Photography: Harry Smith

Bishop Chris rejoicing in the day with Bishop Mark, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth.

The sun shone for Sclerder Abbey’s Family Festival last Saturday, an answer to a prayer that began many months ago when the event was first planned. Apart from sunshine, the key organisers Jean-Pierre Carosin, Sister Jacqueline and Helen Priestley, also prayed for people to take up the invitation and for everyone to open their hearts and celebrate what being a family can mean, whatever shape that family takes.

The people did come and, in the grounds of the truly stunning Abbey near Looe, they had a wonderful time, no matter their age. There was dancing, singing, games for children and journeys to go on. One such journey was the Family Trail which, undertaken as a family, led them to different parts of the garden where tasks where laid out to complete. Each task gave opportunities for children and their parents to remember and share memories – like where did the parents meet, when did they know that the other was the ‘one’ (at times hilarious, poignant and excruciating, depending on the age of the children!). But each task brought the family back to what was important, showing how precious the concept of family is and how cherished it is by God.

There were also workshops ranging from making biscuits and creating fabric crosses, to exploring what it is to be a refugee and how power plays out in relationships. This was a very insightful session that revealed more about some of us than perhaps we wanted to know!

The Family Festival fulfilled the vision that the Carmelite Sisters, who lived as an enclosed order in the Abbey for decades, shared with the Chemin Neuf, who took over the Abbey three years ago. They wanted to bless the community with the Abbey and make it an ecumenical centre, available for all Christian denominations.

As Archdeacon Audrey says, “It was great to see so many people of different ages enjoying themselves in the grounds of Sclerder Abbey. Coming from all sorts of churches (and none), we were united by the sunshine, the warm welcome from the Chemin Neuf community, and the love which God has for all his children.”

Sclerder Abbey Family Festival

Photo by Harry Smith