Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Sister Magdalen Lawler

Sister Magdalen Lawler was born in London of Irish immigrant parents in early 1940 during the intensive BLITZ of London before the air defences were in place. Her home was bombed and her father joined the RAF. Magdalen and her mother took refuge in the far north east of Scotland for the duration of the war and for a short time afterwards.

When she was 11 years old Magdalen went to school at Notre Dame, Battersea. On leaving school she attended Notre Dame College in Liverpool and she entered the Congregation shortly after leaving the College and just before her 21st birthday.

After profession she was sent to continue her studies and she specialised in Art and Art History, at Liverpool, acquiring a national BA degree in Art and Art history in 1967. Later, when Catholic theology became available for women, she returned to London University for a Master of Theology degree and a Diploma in Pastoral Theology from Heythrop, the Jesuit School of the University of London. In 1980 she trained in Ignatian Spirituality in St. Beuno's Ignatian Spirituality Centre, North Wales.

She has worked extensively in secondary and tertiary education as well as residential groups for young adults. Since 1980 this has been in tandem with retreat work for students and adults. Magdalen retired from formal education in 2000 and now works in pastoral formation and retreat work with various groups of adults, especially women. Her work takes her all over the UK and she has developed a great interest in the relationship between spirituality and the visual arts. She serves as Chair of the Catholic Network for Retreats and Spirituality and advises other bodies in ecumenical association with that network. This brings her into frequent working contact with Anglicans, and other denominations, such as Quakers and Methodists. Art is a wonderful way into the spirituality of others and frequently helps people to find a language for their experience.

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