After months of negotiation, planning and preparation, we welcomed the Daughters of Divine Love into our diocese and the West Hull Parish (St Wilfrid’s, St Joseph and Corpus Christi) on Sunday September 5. It was a joyful and memorable occasion.
The welcome Mass was celebrated by Bishop Terry in the newly restored St Wilfrid’s Church. Parish priest Father Ivan Dawson welcomed the bishop and greeted the parishioners before Mass. Father Peter Taylor, who accompanied Bishop Terry to Hull, joined Father Ivan in concelebrating at the Mass.
Bishop Terry welcomed the regional superior, Sister Amelia, and all the Daughters of Divine Love. Fourteen sisters had travelled from to celebrate and support the induction of Sister Catherine, the superior of the community, and Sister Ifechichoro, who will live in St Wilfrid’s presbytery as our parish sisters.
Seeing the sisters processing into the church at the beginning of Mass in their distinctive blue and white habits was faith-affirming for all present.
The Daughters of Divine Love sang two hymns after Holy Communion. One was the anthem the sisters sing whenever they have a special gathering. Listening to their beautiful singing and its words, “We love you dear Jesus”, was both emotional and spiritually uplifting.
This was followed by a presentation of gift baskets to Sister Catherine and Sister Ifechichoro as an expression of love and gratitude to them for coming to minister in our parish.
In his homily, Bishop Terry said: “Sisters, you are welcome among us, although you may not know many of us and we do not know you personally very well at this stage, yet we know that we are one family, we belong to each other in Christ Jesus.
“So welcome and be at home here among us. We look to you to remind us frequently that we are created out of divine love, that we are sustained as a result of divine love and that our destiny is to live in divine love with the Trinity forever.
“We want you to encourage us to proclaim together with you this message of good news to all. Help us to turn to Jesus who wants to heal us of our blindness, who wants to open our ears to his word and our mouth to communicate it to all who we meet.
“We know we are not very clever, nor are we great orators; we are aware of our inadequacies. However, St James reminds us in our second reading: ‘It was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.’
“So I say to all here today, as we welcome the sisters among us, we also should take courage and be more determined than ever to live out our baptismal calling.
“As your bishop, I really want this community, under the pastoral leadership and guidance of Father Ivan, with the Daughters of Divine Love encouraging, to hear God’s Word and to proclaim its faith, to the praise and the glory of God the Father. Amen.”
After Communion, Bishop Terry gave a blessing to Sister Catherine and Sister Ifechichoro as they began their ministry in Hull.
The celebrations continued with a reception of good food and music outside in the sunshine. This gave us all the opportunity to meet members of our parish family and enjoy the presence of the sisters.
The evening before, Father Ivan hosted a welcome dinner for the bishop and the sisters. There Bishop Terry presented Sister Catherine and Sister Ifechichoro with an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, patroness of the Diocese of Middlesbrough.
Bishop Terry – who spent five years from 1986 to 1991 in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, Kenya – spoke fondly of his time as a priest ministering in Africa.
Before dinner, the Daughters of Divine Love sang songs, bringing back many happy memories to both Bishop Terry and Father Ivan of their many years in Africa.
With the arrival of the Daughters of Divine Love, a new and exciting chapter in the history of West Hull Parish and the diocese begins.
Through God’s grace and the stewardship of time, talent and treasure of our parishioners, we continue to grow in faith as we build up the Kingdom of God.