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14th April 2015
Celebrating St Anselm's 30th Anniversary
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5th September 2014
On the 29th May 2015 we will celebrate our 30th Jubilee
Growth through the years
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19th December 2012
Christmas St Anselm’s
When we try to say what Christmas means to us I’m sure we often find ourselves trying to put two quite different stories together—‘Father Christmas’ and ‘Baby Jesus’. And while we might manage to bring them closer together in different ways, it can still feel that there is almost too much of a gap between Christmas as we celebrate it in church—in the Liturgy—and what we do by way of celebration at home and with friends.
For some, the difference has become so great that there is no point in trying to keep the two together. Let’s accept, they say, that ‘the commercial Christmas’ is no more than a winter holiday, and very welcome as such, but that it really has nothing in common with what we as Christians remember and celebrate in Church, and in our homes and Christian communities.
Others are not prepared to ‘surrender’ Christmas quite so easily, and I would agree. We can, and I think we should, enter fully into ‘the festive spirit’ that encourages us to get in touch with family and friends—send greetings, exchange gifts, share hospitality, enjoy ourselves—and at the same time make a point, even go out of our way, to reach out beyond our immediate circle of family and friends to share in very practical ways the warmth and friendliness, hospitality and generosity with people sorely in need of all these things. So we have charities like Crisis at Christmas, where the homeless are welcomed to a warm place where they not only enjoy a good meal but have access to medical and many other services; and gift cards by which we can donate money to charitable projects of CAFOD and others in the name of our friends.
All this is excellent, and certainly goes a long way to restoring ‘the Christian spirit of Christmas’ to ‘the Christmas Party’ scene… But something more is needed. We need to take time to get in touch with the ‘the real Christmas story’ to understand why we are doing any of this in the first place. What has ‘the Baby Jesus’ to do with all this?
The readings in today’s Mass spell out in powerful images both the challenge and the promise of Christmas. The challenge is to look directly at the harsh realities of our world, as it is today, not just in a distant past: people still ‘walking in darkness’, seemingly helpless in the grip of war and violence, brutal poverty, lonely and despairing lives. And the promise is that in that darkness, if we will only look intently enough and make room for it, we shall ‘see a great light’. But we do have to look intently, because the sign we are given of the coming of that great light is not so easy to recognise: ‘a child is born to you’.
A child is surely a sign of hope, of new life; but what hope can a child offer in the face of the brutality of our violent world? What, in fact, could be more fragile and helpless than a child? Yet it is in this child—‘the Baby Jesus’—that the challenge and the promise come together for us.
God chose to come among us as a helpless baby, born in poverty and obscurity, enveloped, it would seem, in the darkness of the world He has come to save; and entrusting Himself—and His whole project, our salvation—totally to the love and care of a few poor people to begin with, in particular Mary and Joseph, who counted for nothing in the eyes of the rich and powerful ‘men of the world’.
God’s promise which had been proclaimed in powerful words and signs down through the ages was finally spoken in simple words to Mary and Joseph and depended on their consent for the promise to be fulfilled. God’s promise, God’s Word, no longer simply spoken or proclaimed but taking flesh, born into the world of poverty and entrusted to the love and care of Mary and Joseph.
And that is where we can find the Christmas story come alive for us, if we allow ourselves to hear the Word of God and make room for it in our lives, in the simple trusting way of Mary and Joseph. They surely experienced the darkness and uncertainty of their world, but they walked confidently in faith, by the light of God’s Word now entrusted to them as their child Jesus.
It is what we are invited to do today, and in every celebration of Eucharist: hearing the Word of God and making room for it in our hearts, giving it a home, as they did, and letting it grow to maturity in our lives.
This was illustrated recently in a parish liturgy I was told about. The Liturgy of the Word began with Mary and Joseph carrying the Book of the Word, the written Word, which they then took turns to read, to speak out to the rest of the Church. There was then the usual pause to reflect and pray and ponder: carrying the Word as in a pregnancy, as it were, at the end of which they again approached the altar, this time carrying a baby which they placed in the crib—a visible sign of the Word made flesh and living amongst us.
I hope we can recognise ourselves, and our part in the Christmas story, in what we do here in this Eucharist. The Word is spoken, and entrusted, to us, but it is ‘for all the people’. And it is not just a word or ‘words’: it is taking flesh again in our lives as we become ‘one body, one spirit in Christ’.
We are not just to bring the Good News, but to be the Good News by virtue of who we are, God’s word coming to life in us and showing its light in the darkness around.
Fr. John McCluskey
19th December 2012
VOTE OF THANKS
What we are celebrating today is God’s faithful accompaniment of each of us through the channels of handpicked individuals: staff and team members of this Institute. We have experienced God stooping down in the midst of our struggles, abandoning glory so that he can reside with us, just as He did on that first Christmas.
Therefore, it is an honour and joy to render this vote of thanks on behalf of all the participants. First of all, I thank God for bringing us to this day, which is the moment of truth, because the skills which we have been taught and which we’ve practiced, will be challenged, especially for those of us who will be returning to our respective communities.
Our heartfelt thanks go to you Fr Len for following God’s call to establish an Institute of this calibre. It is most certainly a home away from home. It is said, that home is where the heart is. It was here that we have learnt to come home to ourselves! It is a place where God truly lives in so many tangible ways. Not hard to see with so many mirrors around. It is here where we are learning to become our own stepping stones to God.
Fr Len, you are an inspiration and our prayer is that your vision for this Institute may never dim, instead that it be enhanced as you hand over the torch. That it will continue to shine ever brightly in the lives of those who are fortunate enough to have been here.
Thank you Thalia, for teaching and accompanying us in the process of listening to our body and paying heed to its memories, while we nestled in the cradles at St Basil’s. Claire, thank you for your hard work. Your quiet, but lively presence kept us on our toes in terms of forms, evaluations, boundaries and general norms for the smooth running of the Institute. Certainly the responsibility of a very strong lady! To the Admin, Kitchen and Cleaning Staff, the Librarian and Handyman for your hard work, support and kindness, be assured, nothing has gone unnoticed, your service is deeply appreciated.
Thank you to the teaching staff: John, Mary and Wijnand: your well-prepared lectures, ever-creative and interesting approach to your sessions, bear testimony of your commitment, passion, skilfulness and inner beauty. Marcellina and Marion your clients bore testimony to your dedication, efficiency and skills. George and Mathew for saying yes, to step into the big shoes of Fr Len to carry this vision forward. Thank you, dear staff you’ve certainly made a profound impact on each of our lives by being instrumental in unlocking the hidden treasures within us, for helping to break the distortions and transferences, for animating renewal and giving us wings.
Thank you to the Team: Premila, Bernard, Gerard, Tom, Rudolph, Milton; Ngozi; Blaize and Shanta for your accompaniment, love and patience during Growth Group, Growth Facilitation Practice and Skills Group, for your gentle yet powerful companionship and that added dimension of your unconditional positive regard for us.
To the external staff members: Pat Grant, Gerlinde Willenberg and Jim McManus, in absentia, thank you for jerking us into gear and enabling us to include your lessons into our growth process in a non-threatening way, thus helping us to integrate them into our daily living.
We thank those with whom we rubbed shoulders, who triggered our distortions and enabled transformation to take place in such profound ways.
We thank our congregations for allowing and freeing us to be fully immersed in this safe haven.
Thank you, fellow-participants and fellow travellers, for the moral support and encouragement in entrusting yourselves in your vulnerability to others, thus anointing the moments of restoration and liberation into moments of celebration. Whether you who are staying or leaving, I wish you courage and perseverance as you continue to engage with your process of becoming who you were destined to be.
Let us continue to pray for each other, that we may remain faithful to God in fulfilling his purpose of promoting and nurturing life, of awakening hope as His instruments in our transformation thus enabling us to reach out to our wounded community members, students, colleagues and society at large.
Thanks so much!
This day is essentially about GOD. He is the one who calls us, bandages our wounds, reprimands, consoles, encourages and blesses us! We are celebrating what He has created, restored, nurtured and continues to sustain.
God bless you all and I love you !
Sr Mary Quimpo
14th December 2012
See the latest Article by Len Kofler: A Secure Future