Newsletter May 2008






Issue 8 – May 2008



                    “They were gathered … “


Extended Family at Penmaenmawr, 4-6 April




On a cold Friday evening at the beginning of April, over thirty people, RSHM and lay, from France, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, gathered at Noddfa for what was both a ‘leap of faith’ (for the organisers) and a ‘leap in the dark’ (for the participants).   The concept of ‘Extended Family’ is still bit of a mystery for most of us, but the Core Group, aided and abetted by the Province, trusted that ‘seeds’ would germinate in fertile ground.   Even though it was two weeks after Easter there was the promise, and indeed the delivery of snow, but the warmth of the welcome and atmosphere at Noddfa provided just the right conditions for ‘green blades’ to grow.   The weekend could have been seen merely as a publicity exercise,  promoting the Extended Family cause, but from the outset it proved to be a vehicle for exploration, discovery, and indeed inspiration.    Participants immediately relaxed and displayed complete willingness to share - there was no holding back or reluctance.  This helped create a wonderful atmosphere, a real sense of unity, a sense that people were open to furthering their knowledge and commitment.  

There was a truly out-going feeling, and a spirit of being at a ‘family’ gathering, giving and receiving life.   Whatever personal diffi-culties we were living through, we agreed with one participant who said  “I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be”.   During the Provincial Chapter in Birmingham, the Core Group had used the image of a Tree to describe the Extended Family ethos,  but at Noddfa the other strong feeling was that of family.    People came looking for ‘information’, but what happened was actually a kind of miracle.   Seeds were sown, and found fertile ground.   The weekend’s theme “They Were Gathered” encompassed all the elements of Emmaus – journey, companionship, discovery, revelation.   The Core Group had decided to share the preparation and delivery of the presentations, with valuable support from key people, and we too encountered mutual support from each other, which itself provided a model for the notion of ‘collaboration’.   We all (Core Group, Speakers and participants



Sue Black, NEP EF Core Group

) shared our gifts, experiencing the many different forms of sharing.




“The whole weekend was wonderful, inspiring, challenging”



“There are no strangers here, only friends who have never met.”



This was very true of the gathering of the Extended Family in Noddfa.   And yet the Extended Family is not just friends gathering for a cup of tea and a chat.   There is a more deliberate sharing of our spirit.  


Sr. Eleanor Dalton, Liverpool

Interest in our beginnings and how relevant our charism is for the needs of today was evident from the questions asked in the various groups.



“Learning about Jean Gailhac and the work of the sisters

has been a real inspiration”





We from the Manor Park group, East London, felt we had a very blessed and wonderful weekend at Noddfa.   Though it was myself and Claudette’s first time there, we felt it was a very blessed experience to be connected to so many others.   We have promised to link up with the Upminster group and we are waiting for an invitation from them to meet.  Sr. Breda is hoping that from that meeting we can meet with others to develop the Extended Family in our Parish.

Anastasia Johnpierre, Manor Park



“I believe it has given us all a better idea of what we want EF to be, and made us all more committed.”








We arrived late afternoon on the Friday, of course not knowing what we were in for, having no knowledge of what EF would involve, but determined to keep an open mind. The welcome we received was lovely; we were made very welcome which helped put us  at ease.   The programme that had been set out proved to be very interesting and the group discussions enabled us to get a greater understanding of what the Order did and how the EF worked for and with the Sisters.   Memories of that time are the feeling of community, especially at the evening Mass and the lighting of our group candles in the beautiful chapel, and of course meeting so many great people, religious and laity.  What we came to realise was that we will continue to support our sisters in every way we can.


 “Missioning” – passing on the light to take back to

                        our own communities





“… it was worth missing our football for!!”





                                                                                                      Ron & Marie Davis,





From April 4th – 6th, we had a weekend  in Pen like no other.   We shared our faith, our hopes, our fears, our realities.   We listened to each other’s stories and learnt about courage, openness and determination.   We admired the efforts of many and felt for those who were nervous about beginning.   We suggested sharing and networking as a means of supporting each other.

We heard about places around the world where Extended Family is operating, and had a sense of being part of a much larger and varied group, and are convinced of the preciousness of this movement given to us by the Holy Spirit.   We laughed and cried, danced and sang.   The culmination of the latter was the party on Saturday evening, during which the roof was in danger of lifting off.   A wonderful group of people had gathered and they empowered one another to go forth.


                                                                                      Sr. Sheila Morgan, Upminster







“This weekend has been so spiritual for me.”






As we travelled from Euston to Penmaenmawr and the scenery improved, we thought with anticipation about what we were going to be doing.   This was our first visit and the welcome we received was wonderful.  We sincerely hope it will not be our last visit.   It was a joy from beginning to end – even the snow did not deter us.

In a small group with Ealing and Manor Park, we discussed what we in Upminster had thought about doing.   One thing was that we come together with the sisters in prayer.   We also talked about our possible involvement with the sisters in Zambia.   We now have to take all this back to the larger group; and a possible way forward would be to link with Manor Park and Ealing.

All in all, it was a very blessed time.

                                                                     Teresa Frost & Sharon Morrell, Upminster








                                        “Inspired to get started.”





The members of the SHM EF are women and men who desire


    • to deepen their relationship with the RSHM for mutual enrichment
    • to deepen their understanding of the charism of Jean Gailhac and the history and mission of the RSHM Institute
    • to deepen their understanding of the challenges of the Church today and the RSHM’s focus on justice, peace and the integrity of creation, promoting “the life and dignity of all our sisters and brothers''


                                                    SHM Extended Family Guidelines



And at Noddfa in April, we were family,


feeling our way to the achievement of those Guidelines.





  • to Sr. Catherine Dolan and Sr.Margaret Fielding for giving up precious Sabbatical time to share their global view of Extended Family with us;

  • to Sr. Barbara and the Province for supporting, encouraging and facilitating the weekend;

  • to the team at Penmaenmawr for their wonderful hospitality, and creating such a marvellous atmosphere in which to meet;

  • to Fr. Peter Verity from Carlisle, who broke off from giving a retreat nearby, to come and celebrate Mass with us;

  • and to everyone who came, and threw themselves into the weekend so wholeheartedly, and with such spirit.





And around the time we were gathering at Noddfa,

the American Provinces were also holding EF meetings.






On April 6th the RSHM and Extended Family members met in Montebello to hear concrete examples of our interconnectedness with one another and with our universe.  Srs. Maureen Murray RSHM and Marilyn Ruddy CSJ presented us with examples of how we could preserve the earth, as well as be in unison with others around the world.  Replacing plastic water bottles with reusable ones; various products to use that are environ-mentally friendly; statistics regarding our consumption of food – beef wheat, corn; how many gallons of water it takes to provide us with one hamburger. 

Two Marymount students presented a project they had worked on to test the safety of drinking water in other parts of the world.

It was a very informative day, in a brief time giving us facts that can impact on our living and on lives of those around the world, showing ways we can change our living an use of the earth, and giving us a deeper awareness of those we share this universe with, and a kind and gentle consciousness of Mother Earth.


                                                                        Jane Eggleston, West America Province



Los Angeles 



Sag Harbor, New York






More than 50 members of the SHM Extended Family, joined by Msgr. Dennis Sheehan and several RSHM, gathered at Cormaria the weekend of April 11-13 for the annual Extended Family Retreat. The theme was: Come to the Quiet.   Sisters Ann Marino and Virgina McNally gave the presentations.   On Friday evening, Michaeline O'Dwyer read some antiphons for Spring from "The Circle of Life" by Rupp and Widerkehr.


Ann Marino, in her presentation on prayer, spoke of willingness and waiting as parts of the process - willingness to ask, and waiting to hear the reply.   Later in the day, Ginny McNally spoke of Micah's reminder that "God asks us only this: to  

act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God."

Msgr. Sheehan in his homily during the Eucharistic Liturgy, spoke of the image of Jesus not only as the good shepherd who knew his sheep but also as the gatekeeper who would keep his sheep from harm.

Retreatants found the time of quiet restorative. "I came with a heavy heart," wrote one.   "You made it lighter."   Another shared that it "showed us that we all share happiness and sorrow and we all need the love of Jesus to see new light."


                                                                        Ursula Mahoney, East America Province







Footnotes to Noddfa:


J   Who would have guessed that it would be Sister Kathleen O’Donovan who organised the sweepstake on the Grand National horse race!!!   J


There are more pictures from Noddfa on the web-site -


And the Core group will be meeting soon to prepare summaries for the Noddfa participants.




Please note our change of postal address, from 2nd June 2008:



Sue & Patrick Black


Phone:              01904 760331

(Outside UK       0044 1904 760331)




Address:           117, Greenshaw Drive,




                         YO32 2DB, UK.



Best wishes from the SHM EF Core Group (NEP)          



'That all may have life'










I really enjoyed the experience at Penmaenmawr and came away feeing closer to God.   I hope that future events within the Extended Family will be accessed by more people.  We all have so much to offer in each other’s lives.



Julie Thomas, Fazakerley



 I felt as though I was returning to friends, when in fact it was my first visit to Penmaenmawr.   I enjoyed listening to other lay people tell their stories, how they became involved with the sisters and became part of the Extended Family.  I found it fascinating to learn about the many parts of the world the sisters serve in, and

“Telling their stories”  the work undertaken by them.


                                                                                     Joanne Simie, Fazakerley




                           ''Perhaps I was guided here in my journey.”




An Emmaus Family


I can hear it now - “That’s an odd picture to put on the front page …”

And yet, somehow, it seems to encapsulate the weekend at Noddfa.   There’s the obvious joy of being together, and living life to the full.   But look a little closer.

It was the weekend of the Emmaus Gospel reading, and there we all are, gathered at table, ready to break bread together.   The table, that place where we break ourselves open, where we reveal ourselves to each other, where we discover who the other person is.

At a family meal, the table is the place where we bond, where we are nourished and enriched by those around us.   It is a place to learn our history, pass on our traditions, and plan for the future within those traditions.   We learn of the world and its challenges, and begin to understand the needs of others and how to treat all of God’s creation.