Anglo-Irish: The end of 2023 marked a series of  Commitment Masses for the Friends of Saint Eugene (FoSE) in Crewe, Birmingham, and London. These sacred occasions brought together members who shared their profound experiences and reflections on the significance of their commitments.

FoSE Crewe

The commitments and renewals started off in Crewe at Wistaston Hall Retreat Centre. 

The special occasion began with Mass in the chapel led by Provincial Fr Oliver Barry OMI. Local parish priest Fr Nick Kern and Wistaston Hall Director Fr Lorcan O’Reilly OMI came to witness the group take on their commitment. 

We asked the group to describe the commitment in their own words;

“On the 16th November 2023, myself and two other Friends.. made a commitment to FoSE (Friends of St. Eugene). This was a very special occasion made more special by the attendance of Fr. Nick.”– Gwen Tapley 

“I felt the joy of spirituality and comradeship. I was pleased that Fr. Oliver Barry OMI came to be there when the three of us made our commitment in the Chapel at Wistaston Hall. We enjoyed a shared table in the lounge afterwards.” – Terry O’Malley

“Ten years after I first made my commitment to the FoSE, on 16th November 2023, I renewed my commitment. It was a very special event for me, sharing it with four members of the FoSE, three of which were making their commitment for the first time. We remembered in our prayers Angela Walker who formed the FoSE group here in Crewe. May she rest in peace” – Anne Walker 

FoSE Birmingham

The Birmingham Commitment Mass was once again celebrated by Fr Oliver. For this FoSE group it was a joyful and heartfelt occassion that instilled a great sense of belonging. The group gathered after the Mass to share food with one another.

We asked the group to share what it means to be part of FoSE; 

“My FoSE commitment gave me a joy in my heart and a deep sense of belonging and a smile that Our Lady prays for us and Saint Eugene prays for us”. – Mary Leonard

“The Friends… At St. Anne’s are the yeast in the parish, and yes they do eat together but also pray and celebrate together.” – John Curtin

“Being a member of a group of Friends who care about each other and the wider community especially the poor or less fortunate. Praying with and for each other and giving encouragement to help wherever I can.” – Kathleen Mullin

“As a Friend of St. Eugene, I feel part of an Oblate family. I have been able to look at things differently like being more aware of homeless people and poverty. I got lots of satisfaction from all the projects we have done as a group for homeless people. We as a group think of each other outside church and we care about each other.” -Peggy Dryhurst

“The reason why I’m part of the Friends of St. Eugene (FoSE) is that having being part of a former Oblate church and since 2011, I have been discerning and learning more of St. Eugene and the life of vowed Oblates. I felt drawn more and more to live out my baptismal and confirmational vows and live at least some of the charisma of the Founder. Our FoSE group is based on friendship, prayer and service, and I try to do my best with everyone in the group to demonstrate this in every possible way – with each other, our church community and reaching out to others who need our help. I do this in church gatherings and celebrations. I support by coordinating appeals at church for homeless groups, helping out in charities like Dementia, Refugee and Asylum Seekers, and by visiting elderly parishioners and others in my community and friends who need our friendship, care and love.” – Marilyn Bissondial

FoSE London

Lastly, the renewal celebrations made their way to London, where FOSE Kilburn and FoSE Peckham gathered once again with Fr Oliver OMI and Fr Johnson OMI. During these celebrations the groups expressed a deep satisfaction found in the FoSE group’s connection with Oblate work, especially for those from vulnerable backgrounds. 

We asked members to describe what the commitment meant to them;

“The Friends of St. Eugene for me is a renewal and rejuvenation of my Faith” – Mark Cullen, Peckham.

“For me as a Friend of St. Eugene, I feel that it’s a gathering of likeminded people from vulnerable backgrounds who find the contact with Oblate work within the group deeply satisfying”. – Hanora Morrin, Peckham.

“I feel we are a fantastic group of friends from Quex Road (Kilburn) Friends of St. Eugene (FoSE). I am always longing for our monthly meeting.” – Albino Maggioni, Kilburn.

“My Friends of St. Eugene renewal of my commitment gave me more courage to pray… and to serve.” – Nilda Panambo, Kilburn.

“For me, Friends of St. Eugene is about love, friendship, caring, sharing and a deep commitment to God. What I love most about our FoSE group is that St. Eugene prays for us.” – Evelyn Mensa Bonsu, Kilburn.

“I decided to renew my commitment as a Friend of Saint Eugene because I feel I belong! Being away from home I consider FoSE as a family away from home. I enjoy the sharing, bondings and learnings.” – Meriam Cadaweng, Kilburn.

“Being a Friend of St. Eugene (FoSE) entails understanding the love of prayer and also in learning what St. Eugene did by helping others and making wonderful friends.” – Marina Kehoe, Kilburn. 

“By just seeing others have a laugh and share a smile which is a blessing are important for me being a Friend of St. Eugene.” – Georgina Tagumigwa, Kilburn.

“Being a Friend of St. Eugene does teach me how to grow in faith, hope and love and serve our God and serve people. It is also a lesson to see Jesus Christ in every person.” – Stefan Fukas, Kilburn.

“Committing myself to being a Friends of St. Eugene (FoSE), I’ve found it a blessed joyful, loving family where we can come & meet up & share all we have, spiritual and temporal. It gives me joy serving in the community and especially in the eyes of the needy.” – Sylvia Mubiru, Kilburn.

“For me as a FOSE group, St. Eugene is important and I love the sharing.” – Carlota Rondolos, Kilburn.

“For me, as a Friend of St. Eugene, it’s a beautiful commitment of my faith. I felt invigorated & inspired to live my life along the Christian path and follow the Oblate charism.” – Martina Cooley, Peckham. These heartfelt reflections from Friends of Saint Eugene across different regions paint a beautiful picture of faith, friendship, and commitment. The commitment masses in December served as a tapestry of shared experiences, enriching the lives of FOSE members and reinforcing their dedication to St. Eugene’s teachings and Oblate charism.

If you are interested in joining the Friends of Saint Eugene, or would like information on how to get involved, please contact Kirk Jacob at [email protected]

This article was originally published