Celebrating Mary Aikenhead

There was great excitement here at St. Joseph’s Convent in Hackney on 6th June because we were celebrating the fact that Mary Aikenhead started her journey in giving her whole life to God in Religious Life. She was aged twenty-five when she joined the group entitled ‘The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ known more widely as ‘The Bar Convent’ because of its proximity to Micklegate Bar in York. The year was 1812. Her friend Catherine Walsh accompanied her.

We had planned how we might celebrate this important event the week before at our community meeting. We decided on having a barbecue in our courtyard which is beautifully laid out with raised flower beds and slender trees such as the gracious Silver Birch. Everyone in the house was to be invited including the staff.

The person who cooks for us rose to the challenge while Sr Angela oversaw the myriad of practical jobs that needed to be attended to in the garden, setting up of tables and chairs, positioning of umbrellas, distribution of crockery, cutlery etc, etc. All members of the community took part willingly in the preparations and there was a real sense of teamwork. Everything was prepared quickly and without fuss.

We need not have worried about the weather. It was a glorious day, nearly too hot. Some of the older sisters were protected from the strong sun by colourful sunshades. The main table was laden with food tastefully set out. It was a real work of art to see, satisfying even to the sight not to mention the palate. There was food to suit everyone’s taste from chicken legs to burgers, to spare-ribs. A great variety of vegetables accompanied this comprising colourful salad dishes with vibrant red beetroot juxtaposed with bright green lettuce and yellow peppers. Of course, we could not have a balanced meal without the humble potato which was of the
small, new variety.

Each dish was accompanied with its appropriate sauce. It was all so pleasing to look at. No wonder everyone was happy including the staff who comprised carers and support staff. About twenty people celebrated altogether. No doubt Mary Aikenhead would have approved of our big get together which was a most enjoyable day for all, sisters and staff alike. In the evening we joined with all our sisters throughout the world as we recited the Evening Prayer together, the form of which had been devised by Sr. Brigid Kelly. Our final hymn and prayer of the day was most appropriate: ‘We Glorify the Lord by our Lives’. We pray that we may continue to do so.

Mother Mary Aikenhead pray for us!

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