Want to learn what it means to live the religious life in community?
Monks and nuns are coming to a college near you. During the Life Together week, take the opportunity to meet a monk or nun at breakfast, lunch, or tea (with lunchtime discussions over free food!). Join them in monastic worship throughout the day, and bring any question you like.
Discover: Why monks and nuns choose this counter-cultural way of life; What they do all day in their monasteries, convents or communities How their communities of prayer transform them and the world around them
Learn about the participants below.
Brother Marc Voase CR
I’m really looking forward to being in Oxford for the ‘Life Together event.’ Being able to be part of a college life – even for a short time – and the atmosphere it entails are good experiences during which we can teach, learn from and generally interact with others. Relating in precisely this way is essential to life in any community, not least the Christian. Hopefully we will be able during these days to create and share new relationships, teaching and learning from one another.
This is exciting because God is ever doing new things to enable the building of his Kingdom: I am privileged to be able to come to this event as an expression of that and to offer back something of it from my own life experience.
I have a background in education, working as a secondary school teaching assistant for ten years in a mainstream boys’ setting. Working with the differently-able is naturally tough, but always highly rewarding. I love that work still, and continue to advise foster-parents of SEND young people on ways of supporting them in a voluntary capacity.
I have a degree in linguistics and literature from York, and have recently spent time in Trier completing an A1 German course, which has been good. I joined the Community of the Resurrection in October 2015, and prior to that had been exploring a call to public ministry in a diocesan context. I made my first (three year) vows in March 2018, and currently have responsibility for the house which the sixteen all-age brothers share! I call it a joyously tough life!
Favourite spiritual quote: ‘First do what’s necessary, then do what’s possible; soon you’ll be doing the impossible.’ (Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.)
Interesting CR fact: Our theological college trained Teresa May’s dad for ordained ministry!
Sister Judith SLG
I was born and brought up in London and am thoroughly European, (Hungarian, British and French). Having studied the violin at the Royal Academy of Music and then doing a PGCE in Bath, I taught Secondary Music, Chemistry and Violin for two years in Bath before returning to teach as a peripatetic violin teacher for the Croydon Instrumental Teaching Service which had nurtured me.
After five years of teaching, I took a sabbatical year and spent nine months living alongside the Sisters of the Love of God at Fairacres and three months in India with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s sisters) in a children’s home in the North of India. On my return from India I asked to join the Sisters of the Love of God and have been there for the last 27 years.
From January 2016 I spent two years in Co Down, Northern Ireland, living cross-community with the Little Sisters of Jesus, a Roman Catholic Order. As part of that experience I worked for a year in a café doing the washing up and a year being a carer for the Northern Ireland Hospice at Home service providing mostly night-time end-of-life care.
My prayer/desire for the Life Together week: To share the treasure and joy that is the Religious Life.
Favourite quotation: “Have no fear of human sin. Love everyone even in their sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day, and you will come at last to love the world with an all-embracing love.” — Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Something interesting about my community: Its formative Rule was drawn up in 1916 and Reconciliation has always been at the heart of its prayer and raison d’être.
An interesting fact about myself: I am chocoholic! I am learning to make willow baskets, and I am growing my own willow in the garden. My English family were basket-makers in Herefordshire in the 1800s.
Sister Elizabeth Jane CSMV
Having grown up in a vicarage, God has always been a part of my life. After finishing at university, I spent time working for the church both in London and Botswana. However, after inklings and intimations over a number of years I knew that I had to give the religious life a try. I had very much enjoyed living in London and travelling abroad, but felt a restlessness for “something more”. And so, aged 27 years, I joined the Community of St Mary the Virgin at Wantage, and in settling into life there, I felt that I had “found my niche”.
At its heart, the religious life might be described as “seeking God in company with others”. A daily rhythm of prayer is therefore at the centre of our life, and our community life of work, shared meals and time together, is woven around this. Through this rhythm we seek a balanced life of work and recreation, silence and conversation, community and solitude.
My work and ministry have been very varied – from the ordinary domestic tasks of any household, to welcoming and caring for guests, sacristan duties, computer/administrative work, ministry with children/young people, leading retreats and offering spiritual accompaniment, travelling to visit our Oblates in South Africa.
Guests who come and stay at our Convent often comment on the peaceful atmosphere. However living closely alongside others has both its joys and its struggles - it is certainly not an escape from real life. In my community life I experience warm and loving relationships of acceptance and support. I also knock up against those who are very different to me and am challenged in my loving acceptance of them, and in a deepening of self-knowledge.
People sometimes wonder how normal our life is. I was once asked by a young school girl whether I slept in a bed! Children also often ask us what we have to eat! We try to live simply, but we are fairly normal in many ways - we watch television and I enjoy my holidays visiting family and friends.
I feel blessed to have been called to a way of life where time for prayer and reflection are a given. I believe that God is to be found everywhere, and that God is always wishing to enlarge us and draw us into wholeness and fullness of life.
My prayer/desire for the Life Together Week: That we will be enriched and inspired by one another.
One favourite quotation: “God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.” — Meister Eckhart , 14th century
Something interesting about my community: After much prayerful planning, my Community has just embarked on an exciting building project which will give office space to the Oxford Diocesan Schools’ Trust which seeks to build educational excellence upon a firm foundation of Christian values. We are also developing a conference centre alongside our existing Guest Wing. Since our beginnings as a Community, we have had a deep concern for education, so we feel this project puts us back in touch with our roots in a way which is appropriate for the 21st century.
Something interesting about me: “I try to be alive each day.”
Sister Frances Dominica ASSP
I did not excel at school! All I ever wanted to do was to train as a paediatric nurse at The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street. In what is now called a gap year, I volunteered at a settlement in Bethnal Green. This was 10 years after the experiences described in Call the Midwife but conditions had not improved much. It was a life-changing experience for me.
I loved every moment of my time at Great Ormond Street and was seconded for 15 months to the Middlesex Hospital for general training. At the time I was not a church-goer although I did believe in God. A patient turned out to be the Vicar of Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell and I started attending his church. Meanwhile I qualified as a paediatric nurse and a general nurse.
I had my future life planned – work with an NGO, eventually meet my future husband and have a large family. St Francis’ Day 1964 found me on pilgrimage with the church to The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, a strange experience for one who was drawn to the Quaker way of life! In church that day, from one moment to the next, my life changed – I knew I was going to be an Anglican nun for the rest of my life.
With very strong opposition from family and friends, in July 1966 aged 23, I entered All Saints Sisters of the Poor. Eventually, when people saw how happy I was, the opposition changed to loving and enthusiastic support. I have never doubted that this is my call and in a few weeks’ time I will be celebrating 50 years in vows, fifty years of amazing experiences and encounters.
My prayer/desire for the Life Together Week: I pray that others may hear God’s calling to this way of life so that together, often in a hidden way, we can be Ambassadors for Christ.
One favourite quotation: I have called you by your name, you are mine… You are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you. Isaiah chapter 43.
Something interesting about my community: With increasing poverty all around us, I do not believe our calling as All Saints Sisters of the Poor has ever been more relevant.
Something interesting about me: If I am late (as I often am) I blame my mother. She taught me never to be early for anything because there are several things you could be doing in the meantime!
Sister Margaret Theresa SLG
I was brought up on a small farm on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders and wondered about becoming a farmer. But I followed my other main interest, music, and taught it in secondary schools in Birmingham and London for six years. I wanted to teach music because for me, music speaks of the things of God.
I guess those strands in my life are linked as it was while I was working in the harvest field that I had a deep experience of God, and knew that God somehow needed to feature prominently in my life. What God was asking of me was far from clear – and that is often the case for me today. After teaching for about three years, things began to clarify. I knew that I was called to be single and started visiting Convents. It took a couple of years to realise that the convent to which I was being called was actually the first I had visited, and so I entered the Community of the Sisters of the Love of God in 1982 - and am still here!
I currently help with vocational matters, in the kitchen and with the maintenance of our home. I enjoy bird watching, walking, (I am in the midst of walking the Thames path – in stages), growing strawberries, music etc.
My prayer and hope for the Life Together week: That I may be able to share something of the Religious Life, which has been, and remains the most important thing in my life.
One favourite quotation: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
Something interesting about my community: We treasure both the Benedictine and Carmelite traditions, which means that there is an emphasis on both corporate prayer and praying on our own.
Something interesting about me: I am fascinated by the weather forecast and try to watch ‘Countryfile’ which includes a forecast for the coming week.
Sister Jane ASSP
I came into Religious Life having worked in supermarket retailing with Waitrose and Partners in various London shops.
The Lord has a great sense of humour and has put many of my past work experiences to good use in community!
I was Guest sister for 10 years, responsible for hospitality in our guest house, a major part of any community’s work, but relinquished that role in October 2017 when I was elected Leader of the Community.
Our Society of All Saints Sisters of the Poor is active, in the sense that some of us go out from our Convent site and are involved in different projects. The Porch, which is a centre here in East Oxford for homeless or vulnerably housed people, began in the porch of the convent where sisters offered tea and sandwiches. St John’s Home for the Elderly and Helen House for children with life limiting or threatening conditions are both on our site here. These are all places where we seek to live out our charism of being channels of God’s love.
I am passionate about the religious life as an alternative way to live life to the full!
My prayer and hope for the Life Together week: I am looking forward to sharing what Life together can mean in traditional communities in 2018 and how we derive great joy and fulfilment from it!
Favourite Quote: O God, you are my God, eagerly I seek you — Psalm 63
Quote from our community rule: “The work of our community must be relevant to the needs of the present day and it must be well done… but work is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end and a practical expression of love.”
Something interesting about me: I love to keep up with sport, am a Life member of Middlesex County Cricket Club, having taken out membership before joining the community, and support Wales in the rugby.
Fr George Guiver CR
I grew up in Leicester, studied music at Durham, taught for two years in Italy, and was 9 years a parish priest, and after a year of study in Germany joined the Community of the Resurrection in 1983. Taught liturgy in the Community’s theological College for 18 years, and also at Leeds University; then was Superior of the Community for 15 years until 2018. My books include Company of Voices, Every day God, Pursuing the Mystery, and Vision upon Vision. I take a keen interest in contemporary society and what Christianity has to say to it about what it is to be human beings today, not least on the plusses and minuses of individualism.
What I’m looking forward to in this week in Oxford is some fruitful and enjoyable engagement.
Quote: “When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he didn’t say, ‘My Father in heaven, give me this day my daily bread…’ but ‘Our Father in heaven, give us this day our daily bread…’ Our prayer is part of our belonging together” (Cyprian of Carthage, 3rd cent.)
Our Community was born hand-in-hand with the social conscience of the late 19th century, and its members supported Christian socialism. It moved from Oxford to the heart of the industrial North in 1898, and in 1903 also began 100 years of work in South Africa, was at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid, and trained whole generations of black clergy. In this century our monastery at Mirfield is inundated with individuals and groups wanting to come and share in something of our life, almost more people than we can cope with – an indication of the great spiritual thirst in our society.
As for me, one thing that might be of interest is my love of camping and cycling. In February 2018 I cycled round the Sea of Galilee in one day, and then did a pray-in in an armoured bus going through the West Bank, to raise money for EAPPI, which supports Palestinians experiencing difficulties when they need to go through the wall that the state of Israel has erected around the West Bank.