Scottish Diocese Welcomes Community of Marian Franciscans – Thank You So Much, Bishop Robson!editor
The Lawside site, the original campus of Lawside Academy and the Mercy Convent has been up for sale for a good while now, as the Convent and Pastoral Centre have become sadly surplus to requirement.
Once the Mercy Sisters diminished in numbers and left the Diocese of Dunkeld, the property was purchased by the diocese for pastoral use, both for the diocese and for the diocesan Offices. However, with the realisation that at least the main buildings of convent, and pastoral centre, were no longer of use to the Church, the diocese has been endeavouring to find a good potential use and price for these buildings.
Bishop Stephen Robson said, “One criterion which I, as Bishop, certainly believed ought to be taken into consideration is the fact that it would be good to be able to hand on the property to an organisation which would use it well, and keep it, in Catholic hands, given its past history. The Trustees of the diocese were all involved at crucial moments.”
“Once the site was offered for sale, we eventually had six bidders. Some were from developers who wanted to develop the whole site for housing or other less suitable purposes. Others wanted to renovate the buildings for flats for re-sale; others again wanted to clear and demolish the buildings and develop the land, but the convent was problematic. It is listed as a building of significant character and historical interest, and therefore there would be little the developers would be able to do with it. Two of the bidders were religious congregations, both traditional Catholic religious communities. One of these communities wanted only the convent and nothing else but bid a low price. The other bidder pulled out and lost interest.”
“Then, almost out of the blue, another religious congregation expressed interest. They came up from Portsmouth in the south of England, fell in love with it, and offered to buy it. However, the sale was even more propitious than this, because they wanted to purchase not only St Joseph’s Convent, but also the Pastoral Centre.”
The Community of Franciscan Sisters and Friars, known as the Franciscan Family of the Immaculate – or the Marian Franciscans; or more formally the Sisters of the Immaculate and St Maximilian Kolbe and the Friars of the Immaculate and St Francis, have lived for a number of years down in Portsmouth Diocese under Bishop Philip Egan. Even though they are coming to this diocese, they will also be present in Portsmouth, to which technically they still are attached. The Convent buildings they used to occupy were both too small and their lease had ended, and the building was placed up for sale. For the past year the Community has looked the length and breadth of the country looking for a suitable home. And then they discovered Lawside, St Joseph’s. It was just what they wanted, and they fell in love with it. It was a building designed and built precisely for the religious life. And it was a perfect size. They were able to have a full convent life in St Joseph’s and make the pastoral centre a Franciscan Friary.
Bishop Stephen added, “the Marian Franciscans, their shortened name, have been around for a while in the Diocese of Portsmouth. They are an Old and New Rite traditional Catholic Community. Though among themselves and in their own community they celebrate Mass and the Office in the Old Liturgy, they are also able to celebrate Mass in the so-called Novus Ordo or New Rite as in all our parishes in the diocese. As from last week, and because of their special, urgent circumstances, they all arrived in Lawside.”
“The friars just now are three priest-friars and four simple professed friars preparing for the priesthood in their first year of theological and philosophical studies. They are all quite young.”
“The Sisters are a relatively new community and are all quite young. There are, presently, 20 Franciscan sisters in total: 10 sisters are professed, six are novices and four are postulants. They are a very impressive community, and the Mother Superior, Mother Veronica, is Italian and the deputy, Sister lraenea is American. Five of the community are American, two English, three Polish, two Italian, one Filipina, two Indonesians etc; “
“The friars are from County Durham, London, Italy and Nigeria.”
“The Franciscans will also be able to look after the Latin Mass community from now on, so keeping them all together for Mass at Lawside. And supply work by the friars, if they are asked, will be possible in our parishes. They will also concelebrate with us at the Chrism Mass with the rest of our priests.”
“Let us offer them a welcoming hand; love and tolerance; and a realisation that our wonderful Catholic Church is so much bigger, wider, and more inclusive than we sometimes even realise, allow for, or are even aware of. It will be good to have young religious about the place.”
“The Friars will, of course, remain incardinated in Portsmouth and the Sisters, as the religious community was founded as such by Bishop Egan of Portsmouth. But they will all live among us and in buildings built for the very purpose of religious life once again. They are our guests, but we also want them to feel part of our diocesan family.”
“I do hope you will make them feel welcome. They are young, impressive and a pleasure to meet.” Source…
This is wonderful news. Let’s hope and pray that this new religious community feels at home in the Diocese of Dunkeld – and, who knows, may find themselves looking for Houses in other parts of Scotland…. not least, my own home Archdiocese of Glasgow! Your thoughts…