Two years ago the Franciscan International Study Center closed its doors and was sold. We still have a Franciscan presence in Canterbury. They are the Franciscan Missionary sisters of Littlehampton at Monte Bre, Blean and the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph in Somner Close.
Sadly, by the end of this month, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St Joseph will have left the parish after their presence here of twenty-seven years when Sister Margaret arrived to study at the Franciscan International Study Centre (FISC). From there she moved to St Bonaventure’s University in Upstate New York to study for her Masters in Franciscan Studies returning to teach at FISC where she remained until its closure. During that time, she served as Director of Franciscan Studies and Sabbaticals and the Spiritual Direction Course in which a number of our parishioners took part. Margaret also served as Vice Principal.
She was later joined by Sister Frances Slater who was one of the founding members of the Solitude Group and who was known to many of our parishioners. Other Sisters joined the community including Sisters Nuala, Killian and Christine and a Noviciate was established in King Street in the former friary of the Capuchin Friars.
In 2007 Sister Anne Bross from the USA came to have a Sabbatical at the Centre and stayed on to join the Community. Anne worked for a time at L’Arche and in the Library at FISC and as a Chaplain at Kent and Canterbury Hospital. Here in the Parish she was a Welcomer at the 9.30 Mass. Latterly, she has also been a volunteer at Age UK.
Many of their Sisters from various countries and cultures came to study at the Centre – from Kenya, Ecuador, Peru, Uganda, Holland and Ireland.
In this parish, over the years, we have been blessed with the presence of religious women and men. Pope Francis said, “Every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on a journey. There is much need of their presence, that strengthens and renews the commitment to spread the gospel, to Christian education, to charity for the most needy, to contemplative prayer; the commitment to a human and spiritual formation of young people, of families; the commitment to justice and peace in the human family.” It is important we pray for all those in religious life and for anyone who is considering whether God is calling them to this was of life. “Those in religious life are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, a prophecy of sharing with the little and the poor. With such understanding and experience, the consecrated life appears to us just as it really is: a gift of God!”
I would like to thank Sister Margaret and Sister Anne for their devoted service in our parish. We are going to miss them and their presence amongst us. We wish them God’s blessing as they both move to the North to take up their new appointments.