Until September 2009 we lived in an old terraced house bordering on the Dewsbury Road. However, Marianne has gone to Canada to support her frail, elderly parents. Being fewer and not getting any younger, Vivien and Marion have re-located to a smaller, more user-friendly property, but still in Beeston. We are very happy that we can continue with our presence and ministry in this place. Anne continues to live in Stockton.
Beeston is home to people of many cultures. The largest group are Pakistani Muslims who began to arrive in this country fifty or so years ago. Recently the area has welcomed Asylum seekers from many countries, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cameroon, China to name but a few, and recently there has been a wave of new arrivals from Eastern European countries newly admitted to the European Union.
The proportion of indigenous white people has gradually decreased over the years. Many who have remained are needy by our national standards. They are often poorly educated and unemployed. There are many single young women with young children, and elderly people living alone with little support. There are also problems of drug abuse and vandalism.
We came here in 1986 to live alongside in a neighbourly way, and to discern how we could collaborate with other Christian and non-Christian groups to respond to the many needs particularly those supporting intercultural relationships, the elderly and more recently, Asylum Seekers and refugees.
We bring all of these activities and experiences to our daily community prayer and weekly reflection together. These are important moments for touching on where God is for us in all of this. We constantly discover the wounded heart of Christ in the wounded heart of humanity, including our own limitations and vulnerabilities. We also discover, through our common commitment, and our mutual support of each other, that God’s Spirit is with us and among us to challenge, support and empower.
Some recent developments have affected our lives in Leeds. The two adjacent Roman Catholic parishes have been amalgamated in the Diocesan re-organisation. We used to live and worship in one of the parishes, and have continued to worship there on Sundays. We now live in the other, and mostly worship there during the week, so we feel that we have a certain bridge-building function in the making of one new parish.
Also, the nearby Anglican vicar will retire next year and will not be replaced. He asked us to initiate a quiet prayer group with his church members, and the Methodists nearby. This has begun: the hope is to extend it further ecumenically, to create a Christian praying community here. One of our RC friends already attends.
Sadly, Leeds community was closed in August 2013, as one of the RSCJ members (Vivien Bowman) became very ill, moved to Duchesne House in May and died on August 15th. With no-one available to join Marion, the remaining member, the house was closed.
Vivien was a very quiet person but her contribution to the Leeds community, parish, neighbourhood and city was enormous, and she is sadly missed. Happily, the story of the community remains in the website Archive, and bears testimony to her presence, and that of numerous RSCJ who had also lived and worked there between 1987 and 2013.