In 1926 the Benedictine nuns of the Immaculate Conception, Eccleshall joined Dom Constantine Bosschaerts in establishing the Vita et Pax Foundation to work for ecumenism with the churches of East and West through study, co-operation and common witness. On 1 January 1936 three sisters and an oblate arrived at Cockfosters to establish a new branch of the Foundation, soon after their arrival a community of monks was also established. As the communities at Cockfosters grew they began work that was innovative in the areas of liturgy and ecumenism. Contact with Christians of all denominations was increased through the producing of vestments and artwork inspired by the designs of Dom Constantine.
‘Before the whole world, let all Christians profess their faith in God, one and three, in the incarnate Son of God, our redeemer and Lord. United in their efforts, and with mutual respect, let them bear witness to our common hope.’
Decree on Ecumenism’,
‘If Christians, despite their divisions, can grow ever more united in common prayer around Christ, they will grow in awareness of how little divides them in comparison to what unites them. If they meet more regularly before Christ in prayer, they will be able to gain the courage to face all the painful human reality of their divisions, and they will find themselves together once more in that Community of the Church which Christ constantly builds up in the Holy Spirit, in spite of all weaknesses and human limitations’
‘Ut Unum Sint’ Para 22,
Pope John Paul II 1995
The work for ecumenism was given new impetus by the Second Vatican Council. Large scale Bible exhibitions were organised to make the Bible more accessible. Through televised services, radio broadcasts and the community’s spirit of openness people of all denominations were drawn to Cockfosters. Ecumenical work was furthered through the editing of ‘One in Christ’ which continues today.
The communities moved to Turvey in 1980, extending their ecumenical activities through retreats, quiet days and open days. Active links were made with the local parish of All Saints, which continue to this day. Several members of the community have shared in ecumenical activities in the dioceses of St Albans and Peterborough and with the Greek Melkite Catholic Church.
We provide opportunities for those interested to explore the links between East and West through icon study and painting workshops. Our own liturgy is enhanced by the use of hymns and tones inspired by Byzantine worship.
A spirit of openness and hospitality attracts people of many denominations to Turvey. The liturgy of the hours provides a place of shared prayer and a deepening sense of unity for all who take part.
‘What really matters is not the creation of new structures but the collaboration of Christians in prayer, reflection and action, based on common baptism and on a faith which on many essential points is also common.’
‘Ecumenical collaboration at the regional, national and
local levels’ 1975