… England through the eyes of our Mother Foundress
Excerpts from her letters
London, 22 August 1894
To Mother M. Gabriel
I wish to send you a few words about our life here. It is very peaceful, and ever since we found accommodations at the convent, it is most agreeable, because the good Reparatrices are kind and cordial. We are comfortable. The London air is cool but clean. With regard to the food I am pleased indeed that I need not be concerned, for no one asks me what I want o prefer. I accept what is served, and that for me is great satisfaction. […]
The English impress me as sound, religious people. They observe Sunday strictly. All day long mail is not delivered at all. The stores are closed from Saturday evening to Monday morning. All works stop.
London, 21 September 1897
To Mother M. Lauretta
[…] Yesterday Cardinal Vaughan paid us a visit. We agreed to take substantial house which belongs to the property that had been leased to Father Lechert. There we plan to open a boarding school for girls of middle-class families. Until the sisters pass their examinations, we shall mainly offer instructions in the French language, music and painting.
The rental is high; 650 annually, gas and water not included. Today I examined the building; it is ell constructed, the rooms are spacious, there is plenty of sunlight, and a small enclosed garden. […]
London, 17 October 1900
To Father Lechert
The seasons is marvelous, warm springtime weather. […] The poor little ones need clothing, shoes, stockings; they are such well-behave children, polite and lovable. If we receive nothing, then I shall have to give out whatever funds I have, because we cannot allow these poor children to suffer. The Lord will repay, since this is done for him, in honor of his own divine childhood. […]
Sisters of the Holy Family in Enfield
Sisters from England have played important roles in the government of the Congregation as a whole over these years since the war. But in these latter years, in common with most other Religious communities in Western Europe and America, we have gone through a period of change, with some Sisters leaving the Congregation and a crisis in vocations. The present situation is yet another challenge, to be faced with the same courage and faith that characterised the early days of the foundation here in England.
However, we do have young sisters who come from Poland to learn English, and we share our house and resources with them. Perhaps they will be able to spread something of the spirit which has animated the Sisters in this land over the years and so continue our work into another country.
But at least the Sisters are still here, opposite the Our Lady of Mount Carmel & St. George roman-catholic church, in Enfield Town. It would surely please the sisters of former times to know that the landmine in war failed to destroy the close links between convent and parish, where the sisters, as much as possible, are involved in the life and the current needs of the local Church.
Enfield is also a place where the sisters join in the pastoral care of Polish immigrants through the catechesis of young children because our convent chapel serves as the Polish parish church. Our chapel also serves the Maronite community who come to celebrate Sunday Eucharist. The house for many years has also been open to sisters from other countries who come to study the English language.
bł. Franciszka Siedliska