Community Activities

Community Retreat

In late February we had our community retreat with Bishop Brian Noble. Brian looked at the seasons: Autumn, Spring and Winter meaningfully as images of the key phases of the journey through life. He also looked in depth at the difficulty and complexity of combining the apostolic with the contemplative life, as illustrated by the story of Martha and Mary in the Gospel of Luke.

Many thanks to Bishop Brian for these rich insights. We enjoyed sharing the retreat with some of our sisters from Park House; Srs Rita, Perpetua, Yvonne and Margaret.

Dialogue about how to Die

On February 7, we listened to a radio programme on the end of life at recreation.

David Schneider and Kath Mannix radio programme
David Schneider who is afraid of death wanted to address this fear by talking to those who have experience and understanding of dying. In the programme Dr Kathryn Mannix meaningfully discusses the process of dying with David.

This was an excellent presentation about the end of life to which most people would benefit from listening, whether at some distance from the experience or facing the situation either themselves or in support of a loved one.
CLICK HERE to listen to the radio programme

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes procession at Boarbank
On February 11, the feast day of our Lady of Lourdes, we had the anointing of the sick during Mass. This was followed by a celebratory lunch in the refectory. Then in the late afternoon we processed to our Lady’s grotto carrying candles.

Singing Lessons

We had some more lively singing lessons from Ann Lampard in early March. As ever, we are indebted to Ann for her helpful and imaginative contribution to our liturgy and community. Fr John Watson helped us out at one session as we needed a male voice.

Park House Closing Mass

Park House Mass  Park House Mass 

Srs Elizabeth, Florence, Annette and Ruth attended the evening Closing Mass for Park House at St Thomas of Canterbury Church on March 10th. The Mass was well attended and a moving expression of appreciation for the sisters’ hundred and fourteen years of dedicated work. Twenty-five priests concelebrated. Archbishop Malcom McMahon preached the homily, paying tribute to the Augustinian hospitality which the sisters had put so devotedly into practice. The Mass was followed by refreshments in the church hall. Joy, thanksgiving and sadness mingled. We hope that this deep expression of appreciation consoled our sisters in their loss and encouraged them as they move into their future.


In early March, Sisters Eileen, Margaret and Ildiko attended meetings at Malestroit in France.

Federation Day At Malestroit   Play At Federation Day

They very much appreciated the hospitality of the sisters and sharing their community life and liturgy. Sr Eileen and Sr Margaret particularly enjoyed a beautiful day celebrating the Federation on Sunday 6th when each Community was represented and we enjoyed input by Sister Marie Claude about Mother Yvonne Aimee and Mercy and a clever play by our Sisters of Malestroit.

Our Sisters from Park House

On March 17/18th our sisters from Park House moved into their new homes at Ince Blundell and with us. We were delighted to welcome Sisters Marian and Margaret to Boarbank and we hope that they will be very happy. On March 19, we had a simple celebration to welcome them in the community room prior to Vespers to begin Palm Sunday.

Ince Blundell Hall  
 Sisters Together At Ince  Sisters Together At Ince

Day for Religious in Preston

A day for Religious was held at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Preston on Saturday 30. Six of us were there. Fr John Watson gave us an excellent talk, humbly saying at the outset that he hoped to be helpful to us, which he certainly was.

He spoke about the demands of following Jesus and the power of the evangelical counsels in our world where these values can be so dishonoured. Accepting the call of Jesus is, of course, the work of a lifetime. Quoting from Pope Benedict, Fr John said, “Only when we meet the living God in Christ, do we know what life is.” Finally, quoting from Thomas Aquinas, he said it is better to stumble along the right path than to speed along the wrong one!

This talk was followed by Mass at which Bishop Michael was the chief celebrant and preached the homily. He mentioned his approaching trip to Rome where he would be celebrating Mass with the Pope on February 2, along with his fellow Augustinian Bishops and wearing the Augustinian habit, for the conclusion of the year of consecrated life.
We shared a delightful buffet together and the company of our sisters from a number of local congregations.

Talks at Lancaster University Chaplaincy

1. Mary’s Meals

On February 3, Srs Eileen and Margaret, together with Fr John, attended an evening talk at Lancaster University Chaplaincy Centre. It was called ‘Blessed are the Merciful’ and given by Magnus McFarlane-Barrow CEO and Founder of Mary’s Meals.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, OBE was born on 7 February 1968 in Dalmally Argyll, Scotland. He studied history at university before becoming a salmon farmer. In 1983, a visit to Medjugorje inspired Magnus' parents to convert their Highland hotel into a House of Prayer. It is from this house, Craig Lodge, that Magnus directs Mary's Meals. Magnus lives in Argyll and is married with 7 children. As founder and CEO of Mary's Meals his vision and ideas continue to inspire and direct the work they do.
Mary's Meals began in 2002 by feeding 200 children in one school in Malawi. This Scottish charity passed the milestone of feeding one million children in May 2015.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow said that serving a nutritious meal in a place of education made a remarkable difference to a hungry child, giving the child the security necessary to learn.

2. Talk by David Alton

On Wednesday February 17, Srs Eileen, Ildiko, Elizabeth, Ruth and Fr John attended a talk at Lancaster University Chaplaincy by David Alton.
Continuing the Year of Mercy series of public lectures, Lord David Alton cross-bench peer, and human rights campaigner spoke on ‘Mercy unto the Multitudes. Mercy and Public Policy.’ With expertise and attention to detail he described terrible human rights abuses in many countries. We were pleased to be joined by Sr Ruth’s nephew Joshua who is a student at the university.

3. Talk on Oscar Romero

Sisters Eileen, Yvonne, Florence and Elizabeth attended the Lancaster University Chaplaincy with Fr John Watson for a talk about Oscar Romero in the evening of March 3; ‘Blessed Oscar Romero and the Revolution of Mercy.’
Jan Graffius has prepared the relics of Oscar Romero, including his blood-soaked vestments, in the course of her work at Stonyhurst College so that they can be displayed in El Salvador where he was martyred. She spoke about how his heroic example can inspire us to live out a life of mercy.

4. Talk on St Francis

Sr Ruth and Fr John attended another excellent lecture, this time on St Francis from Fr Gabriel Flyte of the Franciscans Friars of the Renewal on March 9. Fr Gabriel illustrated his talk with many anecdotes from the life of St Francis and his own experience with the friars.

We are very grateful to Fr Philip and Sr Mary Juan and the Chaplaincy team for this excellent series.

Leeds Talk

Sr Margaret
Sr Margaret gave a talk to the Eucharistic Ministers and Readers of Fr Smythe’s parish in Leeds on February 20 on the theme of Laudato Si.


The show 'Annie'Also on March 3, some of our sisters attended the musical ‘Annie’, presented by Grange and District Amateur Operatic Society at the Victoria Hall and very much enjoyed the enthusiastic performance from local adults and young people.

Lenten lunches

Srs Ruth and Ildiko went into Grange on February 19 for a Lenten lunch at St Charles and St Cuthbert Catholic Church. We ate wholesome soup and bread, and enjoyed the company of local people. The money from this series of Lenten lunches will go to charity.
On March 11, another of the ecumenical Lenten soup lunches was held here and very well attended with the result that we raised £105.

Guest House

We have been busy in the Guest House with a series of very different groups.

 Discussion  Talks
  • Our regular week for Healthcare Professionals, Health & Salvation, had as the theme Body, Mind and Spirit. We explored both methods for helping with mental health and complementary therapies, from the practical, scientific and religious perspectives.

    to read the full report.

    The theme for next January will be ‘Healthcare and Time’.  If you are interested in joining us, please contact Sr Margaret


  • The following week Year 12 from Our Lady’s Catholic High School in Lancaster visited for a two-night retreat, with Fr Andrew Dawson, their priest chaplain, Rachel, their lay chaplain, and Julia, a member of staff. They took the theme of the Year of Mercy - and in between prayer and serious reflection managed a bit of relaxing time, including a walk and table tennis.


  • Then the leadership team of the Little Way Healing Ministries, led by Pauline Edwards and Fr Laurence Brassil OSA, came for their training retreat. Again some very serious sessions of teaching and prayer combined with a lively social time, and this time the table tennis took the form of an international tournament, in which England narrowly beat Slovakia in the final.

    For more on the Little Way Healing Ministries, which focuses on the healing of memories through prayer, CLICK HERE for their website
  • Time to Reflect

    A group of lecturers came to us for a very enjoyable weekend on Cistercian spirituality, including a trip to Furness Abbey on Saturday with a talk by Gill Jepson, a children’s author.
Fr John with the group at Furness Abbey Furness Abbey

 Later that day Joyce Simpson led us through an excellent session on Furness Abbey in the poetry of William Wordsworth. In the evening Haydn Lee gave us a piano recital and told us some of the history of the piano as he did so. The next morning the group enjoyed a session on Aelred and friendship.

CLICK HERE for the full report

Nursing Home

Defibrillator training

On Tuesday January 19, staff and sisters received defibrillator training for a day in Marymount. Everyone found this a very helpful experience.

Activities for our Residents

Our residents have participated in many enjoyable activities, including a Poetry afternoon on January 13 and buying Seeds for Spring on January 28 which began this year’s work in the green house.

Women’s Day of Prayer

A service for the Women’s Day of Prayer was held here on March 4, this year celebrating Cuba. Sheila began by explaining some aspects of Cuban society to us, emphasizing the strength of the welfare state. For example, since independence the government has completely taken care of the people’s health care. We participated in the service with prayers and songs, using symbols to illustrate aspects of Cuban life. We each received a paper butterfly jasmine flower. This is Cuba’s national flower and symbolizes the struggle for freedom by the people. We ended with lovingly prepared, homemade Cuban refreshments in the form of lemonade and biscuits. Many thanks to Sheila for her hard work in organizing this delightful event.

Welcome to New Staff

Our new matron Sally Fisher
We were delighted to receive Sally Fisher in the position of matron of our nursing home, starting on February 29. Elizabeth O’Connell, managing director, will retain her position, however she will not be following her normal Monday to Friday schedule in Boarbank. We wish Sally all the very best in her new role and welcome her to the Boarbank family. We also would like to express our deep thanks and appreciation to Elizabeth Anne for her ongoing dedicated work as manager.
We are happy to welcome Przemyslaw Mizera back to the nursing home staff as well as new member Sonya Miller. We wish them and all our staff every happiness in their vital work of caring.

Requiescant In Pace

Memorial Bench for Tony Wright A bridge in memory of our much loved Computer man, Tony Wright, has been built at one of his favourite places, High Dam, near Newby Bridge. Tony died unexpectedly 8 November 2014.

On February 16, there was a Memorial service for Ruth Cullum-Gostick at 2pm in the chapel attended by her family and friends. Sr Eileen spoke warmly about her memories of Ruth. The service was greatly appreciated.
We also hosted the Funeral Service of Mr Ron Stables on Monday 22nd February followed by a buffet in Boarbank. Ron had spent his last weeks in the Nursing Home and it was a privilege for the Sisters and Staff to be welcomed into the family, accompanying and supporting each other through this time.

Peter Fitchett RIP
We were deeply saddened by the death of Mr Peter Fitchett
who was a wonderfully dedicated physiotherapist who had provided real healing and comfort to many local people as well as the Sisters and patients in their time of need.

He was very much “one of the family” here at Boarbank with his great witness of faith, unfailing good humour and patient acceptance of his own suffering whilst continuing to care for others. We offer our deepest sympathies to Rosemarie and all the family.


May they and all our deceased friends, family and benefactors rest in peace.