The Sisters of St Paul arrived in Workington at the request of the Benedictine community one hundred and thirty three years ago on 10th August 1876. The convent was then called St. Michael’s and was adjacent to the church.Ever since its foundation Members of this community have involved themselves in Education both primary and secondary as well as pastoral work.
In 1992 the community moved to a smaller more cost effective and homely house which is called Dupuis Convent but the work of the original community continues. I am Sister Eleanor Gilligan and I have worked for many years in Secondary Education something I have enjoyed doing all my working life in places like Liverpool, Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry, Bradford and now St. Joseph’s School Workington.It is a school of 620 students and my role as well as teaching Religious Education is working at senior management level in a pastoral role.My work allows me the opportunity to help young people grow in faith not only from my teaching but as a result of the many opportunities we provide for our students to show responsibility and a sense of belonging in keeping with the teaching of Jesus Christ. Being totally committed to Human Rights of all people I have supported the work of Amnesty International by having a flourishing Amnesty Group of students in each school in which I have worked.This was of course until 2007 when we had to part company because Amnesty International who profess their belief in human rights for all have voted in favour of abortion.However our work in the area of Human Rights continues through the Benenson Society.Our school was the first in this country to have such a group.Further information regarding the Benenson Society can be found on www.staloysius.nsw.edu.au/associations/benenson/
We are strong supporters of the work of CAFOD for which we raise a considerable amount of money each year.In fact we have on two successive years won a national prize for being a “Giving School” More recently our school received a new challenge and that was not only to accept an asylum seeker into year 10 but to work for refugee status for him.Thank God, after a tremendous lot of campaigning and prayer he was granted refugee status in June 2009. Another part of my work here in school is taking Year 11 students away on retreat each year to Savio House in Cheshire where I am joined by one or two sisters of the congregation.Together with the Savio team we help facilitate the retreat. The uptake for this can be up to 80% of the year’s group which is very encouraging since it is voluntary and the students have to pay.I am ever grateful to the Lord for the tremendous response those young people make during those grace filled days.I believe young people are hungry for God. I love my work as a Sister of St. Paul in Education and feel very privileged to have been called by God to work with young people.My work with the students extends to their homes and families as well as hospital visits.They keep me forever young and my life has been greatly enriched by their youthfulness and enthusiasm.The harvest is great but the labourers are few.God has called each of us to share in his great work. It is our hope that many more young people will respond to God’s invitation to follow him as a Sister of St. Paul.