News from Brownshill Community
There must be in every Community and family fallow years and rich years. Certainly this has been one of the richest here at Brownshill, and St Benedict’s saying that guests are never lacking in a monastery rings true as we watch the comings and goings in the car park. It feels as if these were matched by comings and goings in the Community, because our community seems to have changed shape each time we looked at it!
As a General Councillor of the Order, S Elizabeth Mary has to do a lot of travelling, but last February, she had a very exciting trip: to our Community at Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo! She left Brownshill on 17th February, travelling via our motherhouse in Lille, and by the following Monday we were able to share her travels thanks to the first of a series of long emails, until we were together again a month later sharing her impressions “live”, with news, photos of our sisters, including of S Immaculée who, later, in November, we would be welcoming into our community after the much regretted return to Goma of our S Anastasie. S Hilda, in August joined the Community for all of a fortnight, before going to Rome for a month-long formation course with brothers and sisters of the wider Cistercian family. S Hilda and S Immaculée are Sisters in First Profession - professed in fact within months of each other, and are now continuing their monastic formation with us. We have also enjoyed many visits throughout the year from our Sisters in other Bernardine Communities and from the wider Cistercian family.
The Church’s Year for Consecrated Life was well celebrated in the Clifton Diocese. We gathered to open this special year on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord last Februaryat the Cathedral with Bishop Declan. After Evening Prayer, we were invited to a simple but most enjoyable tea where we had time to meet up with the different Religious families here within the Diocese. This was followed by the usual Sunday evening Cathedral Mass at which Bishop Declan spoke at length of the role of Religious within the Church. The second event was a day at Downside Abbey in June, with Sr Jane Livesey, Superior General of the Congregationof Jesus, who gave the keynote address “Seeing with New Eyes” and leda reflection onour vocation as consecrated people. We again met at the Cathedral last month to close the year together with a Mass and lunch.
In the Guesthouse, priests, deacons, Religious and lay people from within the diocese and far beyond keep coming. It tells us how very much the desire for peace, prayer and the experience of the monastic environment have come to shape Christian lives in this 21st century.
Our great joy this year came in the shape of a series of celebrations to mark the Diamond and Golden Jubilees of Monastic Profession of S Mary Stephen and S Catherine respectively. One hundred and ten years of graces and joys were duly celebrated.
In September, another celebration: Our Prep School at Slough celebrated its 70th birthday. S Mary Philippa represented us, with two of our French Bernardine Sisters who were staying with us, including S St. Augustin whose aunt was one of the founders of Slough in 1897. It was a very enjoyable celebration, beginning with Mass in a packed Assembly Hall. It was a most imaginative, reflective and prayerful liturgy, marking joy and pride among Staff and Pupils alike. After a delicious lunch and Jubilee cake we were able to wander round the school and enjoy meeting the children and Staff.
As we write, we are delighted to report that we are back in our Chapel after 7 weeks of a provisional Chapel in the Conference Room. The Chapel refurbishment project started on 5th January and has included rewiring, new lighting which necessitated a new ceiling, redecoration and a new carpet as well as a few minor changes. This has made the Chapel much lighter and brighter and we look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary of foundation this summer.
We finish with the words of Pope Francis: “May the world once again find the way of peace here at the threshold of this Jubilee of Mercy.”
Assuring you of our best wishes for Easter and our prayers throughout the year for you, your families - we offer a Mass each month for your intentions,
S Elizabeth Mary
S Mary Stephen
S Mary Lucy
S Mary Philippa
S Marie Apolline