Kathleen Pannell writes:
I first walked past the land on which Fir Chlis House of Prayer now sits in September 1974. I only stayed in Tongue for two nights on that occasion, but a beckoning spirit entered my heart.
I visited regularly through the late 70s with my ex-husband and with our two young children and the love I felt for Tongue grew. A third child, followed by a divorce, kept me very firmly In the south but during this period I experienced a spiritual awakening and knew I was being called to a life of prayer and the village of Tongue called to me daily.
By 2002 my two older children had left home, the youngest was all set for university and my wonderful mother had ‘gone to glory’. At last I was free to pursue God’s call upon my life to move north. Liz, my youngest, and I came to ‘do a recce’. I truly thought I would end up in a remote Croft house in the woods but The Spirit led us here to a sizeable, half built property just outside Tongue village. I recall saying to my daughter ‘I don’t want a house that big!!’ but as I sat alone on one of the door steps looking prayerfully out over Ben Loyal, I felt our Lord confirm His Will for me to serve Him here in this place.
We moved in on 24th March 2003 and on June 22nd Fr John Stevenson from St. Peter and the Holy Rood, Thurso celebrated the first service of Holy Communion with about 20 communicants.
I opened Fir Chlis up as a Retreat House, inviting people to ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourself and rest a while’ (Mark 6:31). Fr John continued to come once a month to celebrate Mass and when I was blessed with hosting a priest on retreat, we would be blessed with regular, sometimes daily, Mass.
As one who has visited Fir Chlis for much of that time, I can confirm that it is a very special place, one of those places sometimes referred to as ‘thin’ places. (Rev James Currall)