Our contribution to this reflection on 180 years of the Society of the Sacred Heart in England and Wales comes at the time of the 31st anniversary of our community house in East London. In recent years, when London properties were acquired for a community they were in the south and west. In September 1992 we followed our star and it took us Eastward. We explored new boundaries and widened our ‘tent pegs’. We learnt about a very different reality; one which spoke powerfully about other languages, cultures, migration and religion. We came empty and open to what the Holy Spirit would reveal. Each one found a niche in which to offer something. Some of us learnt as we went along, and colleagues showed us how best to integrate.
In the years we’ve been here ministries have included Spiritual Direction, Psychotherapy, work with Mental Health, ESOL, Refugees, Probation Service and Citizens’ Advice (CAB). Younger RSCJ from many countries have lived here, many en route to Probation. In all of these works and contacts we have experienced the giving and receiving of the love of the heart of God.
Sister Eileen Lynn was an East Ender who entered the Society years ago and was very interested when she knew we were coming to her area. Sadly she was too frail to join us and, indeed, died not long after we arrived here. So, we planted a shrub in her honour directly in front of our front window and remember her to this day.
We have received so much but just don’t know how. We experience warmth and kindness daily from neighbours and strangers. It comes easily to pray all this contact into our daily reflection together. Indeed, this has been a feature since day one here. Prayer, alone and together, is so deep when we are surrounded by people who pray and ask us to pray for them, even though faiths are different.
Our move to London’s East End came at a time when the Society and Province were formulating the kind of language that inspired and influenced that change. This move was simply another part of the journey that we are all on. With each move we understand more about the love of God for humanity and re-formulate the expression of that love with present day ‘language’.
Thirty-one years on, our contribution here is different but the vision as to what we are about is unchanged.