Sister Felicity Kelly, R.I.P.

Sr Felicity Kelly was born in 1942 in Rutland, Co. Carlow.  She entered Franciscan life in Littlehampton in 1957, aged fifteen, and made first profession of vows in 1960.  She then helped to care for the boys boarding at Copthorne school.  In 1968, she qualified as a RGN and was appointed to St Francis Nursing Home where she lived and worked for many years.  Later, when the Surgical Operating Theatre opened in St Francis, Sr Felicity, trained to become a theatre Sister and scrub nurse.  By 1983, she was Matron in St. Francis.  For many years, she went to Lourdes as a nurse to accompany the sick pilgrims and was a most popular helper.  In 1997, after the operating theatre in St Francis closed, Sr. Felicity went to work in Worthing Hospital and lived in St Joseph’s Convent, Littlehampton.  When not at the hospital, she spent much time visiting parishioners and former patients in the local area.  Sister served on the General Council from 2008 and moved to St. Anne’s community in Burgess Hill, providing pastoral assistance in the residential home and local Parish.

Sister Felicity celebrated her Golden Jubilee of religious profession in 2010.  In 2014, Sr Felicity returned to St Joseph’s Community.  In 2016, she was sadly diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition.  As this illness progressed, she moved to St Joseph’s Nursing Home as a patient, maintaining her great interest in other’s welfare through friendship and intercessory prayer.  She departed this life on 22nd February 2020.  May she enjoy her eternal reward and continue to intercede for us all.

Reception of two novices in India

On 6th July 2020, postulants Sathya and Sujatha were received into Novitiate in St. Anthony’s Convent, Belwadi, witnessed by the whole community and by Rev. Fr. Jinto of the Missionaries of Compassion.

They join novices Suman, Manju and Fatima, who are beginning their second year of Novitiate.

The first year of novitiate will be Sathya and Sujatha’s spiritual year.

Under the guidance of their formator, Sister Promodini, they will study the meaning of our way of life, the vows of poverty chastity and obedience that shape it, the Gospel that inspires it and the Rule and Constitutions of our Franciscan Congregation

which direct it.  Most importantly, they will have the opportunity to deepen their relationship with God in prayer through Jesus Christ.

Please pray for Sathya and Sujatha and for the community in Belwadi in this important work.

Transitus

‘Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth,

Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust,

Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace,

May peace fill our hearts; our world, our universe,

Peace, peace, peace.’

The Transitus of Saint Francis

On the evening of 3rd October, Franciscans and their friends all over the world celebrate what we call Francis’ passing from death to life, which took place on 3rd October 1226. ‘Transitus’ is a Latin word which means crossing over.  Francis had followed the life and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ so closely that at the end of his earthly life he had a certain hope of crossing over with Christ from mortality to everlasting life.  In the confidence of this faith, he felt moved even to welcome death as his Sister and to praise God for her.  Francis’ holy death on 3rd October 1226 remains to this day an inspiration to Franciscans worldwide.  Our commemoration of his passing represents for us the reason for the hope that we hold in following Jesus Christ.  It reminds us that if, like Francis, we model our lives on the Gospel, receiving everything from God with gratitude and holding back nothing that we can give of ourselves, we too can face death without fear.  Sister Death becomes simply the completion of the gift of our earthly lives back to God.  With Francis, we can then look forward to passing over with Christ into the joy of eternal life with God.

St. Bonaventure, inspired by the Transitus of his founder St. Francis, writes:

‘So it is that, though Francis, God invites all truly spiritual persons to this sort of passing over, more by example than by words.’[1]

Let us die, then, and enter into this darkness.  Let us silence all our cares, our desires, and our imaginings.  Let us pass over with the crucified Christ ‘from this world to the Father’, so that when the Father has been shown to us, we may say with Philip: ‘“It is enough for us.”’  Let us hear with Paul: ‘”My grace is sufficient for you”’ (Jn 13:1; 14:8; 2Cor 12:9); and let us exult with David, saying: ‘My flesh and my heart waste away; you are the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever.  Blessed be the Lord forever, and let all the people say: “let it be, let it be.  Amen (Pss 73:26; 106:48).”’[2]

[1]Cirino, A. and J. Raischl, The Journey Into God: A Forty Day Retreat with Bonaventure, Francis and Clare (St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, 2002) p. 400.
[2]Ibid. p. 402.

Sr. Martha R.I.P.

Sister Martha Geraghty FMSL

1933-2019

Sister Martha, born Rose Geraghty in Clonard, Ireland, entered Franciscan life in Littlehampton in 1953.  She was preceded in this by her elder sister Kathleen, who took the religious name Sister Stanislaus.  She trained as a nurse and served in this capacity in St. Francis Nursing Home for thirty six years.

In 1999, Sister Martha came to St. Joseph’s Convent, Littlehampton, as Community Leader until 2008, when she moved to St. Annes Burgess Hill as Community Leader.  In the Care Home, she supported staff, residents and their families and was also active in pastoral outreach around the local Parish

In 2014, she moved back to St. Joseph’s Community and in the following year, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee of religious profession.  In the summer of 2019, she became ill and in July, moved to St Joseph’s Nursing Home, where she was cared for until she passed away peacefully on 11th September 2019.

Sister Martha’s Requiem Mass was celebrated by Fr. Tony Baya OFM, concelebrated by Canon Seamus Hester, Msgr Michael Jackson, Fr. David Russell, Fr. Rick McGrath, Fr. Carl Davies and Fr. Albert Van der Most, in St. Joseph’s Convent Chapel on 8th October 2019.

Sister Martha had been elected onto the General Council at the General Chapter in 2017.  She brought much valuable experience to this role, having previous served a maximum term of nine years continuously as a General Councillor.  Her presence and contribution to the Congregation are greatly missed and we trust she is still supporting us by her prayers as we move towards our 2020 Chapter and beyond.  May she live on in God’s love, Amen.

Renewals of vows

In August 2019, Sisters and parishioners were blessed to witness the annual renewals of vows by six of our Sisters, received by Sister Clare Bernadette, Mother General.  The Sisters’ commitment was renewed during Masses in St. Joseph’s Convent chapel, Littlehampton, celebrated by the Chaplain, Canon Seamus Hester.

We thank God that Sisters Innocentia and Attracta, who were the first among the group to enter, made their Final Profession of vows on 15th August 2020.

The other four Sisters renewed their vows for one year on 2nd August 2020.

Please pray for Sisters Innocentia, Attracta, Helina, Esther, Marcellina and Patricia that they may remain faithful and inspiring witnesses in their commitment to the Lord.

Sister Fabian RIP

1932-2019

 

Sister Fabian Browne, from County Limerick in Ireland, entered Franciscan life in Littlehampton in 1947, aged sixteen.  She served in many places throughout the UK over the years, usually in a ministry of hospitality: in Littlehampton, Copthorne, Bishops’ houses in Newcastle and Leeds and Mission House in London.  She was awarded both the Diocesan Medal and a Papal Benemerenti for her work in Leeds.  Her later years were spent in St. Joseph’s Littlehampton.  After a short illness and a stay in Brighton Hospital, she was transferred to St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, where she passed on peace fully on 28th July 2019.  Her Requiem Mass was on 14th August, celebrated by Fr. Tony Baya OFMCap.  We thank God for the gift Sister Fabian was to all of us and ask her to continue to pray for each of us and for vocations.

New novice UK

On 22nd July 2019, Sister Helen FMSL was received into Novitiate during Evening Prayer in St. Joseph’s, Littlehampton.  Her reception brought to a close a beautiful annual retreat in St. Joseph’s led by Fr. Kieran Fitzsimons OFM.  Father Kieran read the blessing of St. Francis for Helen and Sr. Clare Bernadette read a blessing of St. Clare:

‘I Clare, a servant of Christ, a little plant of our most holy father Francis, …bless you during my life and after my death, as I am able out of all the blessings with which the Father of mercies has and does bless His sons and daughters, in heaven and on earth, and a spiritual father and mother have blessed and bless their spiritual sons and daughters.  Always be a lover of your soul and those of all our Sisters …and may you always be eager to observe what you have promised the Lord..

May the Lord always be with you and may you always be with Him.’

Amen.

Sister Helen will be based in the Novitiate house in Hollington under the guidance of Sister Rose.  Please remember them in your prayers.

Novices in India

On 15th July 2019, Sisters Suman, Manju and Fatima FMSL were received into Novitiate in St. Francis Convent, Mysore, during Mass celebrated by Fr. Jinto Thomas.  They were presented with the symbol of our Novitiate, a silver coloured San Damiano Crucifix, by Sister Promodini, who will be their Formator.

Please join us in praying for the Sisters, as they strive to deepen their relationship with Christ and their understanding of our Franciscan life over the next two years and prepare to take religious vows.

Novitiate in Hollington

On the evening of 27th June, a Mass was celebrated by Rt Rev. Bishop Richard Moth in Holy Redeemer Church, Hollington in thanksgiving for the opening of the FMSL Novitiate house in Upper Church Road.  The new convent is a house belonging to the Parish opposite the Holy Redeemer Church and the adjacent Convent of Poor Clares.  It is planned that the new Novitiate community will collaborate with the Poor Clares in some prayers and community activities.

Concelebrants at the Mass were the diocesan Vicar for religious, Fr. Stephen Ortiger OSB as well as the Parish priest, Fr. Miceal Beatty and Fr. Desmond Baker.  Franciscan Sisters and friends of the FMSL with Poor Clare Sisters and parishioners joined in the thanksgiving Mass.  After the service, Bishop Richard, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, led the Congregation in procession across the road to the convent.  There, the Blessed Sacrament was solemnly installed with prayer and thanksgiving in the tabernacle of the convent chapel.

Afterwards, the Bishop, priests, guests and Sisters gathered for refreshments in the house and garden.  A group of FMSL members did a dance of thanksgiving outside the house.

The new Novitiate house is named La Verna, after the mountain on which St. Francis received the gift of the stigmata in 1224, at the end of a forty-day retreat.  To this same mountain in 1259, the Franciscan theologian St. Bonaventure withdrew in solitude to reflect upon this miraculous event in St. Francis’ life.  The result of these meditations was his great spiritual work ‘The Journey of the Mind into God’.

 

We thank God for the support of Bishop Richard and the generous welcome received from Fr. Beatty, members of the parish and Poor Clare Community.  Their help and prayers have enabled us to set out on this new venture with hope and trust in God.  We invite you to join us in praying that the FMSL continue to be blessed with new vocations and that the community in La Verna together with the Poor Clares will bear fruit in a growing Franciscan witness in the future.