Origins of Lay Members in Livingston St Philip’s - Autumn 1991

The Holy Family Sisters came to Livingston in August 1976. Holy Family Lay Members began after the arrival of Sr Patricia O’Hara, who joined the Livingston Community in Scotland in 1991, having spent many happy years in Wrexham. There, she had built up a very enthusiastic group of Lay Members, whom she was sad to leave. However, arriving in Livingston, one of the 1960s/70s New Towns, she did her best to adjust to her new Holy Family community, as well as the local community.

It was no small task tuning in to Scottish accents, having just left the Welsh. Patricia did this with a good sense of humour, we recall. She saw an opportunity by way of our local St Philip’s Parish, Lanthorn Community Centre, which is the hub of the wider community in that area of Livingston.

To Patricia’s great disappointment, there were no Holy Family Lay Members in Livingston. Having endeared herself to Lynette Buchan, then Chief Cook and problem solver at The Lanthorn, there evolved a way forward. Because of her centrally located position, Lynette knew everyone who came through the front door. In what seemed like a very short time, she invited a number of us round to her home one Friday evening for some eats and to meet Sr Patricia.

Patricia presented her outlined diagrams and basic information on P.B. Noailles and the Holy Family of Bordeaux structure and charism. We all looked, listened, and had a jolly nice evening as photos show. Patricia then invited any of us who might be interested in hearing more to come along to the Convent at a later date.

Those who felt drawn did attend and from then on looked forward to monthly meetings in Formation at the Convent, with Sr Patricia as our Leader. The other sisters used to join us in the sitting room for the closing prayer and a cuppa, which all appreciated then. While some in formation discontinued, others joined us as the years went on.

We were introduced to our first British Annual Assembly in a venue in Yorkshire to give us a feeling of being part of the bigger picture. This trip, which meant leaving by minibus at 5 a.m. and returning the same evening, was not ideal, but it did achieve its goals. After a couple of years, Sr Patricia was replaced by Sr Louis Marie, then Sr Josephine Kemp. It was all very cosy meeting in the Sisters home, but years later, all that changed when the Sisters circumstances changed and they moved out of Livingston. We met for a short time in one another’s homes. It then became clear that booking a room in The Lanthorn Community Centre each month would be the best way forward. This arrangement works well, so we continue to meet there happily to the present time.

Over the years, we have lost members to their change of location, to their eternal reward and a few to lack of interest in the earlier years. Our group has always been very interactive both in discussion, sharing ideas and enthusiasm and, as far as fitness allows, to attending the Biennial Assembly. There has always been a great love of P. B. Noailles. One deceased member used to say, “I have a great devotion to Pierre Bienvenu and I love going to Martillac”. He is not alone in this view.

Anne Connolly, (Livingston Lay Associates Group)

 - unit Newsletter - Britain and Ireland