June 7, 2019 by

These days are really special ones in our village as everyone is celebrating Idul Fitri, the feast that marks the end of Ramadan. Over the weekend we delivered over fifty parcels of food to local families. Wednesday marked the first day of Idul Fitri and that was the day on which we visited our neighbours to wish them a happy feast. It was deeply touching to be welcomed so graciously into people’s home. In keeping with the custom here we wished everyone a happy Idul Fitri and apologised for any hurt we may have caused during the year. We then spent time talking and eating together. It was a day to grow in peace and good will. What a lovely way to give praise to God.

Divine Synchronicity

June 5, 2019 by

Having just written the previous post about loneliness and isolation, I left my desk and went to a meeting with a group of our FCJ Sixth form students. They wanted to talk about volunteering.

The area they highlighted as a need that they felt they wanted to respond to was loneliness and isolation among elderly people.

God does that.


Isolation and fearfulness

June 4, 2019 by

Yesterday a couple of us spent some time calling round to neighbours on our street who we haven’t ever met. It was quite a challenge to just knock on people’s doors and say hello – it isn’t really usual to do it and so we weren’t sure what sort of a reception we would get.

On the whole the people we met were friendly, if a little surprised, but there was certainly a sense of wariness too, and clearly many people didn’t know others on the street.

One of the difficulties where we live is that not everyone is confident to chat in English, and so people avoid speaking to each other for fear of being misunderstood. Not talking and avoiding each other leads to isolation, and isolation feeds suspicion and fearfulness.

We simply invited people round for a cup of tea – it was a lovely and simple way of reaching out and getting people together!

May is the month of …

May 23, 2019 by

spring-bird-2295434_1280Last week on the motorway I was driving behind a van which was advertising something. (Actually I have no idea what!!!!) The advertising slogan they had used (and note this was in one of the most Catholic parts of the country) was ‘May is the month of…’ I think the final word might have been ‘money’!

All I can say is that the advertising backfired! The only way I could imagine finishing that sentence was MARY – ‘May is the month of Mary’!

What does that mean for us today? May is certainly a month of beauty in northern Europe – a spring month with long days, blossom and blue skies. A month of change and promise…

As a child I remember crowning a statue of Mary with a crown of blossoms – and in some of our schools the tradition has persisted.

The beauty of may flowers is simple, uncomplicated beauty. The blossoms, seeming fragile can withstand strong winds and storms, they are a lifeline to the emerging insects and so in turn for the nesting birds.

Mary, Kersal Hill FCJ

Perhaps this speaks to us too of Mary – a gentle presence in our life of faith, a beautiful, simple hand on our shoulder, guiding us towards her Son. A strong, nurturing presence – a refuge in the storms.

A traditional FCJ blessing prays:

May Mary,

Mother of God Counsel,

counsel and protect you.


Simple Beauty

May 13, 2019 by



Two very different people have taught me about simple beauty today.

The first, a homeless woman who calls periodically to say hello, reminded me of the power of the smallest gesture of welcome and acceptance. I know she went out of her way to call by our house. She didn’t want or ask for anything… just wanted to say hello.

The second, a gardener who saw me picking flowers and pointed out the beauty in weeds – he commented that many people overlook these, but they have their own beauty!


May 11, 2019 by

It is hard to envision the million species of life forms currently threatened by extinction. However, the reality facing us is, sadly, too real to be ignored. Imagine so much beauty and diversity lost to us and that’s before trying to comprehend the damage done to the delicate web of life that sustains all existence. Even though experts are not able to establish exactly how many species exist it seems there are about nine million in total. I was thinking of this in relation to the Biblical notion of giving a tenth of everything to God. It seems that we humans have reversed that idea by the way we live. We take too much without giving back enough for nature to sustain itself. Let’s hope and pray that this is a warning and a wake up call. Let’s hope we all hear the clear message: “It’s time to change the way we live. It’s time to take less and give more…” There’s still hope. There’s still time. Let’s hear the call to transform ourselves and do all we can to heal our world.

Distracted and half asleep?

May 7, 2019 by

Christus Vivit

Recently I was listening to an elderly sister talking about her vocation story. In her sharing she said ‘there weren’t as many possibilities back then and I knew this was the thing I should do’.

It struck me that for many of us now, and perhaps even more so for young people, there are countless possibilities of things we might do with our life, and understandably young people want to have a look at the options before making a choice. Choice seems like freedom. But perhaps what Pope Francis writes at the start of the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Christ is Alive!’ reveals something to us. That it is possible to have many experiences but not really experience them! To be so distracted or numbed by all the noise and activity, that it becomes impossible to really be present ;

We can, in fact, spend our youth being distracted, skimming the surface of life, half-asleep, incapable of cultivating meaningful relationships or experiencing the deeper things in life. In this way, we can store up a paltry and unsubstantial future. Or we can spend our youth aspiring to beautiful and great things, and thus store up a future full of life and interior richness.

Christus Vivit #19

Aspiring to BE MORE, to change the world for the better, to make a difference where I am can lead us to a focus and depth that enables us to choose rather than be confounded by possibilities.

How can we cultivate a culture of focus and presence in our lives?

Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne

April 30, 2019 by

A group of us have just returned from a pilgrimage to Lindisfarne. I have walked this route many times over the last number of years,  stayed in the same Bunkhouse, visited the same churches and holy sites.

What I discovered about pilgrimage this time is that there is a real truth to the idea that we can visit somewhere that we have already been, and yet see it as if for the first time. As we take part in a pilgrimage the external landscape may remain largely unchanged, but the internal landscape of our lives shifts significantly. Who we are with, what is happening in our life, what our purpose is… all of these are what really make up the pilgrimage.

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot

Here are some images from our days of walking.


April 21, 2019 by

What heartbreaking scenes we see as we watch the shocking news of the bombings in Sri Lanka. We are surely all grieving such terrible loss of life and that so many people are injured. It is hard to make sense of such brutal acts and yet we must hold on to our belief in the innate goodness of people. Already so many people have responded with such generosity, kindness and courage. Love and goodness is ultimately greater than hatred and violence. Wherever we are let us pray for all those affected by the attacks in Sri Lanka and let us work that bit harder to spread more love in our world…

Notre Dame de Paris

April 17, 2019 by

I am sure that the terrible sight of parts of Notre Dame de Paris engulfed in flames was shocking and heartbreaking to billions of people. I wept as I watched the tragic story unfold. Notre Dame is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and treasued places of prayer. For over eight centuries it has stood out majestically against the Paris skyline, a symbol of God’s constant, gentle presence in our world,  a channel of love and a place of peace, consolation and sanctuary for all. We have only to think of Notre Dame to know that Paris; France; the whole world is placed under Mary’s care and protection. As awful as it was to see so much of the building damaged there is a sense of relief and wonder that it was saved in time thanks to the courage and heroism of the firefighters. Suddenly people of good will from all over the world pledge themselves to the mission of restoration. This disaster has also given birth to a miracle. It has shown that love of beauty and love of the sacred can bring us all together. Notre Dame continues to catch our hearts and attract our love. We all want to see her rise again in renewed beauty and dignity. It is like we are embarking on a pilgrimage carved out step by step in stone and wood. I am grateful that I can witness the restoration. This slow and careful work in the hands of the world’s best craftsmen and women will show how many forms love can take. Notre Dame de Paris…Pray for us.