New novices received in India

On the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, 25th March, three postulants were received into Novitiate during Evening Prayer in St Francis Convent, Mysore.  They are Sisters Jyotsna, Monica and Riyona.  We thank God for having called them to our community and given them the grace to respond.  They journey in faith under the guidance of Sister Promodini, whose Feast day was also celebrated on 25th March.  Sisters were able to zoom in from other countries by video call to watch the service.  Please remember Jyotsna, Monica and Riyona in your prayers as they begin this new stage in their commitment to God.

R.I.P. Br. Malachy OFM

Rest in peace Brother Malachy Seymour OFM
15th October 1934-31st December 2020

As a child, Brother Malachy came to live with the Sisters in Littlehampton during the Second World War when his hometown of Brighton was being bombed.
Later, as a young man, he did his National Service in the Royal Artillery. He served in Egypt during the Suez Crisis. On return home, he worked on various jobs, gardening, a dustman and cultivated an allotment in his own time. His family moved to Liverpool and there he got a job at Speke Airport, now John Lennon Airport.
In the 1960s, he joined the Friars Minor and did his postulancy in Woodford Green. He took the religious name ‘Malachy’ in tribute to our Sister Malachy FMSL, who had helped to care for him in Littlehampton as a boy. As a student friar, he trained in cabinet making in a local college. He did his novitiate in Chilworth. After profession of vows in 1970, he was posted to East Bergholt as sacristan. In 1974, he went to Forest Gate and did some of the cooking and looked after the door. In 1977 he served in Glasgow for a time as door-keeper. He then served as cook, sacristan and door-keeper in the Friars’ communities in Ascot, Gorton, Manchester and then in Forest Gate until that friary closed in 2002. After this, he was based in Woodford on light duties as he gradually became frailer. As a friar who served in the area of hospitality for most of his life, he was always concerned to make sure that each community member and visitor was included and provided for.
He used to take his holidays each year in Littlehampton, where the Sisters always looked forward to welcoming him back. He was a gentle and cheerful brother who was solicitous to pray for many people’s needs and intentions during his life on earth.
God called Brother Malachy home on 31st December 2020. May he rest in God’s peace and continue to pray for us.

Sponsored Skydive

On 20th May, 2017, Sister Clare Bernadette took part in a sponsored skydive in aid of Worthing Churches Homeless Projects at Netheravon airfield near Salisbury. Sisters Elizabeth Varghese, Clare Bowers and Rose with Fr. Anthony McNeil, plus fundraising supporter Alex Mason went along to observe. After a successful jump and landing, the sponsorship funds totalled more than £2,000. Thanks to all who contributed and supported this venture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCxxhPMuSXE

Sr. Dominic Platinum Jubilee

On 25th March, we celebrated the Platinum Jubilee of Sister Dominic. This occasion marks seventy years of life consecrated to God through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The Jubilee day in St. Joseph’s Convent, Littlehampton, began with Mass celebrated by Rt. Rev. Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and other concelebrants. The homily was preached by Fr. Richard Biggerstaff who knew Sister Dominic from Lourdes pilgrimages over the years.

Bishop Richard presented Sr. Dominic with a framed Papal blessing signed by Pope Francis. Mass was followed by a festive lunch in St. Joseph’s. We thank God and congratulate Sister Dominic for this inspiring witness of fidelity in wholehearted dedication to Christ and the Gospel message.

Sister Dominic made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in July-August with the Diocese to give thanks to God for the occasion of her Jubilee.

St. Joseph’s Nursing Home Garden Party

On Thursday 2nd June 2022, a garden party was held in St. Joseph’s Convent grounds to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  The weather was glorious.  All the residents with the staff came out to enjoy the sun, music and delicious party food from St Joseph’s kitchen.

The residents also had invited guests from among their friends and relatives.

Two more Sisters profess vows in India

 

 
 
 

On 6th July, 2022, Sisters Sathya and Sujatha made their first profession of vows during Mass in St. Anthony’s Convent, Belwadi.

 

They join Sisters Fatima and Manju at this stage of Temporary Profession. During this stage in their vocational journey, Sisters continue their religious and professional training while renewing their vows annually, for five years, until they make their solemn or final profession of vows, which is a lifetime commitment to the Lord’s service.  The Sisters in Temporary Profession are accompanied and guided by Sister Deepa Thomas.

Please pray for these Sisters that they will trust in the Lord’s guidance and providence as they continue their Franciscan journey in faith.

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.’

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).”’

[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.

Diamond Jubilee of Ordination

On 2nd June 2023, Canon Seamus Hester, Chaplain in St Joseph’s Convent, celebrated sixty years of service in ordained ministry. A thanksgiving Mass was held in St Joseph’s chapel.  Canon Seamus concelebrated the liturgy with Msgr Benedict O’Shea and Dom Stephen Ortiger OSB.  Deacon Adrian Burnett preached the homily. 

At the end of Mass, Sr Clare Bowers, Mother General, presented Canon Seamus with a papal blessing in honour of his sixty years of priesthood.

The Jubilee Mass was streamed on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/Pm_aCymziwk

We thank God for our chaplain’s many years of dedicated service to the Church and particularly to all in St Joseph’s Convent and Nursing Home.

 

 

 

Novices received in India

 

On 8th April 2024, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, two postulants in Mysore community were received to begin the two-year Novitiate stage of their religious formation.  Betsy Matthew and Luncha Mary were received as Novices in a short ceremony during evening prayer in St Anthony’s Covent, Belwadi. 

The whole Indian Community was present for the reception as well as Sisters in St. Joseph’s Littlehampton, who joined them by video call.  The new Sisters expressed their desire to continue their training in the FMSL.  They received the book of the Gospels, a copy of the Rule and FMSL Constitutions and the Crucifix from Sr Promodini, the Community Leader.  At the end of evening prayer, Betsy Matthew offered thanks on behalf of herself and Luncha Mary.  They expressed appreciation to Sr Sujatha, who had instructed and accompanied them through postulancy, to Mother General and Council, and to the Community in the UK and India who supported them.

Sisters Luncha Mary and Betsy Matthew will be based in St Anthony’s Convent during their next two years as novices.  Under the direction of Sr Promodini, they will follow a spiritual programme of training in consecrated life as FMSL to prepare them for their first profession of religious vows.  They will join second-year novices Jyotsna, Monica and Riyona in this stage. 

We praise and thank God for his blessings in increasing our community and we ask you to remember our novices and their formators in your prayers.

 
 

First Professions of Vows in India

On 28th July, 2021, Sisters Manju and Fatima made their first profession of vows in St Anthony’s Convent, Belwadi. 

The Profession ceremony took place during Mass in the convent chapel. 

The Sisters pronounced their vows in the presence of Sister Martha and of Sister Anne Joseph, who founded the FMSL mission in India.  The Sisters vowed to live in poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi.  This written form of life consists of the writings of two Saints – Francis and Clare of Assisi, and was approved in 1982 by another Saint – Pope John Paul II. 

Sister Manju and Fatima received the habit and veil of the FMSL Congregation as a sign of their consecration.  Due to the pandemic, the gathering was restricted to the community and one priest. 

Even so, the Sisters made this a celebratory occasion to remember. 

Please pray for Sisters Manju and Fatima as they begin a life consecrated in the Lord’s service.  We thank God for their generosity and commitment.

Newly Professed Sisters with Postulants