Thursday 18th April, the Community will be praying Vigils and Compline privately.

Sr Therese Murphy made her Simple Profession today. Deo Gratias.

Sr Therese stood by the statue of Our Lady of Consolation

Simple Profession of Sr Therese Murphy, 11 July 2023: Feast of St Benedict

As Sr Therese said in her speech of thanks before lunch at her Simple Profession, quoting something she had been told in her novitiate, ‘delay deepens desire’. After fourteen years of patient waiting for this day, Sr Therese was able to affirm the veracity of that statement. And such a wait surely also deepens joy, as was evident throughout this day of grace, not least on the face of Sr Therese.

Weather-wise, the day showed a gradual flowering which in a way matched the trajectory of Sr Therese’s monastic journey; from mist and grey skies in the early morning to sunshine and light rain by midday, opening out into a lovely summer evening.

Guests began to arrive about 10.45am with tribes Murphy and Martin well represented. It was lovely to see a handful of children in the congregation, including Grace Hoyte, Sr Therese’s young cousin, who joined her for the Offertory procession, re-instated for the first time since Covid. A particular joy was that, thanks to the generosity of the staff of Apley Grange, D. Hilda was able to be with us for this special occasion.

Mass of St Benedict, celebrated by our oblate, Revd Canon Christopher Jackson, opened with ‘Hearken my Son’ by Tony Milner, a piece originally written for the 1500th anniversary celebration at Westminster Cathedral of St Benedict’s birth. Concelebrants were Fr David Goodill OP, a longstanding friend of Sr Therese’s, and Dom Cuthbert Elliott OSB of St Louis.

The ordinary of the Mass was Missa de Angelis which was taken up with gusto by the assembly.

The first reading, proper to the Feast (Proverbs 2: 1-9), was read by Jack Murphy, Sr Therese’s younger brother.

Fr Chris preached a wonderfully rich homily setting the monastic vocation alongside the vocations to marriage and the ordained ministries, all within the wider context of the Church. The celebrant brought out the centrality of Christ in the Rule of St Benedict which is echoed in the Gospel of the Feast (chosen by the professura), the Beatitudes from Matthew 5, a portrait of Jesus. We too are called, said Fr Chris, to follow the pattern of Christ in living the Beatitudes in our own way, growing each day into the unique work of art of God has created us to be.

The rite of profession itself was eloquent in its simplicity. Sr Therese spoke her responses and vows very clearly and audibly.

Three moments stood out for this chronicler:

  • an unexpected frisson from the choir as Sr Therese read out her profession chart, stating her place of origin as New Westminster in the Canadian Province of British Columbia – a fact unknown to many of the community.
  • a tricky moment in the pinning of the veil as Abbess Anna tried to avoid using the professed’s head as a pin cushion!
  • the radiance of Sr Therese’s joy at the kiss of peace on the omphalos.

The comprehensive Bidding Prayers included the whole Benedictine Confederation as well as D. Andrea on her profession anniversary, Patricia Kelly-Evans who was making her oblation for Stanbrook in Pennsylvania, and a heartfelt intention to St Benedict, Patron of Europe, for peace in Ukraine.

The communion chant, ‘I will sing to the Lord all my days’ by Fr Cyprian Smith OSB of Ampleforth, encapsulated the essence of the Benedictine vocation to which Sr Therese is now vowed (for three years).

The celebration continued with a delicious buffet meal provided by the Murphy family (who had also sent magnificent flowers for church) and prepared by D. Josephine. This included Coronation Chicken, salmon, new potatoes, a variety of delicious salads, exotic breads, home-made brownies and fantastic, locally made ice cream from Helmsley. Most people were happy to stay inside, though a few ventured into the garth and many repaired for coffee to the Conference Room for the best part of the afternoon, making occasional visits outside to see Jack Murphy’s puppy, Dixon.

An abiding memory is of the recessional hymn, ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92) sung all together by community and congregation in a spirit of real synodality. The lyrics of the final verse make it a prayer very much for our times:

…Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace…

Amen. Deo Gratias!

From the House Chronicle.