Newsletter April 2009



Issue 10 – Spring 2009








Appollonie Cure-PélissierMère Saint Jean




1809                                                    2009





30th January – 1st February 2009


To open Mère St. Jean’s bicentenary year, the Community at Noddfa arranged a special weekend of celebration, to which members of the SHM Extended Family were particularly invited.  The Saturday was devoted to commemorating the life of Mère St. Jean, and the rest of the weekend to the stories of other valiant women.


We were especially fortunate to have both Sr. Pierre and Sr. André to guide us through the story of Mère St. Jean’s life, drawing on their vast expertise, and knowledge of the Founders of the Institute.   Whilst their stories may be not be too familiar to the SHM Extended Family and friends, even members of the Order drew something from hearing them again, and the insights which Pierre and André gave us.


What stood out in their expositions were the zeal, the courage, strength, and sacrifice of a remarkable woman, as well as the warmth and welcome she brought to all her endeavours, qualities still so evident in the Institute today, and which make time spent at places like Noddfa so richly rewarding and spiritually uplifting.  In a phrase heard so often during the weekend – life-giving.






What the weekend in Noddfa meant to me


For me, after the events of the past year, it was a return to LIFE, and what better way to do this than in a celebration of the life of our Foundress.

What André and I had to present was a reflection on a new bud – a new root, planted by the Lord in the south of France in the early 19th century.

The interest and enthusiasm of the participants spoke to me of the opening up and blossoming of that bud, the fulfilment of Father Gailhac’s dream that this tree planted might grow to “shelter the birds of Paradise.”   The whole event helped me to feel more deeply rooted in our SHM life-giving spirituality.

The atmosphere of welcome and joy presented by the Noddfa Community was most refreshing, as was also the re-opening of our memories of women who had crossed our paths and left an indelible mark.

In summing up the weekend I would like to use again the words of Tagore:


“Lord … hidden in the heart of things

thou art nourishing

seeds into sprouts,

buds into blossoms,

and ripening flowers into fruitfulness.”


                                               Sr. Pierre Dullaghan, Barrow




Celebrating the Legacy of Mère St. Jean




On a dark, cold Friday evening at the end of January, Patrick and I braved the M62, M6 and M54 to spend a weekend at Noddfa.   From the tedium and gloom of the journey we emerged into Noddfa’s warm embrace.

After a good night’s sleep, the morning activity started with a presentation by Pierre on the life of Mère St. Jean.  This was enlightened and enlightening - the inspiring account of a life well lived.  This was the more special since Pierre is recovering from serious illness,

and it was wonderful to see her back in harness.  In the afternoon André spoke.  Both Pierre and André have total familiarity with the subject, and used the theme of ‘fire’ to point up the great zeal which inspired those early sisters.  Appollonie obviously holds a special place in the collective heart of the community, demonstrated by occasions like this, the revisiting of her life, her spirit, her gift of herself to humanity.  One tends to think her era was particularly hard for women, with extreme poverty and lack of social or health care.   However the needs are still there, albeit in a 21st Century way – greater global mobility bringing about increases in migrants, and exploitation of women through the sex trade.




In fact ‘fire’ pervaded the whole weekend:  socializing centred on ‘fire, flame, and candle’, with in particular a heart-warming evening telling stories of the characters who have lit up our lives.  In addition we enjoyed lots of hugs, were nourished by excellent food (that crème-caramel!), inspired by liturgy, warmed by conversation, comforted by candlelight, revived by the drinks trolley – you guessed it ,  a thoroughly ignited weekend.


                                     Sue Black, Core Group






Seeds into Sprouts, Buds into Blossoms …




I am writing as one of the members of Sister Bernadette's Circle Dance Group, to thank everyone concerned with the Bi-Centenary Celebration of Mère Saint Jean.  The twelve members of our group who attended the celebration on Saturday enjoyed the whole day.

We have all appreciated and admired the work of the order, but few of us knew the story of Mère Saint Jean, or how the order came into being.  Sister André and Sister Pierre told the stories beautifully.

Sister Bernadette always arranges a candle-lit centrepiece for our dances, so it was really lovely to imagine all of our dancers as little sparks dancing around a flame.  It certainly made me feel part of the extended family when we attended the service in the chapel.  I will remember the service every time we dance, and especially when we dance 'Garuda' (the Phoenix).  I felt especially drawn into the celebration by the words of Tagore in 'Rooted in Love'.  I feel very fortunate in having found Noddfa.  I don't know where I belong, but Noddfa is a place of welcome.

In addition to the stories, the service and the delicious meal, we enjoyed talking to all the friendly people we met.   Many Thanks.

Pam Weston, Noddfa






At the invitation of the Community at Noddfa we came from London, Liverpool, Preston, Barrow, York, Carlisle, Castle Oaks and Castlemilk.   We joined with members of the Extended Family and friends to celebrate and listen - to listen to, and hear the story of, the life and work of Mother St. Jean, ably researched for us by André and Pierre.

As a prelude to this, on the evening of our arrival we were invited to tell our own story.   This was a most enriching and enjoyable experience.

Sr. Nuala



This was my first visit to Pen and I felt privileged to have been asked to go by Sister Patsy from Arrowsmith.   I have only recently commenced my new role within the order and love it dearly already.

The warm and friendly welcome at Pen made my visit comfortable and refreshing.  The people there have a unique way of making you feel part of the "family".  The presentation was perfect by both sisters.  It brought together the order for which I work and the background from which it began.  My knowledge base is now a lot broader and will help me understand the marvellous work being done by the Sacred Heart Sisters.  The day started brilliantly and ended on the same note.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their hospitality, the meal was lovely as was the company.  In all a lovely day - thank you!!

Chris Clowery, Care Manager, Arrowsmith House



Next IssueBest wishes from the SHM EF Core Group (NEP)


What’s happening in your area to celebrate the bicentenary of

Mère St. Jean?

What does she mean to you personally?

How is she relevant to the SHM Extended Family today?

Please let us know, and we’ll do a follow-up in the Summer issue!

The deadline for prayers, poems, articles, thoughts, reflections, photos, drawings, or whatever, is:

31st May 2009



Patrick Black


Phone:              01904 760331

(Outside UK      0044 1904 760331)



Address:     117, Greenshaw Drive,



                        YO32 2DB, UK.