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.