English Mission celebrates its Centenary

eng mission 0124 OCT, 2012.  Unity Day on June 9, 2012, marked the beginning of the Sisters of St Louis Centenary celebrations in England. The sisters gathered for the opening ceremony on the lawn at Newmarket on a cold June morning for a type of “Santiago de Compostela” journey. “Stations” were set up on the lawn to represent each place where the SSL had lived and ministered since they came to England in 1912. Sisters who had lived/ministered in each of these locations led the prayers and reflections by reading extracts from the annals of the house, naming the founding members, and outlining the mission of each foundation. It began with Redditch in 1912, followed by Great Yarmouth 1920, Bury St Edmunds 1924, Newmarket 1936, Shefford 1945, Aylesbury 1945, Bethel/Old Stable House 1970, the North/North West 1983, and London from 1980. The Ubi Caritas was sung at the end of each "Station". Photographs of all 19 sisters in the Mission were taken with Donna Hansen SSL and Margaret Healy SSL from the Central Leadership Team, and Bridget Agum SSL from Nigeria.  The Old Stable House Centre was the venue for a delicious celebratory meal afterwards.
For the closing ceremony on a lovely sunny Autumn Day on Oct 6, 2012, a beautiful liturgy was celebrated in the parish Church in Newmarket. Sisters representing France (Máirín Barrett), California (Maura Byron), West Africa (Bridget Agum), Ireland (seven in total), as well as parishioners from Great Yarmouth, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket were in attendance. A group of pupils from St Louis Primary Schools in Aylesbury and Newmarket, and St Louis Middle School in Bury St Edmunds delighted the sisters and visitors with their singing at the Mass of Thanksgiving. This was followed by a buffet lunch for everyone in the parish hall, where the sistesrs were able to rejoice and catch up with many old friends. When everything was cleared away some went back to the convent and Old Stable House Centre to read with gratitude the numerous cards, masses and messages from sisters and friends who were with us in spirit but could not be there in person.
Psalm 126, which was sung at the Mass summed up the sisters feelings on this major milestone in the life of the English Mission. We reflect with a sense of deep gratitude on the "Marvellous things God has done for us. We remember the sisters who, over the years, have gone out "sowing our seed and felt full of sadness", but have come back "carrying the harvest shouting for joy." We now look to the future with the same trust in Providence that they have shown us.