I am a Carmelite solitary (or hermit) attached to Aylesford Priory in Kent, where I live a life of prayer, solitude and closeness to the many people who come there as guests and pilgrims.
I first came in contact with Camilla when she and Sona came to see me to discuss their project of fostering vocations through the Vocations Group and Cornerstone, and possibly founding a new religious community as well.
I had just returned from a pilgrimage to Lisieux where I had asked St Therese to show me whether I was supposed to accept other sisters as companions. Instead it was obvious that God was giving me these sisters in a different way. As I had been novice mistress for many years in my former community, I have always been eager to share with others the joy of religious life and so I was more than happy to offer my services to Camilla in whatever way I could.
I first spoke to the Vocations Group, then visited Cornerstone, the first discernment community in Whitechapel. After that I was able to give the original members of COLW talks on Carmelite spirituality, Walsingham and other topics. It was a new venture that I really wanted to be involved in.
To me it is important that there are people who are willing to share with others the riches of the life of prayer and the teaching of the saints. Having been novice mistress for many years, I find great joy in helping others discover God’s way for them and I believe in all Camilla is doing to help young men and women find the fullness of life and love that God has for each one. I think of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham as my younger sisters and brothers, finding ways to live the Carmelite charism within their own specific calling. Seeing the community grow makes me more than ever sure that it is a gift to the Church at this time, and has a special mission to help others find and say ‘YES‘, to God’s call, whatever that may be.
I felt especially privileged to be with the community for the days preceding Camilla and Gabi’s Profession in Westminster Cathedral on the feast of the Annunciation 2006. Besides making hundreds of sandwiches beforehand, there was a great atmosphere of excitement in preparing to mark this new stage of development. The Mass of Profession seemed to sum up all the preceding years of discernment and struggle. With Mary, the desire to say ‘yes’ to God’s call is a moving ideal for the everyone.
Now that the community is at Dowry House in Walsingham there is the possibility of a real apostolate of prayer and evangelisation, a way of being that witnesses to the joy of a life given to God and which God wants for each person, according to the call given to each individual.
I think this Community has a specific charism to offer the Church at this time, especially in its witness to prayer as a way of being; not lived in enclosure, but with openness to people, ready to share the riches of Christian and Carmelite spirituality and wanting to see people grow humanly as a necessary component of spiritual growth, whether one is called to priesthood, consecrated life in one of its forms, marriage or the single state. Of each one God asks a joyful ‘yes’ as he did of Mary.