Contemplatives at the heart of the world following Jesus at Bethlehem and Nazareth
On the 13 November 2005 Little Br Charles of Jesus, Charles de Foucauld was declared Blessed in St Peters, Rome and we want to celebrate with all those who know him and are inspired by his life.
Following in his footsteps, it is like a new phase that is starting - a new challenge is being presented to us through constantly turning to Jesus in the Gospels and being nourished by the Eucharist. He shows us the path of Nazareth, sharing the day to day life, living conditions, work and dreams especially of those who are not easily reached by other forms of Church ministry or whose day to day life is marked by division, racism, poverty or violence.
It is our hope that through our contemplation of Jesus’ saving Presence among us that our lives too will become ‘a presence’ of the love of God for others. We try to be attuned to the hunger and questions of those whose lives we share with an open heart seeking to take one step forward together.
Here in Hackney, we live in a Council flat on the 13th floor of a Tower Block. The East-End of London has traditionally been the first port of call for every wave of immigration and the meeting of cultures and races brings with it many challenges. We are five for the moment:
Little sister Patricia works at St Joseph’s Hospice for the Dying. It is a privilege to be there and a place of contemplation to be in contact with people from every faith and culture who prepare for the final passage, where each one’s life story is achieved and handed over.
Little sister Claire also through various voluntary jobs is in touch with the pain that comes through lack of acceptance and of being integrated into a loving community.
Little Sister Catharine, after 12 years as a Home Carer in the area puts energy into building up community, giving time to neighbours, local friends and groups and having a special concern to pray and share with young people who are searching.
Little Sister Wambui is from Kenya and her presence in our parish is precious to build links with the African community. Little Sister Askale, from Ethiopia is with us for a few months and through her we have made many new friends from her country.
There is a second ‘fraternity’, in Portobello, famous for its market. Our small flat is an open house for prayer and friendship reaching out especially to the Traveller community, those suffering from the loneliness of old age, illness, addiction or stigmas of any sort including those barriers set up between Churches, races and religions.
We also have a community in Walsingham, a little village in Norfolk, which has been a place of pilgrimage to Our Lady, since the 10th Century. The heart of the Walsingham message is Nazareth and the community seek to live this Nazareth way by being a praying presence of friendship not only in the village but also among the many visitors and pilgrims. We have a pottery workshop at the back of the house where we make Christmas cribs expressing the simplicity, peace and joy of Bethlehem. For all of us Bethlehem leaves its special print on our lives giving us the confidence to say, alongside those whose lives are broken, that it is O.K. to be who we are.
In Northern Ireland our community is in Bishopscourt near Downpatrick on an ex-R.A.F. base. The sufferings resulting from the conflict make people vulnerable in many different ways but in sharing and supporting one another new seeds of life are sown. The quality of relationships is enhanced through accepting difference and through the strength of living in truth. For the Little sisters this is a priority. They feel they are there to encourage every little seed that builds up community. They take an active part in different community groups such as a local craft group and give all their support to new projects and ideas that bring people together. They love to welcome all who come and they have a trailer at the back of the house for times of retreat.
148 Fellows Court, WeymouthTerrace, London E2 8LW. Tel:02077293605