Issue 8 – May 2008
“They were gathered … “
Extended Family at Penmaenmawr, 4-6 April
On a cold Friday evening at the beginning of April, over thirty people, RSHM and lay, from France, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, gathered at Noddfa for what was both a ‘leap of faith’ (for the organisers) and a ‘leap in the dark’ (for the participants). The concept of ‘Extended Family’ is still bit of a mystery for most of us, but the Core Group, aided and abetted by the Province, trusted that ‘seeds’ would germinate in fertile ground. Even though it was two weeks after Easter there was the promise, and indeed the delivery of snow, but the warmth of the welcome and atmosphere at Noddfa provided just the right conditions for ‘green blades’ to grow. The weekend could have been seen merely as a publicity exercise, promoting the Extended Family cause, but from the outset it proved to be a vehicle for exploration, discovery, and indeed inspiration. Participants immediately relaxed and displayed complete willingness to share - there was no holding back or reluctance. This helped create a wonderful atmosphere, a real sense of unity, a sense that people were open to furthering their knowledge and commitment. There was a truly out-going feeling, and a spirit of being at a ‘family’ gathering, giving and receiving life. Whatever personal diffi-culties we were living through, we agreed with one participant who said “I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be”. During the Provincial Chapter in
Sue Black, NEP EF Core Group) shared our gifts, experiencing the many different forms of sharing.
“The whole weekend was wonderful, inspiring, challenging”
“There are no strangers here, only friends who have never met.”
This was very true of the gathering of the Extended Family in Noddfa. And yet the Extended Family is not just friends gathering for a cup of tea and a chat. There is a more deliberate sharing of our spirit.
“Learning about Jean Gailhac and the work of the sisters
has been a real inspiration”
We from the
“I believe it has given us all a better idea of what we want EF to be, and made us all more committed.”
at ease. The programme that had been set out proved to be very interesting and the group discussions enabled us to get a greater understanding of what the Order did and how the EF worked for and with the Sisters. Memories of that time are the feeling of community, especially at the evening Mass and the lighting of our group candles in the beautiful chapel, and of course meeting so many great people, religious and laity. What we came to realise was that we will continue to support our sisters in every way we can.
“Missioning” – passing on the light to take back to
our own communities
“… it was worth missing our football for!!”
Ron & Marie Davis,
From April 4th – 6th, we had a weekend in Pen like no other. We shared our faith, our hopes, our fears, our realities. We listened to each other’s stories and learnt about courage, openness and determination. We admired the efforts of many and felt for those who were nervous about beginning. We suggested sharing and networking as a means of supporting each other.
We heard about places around the world where Extended Family is operating, and had a sense of being part of a much larger and varied group, and are convinced of the preciousness of this movement given to us by the Holy Spirit. We laughed and cried, danced and sang. The culmination of the latter was the party on Saturday evening, during which the roof was in danger of lifting off. A wonderful group of people had gathered and they empowered one another to go forth.
Sr. Sheila Morgan, Upminster
“This weekend has been so spiritual for me.”
As we travelled from Euston to Penmaenmawr and the scenery improved, we thought with anticipation about what we were going to be doing. This was our first visit and the welcome we received was wonderful. We sincerely hope it will not be our last visit. It was a joy from beginning to end – even the snow did not deter us.
In a small group with Ealing and
All in all, it was a very blessed time.
Teresa Frost & Sharon Morrell, Upminster
“Inspired to get started.”
The members of the SHM EF are women and men who desire feeling our way to the achievement of those Guidelines. THANK YOU to Sr. Catherine Dolan and Sr.Margaret Fielding for giving up precious Sabbatical time to share their global view of Extended Family with us; to Sr. Barbara and the Province for supporting, encouraging and facilitating the weekend; to the team at Penmaenmawr for their wonderful hospitality, and creating such a marvellous atmosphere in which to meet; to Fr. Peter Verity from and to everyone who came, and threw themselves into the weekend so wholeheartedly, and with such spirit.
The members of the SHM EF are women and men who desire
feeling our way to the achievement of those Guidelines.
to Sr. Catherine Dolan and Sr.Margaret Fielding for giving up precious Sabbatical time to share their global view of Extended Family with us;
to Sr. Barbara and the Province for supporting, encouraging and facilitating the weekend;
to the team at Penmaenmawr for their wonderful hospitality, and creating such a marvellous atmosphere in which to meet;
to Fr. Peter Verity from
and to everyone who came, and threw themselves into the weekend so wholeheartedly, and with such spirit.
And around the time we were gathering at Noddfa,
the American Provinces were also holding EF meetings.
On April 6th the RSHM and Extended Family members met in
Two Marymount students presented a project they had worked on to test the safety of drinking water in other parts of the world.
It was a very informative day, in a brief time giving us facts that can impact on our living and on lives of those around the world, showing ways we can change our living an use of the earth, and giving us a deeper awareness of those we share this universe with, and a kind and gentle consciousness of Mother Earth.
More than 50 members of the SHM Extended Family, joined by Msgr. Dennis Sheehan and several RSHM, gathered at Cormaria the weekend of April 11-13 for the annual Extended Family Retreat. The theme was: Come to the Quiet. Sisters Ann Marino and Virgina McNally gave the presentations. On Friday evening, Michaeline O'Dwyer read some antiphons for Spring from "The Circle of Life" by Rupp and Widerkehr.
Ann Marino, in her presentation on prayer, spoke of willingness and waiting as parts of the process - willingness to ask, and waiting to hear the reply. Later in the day, Ginny McNally spoke of Micah's reminder that "God asks us only this: to
act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God."
Msgr. Sheehan in his homily during the Eucharistic Liturgy, spoke of the image of Jesus not only as the good shepherd who knew his sheep but also as the gatekeeper who would keep his sheep from harm.
Retreatants found the time of quiet restorative. "I came with a heavy heart," wrote one. "You made it lighter." Another shared that it "showed us that we all share happiness and sorrow and we all need the love of Jesus to see new light."
Footnotes to Noddfa:
J Who would have guessed that it would be Sister Kathleen O’Donovan who organised the sweepstake on the Grand National horse race!!! J
There are more pictures from Noddfa on the web-site - http://www.rshm-nep.org/
And the Core group will be meeting soon to prepare summaries for the Noddfa participants.
Please note our change of postal address, from 2nd June 2008:
Sue & Patrick Black
Phone: 01904 760331
(Outside UK 0044 1904 760331)
Best wishes from the SHM EF Core Group (NEP)
'That all may have life'
Julie Thomas, Fazakerley
I felt as though I was returning to friends, when in fact it was my first visit to Penmaenmawr. I enjoyed listening to other lay people tell their stories, how they became involved with the sisters and became part of the Extended Family. I found it fascinating to learn about the many parts of the world the sisters serve in, and
“Telling their stories” the work undertaken by them.
Joanne Simie, Fazakerley
''Perhaps I was guided here in my journey.”
An Emmaus Family
I can hear it now - “That’s an odd picture to put on the front page …”
And yet, somehow, it seems to encapsulate the weekend at Noddfa. There’s the obvious joy of being together, and living life to the full. But look a little closer.
It was the weekend of the Emmaus Gospel reading, and there we all are, gathered at table, ready to break bread together. The table, that place where we break ourselves open, where we reveal ourselves to each other, where we discover who the other person is.
At a family meal, the table is the place where we bond, where we are nourished and enriched by those around us. It is a place to learn our history, pass on our traditions, and plan for the future within those traditions. We learn of the world and its challenges, and begin to understand the needs of others and how to treat all of God’s creation.