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50 years in Wales!

3- in England - Date of publication 08-25-2008
On Saturday, 31st May 2008, Sister Cécile, the Sisters of the Province and some of the Associates and friends, travelled to Porthmadog to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters in Wales. A beautiful sunny day and magnificent views of the sea and mountains made for a pleasant journey.

On arrival at “Bethany”, our house in Porthmadog, we were greeted by Sister Mary and some of the parishioners who had prepared a meal for us. Other guests arrived who had once worked with the Sisters in “Gelli Fair”.
After refreshing ourselves we crossed the road to the parish Church of the Holy Redeemer for a Mass of thanksgiving celebrated at 2 pm by the Bishop of Wrexham and other clergy from the diocese. On entering the Church the handiwork of the parishioners and people from the town was again in evidence. The Church and Sanctuary were beautifully decorated with flowers. A tribute to the Sisters in the form of a banner had been made by the wife of the organist. The banner was 2 metres long in a dull gold material with the crest of the Congregation in colour and the words “Major est Caritas” in black. Along the sides were the words Charity, Simplicity, Union, Humility. At the base, in Welsh, was 1958 – 2008, presence and mission of the Sisters in Porthmadog. It was a very moving tribute. 
At the beginning of the Mass the Bishop blessed the banner which is to remain in the Church as a memorial to the Sisters. Sister Mary greeted everyone and thanked them for coming. As it was the Feast of the Visitation the Bishop preached about Our Lady’s response to God’s call and comparing the response made by the Sisters when they came to Wales 50 years ago. At the Offertory procession Sister Cécile brought up a large candle and parishioners and people who had worked with the Sisters carried up items representing the work of nursing and catechesis. The children who had just made their First Communion carried up flowers. It was a very ecumenical celebration as pastors and representatives from the local non-Catholic Churches were present. Hymns were sung in English, Latin and Welsh. Before the final hymn Sister Mary was presented with a Papal Blessing.
After Mass everyone was invited to a buffet prepared by the parishioners. There were nearly 200 people present and some had travelled long distances. One lady who had been in charge of the Nursing Home in “Gelli Fair” had come from Cardiff. Others had travelled from London. All were anxious to meet the sisters they had known. Photos recalled events and Sisters connected with Gelli Fair and Bethany over the years. There were speeches and a surprise gift for Sister Mary…..a trip to the Holy Land. It was a truly wonderful experience for all of us.

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