Durham groupAll the news from Boarbank Hall up to January 2013.

Picture shows Fr Ben Earl OP with a group of students from the Catholic Chaplaincy in Durham,

who came for a visit.

Lots more to read!

Augustine's parents Monika & Patricius at prayer, from the manuscript of the Historia Augustini (1430-1440) Berlin


‘Since in the Gospel the Lord confirmed the value of marriage by attending a wedding as a guest,

we ask what gives it its value.

It seems to me not only the procreation of children, but also the natural sociability between the sexes.

In a good marriage, even when youthful passion between the husband and wife has waned, their relationship of love continues in full strength’ (from St Augustine, On the Good of Marriage, 3.3).


Recent events

For reasons which will become clear as you read on, this has been an intense few months even by the standards of Boarbank. So you will understand why the web news is so late, and as a result so long! We have divided it into sections to make it easier to read. Particular thanks to Paul for the extra work for this edition. Thanks also to Sr Florence, Sr Anne, John, Sue, Thomas and William, Jane and Clare for the photos.

Sr Mary Clare Kenny

Sr Mary Clare was born Mary Kenny in Manchester on 21st May 1928, and the family soon moved to York, where she grew up. She attended the Bar Convent school, run by the I.B.V.M. Sisters, and was a probationer nurse before entering Boarbank in 1948. She was finally professed in 1953, and went to start her RGN training in the same year, qualifying in 1955, the year in which Marymount was opened. She was Matron of Marymount from about 1965, where she nursed for many years. She also served as Novice Mistress from 1975, Prioress from 1988-1991and Bursar from 1996. 

Sr Mary Clare Kenny Sr Mary Clare Kenny
Sr Mary Clare Kenny Sr Mary Clare Kenny


Sr Mary Clare’s warm, generous and lively personality won her many friends among her patients and among the guests who have visited Boarbank over the years.

She was an excellent nurse, who always put the comfort of her patients before all else, and always had the good of the patient at heart when dealing with doctors.

She loved music and had a fine singing voice, a great asset to the Sisters’ choir. She was a keen driver and much enjoyed taking visitors on what often turned out to be roundabout trips to see the Lake District!

She came from a large and close family who have been and remain good friends of the Community; many of you will know her brother, Deacon Pat Kenny.

Pat moved to live in Marymount for the last seven years of his life after suffering a stroke, and died last year; Sr Mary Clare was able to care for him for the first few years before becoming ill herself.

We were very happy to be able to celebrate both her Golden Jubilee and her eightieth birthday while she was still well enough to enjoy these occasions.

Sr Mary Clare Kenny Sr Mary Clare Kenny
Sr Mary Clare Kenny Sr Mary Clare Kenny

Sr Mary Clare Kenny
Her affectionate nature remained during her extended final illness;

even when we were not sure whether she was able to recognise her visitors individually, she still obviously loved their company.

She died peacefully at Boarbank, surrounded by her family and the Community, on the morning of Sunday 28th October 2012.

Bishop Michael’s sermon for her Funeral Mass can be read here and the Intercessions can be read here


Other community news

Community events have been overshadowed by the death of Sr Eileen’s sister, Kath (see more below). However, we have been busier than ever, with lots of very happy events also to report.

Sr Eileen went to France in mid-November for a General Council Meeting at Malestroit enjoying as always the friendship and hospitality of the Community and fellow Councillors.

Also in November, Sr Anne enjoyed the holiday of a lifetime in Singapore, with a few days in Malaysia, thanks to the generosity of her friends and former Newcastle students, Gerald Lim and Alex Tan.

She stayed with Gerald and Kit and their family in Singapore, and met up there also with Alex and June,  Stephanus and Maya, and Martin and Anita and their families.

Sr Anne's holiday Sr Anne's holiday
Sr Anne's holiday Sr Anne's holiday

She also enjoyed a superbly organised programme of sightseeing, which included the Singapore National Museum, the Singapore Zoo, a night safari, the island of Santos, and visits to a Buddhist Temple, the Hindu feast of Diwali and China Town. She also visited Mary Anne (who trained with Sr Imelda) and her husband Andrew in Kuala Lumpur, going with them to Malacca, where she was able to meet Lim Kai and his family. She was particularly fascinated here by the range of fruits on offer in Malacca market.

The Community Retreat on 4th-8th December was led by Fr Michael Winstanley SDB. Fr Winstanley took us gently and thoughtfully through various scriptures which he linked to Advent, including the infancy narratives, the widow’s mite and the woman at Bethany, and the idea of menein in John. We are very grateful to him for a profound and prayerful retreat, and delighted that the weather enabled him to photograph some spectacular sunrises - though the photos below were taken by Sr Florence.

Boarbank sunrise Boarbank sunrise

When the Guest House was very quiet in Advent Carol and Garry came to stay and treated us to an evening of folk singing, which included providing kazoos for us all to join in the music! Many thanks indeed to them.

Carol & GarryCarol & Garry

Over Christmas and the New Year we were able as usual to invite various friends to join us for meals in the Refectory to increase the Christmas cheer.

A particular thank you to Sr Ildikó for preparing the Refectory so beautifully over this period.

And of course a big thank you to all our friends who sent us cards, gifts and good wishes over the festive season.

Christmas decsChristmasdecs1

In January, Sr Margaret and Sr Anne both made hospital visits.

Sr Margaret would like to thank all those medical and nursing staff at Lancaster Royal Infirmary, who treated her with such exceptional skill and kindness that she has made a very speedy recovery.

Sr Anne is still in Marymount convalescing but making progress.

Guest House

Fire in Boarbank Hall
We decided to light the fire in Hall during November this year for the visiting groups to enjoy, and relit it after a break for Advent when our Christmas guests arrived.

It continues to be a lovely focus for conversation and relaxation, and makes a very special space for our nightly Compline.

Fr Ben Earl OP visited with a group of his students from the Catholic Chaplaincy in Durham for the weekend of 9th-11th November. This lively chaplaincy group organise three retreats a year. Fr Ben spoke to the group (joined by some of the Sisters) about the key documents of Vatican II, Sr Margaret presented a life of St Augustine using the cycle of frescoes from San Gimignano, and the group also went walking and watched together the film The Mission.Fr Ben Earl OP from Durham


Durham group
On 23rd-25th November we welcomed the Cumbria Meditation Group  (www.christianmeditation.org.uk) for their annual retreat, this year led by Helen Marshall, an Anglican priest, on the theme ‘Longing for God’.

This big group, brings together several smaller groups from around the county, which have a full programme throughout the year. Many thanks to Bob for leading the group this year - as always it was good to have you with us.

It was lovely to have a visit from András Prodán, along with his parents and girlfriends, Mária, before Christmas.

András worked with us in the Guest House a few years ago and is now studying law in his native Hungary.  András’ father, Gábor is a Greek Catholic priest and it was a particular pleasure to have him concelebrate with our priests at Mass.

The Guest House was full as usual for Christmas and New Year, and it was lovely to welcome many old friends and some new for the usual celebrations, which were enjoyed to the full despite the bug that was doing the rounds. 

Just after midnight on New Year’s Eve many of the Sisters joined our guests to greet the New Year and sing Auld Lang Syne together, having come straight from an hour of quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel.

Wireless access to the internet is now available for all our guests for the payment of a small fee. We are extremely grateful to two of our regular guests who gave a substantial donation to make this possible.

We are now focusing on the main house with a programme of refurbishment beginning with the front Hall and ask your patience and understanding for the disruption this will cause.

We welcome Gill Freeman to the regular team working in the Guest House and also Linda and Catherine who hope to help us out from time to time when we are busy.

Christmas activities

The Sisters, staff, patients and guests enjoyed various events open to everyone during the Advent and Christmas period. We began Advent as usual with our Churches Together in Grange and District Advent Carol Service on the afternoon of Sunday 9th December. It is very good to celebrate Advent properly in company with our friends from the other churches. A special thank you to Adrian Self and the Cartmel Priory Choir for leading the singing.

Marymount patients were invited before Christmas to a party given by Cartmel W.I.. They were able to go on a Christmas Shopping trip or take part in making cards and decorations in preparation for Christmas. Olive Maddox led a session of songs for Christmas and Joan masterminded a Christmas Quiz. The children from the local Montessori school brought their nativity play, while Allithwaite Primary School sang Christmas carols for the patients. Many thanks to Joan for all her organising on the social side.

Christmas at Marymount Christmas at Marymount

Santa at Marymount
Father and Mother Christmas arrived duly on 23rd December to visit our patients and children respectively, and the Flookburgh Silver Band provided carols for Christmas Eve.

During Christmas week, Angelo’s nephew Michael came to provide an evening of music and singing around the fire, and thanks to the cold we transformed our short carol service on the Feast of the Holy Family into carols and poems, followed by Vespers, also around the fire.

You might enjoy a Christmas poem by our friend Julia, read for the first time in public on this occasion. READ POEM

Finally a big thank you to Fr Peter and Fr Dixie READ SERMON for officiating at the Masses over Christmas and New Year,

and to Bishop Michael who joined us for Mass and lunch on 26th December.



Health and Salvation

We have had two Health and Salvation weeks since the last web news. From 11th-16th November, the theme was the same as last January, ‘The Spiritual Care of the Sick’. Dr Mary Hickey spoke about her work with the homeless and Fr Aidan Turner of his experience with those with learning difficulties.

Dr Karen Groves shared her expertise in raising spiritual questions within the NHS, while Sue Lawrenson and Fr Philip Smith explored the question of praying with the sick. From 6th-12th January the theme was ‘Love of Neighbour’.

Fr Dixie and Sr Margaret led the group in exploring theological and philosophical aspects of this, David Tomison presented his work as a volunteer dentist on the Amazon River, Sue Lawrenson shared her experience of volunteering with the Across Trust and St John’s Ambulance, and group discussions explored difficult situations within healthcare and issues around the use of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

The usual mix of shared and private prayer, free time, shared meals, walks, films and socialising completed the rich experience of the two weeks. Full reports READ HEREHealth & Salvation 2013

Health & Salvation 2013


Apart from Christmas events, the activities for residents included a musical interlude with Michael Fieldhouse and friends, a Music Night on the theme ‘The Joy of Italy’ led by Sr Margaret, a magic show from Mr Fitchett, afternoons of Classical Music and Poetry, and a solo performance from the Frantic Theatre Company entitled ‘’Allo Vera!’ On 25th January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Fr Geoff Severs celebrated the anniversary of his ordination with residents, staff, Sisters and other guests. This happily coincided with a surprise visit from Camille, with her parents from France, and they joined the party.

Elizabeth McConnell, our Managing Director would like to join the Community in welcoming the new staff who have joined the team in Marymount, and wish them all the very best in their new roles. Training and development has been a focus over the last half of 2012, and will continue into 2013. Three members of staff are undertaking NVQ level 3 in Health and Social Care. Sr Silvana in Marymount
A further nine member of staff embarked on a level 3 distance learning course on End of Life Care, with a further four members of staff due to commence the Six Steps Training.

We were extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to participate in 'Opening The Spirtual Gateway', a course facilitated by Dr Karen Groves. All staff found the course extremely engaging. Boarbank Hall is the first to receive training in this course in the whole of Cumbria, and have also been very fortunate to have two members of staff booked on to do the facilitators’ course in February 2013. We are extremely grateful to Dr Karen Groves for making this possible.

End of life care is immensely important to us and it is our goal continually to improve and develop our holistic approach.

We are looking forward to 2013, and welcoming many more new patients into our Home.

A big thank you to Elizabeth for all her hard work and inspirational leadership in Marymount over the last few months, and not least for braving the roads each week during the winter weather to get here from Scotland.

Other events

St Patrick's primary SchoolSt Patrick's primary School

Maria Hall brought her pupils from St Patrick's Primary School, Walton le Dale in Preston to visit Boarbank and meet the Community. Various Sisters joined in an Any Questions session with them, they visited the patients and in the afternoon they led a sung Evening Prayer in  chapel

The Sisters were joined by Elizabeth to host a couple of parties in January.

Staff joined us for either afternoon tea or a buffet supper around the fire in Boarbank Hall, as a thank you for all their hard work and commitment.

It was an excellent day, and many staff are asking if it can be an annual event. A week later, we welcomed our volunteer helpers to tea around the fire, and they were able to meet nearly all of the Community. It was very good to have a relaxed time with some of the many people who make it possible for us to carry out our mission.

We are greatly blessed to have such an excellent team.

Chris & Ilona Harrison
Sr Geneviève, Sr Margaret and Sr Silvana represented the Community at the wedding of Chris Harrison and Ilona Szollár on 19th January at Holy Angels Church, Hale Barns.

This was followed by a very international reception at Mere Court Hotel.

One of the themes of the day was music, as the Mass was accompanied by a boys’ choir from London

trained by Ilona, while the guests at the reception listened to a recital from various of her pupils,

including Chris’ young nephews, and other friends.

It was a very very special occasion and we were privileged to be there. We wish Chris and Ilona every blessing for a long and happy life together.

In memoriam

Kathleen Winter
We are very sad indeed to announce the death on Tuesday 8th January of Kathleen Winter, Sr Eileen’s sister. Kath has been a regular visitor to, and great friend and supporter of, Boarbank for many years, along with her husband, Terry, and son, Mick.

It was good that they were able to enjoy a few days staying with us before Kath’s final illness. Kath’s funeral took place in Consett on 21st January; because of the snow Sr Eileen was the only member of the Community able to be present, but Fr Peter said a requiem Mass at the same time at Boarbank¸ and his homily is attached READ HERE
We offer deep sympathy to Terry and Mick and continue to hold them and all of Sr Eileen’s family in Dr Harold Oldhamprayer.

Dr Harold Oldham , who had been resident in Marymount for several years and a long-standing friend of Boarbank, died on 17th January. Dr Oldham, who was unmarried, was a distinguished forensic pathologist from Manchester. His funeral Mass was celebrated in Boarbank Chapel at 11 a.m. on Tuesday 29th January, followed by cremation in Lancaster.

We also offer condolences to the families of Mrs Dorothy Haugh and Mrs Dorothy Fisher who have died recently in Marymount.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed in the mercy of God rest in peace.