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First foot on shore - Sister Eveleen Update July 2020

The perfect place for the most beautiful days one could ever ask for – a crisp morning and the glow of the late sunrise. Even before the soft rays of light reach the windows across the beach, the snow reflects ever so gently from the distant mountains, picking up the pinkest shades that lift the heart and play with the senses.’ - Sue Sinclair (SERH summer resident)

Hello, you wonderful people. I am very excited to bring you the very first Sister Eveleen blog post! I’ll be writing these regularly from now on to keep everyone informed of developments with the house and its ministry, as well as providing reflections that I hope will help you in your spiritual lives. It’s been quite the year for Sister Eveleen: a flurry of guests, unexpected encounters, a whole bunch of prayer, and a minor pandemic. At times it’s been hard to figure out what God’s plan is for this amazing space, but after much reflection and many conversations, it finally feels like the house and its ministry is starting to come together in a tangible form. In many ways, this post feels like the first foot on shore after a long and stormy voyage.

When I first agreed to join Sister Eveleen as temporary manager, I had no idea what I was getting into. I envisaged taking the time to finish my Master’s degree and discern God’s plan for me for the coming year. Little did I know the ‘plan’ involved staying at the house and dedicating myself to the spiritual life of Christchurch. I’ve been here for six months now and am still frequently surprised at many unexpected ways God is making contact here. I think Sister Eveleen has an important role to play in our corner of the world and feel incredibly blessed to take part. I hope many of you will be joining us on the journey.

So, now that we’ve reached the shore, where are we going? There are still more questions than answers. Right now, the governing board and I are busily planning the rest of 2020 and the first half of 2021. A lot of this work has been preparatory – finances, health & safety, promotion, all the fun administration you need to do to ensure an operation runs smoothly. I’m incredibly indebted to the board, who are dedicating a huge amount of their time to this project. I’m equally thankful to everyone who has been providing support to Sister Eveleen and me this year. Many of you have walked up the hill in the pouring rain to join in the daily office, and offered prayers, money, and logistical support. I would not be writing this if it had not been for this generosity. Sister Eveleen will need a community to grow and its people like you who will make up that community, so please don’t stop praying!

Three questions are occupying my mind at the moment: how do we manage space at Sister Eveleen to ensure people can visit whilst ensuring we create a space for overnight retreatants? How can we grow and support a Sister Eveleen community? And what retreats/events will we be running over this year and the next? I’ll be answering the first two questions in the next posts and you should start seeing events and retreats being advertised. There’s going to be an element of trial and error with what we do but we can be sure that Holy Spirit will continue to guide as we attempt to discern God’s purpose for his house on Scarborough Hill.

If you’d like to get involved with Sister Eveleen House, one thing you can do at the moment is follow our Facebook page. I’m a little bit of a Luddite when it comes to social media. However, we need to have a way of giving updates and promoting events and Facebook is a good way for us to do that right now. I’m also planning on hosting a dinner on the 29th of July where I’ll give a brief update on where we are at and where we would like to go. If you’d to come to along please let me know so I can save you a spot at the table. We’re also planning some events in the coming months, including workshops on contemplative Christianity, a writing retreat, and a silent retreat focused on the spirituality of Julian of Norwich. Most importantly though, the best thing you can do is come by the house, either to join our daily prayers or simply stop by for cuppa and a chat.

May God bless you all and bring peace to your hearts

Eddie O’Connor

Director – Sister Eveleen Retreat House

022 563 6879

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