At Christmas 1937 we were happy to publish the first edition of our School Magazine, which had as Frontispiece the photograph of our beloved Bishop Cotter and a message conveying to us his blessing and good wishes. This year, the sad news of the death of His Lordship leaves us mourning not only a zealous and devoted Bishop, but an old and dear friend of the Convent.
From the time of his appointment to the Portsmouth diocese, Father Cotter had always been closely associated with the work of our English convents. During the years of his curacy at St. Mary's, Ryde, he was a frequent visitor to the convent, and even after he was raised to the Episcopate, despite the many demands on his time, Bishop Cotter was always graciously pleased to be present at any function connected with our convent.
As recently as September 14th he was good enough to interrupt his exacting work for the Refugees in order to officiate at a Profession Ceremony, and for many of the Community his memory will be associated with the great days of their religious life. Perhaps what impressed one most about our beloved Bishop was his kindly heart. He seemed to be interested in each individual and had a kind word or timely joke for all.
Most of our pupils have received the Sacrament of Confirmation at his hands, but I think the most cherished recollection for us all, will be the thought of Bishop Cotter as he celebrated Mass in the Convent chapel on the day of the Golden Jubilee.
For many years the Bishop's health had been failing, but the anxieties of the past year must have proved too great a strain. Churches of the Portsmouth Diocese suffered much from aerial bombardment, and greatest trial of all, the Channel Islands, which form part of the diocese, fell into the hands of the enemy. Always a lover of children, Bishop Cotter travelled to all parts of the country, trying to find homes for the unfortunate refugees.
At his last visit to the Convent, he appealed for help in this work of charity, and was especially pleased to learn that our pupils would make an effort to provide clothing for these poor children. We may rejoice to know that our response afforded pleasure to one who had done so much for us, as only a week before his death, His Lordship wrote to Reverend Mother expressing his gratification at the work undertaken in Boscombe Convent.
We shall pray most earnestly for the repose of the soul of this good Bishop who devoted himself so generously on our behalf.
Pie Jesu Domine, dona ei requiem.
The past year has been one of the most momentous in the history of Europe. We have witnessed the overthrow of many nations, and our own country has been threatened with the imminent danger of invasion. The sad fate of France and Belgium concerned us particularly, and we have prayed for the safety and welfare of our, nuns in those countries.
In the last edition of the Magazine, we anticipated the joy of welcoming dearest Reverend Mother General, and early in May we ,were overjoyed to hear that our hopes were to be realised. However, Almighty God must wish that happiness to be reserved for better and more peaceful times, since the gravity of the international situation made travel impossible, and Reverend Mother General's visit had once more to be postponed. Her cross must be very heavy, and as devoted children let us help her by our fervent prayer.
Towards the close of the summer term, numbers were greatly reduced as the fear of an invasion of England prompted many families to leave the coastal towns. Classes were nevertheless continued, and nuns and pupils assembled daily in the Chapel to recite the Rosary together, and to place ourselves, our Convent and our homes under the protection of Our Blessed Lady.
We cannot be too grateful for having been protected from so many dangers, and we are happy to record that many of our pupils who evacuated, have returned to Bournemouth and numbers are now almost normal.
Christmastide is approaching. Would that its message of peace and goodwill might reach the hearts of all men. Though the clamour and horrors of war would seem to make mockery of the Angels' song, we know that true peace and joy shall again be
established on earth, but only when the Kingship of Christ is recognised by all. Poor foolish men of Israel - after waiting four thousand years they failed to recognise the long-desired Saviour in the tiny Babe of Bethlehem. Sadder still is the state of men to-day, who obstinately refuse to acknowledge the Word made Flesh.
We must ask the Infant Jesus to soften their hard hearts and bend them to His Will. Above all, let us be generous in our sacrifices for those who are suffering so many hardships. At the first Christmas, our dear Lord suffered from cold, hunger and exposure; and what could please Him better than our kindness to those children who have the privilege of resembling Him so closely this year.
His coming, the pledge of His infinite love, gives us confidence to face the future; for by Him we may hope to reach the Heaven which He left for love of us, where sorrow shall be changed into endless joy.
1940 had come at last, a year spoken of in many prophecies and predictions. We heard our parents speaking anxiously of what the year would bring, and each one of us determined to begin the New Year with the resolution to face cheerfully any difficulties that might present themselves.
The kindness of our Head Mistress helped to make this term a very happy one, as several entertainments and lectures were arranged for us.
One expects New Year surprises, but we had an unpleasant one at the beginning of term when we learned that Fr. Turner, S.J., who had been our Chaplain, had left Boscombe for Oxford. Early in the month we received our first instruction from Fr. Weaver, S.J., whom we were pleased to welcome as Chaplain.
Few of us realised how life-like literature can be until we saw the characters from Dickens and other authors impersonated by Mr. Williams. We felt as though Fagin in his delirium, stood before us, and that Old Scrooge and the mad boy Barnaby Rudge were really present. Uncle Podger, a character from Three Men in a Boat," appealed to the younger pupils especially, but I am sure the entertainment inspired us all to read with greater care and with a more keen appreciation of the characters as men and women who lived and felt as we do.