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 13 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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Today’s insight comes from #discernment of spirits. St Ignatius taught that #consolation is an increase of grace, the good spirit “strengthens and encourages… establishes#peace” whereas the #badspirit “proposes all the problems and difficulties in living a good life”. [#spex315]

I am especially #grateful for this insight. And am so grateful for my #Ignatian#formation in unlocking this. (Quotes from#SpEx from “Draw Me Into Your Friendship” by David Fleming)

#31dayswithIgnatius #IgnatianSpirituality#LoyolaPress @loyolapress #qotd #quote

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).

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