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Half yearly paper - May to October 2004

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Essential roof renovations, general repairs and painting of the Church of the Epiphany at Barisal are now completed. With our thoughts very much with the Sisterhood of the Epiphany in their centenary year, it is good to recall what a large part the first Mother Superior, Mother Edith S., played in the planning of this magnificent building.

Sister Gertrude SE., in her excellent biography of the Mother, tells the following story:

'Edith's natural aptitude for mathematics and her unusually clear and vivid visual imagination were of immense value in the designing of the beautiful church at Barisal, whose building was begun two years after the Sister's arrival. She says of this "Boro Father had quite decided ideas about what he wanted, but could not draw, so he told me his wishes, and I made sketches until it was what he wanted". The plans and drawings were sent to Mr Philip Thicknesse (the brother of Edith's college friend Katharine Thicknesse), who was an architect: he was delighted with them, and readily agreed to help.

'Mother Edith 's account characteristically minimises her own part in the work, and Father Douglass to whom the account was shown said, "Of course it doesn't give much idea of the Mother's share in the plans… The church was designed by Father Strong and Mother Edith jointly, by one as much as the other". To this we may add a pleasing little anecdote contributed by Miss Thicknesse.

'The men in my brother's office said, "It is ridiculous for you to tell us these plans are done by a woman - they are the work of a first-rate engineer". She adds that when on furlough Sister Edith went to see Mr. Thicknesse in Liverpool; when she left he took her through the big drawing office, all the men looked round and then stood up. Philip said, "Yes, I have brought you this way, because they wanted to sec the lady who did those drawings".'

From Mother Edith, by Sister Gertrude O.M.S.E., published in 1964 by Darwen Finlayson Ltd., Beaconsfield, Bucks.
Quoted in the O.M. Quarterly Paper, July-September 1987.

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