Hope for the Future

Sister Frances Hayes OP

My name is Sister Frances Hayes. From an early age I wanted to join a Religious Order.

Every Sunday afternoon I went with my Mother to St Mary’s Dominican Church in Cork to attend devotions, which included Compline, I was very inspired by the Dominican brethren.

I also visited St Albert’s Convent, Sunday’s Well, Cork, where I met a number of Dominican Sisters who impressed me by their lives.

I joined the Newcastle Dominicans as a Postulant in 1952 and received the Dominican Habit in July of that year.  I made my Temporary Profession in 1953 and my Final Profession in 1956.

After completing my teacher’s training in 1956 I taught in Rosary Priory Junior School, in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire for one year, then I was sent to South Africa in 1957.

I was a member of the last large group of Sisters who were sent to South Africa, and we were the first Sisters to fly! I am fourth from the left in the photograph of us standing on the steps of the plane.  I spent 19 very happy years teaching in various schools in South Africa. 

I returned to England in 1977 and taught in Rosary Priory Prep School and our Infant and Primary School, St Joseph’s, in Storrington in West Sussex until I retired from teaching in 1992.

From 1992-2002 I worked as Secretary-Librarian for St Cecilia’s Guild for the Blind sending book-tapes to blind and partially sighted people. After that, I worked for 8 years as a volunteer at ‘Homeless Action in Barnet’ (HAB), a day centre for homeless people in North Finchley, London. During that time I lived in our Convents in Burnt Oak and Edgware, Middlesex, on the northern outskirts of London. I moved to Rosary Priory in May 2008, where I was reunited in Community with my blood sister, Sister Brenda, who had returned from South Africa in 2006. I thank God that He has given me the health and strength to do His work in various ministries within the Community at the Priory.

My greatest joy is to be able to attend Mass every morning and to be present at the Divine Office and the other spiritual exercises of the Community. My ministry continues in new ways: Prayer and Hospitality and joining community projects knitting for charity with our ‘Knit and Natter’ group.  Contact with my family and friends, reading a good book, seeing a good movie and listening to music give me joy.

Although there are not many vocations to our Congregation in the North, and our numbers are decreasing, there is still great energy and enthusiasm in the Congregation. This gives me hope and also that we have a number of younger Sisters in South Africa.

Sister Frances Hayes and Sister Brenda Hayes: blood sisters who celebrate their Jubilee of Profession as Dominican Sisters. Both Sisters lived and ministered in South Africa for many years, returning to England at different times, and were reunited at Rosary Priory a few years ago.

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