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Forging New Links of Love

 Bournemouth ACI Family, ‘Links of Love’ recently welcomed a group from the Paris ACI Family. The group arrived in England on Monday 23rd April and spent two days visiting the Handmaids at St Edmunds Terrace, London and touring the sights of London before arriving in Bournemouth on the morning of Wednesday 25th April.  The group of 7 were led by Sr Angeles, who accompanied the Paris ACI Family and who had organised the trip.

 After booking into a local hotel the group were taken for lunch at Harry Ramsden’s, a restaurant with beautiful views of the sea, for the traditional British fish and chips before walking along the prom and pier and visiting other sights of Bournemouth. From the first moments of our meeting we felt a connection with each other which over the two days grew to a bond.  There was much happiness in the time we spent together.

 Later, we gathered for adoration at the Convent in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Our prayers were both in French and English and we felt a great unity between us as we gave thanks to God for our day and reflected on the words of St Rafaela. Afterwards 16 of us dined at Marco Polo Restaurant nearby and it was a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other more deeply.  As both groups shared the spirituality of the Handmaids we had much to talk about and share with each other.

 The next day we gathered at Corpus Christi Church, and before the celebration of the Eucharist began, the group were shown our St Rafaela’s altar. Here they could see the photograph of the canonization of St Rafaela which took place in the Vatican in 1977.

 Our opening hymn was  ‘Sing of the Lords Goodness’ and we sang  in thanksgiving for all that we had received and for all that we were about to receive as we shared Eucharist together. For the Offertory Procession Sr Angeles and Jo Henwood led members from both ACI Family groups in taking up the gifts.

 After Mass many Members of the parish accepted the invitation to have coffee with the Sisters and ACI Family and guests in our Memorial Room. There was much happiness and joy as people got to know each other and more new friendships were forged with our parish members.

 We had time before lunch to stroll to the sea by walking through Woodland Walk, full of spring wildflowers and trees beginning to green. Everyone was so appreciative of a day without rain and the sea sparkling in the sunshine once again.

 Our final gathering together was over lunch at the Convent prepared by the Sisters and ACI Family. We had much to share with each other but we knew the time had come to part and we were to go our separate ways.  One of our visitors said “we came as strangers but we leave as friends’ and that expresses well how our two days together was a real gift to all of us.

We look forward to our next encounter …………