In September 1992, three rscj, Joan Faber, Lorna Brockett and Carol Condon (pictured here, L-R), arrived in Boleyn Road, Forest Gate to form a new community which wanted to be inserted in the local area and close to the people. The borough of Newham was then, and still is one of the most diverse in the country.
Twenty five years on, in September 2017, the present community, Mary Barrow, Lorna and Carol (pictured below, L-R), gathered with two former members of the community, Silvana Dallanegra and Clare Balfour, to celebrate the life of the community during these years. Joan had died in 2016. We were united in thought and prayer with another former member, Teresa Ryden, now serving in Indonesia. Carol has been present for the whole 25 years, Mary for 21 years and Lorna returned 3 years ago after having served in other places. It was a happy reunion.
Over the years, community members have been involved in a variety of ministries – psychotherapy, spiritual accompaniment, teaching English to immigrants, parish finance, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Probation Service, working with migrants and refugees, conservation work and gardening to encourage wildlife, developing links with 2 local parishes and with many local organisations. We have joined in life events, religious festivals and local activities that bring community cohesion. Attending weddings and sharing the grief of people of other faiths at times of bereavement, exchanging gifts with neighbours at Eid and Christmas, taking part in inter-faith events and living in a very diverse community have broadened our horizons and opened us up to the riches and challenges of living with people from different faiths from many different countries. As in any community, the context in which we live has influenced our conversations and our personal and community prayer.
Hospitality has been a constant and important part of our life. As well as inviting family, friends and neighbours to visit, we have welcomed women who are considering religious life for a meal or for a live-in experience, and rscj from other countries who come to learn English or have an international experience. Rscj from India, Poland, Kenya, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuela have shared their culture and life with us and enriched and challenged us by their presence.
We do not know what the future holds, but we can say joyfully with Dag Hammarskjold: “For all that has been, thanks. To all that shall be, Yes”