Posted on the 13th Jul 2018 in the category News
Golden Jubilee of Profession 2014
Aged 81 years
Sr Mary Michael CHC died in hospital in Nottingham during the early hours of the morning of the Feast of St Thomas, following a recurrence of the cancer for which she had first received treatment in 2005.
Sister, who grew up in Liverpool, joined the Community of the Holy Cross at Haywards Heath in Sussex in 1961. In 1976, the Community moved to Leicestershire, and in 2011 to their present brand new convent at Costock some 2 miles away.
Sister was a gifted and prolific writer of short articles. She sponsored a number of series of pamphlets on monastic themes, and on Christian unity and the saints.
It was the events in the Church of England following the ordination of women in 1993 that became the impetus for RooT (Religious of orthodox Tradition) in which Sr Mary Michael was to play a significant part during the following years. RooT’s purpose remains always an eirenic and pastoral one, with its principal concern for the unity of the Church. It was Sister’s own work for unity that motivated her throughout her life and remained at the very heart of her faith and conviction.
Sister represented RooT on the Forward in Faith Council over a period of many years. She kept informing the Council on matters of vital concern for religious life and communities, both in this country and abroad.
Within her own Community, Sister became the Novice-mistress, and the care of fresh vocations awakened in her a keen concern for religious vocations generally. An impromptu speech Sister made at the Forward in Faith Assembly in 2013 became a turning point for RooT. It led to the Vocation Taster Days that have happened regularly since that time.
Unhappily, it was at that point that Sister became unwell and she was in fact unable to attend any of the Taster Days. This illness was later discovered to be a re-emergence of the cancer for which she had been treated nine years earlier. During these final four years, Sister lived the rhythm of a more solitary life of prayer at Costock.
In 2014 Sister passed a significant milestone in her life, when she celebrated the Golden Jubilee of her Profession, surrounded by a host of friends.
Sister Mary Michael’s special gift was her unwavering concern, for the flourishing of monastic and religious life. Fr Richard Meux Benson SSJE remained always for her a profound influence in her thinking, She believed that ‘any genuine invitation from God’ means that we must ‘give all to him, cost what it may, and for life’: words that reflect her own response and commitment lived out over 55 years. If she understood that life as a ‘stern necessity’ (to use Benson’s words), she was equally convinced it became ‘a life of joy’ for those obedient to it.
A fuller version of this obituary will appear in New Directions.