How to move a monastery 1

Baalam’s Ass
Ty Mam Duw


Our Baalam’s Ass was a boiler.  It has a hole in the side. It is quite safe, but it might have suggested to persons even more light-hearted than ourselves that it ought to be replaced.  Boilers cost money and we are Poor Clares of the extreme branch called Colettines.  It did not seem right in the face of the poverty we profess and the possession of a pope called Francis to spend that amount of money on anything.

We took a look at our own position.  We are not dying out; there are thirteen of us between thirty and eighty-two and we have all chosen freely to live a gospel life. We have been living in Wales and our Bishop seemed unable to offer us anywhere amidst the closing parishes of our Diocese, with or without a boiler. So we were led to look at what Pope Francis calls ‘The Periphery’.  When our house here was built, 90 years ago, we were between a landfall and a council estate, but times change; Hawarden is becoming a dormitory village. Many of the congregation have gone and God, who sees all things, wants us where our city built on a hilltop can be more usefully seen.

Nottingham was the last place we would have thought of!  When it leaked out that we were moving to Robin Hood Country, several people we don’t know told friends our departure date (we were truly amazed) and one inquired whether we would have green kerchiefs with pointy hoods.  

We have always been international.  The Colettines were brought to Wales ninety years ago by a South American Abbess, Mother Cherubina, who was baptised in the Vatican, raised in France and schooled in England.  Our four sisters in Nottingham are from Kenya and India, bringing current national origins up to nine!

A humourist sent us the antique Disney movie with the Roger Miller song: ‘Every town has its ups and downs, sometimes the ups outnumber the downs - but not in Nottingham. I’m inclined to believe, If we weren't so down, we'd up and leave…  

Perhaps we could start calling ourselves the Marian Maids…