We are sad to have to say goodbye to someone who has been at the heart of the community here at Minsteracres since she arrived in a snowstorm back in 2010.
Settling into life at Minsteracres was a challenge for Sr Therese O’Regan. She had spent the previous 36 years in the heat and desert of Botswana and Minsteracres was a culture shock in so many ways.
However, as she says, “I soon felt at home, mainly because of the many people associated with the place. Since then I have grown to love it – my roots sank quickly into the soil here! Now I have to go and that’s another uprooting” she says. “I’ll be heart-broken to leave Minsteracres, but that’s the bottom line when you live as a religious.”
This latest move has been brought about by her election to the post of provincial of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, responsible for the pastoral care of some 90 religious in the UK and Ireland as well as the order’s outreach ministry, financial and administrative management.
Though some of this will be familiar from her role in charge of hospitality at Minsteracres, “For me it’s an unknown quantity,” she says. “I’ll take it a day at a time! It means I will be reunited with Sister Carmel Gorman who I worked with throughout my time in Botswana, which is great, and it will give me the opportunity to really get to know the sisters in the province.” It will also place her just around the corner from her brother in Manchester.
“Minsteracres has been such a rewarding place to live and work. For example there’s the beauty of the surroundings after years in a desert landscape,” she says.
Again and again, she refers to the people who live, work and volunteer at Minsteracres. “It’s their openness and receptiveness to anyone who comes that’s the essence of the place. No matter what happens, people step up to the plate. Look at the amount of work the volunteers do! There’s something special about it.
“We have a good retreat team too. We put a lot of time into preparing the retreats, with input from lots of people so that they reflect a wider experience. We’ve been getting great feedback – retreatants tell us they like the livelier format and the chance for them to take a greater part.
“I’ve also had the privilege of leading many people in spiritual direction – I’ve got a lot from accompanying them on their journey,” she adds.
“I’ve learned that it is having a community at its heart so there is always someone on hand that makes the difference between a retreat centre and a conference centre. And for me, it’s sharing the Eucharist, followed by fellowship at our table that really counts . That fellowship permeates the day – and the fun!”
For those of us she leaves behind (including her beloved cats Skittles and Lollipop) it is that sense of fun is what we will miss most. As operations manager Geoff Bockett says, “She is a fun loving, pragmatic person who likes to get things done yesterday! She has a flare for gardening and flower arranging, which over the last few years have brightened many a corner at Minsteracres.”
Communications manager Nuala O’Brien agrees, “She is always the first up on the dance floor and the last to sit down, always ready with a song. It will be a lot quieter around here without her.”