The First Associates of the Daughters of the Cross
In 1987 Pope John Paul II wrote his first letter ‘Christifidelis Laici’ which gave a programme of formations for all Christians. Pope John Paul’s revelation was that all lay members of Christ’s faithful people, along with Bishops, Clergy and Religious, are personally called and given a mission on behalf of the Church and of the world to associate themselves with Christ in his work of salvation.
Sisters Jane and Teresa Hehir, Daughters of the Cross, who lived in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, were moved by the Pope’s letter and felt that his vision could lead for the first time, to the laity being given their proper place living out the grace of their baptism.
The sisters realised that there was a need for lay people to build their lives on a spiritual foundation with the ultimate aim of members growing towards a deeper personal relationship with God and becoming more aware of God’s presence within themselves, their homes, their work and the world in general. As a result and in response to Pope John Paul’s letter they formed the Association of the Daughters of the Cross.
On the 6th September 1987 Sisters Jane and Teresa held the first meeting in their home and twelve ordinary people, both men and women attended that meeting which began a one year formation in study and prayer with the aim of becoming the first Associates of the Daughters of the Cross. One year later on the 4th September 1988, seven of these people made their commitment.
The first meetings took place every six weeks on Sunday afternoons. The aim was to help members develop their spirituality through prayer, study and sharing. Four of our present day members were amongst the original twelve. They can recall reading Gospel passages and having discussion on hope, love and forgiveness. In addition to these meetings the Associates prayed Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church. This practice still takes place today.
Over the coming years there were many changes to the first group of Associates. Some members became ill and died ,whilst others joined. Throughout, there remained a devout group who were devoted to God, the Sacraments , and service within their own parish.
In 2001 Sisters Jane and Teresa left Jarrow to go and live in St Elizabeth’s, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. The group then moved to the home of Moire Robinson who led the meetings with great dedication. Sadly Moire became terminally ill and died in 2011. Everyone was devastated but vowed to carry on.
Ann Corr then became our leader and today we have thirteen Associates who meet on a Sunday afternoon once a month. We continue the tradition of reading the Gospel from the Holy Mass of that day and discussing the content. We have Payers of the Faithful and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Each September since Sisters Jane and Teresa moved away, some of our Associates have journeyed to Much Hadham to visit them. These occasions are very enjoyable and much reminiscing takes place along with prayer and of course the celebration of the Holy Mass when once more we renew our dedication, along with Associates from the Cheam community.
We count ourselves as being extremely privileged to be Associates. Because of the vision of Sisters Jane and Teresa our lives have been spiritually enriched and continue to be so.