In 2009 we were delighted to welcome sisters of the Community of the Holy Name to St John’s Rectory, in the east part of our parish. We welcomed them to help us develop and extend our work in the east part of the parish, by Longsight Market, and also to be a home for the sisters and for parish assistants. This was agreed with the blessing and encouragement of the Bishop of Manchester. The Diocese allows the house to be used, rent free, provided bills such as telephone, electricity and gas are paid. In November 2009 Bishop Mark, Bishop of Middleton, described the house as an answer to his prayers, and blessed the house to be used by the sisters and parish assistants. (See here, from our blog in 2009).
Over the years the sisters have provided a gentle prayerful presence in the area and indeed in the diocese. They have helped create our house of hospitality used by many clergy of the diocese, and the sisters have become engaged in St Chrysostom’s church life, and pastoral work. For over twenty years the parish assistant scheme has provided many young adults with an opportunity to explore vocation in a place of welcome, variety and fun. Many parish assistants have gone on to ordination and we are rightly proud of them. At St John’s Rectory they have a friendly and homely place to live, and have clearly benefited from living there. The house provides a base for the our inclusive and prayerful style of ministry in that part of the parish.
Sr Jean and Sr Lynfa have been called back to the mother convent in Derby for health reasons, and we said goodbye to them on Sunday. We will greatly miss them. Sadly the Community of the Holy Name is an ageing community and is not able to replace the sisters. We are so grateful to the community for the contribution they have made to our parish and area by their prayerful presence and encouragement, and by the care they have shown to members of our church. We are planning ways to keep in touch with the sisters of CHN, and we will pray for them as they will for us.
St John’s Rectory is undoubtedly a great asset to parish and diocese. It is our hope in the parish to build on the sisters work and on the style developed over many years at St John’s Rectory. We hope that the house continues to be an asset to St Chrysostom’s, and indeed the diocese, as a place of prayer and hospitality in our parish, not least to parish assistants, and perhaps to religious of another community. Archbishop Justin created a community encouraging young people to take a year in God’s time – perhaps St C’s with diocesan support could create a similar community based at St John’s Rectory?