Day for Life

June 1, 2017

Yesterday, 31st May, was the Feast of the Visitation and the Day for Life in Scotland. We celebrated with Mass in our chapel. The celebrant was Fr Ross Campbell. Sr Jess transitioned to the next stage of discernment and formation, noviciate.

Every day, at 3 pm, we say a prayer for life. This is a prayer to Our Lady, from the ‘Gospel of Life’ 105. We invite you to join us in this daily prayer:

“O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life: Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of Life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a Gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilisation of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.”


Sisters Visit from Dundee

April 21, 2017

We have been blessed to get to know some Nigerian Sisters who are missionaries in Dundee! They are Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ (IHM). In Dundee their work is to support the St Ninian Pastoral Institute. What a change for them to move to Dundee from Nigeria!

They very kindly hosted Sr Andrea and Jess on a visit to Dundee, when Sr Andrea spoke at the SPUC afternoon for life and the opening rally of 40 Days for Life. Their hospitality was incredible- they had handmade welcome cards and did a welcome song and dance around the dining table for us. Prayers with them was such a joyful experience- they brought out their drums and cymbals and had a perfect sense of rhythm. Sr Andrea is planning to start up Rachel’s Vineyard retreats in the Dundee area and is looking to form a team to lead the retreats, do get in touch if you are interested. One of the Nigerian Sisters has kindly volunteered to be involved with Rachel’s Vineyard.

We were delighted that they were able to visit Glasgow, when their Regional Superior from Rome came to Scotland. The Sisters joined us for lunch and a tour of the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative. Then Sr Andrea took them to see the sights of Glasgow and they were able to meet Fr Joseph Uwah, a Nigerian priest in St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Great Documentary on Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

April 19, 2017

We watched a documentary about the life of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in Bradford. A fun and inspiring watch, gives a good insight into what religious life is like.

Still available on BBC i-player if you missed it!

Recent Visits and Visitors: Dominicans and Dunfermline

April 18, 2017

We had the pleasure of hosting two Nashville Domincans, Sr Teresa Anne and Sr Mary Amata, who came over from their convent in the Netherlands to Glasgow for a TEFL conference. On their day off, we took them sight-seeing around Glasgow, to Loch Lomond and over to Dunfermline. In Dunfermline, Fr Chris Heenan very kindly gave us a tour of the St Margaret of Scotland related sights. It was great to see the cave in which St Margaret of Scotland went to pray, now located under a car park and accessed via a tunnel! There is a wealth of information about her life on boards as you walk down the tunnel. We also saw Dunfermline Abbey, where the remains of St Margaret and her husband King Malcolm Canmore are buried. The grave of Robert De Bruce is also there. We finished our tour of Dunfermline with a visit to St Margaret’s Memorial Church, which holds a relic of St Margaret (part of her shoulder blade). In the evening we paid a visit to Sr Margaret’s Church in South Queensferry for stations of the cross followed by dinner with Fr Scott Deeley. We continue to pray for the Sisters in their missionary work in the Netherlands.

We plan to return to Dunfermline for the annual national pilgrimage in honour of St Margaret, on Sunday 11th June.



Life as a Postulant

October 25, 2016

Jess joined the Sisters of the Gospel of Life as a postulant on the 8th of September 2016. Here is a letter in which she reflects on her experiences so far…

Dear friends,

Five and a half weeks in, I have finally managed to sit down and find some time to reflect and write about my time so far as a Postulant with the Sisters of the Gospel of Life.

I have gone through different phases – feeling like I was on holiday at the start (as I used to spend my holidays visiting the sisters), then feeling overwhelmed at my ‘to-do’ list and deciding where to make a start when it came to working as a GP, feeling homesick (for Pembrokeshire), having difficulty sleeping, feeling like I was just walking around in the shadow of the sisters but not actually one of them. Now that I have started to get used to the changes and life here, I feel I can walk alongside the sisters, in the light of Christ. I feel like I know what I am doing when it comes to locum GP work. I am excited about what plans God has for my life with the sisters.     

There have been so many changes in my life… a different country, job, clothes, house… with Jesus and nuns as my new housemates.

Here are some of my thoughts about the changes involved…

A change in the focus of my routine – from work (with prayer at either end), to prayer (with work interspersed).

I have gained new family members – two lovely, inspiring big sisters and their families.

Moving countries – from Wales to Scotland. Different accents, no Welsh (either spoken or written on road signs), Scottish words which are entirely new to me, lots of football talk about Celtic and Rangers.

Moving from the countryside to the city. In Wales I used to wake up to the sound of birds, now I wake up to the sound of a train going by (as our small garden backs onto the railway line). 

City driving – lots of motorways, changing lanes, one-way systems and traffic lights. I was terrified at the thought but have coped a lot better than I anticipated. I also seem to have been instantly gifted with the ability to parallel park when I moved to Glasgow, which is miraculous – as anyone who has seen me attempting parallel parking in Haverfordwest will know! 

Changing jobs – no longer being a junior doctor or registrar, with an employer, but now a fully qualified GP and self-employed (I had no idea about the sort of paperwork that would entail!)

Working in multiple GP Practices in different geographical areas – new things to learn in each place – where the local hospital is, what tests can and cannot be done within the GP Practice, how to use a different computer system (EMIS). I am still exploring my options and trying to figure out what working pattern and what sort of GP Practice will best suit my weekly routine with the sisters.

Learning about pro-life work… how to put a Moses basket and its accessories together. Prams are a different challenge. Learning about what sort of clothing newborn babies wear… the difference between vests, long sleeved vests, babygros and snowsuits. Being amazed at the size difference between clothing for 0-3 months and 3-6 months. Admiring all the cute patterns on baby clothing. Checking the toys are complete and working – can be fun! Talking in churches about Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion healing retreats – to raise awareness. I still have much to learn about other aspects of pro-life work, like natural family planning.

Being in a multicultural neighbourhood – I used to be quite exotic for West Wales! In Govanhil, many people are from Pakistan or Eastern Europe and still retain their own culture. I’d like to get to know my neighbours more.

Having everything on my doorstep – rather than most interesting things being at least a 3 hour drive away – Glasgow is a great city for events and places of interest. Also LOADS of Catholic churches, with lots of options for daily Mass and confession.

Wearing a long black skirt and tights – took a while to figure out what to do with all that skirt when going to the loo! Not an easy thing to run in either. Also a white T-shirt, which makes me a bit cautious as I don’t want to spill anything on it.

Moving from my own rented space into a house that is a convent. It is amazing to live with Jesus in the house (in the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel). I love sharing my life with others. Gone are the days of meals on my own. Come are the days of tackling disasters together… like cleaning out a cupboard full of mouse poo – after which I dreamt of flying mice and Sr Andrea dreamt of mouse poo glittering with precious stones … hahahaha!

Getting used to praying the Divine Office – still getting to grips with what should be done differently on an Optional Memoria, Memoria, Feast Day, Solemnity and Sunday. Learning new hymns and teaching my sisters new hymns. It is wonderful to share prayer.

Trying to do some spiritual reading – reading books is not one of my favourite pastimes, so I am working on this one and figuring out how to fit some daily reading into my routine. I’ll be meeting with a priest for some ‘spiritual direction’ on Monday, which I am really looking forward to. I am quite curious to find out what ‘spiritual direction’ involves!

Diary meetings – trying to keep track of what 3 people are doing, rather than just having my own plan for the week.

Being identified as one of a group of religious sisters – and pretty awesome ones! Having people greet me very warmly when they realise who I am with.

Receiving cards and gifts from people who are strangers to me but who have heard about me and been praying for me. Amazing to be supported by so much prayer.

Having much more time with other people and having time to just hang around and chat… rather than rushing around at work, trying to do everything in as short a time as possible, and then having to study for exams or complete assignments during a lot of my spare time.

Lunch breaks in the office – for a whole hour, uninterrupted – sitting around a table to eat with lots of other people, having a leisurely chat and sharing random food – quite a novelty for a doctor!

Less spare time – paradoxically – because most of an evening or weekend would be prayer or community time rather than my time to do with as I wish.

There is still so much for me to learn and figure out. Bit by bit things are falling into place.

Please keep me in your prayers and feel free to send me any prayer requests! We have a ‘book of intentions’ to write down the names of people and situations that we pray for daily.

God bless,

Jess x

St Anthony Mary Claret

October 24, 2014

Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in Catalonia, Spain, in 1807, the son of a weaver. He took up weaving but then studied for the priesthood, desiring to be a Jesuit. Ill health prevented his entering the Order, and he served as a secular priest. In 1849, he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known today as the Claretians, and the Apostolic Training Institute of the Immaculate Conception, Claretian nuns. From 1850 to 1857, Anthony served as the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He returned to the court of Queen Isabella II as confessor, and went into exile with her in 1868. In 1869 and 1870, Anthony participated in the First Vatican Council. He died in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide in southernFrance on October 24, 1870. Anthony Mary Claret had the gift of prophecy and performed many miracles. He was opposed by the liberal forces of Spain and Cuba and endured many trials.

Anthony Claret was a truly remarkable, dynamic and holy man who founded the Congregation that today bears his name – the Claretian Missionaries, the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Although he died over a century ago, yet the impact of his life and his burning concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of all people – especially the poor – make him much more than just an honoured memory.

Intense love for God and people was the force that drove St Anthony Mary Claret through out his life. ‘Fire’ was the word he used to describe the love that launched him on an endless sea of projects, and that gave him the sustaining power to keep them all going. He draws a pen-picture of his ideal: ‘A Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with love, who … strives by all means possible to set the whole world on fire with God’s love.’

St Francis of Assisi

October 4, 2014

Saint Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone; 1181/1182 – October 3, 1226) was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men’s Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.


Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, and he lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for Assisi. While going off to war in 1204, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life. On a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis begged with the beggars at St. Peter’s. The experience moved him to live in poverty. Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon amassed a following. His order was endorsed by Pope Innocent III in 1210. He then founded the Order of Poor Clares, which was an enclosed order for women, as well as the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance. In 1219, he went to Egypt where crusaders were besieging Damietta, hoping to find martyrdom at the hands of the Muslims. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the order. Once his organization was endorsed by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas manger scene. In 1224, he received the stigmata, making him the first person to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He died in 1226 while singing Psalm 141.

On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and one of the two patrons of Italy (with Catherine of Siena), and it is customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October.