Thursday, August 16, 2012

Help the Sisters at Lanherne

Some of our friends asked if we might publish this appeal related to the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate at Lanherne and we are certainly happy to do so.

Would you be able to help the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate so that they can remain at Lanherne?

Eleven years ago, on 11th July 2001, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate came to Lanherne to continue the life of prayer and penance which the Carmelite Sisters had fulfilled there so admirably since the year 1794. It was decided that the Monastery should be sold together with its Estate and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate have been asked if they would like to purchase it. For that reason a charity called ‘Friends of Lanherne’ has been formed. One of its objectives is to purchase Lanherne Monastery so that it can continue to be kept as a special place of prayer, whilst at the same time allowing the sisters to remain there to continue their life of prayer and penance. However, as Franciscans, they are not allowed to own any properties, nor do they have the money to purchase it. Do you know anyone (or a group of people) who would be interested in helping to purchase the Monastery, whilst at the same time allowing the sisters to remain there to continue their life of prayer and penance?

Lanherne is such a special place and everyone who visits it says they find great peace and a facility to pray there. There is adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament every day of the week after the 7.30 a.m. Holy Mass (10 a.m. on Sundays), ending with Benediction each day. You may be interested to know that the Sanctuary light before the Blessed Sacrament has remained alight for hundreds of years. Lanherne used to be the Manor House of the Arundell family who rose to high positions in the country, only to be reduced to gradual impoverishment during the times of the Reformation, due to their love of the Catholic faith. Lanherne became a place of refuge for many priests during this time of persecution and there are said to be nine priest holes in which they hid from their persecutors. Tradition relates that one priest was hidden in one of these for eighteen months. St. Cuthbert Mayne often used to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass here (using the altar which is now in our small choir) and ministered to the Faithful here. He was martyred on 29th November 1577, for the simple reason that he was a Catholic priest. The Franciscans of the Immaculate are now the very privileged custodians of the first class relic of his skull which is kept in their choir, and which the people who attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays are able to venerate.

Just to tell you a little about the Institute of Franciscans of the Immaculate (friars and sisters). It was founded fairly recently by two Italian priests, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli and Fr. Gabriele Pellettieri, (both of whom are still alive) who were inspired by the life and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe. The distinctive characteristic of our Institute is the religious profession of the Marian Vow of Total Consecration to Our Lady and each of them desire to live their religious consecration under the protection and through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by means of this Vow. One very important thing in a world in which the number of religious vocations is dwindling rapidly, is that this Institute does have many vocations both for the friars and sisters and these are now coming from all parts of the world. There are communities in many countries and four Houses of Contemplation, one of which is Lanherne.

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate

The contemplative community at Lanherne numbers eleven sisters at present. Some people may perhaps ask “but what do they do all day?” It is a very good question. Their principal duty is to support the Holy Father in his difficult mission and to pray for the Church and for the whole world, with the hope of bringing all humanity closer to the love of God; this occupies at least seven hours of community prayer each day. This means that all the sisters come together in the choir and there pray to Almighty God for so many needs of the world today. They have left the world, it is true, but the world is what they pray and sacrifice for, since there are many who are walking in darkness, especially in these days where there is so much indifference with regard to God. Some people go through their whole life without giving a thought to their Creator or questioning the meaning of their life. That is why there is so much unhappiness and dissatisfaction today - because people do not know that they were created to love and serve God in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. The sisters have responded to the call of God and in sacrificing their lives, they hope to draw many others closer to Him.

The following will give you an idea as to how the Sisters spend their days:

At midnight they rise to praise the Lord by singing Matins and Lauds, the first two offices of the day. After this they rest again until 5.45 when they rise to praise Our Lord with the next two offices of Prime and Terce. There is also a period of meditation in preparation for Holy Mass at 7.30 am, celebrated in the Tridentine Rite. There is exposition of the Blessed Sacrament each day after Holy Mass and all the Sisters have turns of Adoration. This ends at 3.10 with benediction. Their whole day will be spent in prayer, meditation and work. The last time they come together each day in the choir is at 8.35 pm for Compline and lights out are at 9.30 pm. The Sisters have recreation once a week and this is usually on Sunday afternoon.

Each of the sisters also has her own daily duties to fulfill and there is quite a lot to keep them busy in a monastery the size of Lanherne. Apart from the usual domestic chores, one of the sisters is book-binding, another is busy growing vegetables: one sister translates a magazine aimed at the Contemplative Life from Italian into English each month, another prints and distributes it, one sister is the sacristan of the monastery and she prepares the choir and church for the various liturgical celebrations: each Saturday, another sister prepares the flowers for the Church and for the monastery itself. That is just to give you a vague idea of how the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate spend their days at Lanherne.

If you would like to make a donation, which can be gift aided, in order to help the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate so that Lanherne may always remain a place of prayer, please contact:

Friends of Lanherne, 69 Derwent Drive, Purley, Surrey, CR8 1ES and the email address is

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Images of the Sisters Life at Lanherne

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