News & Events

Just after midnight on the 7th December, God called Rachel to the fullness of life.

 

Born in 1924, Rachel was the eldest of three girls. Their father, an Anglican clergyman, became ill and died of leaukaemia when Rachel was still only five - a devastating blow for this young family. They moved to Rettford in Notts, and then, some years later, Rachel and the others attended a boarding school in Bushey, Herts, for clergy orphans. Rachel felt very lonely here, so she says Jesus became her friend - the beginning of a lifelong friendship. 

 

After leaving school in 1942 Rachel trained as a nurse at the Royal Hospital in Derbyshire. This was followed by midwifery training at the London Hospital and Myddleton Square, followed by work at the Royal Free Hospital and St John & St Elizabeth’s Hospital. She also worked as a district nurse, later saying that she'd felt especially close to God when cycling on her rounds and delivering babies.

 

St John & St Elizabeth's was a Catholic hospital, run by the Sisters of Mercy, and their influence helped lead Rachel into Rachel the Catholic Church in 1947. Her mother and sisters had also converted, but Rachel, away from the family home, had not been part of their process. 

 

Rachel's youngest sister Mary subsequently joined the Society, and so, when Rachel began thinking about religious life, this was where she came too. She entered in March 1953, making her first vows on 15th September 1955, and her final vows on the 4th February 1961.

 

From 1955 to 1969 Rachel worked mainly as the school or college infirmarian at Woldingham and Fenham, though she also gave some classes and for two years also assisted the Mistress of Novices at Woldingham. In 1969-70 she studied for a diploma in health education, and subsequently lectured at Fenham for a year. In 1971 Rachel moved to Southall, and worked in the ENT ward of Hillingdon Hospital, before moving to Roehampton, where for a few years she headed the nursing team looking after sick and elderly sisters. Then came two years in Malta, caring for elderly sisters there, followed by another six years as school infirmarian at Woldingham.

 

In 1985 Rachel moved to Hayes, to be in charge of a newly-established community for active elderly sisters; from there, after a sabbatical and some time in our retreat centre in Wales she moved to Agate Road community in Hammersmith in 1993. She spent much of her week volunteering in a centre for refugees, where she helped in the nursery and - after taking a certificate in ESOL - teaching English. For Rachel, who lived as simply as she could and agonised over issues concerning poverty and justice, this was a very fulfilling time, despite her sadness over many of the issues she encountered here. 

 

There followed two years helping out with provincial hospitality before she moved to Wandsworth and volunteered at Duchesne. In 2004, aged 80, she moved to Hayes Emmaus, where life could be lived at a slower pace - though she still helped wherever she could, including preparing food for weekly soup runs. Finally, in 2011, as her health and energy deteriorated, Rachel moved to Duchesne House, where she accepted the care that she herself had given to others for so many years. Here she gradually became frailer, eventually dying, after a short illness, very quietly and peacefully, surrounded by the love, prayer and care of her community and family.

 

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