La Congrégation Notre-Dame en Grande-Bretagne.

Actualités GB


A prayer space for you, me & us


This piece was written by Bhavanee, a nurse in a local hospital, during the lockdowns. She shared it at a Faith Forum story-telling event in which people from a variety of faith backgrounds were invited to tell a story on the theme of Holy Ground.

“I asked myself the question: Holy Ground – where is my holy ground? Is it my shrine at home or is it the Ganges or upon the Himalayas where lord Shiva resides?

And then it dawned on me: it’s the place where I spend more time than I do elsewhere: my place of work, hospital. I never looked at it that way until it was hit by Covid 19. It changed all our lives: the health care professionals from the cleaners, the porters, the nurses to the doctors -we never saw it coming – never knew that it would be this bad. We thought the first lockdown in March 2020 was bad but the second wave was even worse.

At a time when we most needed comfort, and GOD, to listen to our prayers every place of worship was closed or only open for individual prayer and even then some were completely closed.

Where does one go when patients as well as loved family members and friends are not allowed visitors?

So the hospital became the HOLY GROUND. The long corridor was quiet with the trolleys going up and down and  the masks and oxygen cylinders and the staff with full PPE .

But there was HOPE, there was GRATITUDE, and there were the prayers coming from all the faith communities.

Everyone was there to support and help. People of all faiths, immaterial of colour or creed were supporting us. The imam and the chaplain were on their feet and on call using iPads to face time the families and friends of the patients. Sometimes they were the last point of contact patients had before they died or before being put into an induced coma and never waking up again. However there were those who survived and were able to return home.

The hospital, the holy ground, became a place of humanity, only humanity:


there is only one caste, the caste of humanity

there is only one religion, the religion of love

there is only one language, the language of the heart

there is only one GOD and he is omnipresent,

and at this point, remember this:

the planets may be many and different, but the universe is One;

the countries and continents may be different, but the world is One;

people may be of different colours and temperaments but all mankind is One;

modes of worship may be different but the essence of all prayers is One .

When the doors to places of worship were closed,

the ground of Whipps Cross Hospital & all other hospital grounds were open:

they became the holy ground.

In the words of Swami Vivekananda, Hindu monk and spiritual leader (1863-1902) :

”Every worship offered is received by Him

whatever be the name or the form worshipped;

every hand lifted heavenwards,

every lip that moves in supplication, a prayer unto Him;

all knees bending towards Ka’bah or kneeling in a Hindu temple or in a Christian church,

 are kneeling unto Him and,

whether we are conscious of it or not,

all are singing the glory of the same God,

for he is the One Lord of all.”                 Sai Ram




This video was produced for the International Associates’ meeting in July 2019 held nr. Liege, Belgium.The theme of the meeting : ‘Together for a more just and humane world’

Sisters and Associates were invited to respond to this question:

“How do you see yourself as expressing
the Congregation’s educational charism?”

Some of our sisters’ responses:

Nicole: For me Educating is Watering with friendship (learning and giving) in the sunshine of God’s love to build enough self confidence 

Sandra: I work for two environmental charities, both of which have educational programmes focussing on climate change, biodiversity, connecting people with nature, especially children, and eco building.

Jenny:  I love sharing with other people knowledge that excites me.

Mary: As a geography teacher, the landscape in this area fascinates me, so I have joined the Geology Society and made some good friends. They are great at contacting me to make sure I get to meetings at Ore, near Hastings. Someone will fetch me. I see friendship as a means of affirming and building confidence in others.

Gabriel and Marie-Claude:

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  “Know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe and God” (Pythagoras)

The way to God is through the path of self-knowledge that leads to the mystery of one’s whole being.

We work with dreams, paintings, myths, fairytales, religious symbolism and sandplay to help the people who come to us become the person God created them to be.


Martina: With Associates we widen our knowledge of Justice and Peace. Recently 4 of us attended an Aid to The Church in Need conference, where we met the family of Asia Bibi, a mother of 5 who was in prison in Pakistan, where she spent 8 years on Death Row accused of Blasphemy.


gb 003   Joyce: With the few wits I have at 92 I employ them in reading about TV programmes so as to choose the best watching for the sisters here in Alix Lodge.


Lucy: I run a lending library for local subscribers, welcome or keep in touch with past pupils, and highlight liturgical feastdays using special floral displays and arrangements. gb 004


Emma: As age increases memory recedes; you remember people but not names. It is like having a much loved plant but losing the label. (Jo adds: Emma is a wonderful teacher – the way she allows the carers to care for her. The bond that exists and the mutual respect are a wonderful example to carers and sisters alike.)


Jo: with my knitting of the Christmas story, which I do everywhere, I am given the chance to remind people who ask what I am knitting about the real meaning of Christmas.

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Chris: I provide a shelter where we may all learn to live as brothers & sisters.


3 of our associates

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Jenny, Patricia and Lawrence

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Jenny: I visit the sick in hospital, the housebound in their homes and do little jobs for them. I see giving elderly friends lifts to church and being a welcoming face, greeting people at the church door is all part of our Charism.



Patricia: One way I communicate the Charism of Alix and Peter is by organising the Posada every Advent, in which knitted figures of Mary, Joseph, and the Donkey, go from home to home, and into local schools, seeking refuge until they arrive at the stable in church on Christmas Eve.  Families, and school children record in a book what having Mary, Joseph, and the Donkey staying with them, means to them.


Lawrence: Being disabled, I am no longer able to communicate the Charism of the Order in my meeting with people and so I now write to, and email, politicians and leaders to urge them to take practical action that is in accord with the spirituality of our Founders. gb 009
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Veronica: I am a member of Motherwell Library Knitting and Craft

Groups in Scotland, and we meet on a Monday afternoon and Friday morning. These groups have been a lifeline for me. Our members are of all levels of experience and ability, and we help each other and are very much like a family. This year we have been knitting teddies for war zones and flooded areas, baby blankets and hats for the Blue Light Babies, baby hats for premature babies, and knitting for St Andrews Hospice to sell in their shop, and many other projects. The wee red stockings are for the ‘Book Bugs Club’ in the library. The most important part of our group is our friendship and the support we give each other through our different health and family issues. You can hear us laughing and

chatting while we knit and crochet, and l really think God’s presence is with us.




gb 012 Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation

Ann, is our Link representative on the JPIC. She was at the 2019 JPIC Linking Day in September. The theme : ‘Food for thought’ – (Hunger and food poverty in the UK and globally). It was led by Callum Northcote of RESULTS UK & Annie Connolly of End Hunger UK . Here is her feedback on the day.

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Our JPIC Linking Day at St Aloysius Church Hal, Euston, saw a good crowd of us gathered, mostly ‘old faces’ but it was so encouraging to see so many ‘new faces’. 

Callum Northcote

Callum Northcote who led us for the morning session leads RESULTS UK’s policy advocacy work on nutrition. Results UK is a movement of passionate, committed everyday people who together they use their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. As you can imagine influencing political leaders in the UK at the moment isn’t an easy thing! Everyone knows what is happening in Parliament and Results UK are struggling to be heard!

Results UK only work on International issues, they don’t work on anything domestic and they work on foreign aid. They don’t provide food, hospitals etc. they only work in influencing political decisions.

I knew about global hunger, I watch the news, read the papers, even bought the T-Shirt, literally! (Live aid) but I had thought, even dared to dream that the number of people going hungry in 2019 were dwindling. Well up to 2015 it was, which is great news considering how bad the situation was. But since 2015 the number is slowly rising.

Today 820 million people in the world are still hungry.

We started the morning session looking at malnutrition in 2019; what is malnutrition, why does it matter and what does it look like around the world. What’s the challenge Results are facing and what can ‘we’ do about it.


gb 016We watched a short documentary on two boys, Sireka (on the left) & Miranto (on the right). These two boys are exactly the same age, two. Sireka did not get proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of his life and has suffered permanent physical and mental damage due to being undernutrition (also, referred to as Stunting, Wasting & Low birthweight) He will never reach his full potential. Miranto is well ahead of Sireka in terms of physical and mental development and despite being from a modest background, will have a completely different life. The first 1000 days are the most important days in a baby’s life. I learnt that women in some cultures are having babies as young as 12, the mother is already suffering with malnutrition, yet any food she does have, she will give to the males in her family first before feeding herself even when she is pregnant. It becomes a vicious circle as the child is born with a low birth weight and so this continues. 


Fast facts: Global poverty

  • 820 million people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 a day.
  • More than half of the world’s extreme poor, 413 million people, live in sub-Saharan Africa, an increase of 9 million people from 2 years earlier.
  • In the Middle East & North Africa, the number of extreme poverty nearly doubled in two years, from 9.5 million to 18.6 million, mainly due to the crisis in Syria & Yemen.
  • Two regions, East Asia & the Pacific and Europe and Central Asia, have less than 3 percent of their populations living in extreme poverty, already successfully reaching the 2030 target to eradicate global poverty.
  • 3 billion people in 104 developing countries, which accounts for 74 percent of the world’s population, live in multidimensional poverty, according to a 2018 survey by the U.N. Development Program.
  • 660 million children are experiencing multidimensional poverty, according to the U.N. Development Program.
  • Sub –Saharan Africa has both the highest rate of children living in extreme poverty at 49 percent and the largest share of the world’s extremely poor children at 51 percent.
  • By 2030, an estimated 80 percent of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile contexts.

Having digested all the above figures, it was really difficult to feel positive, apart from the determined efforts of RESULTS UK, who will continue to work to bring an end to poverty.


gb 017Annie Connolly works for End Hunger UK which is a coalition of more than 40 national charities, frontline organisations, faith groups, academics and individuals working to end hunger and poverty in the UK. Their statement is ‘Everyone should have access to good food. No one should have to go to bed hungry’.

I really did get a lot from Annie’s session, it hit home how bad poverty is in the UK and more surprisingly for me to learn that the UK are one of the main Donors financially supporting poor countries. Yet four million children are currently living in poverty in the UK today! Currently, one in seven councils have closed their emergency funds that help people when a crisis hits, putting families and vulnerable young people at risk. 



Annie started her session talking about Food Insecurity in the UK. 2.2 million in the UK are severely food insecure.

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The UK is responsible for 1 in 5 severely insecure people in Europe and 10% of children under 15 are living in severely insecure household (the highest in Europe). There has been a 73% increase in Trussell Trust foodbank use in the last five years. In order to get help from the food bank you will need to be referred with a voucher. Each food bank works with different frontline professionals, such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and the Citizens Advice, who make referrals to the food bank using a voucher. The food bank and referral agency use the voucher to gather some basic information. This helps them to identify the cause of the crisis and offer practical guidance and prepare suitable emergency food. What is shocking, once you have been issued with a voucher, you then exchange this for a minimum of three days’ emergency food at your nearest food bank centre. A lot of families do not have electricity or gas in their homes and have to get food that does not require cooking! A typical food parcel inly includes the very basics; cereal, soup, pasta, tinned vegetables, tinned meat UHT milk, rice, pasta and biscuits. (no luxury foods). You can also get some non-food items such as toiletries and hygiene products, baby supplies.

A lot of the sisters at the meeting are already involved with foodbanks and they shared their experiences. I was shocked that you can only make a few visits to the Trussell foodbanks and that’s why more and more are setting up foodbanks with the help of their parishes. My parish doesn’t offer this but it is something I would love to see set up, as I am certain poverty is high in London E17.

gb 021We watched a video on No child should go hungry – a young 14-year-old girl Natalie spoke about how she actually thought it was normal to feel hungry and was shocked and embarrassed to find that she was living in poverty. She was a carer for her mum who had epilepsy and couldn’t manage at home. Natalie cooked for her siblings, mostly serving beans on toast as it was the cheapest and easiest thing to cook. She was very angry at school, couldn’t concentrate on her school work and was always in trouble with her teachers. School holidays were the worse for her, at least at school, Natalie would get one meal a day.


We broke into small groups and shared our thoughts on the video, it was a rather sombre discussion that left me feeling sad and angry that children like Natalie are still struggling in 2019 just to have one meal a day!

We spoke about the tackling rising cost of living, housing costs, Universal Credit and low pay jobs with zero hours’ contracts. I know Universal Credit gets bad press but even I was shocked to know how bad it actually was. Having to wait up to six weeks to get some money and if you miss an appointment your money is frozen, even if you have a good explanation for not going. Universal Credit is one of the major causes of poverty in the UK and until that benefit is sorted out to be fairer for families, poverty will continue to grow in the UK.

We finished the session with a poem by Matt Sowerby, the first prize winner in the 16-18 age category in End Hunger UK challenge on Young Poets Network.


Breadlines…Give us this day our daily bread

So, said the underfed,                               
Give us it because the baby’s half-dead
Because when Susie’s heading to the bank
She doesn’t mean NatWest –
There wouldn’t be any point anyway.

They have cropped the Lord’s Prayer.
They want one thing from the Divine:
Daily bread, hence why
When we talk about poverty
We call it the breadline
Where £1.85
Means you’re buying some red wine
And the Daily Mail’s headlines
Invade minds like head lice.

And on the corner near Home Bargains
Aidan sits on the paves.
He’ll gladly accept your coppers
But is desperate for change,
Tin cans and plastic bags lovingly arranged.


He tells me:
“This is a food fight.
This here is the Hunger Games.”

And little Benny’s tummy is rumbling
He calls out to eat something
And Mummy’s coming
But in her hands, she’s carrying nothing
And he’s crying again,
Off he goes,
Though little does he know
His mum hasn’t eaten for three days in a row.

I hope that I’m seeing
Fake news on the television
Because what I’m seeing is so shocking
That I want it to be fiction,
Then I hear complaints
From my mates
When a packet of grapes
Is out of their price ranges.

And I don’t mean to make this an issue of religion


But with prices like high rises
These fruits remain forbidden.

I’m not a cynic
But it is ridiculous when the 1%
Are still fattened up like chickens.
How is this still a problem in Britain?
How here do eight million
Still struggle to get food into the kitchen
And why are those worst affected
Including one in five children?

Yet the issues are still hidden.
These stories remain unwritten
And nobody’s listening.

But the thing with Pandora’s box
Is that there’s still hope within it.

And that hope is from the times
I’ve seen people supporting their

Even those normally cautious with their wages,
And yet when I see people collecting donations
It’s not the suits that are paying up,
It’s the teenagers.
Unreported acts of bravery
Every day by the nameless.
So forget God
Because I reckon
Five thousand can be fed
Without divine intervention.

So, give us this day our daily bread

Or at least give us the means
Because we’ll manage the rest.

This video was produced for the International Associates’ meeting in July 2019 held nr. Liege, Belgium.The theme of the meeting : ‘Together for a more just and humane world’


5. Our roots “ being updated “