Our FCJ History in Asia-Australia
In the spirit and desire of our Foundress
and in our own living heritage
are found the vision and the hope
of Faithful Companions of Jesus. (Constitutions)
The Faithful Companions of Jesus, founded in France in 1820, arrived in Australia in 1882 in response to the Education Act of 1872 that divided schools into different categories: State and non-Government.
The Act spelt the end of financial support for all religious and independent schools and meant that if the Catholic Church wanted to maintain existing schools and establish new schools, it had to find all necessary finance. The priests and bishops sought help from religious communities overseas.
The parish priest of Richmond sent to Ireland for Christian Brothers and the FCJ sisters he had known in Limerick. Two brothers arrived in 1876 and, in 1882, twelve FCJ sisters set sail from Liverpool, arriving in Melbourne on 1st June 1882, "to conduct three schools at Richmond (a mission of the Jesuit Fathers), a high school and an intermediate school, both for young ladies, paying pupils and a free school" of 600 pupils. The high school later known as Vaucluse College closed in 2000.
By 1888, the Richmond community numbered 34 sisters and demands on the school were outstripping the available space so a fifteen acre block of land was bought at Kew. The following year eight sisters moved to the new convent boarding school which became Genazzano FCJ College. A further two acres was purchased later and became the Junior School. This school is still flourishing with over a thousand students.
|Range View, 1st house||Newly built Genazzano||Genazzano today|
In 1900 on 14 August, the FCJ Sisters arrived at Benalla, in response to an invitation from Dean Davy and set up a girls’ boarding and day secondary school called Our Lady of the Angels. In 1960 it became a co-educational institution and was later called FCJ College. Presently over 450 girls and boys study in this ever-expanding day school.
Our Lady of the Angels, Benalla
In 1968, the Sisters established "Stella Maris", a boarding and day school at Frankston. The last of the boarders from Vaucluse, Richmond were relocated here in the guest rooms of the former Peninsula Country Golf Club, part of which had been purchased by the Country Roads Board for a freeway. The other part was purchased by the sisters for the school.
The Marianists opened a College for boys in 1974 and in 1979 the two schools were formed into one co-educational Regional College, John Paul College with an enrolment of 900 students.
Some sisters taught in primary schools in the vicinity: St Anne's, Seaford and St John's, East Frankston and others involved themselves in areas of parish life at St Francis Xavier, Frankston. The sisters left Frankston at the end of 1996.
In 1975, five sisters were contracted for five years as a Frontier Group at Langwarrin to work with the priest and the local community to establish a primary school and to be involved in a parish ministry.
The FCJ Sisters have taught in and administered many parish primary schools across Victoria, some for a few years and others for many years, including St Joseph's Benalla (88 years); St Ignatius, Richmond (100 years); Our Lady of Good Counsel, Deepdene (57years); Sacred Heart, Kew (85 years).
Although the sisters are no longer teaching in either the Primary or the Secondary schools, the sisters retain governance of Genazzano FCJ College and FCJ College Benalla.
AUSTRALIANS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Since 1986 a number of Australian FCJ Sisters have joined sisters of many nationalities in developing countries "being ready to be sent anywhere for the Kingdom of God". They have spent many years in Sierra Leone, Bolivia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Romania.
FURTHER AFIELD IN AUSTRALIA
The FCJ Sisters engaged in ministry in the Kimberley from 1987 to 1995. There the sisters worked at Notre Dame University and with the Catholic Education Office, moving throughout the Kimberley as consultants as well as participating in local parish activities. Other individual ministries took sisters to Sydney and Adelaide where they have responded to community needs.
Through their presence in parishes, some sisters are involved in pastoral work; others are engaged in social welfare, the support of people with disabilities and care of the elderly, welfare in schools, chaplaincy in secondary and tertiary institutions, work against human trafficking and with refugees. The sisters respond wherever they can, in the spirit of Marie Madeleine d'Houet, seeking to meet the needs of the time.
The first Faithful Companion of Jesus arrived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in December 1987 andy by mid 1988 another sister joined her. They taught English at Sanata Dharma University which is run by the Jesuits.
|Sisters Afra and Agnes
on the eve of their first profession,
with Sr. Paula Terroni, general superior.
In 1991, the first two Indonesian sisters were received and many other Indonesian women have since become FCJs. Since 1992 other sisters from around the Society have also live in Indonesia. FCJ ministries include teaching, nursing, promoting natural family planning, pastoral work, counselling, spiritual direction, retreat giving, youth ministry and development work.
From 1993 to 1997, there was also a community in Kupang, West Timor.
In 1998 a second house in Baciro, Yogyakarta was opened. At the beginning of September 2002, we opened a third community in Purwokerto (more ...) which was closed in late 2005.
On November 1st 2005, a new community was opened in Ende, Flores, about 2000 km from Yogyakarta. More about Ende ....
As FCJs in Indonesia, we have a strong desire to be involved in mission and in ministry for women, to be involved in inter-religious dialogue, to offer Ignatian spirituality as the foundation for spiritual accompaniment and animation, to be companions for people of all faiths.
We believe that the future is challenging but full of hope for Indonesia. We are encouraged by the awareness that many things can be offered through our charism, not by doing our own 'works', but by a companionship whose characteristics are working and walking with other people.
May God give us wisdom and courage to be witnesses of the Good News for the people of Indonesia.
In the Philippines
In 1988 six FCJ sisters went to the Philippines. Two communities were established; one in Manila and one in Naga (1989), a rural area in Zamboanga Del Sur on the island of Mindanao.
In Naga one of the sisters set up a basic health scheme which, gradually, came to be run by the people themselves. The community also set up and administered a fund to help needy students continue their education. A number of self-help schemes (such as a co-operative) were started which have born considerable fruit over the years and for which the local people are now responsible. The accompaniment of young people was also a particular concern for this community as has been the support and animation of women. Our sisters were also able to offer expertise and assistance for the care and preservation of the environment in this rural and deprived area. Towards the end of 2000, after a time of discernment, the FCJ sisters came to the decision to conclude their ministry in Naga, so the community left this part of Mindanao and moved to Maasin, Southern Leyte, another Cebuano-speaking region of the Philippines.
In Manila some sisters began teaching students at University level while others have been involved in work with the urban poor, especially in some of the most deprived squatter areas. Other sisters work in parishes, raising awareness of the poor in their parish and surrounding areas, and thus developing practical ways of being in solidarity with them. The novitiate was situated in Manila until 2003 when it moved to Indonesia. Several sisters from different parts of the Society have availed of the many opportunities for further studies and ongoing formation available in Manila. In 2002 the FCJ Learning and Development Center was set up in a relocation site adjacent to the Payatas garbage dump. The FCJ Center offers an integrated programme of community development. Sisters are engaged in social work, community nursing, parish outreach and in institutions for the care of orphaned and abandoned children.
In 2000, the FCJs established a communty in Maasin, Southern Leyte, where the sisters worked closely with the Bishop in parish and community building, in catechetics, and in work with the youth and those in prison. . St. Joseph’s Boys’ Home for street boys was established in 2005 and when the FCJ sisters left Maasin in 2010 this was handed over to the Diocese.
The aim of our sisters working with poor people in the Philippines has always been to work alongside them, to learn from them, and to share skills and expertise with them. People are encouraged to develop their own ways to a deeper faith, to a better standard of living, and to building a more just and caring society.
We are desirous to share our FCJ charism with the Filipino people. Our sisters are zealous in making our charism known by any means, particularly with young people.
Click here to access a page about 'leaving Naga'.
Click here to access a page with early articles about Payatas.
Sharing our companionship….
On January 9th, 2009, two FCJ sisters went to Yangon, Myanmar and they were joined by a third sister the following month.
The beauty of the Myanmar people attracted us to come to this country. We are touched by people’s hospitality, simplicity, gentleness, openness, compassion and hope. We are happy and privileged to share companionship with them.
THE PROVINCE OF ASIA-AUSTRALIA
In 2002, the Sisters from Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines united to form a new province of the FCJ Society - the Province of Asia-Australia. In 2009 a community in Myanmar was added to the province. These photographs weres taken at a Province Assembly held in Melbourne 2012.
To read about the Provincial Archives of the Province of Asia-Australia, click here.
To read more about the history of the FCJ Society worldwide, click here.