Friday, 30 September 2011

Solemn Profession of Sr Joanna Harrison

Newly Professed Sr Joanna with members of Hand in Hand
Sr. Joanna Harrison made her Solemn Profession at the Cistercian Community at Holy Cross Abbey, Whitland, in West Wales on Saturday 20th August. It took place on the Feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who founded the old Whitland Abbey in 1151.

Sr Joanna was previously a parishioner of St Joseph’s in Brighton and was very involved with the ‘Hand-in-hand’ group. Many of her family and friends join her for the celebrations of her solemn profession. The celebrations began on Friday morning after Mass, when Jo’s guests who were treated to a tour of the Abbey and grounds and a talk on the community life.

The present-day Cistercian Community at Holy Cross Abbey seeks to live the Cistercian charism in a life of prayer, daily manual work and lectio divina. The Community earns its living making altar breads, and have a small monastic guest-house, where retreatants and those coming for a "quiet day" are welcomed. They maintain flower gardens for guests and are expanding their market garden of fruit and vegetables for their own use and for sale.

The Mass was concelebrated by Dom Joseph Delargy, Abbot of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey and Dom John Moakler, the chaplain to the community. Mother Christine, the Abbess, received her vows and Sister Joanna was clothed in the Cistercian cowl. She then sung the verse from Psalm 118 “Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam; et non confundas me ab expectatione mea” (Sustain me, Lord by your word and I shall live; let my hope not be in vain).

Hand in Hand danced during the Offertory Hymn, 'Take, O Take me as I am', as Jo’s sisters Maire and Beth and niece Jennifer, presented the gifts. After communion Hand in Hand, joined by Sister Jo and Sister Edith, signed to the hymn Christ Has No Body Now But Yours, which moved everyone to tears. The Mass was followed by a sumptuous buffet lunch, thoroughly enjoyed by all. The entire weekend was one of celebration and absolute joy as those privileged enough to share those days with Sr. Joanna will surely testify!"

Story and picture by Elaine Soudain

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