Hyning Christmas Newsletter 2016


It was just as we were sending out our newsletter last year that the health of Sr. Mary Cecilia deteriorated and she died peacefully on 18th December. Having consulted with her family, we made the decision to postpone her funeral until the New Year. Her great-niece was expecting a baby any day, and two week old Ezra was the youngest member of the family to be present at the funeral on January 5th. Sr. Mary Cecilia would have greatly appreciated the musical input of the family at the funeral, and we are very grateful for her own legacy of music which we continue to enjoy.

In September Sr. Mary Joseph was able to visit her brother-in-law Fred the day before his death, returning the following week for his funeral. Later in the year she tripped on our kitchen steps and broke her wrist. She has just had the plaster off and is learning to re-use her hand.

Staying with that generation of sisters, Sister Mary had the joy of celebrating her Diamond Jubilee just after Easter together with members of her family and friends. She had some lovely gifts for the garden and was helped by Matthew, a horticultural student in the planting of these.

There have been several other joyful celebrations this year. Sr. Mary Stella had a significant birthday in April, but she followed the example of the Queen and postponed the family gathering until June when her family was able to come from Ireland and America to share a week-end and a wonderful, informal barbecue meal with her. On 10th September we celebrated her Golden Jubilee with Mass celebrated by Fr. John McGowan and the homily given by Fr. Peter Claver, chaplain at Brownshill. He spoke of Sr. Mary Stella’s response to the call of God to follow Him as a Bernardine and spoke too of her love for icons and for the garden.

The icon studio continues to flourish and there were several courses this year including a week run by Irina Bradley, a Russian orthodox iconographer. At the end of October there was an icon exhibition with displays, talks and a cream tea to mark the ten years since the icon studio began here.

The most significant work done in the garden this year was in the memory garden near the well and the complete re-planting of the holly hedge around it. In June we had a visit from Robert Peel, the younger brother of Lord Peel and appreciated his memories of the house and garden during his childhood. In mid-May we had a well-attended open garden afternoon with talks and tours of the garden followed by a cream tea.

Our most recent celebration was that of the 1st profession of Sr. Reina (Irene) which took place on 8th October. Fr, Michael was the main concelebrant joined by Canon John Gibson, our Parish Priest, and Fr. Peter from Brownshill who preached the homily. Two Indonesian sisters of the Holy Spirit, who know our sisters at Brownshill, were present as was Brother Adam, from Malaysia, a monk of Mount St. Bernard. Brother Adam even brought with him some Indonesian dishes for supper, after which, he and Sr. Reina sang the Magnificat in Indonesian. Sr. Reina’s diagnosis of cancer just a few weeks before the Profession was a shock to us all and we ask your continued prayer for her full recovery as she continues to undergo chemotherapy.

In June Sr. Reina joined Sr. Hilda and Sr. Immaculée from Brownshill at the inter-Juniorate course held at Roscrea Abbey and in August spent a week at our Generalate House near Lille together with Sr. Maria (novice mistress) and Julia (postulant). During they stay they met Annabelle who will begin her postulancy in France at the end of December. They returned to Brownshill a few days before the annual retreat began in order to be present at Sr. Hilda’s renewal of vows which took place on 19th August. Sr. Immaculée will renew her vows for two years on 22nd December. Sr. Hilda went to Rome in August/September for the second session of the formation course with other young Cistercian monks and nuns. This included a memorable visit to Monte Cassino and also being present at the canonisation of St. Teresa of Calcutta.

Sr. Mary Colette also spent a week in Rome in January representing the Association of British Contemplatives at a meeting which gathered some 5000 people for a symposium entitled ‘Consecrated Life in Unity’ bringing the Year of Consecrated Life to a close.

In November Sr. Anne Chantal spent three weeks with our community in Goma, her first visit to Africa. On her return she shared with us her impressions and showed us many pictures of daily life – the community, the school, the local market and the construction of the new Church which is taking place.

Sr. Josephine Mary and Sr. Maria joined our sisters at Brownshill in celebrating their 10 years of foundation and the formal constitution of the monastery. A sadness for us all was the decision, after a long discernment, of Sr. Mary Johanna (Susan Irwin) not to continue as a Bernardine sister. She left us in July and has found employment at a retreat centre in Ilkley.

Over the summer Brownshill kindly received three of our community on an extended stay before the retreat.  As mentioned before the novitiate went to France during this time and most of the community then went to Brownshill for the retreat.  A group of sisters had been working for several months with the contractors on the details of the refurbishment and the equipment to be installed. Once the decision to remove the Aga (put in in the 1950s) had been made, nothing short of a complete gutting of the kitchen was possible. The Aga, a half-wall and all the sinks came out, a new boiler, new electrics and ventilation canopy came in (with ducting that makes the kitchen yard look like Cape Canaveral). Wall cladding, new floor, sinks and equipment followed and all was handed over in time for the return of our guests.  If you have not already looked at the kitchen refurbishment page, have a look before the page disappears! Kitchen work

Father Michael MHM continues as our chaplain here. In June he was able to return to Freshfields to celebrate the 150 years since the foundation of the Mill Hill Missionaries. Pamela, known to so many of you, for her cheerful presence on reception has been unwell for a few months and she is much missed. In her absence we have to thank the number of friends who have stepped in to take on her duties. We are so grateful to our many volunteers who help us in many and varied ways, you are so much a part of our apostolate here and we thank you most sincerely for all that you do to make Hyning the welcoming house that it is.

In August we welcomed Bjørk Busk Vang, a Danish student from Vejle, who stayed with us for two months. She spoke excellent English and we enjoyed her cheerful company. At the beginning of September Anett Palicksó from Hungary arrived to spend a year with us, she is a volunteer through the ‘Time for God’ programme.

Looking ahead to 2017 we look forward to celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Sr. Michelle Marie and the Silver Jubilee of Sr. Maria.

It remains for us to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year 2017 assuring you that we keep you all, your joys and your sorrows, in our prayer.