“Language was no barrier because regardless of where we originate we all speak the same language of love and we all aim to serve.”

Sr Maureen, seated, far right

Sr Maureen, seated, far right

 A report from the recent UISG plenary meeting, By Sr Maureen Murphy FMSJ

This was the third conference of the International Union of Superiors General I had attended as a congregational leader and by far the best. I was one of over eight hundred leaders of Women’s Religious Congregations from more than eighty countries who gathered in the basement of a large hotel in Rome.   The theme of the conference was “Sowers of Prophetic Hope” and the following subjects were covered in depth with speeches which were streamed live on the UISG website and videos on Youtube: 

Sr Maureen’s table group committing to planting seeds of hope

Sr Maureen’s table group committing to planting seeds of hope

·        A Vision for the Future of Religious Life 

·        Sowers of Prophetic Hope for the Planet from a Biblical Perspective and the Presentation of the UISG Campaign Sowing Hope for the Planet 

·        Living Interculturally as a sign of prophetic hope 

·        The Call to Inter Religious Dialogue 

After each presentation by highly qualified female speakers there was table conversation between the ten Sisters at each table divided into language groups around the large hall.  Translation was provided in thirteen languages. This provided opportunities for lively discussions as many topics are lived out in different ways in our various cultural contexts. A sentence summarising the content of the presentations was produced by each group and fed back to the plenary. 

Reports were given on the work of the Executive Committee in the past three years and these included growing contact with various Vatican dicasteries, attendance at Synods and the projects run by UISG - especially Solidarity in South Sudan and Talitha Kum, the anti trafficking initiative, which was celebrating the ten years of its existence with a very graphic exhibition of photographs showing Sisters of all nationalities working very much with the most vulnerable people on earth. 

In the short breaks between sessions,  old friends found one another and new relationships were formed. Language was no barrier because regardless of where we originate we all speak the same language of love and we all aim to serve. 

Mass at St Peter’s

Mass at St Peter’s

On 10th May, the last day of the Conference we made our way in taxis and buses to St Peter’s where Cardinal Braz de Avis celebrated Mass for us and we then made our way to Paul vi hall for an audience with Pope Francis. He entered the hall to cheers and choruses of singing especially from the Sisters from South America.

Before sitting at the table provided for him to sit with the President of our Executive Board, Sister Carmen Summut,  Pope Francis asked for the big winged armchair provided for him to be exchanged to a simple dining chair -  the same as the one provided for Sr Carmen. A sure sign of humility and equality. Discarding the long speech he had written - which he gave to Sr Carmen to circulate to us because he said it was boring and he would rather just speak with us - he welcomed us and thanked us for our loving service all over the world but emphasised that we should serve but not be in servitude particularly to clergy.  If we want to cook and clean we should do so for the vulnerable and sick not for priests who can employ people to do such work - while we evangelise by our presence.

An audience with Pope Francis

An audience with Pope Francis

Asked about the report commissioned to look at the possibility of women deacons Pope Francis told us that the theologians are still at work but we need to pray that they can come to a consensus.  The previous day he had issued a Moto Proprio about child abuse and he mentioned this in the context also of the abuse of Religious. A question asked by a Sister from South Sudan pleading for the early appointment of new bishops to replace those who retire because their leadership is essential in inter religious dialogue and the search for peace received a reply that it was very important but finding the right people who are capable of leadership and fluent in languages was often difficult. 

Before leaving the hall Pope Francis was introduced to the Executive Board members and the delegates from around the world representing the Sisters in their various countries. As the delegate for the UK I felt enormously privileged to shake the hand of this humble and simple man who asked each one of us to pray for him. 

Meetings of the delegates continued on Monday and Tuesday the following week and we elected the new Executive who in turn chose the new president, Sister Iolanda Kafta,  from Poland. 

We left feeling that we had experienced something beautiful and life giving and it is up to us now to share the content with our own Sisters and local Conferences of Religious in whatever ways we can in order to become Sowers of Seeds for the Planet and prophetic witnesses of hope. 

Sister Maureen Murphy, fmsj 

Congregational Leader 

 

 

Providing homes - to help families rebuild broken lives

Sr Jean Quinn

Sr Jean Quinn

By Sister Jean Quinn, Daughter of Wisdom

[Sr Jean founded Sophia Housing in 1997 as a national organisation in Ireland,  which cares and supports people with complex mental health and addiction needs who are also homeless.  Sister Jean is also executive director of UNANIMA International, a United Nations-based coalition of Catholic religious congregations focused on concerns of women, children, migrants and the environment].

The contrast could not have been starker:   Just before Easter, ‘Sophia Housing’ hosted a morning of reflection on the possible development of Wisdom centres as part of our ongoing programme of providing homes and vital support for those emerging from homelessness. For 20 years Sophia has been offering a person-centred model of care for individuals and families struggling to rebuild broken lives. Central to our strategy is the provision of homes, reflecting our passionate belief that poverty and homelessness can only be solved through the strategic provision of affordable and sustainable housing, not just “accommodation.” Sophia’s slogan is “providing homes, supporting people”, reflecting a philosophy which recognises that the provision of physical space alone is an inadequate response.

The day after we met,  Ireland’s Office of the Ombudsman for Children published its disturbing findings in ‘No Place Like Home’ -  the first publicly-funded consultation with homeless children in family hubs.

Sophia has long believed that hotels and family hubs are not the solution to the homeless crisis. While hubs may be safer than hotels, they lack the stability of homes. As a society we can, and must, do better.

Currently Sophia Housing supports 617 adults and 169 children, while another 134 people are supported through our outreach programmes. Respect for the dignity of each person is our cornerstone and informs all our actions.

Sophia works with those who come to us at their own pace, providing vital care services and a pathway to independence. Those who turn to us bear the scars of poverty and social exclusion, and come from a variety of backgrounds.

Tranquil space:

The principles of what we call trauma-informed care underpin our approach to medical treatment and to the physical and social environment.

In Dublin’s Cork Street a feature of the complex, in the heart of one of the oldest parts of the capital, is a Wisdom Centre, a bright, tranquil space surrounded by a garden and water.

With its emphasis on space and light, the building provides a safe place to seek wisdom of mind, heart and spirit. The layout is designed to create a sense of belonging, and the centre reinforces that community spirit.

Stakeholders, including representatives of the religious congregations who provide funding for Sophia, recently met to discuss the exciting possibility of including similar Wisdom centres in other projects as we develop our work.

As a Daughter of Wisdom I’m proud of the supportive role played by religious congregations in the work of Sophia. Many congregations have given property to Sophia for use as homes. As the needs for large properties declines these congregations are ensuring that buildings will continue to serve those most in need in different ways.

I am acutely aware of our rich heritage of service and commitment to social justice. Religious sisters continue this tradition in different ways, and new models are emerging throughout the world.

Our voices:

For my own part I am currently executive director of UNANIMA International. It is a coalition of communities of religious women who seek to use our voices and experiences in the fields of health, education and social policy to shape UN policy.

As executive director I represent 22 congregations with 20,000 members in over 80 countries. Our priority has been to put the provision of adequate homes at the centre of UN policy, and my work has been shaped by my experience as a founder of Sophia.

Making the right to a home a human right seemed a modest ambition when I set out on this journey. At times the UN can appear removed from the reality of social exclusion, so I was very pleased at our recent success in convincing the Working Group to End Homelessness to incorporate homelessness into a UN resolution. It will now be the priority theme at the Commission on Social Development in 2020.

At a time when trust and confidence in religious institutions has been shattered, there may have been a tendency to step back. Yet there has never been a more urgent need for care and compassion, locally and globally.

In The Republic of Conscience, Seamus Heaney reminds us:

“Their embassies, he said, were everywhere

but operated independently

and no ambassador would ever be relieved.”

Long may we meet the challenge.

 

Tributes pour in for Sister of Mercy who has died after being hit by a car

Sr Ita Keane with Saidul Haque Saeed of Citizens UK Bham

Sr Ita Keane with Saidul Haque Saeed of Citizens UK Bham

Sister Ita Keane of St Mary’s Convent in Handsworth, Birmingham, has died after a collision on a city street.  The 74-year-old had been crossing a road in the Aston area of Birmingham when she was struck by a vehicle on Friday afternoon (April 26) and died in hospital a few hours later.

Sr Ita was a well known community activist, involved with Citizens UK Birmingham.  The organisation paid tribute to her on Twitter :  “Very sad news. The amazing Sr Ita Keane of St Mary's Convent passed away yesterday. She was our rock & a dedicated Organiser building the power of poor families in the city. Our prayers & thoughts are with the Sisters of Mercy family & her loved ones… Everyone is in shock & will deeply miss her. The Sisters of Mercy are at the heartbeat of broad based community organising in Brum.”

The Citizens UK Organiser in Birmingham, Saidul Haque Saeed added:  “Sr Ita no longer with us. I've lost a great mentor & a dear friend, who helped me become a better Organiser. Still in shock. Hurts!”

Councillor Khalid Mahmood, of Perry Barr also paid tribute to Sr Ita, describing her as a “hard-working community member”  who worked tirelessly to help young children in the community, along with pupils at St Francis Catholic Primary School.  He said: "She looked after local children and local people and also helped with the school next door; a huge amount of work in the community, she worked tirelessly and beyond her duty….. she will be hugely missed by the community. We have suffered a great loss.”

The Revd David Butterworth of the Methodist Church in Birmingham also paid tribute on Twitter: “A beautiful & very wise Sister who had time & heart for everyone. The Birmingham Methodist District & Birmingham Circuit counted her a close friend, family... Our condolences with all who knew her & especially her family within the Convent.”

Individuals and organisations that Sr Ita came into contact with in the Lozells area of the city have also been expressing their sense of loss. Local resident, Altaf Kazi posted:  “Sister Ita Keane- a true legend of Lozells and an advocate of the poor- she lived and died in the service of others.”

The Councillor for Lozells, Waseem Zaffar wrote: “This news has sent shockwaves across #Lozells - Sister Ita was an amazing community activist from our neighbourhood & even at the time of her tragic death, she was in the process of helping a vulnerable local family. I visited St Mary’s Convent this morning to pay my respects.”

A community organisation in Lozells – Aspire & Succeed – which offers after school tuition, youth work and free citizens’ advice added:  “Sr Ita was a true hero for us in Lozells, helped shape so many projects currently being delivered, her legacy will live on. Our prayers and love go out to her loved ones and the Sisters of Mercy.”

 

 

Offering vital support in precious last days......and bringing light in the darkest moments

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By Sister Siobhan O’Keeffe SHJM

As I ponder on the beautiful gospel message of Martha and Mary, I ask myself ‘how can I, as an apostolic religious Sister, continue to deepen my contemplative life of prayer while serving God’s people in our world today?’

Sr Siobhan : an Easter gift from a patient, a woman in her sixties

Sr Siobhan : an Easter gift from a patient, a woman in her sixties

I am a Sister of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Chigwell Sisters).  I live in Liverpool and work part-time as a Marie Curie STARS nurse providing palliative care to terminally ill people in their own homes.  We are a team of 8 nurses, 3 admin workers and a number of Carers who support people in the last 3 months of their lives who wish to live out these precious days in the midst of their families, in the privacy of their homes.  Patients range in age from 16+.

Each time a referral is placed on my desk, I try to imagine what this diagnosis of a terminal illness means for this person and their families.  Some have been ill over a number of years with a chronic condition such as kidney failure, heart failure or respiratory illness.  Others may have been newly diagnosed with an aggressive neurological condition or cancer.  For each one and their family, it is a life changing event.

Many have good family and local community support; however, a significant number live with the diverse challenges associated with poverty in all its dimensions. Some family situations are very complex where family communication has broken down and the ill person may be faced with travelling this sensitive terminal journey without the necessary social support that they need.  On occasion families wish to withhold the ‘truth’ of the diagnosis or prognosis from the person.  Deep discernment is needed as I try to sensitively respond to such a challenge. When speaking with the ill person alone, many tell me that they know that ‘time is running out,  I am tired and I am ready to go.’  Some people struggle greatly for a period but as time goes on, become more reconciled to their dying.  They may fear the impact of their going on their loved ones;  family or other relationships or issues may need to be reconciled before they can ‘let go’ in peace.

My day begins with personal prayer and morning Mass at the beautiful Carmelite Monastery a couple of miles from the office.  I am deeply aware that I cannot do this work alone and ask for the grace to draw strength from the God of all life in the Eucharist. As I knock on family doors, I often ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I have no idea what awaits me in each new home. On many occasions I am deeply humbled by the graciousness of the sick, the courage of their families and often in the midst of great loss and suffering, a sense of humour prevails.

A strong team spirit offers mutual support to each one as we face the challenges of each day. As you will appreciate, the level of heartbreak that we witness could be depressing but we support each other especially through the most difficult situations.  It is normal as one re-enters the office after a difficult visit to hear a colleague shout out, ‘cup of tea?’ which usually receives an affirmative response.  Our occasional pizza evenings or cinema trips also help.

I return home to reflect on my day, rest, pray and savour my deepening need for silence. A part-time STARS role offers me the space to continue my Spirituality and Dementia care and Pastoral Care training to other congregations and allows some time for my creative writing energies to flow.

I appreciate the support of my Sacred Heart Sister family and as the evenings get longer, I look forward to the sound of bird song as I peddle my bike through a local park.

“Please pray for the kind lady who made the cakes...time on earth is very precious for her now.”

FOOTNOTE: Sr Siobhan has recently written a book on loneliness.

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I Am With You Always  includes a guide to loneliness in Scripture and a series of reflections on how loneliness is experienced across contemporary society. It offers a practical application of scripture to real life challenges and speaks to people across all strata of society.

It is available from www.messenger.ie (Sacred Heart Messenger Press).

The need for ecological conversion : a reflection on Laudato Si'

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By Sr Margaret Atkins OSA

Laudato Si' begins by telling us how it is: the state of our planet, and what our faith has to say about that. Chapter One uses evidence from the hard sciences to describe our world: pollution, climate change, scarcity of water, the loss of thousands of species. It does so, however, with a rhetorical power designed to make us care: 'The earth, our home, is beginning to look like an immense pile of filth.' 'The world is a joyful mystery, to be contemplated with gladness and praise.'

So, what does the Gospel have to say about creation? 'We are not God.' The world is the gift of our Creator, so that each creature is good and beautiful, and we are all interrelated. Indeed, our interrelatedness mirrors the Trinitarian nature of God. Our story, traced through the beginning of Genesis, is one of rupture. As we broke away from God, we also broke our peace with the natural world. Reconciliation with God, with each other and with the natural world are all part of the same process, the peace-making and healing that comes through Christ. Jesus himself knew and loved the Galilean countryside, its birds, plants and animals. And why would he not? - he, the Son of God, through whom all things were made, redeemed and restored.

The central chapters look at where we have gone wrong, and how we might go right. First, Pope Francis, closely following his predecessors, describes how we forget that we are not gods; we try to control everything ourselves. Pope Francis calls this 'the technocratic paradigm', from techne (skill) and cratos (power). We begin to see the world as there for us to manipulate. In practice, this means that powerful people take control. They control first others' things; then other people; then even the truth. Manipulation leads directly on to relativism - the truth itself is what I want it to be.

Technocracy fragments the world into manipulatable chunks. Laudato Si' reminds us insistently that 'everything is interconnected.' We have learnt that lesson from biologists: ecology is the science of the interconnectedness of life. The recent popes have taught that there is also a human, social ecology; and that this is inseparable from natural ecology. Indeed, a healthy personal and social morality, economics, politics and finance are all intermeshed with the well-being of the environment.

Finally, Laudato Si' leads on to action. We need effective dialogue, policy and action at every level: global, national and local. But before all else, we need 'ecological conversion', an inner, spiritual confession of sin, responsibility, praise and gratitude that changes our attitude and transforms our practice. This is indeed challenging. What it is not is grim and gloomy. Living more lightly and more generously is liberating and will bring us joy and peace at the deepest level.

If you want to be inspired or challenged watch some of our young people speaking on You-Tube - Greta Thunberg (www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUW1OwjWRMw), or Lauren Singer who lives a zero-waste lifestyle (www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF72px2R3Hg). Go on - I dare you! Yes, they put us to shame.

But we Catholics should be inspired by, not ashamed, of our faith. It gives us all that we need to live lightly on the planet….. God the Creator and Christ who redeemed the world he entered and loved. The Holy Spirit, the Church and the sacraments to sustain us in hope. And a moral tradition that honours simplicity, justice, unselfishness and peace. We cannot save the planet by ourselves. We don't need to. We are not alone. We are interconnected, with God, with each other and with our world.

Sr Margaret Atkins is based at Boarbank Hall in Cumbria:     www.boarbankhall.org.uk/

 

A privileged opportunity to support the future church in a concrete way

By Sister Elaine Penrice FSP

Members of religious congregations from all over the UK & Ireland came together in March for a conference in Liverpool which was inspired by Pope Francis and the book of an interview with him, “God is Young.”

Some one hundred participants came from Scotland, Ireland and England & Wales in a collaborative gathering,  with the conference being the first time the offices of vocation in the respective countries had organised such an event. It was a great success!

l to r: Sr Frances Kelly SN (Vocations Scotland), Sr Elaine Penrice FSP (National Office for Vocation England & Wales), Mrs Margaret Cartwright (Vocations Ireland). Front: Sr Margaret Taylor FMM (main speaker)

l to r: Sr Frances Kelly SN (Vocations Scotland), Sr Elaine Penrice FSP (National Office for Vocation England & Wales), Mrs Margaret Cartwright (Vocations Ireland). Front: Sr Margaret Taylor FMM (main speaker)

The background: as Pope Francis was inviting young people to meet with him in Rome for the pre-synod meetings on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment, a book of an interview with him was published called “God is Young”. In this book, Pope Francis encourages young people to engage and befriend older people – and vice versa. Bridging the cultural divide is a challenge which will benefit everybody:  that the Church may be one, that the old will be renewed, and the young be accompanied.

The National Office for Vocation, Vocations Ireland and Vocation Scotland collaborated to organise  this conference, aimed at providing older Religious with encouragement and training on how best to engage young people. Religious with a lifetime of experience have much to offer the young members of our Church, and those young members have made their voices heard through the pre-synod meetings, and through the synod of bishops. Young people want us to accompany them and guide them, especially on how to follow a spiritual path, and how to live the Christian life incarnated.

A group of young people gave presentations

A group of young people gave presentations

Pope Francis offers words of encouragement – that  being old isn’t a bad thing, it’s a privilege. Pope Francis says that young people need older people, and older people should dialogue and encounter young people more… we need each other! The vocations offices aimed to help these two groups meet each other, and desires to encourage older religious to have confidence that they are needed in the work of the Church, building up young Catholics and supporting them as they make vocational choices. We need to share all we have learned and be examples of an incarnated Christianity in ordinary daily life.

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The day began with prayer and music from the Vocations Ireland NET team and Sr Julie Buckley. Then we had input from Sr Margaret Taylor, herself an experienced Religious with much to offer. Sr Margaret spoke about the skill of inter-generational communication, and some of the dynamics of those communications. After some sharing in our small groups we broke into three groups, one (the more numerous) comprised those with more than 30 years profession,  another with those of less than 30 years of profession and a further group of young people who came to present to us. We each took turns to look at each other and thank the other for their presence and all that they have given through their vocation.

Sr Julie Buckley

Sr Julie Buckley

Sr Julie Buckley from Vocations Ireland gave a presentation on youth culture, and we also heard a presentation from Sr Frances Kelly about what young people are looking for from us. These presentations were followed by personal testimonies from  five young people from Canada, the USA and Ireland, leaving space for questions and answers.

It was a wonderful day of encounter and communion, and we are sure many people left with a new dedication to how they can still give all, keeping young people at heart.

One attendee, Sr Mary Ann Flood CJ commented to her congregational leader :  “It was a truly inspiring day and I just wished the whole province could have been present.  Everyone could have profited by it. Margaret Taylor’s excellent talk included a lot about generative listening and generative dialogue. The five young people all in their twenties were truly inspirational.  Each shared briefly how they were called to this special missionary vocation.  They came from America, Canada and Ireland.  A very engaging group!”

 

 

A Protocol for the admission of Religious Congregations and Members for Pastoral Ministry in England and Wales

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This protocol has been agreed by both the Conference of Bishops and the Conference of Religious

Background to this Paper

For some time there have been difficulties with individuals and new religious orders coming into England and Wales in their relations with the local Church. There is also concern when religious are invited from religious congregations who already have an established presence in England and Wales.  This paper is intended to address some of these issues and to make recommendations to both individuals and new religious congregations about the processes of establishing a domicile in England and Wales, and further, to ministering within the local Church. 

In the following, religious congregation is used generically to address religious orders, congregations and other institutes of apostolic life.

For Religious Congregations

1.         If a religious congregation wishes to establish itself in the jurisdiction of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, they should immediately approach the local Ordinary into whose diocese they wish to be domiciled.

2.         It is strongly recommended that all religious congregations, especially those of Pontifical Right, should consider being registered as a charity in civil law, following the procedures as laid down by the Charity Commission and that the Superior of the congregation should have formal training in financial and safeguarding laws and protocols to ensure that they are aware of their civil and canonical responsibilities.

3.         If the local Ordinary responds positively to an approach from a religious congregation to establish a house within his jurisdiction, or if he approaches the religious congregation himself, he must adhere to the universal law governing these matters, and be aware of the Particular Law governing the congregation (cf CIC nn681; 678 §2,3).

4.         Members of new religious congregations should be encouraged by the local Ordinary to become members of the Conference of Religious of England and Wales (CoREW)

5.         The members of the religious congregation coming to England and Wales must have appropriate letters of Good Standing and if appropriate, Testimonial of Suitability for Ministry, from the legitimate major superior of the congregation.

6.         All new religious congregations coming to England and Wales must align themselves with a Safeguarding Commission before they begin any ministry.  All members of the community must undergo a recognised training course for Safeguarding principles in England and Wales and subsequent Vetting and Barring disclosures.  CSAS will be able to support the new community in this work.

7     The Diocesan Ordinary has the responsibility for ensuring the significance of Safeguarding and the requirements to follow the National Safeguarding Procedures of the Catholic Church in England and Wales is clearly understood by the members of the new religious congregations.  He, or his recognised delegate, will ensure that all necessary safeguarding checks, including those in para. 5 above, are implemented.

8.         No member of a religious congregation of any type should undertake any pastoral work in the dioceses of England and Wales until they have completed the formal Safeguarding protocols.

9.         Diocesan Ordinaries are responsible for ensuring that the Guidelines for Welcoming Priests from Overseas are followed.

10.       Canonical agreements made between the Diocese and the religious congregation are not binding in civil law unless the parties expressly agree a provision which is binding.

11.       The Diocesan Ordinary should ensure that the agreement with the religious congregation covers any conflict resolution, termination of ministry, time limits, renewal, amendments, holiday provision, retreats, numbers of religious in houses, liaising with Vicars for Religious, financial arrangements with the Diocese and fundraising activities. 

 The agreement should state clearly, either within it or as an annex to it, the scope and parameters of the apostolic work to be undertaken by the religious congregation.  The agreement should state within it the necessary provision of insurance to be taken out for the religious congregation whilst working in this jurisdiction.  Help for this can be obtained from CoREW or the local Diocese.

The agreement should also state the necessity of being aligned to a Safeguarding Commission (diocesan or otherwise) and which Commission. 

Signed copies of this agreement should be lodged with the Diocesan authorities and the religious congregation.

12.       If a new religious congregation seeks to enter England and Wales and there already exists within the jurisdiction a house of that congregation, there has to be a formal relationship with the local major superior who must be party to these deliberations.

For individual members of religious congregations

1.         Any member of a religious congregation entering England and Wales from overseas must abide by the Immigration Law of the UK.  This is especially important for non-EU nationals who arrive on Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas.  They are particularly bound by the legal restrictions of those visas and it is the responsibility of the local superior to ensure there is no violation of those provisions.

2.         Any member of a religious congregation entering England and Wales for pastoral ministry of any kind must be aware of and complete appropriate Safeguarding training in this country.  This will include the presentation of a Testimonial of Suitability for Ministry from his legitimate major superior, the undertaking of some form of local formation on the Church in England and Wales, and submission to a Vetting and Barring disclosure before any pastoral ministry begins. The local major superior must be party to these deliberations.

3.         The local superior should, with reference to the general provisions laid down in the agreement with the Diocese on the scope of apostolic work, ensure that a proper induction of any new member of the community, priest or otherwise, is taken place within a month of arrival.

4.         The Local Ordinary must consult the Major Superior who is already present in the territory of England and Wales, so that those invited are in compliance with the particular law of the congregation.

General Provisions

1.         This protocol is in addition to the existing agreements with dioceses and any Particular Law of the dioceses regarding apostolic work of religious.

 2.         This protocol should be read in conjunction with the structures and procedures already agreed by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the Polish Mission and the Italian Catholic Mission within their jurisdiction.

 

 

Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ to give this year’s Landings Lecture at Farm Street Church

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An annual lecture in support of the ‘Landings Programme’ – which aims to accompany back to the Church those who have fallen away or are on the cusp of leaving – will be given on April 11th by Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ of Newnham College, Cambridge.  It will address the subject: ‘Happy Landings: Accompanying the return to faith and practice.’

The previous two years’ lectures, given by Fr Christopher Jamison OSB and Dr Austen Ivereigh, have attracted a diverse audience of those involved in evangelisation, adult faith formation and communications in dioceses and religious orders.

As part of the evening there will also be a short update on the developing work of Landings across the UK.  Landings is a series of relaxed, informal, lay-led meetings, based on faith-sharing within a small group, that offer a safe and supported “landing place” for Catholics who have been away from the Church and are thinking about coming back.

Landings offers already active Catholics an opportunity to share their faith; to participate in the Church’s mission to welcome those who have been away; and a chance to grow and learn from each others’ spiritual journeys.  Landings offers Catholic parishes and communities a simple process for reaching out and supporting Catholics who have been away from the Church or who struggle in their relationship with God and the Church. Landings is usually parish-based and led by lay people within the parish community.

Background to Landings:

Landings was founded by the Paulist Fathers in the U.S.A. during the 1980s and continues to be a reconciliation ministry of the Paulists. It has since developed an international  presence and, in 2001, Landings was introduced to the UK. It is estimated that over the last 30 years Landings has helped around 100,000 people who have left or drifted away from the Catholic Church and who would like to explore the possibility of rejoining the Catholic community.

 LANDINGS LECTURE 2019:

Thursday April 11th at 7:00pm in Farm Street Church Hall, 114 Mount St, London W1K 3AH

Mass in the church at 6:00pm; buffet reception to follow

Suggested donation: £10

All most welcome – to book email landingsuk@gmail.com or telephone Fr Dominic Robinson SJ on (020)-7529-4802

 

 

Sisters organise two events in April to raise awareness of human trafficking

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“Slavery still exists, here and now. Over 40 m. people live as slaves in our world – tricked into forced labour, trapped into prostitution, brutalised for their organs. Slavery is on our doorstep, it’s in our neighbourhood, hiding in plain sight.”

Two Sisters who attended the anti-trafficking meetings for Religious in January have organised follow up awareness raising days, to urge more congregations to get involved.

Sr Nora Coughlan SMG, who attended the Manchester meeting, has invited two of the keynote speakers from that day for a follow up on April 9th  in Formby. Brother Francis, Chair of the Medaille Trust and Sr Isabel Kelly, FMSJ, a long time member of the campaigning group TRAC, will both be giving presentations as will Anthony Brown, who has worked extensively with Caritas in the Salford diocese to raise awareness of anti-trafficking, at parish level.  

Sr Nora said: “Come and learn more and ask what we can do together in practical ways to help strengthen the fight against human trafficking & slavery…..”

The meeting will take place at St. Joseph’s Prayer Centre,  Blundell Avenue, Formby L37 1PH on  Tuesday 9th April, from  10.30 – 3.30pm.  Donation  £20, includes lunch

01704- 875850 / 07712178670 or email: theprayercentre.stj@psmgs.org.uk

                         

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On April 6th,  the Religious of Mary Immaculate are also holding an awareness raising day in London for young people and students but would welcome any Religious who’d also like to participate. The main presentation will be given by Michael Duthie, Deputy Director of the Santa Marta group. Sr Ruby, who took part in the very well attended January meeting in London explained:  “As a response to that gathering we have organised a workshop for students in London to raise their awareness of this ongoing problem. It’s a small step but we are hoping that we can make a change somehow.”

It will be held at the RMI hostel for students, near Gloucester Road tube:  15 Southwell Gardens, London, SW7 4RN, from 11am to 1pm.

  

Religious urged to take part in Dementia Prayer Week (12 – 19 March)

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Religious congregations have been invited to participate in the national, annual event linking parishes and schools around the country in prayer for those suffering from dementia. With an estimated 800,000 individuals in England and Wales affected in various ways by dementia, a new  prayer card, sponsored by the Day for Life Fund, aims to offer hope.

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Dementia Prayer Week is now in its eleventh year and is an opportunity to create a sense of purpose and meaning. Organiser Frances Molloy of the Pastoral Care Project said:   “Our hope is that the new prayer card will encourage people to visit a care home or family and that it will equip them once they are there. You may just be the answer to a person’s prayer: "God help me" a familiar cry of the poor, which can be our prayer too!”

Online resources have also been made available.  For example, a new word search activity is a reminder of the difficulty the individual with dementia may experience in searching for the right word to say. Redemptorist Publications collaborated on the design of the prayer card and have made the card available on their website:  https://www.rpbooks.co.uk

Giselle Beaumont of Redemptorist Publications said: “Our mission is to support people at every stage of Christian life so working with the Pastoral Care Project is the perfect partnership for us! Learning about the work that they have been carrying out for 25 years and the success of Dementia Prayer Week has been both inspiring and encouraging. We hope our small contribution will help this mission to grow even further and help more people.”

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For further information email: info@pastoralcareproject.org.uk or phone 01675 434035

Website: www.pastoralcareproject.org.uk

 

A Protocol for the admission of Religious Congregations and Members for Pastoral Ministry in England and Wales

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This protocol has been agreed by both the Conference of Bishops and the Conference of Religious

Background to this Paper

For some time there have been difficulties with individuals and new religious orders coming into England and Wales in their relations with the local Church. There is also concern when religious are invited from religious congregations who already have an established presence in England and Wales.  This paper is intended to address some of these issues and to make recommendations to both individuals and new religious congregations about the processes of establishing a domicile in England and Wales, and further, to ministering within the local Church. 

In the following, religious congregation is used generically to address religious orders, congregations and other institutes of apostolic life.

For Religious Congregations

1.         If a religious congregation wishes to establish itself in the jurisdiction of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, they should immediately approach the local Ordinary into whose diocese they wish to be domiciled.

 

2.         It is strongly recommended that all religious congregations, especially those of Pontifical Right, should consider being registered as a charity in civil law, following the procedures as laid down by the Charity Commission and that the Superior of the congregation should have formal training in financial and safeguarding laws and protocols to ensure that they are aware of their civil and canonical responsibilities.

 

3.         If the local Ordinary responds positively to an approach from a religious congregation to establish a house within his jurisdiction, or if he approaches the religious congregation himself, he must adhere to the universal law governing these matters, and be aware of the Particular Law governing the congregation (cf CIC nn681; 678 §2,3).

 

4.         Members of new religious congregations should be encouraged by the local Ordinary to become members of the Conference of Religious of England and Wales (CoREW)

 

5.         The members of the religious congregation coming to England and Wales must have appropriate letters of Good Standing and if appropriate, Testimonial of Suitability for Ministry, from the legitimate major superior of the congregation.

 

6.         All new religious congregations coming to England and Wales must align themselves with a Safeguarding Commission before they begin any ministry.  All members of the community must undergo a recognised training course for Safeguarding principles in England and Wales and subsequent Vetting and Barring disclosures.  CSAS will be able to support the new community in this work.

 

7.         The Diocesan Ordinary has the responsibility for ensuring the significance of Safeguarding and the requirements to follow the National Safeguarding Procedures of the Catholic Church in England and Wales is clearly understood by the members of the new religious congregations.  He, or his recognised delegate, will ensure that all necessary safeguarding checks, including those in para. 5 above, are implemented.

 

8.         No member of a religious congregation of any type should undertake any pastoral work in the dioceses of England and Wales until they have completed the formal Safeguarding protocols.

 

9.         Diocesan Ordinaries are responsible for ensuring that the Guidelines for Welcoming Priests from Overseas are followed.

 

10.       Canonical agreements made between the Diocese and the religious congregation are not binding in civil law unless the parties expressly agree a provision which is binding.

 

11.       The Diocesan Ordinary should ensure that the agreement with the religious congregation covers any conflict resolution, termination of ministry, time limits, renewal, amendments, holiday provision, retreats, numbers of religious in houses, liaising with Vicars for Religious, financial arrangements with the Diocese and fundraising activities. 

 

            The agreement should state clearly, either within it or as an annex to it, the scope and parameters of the apostolic work to be undertaken by the religious congregation.  The agreement should state within it the necessary provision of insurance to be taken out for the religious congregation whilst working in this jurisdiction.  Help for this can be obtained from CoREW or the local Diocese.

 

The agreement should also state the necessity of being aligned to a Safeguarding Commission (diocesan or otherwise) and which Commission. 

 

Signed copies of this agreement should be lodged with the Diocesan authorities and the religious congregation.

 

12.       If a new religious congregation seeks to enter England and Wales and there already exists within the jurisdiction a house of that congregation, there has to be a formal relationship with the local major superior who must be party to these deliberations.

 

For individual members of religious congregations

1.         Any member of a religious congregation entering England and Wales from overseas must abide by the Immigration Law of the UK.  This is especially important for non-EU nationals who arrive on Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas.  They are particularly bound by the legal restrictions of those visas and it is the responsibility of the local superior to ensure there is no violation of those provisions.

 

2.         Any member of a religious congregation entering England and Wales for pastoral ministry of any kind must be aware of and complete appropriate Safeguarding training in this country.  This will include the presentation of a Testimonial of Suitability for Ministry from his legitimate major superior, the undertaking of some form of local formation on the Church in England and Wales, and submission to a Vetting and Barring disclosure before any pastoral ministry begins. The local major superior must be party to these deliberations.

 

3.         The local superior should, with reference to the general provisions laid down in the agreement with the Diocese on the scope of apostolic work, ensure that a proper induction of any new member of the community, priest or otherwise, is taken place within a month of arrival.

 

4.         The Local Ordinary must consult the Major Superior who is already present in the territory of England and Wales, so that those invited are in compliance with the particular law of the congregation.

 

General Provisions

1.         This protocol is in addition to the existing agreements with dioceses and any Particular Law of the dioceses regarding apostolic work of religious.

 2.         This protocol should be read in conjunction with the structures and procedures already agreed by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the Polish Mission and the Italian Catholic Mission within their jurisdiction.