Autumn Break - Faith & the Arts

held between 9th and 13th November 2015

 Haydn Lee  Haydn Lee

A full group gathered with much enthusiasm for this new venture in November. Haydn Lee got the ball rolling with a musical presentation, ‘The Vocal Millennium’ on Monday night. He brought his lectures to life with his brilliant piano playing, singing and musical excerpts. His passion for his subject was infectious and he had great difficulty packing everything in that he wanted to include!

Bernadine McCreesh
Holding our attention!

Following another inspiring lecture from Haydn the next morning, we heard Bernardine McCreesh on ‘Christianity in Medieval Icelandic Literature’. It was a subject that few of us knew anything about but Bernardine brought vividly to life how Christianity incorporated some elements of previous Icelandic sagas. She excited our interest in her subject.

 Icons Maureen Calnan

 On Tuesday afternoon we had Maureen Calnan on ‘Writing Icons’. She illustrated her talk with beautiful examples of her own work. According to Maureen, you don’t pray to icons, they talk to you. Despite the hours of painstaking work involved, she gives her icons away to those who need the help.

Jonathon Pritchard by the altar
 Jonathon in the Blessed Sacrament chapel
 Jonathon (centre) Jonathon in full flow!

In the evening Jonathon Pritchard spoke of his role in the architecture of the chapel and oratory at Boarbank. He spoke with great commitment about his work which was clearly done with love and has given visitors greater access to our devotional places.

Wednesday was the free day. In the morning at eleven am we observed the two minutes silence in memory of the victims of the First World War and those killed in conflicts since. We watched a short film about the handcrafted poppies made to commemorate each soldier who has died. Although the weather was not very inviting, some people ventured out, including a group of bird watchers.

Brideshead Revisited by the Boarbank players

Late afternoon we had a reading on the death of Lord Marchmain in ‘Brideshead Revisited’. Members of the group took different parts with spirited performances and then a lively discussion. In the evening many of the group watched ‘Au Revoir Les Enfants’ considered one of the best films ever made about childhood.

The film is about the protection of some Jewish children in a French Carmelite boarding school during the Second World War and their eventual betrayal together with the head master who has protected them.

Sr Margaret and Neil Curry

Neil Curry
After another riveting musical presentation from Haydn on Thursday morning, we listened to Neil Curry on Christopher Smart.

He spoke about the poet’s joy in God’s creation despite a very troubled life which included being committed to an asylum by his wife and his eventual death in a debtor’s prison.

His gentle, affirming poems about childhood were a refreshing contrast to the harshness with which children were treated at this time.

Late afternoon Fr Patrick Clarke spoke about his work to help the poor of São Paulo at the heart of commercial Brazil.

 Fr Patrick Clarke Fr Patrick's Young Friend

When he arrived there he was confronted by such extreme poverty that he felt overwhelmed and helpless. Nevertheless, he has created a flourishing school, a cultural centre, with the help of three sisters and a few priests. Here pupils learn to read, receive meals and have produced beautiful works of art.

It is a difficult balance because of the danger of infringing on the interests of the ruthless gangsters and the corrupt police. He showed shocking photos to illustrate the immense gap between rich and poor and then the wonderful art of the children. 

[See which is in Portuguese and English]

We enjoyed our social evening and buffet that evening. Haydn’s lively piano recital, including some audience participation in singing a joyful Alleluia, was a fitting end to a stimulating course.

Next year the planned theme is 'Faith and the Arts in the 18th Century.'

If you are interested, please contact Sr Margaret.