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SISTERS HARNESS TECHNOLOGY 

TO SPREAD FAITH AWARENESS

A congregation of A Dominican Sisters at the centre of New Evangelisation in the Diocese of Portsmouth is using the power of technology to spread faith awareness. Sister Hyacinthe Defos Du Rau at St Dominic’s Priory on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire holds a weekly web-based seminar. So far through her webinars –also available in audio versions as podcasts – she has helped around 200 people discover more about God, themselves and the Church through the Gospels.

Sister Hyacinthe is head of the Formation For Mission Team, comprising 10 sisters who live in the Priory and 14 lay people based at different locations around the Diocese. The aim of the voluntary team is to help baptised members of Christ to fulfil their mission of evangelisation by offering faith formation at all levels.

The Webinar and the team’s use of social media, posting on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, have been introduced as a way of communicating relevant and widely accessible topics. The Sisters combine their active work of “preaching and teaching” –consistent with their charism as Dominicans, the Order of the Preachers – with a daily pattern of contemplative prayer, monastic observances, sung liturgy and study. “We were approached by Bishop Philip to help with catechesis and formation throughout the whole Diocese,” said Sister Hyacinthe, who was born in France, has a Masters Degree in Applied Theology and is a published translator. “We were very grateful because this apostolate completely complements our mission in the Church."

Where possible the Sisters travel as a group from their Priory in the village of Sway to visit other parishes to run courses and share teaching resources. For catechists (religious teachers) the Formation team offers a five-session essential training course and more specialist courses run in partnership with the Maryvale Institute and the Diocesan Diaconate Department.

It is a wonderful opportunity

to be doing what we are supposed to do in the services of our diocese. It is a genuine grace for us to be able to do that together.

Where possible the Sisters travel as a group from their Priory in the village of Sway to visit other parishes to run courses and share teaching resources. For catechists (religious teachers) the Formation team offers a five-session essential training course and more specialist courses run in partnership with the Maryvale Institute and the Diocesan Diaconate Department.

For all adults, the team offers the Anchor faith formation programme and a Certificate in Parish Mission and Ministry. Also on offer are training for children’s liturgy leaders, First Holy Communion Catechists and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) Catechists. This year, a retreat is being held for catechists in Basingstoke while an Annual Day for Catechists takes place in Portsmouth Cathedral with talks, testimonies and discussions. 

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Sisters Carino Hodder, left, and Veronica Brennan with Postulant Elena Cahill in  the chapel next to the Priory at Sway.