This discernment community arose from the Vocations Group (VG) and was inaugurated on the first Sunday of December 2001.
Six members of the VG desired to share some form of community life whilst continuing their discernment process. With this in mind, a simple Way of Life was presented to the Diocese of Westminster which then offered the group the possibility of renting rooms in a diocesan house in the East End of London. Apart from the common living areas the house had a chapel, library and large garden. Sr. Christine Anderson fcJ facilitated the community and Fr. John Armitage was the chaplain.
The six members of this first ‘discernment community’, named the ‘Cornerstone Community’, shared life and faith insofar as jobs and social commitments permitted. Morning prayer was sung together at 6.55am before going to work. Each member committed herself to half an hour’s lectio divina (praying with Scripture) daily, in her own time and to attending Mass where possible. After the day’s work, the community rejoined for an evening meal at 19.30hrs and night prayer at 21.00hrs followed by half an hour’s Eucharistic adoration.
On a weekly basis, there were community meetings followed by life sharing; ‘desert evenings’ (when members were encouraged to deepen their relationship with Jesus through solitude) and faith-sharing evenings. These were just for the community as guests often visited on other evenings. At the weekends, members were able to visit family and friends. Monthly days of recollection were held and regular speakers came to give talks on spirituality and discernment issues. We also shared some holiday time together.
The aim of the community was to facilitate the discernment process so that one could make life choices in greater freedom and according to the working of God’s spirit in one’s life. Members of the community were encouraged to decide within a year where to ‘move on to’, whether into an existing religious order or ‘something new’, if God was calling them to consecrated life or to single or married life, or whether there was a need to continue the discernment process itself before making a life choice.
From the first ‘Cornerstone’ experience, four young women entered religious life, one chose single consecrated life and one has married. From the second ‘Cornerstone’ two have entered religious life, one chose single life and two have married.
There remains a lot of interest amongst young people in this type of discernment community as an aid to discovering what one’s path in life may be, and it is hoped that another such community may be established sometime in the not-too-distant future.