The newest religious community in the English Church has received the keys to its first convent.
The Community of Our Lady of Walsingham (COLW), founded in 2004, has bought a converted barn complex in Dereham, Norfolk.
The community, which has five professed Sisters and seven lay associates, runs the Dowry House retreat centre at Walsingham. Its mission involves fostering a culture of vocation and encouraging devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham.
Sister Camilla Oberding, leader of the community, said: “It’s the first time we have had our own place. It’s an amazing step. Up to now we have been moving from room to room, place to place.”
They moved in, she said, with a “real sense of God’s providence being unfolded by the love of so many people”. She said the converted barn was “amazingly monastic in style” with cloisters, a double staircase and an upstairs loft that is now an oratory.
The Sisters bought the site after receiving a large legacy, raising about £150,000 in donations and being given a £350,000 interest-free loan from the Discalced Carmelite Fathers.
The community is continuing to fund-raise to pay back the loan and for an extra £70,000 or so to convert rooms into a chapel, library and office. It is also writing its Book of Life, a summary of its spirituality. Once that has been finished and the new base is ready, the community will be open to new members.
The community, which grew out of a vocations group that started meeting in London in 1999, has been approved by the Diocese of Brentwood. It will become a diocesan institute once it has 40 members.
Manchester parish is handed to the ordinariate
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is to take over the running of a parish in north Manchester.
Bishop John Arnold of Salford announced in a letter that Fr Andrew Starkie would assume responsibility for the parish of St Margaret Mary in New Moston.
He said it was envisaged that the main Sunday Mass would be in the ordinariate rite while an additional Mass would be celebrated according to the Roman Missal.
Only one other diocesan parish has a similar formal arrangement that allows a focus on the ordinariate mission: the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Soho, London.
The ordinariate, established in 2011, has about 90 clergy serving 50 ordinariate groups across Britain. About 20 of its priests run diocesan parishes, but the demands of parish life can leave little time to maintain a distinctive ordinariate identity.
The structure was established by Benedict XVI to allow groups of former Anglicans to seek full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining elements of their liturgical traditions.
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