Britain’s oldest nun, Sister Anne de Clerque-Wissocq de Sousberghe, has died, aged 111. Sister Anne, who entered the Society of the Helpers of the Holy Souls in 1929, helped create a new form of catechesis following the Second Vatican Council. She wrote a bestselling guide,Tell My People, and in 1966 helped found a national catechetical centre in London called Corpus Christi College. (The college was closed nine years later by Cardinal John Heenan.)
“I wasn’t radical,” Sister Anne told the Catholic Herald in 2013. “I was revolutionary. I changed the way religion was taught.” She grew up in Belgium and entered the Holy Helpers at 25. The order, founded in 1856, was dedicated to helping the poor, and its members visited those in need, aiding them in whatever way they could. For a time Sister Anne worked as a qualified health visitor. On catechetics, she rebelled against the format of the Penny Catechism. Of her teaching methods, she explained in 2013: “I wouldn’t call myself a teacher, because I don’t like the idea of imposing anything on anyone…
‘‘Once I put a beautiful picture in front of the children. Then I made them come in, in silence, sit down, keep silence, and just look. I wanted them to understand the difference between seeing and looking. One is simply to note that the picture is there, the other is to try and understand how that picture touches you. Children are much better at the second.” Once, she said, a child came back several days later and said: “I’ve been looking at
this apple, and I have seen so many things.”
Bishop asks flock: when did you last go to Confession?
The bishop of Portsmouth has urged Catholics in his diocese to attend Confession regularly. In a pastoral letter Bishop Philip Egan said: “I need to speak to you about something serious that some of you will no doubt find provocative.” Quoting Pope Francis’s call for Lent to be lived “more intensely” in the Year of Mercy, the bishop said: “Now my question to you is this: when did you last go to Confession? How on earth can we be sure to experience personally one-to-one the mercy of God, without at some point – and I would say regularly, even once a month – celebrating this sacrament?” he said.
“Jesus did not come to call virtuous people. This is why we all need regularly to examine our consciences, to review our thoughts, words and deeds, to take stock of our attitudes and lifestyle. Sin is not like a stain to be dry-cleaned or a law infringed. Sin is a lack of love or lovelessness. Sin is often an omission rather than a commission. Think of it like ‘missing the mark’.” Bishop Egan said he hoped the Year of Mercy would lead to a “renewal of this breathtaking sacrament”.
Bishops’ adviser becomes a knight
The director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, John Deighan, was invested as a Knight of St Gregory at a Mass in St Mirin’s Cathedral, Paisley last week. The award was in recognition of his 15 years of work at the Office, which he set up when the Scottish Parliament was re-established at Holyrood.
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