Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
beatitude

Sad News of Sr Faith

Recommended Posts

beatitude

This is a terrible post for me to write. Many of you here knew my friend faithcecelia and followed her journey in and out of Carmel. She had to leave her monastery due to life-threatening asthma. I have just heard that she has died.

She has been very ill for a long time. Please pray for the repose of her soul, and for her family - her mum died not long ago and this will be a very hard Christmas for them.

Please also pray for me. I am numb.

Edited to add: I changed the title of this thread to call her Sister Faith rather than Faith. She always said she would never stop being a Carmelite nun in her heart. I am sure those Carmelite saints are claiming her as their sister even as I write.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pax17

This comes as a shock...so many of us followed the generous sharing of her vocation story and struggle with illness.

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
darcy15

I am shocked and saddened to hear this - I followed Sister Faith’s Carmel journey 

 

I am am so sorry for the loss of your friend Beatitude 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
beatitude

It took about five hours for me to believe that she was really dead and another hour for the tears to come. I am sitting here crying and remembering Christmas 2015, which she spent with me and my family. She wasn't doing too badly that Christmas - she was able to come without bringing her wheelchair, and we even managed a slow twenty-minute walk to a local pond one day. There was another day when she was so tired after climbing the stairs that she couldn't leave her bedroom the rest of the day. I remember my parents were quite shocked by how unwell she was, but I was just thrilled that we'd been able to go for a walk. I gave her an embroidered cushion cover for Christmas, because she loved cross-stitch and was keen on bright colours. This year's present was going to be a small stained glass image of the Annunciation that can be hung in a window to catch the light. I don't know what to do with it now. I could keep it, but my heart feels as if it's going to burst whenever I look at it.

I need to go overseas for work on 2nd January and my manuscript is due with the publisher on 4th January. That date is in my contract. I have so much work to do. I can't collect my thoughts. I hope Faith will intercede for me and help me to do what needs to be done. Once I get these things done I will maybe ask for some compassionate leave and go away to a retreat house and just sit and cry and tell God I'm grateful I had such a good friend (and demand that he give her back - I know I still have her, but I want her in the earthly form. That form was great). The tears are welling up and I can barely put a sentence together, but I need to finish writing this book.

I hope everyone here is OK. I know there are lots of PMers who loved her. I'm keeping you all in my prayers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TheresaThoma

Oh Beatitude, I am so so sorry to hear this news.  I just don't have words, I didn't know her beyond what she shared on here so I can't imagine what you are going through.

I will be praying for you, for her and for her family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Antigonos

ברוך דיין אמת

[Blessed be the Righteous Judge -- the traditional Jewish response upon hearing that someone has died]

She definitely was a pure soul.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sister Leticia

I too remember Faith's journey very well. When I first came across this forum, almost by accident, she was visiting Notting Hill. I remember a very long thread, which ended with her eventual entry. So my prayers are with her, and all those who have loved her, especially as her death appears to have been such a shock (despite her illness)

Beatitude - if your heart bursts whenever you look at the Christmas present then put it away. Maybe one day you will be able to reclaim it as Faith's final, physical Christmas gift to you. Or maybe you will one day meet someone to whom you know you can give it - and Faith, who longed to give all and live a life of Carmelite austerity would surely be very happy for "her" gift to be given away. But for now, in the rawness of grieving, you don't need to spend time dwelling on it.

And a thought: perhaps you could ask Faith's family if they would like you to inform NH and her previous Carmel about her death? Or just do it? It's one less thing for the family to do, and it would also mean that they will undoubtedly be prayed for, and know that they are being held in prayer. (And if you don't have the convents' contact details, they have websites and FB pages, so messages will get to them)

Hugs and blessings...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Francis Clare

May she rest in peace and sing with the Angels.

And may you, and those who knew and loved her (even from afar on this Phorum), find peace despite the death of this young soul who was loved so dearly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
beatitude

If anyone would like to give to charity in memory of Faith, she was helped by a breathing charity called NARA, whose staff were so lovely and kind to her. Without them she would have been in hospital far more frequently than she was.

Another charity is Inclusive Skating, which helps people with disabilities and illness to get involved in ice sports. Faith was a figure-skater herself in the days before she got so ill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cmaD2006

May His eternal light rest upon her soul.  I heard the news this morning, and was quite saddened by it.  Praying for her, her friends, and her entire family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hna.Caridad

This is really hard news--I certainly remember her posts on here.  Please be assured of my prayers.   Beatitude, thank you for being such a good friend to her--hang in there...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cherie

Oh my gosh, I am shocked to read this. I’m so sorry for your loss and so sorry to read this. I haven’t been on Phatmass in years, probably, but I remember her very well from here. I’m glad I saw this so I can pray for her and her family. Thank you for letting us know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Carmelshrimp

So sorry to learn of the loss of your friend. Sister Faith and I exchanged several messages as she prepared to enter Notting Hill and during her time there.  She was a born Carmelite and the only consolation I can offer at this sad time is that at least now she can fulfill her vocation in a way her illness never let her do on earth. Prayers for you in your sadness, but not for Faith - I'm sure she's praying for us.  May she rest in peace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
beatitude
9 hours ago, truthfinder said:

I was expecting a different sort of post when I read this.

My condolences to her family and to you. May she rest in peace.

I'm sorry if it gave you a shock. I hadn't thought of that. I will amend the title to make it clear that there's grief inside, so no one is opening it thinking it contains news of a return to Carmel (although in one sense it does - I keep thinking of the little book On This Mountain that one of the Notting Hill sisters wrote, and surely she has ascended that mountain).

I have been reading C.S. Lewis's A Grief Observed. It's a very slim book, written after the death of his wife - just a few pages of rage and grief. It's beautiful. For some reason I'm finding it difficult to listen to Christmas carols, preferring silence, but there are two worship songs that I have on repeat when I do put on some music - Matt Redman's Better is One Day and Chris Tomlin's Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. "Teach me some melodious sonnet / Sung by flaming tongues above / Praise the Mount, I'm fixed upon it / Mount of Thy redeeming love. / Here I raise my ebenezer / Hither by Thy help I come / And I hope, by Thy good pleasure / Safely to arrive at home...How Your kindness yet pursues me..."

One of the things I loved about her was that even when she was housebound or in hospital she was able to make me feel as if she was sitting in my living room with me. She took  such an active interest in the lives of her friends. She was always present. I had a pretty rough year in 2015. I was still living in Bethlehem then, and I could never have believed that someone thousands of miles away could have been such a support. She had her own cloister - her bed, her chair, an increasingly weak body - but just like all our nuns, she made herself felt far beyond its limits. Since she died I've been in touch with all sorts of people from all walks of life who had got to know her somehow, and I marvel at how many very different people she touched.

I've known her for twelve years. Almost half my life. She's the first friend my own age to die, and this comes with a sudden sense of amputation that wasn't there in any grief I've experienced so far. I knew that Faith was seriously ill, and from time to time she would tell me that a fellow brittle asthma patient had died, and as she'd told me a bit about asthma I knew that three British people die from it daily on average. But somehow I always put them in a separate category from her. I got used to her being hospitalised, even in the Intensive Care Unit; I got used to seeing the tubes and the needles and the wheelchair; I just assumed that she would go on living with it.

This suddenness has brought home to me the full haunting power of the Gospel story about the rich man who was hoarding treasure: "Fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you, and whose will be the things you have prepared?" I don't think that just applies to literal treasure, but to all our good intentions that we never act upon. Spend your kindnesses; don't keep them in reserve for a tomorrow that never arrives. Faith asked me to go and stay with her a few weeks ago. I was busy with work, so I put it off, even though I knew she badly wanted to see me. She lived at the opposite end of the country and the thought of travelling to her and taking so much time off was stressful. But there was something in my heart urging me to go. I didn't. I decided to go 'soon' instead. "Fool! This very night..."

It's a tough message. But right after Jesus tells that parable, in his very next words, he gives the blessed reassurance, "Therefore I tell you, do not be worried about your life...Which of you by worrying can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? ... Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." He makes good everything that we could not accomplish, pours out every gift we were not capable of giving to each other.

I keep thinking of that beautiful verse from Revelation, "Behold, I make all things new." That is both comfort and grief - grief, because I want everything to be the same as it was; and comfort, because I trust him enough to know he's got something better.

On a final note, I came across this Christmas poem by Magdeleine L'Engle, and I wanted to share it for the sake of the last line, which seems such a powerful remedy for the kind of grief that makes your skin feel too thin and like you need to hide away from anything that's likely to cause more hurt.

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn–
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn–
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OnlySunshine

I am so sorry to hear of faithcecelia's passing!  When I was discerning religious life, she offered a lot of support and help along the way and was a very kind, sweet soul.  :sad:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
beatitude

There is a New Year retreat down in London that I wanted to go to, but as the accommodation is always basic (retreatants camp on the floor of whichever school or parish hall has been hired for the event) I decided against it - nights are the worst time for me and I was concerned that I would disturb other retreatants if I were to cry. Then I got a phone call out of nowhere from one of the Little Sisters of Jesus, and in her usual extremely forthright way, with barely a pause to say hello, she went, "You will sleep in the community and have your own room, and every day we will go to the retreat. Do not worry. I will come with you." The LSJ know I love that retreat. I was so touched that they had remembered, and they'd realised without my saying anything that I would find it hard to participate this year. If I had to choose one sentence to sum up the Incarnation, that "I will come with you" would be it. Another thing the sister said to me was,  repeated two or three times, was, "She is working for you." I think it's true. Various practical difficulties I was experiencing with my work and life in general have suddenly been resolved, and the manner in which they were resolved makes it hard not to suspect the involvement of Faith. ;)

My publisher is expecting my manuscript by 4 January. When I got the news that she was gone I just froze and thought I would never be able to deliver it on time. I'm sure Faith herself would have other ideas. She used to press on with whatever she was doing even when she was dreadfully unwell. I broke out of my freeze-frame by opening the cover page and adding her name to the dedication. After that I could write again, and if I say it myself, this book will be good.

As she used to say, "God is good, all the time."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×