Celebrating 114 years of mission in Rickmansworth

As they leave one of their first insertions, the Sisters of the English Province of the Daughters of Jesus reflect on what this means for them … a poignant moment but one also when they can give thanks for all that they leave behind.

For more than a century …

On the 13th April 2018, eleven Daughters of Jesus along with parishioners celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and Farewell at Our Lady Help of Christians, in Rickmansworth, a town northwest of London.

In 1904 a request for sisters had been made by the Augustinian priests who were administering the Parish of Rickmansworth at the time. Sisters Marie Septima and Marie des Saints were the first two sisters to arrive, fleeing from persecution in France? Strangers, foreigners, armed with nothing but their deep faith, indomitable spirit and a profound commitment to the mission with which they had been entrusted – education.

class photo 1964 – 1965

“Learning and Living God’s Truth in love” …

Starting from very humble beginnings, their successors leave behind them two well established and thriving schools: a dynamic academy with over 1200 students, St Joan of Arc, in Rickmansworth and a Primary School, St John’s, in an area to the west of the town. The two provide free education with a Catholic ethos for children between the ages of 4 and 18 years an ethos that will allow each pupil to become the special person God intended them to be”.

A former parish priest, Fr Jim Duffy, who had spent many years in the parish, gave a warm tribute to the sisters with a triple “thank you” as the salient point of his homily.

The Mass concluded with a vote of thanks to the parishioners by Sr Teresa McMenamin, the Provincial. She thanked them for their encouragement and for the witness of their own commitment in life to what it means to create community. The present Parish Priest then presented Sr Teresa with a pen and ink drawing of the Parish Church as a reminder of the 114 years the sisters have spent in Rickmansworth.

A mutual closeness …

Rickmansworth has grown since the early days, but the influence of the sisters lives on. True to the charism of the Congregation, the sisters lived and worked closely with the people not only in Rickmansworth but in neighbouring areas too. The closeness of the sisters to the people was evident by the number who attended the celebration. There were friends as well as past pupils and even though it was a poignant occasion, the reception which followed the Mass was punctuated by ripples of laughter.

Deo gratias …

As the sisters leave for a new insertion and administration house in Kent, in the south of England, they can move on with hearts full of gratitude to those who, over many years, have been their support and mainstay.

Sisters of the English Province

2 Comments

  1. That class photo is actually 1964 or 1965. I know as I am in it!

    Reply
    • Dear Anne, First of all my apologies for not replying sooner to your commentary, I have just returned from holiday. Thank you for your correction, I will amend the article. If you were at St Joan’s when Sr Winifred Crowther was headmistress, you may like to read her obituary by clicking on this link to the article https://www.fillesdejesus.org/sr-winifred-crowther-sr-mie-elizabeth-de-la-trinite-1927-2023/?lang=en. The present chaplain to the school ( a very flourishing establishment!) is keen to maintain links with the Congregation and at Winifred’s funeral on the 25th of May he arranged for pupils from the school to line up on either side of the road and applaud as the hearse was driven from the church to the cemetery. Thank you again for your interest in the site. Sr Rhona Burns, website coordinator.

      Reply

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