Maria and the Bellasis Family 21
Mother Francis asked to see me today. So I went to her office and knocked, wondering what she was going to tell me.
“Hello, Maria. Please come in and sit down. I am pleased to see you looking so well. Are you finding enough to do these days?”
“I fill in my spare time with reading, Mother, and with writing. I try to write to each of my family members at least once a month.”
“I have in mind a task which I think would suit you very well. You know my brothers are very involved in the life of Cardinal Newman, and he and my father were the greatest friends. In fact at Father’s funeral the Cardinal called him one of the finest men he had ever met.”
“Have you met him personally?”
“No, but I feel like I know him from my brothers constantly writing about him. Anyway, gettiing down to what I am going to ask you to do. Father Richard sent me a book with the Cardinal's letters and sermons from 1880-1884. I have read it. What I was wondering was if you would undertake to read it, and then present a few short talks to the others summarising and emphasising what you feel are the most salient points.”
“I’m sure the book is all very worthy of their reading themselves. I would very much like to read it. But I hope you will excuse me from doing this task, as I am not confident in the role of a presenter. But could I make a counter proposition?”
Mother Francis did not like at all the idea that I was going against her wishes. But I have not taken the vow of obedience, as I am not a nun.
“What is your idea?”
“As you know, my father wrote scores of hymns, and Cardinal Nerman has done the same. I would like to research into what he has written and teach the ones we don’t know to the choir.”
“I can appreciate that that idea is more within your gifts. You must write to my brother Edward, as he is researching the Cardinal’s relationship with music, and no doubt can give you many suggestions.”
“Have you met the Cardinal yourself?”
“No, but my brothers keep me informed to the extent that I do feel like I know him. And Mother Connelly was always singing his praises.”
“Did Cornelia Connelly know him well?”
“She certainly had contact with him, and he sent her one of his friends to be one of the first nuns when she originally set up the society. Unfortunately that nun broke her rules and was asked to leave the convent.”
“What did she do that was so terrible?”
“She was in charge of the society's school in Birmingham, and took it upon herself to buy property to expand it, borrowing money which then didn’t materialise,and in the end setting the society up for a huge debt.”
“What happened to her after she was dismissed?”
“She profusely apologised and asked to come back, but Mother Connolly was determined not to have her.”
“Mother Connolly must have found it hard to forgive her usurping her power as the leader.”
“Obedience is very much a mainstay of our order. But that being said, here is my brother’s address and I look forward to hearing how you progress with your project.”
I took his address, and added my thanks, and left the room. But she didn't offer to give me the book to read.