Convent of the Incarnation · Fairacres · Parker Street · Oxford · OX4 1TB Telephone: +44 (0) 1865 721301 Email Us
There was an especially colourful choice of branches from the garden for the Palm Sunday procession which marks the beginning of Holy Week.
Among our guests for the week were Sister Rosina and Sister Theresa Mary CSC (Sisters of the Church) who brought a beautifully hand-decorated Paschal Candle with them — it was placed beside ours in the sanctuary where together they burned throughout Easter Day. The Sisters took theirs home to Bristol.
Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honour of God
In recent years we have hosted several Novitiate Study Weeks and have a chance to meet the postulants and novices who attend, among them Sister Katharine SSC. It was a joy that Sister Rosemary was able to represent us at her Profession in early May at Tymawr Convent in Monmouthshire. Katharine is an artist and during Lent exhibited some of her work in Hereford Cathedral. Just a few days after the Profession Sister Clare-Louise and Sister Susan went to Tymawr for the Day of Thanksgiving for their renovated buildings.
We enjoyed a Corporate Holiday Week, followed by the Rogation Procession and Eucharist. Sister Catherine usually lurks on the sidelines taking pictures but this year she was thurifer. Simon, our assistant gardener, kindly offered to be our photographer—and caught her leading everyone astray in the vicinity of the beehives! All the garden was well blessed, and already we have had good crops of fruit and vegetables.
Next came a week of retreat for the whole community, in preparation for the feast of Pentecost. In homilies at the Eucharist and longer addresses we were able to share with one another the fruits of our study and prayer. Sister Clare-Louise’s talk about the Third Spiritual Alphabet of Francisco de Osuna has been published in the latest Fairacres Chronicle, which also celebrates fifty years of SLG Press. Follow the link to the Press website http://www.slgpress.co.uk/ to subscribe.
The depth of sharing in the words and silence of retreat led into our Annual General Chapter: the discussions and discerning will continue during the year ahead.
Straight after Chapter we welcomed two Cranmer Hall ordinands to spend a week with us, and a couple of days after their departure we were visited by a pilgrimage group from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Little Rock Arkansas. From their base at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine their seven day itinerary took in Lambeth Palace, Southwark and St Paul’s Cathedrals, St Saviour’s Priory, Haggerston, Westminster Abbey, Canterbury, Little Gidding, and more of Oxford than many of us have experienced!
The same day ten Novice Guardians arrived for their annual conference. Sister Margaret Theresa both took part in the demanding programme and synchronized their timetable with ours. The next week it was the turn of the Oblate Sisters’ Chapter meeting. And of course life went on around these events—life including several hospital visits for sisters, both planned check-ups and emergency admissions; life spiced with a series of household malfunctions. A leak was detected in the water main coming through Fellowship House garden and Thames Water dug a number of trial trenches before they could locate it (with disruption to our supply). Most alarming was the walk-in freezer which temporarily couldn’t cope with the hot weather; most disruptive was a leaking water pipe above part of the kitchen. For most of two days we couldn’t get from the kitchen to the refectory and had to carry all the food through the laundry and along the cloister.
Sister Clare-Louise and Rachel our Administrator attended the graduation ceremony for students on the Church Mission Society’s Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme. At the graduation the Bishop Andrew Proud said “The course gives pioneers, who often display ‘the gift of not fitting in’, a supportive learning community – a place to belong, as well as equipping and empowering them to initiate and follow through with mission projects that have a wider impact on the church and society”. Both this year and last we welcomed a group of pioneer trainees to visit Fairacres as part of their course which we support financially and with our prayer.
CMS were among the acknowledged communities represented at a conference held at Lee Abbey in July. In 2015 Sister Helen attended Treasures Old and New, the first ever conference bringing together members of recognised, acknowledged and emerging religious communities in the Church of England.
This year’s meeting (attended by Sisters Susan, Helen and Catherine) had the theme God, Each Other and the World. Lee Abbey is a beautiful place and home to a Christian community very different in many respects to the ‘recognised’ orders such as SLG. It has a changing membership of volunteers: young people from many countries typically staying for a year, together with those (including families) who have made a longer commitment, all sharing life ‘patterned around prayer and worship…immersed in the Love of God’. When we were shown to our room by a member of the Host Team we were moved to find a little note which they had signed telling us that we had been and would be prayed for by name: surely this, integral to the whole ministry of hospitality we received, was used by God to bless our conference.