Sheila’s story

1st vow

On Wednesday 28th April 2011, vigil of the Feast of St Catherine of Siena, during Solemn Mass, I professed my first vow into the Single Consecrated life. The Mass was held at my parish church of St Mary Magdalen in Accrington. In the company of around 60 clergy and friends who had travelled far and wide to support me, Bishop John, consecrated me in the presence of my parish priest, Fr Lawrence .

I am a novice Oblate of the Convent of the Holy Cross, Rempstone, and have taken the name Mary Bernadette. I will make my temporary oblate vow later this year. As a Benedictine Oblate, I read the Rule of St Benedict daily and wrote Rule 4v21 "To put nothing before the love of Christ" into my vows. I am also a member of the Society of Mary, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and Associate of the Community of the Resurrection and a partner of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, Norfolk.

My life in SCL will be both contemplative and active, as I am part of the chaplaincy team at the new Royal Blackburn Hospital. I volunteer 2 days a week as a chaplaincy visitor. I have 2 wards and visit the patients, chatting to them and offering to pray for them at their bedside or to pray a personal prayer for them in the evening when I recite the Divine Office. There can be between 10 and 15 patients so this can be a very humbling and rewarding ministry.

I am a divorced mother of 2 grown-up sons. My preferred worship is Anglo-Catholic and, at St Mary Magdalen’s, I help as a sides-person and with the readings. "He has put a marvellous love into my heart".

Life vow

On Wednesday 22nd May 2013, the Feast of St Rita, at St Mary Magdalene’s Church Accrington, surrounded by friends and clergy who friends and clergy who had travelled far and wide to support me, I took my life vows of celibacy, simplicity and obedience with particular service for the care of the sick. My friend, Sr Hazel Adamson SCL TOHP presented me to the Rt. Revd. John Goddard, who received my vows.

The church was filled with love and, as we progressed through the Solemn Mass and Consecration ceremony, I was filled with joy and could hardly believe that 3 years had passed since my 1st vows into the Single Consecrated Life.

God works in mysterious ways in our lives and, following the heartache of my divorce 8 years ago and the subsequent estrangement from my 2 sons, I could not have imagined how fulfilling my life could become once I handed it over to God.

Living the Single Consecrated Life has brought me great joy and many valuable friendships. My volunteer work as a Chaplaincy visitor at the Royal Blackburn hospital is amazing, giving comfort and prayer to the sick. I feel privileged to do this work.

In commemoration of my life vows, I have adopted a 6 week old Golden Labrador puppy called Pluto. I will fund his training for 2 years until he is a fully trained guide dog for the blind.

In October 2013, God willing, I will take my life vow as a Benedictine Oblate Mary Bernadette at Holy Cross Convent, Costock (formerly Rempstone). “He has put into my heart a marvellous love.”