My association with the Community goes back to before Cornerstone, to the time of the VGW meetings in Westminster in the late 1990’s. I can remember giving a talk to the latter group.
Then there was the excitement of the Cornerstone time of discernment in Underwood Road presbytery and the providential opportunity, for those wishing to develop ideas further, to move to the Brentwood Diocesan House of Prayer. Fourteen years were spent there, towards the end of which time the Sisters were working at the Shrine. Subsequently the development at Dowry House began and the eventual move to Walsingham. Finally, the search for our own house and a memorable holiday for me, spent up in Norfolk looking at possible places for the Community to call their own. What is now the House of the Divine Will was the outcome of that search.
So, a considerable period of time and a considerable influence on me as one accompanying the sisters and their friends on their journey of discovery and discernment. I’ve continued of course to exercise my pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Brentwood, and that has involved much change. Throughout these years, the ability to spend time with the nascent community onwards has been a blessing and support in my own ministry. The acquisition of HODW has been especially significant, I find it has become a home from home. Although I am not always there early in the morning for prayers with the community when I visit on my day of rest from the parish, I have of course shared in the Office and celebrated many Masses in the lovely chapel. I’ve also been blessed to be able to participate in several of the family days there, the sharing of experiences is enriching and humbling.
On a practical note, I’ve learnt a lot about plants since the purchase of HODW. Many of my daylight hours there are occupied with planting and caring for the various trees, shrubs and other plants which now enhance the grounds. I thought we’d done most of the planting, but we now need gardens round the shepherd huts and a kind of screen for what is to become a quiet area, so it is back to searching the internet for ideas and where to source what seems suitable to plant.