A religious sister who has taken charge of two Catholic parishes in the south of England has been "warmly welcomed" by her parishioners, according to the priest who says Sunday Mass there.
Fr Paul Hardy said Sr Yvonne Pilarski, whose official title is “pastoral administrator” of Christ the King Church in Milton Keynes, had been universally accepted by the people.
“I’ve seen the congregation treating her exactly as if she was their parish priest,” he said. “They’ve taken it very well – she is obviously their resident person and that’s how she’s treated. If she wants something to happen, it happens.”
Sr Yvonne, who also administers the parish of St Bede’s in Newport Pagnall, does all the administration work connected with her parishes, as well as any pastoral care that does not require a priest, such as taking Communion to the sick or visiting the elderly. “She is very much the boss,” said Fr Hardy. “She’s a very good parish priest – she has that feminine quality that parish priests don’t have.”
Fr Hardy said he thought Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, who appointed Sr Yvonne to her new role in the autumn, had been very courageous, adding: “We can’t replace priests who die or retire any more, and this is a way forward.”
Sr Yvonne, who lives in the presbytery at Christ the King with fellow nun, Sr Eileen McElhone, was born in Glasgow to a Corsican mother and a Polish father. She became a teacher before entering the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and from 1991-2013 she worked at Cardinal Newman School in Luton, eventually becoming its chaplain and head of Religious Education.
It is the first time that a religious sister has been put in charge of a parish in the diocese of Northampton.
Above: Sr Yvonne Pilarski