The community at FCJ Centre St Hugh’s has been busy adapting their ministry to various online venues and thus reaching out much further than usually. Here they describe some of the creative initiatives they have offered to keep connected.
We moved our weekly craft and chat session online and it has been a great success, with people from across the country and overseas joining in. It is just a time for catching up, relaxing, staying focused on something simple and enjoying each other’s company. Everyone can do whatever craft they enjoy, some of us are knitting for the Warm Baby Project.
Sunflowers of Hope
One of the commitments for our FCJ Bicentenary has been to plant trees – which we still hope to do – but in our neighbourhood there are no gardens (apart from ours!) and so no spaces for planting, so we had thought to include the people here by giving them all a growing sunflower. Again with the lockdown that hasn’t been possible, so instead we are growing them and keeping people updated with little facebook live clips! We have invited children learning from home to interact by posting simple science projects and inviting them to send us drawings.
A Praying Community
It seems clear that one of the things we can offer as FCJs is the witness of being a praying community in this time of suffering and uncertainty. We have tried to be a simple witness to this for the people in our area, delivering leaflets the day before lockdown to both offer practical help and also promising prayer.
We are very aware that in some sense we are a resource of prayer for our schools. Now that the new school term has started we are just beginning to offer a Monday morning prayer for staff across our schools. We are beginning with the Merseyside schools but will happily make it available further afield as we sort out the technology.
Light a Candle of Hope
At the start of the lockdown we joined the Churches Together initiative across England and Wales to Light a Candle of Hope in our window and pray for the world at this time of crisis. We decided to keep that going and have invited others to do the same. Each evening we remember all who have asked for prayer, and three evenings a week we lead a short prayer time on Facebook Live. Many people have contacted us asking for prayer.
Praying with the FCJs through Holy Week
Here at St Hugh’s before the ‘lockdown’ we had hoped to invite a few young women to join us for Holy week and Easter – of course with the changed situation we were unable to do that, but a few people asked if we could do something in its place. We decided to go ahead with ‘Praying Holy Week with the FCJ Sisters’ as an online event.
We used the Sacred Space podcast reflections on Women of the Passion as the basic material for each day, and then added an FCJ text or reflection each day too. We had three zoom meetings during the week – Palm Sunday, Wednesday and Easter Sunday – during which the group was able to meet, have a sense of praying alongside others, and share their reflections and prayer together. More than 20 people participated in the retreat, and about 10 joined in for the sharing. The sharing was very moving, and the context of praying Holy Week was very striking, particularly with two frontline NHS workers participating.
Exploring the Easter Gospels
Again this is a usual part of our activities at St Hugh’s so we have simply moved it online. A great benefit is that there are more people who can access it! We have run these scripture sessions with input and sharing via Zoom. Each Tuesday there is a preliminary sharing on the Gospel, followed by some in-depth input and some reflection points. Then we gather again on Thursday for a much deeper sharing on the same piece of scripture.
Early in the ‘lockdown’ we contacted a local foodbank to offer help. They asked us whether we would be able to act as a collection point as they are very short of donations with more people in insecure situations financially. We let people know that we could shop for the foodbank or receive food donations, and immediately people wanted to help. We have donated a car-load of food each week to the Micah Project – a foodbank and food kitchen run by the two Cathedrals and city centre churches, as well as providing emergency relief for two families.
Wavertree is a deprived inner-city area, so there are many families who are struggling. Simple things such as not being able to buy electricity on credit or not having a landline and therefore no cheap internet means that things which we might take for granted in this time of lockdown are all so much more challenging. The housing here is poor and small – almost all the families in our area are living in spaces smaller than our chapel.
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