COLW’s First Convent
On the 8th December 2017, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, after 8 months of fundraising and thanks to the generosity of many benefactors, we acquired our first convent. This amazing gift, rendered even more heartwarming by the kindness of the sellers (two brothers who built the property by converting old barns) couldn’t have come at a better time.
With its simplicity and spaciousness, a central cloister area, eco-friendly wood chip boiler, a large outdoor barn and surrounded by 4 acres of land, it is perfectly monastic in style and miraculously suited to our needs. So much better than all the other properties visited it seemed to be made for us!. Please join us in thanking God for this amazing gift and Our Lady for obtaining it for us. For further information visit this page.
Walsingham Spirituality 1
16th-18th March 2018
This introductory weekend is the first in a series of weekends designed to help people enter in depth into the Spirituality of Walsingham. Through a series of talks, lectio divina, silence, spiritual accompaniment and litugical prayer moments, the sisters will enable individuals to apply this rich spirituality in the reality of their own lives.
Walsingham exists to remind us of the mystery of Mary’s silent surrender, her self-sacrificing love, her joy and humility in bearing and believing the Word of God. The Spirit is ultimate freedom, total unpredictability. God lives not in a ‘house made with hands’ but in hearts that are, with Mary, ready for anything – ‘Be it done unto me according to your word.’ At the heart of Walsingham lies the mystery of the Annunciation.
The house symbolises stability. It was the house that made Nazareth permanently present in Walsingham, standing firm and strong, guaranteeing the future of the village and the Shrine. But this is balanced by the theme of the Annunciation which implies a radical openness to change and growth. Everyone of us carries within ourselves an element of unpredictability.
As she is presented to us in Luke’s gospel, Mary stands for the perfect disciple. Like Israel of old she is chosen and called simply out of love. She has not chosen God; rather God has chosen her. She is a child of grace, of choice, and so she is able to respond to God’s initiative with the words ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.’
But that is not the end of the story. Mary had to be open to human growth and development, just as Jesus had to grow physically, spiritually, socially. She had to make choices, accept responsibility, and ultimately let her Son go his own way even when she did not understand.
Mary is our vocational model as one who responded totally, allowed God to do with her all that he wanted. When Jesus says that his mother, brothers and sisters are those who do the will of his Father in heaven we have a glimpse into the wholeness of Mary’s self-giving. It was not bearing Christ in the flesh that made her blessed. Her real motherhood lay in her surrender to the Father’s will; her ‘Be it done unto me (her ‘Fiat’, ‘Amen’, ‘Alleluia’) in sorrow and in joy, in diminishment and fullness.
Members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham will guide participants, through a series of talks and lectio divina, into what it means to imitate Mary’s FIAT, her YES to God’s love and will for her life.
This introductory weekend will look especially at what it means to ACCEPT God’s will in one’s life.
Date: Friday 6th – Sunday 8th October 2017
Venue: Dowry House Retreat (www.dowryhouse,org.uk)
To book a place email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Moving to Walsingham
At last we are all together at Walsingham. Having spent the last five years commuting to and fro from Brentwood to work at the shrine at Walsingham, we recognise the toll it has taken on us as individuals and as a community. With gratitude we recognise the gift that it has been to spend our first 13 years at Abbotswick – there couldn’t have been a better place for a founding group to consolidate and grow in self-undertsanidng of the charism given.
As you all know, our spiritual home is in Walsingham and we are overjoyed to be now living and serving the shrine as a community – providing together hospitality and a sung liturgy to those using Dowry House Retreat (www.dowryhouse.org.uk) and partaking in the many events the expanding shrine is hosting. Being together as a community also means that we will be able to give more time to study, developing the charism and forming our lay associates now that we are on the road to becoming an Ecclesial Family of Consecrated life – open to people from every walk of life.
We celebrated this milestone with a community day out in Norwich as you can see from the photos – one taken on top of the tower of St John the Baptist’s Catholic Cathedral, one whilst walking through the cloister of the amazing Anglican cathedral where we also attended evensong and one at the Julian shrine. What a welcome we have been given in all these holy sites!
So please keep us in your prayers as we settle down to life in this beautiful village of Walsingham and as we continue to fundraise for our first convent. For updates on how that is going please subscribe to our newsletters on this page http://www.walsinghamcommunity.org/contact-us/subscribe-to-newsletters
Here I Am Lord!
Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd September 2017
Join us for this first weekend in Walsingham, exploring the beauty of consecrated life in the 21st Century.
‘Consecrated life ought to promote growth in the church by way of attraction. The church must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! … It is this witness that I expect of you. Religious should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.’ Pope Francis, meeting with the Union of Superiors General, November 29, 2013
There are many ways in which people can choose to consecrate their lives to God in the service of the Church and the World. This weekend will explore some of the general themes related to consecrated life and look at the various ways in which men and women can offer their lives in service of God, the Church and their neighbour e.g. apostolic religious life, enclosed contemplative life, ecclesial families of consecrated life, hermits and consecrated virginity to name a few.
There will also be a Q&A panel on the Saturday afternoon …. so prepare already your questions for those who live the consecrated life in some of these forms.
‘God calls you to make definitive choices, and He has a plan for each of you: To discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment.’ Pope Francis, 2013 World Youth Day
Time: Any time from 3pm on the Friday until the afternoon of the Sunday. If you cannot make the whole weekend how about meeting up with us on the Saturday at Walsingham? Please call us for any clarification needed.
Please download and display this poster in your parish:
Location: Dowry House Retreat Centre, 47-49 High St, Walsingham NR22 6BZ
What to bring: Personal items, writing materials, Bible, walking shoes/boots.
Donation: £40 (Students) £80 (wage earners) – includes full board
For further information call or phone Sr Carina on 01328 801013.
To book a place on this weekend fill out the booking form and send a £20 deposit (cheques payable to ‘RC National Shrine’) to Dowry House Retreat, 47-49 High St, Walsingham NR22 6BZ
Become a Founding Benefactor of COLW!
Please can you help us to purchase our very own house in Walsingham?
Please visit the appeals page for more information on this exciting adventure as we push out into the deep and trust in God’s Providence to provide the first house for the community 🙂
Sr Carina and Sr Johanna make their first profession
On a gloriously sunny spring day, Carina and Johanna make their first profession of vows in the community. In the presence of Bishop Alan Williams SM they promised to live chaste, poor and obedient for one year during the midday Mass on the solemnity of the Annunciation.
Fr Matt Blake, our chaplain and Fr Chris Brooks concelebrated and two of our Abbotswick volunteers, deacon Paul and Mike, served the Mass which was well attended by family and friends. Aimee, a friend of Carina from university days, had travelled from Paris to play the flute during and at the end of Mass. The two ‘wedding’ cakes were a mirror reflection of each other and one was later brought up to Walsingham to share with friends at the shrine. Please join us in thanking God for the gift or these two new sisters. We are can now truly call ourselves a founding group 🙂
Johanna enters the Novitiate
On the beautiful Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Johanna entered the novitiate and brought immense joy to Carina, who until now had been the only novice in formation 🙂 Visit our Facebook page to see more photos of the event: https://www.facebook.com/TheCOLW
The second reading at Mass was particularly apt: ‘We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose. They are the ones he chose specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son’ (Rom 8:28).
We have known Johanna for a long time and, unexpectedly, she has been brought back to the UK and to COLW. What an immense grace for the community. Pope Francis always talks of being open to God’s surprises for as He declares through the prophet Isaiah ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’. Please join us in thanking God for this wonderful gift and please keep Johanna especially in prayer at this time.
If you are inspired by her example of generosity in giving her life to God and the service of His Church, please consider joining us for our next taster ‘Walsingham Spirituality Weekend‘.
Spirituality of Walsingham Weekend with the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham
Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd September 2017
Anyone wanting to deepen their faith and learn more about the spirituality of Walsingham are invited to join us at our new base at the Dowry House Retreat Centre in Walsingham. We will explore the spirituality of Walsingham and discuss what Mary’s ‘yes’ at the Annunciation means for us in our own lives. Joining the community for Mass, the Divine Office and Eucharistic Adoration will make this a spiritually enriching weekend for those wanting to deepen their faith and live it to the full. Food and accommodation provided.
Time : Any time from 3pm on the Friday until the afternoon of the Sunday. If you cannot make the whole weekend how about meeting up with us on the Saturday at Walsingham? Please call us for any clarification needed.
What to bring: Personal items, writing materials, Bible.
Donation : £100
Directions: Dowry House Retreat Centre, 47-49 High St, Walsingham NR22 6BZ
Download the Registration Form here: Walsingham Spirituality Weekend or phone Sr Theresa on 01328 821293 for further details.
Annual Retreat with Sr Hettie Berflow O Carm
We were immensely blessed to have Sr Hettie Berflow, a Carmelite sister from the O Carms in the Netherlands with us from the 14th – 24th May. She led the annual retreat for our sisters in formation, taken them into the depths of the Rule of St Albert. Her gentle way of being, her pondered considerations and sharing, her wise accompaniment meant that we were able to appreciate so much more the gift given us in this rule, the basis of all Carmelite life.
Albert, patriarch of Jerusalem, gave the first hermits on Mt Carmel a life rule (1206-1214) which, at the time of their expulsion by the Saracens in 1247, was adapted to new circumstances by pope Innocent IV. In consequence, the mystical space of Carmel with its contemplative life is experienced wherever they are given a place and God calls them. The commentary presents the Carmel as a spiritual model which is ideally suited as accompaniment on the spiritual journey of all who know themselves called to a life in God’s presence in the desert of their life.
The book she based a lot of her talks on was actually written by one of the priests in her community. Thank you Sr Hettie for helping us understand and appreciate more the gift of this rule and especially the importance of silence as a means to love our union with God.
Assisi and Carlo Acutis
Our return from the conference in Rome took us via Assisi where we stayed with a friend whose generosity made the visit possible. The graces received in praying at the sites related to St Francis, St Clare and Carlo Acutisl, whose cause for beatification has already started was palpable to say the least.
Carlo was born in London in 1991 and died after a sudden and short illness in Milan in 2006. This teenager is a model for all young people and is certainly interceding for England. Please visit this site http://www.carloacutis.com/en/association and be inspired by this holy teenager.
Conclusion of the Year of Consecrated Life
Sr Camilla and Carina were able to attend the concluding conference in Rome for the Year of Consecrated Life from the 28th Jan until the 2nd Jan 2016. On the theme “Consecrated life in communion. The common foundation in the variety of forms”, on these days there were meetings, prayer vigils, times for regrouping and examining in greater depth the specifics of each form, looking prophetically towards the future”.
The aims of the meeting were to get to know better the great mosaic of consecrated life, to live communion rediscovering the single call uniting the variety of forms (Ordo Virginum, monastic life, apostolic institutes, secular institutes, new institutes and new forms of consecrated life), starting out together on the path of the great Jubilee of Mercy that once more gives all consecrated people the specific mandate of their vocation: to be guided by the Father’s mercy, witnesses and builders of an authentically lived fraternity.
it was an unforgettable experience during which we met many friends and one that affirmed the way ahead for COLW. For those of you who can speak Italian enjoy the audience we all had with Pope Francis:
World Meeting for Young Religious
Four of us managed to go to Rome for the recent World Meeting of Young Consecrated men and women. Organised by the Vatican dicastery as one of the events for the Year of Consecrated life, t turned out to be an amazingly fruitful and graced time at so many levels.
It was Carina’s first visit to Rome and Sr Camilla’s first time to act as one of two simultaneously Italian to English translators. Having hired a chalet we managed to self-cater for the week and survive the 32C temperatures by downing plenty of the famous roman ice-cream. The audience with Pope Francis for the 5,000 plus participants was one of the highlights and this together with all the other presentations can be listened to in several languages on this link: http://giovaniconsacrati.chemin-neuf.fr
Eucharistic Adoration every Thursday from 11am to 5pm at Abbotswick House of Prayer
Join us in praying for an increase in vocations to the religious life and consecrated life in its many forms and for past, present and future members of COLW.
Bishop Alan Williams SM
We were so happy when Pope Francis last year appointed Father Alan Williams SM, the last Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, as the seventh Bishop of Brentwood. Now we have two dioceses, that of Brentwood and that of East Anglia, headed by men who have a deep love for Our Lady of Walsingham.
That couldn’t be better news for our little community. Mary is really moving things in England, her dowry. It also confirms our hunch that God is truly at work on the bigger picture (COLW being only a small part of this) and slowly but surely we will get more glimpses of the many graces he has destined for our land and beyond.
His episcopal ordination took place at Brentwood Cathedral on 1st July 2014 at 12 noon. You will find some highlights on this page.
Fr Alan says he thrives on working with people. “That brings out the best in me – we can learn together and go forward together.” He added: “I presume on the goodness of people. If you are open to people, they are open to you.”
Winds of Change Radio Show
Take a listen to a recent interview that Sr Theresa and Jim (our first brother to be) recently had in Chicago on the Winds of Change Radio Show.
Smile though your heart is aching
A Reflection from Sr Ruth Burrows for the Easter Tridiium
- Download the article in PDF format by clicking here.
Year of Consecrated Life
We are currently celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, which began on 30th November 2014 and will end on the 2nd February 2016. The theme given it by the Vatican is ‘Wake up the World’.
The year has a three-pronged focus
- renewal for men and women in consecrated life,
- thanksgiving among the faithful for the service of sisters, brothers, priests, and nuns,
- invitation to young Catholics to consider a religious vocation.
As a community we will be offering some events before and during this year in order in order to highlight this three-pronged focus.
‘A Space for Silence’
A piece on Abbotswick in The Tablet, 23 November 2013.
- Download the article in PDF format by clicking here.
Meeting with Pope Francis – Saturday 6th July 2013
We recently went with several discerners to a Year of Faith pilgrimage to Rome for novices, seminarians and those on a vocational journey. Pope Francis joined the 6000 people on this pilgrimage for a meeting in the Pope Paul VI audience hall. Before his arrival we were entertained by musicians (including The Priests) and heard several testimonies (including that of Fr Robert Barron). Go to the 1 hr 9 mins point of the video to see him arriving in the hall. Look out for Sr Theresa who managed to shake his hand!
Download the full text of Pope Francis’s address (translated into English) and read what he shared with the everyone during this meeting).
The very modern lives of our nuns in Essex
Echo – January 16, 2012
It’s hard not to be in awe of the dedication of modern-day nuns, whether or not you have faith. Unflinching in their quest to tackle difficult issues head on, a nun’s life is anything but sheltered. And, it seems, more young women are looking to devote their life to God. Of those choosing to become nuns, the number of women under 40 has risen from 42 per cent in 2006 to 70 per cent in 2010, according to the National Office for Vocation.
LOUISE HOWESON went to the Colchester Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre and Our Lady of Walsingham in Brentwood to find out more…
- Download the article in PDF format by clicking here.
Our Lady of Walsingham is yearning to save England – her dowry
Listen to Sr Camilla’s thoughts for the Sundays of Lent on BBC Radio Essex, each Sunday morning at around 6.50am and again at around 8.50am during the Sunday morning show hosted by Peter Holmes. Alternatively listen to them here where they will be uploaded each week once they have been broadcast.
Sunday Week 1:
Sunday Week 2:
Sunday Week 3:
Sunday Week 4:
Sunday Week 5:
Sunday Week 6:
Why Theresa chose to become a religious sister…
Interview on BBC Radio Sussex , recorded in April 2011. Listen to the interview:
Songs of Praise – 3rd January 2010
“In this clip we get a glimpse of life at Abbotswick as the community prepares to welcome a new member (who has since left after discerning that the community was not the right one for her)”
In Essex, the youngest religious order in the UK is welcoming new sisters… and its first man.
Interview on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, recorded in December 2009. Listen to the interview:
It’s a busy Friday evening at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, and BA air stewardess Katie Colbran, 32, has just stepped off a flight from Milan. In September she’ll hang up her BA uniform for the last time, and in its place she’ll put on a powder-blue scapular and become Sister Katie of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham…
Please Note: This interview was conducted before our first brother joined the community.
The Times Magazine, 10th May 2009
The number of women called to become nuns in Britain has shrunk to just a handful. Yet in Essex, the country’s youngest religious order is preparing to welcome new sisters – and perhaps even the odd brother – as the country’s first mixed convent takes shape
Running Out Of Nuns
boloji.com, 2nd June 2007
From oil-field workers to city traders, there has been a blaze of publicity in Britain about the need to bring more women into male-dominated careers. But far less media attention has been devoted to the fact that one of the few all-female callings is under threat. While more and more women are becoming nuns worldwide, the number of novices has fallen in Britain.
“Now, how many Catholic nuns do you think there are in this country?”
On 24th June 2007, the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham was featured on the BBC Radio 4 Programme ‘Sunday’. Listen to the interview:
Of a quite different order
The Tablet, 28th April 2007
The new religious Community of Our Lady of Walsingham is the order that likes to say ‘yes’ – obedience, silent prayer,poverty and the rosary are in, but so are chilling out and trips to the movies. A distinctive departure from other orders, its statutes are designed to use the gifts of women more fully.
- You can download the article in PDF format by clicking here.
The Guardian, Friday 23 February 2007
Migrant worshippers are helping to swell Catholic congregations – and yet the ageing population of British nuns is teetering on the verge of extinction. Is there any hope for the religious sisterhood, asks Joanna Moorhead.