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.

 

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 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).

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.

Image: Pope Francis and the Baby

Thank you to our friends at the Catholic Women’s League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga for sharing this cartoon, just in time to contemplate the Holy Family.

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For reflection:
Are we able to recognise the face of God among us in the crowd?

Is the love that we give generous and overflowing, or is it only for a select few?

We ask for the graces of insight, right judgement and wisdom so we may recognise God-with-us and for courage and confidence to respond with love.

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Additional note: Let us also keep prayerfully in mind, those gathering at Genazzano FCJ College in Melbourne, for the Province Assembly, which theme is: “Courageous Re-imagining for Mission”.

So, did you hear the one about the Jesuit from Myanmar?

Well there really isn’t a joke here, despite the opening line…But what we do have is cause for celebration – the ordination of the Fr Wilbert Mireh SJ, Myanmar’s first Jesuit priest. The ‘firsts’ of things are always exciting, uplifting and inspiring.

In the spirit of community therefore, I’d like to share with you, something about the Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters in Myanmar.

There is a community of FCJ Sisters in Yangon, Myanmar, the Province of Asia-Australia’s youngest mission. It is a vastly different context from that of Australia, with the majority of its population being Buddhist. Myanmar is also one of South-east Asia’s poorest countries, having seen political, social and economical upheaval. However through education, support groups and leadership formation, Srs Agnes, Sisca and Marion FCJ live and work with the people for a better world:

We also continue to support educational and development needs in poor areas in central Myanmar by providing educational resources, toilets, and wells to schools and villages.

Hospitality is an important part of our community ministry. We welcome many people to our community each year. Some come to join us for prayer and a meal, others for short stays of a few days and some for a month.

Our community is greatly enriched by all. | Sr Marion FCJ

To read more about the FCJ mission in Myanmar, you can visit the Society’s web site. Congratulations to Fr Mireh and continual gratitude to the FCJ community in Yangon for their lives of dedication, service and love, for God’s greater glory!

The Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Hidden, yet Alive

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the model on which we ought to base our lives. As part of the celebrations for the Feast of the Sacred Heart hosted by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (Blackburn, VIC), Heart of Life Spirituality Centre (Box Hill, VIC) and St Thomas Apostle Church, Blackburn, Sr Angela Reed RSM was invited to speak during Mass, about one of the pressing justice issues that haunt our society: human trafficking, and in particular, the sexual trafficking of women and children. She spoke of the ‘hiddenness’ of the issue, since unlike poverty or mental health for example, human trafficking is often far less visible. Thankfully there is an increasing awareness on these issues, through organisations such as ACRATH (in which the FCJ Sisters are active), which explains that:

Trafficking does not require an illegal border crossing, nor is it necessarily transnational, such as in cases of internal trafficking, whereas people smuggling always involves an illegal border crossing.

Such is the example of Lani, whose story Sr Angela shared with us.

Lani’s Story: The Suffering and Survival of Humanity

It was after her first client that Lani wondered about her fate: was she to be forever bound to the feelings of shame, anger, guilt, confusion, sorrow, fear and helplessness? She had first known these feelings when she was raped by her own father in their home in Mindanao, Philippines. Her mother had gone to Cebu City in the north to work and was only home a few times a year.

As a teenager Lani worked from 1 to 5 o’clock in the morning as a vegetable vendor, and from 6 o’clock readied herself for school. What was abandonment drove her and her younger sister, to flee Mindanao in search of their mother in Cebu. It was at the entry point that she was approached by a woman who offered them work, food and lodging. Little did they know that this woman was forcing them into the corrupt world of sex trafficking.

Where was God in that?

Lani and her sister eventually found refuge at the Good Shepherd Welcome House, an organization in Cebu City that looks after the women and children victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. On regaining her wellbeing, Lani expressed that she was proud of herself for seeking out help. She remarked on the generosity of the staff at the Welcome House, who cared for these women, even by giving up their own comforts for those to whom they ministered. Lani realized that despite the ordeals she went through, her dignity was still intact, and she was able to experience the love of God in a new way.

Lani’s story reminds us of the deep-set brokenness that exists in our human community; of so many people’s great thirst for justice, compassion and recognition. So much suffering occurs, but as expressed in the Second Reading, in the Letter to the Romans:

Hope does not disappoint us for
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.

It is the love of God, ‘poured out into our hearts’ that reaches farther and deeper than any evil can. In the ministries of those who care for the helpless, in the tireless efforts of people who tell others about this important work, God’s love abides and pierces through the dark hiddenness.

MSC Provincial Superior and celebrant, Fr John Mulrooney described the Feast as “one of the most important feasts”, because we celebrate the humanity of Jesus. Quoting St Teresa of Avila, Fr Mulrooney reminded us of our part that is essentially missionary:

Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

The Sacred Heart therefore, by the humanity of Christ also lives in our hearts. To help those in need, to work for justice and attend to the suffering of those around us is part of living the gospel. In the sharing of Jesus’ heart that is the seat of compassion, we too are called to live for others, in the service of God.

This, Marie Madeleine d’Houët knew and lived so well and so intimately throughout her entire life. In her mystical experience on the Feast of the Sacred Heart that gave her initial direction, the words of Jesus, “I thirst”, would ultimately become the foundation of her mission. For Marie Madeleine, to be in the midst of the reality of human suffering and turmoil was God’s desire for her, her own mission of faithful companionship.

We bear the name of Jesus and from the cross have received the gift of His Heart and the outpouring of His Spirit…We unceasingly seek, in the spirit of our foundress, to make known and loved the name of Jesus, His Spirit, His Heart and His Mother. (FCJ Constitutions 6)

Indeed the Feast of the Sacred Heart is a feast for all humanity. It burns with the love of God and radiates through our core. Compassion then, and justice and peace, to be authentic, needs to come from our own hearts, grounded in God. By living our lives as upholders of justice, liberators of the oppressed and friends of the lonely, we make known the heart of God on earth, across every nation, culture and barrier. Far from a devotion of the past, the Sacred Heart is alive within us:

We will welcome all your people without favour, without fear
We will ease the heavy burdens, and attend to every tear
We will draw with bonds of kindness, we will see the last are first
In our loving, in our living, we will be your heart on earth.

Your Heart on Earth (James Maher MSC)

Geralyn Tan

FCJ Mission and Identity Promotion (Province of Asia-Australia)

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  • More information about how you can help and raise awareness of human trafficking can be found on the ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) website at: www.acrath.org.au
  • For more information about the work of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ Sisters), please visit: www.fcjsisters.org.au

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And one more thing… Tenderness!

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Pope Francis’ homily given at the Mass of his inauguration as Bishop of Rome and Holy Father of the Catholic Church was received with reverence, attentiveness and applause. Among the many beautiful statements, one message stands out in particular:

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!| Pope Francis, Inauguration Mass Homily – Feast of St Joseph 19 March 2013

With power, influence or position comes responsibility. Part of this responsibility is in being merciful, showing tenderness, compassion and gentleness. Pope Francis uses the word ‘tenderness’, but its counterpart, ‘gentleness’ is an acceptable substitute. The pope’s message bears resemblance to Marie Madeleine’s own experience in 1817:

…I was on my way to St Acheul’s, going over in my mind the explanation of the mystery given the previous evening. Suddenly a voice was speaking to me: “You will have three companions who will be very dear to you and from whom you must never be separated even for one instant.” I waited to hear the names of the three persons: “Humility, Poverty and Obedience.” I then remembered what Father Sellier had once told me, namely, if I were offered three gifts, to ask for a fourth. I silently made the request and immediately came the response: “Gentleness.” | Marie Madeleine d’Höuet, Memoirs

For Reflection:

  • What might the relationship between tenderness or gentleness and responsibility entail?
  • How have I, in the past twenty-four hours or so, shown tenderness in my dealings with other people, with myself and with creation?
  • Might I be able to bring more gentleness into my life world in the coming day?

Contemplate the dynamic between responsibility, leadership and protection on one hand, and the gifts of gentleness, humility and kindness. Whatever my thoughts or insights are, may I hold them in God’s grace. Amen.