Report on the Province Day held on 21st October 2023
Our Province Day which had been planned to take place in the Provincial House, 173 Chepstow Road, was held in the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Cwmbran. The Provincial House is being renovated so we were delighted to secure a warm and comfortable venue locally.
Sr. Marie de Montfort gives us a flavour of our experience in the following report that she has kindly written and Fr. Daniel, the Parish Priest took the photograph. Thank you to everyone involved. Sr. Susan
“In every ending is a new beginning” (Deborah Harkness)
As we gathered for our Autumn Provincial Day in the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Cwmbran, there was undoubtedly the poignant realisation of an ending but also of a new beginning, a realisation that grew as the day unfolded.
The altar was beautifully decorated with blue fabric, stones and glass pebbles, together with living plants and candles, depicting a river. Mass was celebrated by Fr Matthew Carney OSB, Vicar for Religious. Our singing was greatly enhanced by the organ accompaniment which gave strength to our singing voices which have not been used too much of late!
After Mass, there was the opportunity to chat with another and over a coffee, catch up with news of how Sisters are finding life in pastures new.
On our return to the Church, Fr Matthew exposed the Blessed Sacrament for us. Sr Susan welcomed everyone and acknowledged our union with those who could not be with us. Sister then led us gently and prayerfully through the events of the past two or three years from when the decision was made to sell the Abbey through to the reality of the previous day when the two remaining Sisters in the Abbey moved out. The Abbey was no longer ours. On that journey, Sister reminded us of the situation in Killorglin, with the handing over of the Home to Nazareth Care and the move for the Sisters into rented accommodation and then back again into the Convent. Alongside all that was the need to find suitable buildings for our infirm Sisters as well as for those of us who are more active. The workload has been enormous and Sister expressed her thanks to everyone who has helped in many different ways, but especially to Sr. Teresa Krystyna who has worked tirelessly in this endeavour.
We were then led by Sr Alice on a contemplative exploration of the image of the river and invited to find our place there – for some the whirlpools and stones recalled the turmoil and struggles, for others, their place was dabbling their feet in the cool waters while others were content to be carried along in the current, always knowing that Christ is with us on the journey. This was interspersed with quiet prayer and time for sharing with one another. Sr Monica then guided us through the life of our great role model, Mother St John Fontbonne. Having given her life totally to God she suffered the hardships and indignity of prison and the long years of waiting before she could re-found the Congregation. In her later years she was content to allow others to use their giftedness to carry on the good work. With this mind, we were then invited to offer Sr Susan, one gift or talent that we can use to help us all grow into our new beginnings in the Province. After more time for sharing, we opened up our packed lunches and again enjoyed one another’s company for a while.
The afternoon session was given over to practical matters led by Sr Susan and Sr Marianne.
Our day ended with a very meaningful Missioning Service on the theme of journeying onwards, acknowledging our giftedness and confiding everything with great trust and hope to the intercession of our patron, St Joseph. At the end of the day, we departed to our various communities refreshed by the gentle, prayerful pace of the day, by the opportunities to share, by the joy of being together and filled with hope recognising that “in every ending there is a new beginning”.