Our Patronal Feast this year was quite special! Many of us were going to meet the new General Leadership Team for the first time and despite the gloomy predictions of the Weather Man (who forecast rain for the afternoon), about 130 sisters arrived! They came from everywhere - Zambia, Nigeria, Los Angeles, Scotland, England and Ireland!
The very heavy rains necessitated a change of plans for the Religious Service. It was held in Lakelands Convent Chapel - which was beautifully decorated for the occasion. Chairs and stools were requisitioned from everywhere, but they were not enough for the big gathering, and so many were happy to sit on radiators or stand at the back! The Prayer Service was very beautifully planned around the outgoing and incoming Leadership Teams. The Outgoing Team members were asked to come forward and the following Thanksgiving Prayer was said for them: Lord bless our sisters and the work they have done for the Congregation during the past six years. We thank you for their giftedness and the generosity with which they answered your call to service in the Congregation. May your transforming power continue to grow in them. The Incoming Team then stood and we prayed God's Blessing on them as they begin their tasks. We prayed for:
The gift of Vision, to see with heaven's eyes so that people will be safe in your presence.
The gift of Conviction, that you become the song of the Gospel to others.
The gift of Compassion, to always be a healing presence, bending low to wash feet and heal wounds, bringing gracious love to all in need.
The gift of Poverty to be at home with emptiness, a willing space for God, an openness to His presence in others.
The gift of Hope, to stand on tiptoe with the whole world, waiting for re-birth, growth, new life.
The gift of Reverence to hold sacred the gift of each person, ever proclaiming the value of all creation, reverencing God's work of art in each and in all.
In keeping with Our Lady's lovely Feastday we then prayed that we would all imitate Mary with the following responses to various prayers through her intercession: May our lives sing Yes to God with Mary. Teach us, Lord, Mary's gift of contemplation. May the Spirit of courage sustain our faith as it did Mary's. May we, like Mary, learn to see more deeply into things. Lord, give us what you gave Mary, a hint of hope when things are dark. In company with Mary, may prayer be the heart of our discipleship.
After the Prayer Service we all went across to Caritas for a lovely afternoon tea and chat! The rain continued unabated outside, but it didn't dampen our spirits. It was great to meet with friends from far and near - sisters we hadn't seen for many years (some since Noviciate days!).
Anne Lally RSC