SISTER THOMAS WILLIAMS CJ 1921-2014
Sister Thomas Williams died in St Joseph's, York on 31st December 2014. She spent 41 of her 74 years of religious life in York, where she taught in the Bar Convent Grammar School and was appointed as headmistress, aged 30, in 1951; she remained in that position until 1972, encouraging many generations of pupils not only to make the most of their academic potential but also to grow in love and understanding of their faith.
After some years of in Cambridge, Ascot and Shaftesbury, during which, as well as teaching, she spent nine years as local superior, and five years in Sheringham doing retreat work, adult education and parish work, she returned to York. For many years she worked in St. Bede’s Pastoral Centre, giving courses on the Bible and days of prayer which were much appreciated. She died in her 94th year, remembered with affection and gratitude by friends and former pupils, many of whom attended her funeral in the Bar Convent Chapel on 9th January 2014. May she rest in peace.
To read the tribute given by Sister Patricia Harriss at her Requiem Mass, open the Talks and Documents page, or click HERE to find it quickly.
[Entry dated: 11/01/2015]
BAR CONVENT LIVING HERITAGE PROJECT. The Palace of Westminster, 5th November 2014
When Hugh Bayley MP, member for York Central, proposed November 5th as the date for a reception at the Palace of Westminster in aid of the Bar Convent Living Heritage Project, we jumped at it. ‘How cheeky’ was the comment of one guest fully aware of the significance of a group of Catholics promoting their heritage in the Palace of Westminster on the very date in 1605 when Guy Fawkes had been caught. We know that two of Mary Ward’s uncles, John and Christopher Wright, were part of the plot. What is probably less well known is that on the 5th November 1686 Frances Bedingfeld took possession of the key of the house on Blossom Street, the future Bar Convent.
Unfortunately Hugh Bayley was not able o be present to host the reception but we took up his kind offer of a substitute host, Helen Jones MP, the member for Warrington North. Helen was delightful; she had done her homework on Mary Ward and admires her passion for the education of women. She had also visited the Bar Convent and spoke with a knowledge and warmth that were admirable.
Approximately seventy invited guests attended - a very good cross section of guests from York, from among the old girls and past parents of our schools, from others who had expressed interest in the project, and from the Catholic great and good. The home team consisted of eight CJ Sisters, staff from the Bar Convent, and our fundraisers. We were able to announce on the evening that the sums raised for the project had reached £750,000. This is excellent news, but we are still not yet at the half-way mark of £1 million, which we need by the end of this year in order to trigger a ‘challenge grant’ of £85,000 from a Charitable Foundation. So we keep our efforts going.
This news item is taken from a longer report by Sr Frances Orchard. To read the full paper, with an account of another interesting fundraising event, click HERE or open the Talks and Documents page.
[Entry dated: 15/11/2014]
VOLUNTEERING: TALK BY THEODORA HAWKSLEY JULY 2014
In July 2014 Theodora Hawksley presented a paper with the title "Volunteering: Love and Freedom" at the Social Week of the Jesuit Social Centre in Naples. This paper can be found on the Talks and Documents page: to read it click HERE
Theodora is a CJ candidate, at present working in the Theology Department of Edinburgh University. She will be entering the Congregation of Jesus at the end of January 2015. This photograph was taken at her reception as a candidate during the CJ Jubilee celebrations in June 2014.
[Entry dated: 11/11/2014]
ARCHBISHOP SENTAMU AT THE BAR CONVENT
On Friday 27 June we were pleased to welcome two special guests to the Bar Convent, Archbishop Sentamu with his wife Margaret for Mass celebrated in the historic Chapel and for lunch with the CJ Community and Canon Michael Ryan. The photographs were taken in the Bar Convent Entrance Hall where Archbishop and Mrs Sentamu also met a visiting group from Huddersfield.
[Entry dated: 29/06/2014]
THE BAR CONVENT, YORK -EXCITING PLANS
Exciting plans have been launched to extend access, improve
understanding, and secure the future of The Bar Convent. Click LIVING HERITAGE PROJECT to read more. .
[Entry dated: 17/10/2013]
FAREWELL TO FITZJOHN'S AVENUE
The members of the London community have moved from No 49 Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead to a smaller house in Willesden Lane. On Saturday 6th July a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated in the school chapel of No 47, by courtesy of the Headmistress, Angela Rawlinson, for members of the English Province, past pupils and parents, school staff, and our many friends.
This was an occasion for celebration, though with some sadness as the Congregation of Jesus has been in this part of London since 1872 and in Fitzjohn’s Avenue since the purchase of No 47 in 1926 and No 49 in 1936. Mass was followed by lunch in the garden, an afternoon of memories and farewells, and tea with a huge celebration cake. Our gratitude to the community for all the planning and work which they had put into the day to make it such a special and happy occasion, and to the Governors, Headmistress and staff of St Mary’s School who have taken on and successfully developed the school we founded nearly 150 years ago.
[Entry dated: 10/07/2013]
MARY WARD DOCUMENTARY DVD
Mary Ward - Dangerous Visionary
This one hour documentary DVD, produced by Sarah Macdonald and the Irish TV production company ‘New Decade’ was shown during an evening session at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. The theme that day was 'Communion in suffering and healing' which is appropriate for the story of Mary Ward.
'Mary Ward - Dangerous Visionary' includes re-enactments of seminal moments in Mary Ward’s life with historical commentary. It incorporates footage of two projects where Mary Ward Sisters are working today. While education has traditionally been a major part of her Sisters' work, she herself wanted her members to respond to the needs of the times. Their ministry, she wrote, would be “care of the faith and other works congruous to the times”. In her own time she sent some of her companions to support the priests on the dangerous English Mission.
Footage from the Bar Convent in York, near to the scenes of Mary Ward’s birth and death, is juxtaposed with aspects of her story in the 21st century work done by her Institute. Part of the documentary contains visually arresting images from locations in South Sudan and Canada which challenge viewers on issues such as education of girls who face discrimination and the marginalisation of the mentally ill and homeless.
The DVD is available from the Bar Convent shop, price £9 sterling per copy plus £3 UK packing and postage.
[Entry dated: 18/05/2012]
YORK BLITZ April 29th 1942
April 29th 2012 was the 60th anniversary of the 'Baedeker Air Raid' on York, with the destruction of the Bar Convent's East Wing and part of the main building - and the deaths of five Sisters. A special Mass of Remembrance and Reconciliation was celebrated in the Bar Convent Chapel for these Sisters, for all those who lost their lives that night in York, and for all who die in war and conflict. The Chapel was crowded with people of all ages, and the older generation as they met after the Mass, exchanged memories of that terrible night. A Service of Remembrance was also held in the church of St Mary Le Grand, the York church which had suffered complete destruction in the bombing and had been rebuilt after the war. With articles and photographs daily in the local Press, this was a week of memory and prayers for peace.
[Entry dated: 05/05/2012]
MUNICH - PARADEISERHAUS EXCAVATION IN PROGRESS
In 1627 Mary Ward founded the first school for girls in Bavaria, at the request of the Elector Maximilian, who gave her a house in the Weinstrasse, named the Paradeiserhaus.
This house and school survived the suppression of Mary Ward’s congregation in 1631 but was confiscated by the government in 1809 and totally destroyed by aerial bombing in 1945. Archaeological excavations are now in progress; the cellars of the Paradeiserhaus have been discovered and 25 members of the Middle European Province have been able to visit the site.
It was the survival of the Paradeiserhaus after 1631 which saved Mary Ward’s congregation, providing a safe place where new members could be accepted and then sent out to found new communities in Germany and England. This was due to the selfless energy and sound judgement of Winefrid Bedingfield (1610 – 1666), older sister of Frances Bedingfield who founded the Bar Convent in York in 1686.
[Entry dated: 05/02/2012]
St Joseph's - RECENT EXTENSION ADDED
St Joseph's, York is the community for the elderly frail members of the CJ English Province who need 24 hour care. It is run by Sr Agatha, Margaret Loftus, and a team of devoted nurses and carers, but until recently the cramped nature of the premises has made their task extremely difficult. The completion of a much-needed extension coincided with the celebration of the Province Jubilees on 20 June 2009, and the festivities began with a service of blessing in St Joseph's Chapel. As well as the small but beautiful Chapel, the extension contains a fine sitting room and dining area, new bedrooms, wider corridors for wheelchairs, and various other much needed facilities, making space for better accommodation in the main house for the nurses as well as for the eleven Sisters. The opening day was a most happy occasion for everybody, and a selection of photographs can be seen on the Gallery Page
[Entry dated: 05/02/2012]
NEW MARY WARD BOOK
A new book of Mary Ward source texts has been published by the Catholic Record Society, in preparation for the Jubilee 400 year 1609-2009: Mary Ward (1585-1645) A Briefe Relation with Autobiographical Fragments and a Selection of Letters, edited by Christina Kenworthy-Browne CJ, Boydell and Brewer 2008. The Briefe Relation, the earliest biography of Mary Ward, is thought to have been written c. 1650 by Mary Poyntz, one of her closest companions,. A successful book launch was hosted jointly by the CRS and the CJ at the Bar Convent on 2 December 2008. This book is available at a discount offer on the price from The Bar Convent, York.
[Entry dated: 05/02/2012]
PUBLICATION OF MARY WARD SOURCE TEXTS
The long awaited publication of Mary Ward and Her Foundation.The Source Texts to 1645 has now taken place. Mary Ward und ihre Grundung. Die Quellentexte bis 1645, 4 vols, edited by Sr Ursula Dirmeier CJ, was published in Munster, Germany at the end of 2007. The texts are presented in their original languages with full introductions and notes in German. For further information on this important collection, which was presented to the Holy Father in March 2008, see the Talks and Documents page on this website where there is an account of the presentation and some photographs.
[Entry dated: 05/02/2012]
Mary Ward honoured in Yorkshire, the County of her birth
The Yorkshire Society, a large group of members and corporate members, seeks to honour the achievements of distinguished people born in Yorkshire by erecting Yorkshire Rose Plaques in places with which they were associated. Up to now these plaques have celebrated famous Yorkshire men. On 31 March 2007 the Society came to the Bar Convent to set up on the front wall a plaque for Mary Ward, the first woman to be so honoured. This fine plaque, engraved by John Shaw on blue Welsh slate, has been much admired.
[Entry dated: 05/02/2012]