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On Saturday 27th January 2018, eight Sisters of Mercy and over three hundred former pupils of St. Ursula’s High School, Bristol, gathered at the Sacred Heart Church, Westbury-on-Trym for a Memorial/Thanksgiving Mass for Sisters Cecilia Wingfield and Sabastian Kelly (Margaret).The Mass was entirely organised by former pupils. A beautiful Mass Booklet was compiled and printed, while old girls took part in the Readings, Prayers of the Faithful and Offertory Procession. The Bishop of Clifton, Declan Lang and six priests, from parishes in which Sister Cecilia and Sabastian worked concelebrated the Mass. The music and singing was accompanied by Richard Jeffery-Gray, Director of Music at Clifton Cathedral and Martin Le Pioidevin, the Cathedral Music Group Director.

Bishop Declan extended a warm welcome to all present who had travelled from all over the country and he was delighted to welcome the Sisters of Mercy, who had travelled from different parts of England and Wales. He praised the Sisters of Mercy for their great work in Education and Pastoral Care in Bristol over many years. ”Today, however, we remember with love and gratitude, Sister Cecilia, who came to St. Ursula’s in 1945 and was Headmistress there until her retirement from teaching.”

In his homily, Father Eugene Campbell, referred to Sister Cecilia’s pastoral care and real love for the people of St. Vincent’s Parish, Southmead, one of the most deprived areas in Bristol, where she continued her work as a Sister of Mercy after her retirement from Education. He drew attention to her qualities as outlined in the First Reading (1Cor12:31-13:8). She was a true daughter of her Foundress Catherine McAuley, showing love and compassion to everyone she met, whoever they were he said.” His anecdotal story of an episode when Sister Cecilia insisted on collecting his Mother by car, a trip, his Mother returned from commenting “It was a scary journey and I’m lucky to be alive, I thought Sister would kill me” brought a smile to many faces in the church.

At the end of Mass Bishop Declan thanked the organisers of the Memorial/Thanksgiving Mass and all those who had attended, complementing the past pupils on their wonderful singing, especially the Hymn to St. Ursula.

Everyone was then invited to the Newman Hall, to partake in a superb Buffet, prepared by Angela Maestri, a former pupil. During the Buffet, Father Michael Healy spoke about the work of the Sisters at St. Ursula’s. He re-echoed some of the qualities mentioned in the Homily and spoke about Sisters Cecilia and Sabastian. “I have every right to be present today…I too am an old girl of St. Ursula’s, I began my education in the Prep School.” He recalled with great affection and amusement his memories of some of the Sisters and how they put into practice the maxims of the Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley.

The celebration ended with the singing of the hymn to St. Ursula. It was good to be there at such a joyful occasion.