The Gift of Nearness/Closeness – Northern European Area

Posted August 10, 2022

Forever grateful for the gifts of our Founders

The Gift of Nearness/Closeness
Ursula Canavan, RSHM, Northern European Area

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the lives of our Founders who have left us a rich legacy which we continue to enjoy today.

In the Northern European Area we thank you in particular for their appreciation of the importance of nearness, closeness – to you, to one another and to the persons with whom and for whom they lived and worked. We remember with gratitude the reassuring words of Father Gailhac to the sisters in Lisburn, the first community opened outside France, so far from the Mother House in terms of geography, language,and culture:

            “There is no distance with and in God.  My spirit and my heart are always with you. I have followed you on your journey and I am with you now that you have arrived in you place of mission.”

and again to a particular sister:

            “There is no separation to those who belong to God, because we are always together in the heart of Jesus.”

Father Gailhac and the founding sisters wanted to be near, to be close to all the sisters sent from the Mother House on mission, whether it was to Ireland, England, Portugal or America. They also wanted to be near the people with whom the sisters worked.

A lovely example of this is M. Ste. Croix who showed particular interest in the boarders in Lisburn.  She wrote affectionate letters to them, promising to visit them soon and encouraging them to practise speaking French so that they and she could communicate with one another. Her spoken English she admitted to the students was “very little and very bad.”  Her approach to them is open and friendly; she wants to be close to them, to spend time with them.

 I take these examples of nearness, of closeness from the early days of our Area, but could cite so many more from our sisters down through the generations, ministering in parishes, schools, prisons, on the margins or in our own communities.

A lovely recent example comes from Noddfa, our Spirituality Centre in Wales where Aimee, one of our workers,whose marriage had been postponed twice because of the pandemic, finally had a date for her wedding. Her great desire was that the entire staff and community, with whom she worked so closely, would be able to attend. And attend they did, due to the ingenuity of Patrice and Mary Jo who managed to make alternative arrangements for the guests in Noddfa that day and release all the staff for the special occasion. … the wedding feast at Cana comes to mind. … Nearness to people and attentiveness to their needs is indeed an important part of our mission as RSHM.

Heavenly Father, after the example of our Founders, may we grow ever closer to you and your Son and may we continue to share your love with all those we meet so that together we may have life and have it in abundance.   Amen

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