In Memoriam

Sister Lucia CHN

in our African Province of Lesotho

Professed - 15th December 1964

Died -7th February 2016

 

May she rest in  peace and rise with Christ in Glory

God of mercy, Lord of life, you have made us in your image to reflect your truth and light.  

 

We give you thanks for our Sister Lucia  for the grace and mercy she received from you, for all that was good in her life and for the memories that we have of her today.

 

We give you thanks for calling Lucia to our community in Leribe – the 1st Basutho sister to be professed in CHN – we give you thanks - for her years as a mission sister – her involvement in parish life conferences in Lesotho and the Free State – her ministry in Maseru and at the Anglican Centre there, - her years as Novice Guardian and Provincial Superior in Lesotho and the time she spent with us in the UK – for her charisma, her friendship, her kindness, her gentleness - and we pray for all those whose lives she has touched and enriched over the years.

 

Lord God, you promise eternal life to those who believe.  Remember for good your servant Lucia – as her body is returned to the Convent in Leribe today. 

 

We entrust her to you now – with faith and hope in your promise of eternal life.  In baptism she was adopted as your child, in the Eucharist she  was sustained and fed – we pray that you will welcome her now  to your table in heaven to share with all your saints in glory.

 

Lord you can bring life out of death – and hope out of despair -so we pray for all those who mourn the loss of Lucia – her family and for Malineo and all our sisters in Lesotho.  Bless and strengthen them as they prepare for the funeral on Saturday – embrace them with your love and give them hope in their shock and confusion.  Be gentle with them in their grief and give them confidence in your goodness for the days ahead.

 

So we commend our Sister Lucia to you, Lord our God, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Amen.

Sister Elizabeth Clare CHN or Sister Liz

 

I hope you won’t mind, but I want a quick word with Liz first, before I come to you.

 

Three wonderful biblical readings, Liz, but I guess when they chose the Isaiah passage, they were thinking of the wrong person.*

 

‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the broken hearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners.’

 

They thought, I expect, when they chose that passage for your funeral, that it was about Christ.  After all, Luke famously puts those words into Jesus’ mouth when he is preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth.  Well, they are about Jesus, Liz, but they are also about you.  It would never have occurred to you to say so, so I’m saying it instead.  It just happens to be true.  The spirit of the Lord was upon you, and you brought good news to the oppressed and the vulnerable and the broken hearted, and you gave so many people release from what was imprisoning them, including sometimes the bars of narrow, confining religion.

 

And I would have chosen some other readings for you, too, including three about Moses, each just one verse long.  I would have chosen Exodus 33.11, where it says,

 

‘The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend’;

 

and Exodus 32.11, where it says, if we translate the Hebrew literally and allow its poetry to retain its shock and its beauty,

 

‘Moses soothed the face of God.’

 

And then I would have included Exodus 34.29,

‘Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.’

 

(The King James Bible has, he ‘wist’ not that it shone, and I have a story about that, a story I must have told Liz, so now it’s for you.  I knew a student at Girton College in Cambridge back in the 60s, whose father, a well-known Methodist minister, came to preach in the college chapel, and used that Exodus 34.29 as his text.  As he and his daughter were walking down one of the corridors after the service, another student came towards them with a very Christian smile on her face.  After they were safely out of ear-shot he turned to his daughter and whispered, ‘I think she wist.’)

 

I had better stick with you now.  Turning Exodus 33.11 around, I would say Liz used to talk to God face to face as one talks to a friend.  Liz was so at ease with her God.  She had got so deep inside his forgiveness and his love, heard so much of his laughter.  And she knew God’s pain, also.  That’s why she soothed his face.  In Exodus Moses is trying to soothe God’s rage, turn him from his fierce anger against his people.  But Liz’s God was different.  He needed her to wipe his tears.  And so she did.  And you could see from Liz’s face that she was used to keeping God company.  Her face shone also, but she never blinded others with the glare, as Moses’ face did, so that story goes.  And, of course, she never wist that it shone. She never wist. She never wist how much she gave to us. (She would have been a right pain, if she had!)

 

And, dare I say it, Liz (excuse me, just going back to her for a moment), I think I would have extended the Gospel into the passage from John 12 where Mary of Bethany washes and anoints Jesus’ feet, and then further still into the famous story in John 13 of Jesus washing the feet of his friends at their last meal together before his arrest. (I suppose the Gospel would have been a bit long.)

 

Because, you see, Martha declares Jesus Messiah and the Son of God, but it is her sister Mary who shows Jesus what that means.  Mary is, in John, Jesus’ teacher.  She shows Jesus that if he is to be Messiah, the Son of God, the Word who was in the beginning with God, the Word who is God, then he must wash feet.  And so he does, and says we should do the same.

 

And I think of Liz showing God how to be God. I see Liz washing God’s feet, putting the idea in his head, if that makes any sense – on the surface it is complete nonsense, of course, but Liz would have caught the truth of it, even if she would not have wanted to see herself as God’s teacher.  She never wist.

 

I kept the letters Liz sent me over the years, and I will finish with a few nuggets from them, words that are more precious than rubies.

 

‘God said to me when he had my tiny feet in his, “It’s not help I want, but company.” God’s actually wanting one’s company makes me curl up in surprise and joy.’

 

‘I read Tauler, German, fifteenth century, and his instructions were better than his sermons. In them he talks about “The abyss of the humility of God”, so bully for him!’

 

‘I do remember one day I said to God, “Am I making you into the kind of God I want you to be? Is this my dream?”  And God said, “Dream on. I will exceed all your dreams.”’ I have said this to people and they looked very disapproving. Somewhere they want a God “as grim as a goose” (mother’s phrase) to quell the natives!’

 

When a friend of hers died: ‘I hope she will find God Anglican enough, but I reckon God will sit her down, give her a huge ice cream, and give her permission to enjoy herself, and a few dance steps – minuet to start with I think; easy does it!’

 

And talking of herself: ‘There are worse vocations than being a clown.’

 

‘I suggested to one of the sisters we said “Whoopee!” instead of Alleluia and she didn’t fall for it!’

 

Speaking of the Community:  ‘It’s so good to be loved and trusted and feel I don’t have to watch my step but can be open and am accepted.’

 

Concerning Winnie the Pooh:  ‘After serious thought he said the most glorious moment for him was anticipating honey, and actually eating it never quite matched those heights . . . Then I had a think and thought of course the vision of God and heaven will be the perfectly lasting climax that no anticipation will dwarf.’

 

From all of us, Liz, and from countless others who can’t be here today, thank you. Go and get your ice cream and then dance wild, wild dances with the God that indeed is your Lord, your life, your love, and has been for so very, very long.

 

 

Trevor Dennis,  

Convent of the Holy Name

3 February 2016

 

*It was my guess that was wrong! Sr. Rosemary, who had chosen the readings, said to me afterwards, ‘Why do you think I chose that passage?’ ‘Bully for her!’ I say.

 

 
SISTER ELAINE MARY CHN
 
Born - 22nd September 1932
Professed - 23rd October 1986
Died - 6th December 2015
 

Dorothy Elaine Pinion became a postulant in the Community of the Holy Name in 1983 and was later made Novice under the name of Elaine Mary.  She had been a skilled and valued science teacher, and community life showed that as well as an acute mind she had the ability to assess situations, the capacity for discretion, an astringent humour a searching and undemonstrative spirituality and a kind and generous heart.  As Novice she spent time in the Community’s Newcastle branch house, and was professed as a Sister in 1986, taking life vows in 1989.

 

In those days the Community maintained several craft departments and Sister Elaine Marty became a skilled bookbinder, enjoying the manual craftsmanship which balanced her abilities in articulacy and reasoning – not to say occasional contentiousness and points of principle.  She always had a great sense of fairness and justice.

 

After a spell in the Basingstoke branch house she was sent to the Chester Diocesan Retreat House, at that time ran by the Sisters, where she became involved with work at a local college in Chester.  In 193 she returned to the Mother House to assist the Sister Bursar.  She had a good organisational mind and financial know-how and in 1996 she took over the Bursar’s job – no sinecure – until 2001, when she went to be Sister in Church of the Community house in Keswick.

 

Here she soon had a reputation for welcoming hospitality and generosity, and her gift for warm and open relationships had free play.  She always cared for family and friends with understanding and warmth and without sentimentality. 

 

In 2007 she returned to the Convent in Derby to take up the work of librarian.  Always a voracious reader, she was very much at home among books, so it was a blessing she had this time, for in 2009, after a stroke, she needed increasing nursing care at the Convent.

 

Sadly, as well as the physical deteration, she became to show signs of dementia.  As this worsened it became clear that she needed 24 hour professional care, and she died on December 6th 2015 in a local nursing home.

 

She is missed and mourned not only by her Sisters but by her many friends and family members.  Sadly as we could not find her address book after much searching, many could not be informed of her death.

 

May she rest in peace and rise with Christ in Glory.

SISTER CHARITY CHN

 

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Sister Charity CHN who died quietly and peacefully on 10th October 2015.

 

Sister Charity (Brenda Macklin) was born on 22nd June 1922 in Aldershot.  She was the only girl in a family of 4 brothers, which may have contributed to her strong and vigorous character.

When World War 2 began, Brenda enlisted in the WRNS and after the war trained as a nurse.  She must have been experiencing a call to serve God in his Church and was accepted for training in the Church Army.

 

In the 1960’s there was a surge in vocations to religious communities and the superior of the Community of the Holy Name in Malvern Link was especially welcoming of nurses.  Brenda entered the novitiate – on being clothed as a novice she was given the name CHARITY - possibly in recognition of how caring she was.  She was professed on 20th March 1965. 

 

Charity had 2 stints as infirmarian  at the Convent, but also served in various  mission houses (Newcastle twice, Chester, Nottingham and Keswick.)  In 1973, she went to  Basingstoke, where the church had not yet been built and where she was highly esteemed by the new priest and all with whom she ministered.  She was very Christ-centred and a deeply prayerful person and some with whom she prayed received joyful healing and comfort.   She had a great sense of humour and always showed an interest in others.  Up to a few weeks before her death she expressed a courteous and genuine interest in any bits of news we shared with her.

 

Charity was sent to South Africa in 1982.   This was in the era of apartheid but the convent was situated on old mission land and owned by the diocese of Zululand where the apartheid rules did not apply.  The diocesan farm included the Kwanzimela Conference Centre, St. Mary’s Hospital,  a school and church besides the convent and small dwellings of Zulu families.  For 6 years Charity had a wide ministry with all of these as well as the small church of All Saints Melmoth -  involved with occupational therapy, parish, youth and chaplaincy work and church sewing.  She worshipped with the white parishioners on Sunday mornings and visited them in their own homes and on Sunday afternoons she led a Sunday School for the Zulu children. 

 

Charity was a very gifted person with a deep love for nature and animals.  She drew and painted beautiful small pictures and cards from nature;  with such an appreciation of flowers she would never throw away a single one from a vase until it was REALLY dead!  She must have enjoyed giving art classes to the Zulu novices and began to encourage them to make vestments – an activity which is now flourishing and one of the main sources of income.  She was an experienced driver – and the roads in Kwa Zulu were dangerous!  She drove to visit the sisters in the Lesotho Province several times.  Here her ‘timelessness’ (not appreciated in England) was a bonus.

 

Charity’s abilities included cooking, gardening, knitting and sewing – all used for others. She loved singing and still joined in even when her deafness made it difficult. Painting and making lavender bags and welcoming visitors continued until a short time before her death, which came peacefully on 10th October 2015, after a week of lying quietly in bed, seemingly unconscious.  Her funeral Eucharist was celebrated in the Convent in Derby with a packed chapel.  Bishop Bill Ind (with whom Charity had worked in Basingstoke when he was a young priest) officiated at the service and at her burial in Breadsall churchyard.  He had many good stories of this ‘quite remarkable woman’!

 

In 1971 Sister Charity gave me a card, a slim bookmark with the symbols of the Passion.  On the back she wrote             -

 

 

JESUS

At all times

And in all places

Through darkness

And in LIGHT.

 

This sums up her dedicated life.

 

May she rest in peace and rise with Christ in Glory

 

Sister Barbara CHN

SISTER RUTH CHN

 

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Sister Ruth CHN who died quietly and peacefully on 19th August 2015 at the Convent.  Sister Ruth was born 8th February 1919 and made her profession as a Sister on 1st March 1951.  

 

She spent some time in Liberia as well as living at our house in Torquay as a parish Sister.  She spent several years living in an enclosed Community in Wales.  A keen gardener she maintained the rose garden at Malvern and after our move to Derby continued her gardening by keeping the beautiful plot opposite the front door in order.

 

Sister Ruth also enjoyed music and especially enjoyed the choir.  She often accompanied the Sunday Eucharist on the piano.

 

Sister Ruth had been ill for some time and for the last few years had been confined to her bed.  She will be missed by the staff who have cared for her over the past few years as well as the sisters.  

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