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Convent welcomes first Sisters in 40 years

A Norfolk convent has welcomed five prospective Sisters, almost doubling its numbers.

The additions to the Daughters of Divine Charity brings the total number at the Swaffham convent from seven to 12.

Two novices, Sister Mary Goncalves and Sister Anna Yeo, were admitted to the order on the same day as two Sisters – Sister Renata Pivarnikova and Sister Michaela Switaj – took their first vows at a Mass celebrated by the Bishop of East Anglia at Our Lady of Pity church in Swaffham.

The ceremony is usually private but an exception was made because it marked the first additions to the order in England for almost 40 years.

The Sisters run a nursery, a care home and the Sacred Heart school in Swaffham. The school is one of the top 10 schools in West Norfolk for GCSE results.

Sister Anna explained: “In the parishes where our convents are situated, many of the Sisters are Eucharistic ministers, visiting the sick, the elderly and housebound, working in youth ministry such as confirmation groups, university, parishes and youth events among other needs. All our work is to make God’s love visible.”

A prospective novice, postulant Judith Charmak, was welcomed into the congregation at a private ceremony before the Mass. After two years in the novitiate, Sisters profess the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity for the first time, as Sister Renata and Sister Michaela did on Sunday. The ceremony was attended by members of the Sisters’ families from Poland, Slovakia, East Timor, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. The order was founded in Vienna in 1868.

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