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Sisters bring fun to Essex estates

About 150 children enjoyed drumming, stunts and circus tricks and learned about science and crafts

By on Thursday, 18 August 2011

Children assemble for a week of fun with the Canonesses (Photo: Sister Moira)

Children assemble for a week of fun with the Canonesses (Photo: Sister Moira)

Children on the Melbourne estates in Chelmsford, Essex, enjoyed a Fun Week organised by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre this month.

About 150 children enjoyed drumming, stunts and circus tricks and learned about science and crafts.

The Canonesses were helped by 24 young volunteers, known as “Yellowshirts” due to their customised T-shirts. They acted as role models for the younger children. It is the eighth year the Fun Week has been running.

Sister Moira said the young people on the estate would otherwise have no hope of a holiday or even of days out.

She said: “A week of activities fills a need. The activities chosen are ones which can also be done at home as fun and learning activities.”

The Canonesses used to run New Hall, a private girls school in Chelmsford founded in 1642 and located in the former Tudor palace of Beaulieu. They handed over the running of the school almost 10 years ago and moved to disadvantaged areas in Essex and east London.
At their worldwide general chapter, held last month, they promised to try to “live simply and in solidarity with the poor”.

Sister Moira said: “The final question posed [at the general chapter] was ‘with whom have you linked your destiny?’

“The spirituality of our order impels us to answer this question from the perspective of the empty tomb: finding life when all seems dead, being bearers of hope and life in the darkest of places. In practical terms this means living, working and praying with people in their everyday lives and meeting whatever needs come our way.”

There are 17 Canonesses in Britain and over 400 worldwide.

  • ms catholic state

    I think this is a great initiative.  But I hope the light of Christ will be able to shine through…..and that at least the Hall where it is taking place would have a Crucifix on the wall.  And that the nuns would wear habits and Crucifixes too.

    Otherwise….they will be depriving the children of Christ too….who said that nobody should stop the children coming to Him.  These children have already been robbed of their Christian heritage…..for a bowl of pottage.  Hope this can be arrested.

  • Karen

    As an Old Fish, who lived at New Hall for 5 years, being educated and cared for by the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, I can only see this, their new found vocation, as a positive move towards true Christian Spirtualism. The change of mindset must be a challenge for them? Is Moulsham really such a “dead, dark place” I wonder? It does all sound rather condescending the way they speak about their work! I wonder if they will ever reach a point where they will no longer differentiate between the privileged girls they once cared for and those they perceive as lacking life or hope? I hope so. :)

  • Andyh

    would like to respond to both of the previous comments. I do not propose to
    comment on the plight of the people that are being helped. Reason is that
    although I live locally I could not possibly understand their lives as I do not
    live it day to day. However the Sisters that do live on the estate day in and
    day out DO understand. They have responded to a real need in an incredibly
    positive way.

    Donning a habit and putting a crucifix on the wall will do nothing
    to bring Christ into any life. Much more would need to be done. Morning prayers,
    religious readings and maybe a visit from a Priest every day would get you a
    little closer.

    HOWEVER this would result in yet another badly attended church
    initiative and the local community all the poorer for it. The Sisters have it
    ‘Spot on’ and 150 souls are all the happier for it.

    I do wish the religious community as a whole would see people and not
    potential recruits. The sisters on Melbourne are true Christians of the
    21st Century.

    Andy H