate the candidates into Religious Life, preparing them for that total and perpetual consecration to God which this life demands.
B Concentrate on the development of the spiritual life and a close following of Christ.
C Enable the novices to deepen their personal prayer life, striving to achieve the desired integration of prayer and activity to which the formation programme is directed.
D Inbue them with the spirit of the Congregation by the study and living of the Rule and Constitutions after the example of St. Francis who said to his followers: “This Rule is the Book of Life, the hope of our salvation, the sign of the Gospel, the way of perfection, the key to heaven, the alliance to eternal union.” (2 Celano ch 158, para 208)
E Enable them to consider more carefully their religious vocation and to assess their commitment to our Franciscan way of life. (Canon 646)

 (from  FMSL Constitutions, norms 96-103)

Reception of Sr. Esther

On 2nd August, Sr. Esther was received as a novice in St. Joseph's Convent, Littlehampton.  The simple service of reception during Evening Prayer was moving and joyful.

Sr. Anne McLaughlin, Mother General gave a short reflection on the Feast of the Portiuncula.  As this little chapel was the starting point for the Franciscan Order, Esther was invited to reflect on the beginnings of her own Franciscan journey.
Sister Anastasia, who had accompanied Esther through postulancy, presented her with the San Damiano Crucifix worn by novices.
Mother General gave Esther a copy of the FMSL Rule and Constitutions, which she will study during her novitiate.

Esther received the white veil of a novice from Sr. Clare Bernadette, who will be responsible for her novitiate training.
Congratulations were then in order!

Sr. Esther will be based in Canterbury for the next two years, where she will join second-year novice, Sr. Helina.  We thank the Lord for blessing us with new vocations and ask you to join us in remembering both Sisters in your prayers.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Canterbury SVP

Sr. Rose with Canterbury SVP group

In January I joined the SVP conference based at the parish of St Thomas.
It is great to belong to a group of open, friendly, like-minded Christians who want to live their faith in action.
When I left St Anthony's, Bradford, I had just started to make visits with their newly reformed SVP. This meant that I was already “on the books” SVP-wise, so to speak, and could get involved in Canterbury immediately.
Each week I attend a meeting upstairs in the church premises at 7pm. I have made one or two visits a week since joining. I helped at the recruitment drive for new members at the 8am Mass in town recently, and also attended a regional meeting held at FISC. When Fr Valentine is unable to attend our meetings, the group calls on me to provide a spiritual reading.

The work of the SVP, helping people in any sort of need, is very well-known. Some of our sisters ( for example Sr Raphael RIP ) were active in the organization in former years. I am happy to be following in their footsteps.

by Sr. Rose

Sunday, 20 April 2014

LifeLines Conference in York

Sisters Innocentia and Attracta attended a conference of the LifeLines charity in York on 12th April 2014. They have both become active members in this charity, which provides pen friends for prisoners who have received a death sentence in the USA. With some abandoned by their family and friends, this correspondence can be their only lifeline.

LifeLines was established 25 years ago and has been supporting the men and women on America's Death Rows.  It is not a religious, political or campaigning organization.  Its first conference was held in Cambridge in May 1990 and the second one in London in 1990.  There are around three thousand people on Death Row in America and about fifty of those are women.  Those who have no money at all have appalling legal representation.  As well as supporting prisoners on Death Row, LifeLines does not forget about the victims' families.

One of the speakers at the conference asked us to remember if we had ever done something wrong that no-one found out about.  Then, we have to ask ourselves if we are morally any better than those who have been imprisoned for their crimes. Are we really qualified to judge them?

Currently, there are not enough pen friends available through LifeLines for the number of people on Death Row who need them.  The conference has inspired us to inform more people about the work of LifeLines and encourage them to become involved.  We talked with Nicola Glasse, a UK co-ordinator, about how to spread the word through talks and leaflets in our own area.

Jesus loved every person regardless of what they had done.  He did not give up on anyone, but reached out with acceptance and compassion to those society considered 'sinners', criminals and outcasts. Refusing to condemn a woman who was caught committing adultery, he told her accusers that the one of them who had not sinned must be the first to throw a stone at her. Then, they all went away and left her alone. Jesus told the woman to renounce her sin and make a new start.  As Christians, we feel called to follow Jesus' example of love by being a human lifeline to a person the state has condemned to death, and by praying for prisoners and their families, as well as for all those affected by their past actions.

For more information and details of how to join, please visit the website

Thank you for reading this, and may God bless you.
(by Sr. Attracta)

Monday, 7 April 2014

First Profession of Vows: Sisters Innocentia and Attracta, 9th August 2013

On 9th August 2013, many Sisters and well-wishers gathered in the chapel of St. Joseph's Convent to witness the first profession of religious vows by Sisters Innocentia and Attracta.

The two Sisters' family members and friends had also travelled all the way from Nigeria, the USA and various parts of the UK to share the joy of this day.
The main celebrant for the Mass was Fr. Richard Diala CM, a cousin of Sr. Attracta.  Concelebrants were: Msgr. Michael Jackson, Canon Seamus Hester and Fr. Albert Van der Most.
Sisters Innocentia and Attracta processed into the chapel carrying a lighted candle, a sign of their Baptismal commitment to Christ, which they were soon to deepen through religious vows.  Everyone sang, 'Christ Be Our Light'.
The Sisters sang the Psalm together: 'Here I am Lord.  I come to do your will'.
After the Gospel, the Sisters were called out by name to stand before the altar and request to make vows in the FMSL.  Before making their vows, Fr. Richard questioned the Sisters to confirm their commitment.

Innocentia and Attracta then knelt in front of the altar, holding their candles, and pronounced their vows to live for one year in poverty,chastity and obedience according to the Franciscan TOR Rule and the FMSL Constitutions.

 After this, Mother General put on them the medal of the FMSL Congregation.  Their veils, a sign of their consecration, were blessed.

Then, they signed an official document on the altar.
Having made their vows, which will be renewed annually for 3-5 years until Final Profession, the two Sisters sang a song in the words of the martyr St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) whose Feast was celebrated that day.
The Intercessory prayers were read by the Sisters' family members.

Srs. Innocentia and Attracta led the Offertory Procession with their family members with the hymn, 'We Plough the Fields and Scatter,' and Fr. Richard blessed them all at the altar.

After Communion, the Sisters led a dancing procession up the central aisle with their family members, in thanksgiving to God.

A celebratory meal, with priests, Sisters, family and friends followed the ceremony.  We wish the Sisters every success and blessing for their consecrated life in the Franciscan family.

Reception of a New Novice

Sister Helina was received into the Novitiate in a simple service in the presence of Mother General at St. Joseph's Convent on 2nd August 2013.  For the period of her Novitiate, she will be based in the formation community in Canterbury, under the direction of Sister Clare Bernadette.  Here, she will study and learn about our Franciscan way of living in consecration to God as FMSL.  This is preparation for the next stage of commitment in which Sisters vow to live in poverty, chastity and obedience.  We thank God for the gift of new vocations to our Congregation and we wish Sister Helina God's blessing and every success.