Each year the IBVM and CJ English Provinces hold a joint meeting with the aim of getting to know each other better and meeting up with old friends. This year, knowing that the old divisions between our two institutes may soon be healed, made it an even more significant year than usual. However, with a steady increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the UK we knew that getting us all together would be difficult.
The meeting was scheduled to be held at the Bar Convent in York – our common home. But complying with national and local coronavirus regulations was never going to be easy. It was more difficult for the IBVM to commit to this planned meeting than it was for us. They had to come from north-west England (and Wales) where various forms of lockdown were being put back in place. For us CJ’s we had to deal with the dilemma of who to exclude as the total number allowed taking social distancing into consideration was only twenty. This meant that our more elderly sisters at St Joseph’s, and our ‘friends’ could not be invited which was sad.
The great attraction was that Sr Jane was coming from Rome to give her talk on Everyday Holiness according to Mary Ward and Pope Francis. How to get her here safely, let her give her talk safely, and then ensure she got back to Rome safely took some planning. However, come the day all went well. Social distancing regulations were observed, the numbers turned out to be just right, sandwiches appeared on time and we ended with a masked Mass in the Bar Convent Chapel (see photo).
Jane’s talk was very much appreciated by all and enabled us to touch into deeper realities and forget the immediate organizational ones. In the afternoon, the IBVM showed us the Mary Wright’s Power Point on Mary Ward’s Institute reminding us just how close we have all been over the past two centuries. It was a lovely day being re-united with those with whom we hope soon to be institutionally united. As someone said it was a landmark day to celebrate together in the Bar Convent from where Theresa Ball set out to found a new house of Mary Ward’s institute in Dublin almost exactly two centuries before.
Frances Orchard CJ