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Party girls live the holy life at Norfolk convent school for Channel 5 series

PUBLISHED: 17:29 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:44 26 September 2017

Channel 5 show Bad Habits was filmed at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham. Pictured are sister Michaela Switaj and model Gabby Ryan. Picture: Ian Burt

Channel 5 show Bad Habits was filmed at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham. Pictured are sister Michaela Switaj and model Gabby Ryan. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

It was a spiritual journey designed to lighten the lives of five thoroughly modern misses which ended up being habit forming.

The participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Pictured is Sarah Chelsea. Picture: Ian BurtThe participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Pictured is Sarah Chelsea. Picture: Ian Burt

Channel Five was given rare access to the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham to film Bad Habits, Holy Orders, a four-part documentary that asked five party girls to become novice nuns and swap hedonism for humility.

Once in the convent, the five - including North Walsham-raised Gabby Ryan, Sarah Chelsea and Tyler Edwards, who returned to Breckland to promote the series- had no access to home comforts, mobile phones or alcohol.

Instead, they were asked to rise for 7am prayers and were in their bedrooms for quiet, solitary reflection by 10pm.

They were also enlisted to help the sisters with their outreach work in the community.

The participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Pictured are (from left) Gabby Ryan, Sarah Chelsea, sister Michaela Switaj and Tyler Lawrence. Picture: Ian BurtThe participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Pictured are (from left) Gabby Ryan, Sarah Chelsea, sister Michaela Switaj and Tyler Lawrence. Picture: Ian Burt

The object, said Gabby, was to gain a new perspective on what was important in life and take a look at whether their lives were making them happy.

“I was at a low before I went in,” said Gabby, 21, who is a model and is about to embark on a new chapter in her life which will be revealed in the series.

“I felt like I’d lost control of my life and I felt like I needed to take a long look at where I was going.

“The chance to take a few weeks to assess my life was one I was glad to take.

The participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Pictured are (from left) Gabby Ryan, Sarah Chelsea, sister Michaela Switaj and Tyler Lawrence. Picture: Ian BurtThe participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Pictured are (from left) Gabby Ryan, Sarah Chelsea, sister Michaela Switaj and Tyler Lawrence. Picture: Ian Burt

“The sisters were amazing. They didn’t judge us but they offered the kind of guidance that helps you find answers for yourself. My whole perspective on life changed.

“I found new confidence and a new sense of purpose. It was life-changing. I’ll always be grateful.”

Sister Linda joined the sisterhood 27 years ago and says the project was equally important to the nuns who lived with and supported the young women.

“I felt blessed and privileged to be part of it,” she said, “I felt that this was what God wanted me to do - it felt like mission.

The participanrs of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Picture: Ian BurtThe participanrs of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, were welcomed back at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, where the series was filmed. Picture: Ian Burt

“It gave me the feeling that this is why I am a sister, this was what I am here to do. The girls were lovely, their hearts are full. They changed us and our perceptions, too.”

Hard Habits, Holy Orders starts on Channel 5 on October 19.

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