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Service Times

Visitors are welcome
to join with the Community
at any or all of the services.

They will be held in the chapel unless otherwise shown

For normal service times please CLICK HERE or on the picture above

A taste of this year's (2017) Thinking Scripture event

We decided to vary our approach for Thinking Scripture this year, taking a theme, ‘God in the Bible’, rather than our usual single book. We began with a shortened course, a long weekend in mid-July and followed this up with a week in October.

 Sr Margaret teaching Fr Dixie

Sr Margaret introduced the theme, emphasising the development of the understanding of God through the Old Testament.

Fr Dixie gave two sessions on Exodus 3, exploring the names of God, and the idea of the revelation of God, as well as the use of sources by historians. Sr Margaret discussed the monotheism presented by Isaiah chapters 40-55, known to scholars as ‘Second Isaiah’.

Geoffrey Turner

Dr Geoffrey Turner explored different ideas about God in the Psalms, and compared various translations of the 23rd Psalm. For the New Testament, Fr Dixie looked at the historical background to St John’s presentation of God and Christ and then focused especially using the vine imagery of Chapter 15, while Geoffrey explored on the Christology of Colossians.

As always, we included a cultural element, with a musical meditation presented by Geoffrey, including settings of the Psalms by Bach, Allegri and Arvo Pärt.

Participants in June were also treated to a concert during the social evening by pianist and participant Haydn Lee, and were able to watch the Wimbledon final on the big screen, as well as enjoying together the film version of Don Camillo.

Thinking Scripture

In September we watched The Long Journey, a moving documentary about a Community of Austrian Franciscan Sisters who had to close their convent.

We also made the most of the local area, with participants visiting Cartmel and the Lakes, and a small group enjoying a longer walk in the lovely and little known Rusland Valley, a hidden gem on our doorstep.

 Rusland Valley  Rusland Valley
Rusland Valley

The group were also free to participate, of course, in daily Office and Mass. Thank you to Fr John W., Fr John M. and Fr Dixie for presiding and preaching at these.

Next year’s courses, two full weeks as usual, will be on the theme of Wisdom Literature.

Book early to avoid disappointment!

The dates are 2nd-9th June and 22nd-29th September 2018.

Please contact SR MARGARET if you think you would find this course interesting.

Autumn Break - Faith and the Arts in the 18th Century

This year’s Autumn Break focused the theme of Faith and the Arts on 18th Century.

Haydn Lee
Haydn Lee


It was an intellectual and artistic feast. Haydn Lee gave us two of his musical lectures - an irresistible mix of musical knowledge, pianistic skill, superb CD selections and sheer enthusiasm. He focused on Handel and then on Haydn, and rounded off the week with a recital at our social evening on the last night.

Joyce Simpson brought to life the poets of the period, exploring Wordsworth and the French Revolution and then grace in the lives of John Newton (author of ‘Amazing Grace’) and his friend William Cowper.

Fr Dixie presented the French Revolution as the background to the artistic developments of the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Rosemary Mitchell discovered unexpected religious themes in the artists of this period, who are often seen as turning towards secular themes, and Eleanor Petch explained the ethical significance of landscape in Jane Austen.

 Joyce Simpson  Lingard's House
 Wm Taylor's Grave Lingard's Apple Tree


We also had a day out: to Hornby, where Fr John Lingard’s presbytery and garden, and much of the village, preserve 18th century features, and to the superb Georgian Catholic church at Claughton-on-Brock, where Fr Anthony Keefe graciously hosted us and said Mass for us. On another day some of us visited Cartmel and found the grave of William Taylor. He was the schoolteacher who stimulated Wordsworth’s love of poetry; Wordsworth was en route to visit this same grave when, crossing the Morecambe Sands near Chapel Island, he heard of the death of Robespierre! A film of Jane Austen’s Emma was the perfect accompaniment to the talks and trips.

 Claughton Church Local Walk

As usual the group was able to join in the regular Masses and daily prayer of the Community, visit the local area, and enjoy shared meals and friendship, and visits to the local area.

Next year we will continue the same theme with Reformation, Counter-Reformation and the Arts. Book early to avoid disappointment!

If you are interested, please contact SR MARGARET

Sr Ruth reports:

Our course on 'Faith and the Arts' during the first week in August here was wonderful with a delightful group of enthusiastic, young professional people who joined in everything.

 Thinking Faith  Remember skimming?

We watched the film 'Babette’s Feast' on Sunday night and Sr Margaret gave fascinating input on the story of ‘Babette’s Feast' and the philosopher Kierkegaard the next day. This motivated us all to think about the meaning of this poignant yet inspiring story by Isak Dinesen with its relevance to our lives and experience of faith. Discussions were ensuing long into the day!

The week also included input on the auto-biographical book ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ from Fr Dixie. We had a lecture on ‘Icons’ from Fr Martin Ganeri and ‘Faith in Pre-Raphaelite Art’ from Rosemary Mitchell. Maria Hall spoke on ‘Music in the Catholic Tradition’.

 Gaëtan and friend!  Coniston Walk

One of the architects of our chapel, Jonathon Pritchard, gave an animated talk as to how the present chapel at Boarbank was re-created to be open to the needs of both visitors and the nursing home in the 1990s. His enthusiasm for the project remains undimmed. He brought to life the spiritual and practical achievements of the construction of our devotional places, including a commentary on our beautiful oratory which was created in 1986 by architects Benson and Forsyth in honour of the 1600th anniversary of the conversion of Augustine.

There is a wonderful BBC programme about the Oratory made in 1991. It lasts about 10 minutes but is well worth taking the time to watch. CLICK HERE for the link.

 Coniston Old Man walk  Thinking Faith meal out

 Our group enjoyed a cheerful pub supper in Cartmel on Wednesday night and a walk near Coniston or up Coniston Old Man on Thursday.

Options for Thursday also included a boat trip with a visit to Brantwood House, home of John Ruskin.

Boat Trip on Coniston Thinking Faith

On Friday, we had an inspiring expedition to a Tudor house in Preston where Edmund Arrowsmith, one of the Lancaster martyrs, celebrated his last Mass before capture. Our friend Maria Hall grew up there and lives there still. The house is curious by our standards with low ceilings and a tree supporting the kitchen. For Maria, it has the significance both of its spiritual import and her childhood memories. The small upstairs chapel still resonates with the closeted atmosphere of devotion, fear and sacrifice that surrounded Arrowsmith’s last Mass. Fr Martin celebrated Mass there and spoke about the martyr.

Group outside Edmund Arrowsmith house Edmund Arrowsmith Mass Room painting

In conclusion, the group and members of the Community enjoyed a buffet supper and social evening that night. It was enlivened by some of the music the informal choir, ably coached by Maria, had been practising during the week.

Time to Reflect: 11th-13th March, 2016.

This year we took advantage of our local connections and chose the theme ‘Furness and the Cistercians’.

 Fr John with some of the group Chilly at Furness! 

On Saturday, we visited Furness Abbey on Saturday with a talk by Gill Jepson, a children’s author. One of the highlights was hearing about the recent uncovering of the body of a 14th century abbot, holding his crozier.

 Crozier At Furness Abbey 

The top of the crozier, decorated with a golden St Michael, can be seen in the Abbey museum.

(If you get a chance, do visit this site - it is wonderful and far too little known. CLICK HERE for the English Heritage Furness Abbey page).

Later that day Joyce Simpson led us through an excellent session on Furness Abbey in the poetry of William Wordsworth. In the evening the group watched the very powerful film about the Cistercian martyrs in Algeria "Of Gods and Men" and the next morning enjoyed a session on Aelred and friendship, putting practice into theory!

As usual, the group shared in Mass and Daily Office with the community - including Night Prayer around the fire.

Haydn Lee at the piano
On the introductory social evening Haydn Lee gave us a piano recital and told us some of the history of the piano as he did so. As usual, it was lovely to welcome old friends and new, and to give everyone a chance step out of the busy world of academia to pray and talk about the fundamental purpose of study and teaching.

The theme of friendship proved so rich that we have decided to take it for our main theme next year.

If you are, or have been, a lecturer, and might be interested in joining us, please email Sr Margaret



This year we took as our topic St Catherine of Siena. She was an extraordinary combination of mystic, practical champion of the poor, and ecclesial reformer. She certainly challenges any view about the place women were meant to have in the Middle Ages!

We began by watching the video of a talk by Fr Robert Ombres OP 'St Catherine of Siena: Compassion and Mysticism' 

(video is 50 mins long)
Then Dr Rosemary Mitchell of the History Department at Trinity University, Leeds, spoke to us about nineteenth century representations of St Catherine - everything from a tool of the sinister Catholic clergy to an early feminist.

Finally, Rosemary led us in session looking closely at a few texts from St Catherine's Dialogue.

As usual, the group shared in Mass and Daily Office with the community - including Night Prayer around the fire. Some of us also had a short local walk (the weather was not at its best), and visited Cartmel to see the medieval priory. This year's film was The Book Thief - if you don't know it, it is set in Germany during World War II, with magnificent acting, especially from the young girl who is the heroine, and a very moving and unusual ending.

As usual, it was lovely to welcome old friends and new, and to give everyone a chance step out of the busy world of academia to pray and talk about the fundamental purpose of study and teaching.

Autumn Break - Faith & the Arts

held between 9th and 13th November 2015

 Haydn Lee  Haydn Lee

A full group gathered with much enthusiasm for this new venture in November. Haydn Lee got the ball rolling with a musical presentation, ‘The Vocal Millennium’ on Monday night. He brought his lectures to life with his brilliant piano playing, singing and musical excerpts. His passion for his subject was infectious and he had great difficulty packing everything in that he wanted to include!

Bernadine McCreesh
Holding our attention!

Following another inspiring lecture from Haydn the next morning, we heard Bernardine McCreesh on ‘Christianity in Medieval Icelandic Literature’. It was a subject that few of us knew anything about but Bernardine brought vividly to life how Christianity incorporated some elements of previous Icelandic sagas. She excited our interest in her subject.

 Icons Maureen Calnan

 On Tuesday afternoon we had Maureen Calnan on ‘Writing Icons’. She illustrated her talk with beautiful examples of her own work. According to Maureen, you don’t pray to icons, they talk to you. Despite the hours of painstaking work involved, she gives her icons away to those who need the help.

Jonathon Pritchard by the altar
 Jonathon in the Blessed Sacrament chapel
 Jonathon (centre) Jonathon in full flow!

In the evening Jonathon Pritchard spoke of his role in the architecture of the chapel and oratory at Boarbank. He spoke with great commitment about his work which was clearly done with love and has given visitors greater access to our devotional places.

Wednesday was the free day. In the morning at eleven am we observed the two minutes silence in memory of the victims of the First World War and those killed in conflicts since. We watched a short film about the handcrafted poppies made to commemorate each soldier who has died. Although the weather was not very inviting, some people ventured out, including a group of bird watchers.

Brideshead Revisited by the Boarbank players

Late afternoon we had a reading on the death of Lord Marchmain in ‘Brideshead Revisited’. Members of the group took different parts with spirited performances and then a lively discussion. In the evening many of the group watched ‘Au Revoir Les Enfants’ considered one of the best films ever made about childhood.

The film is about the protection of some Jewish children in a French Carmelite boarding school during the Second World War and their eventual betrayal together with the head master who has protected them.

Sr Margaret and Neil Curry

Neil Curry
After another riveting musical presentation from Haydn on Thursday morning, we listened to Neil Curry on Christopher Smart.

He spoke about the poet’s joy in God’s creation despite a very troubled life which included being committed to an asylum by his wife and his eventual death in a debtor’s prison.

His gentle, affirming poems about childhood were a refreshing contrast to the harshness with which children were treated at this time.

Late afternoon Fr Patrick Clarke spoke about his work to help the poor of São Paulo at the heart of commercial Brazil.

 Fr Patrick Clarke Fr Patrick's Young Friend

When he arrived there he was confronted by such extreme poverty that he felt overwhelmed and helpless. Nevertheless, he has created a flourishing school, a cultural centre, with the help of three sisters and a few priests. Here pupils learn to read, receive meals and have produced beautiful works of art.

It is a difficult balance because of the danger of infringing on the interests of the ruthless gangsters and the corrupt police. He showed shocking photos to illustrate the immense gap between rich and poor and then the wonderful art of the children. 

[See which is in Portuguese and English]

We enjoyed our social evening and buffet that evening. Haydn’s lively piano recital, including some audience participation in singing a joyful Alleluia, was a fitting end to a stimulating course.

Next year the planned theme is 'Faith and the Arts in the 18th Century.'

If you are interested, please contact Sr Margaret.

Visit to Cenacolo
Freedom and Hope
, for those who who are involved with prisoners and their families, took as its theme 'Repentance and Forgiveness'.

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