Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Help Save Lanherne

This is a letter from Mother Maria Rosa Pia of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, who have a wonderful foundation in Lanherne. I will write no more, but let Mother tell you in her own words:

 Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate 
House of Contemplation “Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel” 
Lanherne Convent, St. Mawgan 
Newquay, Cornwall TR8 4ER 
Tel.: 01637 860423 
E-mail: fsi.lanherne@talktalk.net 
Ave Maria! 
July 2011 
Dear Friend, 
Please permit me to introduce myself. I am a Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate living the contemplative life at Lanherne Monastery in St. Mawgan, Cornwall. We are a community of 11 sisters from England, Italy, and the Philippines and we arrived here in the year 2001, 10 years ago. Prior to that, the Carmelites, who had been here since 1794, decided that they would leave Lanherne in order to amalgamate with another one of their communities. They therefore sought another religious order who would be able to continue the life of prayer and sacrifice which they had fulfilled here since their arrival. We were approached by the Mother Superior and a meeting was arranged between the Carmelites and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. It was decided that we would come to Lanherne and begin our contemplative life here on 11th July 2001. 
However, following our arrival, the circumstances changed and it was decided that the Monastery should be sold together with its Estate. What happened, in fact, is that the surrounding buildings have been sold and all that remains now is the Monastery itself and St. Joseph’s Hall (which is used as a church hall). We have been asked if we would like to purchase Lanherne ourselves, but as Franciscans we are not allowed to own any properties, nor do we have the money to purchase it. What I ask is whether you know anyone (or a group of people) who would be interested in helping us to keep Lanherne as a place of prayer and who would purchase the Monastery and Hall, but at the same time permit us to remain here to continue our life of prayer. I do not know how much the property is estimated to be but I feel sure they would not be looking for more than £1 million. I do not think there are any other religious who would be interested in coming here and if would be a tragedy if it became a secular building as so many other Monasteries in England have become. We can think of Stanbrook Abbey and Darlington Carmel to name but two. 
Lanherne is such a special place and everyone who visits it says they find great peace and a facility to pray here. One year ago we started to have adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament every day of the week after the 7.30 a.m. Holy Mass (10 a.m. on Sundays), ending with Benediction each day. You may be interested to know that the Sanctuary light before the Blessed Sacrament has remained alight for hundreds of years. Lanherne used to be the Manor House of the Arundell family who rose to high positions in the country, only to be reduced to gradual impoverishment during the times of the Reformation, due to their love of the Catholic faith. Lanherne became a place of refuge for many priests during this time of persecution and there are said to be nine priest holes where they hid from their persecutors. Tradition relates that one priest was hidden in one of these for eighteen months. St. Cuthbert Mayne often used to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass here (using the altar which is now in our small choir) and ministered to the Faithful here. He was martyred on 29th November 1577, for the simple reason that he was a Catholic priest. The Franciscans of the Immaculate are now the very privileged custodians of the first class relic of his skull which is kept in our choir, and which the people who attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass here on Sundays are able to venerate. 
Just to tell you a little about our Institute of Franciscans of the Immaculate (friars and sisters). It was founded fairly recently by two Italian priests, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli and Fr. Gabriele Pellettieri, (both of whom are still alive) who were inspired by the life and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe. The distinctive characteristic of our Institute is the religious profession of the Marian Vow of Total Consecration to Our Lady and each of us desire to live our religious consecration under the protection and through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by means of this Vow. One very important thing in a world in which the number of religious vocations is dwindling rapidly, is that our Institute does have many vocations both for the friars and sisters and these are now coming from all parts of the world. We have communities in many countries and four Houses of Contemplation, one of which is Lanherne. 
May God and Our Lady reward and bless you for reading this letter which I send to ask if you are able to help us in any way to keep Lanherne a place of prayer (which has been our most special intention for so many years). I would be most grateful to hear from you in this regard and assure you of my prayers and that of the whole community. 
in Jesus Mary & Joseph 
Mother Superior 
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate 


Woody said...

The Franciscans of the Immaculate are perhaps the best of the new religious institutes. I would certainly help the sisters if I could.

Anonymous said...

I hate to nitpick on a negative here, and the Sisters and their apostolate are certainly in my prayers, but from the photographs I saw on the LMS link here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/josephshaw/sets/72157621226976318/with/3707396498/

it would appear that the fine 19th-c. stone altar in chapel has been wreckovated to remove it from the east wall to the middle of the chancel - sometime between April 2009 and summer 2010!

Can this be right? If so, why on earth was this done, and so far down the line, in a convent chapel of all places? Who made the Sisters put up with this?

Benedict Ambrose

Anonymous said...

Benedict Ambrose - I think you'll find that it's the other way around! The Franciscans *restored* the altar back to the East Wall:



Anonymous said...

That's marvellous and relieving news, J - many thanks for the link.

What threw me was that, for whatever reason, the pre-reordering pictures on the flickr link were dated 2010 whilst the post-reordering ones were dated 2009.

Now I know, and am surprised by joy. Serves me right for being so nosy in the first place, I dare say.

--Benedict Ambrose

Jack said...

I am all for helping the Fransiscan Sisters and their desire to remain faithful to their constitutions is admirable.

However it does sound like this is a case that could not have been forseen when they were written, surely St Francis is not going to disown them just because they realised that in certain circumstances this rule needed to be bent.

And before people start the slippery slope argument in tropical countries the Cassock is often white as wearing a black cassock would result in fried/baked Priest.

Also I'm not sure if the Sisters realise that the chances of finding a Trady Catholic who just happens to have a spare million quid are very small, they may have to think about alternate living aragnements.

Physiocrat said...

Why do they need to stay in Britain? Land prices are amongst the highest in Europe.

They should look further afield - they would find places much suitable for their needs in parts Scandinavia, for little more than the cost of the actual buildings, the price of land outside the big cities being next to nothing. Ireland might be another possibility.

Good luck.

BTW there is already this 20 miles from Gothenberg.


Anonymous said...

Forgive me for striking a discordant note, but when I visited Lanherne for reasons of historical interest some years ago I found the Franciscan effort rather spooky. But I am sorry that the Carmelite landladies are selling a place of such historical significance. From what I hear the convent is virtually unchanged since they arrived in the 1790s and is a time capsule.

badcatholic said...

Couldn't some system of regular giving be set up to let people donate sums of just about any size? On-line giving can be arranged so that it goes straight to the fund itself, thus the good sisters would not be handling the money at any stage of the proceedings.
If a thousand people give a thousand pennies a hundred times, you've got your million. And if they say the Rosary every time they give...
I know, it's already been thought of.
I shall do the praying anyway

Anonymous said...

I thought that Bishop Budd of Plymouth was keen that the religious life should be maintained at Lanherne, hence the arrival of the Franciscan sisters.

berenike said...

The Benedictines in Oxfordshire seem very organised and inventive in monastic fundraising - one was a banker, I think - perhaps they could help the Franciscans come up with a way of raising the money in their particular circumstances?

Sister Colette said...

Dear Sister,
I hope and pray that you are successful in keeping Lanherne a religious house, and we will see if we can find anyone to help you. If you cannot, have you thought of Baddesly Clinton or Woodchester as the Poor Clares have moved away from both monasteries.
Sr. Colette, Hermit of Mary Immaculate