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Augustinian Canonesses Of The Mercy Of Jesus


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I recently went on a retreat with this congregation. I know that there are increasing numbers of UK/European discerners on the phorum, so I thought I would write a little bit about these sisters for those who are considering religious life in the UK.


The retreat I went on wasn't a discernment retreat, it was for medical professionals and other healthcare workers. These are yearly events to encourage and support Christians in the caring professions. (Not everyone who came on the retreat was a Catholic - there were several Christians from other churches too, so the sisters are also doing some ecumenical work.) The theme was 'Creativity and Compassion'. The sisters' apostolates are healthcare and hospitality, and they run a nursing home that is attached to their convent. It is mainly home to elderly people who are too frail and unwell to live unassisted, but there are also some places for people with terminal illness. The sisters also run a guesthouse and host retreats - the annual one for healthcare staff, a summer Scripture study week for younger Catholics, etc. They wear the habit (I know the outward witness is important to many people here), and they have about a dozen sisters at this house.


I did not get to meet the entire community, as I was living in the guest quarters, but the sisters I did meet were lovely. They seemed a very kind, thoughtful bunch of women - and they are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful areas of England, with the sea at their windows and the mountains at their back. I can't think of a nicer place to conduct a ministry of caring and healing. The convent is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. I smiled at that, as she's a favourite of mine. The sisters have an excellent reputation for providing nursing care, according to the regulatory body that inspects and accredits care homes here, and I saw how their patients are not just patients but friends. There is Mass for them every day, sometimes with the Anointing of the Sick, and the patients are brought into the sisters' choir for that so they can all pray together. The chapel is beautiful, and there is also a little oratory with the Blessed Sacrament in the guest wing. I spent many hours in there.


Due to the needs of the people in the nursing home, the sisters do not pray the whole Divine Office together. Personally that wouldn't bother me - the work they do for sick people is also a kind of prayer, and I would have no objecting to praying my own Office separately when necessary - but I realise that some people feel drawn to a community where everyone comes into the choir at given times. 


Please pray for them and their ministry; they do important work. If you'd like to know more about them, their website is here.

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You're welcome. :) I encourage anyone living in the UK to take a look at their retreats page - I hear that their 'Thinking Faith' and 'Thinking Scripture' study weeks are very good.

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