A Note of Thanks

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Dear readers,

The time has come to farewell my contributions here, on Keeping Company. It has been an immense joy and privilege to share my thoughts, reflections and insight into the charism of the Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters. Thank you to each one of you, for your kind words of encouragement and support. If you wish to continue to follow me on my writing journey, you are welcome to do so.

For now, I hope that each one of you have gained something from this endeavour and that you yourselves do not stop reflecting, savouring and praying through the ins and outs of your life, on your journey with God, as I have learnt to do from this undertaking.

I leave you now, with an official statement from Sr Judith Routier fcJ, Province Leader:

The Faithful Companions of Jesus would like to thank Geralyn Anderson for initiating and maintaining this beautiful ‘Keeping Company’ blog for the past few years. The blog was a project on behalf of the fcJ sisters in Australia and through this use of social media Geralyn promoted the mission and identity of the fcJ Society to people with whom we would not otherwise be in contact.

Geralyn has posted many inspirational and creative items based on a variety of sources, not only things connected with the ministry of the fcJ sisters.  We have been moved by stories in the life of her young family, by her personal reflections, by theological and educational articles, and by insights into social justice issues. The arrival of a new Keeping Company post in my inbox was always something to which I looked forward.

The fcJ sisters wish to voice our gratitude to Geralyn and to her family, and to assure them of our prayer of blessing on their lives.

Judith Routier fcJ
Province Leader

 

Vale Sr Margaret Mary (Peter) Wilson fcJ

peterwilsonfcj.jpgToday, 20 December 2016, the FCJ Sisters in Australia, together with all the Sisters of the Society linked through prayer, and their friends, farewelled Sr Peter Wilson fcJ at the Genazzano College Chapel.

Sr Peter was most recently a resident at St. Catherine’s Aged Care Facility, where she continued, despite the frailty of age, to bring joy and companionship to those around her. True to her profession and calling, Sr Peter remarked: “What brings me joy as an FCJ Sister is when we gather as a community or at larger FCJ occasions, there exists beautiful bonding which is our companionship with Jesus and with others.” I learned at the Vigil held yesterday on 19 November for Peter, a few outstanding things about her. One was that putting others’ needs ahead of her own was something she did so naturally right til the end. Another was her beautiful sense of joie-de-vivre and fun, which her family and fellow-FCJs so readily recounted with fondness.

It is always a sad time when a life ends, and I express my sympathies to the family of Peter, as well as to the FCJ Sisters, but as we remember during this Advent time in the lead up to Christmas, God is with us, and it is for that I am so thankful and certain of Peter’s peace and delight.

Sr Peter Wilson fcJ was born, Margaret Mary Wilson in June 1932. She made her First Profession on 4 September 1953. In her long life, she was missioned to the Indigenous people in Broome, WA; Norwood in Adelaide, SA; Frankston, VIC and Shepparton, VIC. She was reunited with God on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

 

Dear Sayed: 1st Sunday of Advent (2016)

The Church has now moved into the Season of Advent. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus, often a time in which we prepare our homes for the receiving of guests, as a tradition of Christmas hospitality. Spiritually, we prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus into our hearts.

It was a great privilege to begin this advent season in the way we did today. My daughter and I attended a card-making workshop, hosted by our dear friend, Fiona, whose contacts will send them on to various places, including the MITA in Parkville, Vic. It was a treasured time of creativity, friendship and for me, personal prayer. Here is the day, in my daughter’s words:

Today Mum, Fiona and I made Christmas cards for people in detention centres. We made about 20 handmade cards with all sorts of Christmassy decorations. There were cards with Christmas trees, candles, stars, buttons and many other things. There were many people we wrote to, but I wrote to Sayed, a young 6-year-old and Azizullah, a 13-year-old. It’s quite upsetting to hear that many people, especially young children, are put into detention centres. Around Christmas time, in the detention centres, they don’t even get a mention about Christmas. In the cards we put our names, what city we live in, and that we are thinking about them. I hope that you too can take the time this Advent and Christmas, to pray for the people who are in detention centres around Christmas. –Pia, 11 years

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With our handmade cards for our asylum seeker friends in detention.

Children never cease to amaze me. I am so grateful that I get to witness this daily. On the car ride home, Pia and I were talking about what we did in the afternoon. The conversation went on to the plight of these people who are locked up and given no presents, no decoration and no joy. It was then that she exclaimed, “How can a 6-year-old cope!”, fighting back tears, her voice breaking with emotion. A little while later, she said to me in a voice still shaken, “This music explains the situation.” The song that was playing was “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?” from the soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen (a highly recommended film, if you haven’t seen it!), sung by the optimistic and bubbly Anna, wherein she tries to connect with her estranged sister Elsa, who has a tendency to isolate herself. The song starts out incredibly playful and carefree, but the point at which my daughter commented, is an instrumental interlude to mark the tragic death of the characters’ parents, at sea.

I listened some more, to my daughter, and to the music. Then I heard these lyrics:

Please, I know you’re in there,
People are asking where you’ve been
They say “have courage”, and I’m trying to
I’m right out here for you, just let me in
We only have each other
It’s just you and me
What are we gonna do?

Dear Sayed, dear little one. Dear Azizullah. Dear Adam, dear Leila, dear Ali, and to all of you whose names we do not know. Please, I know you’re in there. People are asking where you’ve been. They say “have courage”, and I’m trying to, I’m right out here for you… we are right out here for you. And praying with and for you. We send you love and open hearts, especially in this advent time.
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This Advent, how will you open your hearts? How will you prepare a home and make space for Jesus and his family? May this time be a mindful journey of contemplation and compassion. It will be busy, but here we are at the beginning of it: how will you stop for a moment, to listen to the Spirit of God?

 

Companions in Mission: Caitlin Hardy & Wanty Widjaja

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It is with great joy that we welcome two newest Companions in Mission (CIM), Caitlin Hardy and Wanty Widjaja, who made their First Commitment on Saturday 5 November 2016 in the Genazzano FCJ College Chapel.

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L-R: Wanty Widjaja & Caitlin Hardy, CIM. November 2016.

For a period of eighteen months, Caitlin and Wanty have journeyed together in prayer and formation alongside the companionship and warmth of Pat Fitzgerald and Maureen Merlo, as group leaders. Both Caitlin and Wanty have been associated with the FCJs for a number of years, though in different ways. Caitlin is an alumna of Genazzano (2013), while Wanty first met the FCJ Sisters in her native Indonesia, having since strengthened bonds with the FCJs in Australia.

The intimate ceremony was prepared by Caitlin and Wanty, and attended by family members, friends and a faithful cohort of Sisters. Their public commitment to live inspired by the spirit of Marie Madeleine d’Houët and the charism of the FCJ Society, as Companions in Mission, was formally received by Sr Catherine Flynn fcJ.

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Especially moving was Wanty expressing that she now has even more family here in Australia!

Congratulations to Caitlin and Wanty and thank you, for saying yes to living as FCJ Companions in Mission. May your witness continue to grow and inspire those around you. May our God, our Faithful Companion, bless you.

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L-R: CIM Province Co-ordinator, Pat Fitzgerald; Wanty Widjaja; Sr Catherine Flynn fcJ; Caitlin Hardy and Sr Maureen Merlo fcJ

Follow me on Instagram!

I’ve set up an Instagram account to blog/post a photo a day to celebrate Ignatian spirituality. You’re welcome to have a look or if you’re on Instagram, by following @fcjAustralia.

EVENT: Taize Thursdays

You’re invited to join us for our first Taize Thursday session, commencing at 7.30pm in KEW, VICTORIA.

‘Taize Thursdays’ is a new initiative hosted by the FCJ Mission and Identity Team. Held on the LAST THURSDAY of every month, we welcome you to join us for prayer and quiet reflection. Come to one or come to all!

For more details, see our event link on Facebook:

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Faithful to the End: In Memory of Sr Teresa Hennessy FCJ

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Sr Teresa Hennessy FCJ is greeted by a youngster at her Jubilee celebration, 2014.

Sr Mary Teresa Hennessy FCJ, formerly resident of the St Albans FCJ community passed away at Caritas Christi Hospice in Kew on 7 February 2015, after a long battle with cancer. She had recently celebrated 65 years of religious profession with the Faithful Companions of Jesus and this is my personal reflection of one aspect of Teresa’s life: her faithfulness.Letter from Teresa Hennessy FCJI was very touched last year in 2014, to receive a handwritten letter from Sr Teresa Hennessy FCJ. It was a welcome surprise since I hadn’t written or given her anything and thus she had ‘nothing’ to give in reply. When I opened it, it became clear, the intention of her note – it was in response to a general letter I had sent out to all the sisters for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations (full text available here). Teresa had written it in May, but it had only reached me in August. Nevertheless, I read with eager eyes, what she had to say:

Thank you for your encouragement to us in our efforts towards Vocation Promotion. Unfortunately you have caught me during a month spent mostly in hospital but Vocation Promotion has been dear to me during my 65 years as an FCJ but I was particularly impressed by the themes you proposed for us today viz. the manifestation of truthfulness in one’s living, our call to the ‘magis’ and our witness to God’s love in imitation of Pope Francis in his living his exalted office in simplicity, truth and justice.

What really made an impression on me was the next point in the letter:

…Prayer for Vocations and for Perseverance in Religious Life is the most important of my activities today… This intention seems to me of great importance particularly at this time in history when permanence is so important yet so feared by many. Yet our God is ever faithful – we know in He whom we believe and who loves us so.

It is not only life-giving and encouraging for a person in my position to receive support in the work of vocation promotion, but on a deeper level, a wonderful gift to be able to see the enduring faith and fidelity of one woman’s love for God through her vocation. In her humility and acceptance of the state of her physical life as one no longer spritely or even able-bodied as she once was, Sr Teresa still embodied and lived out faithfulness to her vocation, to God and to her sisters, to the end.

Before she moved to Caritas Christi Hospice, which was to be her final residence in this life, I had the honour and privilege of meeting and conversing with her. She took the condition of her illness with courage and even grateful acceptance for the life she had lived and for the people whom she had encountered.

I was very proud to be a messenger to her on one occasion, after having met Bishop Eugene Hurley of the Darwin Archdiocese. He had asked me to send Teresa his regards and to tell her to contact him. They had worked together years ago in the Philippines and Teresa began to tell me of their wonderful friendship in those days. A few days later when I checked on her, she had told me that she was just sitting down to finish her letter to him.

Despite her limited capacity to do very much toward the end of her life, she did what she could do, with the utmost care and sincerity of heart, echoing the words of another (Blessed) Teresa: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

I am sorry to have not known Sr Teresa for long or to have enjoyed a greater level of intimacy with her, but for what she has given me and for the small moments we’ve exchanged, I remain grateful and inspired to in my own way, be faithful to the end.

-Geralyn Anderson, February 2015.

Perhaps you have memories of Sr Teresa? You’re welcome to share them in the comments below.

I’ll Ride With You

This morning in a central Sydney café, a group of people were taken hostage by armed men, believed to be militant Muslims. (Read here for live updated reports.)

That there is a hint of religion involved or what claims to be the message of Islam as a motive for the siege has created waves in the wider community. For some, it is a unified solidarity standing up against terrorism and racism. For others, it is fear.

And so started a movement through social media: “I’ll Ride With You”. You can read how it began when one woman noticed another taking off her hijab in public so as to protect herself from outward recognition.

We can take so much from the story, and say so much about today’s events, but in the quiet of the night, this story has shed some more light on the meaning of Advent and the forecoming feast of the birth of the Christ.

It all comes back to us in how we treat one another, in how we live with each other. Here is companionship in everyday life.

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We are busy during this time of year,  so terribly busy, and we all have our tasks to get through. But this story has shown me that as urgent as our meetings and deadlines are, more imperative is the awareness of our need to pause and connect with each other, to say to another, “Whatever you’re going through, it’s ok. I’ll ride with you. We’ll journey together.”


Let us remember and pray for the hostages and their families, the negotiators and security forces as well as for the perpetrators themselves. Love is stronger than hatred, light more saving than darkness. Let us work and live for peace among ourselves.

Rejoice & Be Glad! (Prayer to Launch the Year of Consecrated Life) #YCL2015 #YCLAUS

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We are very happy to inform you that the Mission & Identity Team has prepared a pamphlet for prayer to launch the Year of Consecrated Life.

You can download a copy of it here, from Catholic Religious Australia. If you wish to have a higher-resolution file to print out, please send us an email: missionandidentity@fcjasau.org.au

Follow us on Twitter @walkwithyoufcj and use the hash tag #YCL2015 or #YCLAUS.

Update: Celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life #YCL2015

Greetings, salutations and apologies for not having written anything in far too long.

My excuse is that we have been busy behind-the-scenes, preparing for the Year of Consecrated Life, which begins on 30 Nov 2014.

And for that we are very excited and joyful because…

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Please join us in prayer, support and kind works for religious vocation. And please stay tuned for more updates!

Thank you for your patience and ongoing companionship!

Geralyn
(on behalf of the Mission and Identity Team)