Ken Greaney, Co-ordinator of the Chertsey Cooperators, shares his review of the Chertsey Centre's Programme for 2019/2020.
At our first Mass and Meeting of our programmed 2019/2020 year - September 20th 2019 - none of us could ever have envisaged the Coronavirus scenario and the dramatic effect it was to have - and is still having - on life throughout the whole world. Despite the particular problems it posed in respect of the continuing activities of our Centre it is most pleasing to be able to report that on our spiritual formation front we only had to cancel one of our scheduled events - our annual Mary Help of Christians Celebration Day in May which was to be led by Fr Michael Winstanley SDB. Fr Michael has since indicated that he is prepared to return to Chertsey in May 2021.
PRE - LOCKDOWN PERIOD (September 2019 - March 2020)
Taking our cue from the Rector Major's Strenna ( "Good Christians and upright Citizens") our programme focussed on the Lord's Prayer and each month we took one segment of the Our Father for reflection. Our speakers included Fr John Dickson, Fr Kevin O'Donnell, Brother Vincent Castillo and several of our Group members.
In addition to our "run of the mill" monthly meetings other activities included :
The Group is to be congratulated for the faithfulness shown in attending our meetings and various celebrations. We have 32 "active" members and the average monthly meeting attendance is usually in the high 20s. During the year one of our members, Julie Drew, died and two others - Sr. Mary Dooley (past FMA Provincial Delegate) and Tess John ( who was a past Coordinator of our Group ) both of whom were part of our Group in earlier times before moving on to pastures new. May they all rest in peace.
My continuing thanks in particular to Fr Michael Hynes - our local SDB delegate - who is always so supportive of our endeavours; to Jane, our Secretary; Alex, our Treasurer; and Ray our Formation Officer for all the work they do behind the scenes to keep me in order and the Group "lively".
THEN CAME THE LOCKDOWN !
At the very outset - aware of the restrictions that were to enter our lives - we set ourselves an overall objective to seek to retain an on-going Group IDENTITY (through whatever means of communications available) to hold us together in prayer and support through the times of trial which were to come to all of us. In March all of us were to be encouraged to re- consecrate our ourselves to Our Blessed Lady at the time of the Rededication of England as Our Lady's Dowry in Walsingham. It was at this time that one of our numbers - Josie Crossan contracted Covid 19 and was very seriously ill in intensive care for many weeks. The Group actively supported Josie in daily prayer and - thank God - she made a miraculous recovery.
In April, May and June, Fr Michael Hynes SDB - organised and set up a ZOOM link and so many of the Group were able to participate in our monthly Masses. In addition all members who were due to deliver a verbal input at subsequent monthly meetings produced written papers which were circulated to the Group. During May the Group was very vocal and faithful to the Novena Prayers in preparation for the feast day of the 24th with the relevant prayers being posted out on a daily basis in a positive effort to engender a "living" experience of prayer.
SO WHAT FOR THE YEAR - 2020/2021 - AHEAD ?
Well, we will continue to plan ahead - but against a continuing element of uncertainty. Our aim will be to produce an annual programme which draws focus from The Rector Major's "Strenna" for 2021 (not yet known). Whether or not we will be successful in delivery - we must wait and see. But one thing is for certain , whatever the obstacles, we will continue to positively plan in pursuit of our ongoing Salesian Formation though our programmed activities.