End of summer musings...

Well, it's been over a week since we got back from World Youth Day and I don't feel as if I have really got anything done since then. I suppose that's not such a bad thing in itself as it has been a pretty action-packed summer and I certainly needed some time to just relax and recharge the batteries before the onslaught of the new school year.

I have, however, also been away for another three days in the meantime at our Mother House in Brittany for our annual gathering to celebrate the jubilees of Brothers who have spent 50, 60 or 70 years in religious life. This year our very own Brother Augustine from our community here in Southampton is celebrating 70 years in religious life. And Gus, as he is known, travelled with myself and Bro. Francis for the celebration last weekend and stayed on in France to do his annual retreat with another 30 or so Brothers.

Br. Gus (left), aged 85, last Christmas

Another - more decisive reason - for not having got much done this past week is the fact that my mother is very, very poorly. In fact, she has been at, or near to, death's door quite a few times now in the past few months. Indeed, I was half expecting a phone call from one of the family saying that mum had passed away while I was doing my sponsored cycle to its easy at the end of May. However, she is still with us, but for how long the only God knows. It would seem that she is going through her own extended calvary and, knowing her, offering it up for our family.

What makes things all the more difficult for us, her children is that both her and our father are in Ireland in a nursing home, the two of them having retired back to their country of origin over 20 years ago. We cannot simply pop in and see them when we want. Two of my brothers and sisters are going over together to see our parents in a few days - but especially to be with mum - and I am on red alert to join them if it is felt necessary. In this context it is not easy to try and focus one's mind on the coming school year and get the necessary jobs done in preparation for our first day back on Monday. But I'm getting there.

I hope to put an article on here before Monday with photos about our 2-week World Youth Day adventure which was a truly fantastic experience, in large part thanks to the attitude of the 18 young people, aged between 14 and 23, that we took with us from Southampton, Liverpool and Lymington. More on that later.

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