News 2015

November 2015

150th Anniversary of Foundation of St Peter's Church

St Peter's Church, EppingIn 1865 when the Foundation Stone of St Peter’s Church Epping was being blessed, could the gathered community have imagined that over 500 people would come together 150 years later to commemorate those years of worship in this Church?

150 years after the laying and blessing of the Foundation Stone at St Peter’s Church Epping on 5th November 1865, the Parish of Epping, Epping North - St Peter’s and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop - has developed into a thriving faith community. Parishioners from more than 50 countries have joined the Parish over the years, enriching the community with their faith and culture. When the northern part of the Parish – St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Epping North – was being established it was inspiring to see this multi-cultural group of migrants and refugees and our Parish Priest all working together so harmoniously and to learn a little of their personal stories over morning tea.

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary a special garden was created adjacent to the Church, including a Commemorative Plaque mounted on a large bluestone rock and surrounded by pavers inscribed with the names of many Parishioners. Very Rev Terry Curtin, Auxiliary Bishop of the Northern Region concelebrated Mass in St Peter’s Church on Thursday evening 5th November 2015. Then on the following Sunday, 8th November, Archbishop Denis Hart concelebrated the Eucharist and blessed the Commemorative Plaque. Over 500 people participated in this joyous occasion which concluded with afternoon tea where many memories and recollections were exchanged. It is fitting to thank Parish Priest Maurie Cooney and the 150th Anniversary Committee for ensuring that we had a remarkable celebration to mark this occasion.

We are grateful and thank God for the wonderful heritage passed down to us over 150 years.

St Peter, Forgiven and chosen by Jesus, pray for our Parish. Like you, may we perform the tasks entrusted to us with humility and love. Amen.

September 2015

Gratitude and Trust

On Saturday 5th September 2015, seven new Companions in Mission made their first commitment in the Genazzano FCJ College chapel. FCJ Sisters and CiM were present to hear their personal reflections prior to making their commitments to Sr Catherine Flynn fcJ.

Margaret and Peter Cosgrave, Peter and Therese Keogh, Mary O’Driscoll, Eve Provan and Rosa Solowiej spoke of the impact of the Formation Programme on them and what they had learnt of Venerable Marie Madeleine d’Houet. The Liturgy prepared by the group was joyous, reflective and moving.

Their personal reflections spoke of gratitude, trust, shared companionship and inspiration gained from the life of Marie Madeleine, as well as the joy of living the charism of the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus.

Each received the prayer card and the CiM badge which they proudly wore to the happy reception following the Liturgy.

The welcome they received was wonderfully warm; it was so good to welcome seven new Companions in Mission, among them two husbands and wives!

By Pat Fitzgerald CIM

Jubilee Celebrations

L-R: Jubilarians, Margaret Claver Hayes fcJ, Aileen Ryan fcJ, Catherine Morrison fcJ, Helen Mary Langlands fcJ

On Sunday, 13th September, a beautiful spring day, we celebrated the golden jubilee of Margaret Claver Hayes fcj, and the diamond jubilee of Aileen Ryan fcj, Catherine Morrison fcj and Helen Mary Langlands fcj. The Eucharist was celebrated in the beautifully decorated Genazzano College Chapel, concelebrated by Father Michael Hansen S.J. and Fr. Maurie Cooney, parish priest of Epping North where Margaret lives. Fr. Michael had travelled down from Sydney to be part of this special day. Denise Mulcahy played the organ and the soloists were Helda and Yvonne Payet. The chapel was packed with FCJ’s, CIMs, families of the jubilarians, past pupils and many other friends.

After the joyous Eucharistic celebration, all made their way to the college canteen which had been specially prepared and decorated with balloons, streamers, etc. Each of the fifteen tables had a beautiful flower arrangement. Here, we partook of a delicious afternoon tea of sandwiches, cakes, tea, coffee etc. Naturally this was a time for much catching up with family members, friends, companions. The joy and gratitude of all present was very palpable. At a given moment, with the jubilarians standing around, the special cake made by one of CIMs, was cut and shared with all the guests present. In all it was a day to thank God for the many gifts and blessings given to each of our FCJ sisters who celebrated a special milestone.

May 2015

Pilgrimage Blessings

A Blessing service was held in the Moonbria community house on May 18th for two of the pilgrims who will be going on the pilgrimage in July.  Marea Lanki teaches at Genazzano and Rick Van Duppen is Deputy  Principal at John Paul College Frankston. After reflecting and sharing on the journey ahead we prayed with Marea and Rick:

‘Always aware of your Cosmic Presence and of your abiding love, we shall rejoice in all that happens – the surprise and sudden change, the clash of plans and hopes.  This will give us courage and strength to radiate life to Mother Earth, to search the hidden treasures still unexplored in ourselves and those we meet.’

The other pilgrims are all from Benalla and they will have their blessing service at another time.

I also had the pleasure of joining with Richmond and Moonbria communities as they farewelled their local leader, Maureen Merlo, and wished her many blessings as she left for Europe – where she will have a bit of a break before joining the Amiens Group Pilgrimage.               

By Judith Routier fcJ

Moving House in Myanmar 

Moving house can be stressful and frustrating. Yes, for sure it is time consuming. At this time interestingly it was unforgettable. We started moving our things on May 3rd and the big, last parts on the following day. On May 5th, we went back to our “old” empty house to clean it thoroughly before handing it over to the owner. During the cleaning, many memories appeared in my mind: happiness, struggles, relationships and growth. It was a good time to say “thank you” and “goodbyes” to the house.

After the cleaning, we had a very short visit to some of our neighbours. We thanked them for their care and friendliness. In return, we received words of gratitude and appreciation. Some were very impressed with the long hours we spent to clean the house and by our brief visit of “thank you” and “good bye” to them. They said they had never had an experience like this. What a lovely acknowledgment. We went to our new home filled with deeper joy, courage and confidence for a new chapter of our life.

By Agnes Samosir fcJ

Feast of Pentecost and the Beatification of Mosenor Romero

On Saturday 23rd May in the Church of St Brigid’s in Fitzroy, I had the joy of participating with many people from El Salvador and other Latin American countries at a vibrant, celebratory Mass of the Holy Spirit, combined with a celebration for the beatification of Archbishop Romero. The sense of joy at this great event was palpable. The singing led by the choir was full and energetic. At the end of Mass we had prayer and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after which we shared refreshments. During this time I spoke with some of my friends from El Salvador who personally knew Archbishop Romero. One lady told me with tears in her eyes that she had received a Rosary from him. Her husband told me that they were present at his funeral. He was in the plaza and shared with me, that from the second floor of the government buildings, soldiers were shooting people in the plaza! Another person told me that today was a day mingled with joy and sadness because, as he told me, they lived far from the city in the mountains but each day had listened to the broadcasts of Romero’s homilies, and on the day Romero was assassinated, as always, they were listening to the Mass and heard the shots fired and realized that their beloved pastor had been shot. For people of South and Central America, for many years, Archbishop Romero has been St. Romero, so it is such a wonderful occasion that at last the Church has officially recognized him as a martyr. I felt very privileged to be able to share the joy of these people.

By Anne Morrison fcJ

Vale Fr. Geoff King SJ: The Power of Prayer

Geoff King, SJ. 2015.Fr Geoffrey King SJ (1943 – 2015) was a member of the Jesuit community in Richmond, Melbourne.  He was a highly gifted and talented person who shared his many gifts generously.  As a Canon Lawyer, he was highly esteemed within his own Congregation, locally and internationally.  For seven years he was the Director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute.  He twice attended the Society of Jesus General Congregations.  Fr Geoff has been on the FCJ Society’s ‘Prayer for Healing’ list for the last five years since his diagnosis of motor neurone disease. 

After his diagnosis, Fr Geoff would often be seen driving around the local supermarket in his electric chair doing the community shopping.  He did this until he had to move into residential care two years ago.  From there he still continued to go, in his chair, by train to the university to give lectures; to watch his favourite football team play; to attend classical concerts; to outings with friends and to solitary, reflective drives around the public gardens near-by.  One by one, these activities had to be relinquished, but he never complained.

A quote from an article (THE AGE 4 April 2013) which he wrote about his condition is worth recording:  ‘Why do I choose to press on into the more horrendous parts of this motor neurone journey? ….  Ultimately for me this is not a matter of reason but a matter of faith.  I believe in a creator (and creative) God and I believe in the paradoxical power of the cross’.  Geoff was placed with Christ and not found wanting.  Geoffrey James King SJ died in East Melbourne on 7 May 2015. 

Vale Geoff, with gratitude and affection from all your FCJ friends.

By Catherine Flynn fcJ

April 2015

Profession of Final Vows in the Philippines

On the evening before their Perpetual Profession a Thanksgiving Prayer was held for Srs Elvisa and Ciony in Scout Borromeo community, and the families of Elvisa and Ciony also joined in the prayer.  The theme for the prayer was ‘A journey to remember with joy and thanksgiving’.  A traditional ritual was included with Elvisa and Ciony holding a bowl with water and a candle in it. Then each one present placed some petals which symbolize beauty and fragrance of life shared with others.  Another symbol was grains of rice sprinkled into the bowl which symbolize abundance and prosperity.  The celebration concluded with a meal and sharing of stories.

April 25th 2015 was a joyful occasion for the FCJ Sisters in Province of Asia-Australia as Srs Ciony Sodusta and Elvisa Camilion made their Perpetual Profession of Vows at Los Desposorios Chapel, Panay Avenue, Quezon City. The Mass was at 9am. Both the parents and siblings of Elvisa and Ciony were present, as well as friends, colleagues and neighbors. The celebration began with the choir singing the entrance hymn: ‘Pagmamahal sa Panginoon ‘ (Love of God).  Fr. Eugene Canete from the Missionaries of Jesus was the celebrant.  In his homily he emphasized the gift of the Eucharist as their chosen theme was ‘Taken, broken and shared.’  He also spoke about the faithfulness of God in our lives.  After Mass, all were invited for a celebration lunch, during which Elvisa and Ciony greeted all those who came and distributed bookmarks and chocolates as souvenirs.

At 5pm, FCJ sisters, families and some friends gathered again at Scout Borromeo for  the opening of cards and gifts.  It was certainly an evening of great joy, celebration and thanksgiving.

May the experience of these days be with Elvisa and Ciony as they continue their journey as Faithful Companions of Jesus.

FCJ Sisters Present at the Final Vows

Back row- L-R: Annabelle Delos Santos (Bing), Caecillia Pirenaningtyas (Tyas) Maureen Merlo, Vanessa Reposar (Van-van), Afra Primadiana, Dewi Galang

Front row- L-R: Agnes Dinihari, Elvisa Camilion, Judith Routier, Salvacion Sodusta (Ciony), Paola Terroni

By Vanessa Reposar fcJ

Myanmar National Youth Congress VII 

The Myanmar Catholic Youth Congress VII was held from 21-26 April 2015 in the Salesian Seminary, Anisakan, central Myanmar.  It coincided with the Bicentenary Birth of Don Bosco (1815-2015) and about 2000 youth from different parts of Myanmar attended the congress which gave them the opportunity to pray, reflect, share, study and mingle with each other.  There was a cultural presentation of each diocese where the youth were able to share their talents and the richness of their culture. One of the highlighted programs was sharing the charism of each congregation where the youth learned about the different religious in Myanmar.  It was a privilege as we were able to share our historical connection with the Salesians: the meeting in Turin between Marie Madeleine and Don Bosco when he was a young priest at that time.  The history which happened in Turin has been repeated on Salesian ground in Myanmar as we journey together with the youth in Myanmar through this event.

By Sisca Setiati fcJ          

Hartini's Renewal of Vows 

Mei, Rowena and I had the great joy of attending Hartini’s renewal of vows in Ende. It was an opportunity to experience the joy of consecrated life at first hand. We arrived in Ende on the early afternoon of Easter Sunday – in time for a short rest before celebrating Easter prayer and a lovely meal with the community. The following day we all worked together with Beta, Meita and Hartini to prepare for the vow ceremony. Meita and Mei were ensconsed in the kitchen all day meanwhile the rest of us prepared the chapel and the dining room. The ceremony took place at 6pm. The Eucharist had a distinctly ‘Easter’ feel with readings and hymns bursting with resurrection joy. The celebrant Fr Ambrosius spoke of the radical choice Hartini was making. Hartini renewed her vows in a strong and steady voice.

The vows were received by Beta and witnessed by myself (Clare) and Sr Blandina CIJ. We then had a delicious meal thanks to Meita and Mei (and Beta who prepared the dessert). Several young people were also present including three of Hartini’s students. What a lovely day we all had. How great to have such a beautiful ceremony so close to Easter.

By Clare Hand fcJ

Thanksgiving in the Year of Consecrated Life in Shepparton, VIC

Frances Kennedy fcJ sharing on her time in the Shepparton area, 2015.Following on from the Diocesan Mass of thanksgiving and celebration in Bendigo during March, the four parishes of the Shepparton area: St. Brendan’s Shepparton, St. Mel’s South Shepparton, St. Mary’s Dookie and St. Mary’s Mooroopna, combined to host a dinner on 10th April to mark the Year of Consecrated Life. As an expression of gratitude and appreciation, they invited all religious who had served in those parishes: Mercy Sisters, Daughters of Divine Zeal, Marist Brothers, Faithful Companions of Jesus, and the more recently arrived Italian monastic group (a Public Association of the Faithful) the “Community of the Sons and Daughters of God” who came to Dookie in 2009. Twenty-five religious joined with 125 parishioners for the event at Goulburn Valley Hotel. After grace and words of welcome, a toast to the religious was proposed by a long-time parishioner Mr. Dom Segafredo. Monsignor Peter Jeffreys, currently parish priest of Mooroopna, then addressed the assembly, combining in an interesting and informative address, aspects of history, church life, spirituality, religious consecration and the involvement of the local faith community.

During the evening, the M.C. moved around the room with a roving microphone, inviting each of the twenty-five religious to share some memory or insight from their time in Shepparton area. A representative from each of the parishes followed the microphone and presented a memento of parish tokens to each religious. As well as marking the Year of Consecrated Life, the coming together was a very rich community experience for the four parishes and an opportunity to respond to the exhortation of Pope Francis: “I urge you as laity to live this year for Consecrated Life as a grace which can make you more aware of the gift you yourselves have received. Celebrate it with your entire ‘family’, so that you can grow and respond together to the promptings of the Spirit in society today.” (Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis, 21 November 2014.)

By Frances Kennedy fcJ

CIM Completes Young Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship

Every now and then we are fortunate enough to find ourselves in places where we think, “I belong here” or “These are my people”. The experience of feeling completely ‘at home’ with a group of individuals who you have not known for very long or about whose lives you know very little, is a rare occurrence. Upon beginning the Young Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship in February 2013, I was blessed with this very experience. Two years later, having completed the program with 16 other young women from around Australia, I am eternally grateful to have been given the opportunity.

The Fellowship is organised by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference through the Office for the Participation of Women. It has the aim of cultivating the capacity of women in the Church for leadership. The two-year program includes the completion of a Graduate Certificate in Theology through the Broken Bay Institute and the University of Newcastle. It also includes four residential weekends based at the Sisters of the Good Samaritan’s Mount St Benedict Centre in Pennant Hills, Sydney. Throughout these weekends we participated in sessions related to faith formation, interfaith relations, leadership and wellbeing. The University study is completed exclusively online apart from one face-to-face lecture each semester during the residential weekend.

At the time of applying for the Fellowship, I was not sure what else lay ahead for me in the following two years. I had recently completed my undergraduate degree and was searching for graduate positions in the public service, education and even finance. I was unsure where to start my career and didn’t know how the Fellowship would fit into my schedule, whatever it turned out to be.

I ended up being accepted into the Teach for Australia program in 2012, at the same time that I was offered a place in the 2013-2014 Fellowship group. Teach for Australia would require me to complete my Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching whilst teaching four days a week in a school in a low socio-economic area over a period of two years. It was going to be busy and challenging work. The prospect of adding the academic demands of a Graduate Certificate of Theology and the commitment to the formation program of the Fellowship seemed crazy. However, I saw it as a unique opportunity to be part of an exciting and ambitious venture.

Pip with some of the other women from the YCWIF, 2015.The flexible structure of the Fellowship allows women in different stages of their lives to participate whilst maintaining their other responsibilities; at work and at home. There were three babies born in our group within the two years and these mothers were able to juggle their family obligations with the demands of the Fellowship program. Several members of the group are now going on to complete the Masters of Theology through the University of Newcastle.

A highlight of the Fellowship was our visits to the places of worship for people of different faiths. We were warmly welcomed into the spaces of many groups from different traditions. During one residential weekend we visited the Emanuel Synagogue in Woollahra, in Sydney’s East. Speaking to one of their female Rabbis, Jacqui, it was clear that she was a passionate and successful leader in her Jewish community. It was moving for us to witness this wonderful example of the value women can bring to their religious congregations, as leaders and mentors.

I feel very lucky to have been supported to undertake this program. It is a fantastic initiative of our Church. I am sure when I look back on this experience in years to come, it will be a significant point of both my faith journey and career path into a position of leadership in the Church. It has helped me to confirm where “my people” are and how I can continue to seek them out in my work and personal life.

If you are interested in sponsoring a young Catholic woman for leadership, please email Fellowship Coordinator Andrea Dean at:

By Pip McIlroy

March 2015

Companions in Mission Recommitment Ceremony

On the 22nd of March FCJ Sisters, family and friends gathered in FCJ College Chapel, Benalla, to witness the recommitment ceremony of two Companions in Mission - Jane Branigan and Neena Shanks.

Jane Branigan and Neena Shanks recommitting themselves as Companions in Mission, 2015.The sacred space was the focal point for their ceremony with the Companions in Mission banner in pride of place. Sr Catherine Flynn received their recommitment. The format for the ceremony was simple with well chosen readings and opportunities for personal reflection. The grace they each prayed for was to live in faithfulness and love and so be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be humble, gentle and just in all their relationships. The readings, songs and prayers reflected their desire to be like Marie Madeleine so as to allow God to work in and through their lives. They reminded each of us about the challenge God sets before us, to wait expectantly for our “Fiat”. The ceremony concluded with a get together in the D’houet room of the college where a sumptuous afternoon tea had been set out for all the guests. Upon entering the D’Houet room, Jane and Neena were touched to see so many people had sent cards and emails were on display for their special day. The joy of the occasion was so evident on their faces with their beaming smiles. As one of them said, “The day couldn’t have been more beautiful”.

By Liz Brown fcJ