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Relocation of Franciscan sister welcomed

21 August 2020

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THE Community of St Francis (CSF) has said that the decision to relocate a Sister from her home in Plaistow, east London, is a “win-win situation” for all.

The diocese of Chelmsford asked the community, which had initially housed one Brother and two Sisters, to leave the house on St Mary’s Road, Plaistow, at the end of May, so that the house could return to being a vicarage. The community had been resident in the house for 12 years, but the Provincial Minister CSF, Sister Sue Berry, said this week that it suited them “very well”.

“I was only there temporarily to help out with the elderly Sisters during the pandemic, and then with the house clearance, and am now back in Southwark. The others have been able to move on without an issue so that a priest and his family can live there,” she said.

“The community has lived there very happily for 12 years. However, the Brother has died, one of the Sisters has gone into residential care, and the last one remaining was very elderly. It would not have been appropriate for one Sister to carry on living there on her own. Therefore, there is no problem about the diocese asking the community to leave.”

After moving to St Mary’s Vicarage in 2008, the members of the CSF maintained links with St Mary’s, in the parish of the Divine Compassion, Plaistow and North Canning Town, as well with as other parishes in east London. They also conducted a ministry of spiritual counselling, and one Sister worked for the charity Deafblind UK, which involved teaching Braille and supervising others working in this area.

A diocesan spokesman said: “The diocese has had a longstanding agreement with the Sisters of the community that they could use St Mary’s vicarage until such a time as it was needed to house a priest. This was clearly understood by all parties throughout the time of the agreement. We have recently reached a position where we have needed to house a priest in the vicarage, and the last remaining Sister has moved south after many years of much-appreciated service, where she will retire.

“The process was entirely amicable, and the Sister in question was fully appreciative of the situation and the support of the diocese throughout. The Sister contributed a great deal to the life of St Mary’s, Plaistow, and leaves with our thanks and good wishes for the future.”

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