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Internovitiate Conference

On Monday 7th January Novices from as far North as Whitby, as far West as Ty Mawr and as far South as Canterbury converged upon the Convent of the Sisters of the Love of God in Oxford. For three glorious days we sat at the feet (metaphorically!) of Dr Peta Dunstan of Cambridge University – the acknowledged expert in the history of Anglican Religious Life – as she imparted some of her knowledge and enthusiasm to us. What became very clear during our first visit to Littlemore (where John Henry Newman, later Cardinal Newman, established a small Religious Community) was that there was a distinctively Anglican way of being a Religious, a way which unites the best parts of the Anglican Tradition of scholarship, prayer and liturgy with the more ancient inheritance of our Monastic Tradition(s). This was a very clear demonstration of what might be called ‘Anglican Patrimony.’ As part of the conference we also visited Parish Churches (St Barnabas Jericho and St Mary the Virgin); former Religious Houses (St Stephen’s House and Nashdom); places of learning and scholarship (Littlemore and Pusey House) and current Religious Houses (All Saints, Fairacres and the Sisters of the Precious Blood) and were encouraged to see them all as part of the inheritance of the Oxford Movement and the teaching of Dr Pusey. It was not, of course, ‘all work’ and we enjoyed meeting our fellow Novices and spending time with them, reflecting together on our experience thus far of Religious Life. This was all held in the embrace of the prayer life of the Sisters of the Love of God and the All Saints Sisters who welcomed us warmly and who allowed us to join with them in the offering of the daily office and Eucharist.