We wish you a blessed Lent and Holy Week
Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God
We are following the instruction issued by the Church of England on Tuesday 17 March that public worship should be suspended. We hope to continue our normal pattern of worship, including the Eucharist as possible, but our services will not be open to the public.
Be assured that we continue to hold in our prayer all affected by the situation, whether directly by the virus, or by anxiety, financial difficulty, loneliness or in any other way.
Recently the scripture reading at Matins was a very familiar passage from Ecclesiastes: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Some of the phrases resonated with what the community has experienced in the last few months: “a time to keep, and a time to cast away, a time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together”. Emptying the convent has been quite dispiriting as our home gradually became a bare and shabby shell, and moving to our new living and working spaces has been hard work (a time to keep and a time to cast away…).
A key occasion was the transfer (on Sunday 3 November) of the Blessed Sacrament to our temporary Chapel which is in what used to be the Sewing Room.
Another significant removal was of the figure of Christ crucified from refectory to its temporary home in the Chapel of Campion Hall.
There were some comic moments, as when kitchen stores and equipment were loaded onto a trolley and trundled down the road to the house where our temporary refectory and kitchen are.
We have maintained a regular pattern of worship with the Eucharist celebrated in our temporary Chapel. We say the mid-day Office in the sitting room of 76 Fairacres Road where we gather for lunch, Vespers in various locations, and prayer at the beginning and end of the day in the houses where we live.
We experienced the sadness of losing our Sister Elizabeth to cancer. She received a diagnosis in September and died on 3 January. We were able to receive her coffin into our temporary Chapel for the Office of the Dead and to watch with her, but for the funeral Requiem we were very grateful to Fr Darren McFarland for the generous hospitality of St Andrew’s Headington where there was space for all of us and for the many who wanted to share this occasion with us.
On 28 January Sister Avis Mary and Sister Catherine attended Martin Gorrick’s episcopal ordination at Southwark cathedral: Martin is a member of the Fellowship of the Love of God, and while he was based here in Oxford (as Archdeacon) sometimes celebrated the Eucharist with us. He is now Bishop of Dudley in the diocese of Worcester.
Benfield and Loxley, our contractors, began work on 3 February. One of the first tasks was the removal of some trees—when the time comes we will be planting replacements. One of them revealed this lovely pattern.
Apart from the houses on Fairacres Road, the whole convent and part of the garden is a building site. It’s probably just as well that we can’t see much of what is happening! Andrew who is in charge of maintenance for us is also our liaison with David, the Site Manager and has been able to take photographs for us.