Health and Wellbeing Week 2014


Health and Wellbeing Week is a time for our elderly and not so elderly sisters to enjoy a time for relaxation, prayer and socialization at Queenscliff in Victoria. During this time there is some input, led by a Good Samaritan Sister.

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Image: Queenscliff, Victoria. Copyright 2014, Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine

Sr Clare Hand fcJ and I met briefly with the FCJ Health Care Co-ordinator, Vicki Serle, who mentioned that she was driving down to Queenscliff for the evening to settle the sisters in. Vicki generously availed herself for foot massages, and/or a chat, if any of the sisters desired!

This in turn, sparked two different responses from the same topic: first, the need and responsibility for timeout, slowing down and reflection as a marker of sound health; and secondly, that formation is a life-long process.

We, at Keeping Company believe in the value of the individual person, as part of a whole. General health and wellbeing is important, however, this kind of care is based on an Ignatian principle known as cura personalis, literally meaning, ‘personal care’, or care for the whole person. In other words, it is holistic care that takes into account, the individual’s particular needs, which may differ from time to time and from person to person. I saw evidence of this kind of attention in Vicki’s offer of foot massages, who mentioned that sometimes, the intimacy of physical interaction may not be as readily accessible to some of our older sisters. I thought of how lovely and great a service of Vicki to perform, in soothing, pampering and acknowledging in a tactile sense, the years of ministry, vocation and companionship these sisters have walked.

An interesting turn is that Clare saw the whole initiative as a time of formation for our sisters (that is, continual formation), not dissimilar to aspects of the formation process our postulants and novices go through. Here is what she had to say, in her own words:

Formation is a lifelong process…

What a joy to see fourteen of our senior FCJs leave for a five day conference especially for mature religious.  Our sisters are staying in a lovely retreat/conference centre close to the sea. The house is beautiful as is the location.  The atmosphere is restful with the fresh sea air offering a natural tonic for those who want to walk by the sea.  Inputs will be based on various aspects of health, ministry and spirituality.

Thank you dear companions for being ready for formation even now.  May these days help you to stay well and healthy, stay close to Jesus our companion and continue to serve God as women on mission.

How might these thoughts speak to you about health and wellbeing? It is usual to hear a person speak of wellness in terms of their physical faculties all in order, but does your emotional and spiritual health come into play? How might we be more attentive, perhaps through silence, prayer and relaxation, to these integral parts of our personhood? Lastly I invite you to think about formation and learning as a lifelong and continual process. We are constantly being created in God’s image, moment by moment, and what we learnt before, we can relearn again from a different angle. Are we humble enough to accept that while we may have gained much over our years of experience in any given area, there are still lessons we can learn from one another in our sharing and care giving?

Thank you to Sr Margaret Maher fcJ for organising this event, and to Vicki Serle, Health Care Co-ordinator, who tirelessly cares for our sisters in an irreplaceable way. Thanks as well, to our participants, who inevitably show us an openness to growth and change that is invaluable to the livelihood of the Society.

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A portion of this post was written by Sr Clare Hand fcJ, who blogs on Reflections of FCJ Sisters. Clare who lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, was in Melbourne recently.

*Do you have a story about your FCJ experiences that you wish to share? We are more than happy to hear from you! For contributions and to discuss possible authorship, please contact Geralyn via email: missionandidentity@fcjasau.org.au

2 thoughts on “Health and Wellbeing Week 2014

  1. Thank you for this…I really appreciate the thoughtful way you wrote about our sisters…

  2. Many thanks – it is a beautiful and reflective piece and I know that all who were at Queenscliff benefited for the time there.

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