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.

 

13 November (Feast of St Stanislaus Kostka): Thank You for Saying ‘Yes’

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Today (13 November) is the feast of St Stanislaus Kostka SJ, patron saint of novices. I admit that I am not familiar with this saint, apart from hearing his name in passing, and upon some research, discovered that he died at the young age of seventeen. Despite his short life, and even shorter time still, within the Society of Jesus (he entered as a novice in October 1567, and died August 1568), we can still see in him, values and virtues to be admired and imitated. As such, we pause to remember and pray for all who have said ‘yes’ to God’s calling, as religious, and especially our novices within the Society of Sisters, FCJ. We thank you for being open to the Spirit of God at work within your lives, and thank you for choosing to say yes and accept the gifts and challenges that life holds.

Surrender does not come easy to most of us, yet in all of us, we are called to do just this. It is not just for those discerning a vocation, or for the youth, because we are all called to surrender to the greater dream God has for us. It takes humility and trust to be empty vessels in which to carry living water. And it takes courage and strength to be open to the workings of love within us and for us.

We continue to pray and work for the building of God’s kingdom through the formation of people. We continue to say ‘yes’ and to say, ‘thank you,’ especially to our novices and those in training.

 

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

Day 22 of #31DayswithIgnatius

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#Day22of31WithIggy: The #Feast of St #MaryMagdalene. Today’s image started off as a prayer for #life; that we may see through the day with all things that bring life. (#Consolation, in Ignatian terms) It proceeded onto a meditation on Mary Magdalene and while at the tomb after Jesus’ death, she approached a man who she thought was a gardener. On hearing that Jesua was no longer there, she began to cry (#desolation); until this man to whom she went revealed himself to her by calling her by name.

I’m so thankful that @franciscus #PopeFrancis has elevated this day to a feast of the same level as the other apostles. Pray for us, Mary Magdalene. Apostle to the Apostles and exemplary woman of the Church.

#IgnatianSpirituality #31dayswithIgnatius #saints #discernment #art #christian #Jesus #fcj #patronsaint #women #woman #church #leadership #womenleaders #girlpower

In celebration of Ignatian Spirituality, and to mark the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (31 July), I have taken on the challenge of posting a picture a day that speaks to me of the lessons learned from all things ‘Ignatian’; including ‘finding God in all things.’ Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia).

Day 8 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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St Ignatius said to his #Jesuits – “Go, set the world on fire!” No, not literally, but apostolically. Go and live the #magis – the #more – in a way that seeks to know Christ more fully, to love him more deeply and to follow him more passionately.

Even in the small quiet moments, one can still #celebrate with #joy and #gratitude. And #sparkle.

In celebration of Ignatian Spirituality, and to mark the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (31 July), I have taken on the challenge of posting a picture a day that speaks to me of the lessons learned from all things ‘Ignatian’; including ‘finding God in all things.’ Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia).

Too Pretty to be a Nun?

Angela Svec has been told she’s too pretty to be a nun.

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Image via Huffington Post

But on the Huffington Post blog, she writes:

Their questions have forced me to confront my self-image. Who do I see in the mirror? How do I appear in God’s eyes? How does one affect the other?

Angela Svec is a visually stunning woman. And it does make you stop and think. But her questions remain true of all of us: who do I see in the mirror? How does God see me? And what is the difference?

Insight: On Religious Vocation

Sr Deborah Borneman, a sister of Sts Cyril and Methodius (an organisation of just 81 sisters) has a wonderful attitude toward religious vocation promotion, which I think is worth sharing.

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Religious life is not about numbers, it’s about relationships. | Deborah Borneman

To read the interview, please click here.

And another thing, do your relationships reflect your call to life?

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.

3 January 2015: Feast of the Holy Name

In observing and contemplating the name and the person of Jesus, I invite all to pause for a moment and reflect briefly on the significance of baptism, where we are called, named and presented to the Church, for Christ, as Christians.

What does it mean to identify oneself as Christian? To share in Jesus’ name?

“Be worthy of your beautiful name by love for Jesus – a love shown not by mere words or barren desires, but by courage in His service.” – Marie Madeleine d’Houet

For further consideration:

What’s in a name?

Vocation comes from the verb vocare, meaning ‘to call.’ By what name am I called? What was I called as a child – by my parents, family or friends? Is that still the same name, or has it changed over time? Does the name by which I am called ‘fit’ with the person who goes by it?

 

Vocation and Identity

Intricately linked are one’s vocation and one’s identity. How am I, in the eyes of God? With what or whom do I identify? We remember the truth of the psalmist’s words:

 

Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me…

For it was you who formed my inward parts
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

(Psalm 139: 4-5, 13-14a)

– Extract from A Letter to the Sisters for National Vocation Awareness Week 2013

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Reflection: We are Everyday-Teachers Met with Hope

I do not consider myself to be a teacher or leader or spokesperson with authority but this morning, it occurred to me that part of Christian-living means that we are everyday-teachers met with hope. To be Christian is to be hopeful and by our example in choosing God, we become as models and teachers to one another.

Parenthood is a domain in which I find myself living this out. What looks like clutter and a mess of children’s things became for me, an actual encounter with hope. At school, they’ve been learning about Advent. At the shops, they ask for advent calendars with chocolate inside. A few weeks ago I found a neglected plush advent wreath I had bought years ago and decided it was time to mend the broken pieces and make a replacement for the one candle that went walkabout. And today I found rather unassumingly among the mess, a deliberately placed solitary purple candle, with the other three tucked away.

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Someone’s little hands had removed the four candles I had put in place so that they would not go astray and rightfully let one stand.

I am continually humbled by the presence of children, for their wisdom and simplicity. But today, it is hope that stands out for me. Children do soak things up, they do listen to what we say and watch very closely what we do. But when we can see the connection that has been made, for me at least, it is a sign of God’s hope in the world, the kind of hope we hear echoed in the words of St Paul to the Corinthians:

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way…
God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:4-5a, 9)

With St Paul and like St Paul, I give thanks to my God for the graces given to each one of us, especially through children. The FCJ Sisters began from this lived experience of caring for children and always through instruction, formation and education. To be Christian is to be hopeful: not only because we await the presence of God-with-us through Jesus Christ, Emmanuel at Christmastime, but also because of God’s first faithfulness and love for us found in everyday moments.

Now God creates all things but does not stop creating. God forever creates and forever begins to create and creatures are always being created and in the process of beginning to be created. | Meister Eckhart

As we begin this new liturgical year, as we make way to commemorate the beginning of the Jesus story, let us be mindful that wherever we are on life’s journey – young or old, new to the faith or seasoned – by our actions, example and beings, we are teachers to one another, co-creators of life and sharers of good news.