Early January Sister Sikholiwe and Sister Telesia left for their apostolic experience in Lancaster and Plymouth. Both were very excited about taking up this new challenge as they continued their discernment in preparation for First Profession.
This left Sister Trang and Sister Hoa alone to continue with their studies. With there being just the two of us, our music teacher Pavel gave us his undivided attention and as a result our piano playing is at last sounding more melodious!
We met up with Sister Sikholiwe and Sister Telesia at Nazareth House Finchley, where the majority of the Sisters from the UK Region gathered for the closing Holy Mass, marking the end of the special celebrations for the year of Consecrated Life.
Sister Marissa came to spend some time with us as part of her ongoing formation. During this time Fr Terence Bateman presented a workshop for us on ‘Faith Formation’. This was most enriching and captivating. We had an enjoyable question and answer session, one question being what does it mean to be ‘Called by God’?
In March, we were delighted to have Sister Telesia and Sister Sikholiwe return to the Novitiate, from their apostolic placements.
Easter was celebrated with full solemnity and the three days of recollection over during the Easter Tridium was most inspiring.
Being in the Mother House of the Congregation means we have the opportunity to meet up with many Sisters who come for meetings or visits, from time to time. We think by now we have caught up with almost all of the Sisters in the UK region.
During April we made our annual six day retreat. This was extra special for Sister Sikholiwe and Sister Telesia Angelina as it was in preparation for their First Profession.
On Pentecost Sunday in May, it was another special day for the two Novices as they received their blessed habits.
Later in the month, upon receiving their blessed habits, both Sister Telesia Angelina and Sister Sikholiwe left Hammersmith for Australia and Zimbabwe.
Sister Telesia Angelina made her First Profession in Australia and Sister Sikholiwe made her First Profession in Zimbabwe.
Sister Trang and Sister Hoa were not alone for long, as June saw the arrival of five Postulants from Africa and three from Australia! The eight Postulants were Received as Novices on the Feast of our Foundress Victoire Larmenier.
July saw us set off for our annual holiday to Southend-on-Sea. We had fun getting to know each other as we walked the promenade, went bowling, swam and enjoyed the many sea-side activities.
It was then time for Sister Trang and Sister Hoa to leave us for their apostolic placements. Sister Hoa remained on in Southend, not to holiday further but to live with the community and work in the ministry. While Sister Trang left us for Manchester to do the same.
It would be October before we were all together again. In the meantime the eight new Novices began to settle down to life in the Novitiate. The study being a big part of the day but with time to pray and play in between!
We were sad that Hai, one of the new Novices, decided through prayer and discernment that the Lord had other plans for her and she returned home. We wish her well and will always remember her as part of our group.
The nine of us continued our discernment through prayer study and community living.
During Advent in preparation for Christmas we had an inspiring three day retreat preached by Fr Terence. During the retreat we were called to go beyond our present way of being and living, and ask the Lord to give us the courage and grace to be transformed into new ways; ways of being the best persons we can be for the greater good.
Christmas 2016 was then upon us. Our midnight Holy Mass was so special and grace filled; each of had the opportunity to sing a verse of ‘O Holy Night’ in our own language as well as some carols. What a multicultural celebration it was!
Let us finish the blog with a message from Pope Frances,
“This is how one builds peace, saying ‘no’ to hatred and violence — with action — and ‘yes’ to fraternity and reconciliation.”
Please continue to remember us in prayer.
We have had a busy year and its time to update on coming and goings.
Following an exciting Christmastide it was time to bid farewell to Sister Tetiwe and Sister Virginia as they left for further pastoral experience at Nazareth House Bonnyrigg, Edinburgh and Nazareth House Birkenhead. During this time the novice lives with the community; joining community prayers and the life of the community with the opportunity to assist in the ministry of the house. Sister Sikholiwe and Sister Telesia continued with their studies and life in the Novitiate and got their first touch of snow!
On the 2nd, we attended Holy Mass at Westminster Cathedral as we celebrated the year dedicated to Consecrated Life. This was followed by refreshments in the parish hall.
On Sunday 22nd we were delighted to welcome Cardinal Vincent Nichols who celebrated Holy Mass in our Church at Hammersmith.
On March 7, we attended ‘Flame2’ at Wembley Area; the largest National Catholic Youth event of 2015. The event seeks to ignite the flame of faith in young people, encouraging a new personal faith journey. It is a great opportunity to meet other young Catholics from across the country.
The Arena was filled with 10,000 young people from across the country, receiving faith-filled inspiration from world class speakers such as, Cardinal Luis Tagle from Manila, Philippines; Baroness Sheila Hollins; Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP; and David Wells.
Throughout the day the speakers gave input, interspersed with world class music and drama, in an atmosphere full of joy. Music was provided by double Grammy award winning Matt Redman and his band. The day ended with a time of Adoration led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The silence during this time was palpable.
After this, there was great delight as the two wanderers returned from their pastoral experience in time to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and St Joseph’s Day with us.
Our Easter Liturgies were extra special this year as we had Fr Kim from Korea as the main celebrant. The singing was multi-cultural; English, Shona, Samoan and Korean. Some people were very lucky at the egg hunt!
On May 4, we joined with thirty Sisters from the Region for 4 days of ‘Celebrating our Consecrated Life’ as Sisters of Nazareth at Walsingham. This was such as special time we have written a separate blog on this.
You can also read about the rest of our year in the next blog.
Our year continued with a special time, when, on May 4, we joined with thirty Sisters from the Region for 4 days of ‘Celebrating our Consecrated Life’ as Sisters of Nazareth at Walsingham.
Our first gathering as a group took place on the Monday evening with a short, prayer service and welcome. Sister Anna read out a letter from Sister Mary Anne, who reminded us that even though we had come on pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine, it was important that we had lots of fun too; I think it is safe to say that we did just that!
The following day after breakfast we had our first visit to the Holy house of Nazareth a very special start to the pilgrimage. After which we enjoyed a wonderful talk from the local historian who gives guided tours of the various points of interest within Walsingham. She was an excellent guide and all enjoyed learning more about the history of Walsingham. Our first Mass was held in the Crypt within the Abbey grounds and it was a wonderful spiritually uplifting experience.
After lunch it was time to walk the Holy Mile together as a group.
- We arrived at the catholic shrine for evening prayer and Benediction and had the privilege of venerating a relic of Saint John Paul.
We spent all day Wednesday at the catholic shrine, again walking the Holy Mile; this time by the scenic route, and stopping seven times as we recited the Dolour Rosary.
At 11am we went into the church for Stations of the Cross, and our Chaplin Fr. John concelebrated at the 12 noon Mass. After lunch we had Holy Hour with evening prayer, finishing with Benediction. A full day but again great witness and we were women of joy and happiness, fulfilling our mission as we celebrate the year of consecrated life. At 7pm when we gathered to walk a short distance to the Catholic Church in Walsingham where we attended the catholic Pilgrim Service. On Thursday the pilgrimage drew to a close with a visit as a group to the Holy House of Nazareth just as we had at the start of our few days. At 12 noon we said a fond farewell by singing the hymn to Our Lady of Walsingham and left for home. It was great to have Sister Marissa join us on the pilgrimage.
After Walsingham we had some special visitors
The first week of June was extra special for us as we had retreat week with John Patrick Crowley, retired Roman Catholic bishop of Diocese of Middlesbrough, England, who carries the honorary title of Bishop Emeritus.
June 10-13 we joined many people in Leicester Square for Spirit in the City. This is a celebration of Christian faith in the heart of London, hosted by the Catholic churches in the West End. The annual festival aims to share the Good news of Christianity, and welcomes people of all faiths, ages and walks of life in the middle of the entertainment district. It gives an opportunity to raise deeper questions about life. We are all searching for new ways to connect with God and others around us. The events feature live music, workshops, talks, opportunities for prayer, reflection and reconciliation. Spirit in the City was born as an initiative of the local churches in 2006, as response to the desire to share something of the Catholic faith with visitors and the West End community. The festival takes place in June over three-four days. It includes different types of prayer, talks about faith and outreach in the programme.
On June 16, we had a beautiful commemoration service in memory of our Foundress Victoire Larmenier and Sister Sikholiwe and Sister Telesia completed their spiritual year.
What better way to settle in to the UK than a couple of weeks at Nazareth House, Southend on Sea.
At the end of August we celebrated the arrival of a Banner representing our Consecrated Life as Sisters of Nazareth. This banner is journeying around Nazareth Houses in the UK Region and the communities are invited to celebrate their consecrated life.
On Saturday August 29, we joined ‘Sing Well and Pray Twice’ at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church; a summer day of music, prayer & fun with international composer Christopher Walker Workshop, Celebration of Mass & Lunch. The Banner journeyed with us!
Sisters Tetiwe and Virginia visited Larmenier and Sacred Heart School with the Banner. The school posted the following:
Wake Up The World!
This morning Sister Tetiwe and Sister Virginia from Nazareth House, Hammersmith, spoke to us during assembly.
They were talking about Pope Francis’ call to share with the world the religious vocations, and in particular they spoke about the Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth. They had a banner with them with photos of Sisters from all over the world showing the sorts of things that they do.
Sister Tetiwe and Sister Virginia are both Novices, which means they are in training. They explained to us that the Sisters wearing a white veil are in training and those wearing a blue veil have finished their training.,During the assembly they told us why they wanted to become Nuns. Sister Virginia said it was because she felt that she wanted to be like a mother to all children, and a priest suggested that it might be her calling to become a Nun.
Surprise party preparations for the Sisters before they leave.
Amidst all the excitement about the First Profession it was time for Sister Sikholiwe and Sister Telesia to go on pastoral placement. Sister Sikholiwe set off for Cheltenham and Sister Telesia to Manchester.
On September 17, Sister Tetiwe and Sister Virginia left for Zimbabwe to make their First Profession on the 24th.
Two newly professed Sisters.
A word from Sister Melissa Anne, Sister Bongani Ester, Sister Noeline and Sister Sipona Mary Agnes
A word from Sister Melissa Anne, Sister Bongani Ester, Sister Noeline and Sister Sipona Mary Agnes
Believe it or not we have almost completed our Novitiate and are busy these days preparing to return to our different regions. Sister Bongani and Sister Noeline are heading back to Africa for their First Profession on the 24th of September. Sister Melissa and Sister Sipona are heading back to Australia for their First Profession on the 1st of October. We are excited to be moving along to the next step on our vocational journey.
The two years of the Novitiate has gone very quickly. We have been blessed to meet each other and have the opportunity to share so much together over the last two years. We have formed firm friendships and will continue to support one another from a distance; one of the many blessing of modern technology.
Thank you to Sister Mary Anne and the Councillors, Sister Anna Maria and the Sisters in the UK Region. We say a most sincere thank you to Sister Bernadette, who has journeyed with us, through the good times and the challenging times offering words of wisdom and comfort. For all the others we met along the way during our Novitiate; thank you.
Please continue to pray for us.
We have been busy since we got back from holiday.
September 1, we were privileged to have Dr. Peter Hughes share his knowledge and love of our Foundress Victoire Larmenier and the early years of our Congregation.
This day was followed by a two day workshop run by Keith and John from Elford Consulting together with Sister Mary Anne, on the Journey of Hope which is part of the Congregational plan towards 2018.
Time for the four senior novices is drawing towards their First Profession and so the four Sisters set off to the Kairos Centre for a six day retreat.
The day the four novices returned from retreat there was a might flood in the community room so all hands on deck!
On September 18, the four Sisters received their habits which were blessed by Bishop Walsh in a very simple ceremony.
Clear Voices Festival 2014 Buckfast Abbey
At the end of June the eight of us novices together with Sister Marissa Barona and Sister Bernadette set off via mini bus to Buckfast Abbey for the Clear Voice Festival. The weekend was packed with inspiring seminars on various topics. There was also lots of fun and laughter as we joined the wonderful youth for pray and play, many of them had never spoken to a Sister before and so there were many ‘selfies’ taken with us at various times. We were delighted to be joined by the Sisters from the Plymouth community who kept us supplied with sweet treats.
Joining us in this photograph is David Wells, Director for Parish Formation, Diocese of Plymouth
Life is hard as a novice…….from Buckfast we headed to Southend on Sea for two weeks holiday where the weather was most kind to us!
We enjoyed golf
Then it was back to Hammersmith!
Our next blog will update you on our autumn life!
Over the past months there has been a lot of coming and going in the Novitiate. Sister Melissa Anne has been to spend time with the community in Lancaster, Sister Bongani Ester has been with the community in Southend, Sister Noeline has been with the community in Manchester and Sister Sipona Mary Agnes has been with the community in Finchley. During our time in the various communities we learned more about community life; we joined with the community for prayer and community living. We also had the opportunity to be involved in various ministries; care of the elderly, pastoral care, nursery care, catering, reception, life style activities, administration to mention a few. This time deepened our understanding of what we have been learning in the Novitiate.
And so home alone, are Sister Tetiwe and Sister Virginia with Sister Bernadette as we continue with our studies.
People from around London and indeed from all corners of the earth gathered together to celbrate and give witness to our Faith. There was opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration, Sacrament of Reconcilliation, prayer, praise and worship. We attended some of the seminars held over the few days and met lots of interesing people.
We were invited to the Monastic Profession of Sister Marie-Joseph Newsome at Tyburn Convent. What an inspiring day this was!
On June 16, a Congregational Feast Day when we offer thanksgiving for our Foundress Victoire Larmenier, in a simple but most meaningful ceremony Sister Telesia Angelina and Sister Sikholiwe were received into the Congregation by Sister Mary Anne, Superior General.
On Sunday we joined in the Eucharistic Procession at Holy Trinity, Brooke Green. It was lovely to see so many parishoners together with the First Communicants gathered together in prayer.
On Tuesday June 24, the wanderers returned from their Branch House experience and the Novitiate is now a hive of activity with eight novices plus Sister Marissa who is back with us this week for on going formation.
Next we head off to the Clear Voices Theology Festival at Buckfast Abbey.
Visit our website www.sistersofnazareth to read about the vision Sister Melissa and Sister Bongani each have for the future of the Congregation.
Under the guidance of Sister Bernadette our Novice Director, we, Sister Tetiwe and Sister Virginia are settling down to life as first year novices in the Novitiate. It is a very exciting time for us as we continue to discern our vocational call and learn more about living religious life as a Sister of Nazareth. Of the four second year novices; Sisters Melissa, Noeline, Bongani and Sipona two have gone out on pastoral experience; Sister Noeline to Nazareth House Southend and Sister Sipona to Nazareth House Glasgow. Sister Melissa and Sister Bongani are continuing with their studies while supporting us; the new arrivals.
On November 24, we had the privileged of being invited to attend Holy Mass at Westminster Cathedral for the closing of the year of Faith. What an inspiring event this was as many young people from around the Diocese of Westminster gathered in prayer and celebration.
Saint Andrews day was celebrated in great style with the residents enjoying a concert and with us trying to learn some country dancing!
Sisters Sipona and Noeline returned from their placements with lots of stories about new experiences; we are enjoying being six novices under one roof again! The build up to the Birth of Christ is underway. Here we are preparing the crib in the convent chapel.
On December 22, we were invited to visit our Sisters in Nazareth House Finchley, while there Archbishop Vincent Nichols arrived to visit with the community and the retired priest; together we enjoyed a tasty afternoon tea.
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