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Convent of the Holy Name

Registered Charity No. 250256

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Fellowship of the Holy Name (FHN)

Newly-Professed SistersIt was a great pleasure at the Eucharist on Tuesday to admit David Hemm, a long-time friend of the Community, to the Fellowship of the Holy Name. In a simple ceremony David promised to pray for the Community each day, and laid upon the altar the Rule of Life to which he has committed himself.

In turn the Community prayed for David in his life and membership of FHN, and presented him with the Fellowship badge to remind him of his promises.

It was good that David’s minister was able to come to support him, and that other members of the Fellowship, visiting the Cottage, were also present to welcome him.

 

2014 Magazine

This year's magazine is now available to download.

 

Sing to the Lord a New Song   

Daily at Compline we sing the song of Simeon, the Nunc Dimitis.  What happened to Anna’s song?  Luke does not give us the words she used when ‘at that moment she came and began to praise God and to speak about the child.’  No. Luke does not give us the words, but can we sense a melody?  A melody that is Anna’s song?  A melody that expresses the essential person who is Anna? Something that sings out to us from the short sketch we have of her life?

 She was a prophet; daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was of great age having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of 84.  She never left the temple, but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. There is the suggestion of a minor key, a sombre note, - a widow after only seven years, no children mentioned, bereaved with maybe no relatives to protect her from poverty, a woman perhaps at the end of her resources.  And then another theme sings out from this devastated situation, a theme of persistent, patient perseverance in dedication to the God who does not abandon the poor and the afflicted.  There is also a slightly quirky tune mingling with the other melodies...an eccentric old lady wandering about the temple day and night?  We might wonder how the temple caretakers managed this oddity. But the strong, strand of confident melody holds together the various themes and speaks of a fulfilment of hope, a vision of future glory.

 So how can we, who sing Simeon’s song each evening, find a way to hear and join in with the melody of Anna’s song this morning? Anna’s song which is both sombre and quirky and radiant with the light of hope.

 Can we bring to our song our own remembered experiences of loss or longing, of waiting or determination, of faith and perseverance?  Can we find and join in the song of praise to glorify God as we recognise the Christ Child who comes to his temple today, to be presented and to be present among us; to abide within us, to minister through us as, with Anna, we witness to his birth and his faithfulness.

 Both songs, Anna’s and Simeon’s are the songs of aged or aging people; people like most of us here.  But whether old or not so old, we can rejoice that old age still gives opportunities for witness, praise, and a ministry of encouragement to others.  So each of us can sing praise to God with the unique melody of our own individual lives and also in harmony with one another in Christ on this feast of prophesy and presence, of praise and proclamation. Amen

 

                                                                         Our Daily Bread

Today I helped give out nearly 400kgs of food. No, I don’t work in a supermarket  - but I am a volunteer at the local Food Bank. Sadly it’s a good way to meet a genuine cross section of society. I say sadly, because Food Banks should not be necessary in our society - but they are. Today we saw people in work, out of work, homeless, needing to move because of the ‘bedroom tax’ and those whose benefits have been delayed, and so at this moment they are penniless.

Before the clients arrive we receive our requested allocation of food for the session from the Bank Depot. Then, having checked that the delivery corresponds with the list, and that nothing is out of its sell-by-date, we are ready for ‘our cross section of society’. Before the clients arrive, they have already had to get a form from an assigned agency recognising their emergency. These forms can only be given three times in a year so you can’t have an emergency too often!

We can allocate non-perishable food according to the number in the family. The food is meant to be enough for three days. We have to weigh the food, and we have a list of what we should give so that the clients have a reasonably balanced diet. Over a cup of tea or coffee we hopefully have time to chat with those who have come, as they have had to jump through several hurdles to get here. Maybe swallowing their pride, sometimes feeling a failure, and almost certainly at the end of their tether.

 It would be wonderful if there was no need for food banks, and so part of the charity I volunteer with are collecting data to give to the government. I think that’s why we have to be so meticulous with the weighing of food, the signing of forms and our hours of volunteering. The predicament people find themselves in is usually beyond their control and they just need a helping hand.

 The training to be a volunteer takes just one day and is so worthwhile. If you can’t be a volunteer, please do encourage your church to donate the much needed and appreciated food.

 Sr. Monica Jane in Peterborough

 

                                       Sr. Jean Mary attends Bishop David’s Enthronement   or

                                                             Back to where he started.

 In 1957, a certain David Walker was baptised in a parish church in Mossley, a suburb of Manchester.

On November 30th 2013, the same David Walker made the pilgrimage partly on foot and partly by train, from Mossley to the Cathedral in Manchester. The Cathedral had been out of action and closed for seven months while a new, and very green heating system was installed. The workmen were still at it, tidying up, cleaning the steps and generally making it all presentable at 8.00a.m. and even later on that Saturday.   The Cathedral staff worked round them as they got furniture back into position, and several rows of chairs into place to seat over a thousand people who had tickets for the afternoon event of Bishop David’s enthronement.

 Promptly at 2.00 p.m .the Cathedral staff processed in and the Dean introduced the proceedings.  He had barely finished speaking, and requested a pause for prayer and blessing on both the service and Bishop David’s ministry in Manchester, when there was a mighty knock on the west door, which was duly opened and Bishop David entered his cathedral church, to be questioned by a young man and asked to give the reasons for his arrival.  He answered satisfactorily, saying he came in the Name of Jesus to travel with us in his service together. He was then escorted down to the centre of the nave, dressed simply in a white cassock alb.

The service was a mixture of the legal elements which had to be included, to make his position at Bishop of Manchester valid, eg. his taking of the oath as Diocesan; and being formerly enthroned or installed in the official Bishop’s seat in the cathedral and the presentation of various symbols of his future ministry.  These included his crozier (shepherd’s staff), oil, a cope and mitre and his official seal. This presentation finished with the gift of a pair of sandals given by a Franciscan brother.  (which he had to put on, while already dressed in his cope and mitre !!)  

One lovely moment was an exchange of mutual commitment between Bishop David and the two suffragan bishops of Middleton and Bolton as they committed themselves to work together for the diocese.

Robed and installed, Bishop David gave the sermon - his introductory words were, “It’s nice to be home”  Manchester is not only where he was born and baptized, but also where he grew up and was educated. He moved away, as many do, for further education, training and work.  This indeed was coming home.

The cathedral choir, boys and girls excelled themselves, with some lovely music, and leading the congregation in many rousing hymns.  The event was a great triumph for cathedral staff, and helpers and the workmen who must at times almost burnt midnight oil to finish the repairs in time.

A Religious Community in Namibia

Newly-Professed SistersThis day had been long awaited by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in Namibia. It was the day on which their new Community was formally accepted – the day of their Profession, when they would take their Vows (make their promises). This was also the day of Christ the King for their parish, and the day of 146 confirmation candidates.

Sr Gertrude (CHN), under whose auspices the girls had been nurtured, had spent many long days in preparing for all this, including the making of their new veils and ‘the white piece that goes underneath it’. Earlier in the preparations some of the Sisters from her community in Leribe, Lesotho had arrived to help her and eventually there were 5 of them. Later 3 brothers and a priest also arrived from a community in Lesotho. Caring for all these visitors was quite a lot for Sr G with all the other activity going on so she was very glad that some came to stay at St Mary’s.

Waiting for them at St Mary’s, Odibo, Br Daniel and Mother Zelma had arrived; having flown flew to Windhoek, they then hired a car to drive the nearly 800 km north. Jenny from Hope Africa arrived on Friday evening. On Sunday the 4 of us drove to the check point on the tar road where Bishop Petrus picked us up in his bakkie.

The service was expected to start at 9am but it was only half an hour late as there really was so much to organise at the last minute. There was a very large crowd waiting when we arrived and many more were still to come. Lukas Katenda gave the sermon which had the same message for both sets of candidates. The Sisters on the commitments they were to make and the candidates and the promises they were going to make and were expected to keep. Lukas uses a lot of body language when he preaches and that in itself is sure to keep people awake. That lasted 45 minutes.

Then came the promises of the sisters, and the blessing of their new veils and girdles; this took another hour.

This was followed by the confirming of the 146 candidates, and the administration of communion to 670 communicants. In all, the whole service took 6 hours. The visitors had not exactly been looking forward to such a long service, but found all that was going on quite enjoyable.

At the end of the service the sisters were brought a pile of gifts and there was much joy and jubilation. Finally we went over to the dining room for a very welcome lunch.

as reported by Nancy Robson from Namibia

 

                    A Shovelful of Interfaith Coals

Bonfire night at St. John’s Rectory, Longsight, Manchester.

 Preparations for a bonfire night party began with a trip to Bury Market the week before.

We had been informed that black peas, well cooked and well seasoned with salt and vinegar are a “must “ for bonfire parties in the north west. Bury Market is the mecca for black peas, and also for bonfire lollies, another “must”.

 It was in fact a good excuse to go to Bury market, which has almost a world-wide reputation among street markets.   The visit was definitely worth it, mouth watering stalls abounded  -  sporting cakes  - including Eccles cakes of course, and also  Chorley cakes, a new one on me, but as tasty as the better known Eccles cakes, fresh meat stalls and very tempting fish stalls, and of course vegetables. I for one will be going there again!

 After that trip it was rounding up the troops to get the fire laid – and carefully covered with polythene against the rain, and sorting out fireworks. 

 Here in Manchester it rained pretty steadily throughout the day, and I was wondering how you keep folk happy, huddled inside the garage, watching a spluttering fire bravely keeping going in the pouring rain.  We didn’t have to worry, as the evening took over the skies cleared, and thanks to a shovelful of interfaith coals from our muslim neigbours, whose fire was blazing away as we tried to light ours, we too had a good blaze roaring away.

Once persuaded that black peas are a treat not to be missed, everyone, or nearly everyone gave them a try, and they went down a treat - the great advantage is they retain their heat, and continue to act as a warmer right to the end.  Bonfire lollies kept any children quiet - they are lolly shaped treacle toffee, take a long time to disappear, and put a scunner on too much conversation.

 Our visitors were a real mix of neighbours, church congregation and friends from further afield.  Fireworks did their “thing”, banging and sparkling as advertised, and once ours were finished we had the benefit of those further afield as they shot high enough in the air to brighten up Longsight.  It had been a very good evening, and as people trickled away, we managed to put everything in the garage and shut the door until the next day.   More rain just as we were finishing ensured the fire could be left - by the next morning it was a pile of ash, which, in time, will find its way onto the garden.

Sr. Jean Mary CHN

September Guests

September has been a month of welcoming various groups of guests to the Convent.

Severin with Sr. Pauline MargaretOn the 3rd it was a joy to welcome the priest of the parish from which Severin came, and also one of her friends, to her service of Admission to the Novitiate (Clothing), the moment at which she moves from being a Postulant (seeker) to being a full member of the community. During this time she will live in the spirit of the vows of poverty (simplicity), celibacy, and obedience, have time to explore prayer, experience different ways of outreach and mission, both at the Convent and in one of the Branch Houses, and pursue her studies, as she continues to discern God’s path for her. Please join with us in praying for her as she makes this journey. She is pictured here, (on the right) wearing her new habit, with Sr. Pauline Margaret, the Provincial Superior.

Between 4th– 6th September, members of the Fellowship of the Holy Name (FHN) attended their annual retreat, which led into the Fellowship Day on Saturday 7th. Members gathered from 10.30 a.m. onwards to meet old friends, and make new ones, over tea and coffee, and at 11.30 a.m. Mr Terry Bennett (our neighbour, who kindly plays the piano for us sometimes, and an organist at a local church) gave a talk about the workings of an organ, illustrated by music. He had his audience gripped, bringing in a small working model of an organ, and pipes of various materials, shapes and sizes. Several members commented afterwards, that they had never before given a second thought to how much skill and craftsmanship was involved in producing the accompaniment taken for granted in most churches, and would hear it in a different light on Sunday morning. Not for nothing is the organ known as ‘The King of Instruments’! A light lunch led into the afternoon meeting, when Sr. Pauline gave an update on Community news, and Sr. Julie gave a report about the Fellowship, and how it tries to encourage members, bound to the Community within the circle of intercessory prayer, to explore ways of drawing closer to God, and to each other, and to support each of us in the diverse expressions of our calling. The Eucharist at 3 p.m. took the theme of ‘Commitment’, and was an occasion of solemnity undergirded by joy.

Some guestsGuests continued to stay at the Cottage for retreat and rest, or to visit sisters, and then on 29th September neighbours living in nearby streets, and members of local churches were invited to an Open Garden Day, a day when the weather was glorious and tea could be taken on the patio.

The Chapel provided a quiet place for those who wished to pause there, while the refectory was filled with noise as every seat was taken for tea and home-made biscuits. Visitors were able to wander around at will, with sisters and Fellowship members on hand to answer their questions, or provide a listening ear.

 

The Story of Uncle Po

The Beatitudes ScrollIt was good to offer hospitality during July to Emmy from Hong Kong, who had come over to England in order to attend a friend’s ordination.

During her stay, she noticed a scroll of the beatitudes, written in Chinese calligraphy, which had been given to us by a guest from Hong Kong, who had stayed with us prior to his consecration as a bishop, and she homed in on the signature of the artist, inscribed on some of the panels.

Translated into English, it read ‘Uncle Po’, and she was able to tell us a little of his story.

Uncle Po, or Lam Po, a killer from Hong Kong had twice been condemned to die, once for his original crimes, and again for a further charge of murder committed whilst in prison. However, the abolition of the death penalty meant that his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. The many Triad gangs who ruled the roost attempted to sign him up, but he stood firm against them, despite the ill-treatment this brought. However, he reached breaking point on hearing that his wife had been badly beaten, and that his three children were left in the house, alone and vulnerable. He lunged at the prisoner who had been threatening him, and he died of his wounds.

After the second sentence had been passed, he was ordered to be transferred to the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre, though he had not been pronounced insane, where he was bound by hemp ropes which immobilised him for the greater part of the day.

In order to occupy the time when he was unrestrained, he took up calligraphy, being taught by one of the other prisoners, but the long hours of restraint led eventually to despair.

On the point of committing suicide, he caught sight of a bible on the shelf opposite the door he was intending to run into head-first, was drawn to its contents, and experienced a sense of peace and hope that he could turn his life around. His complete conversion to Christianity took place over many years, but when he was transferred back to prison in 1992, after a review had found no evidence of insanity, he decided to donate all the money he earned working in prison to a child who needed to go to Australia for costly surgery. He had read about the boy’s plight in the newspaper - a month later, his own name was splashed across the papers, and two years later he was granted an amnesty and released.

He now spends time speaking of his experience to Christian groups and earns his living from his rented home-cum-studio, copying passages from the Gospels. His work it is, which hangs below the refectory crucifix.