I first met the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Autumn of 2005.
At that time, the Holy Spirit had planted a sudden and strong desire in my heart to pray ‘more’. So, when I saw Sister Camilla’s ad in my parish newsletter asking for a volunteer to help in the office at Abbotswick House of Prayer, I knew I had to respond…for purely selfish reasons!
I didn’t know then that God had granted me the enormous privilege of witnessing, first-hand, his work and presence in our midst. By walking alongside the community from so very early on I became an onlooker of this remarkable unfolding story of faithfulness and abandonment to God’s Will.
God’s vision was being carried out by two young women who had nothing but their strong faith. I have seen their FIAT take them from living in exile (from Walsingham), walking through the desert for 14 years to reach the promised land where their work has been blessed with their first convent, The House of the Divine Will. Now a strong mature community their expansion took an unexpected path when families that had moved to Walsingham to live their faith, asked them if they could walk alongside COLW. Now, with other men, women and priests, we are part of the COLW family and share with them spirituality, prayer life and work wherever we find ourselves.
The sisters’ love for God and everyone around them, their gentleness, joy and reliance on Divine Providence and their faithful and courageous openness to God’s plan, in the midst of constant struggle, have had a great impact on me. They pursue their mission with the ‘determined determination’ of Teresa de Avila, with the passion and wisdom of St John of the Cross, two great Carmelites, mixed with the gentleness, freedom to be and the true COLW spirit of family life that makes them so ‘real’ and relatable. The COLW spirituality, little by little, became my way of life and the community became my spiritual family even before they were an Ecclesial Family themselves!