Sr Joanna Brennan R.I.P.
Greetings! My name is Joanna, the name given to me some forty-seven years ago when I became a Religious Sister of Charity. My Baptismal name is Ann, although I have had the opportunity over the years to revert back to the name Ann I decided to stay with Joanna as I have a niece named Joanna after me who I am very close to.
I live and work in Knowle West, South Bristol. There are four sisters here in the community and all four of us are involved in one way or another in the lives of the people of Knowle West which is a Council Estate built in the early thirties. Life is never dull on the estate, there is always something happening. The Sisters of Charity have worked here since 1935, and have lived and ministered here since 1937 when the convent was opened.
My day begins around 8am, I don’t like mornings much, especially in the cold, dark, winter, cold. I find getting up a little easier in the spring and summer mornings. After getting up I spend some time in prayer before going to the Parish Church a few hundred yards down the road for Mass at 9.30am. After Mass I return to the convent, have another period of prayer and reflection on the Scripture Readings of the day. I then have a cup of tea and feel ready for the challenges of the day.
One morning a week I take Holy Communion to a number of sick and housebound people in their own homes. I also take along the Parish Newsletter so that they are kept up to date on parish news. I experience ministering to the sick and housebound as a great privilege, we pray together, I listen to how their week has been and fill them in on the latest local news. They always assure me of their prayers for me. I never fail to be moved by their deep faith, devotion and reverence for the Eucharist.
I visit the more recently bereaved on a regular basis to offer support and a shoulder to cry on as they try to come to terms with their loss and grief. These visits are usually a mixture of sadness and joy as memories are relived and personal stories shared. These are moments when I sense and realize that “I am standing on Holy Ground” and I feel both humbled and privileged to be trusted with another person’s life- story.
On Sunday mornings, I take my place on the Parish Rota for Readers and for Childrens Liturgy Group; my turn for both these ministries comes around about once a month. I find both ministries challenging but good. I enjoy proclaiming God’s Word and I try to take the message to heart, maybe not always successfully! Children’s Liturgy is lively and fun. A simple version of the Gospel for the Sunday is read to the children, they are invited to listen, some questions about the story follow. I never cease to be amazed by how much the children know about Jesus, how much they remember and retain, their simple childlike faith and trust is truly remarkable. The children draw pictures of what the story has meant to them and these they take up in the Offertory Procession and show them to the rest of the congregation, they then get a huge clap from the congregation and they return to their proud mums and dads. In the Childrens Liturgy Group we have children from Knowle West, Poland, the Philippians, China, Nigeria, India and Sierra Leone all offering something of their deep faith, reverence, and rich cultures to the parish which was until fairly recently predominately white and very local.
In our parish and area there is always something to be done and volunteers needed. Recently I volunteered as a Catechist to the First Holy Communion Programme. We have thirty children in the Programme and I am working with a group of seven children aged between ten years old and thirteen years old. I meet with them on a Monday evening after school. They are a lively responsive bunch who enjoys preparing for their First Holy Communion. I look forward to seeing their faith grow as the Programme progresses.
I also have responsibilities in the community like sharing in household tasks which can be many, and taking my turn at cooking the evening meal. As a Community we eat our evening meal together and share with each other how our day has been. We pray the Evening Prayer of the Church together each evening when we remember in particular in our prayer the various needs that we have become aware of through our ministry that day as well as the needs of the world.
After Evening Prayer it is time to relax, sometimes I watch television but most of all I like to read. I enjoy a good detective or crime novel, I also enjoy playing solitaire, keeping in touch with family and friends is very important to me so I make sure to take time to do just that.
Before I retire to bed, I give thanks to God for caring for me, for loving me and for using me with my weaknesses and vulnerability to share His love with others.
Thank you for taking time to read, “A Day in My Life”; I hope you found it interesting.
Sr Joanna died on 2nd January 2013. To read the Eulogy given at Sr Joanna’s funeral click HERE.