News 2016

November 2016

Companions in Mission: Caitlin Hardy and Wanty Widjaja

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.

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.

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.

This first appeared on the Keeping Company blog, 7 Novmber 2016.

L-R: CIM Co-ordinators, Pat Fitzgerald; Wanty Widjaja; Sr Catherine Flynn fcJ; Caitlin Hardy; Sr Maureen Merlo fcJ

September 2016

Congratulations to our Jubilarians
On Sunday 11 September three FCJ Sisters celebrated a jubilee of their profession: Mary Kennedy was sixty-five years professed, Ann Connolly and Margaret Olsen were 60 years professed. The celebration took place in the Genazzano chapel where Fr Barry Moran said the Mass. After Mass FCJs, CiMs, families and friends enjoyed each other’s company in the canteen.


Journeying Together … CIM - FCJ
On August 28, the CiM  Group 2 in  the Philippines facilitated team building activities for the FCJ Youth Group. Jen CiM, Michelle CiM and Niña CiM.  Through the medium of  many games the youths learnt about:  leadership skills, team work, communication and also studied some aspects of Bible.  Everybody enjoyed the day.  The CiMs were also grateful, and energized, having  the opportunity to share their skils and knowledge with others. 

Another beautiful occasion was on 18 September, 2016, when all of us: the FCJs, CiM  Group 1 and Group 2 gathered to celebrate CiM International Day as well as Marie Madeleine’s birthday. We had beautiful prayer, followed by a rosary activity.  The rosaries we made will be given to the patients of the Orthopedic Hospital where Rowena FCJ has her apostolate once a week.  We were glad to be able to see some of our FCJ sisters and CiMs from Melbourne through a Skype call.  Unfortunately the internet connection was not too good so we had to end the Skype conversation quickly.  Although it was quick, it really united us. Thank you, dear companions!

Celebrating International CIM Day in the Philippines

Via Skype

FCJs and CIMs gather to Skype with Philippine counterpart

Prayer of the CIM making Birthing kits for mothers in third world countries
As we assemble these birthing kits we are making mercy real for others.  It is the least we can do as we invisibly companion those who will give birth overseas.  As we assemble our kits let us pray to Mary, our model mother, who said yes, and gave us her son as Saviour.  We pray also to Marie Madeleine whose story continues to be our inspiration. Let us remember our own mothers and their labours in bringing us into the world.

The birth of a child is always about hope, about what can be, about the future laced with possibility and promise.  We give thanks for the miracle of birth that has brought us all here today.

As we work together today we also see the birth of hope in our actions of solidarity and empathy for women we may never know.  Let them know the joy of being able to bring new life safely into the world…

Ann Rennie CIM

Celebrating Life in Ende
Amidst the many surprising blessings that I have experienced in Ende, perhaps what stands out is simply the joy of people around us. Many are not particularly well-off, and young people struggle hard for an education. Even so, there constantly seems to be something to celebrate. We have been kept busy attending weddings, religious professions, anniversaries, etc. The whole community is called upon to share the joy of each celebration: from preparing the food to setting up tents – and of course suffering through the heart-pounding, window-rattling, all-night music! Recently, we helped to peel about 10kg of garlic for a neighbour’s wedding. But most memorable was our parish’s First Communion last weekend. The children, adorned in white dresses, suits and gloves, were so proud after the mass,  to welcome guests to their houses with all the gravity they could summon. We lost count of the number of plates of rich food we were invited to eat.

The constant joy in the air here reminds me that life – in its ups and downs, amidst poverty and plenty – is worth celebrating. That everything we have comes from God, and so we are invited to receive and give with open hands and a cheerful heart. What have you to celebrate today?                               

Audrey nov fcJ

An AMAZING GRACE: from Manresa to Loyola and back.
Glory be to God for the privilege of a wonderful journey across five centuries and over 1300 km of beautiful countryside in Spain to discover the roots of our Ignatian spirituality. My companions on this journey were 35 Ignatian pilgrims during a six week Ignatian Immersion.

My first impression was a view of Montserrat, this amazing serrated mountain range, one of the first things we looked for each morning.  As our wonderful Spanish co-ordinator told me: It is like God: you cannot always see it, but it is always there. The colours changed throughout the day. It was so beautiful and it seemed that Mary was always there, holding her Child in blessing on our noisy, broken world.

Based in Manresa we were able to visit the Cave on the basement of the building where we lived. The old door to the Cave (1625-1900), made of stone and iron retains the atmosphere of almost four centuries and has since become a Jubilee Door.

Travelling across three regions of changing landscapes, it was wonderful to visit Loyola, nestled in a beautiful valley, high up in the mountains and to stay there for two nights, with the chance to visit the original home of Inigo, its stark simplicity contrasted with the ornate splendour of the Basilica built around it in later centuries.

Margaret Claver fcJ

Across three regions of Spain.

Prayer and Celebration of Creation
In response to the call of Pope Francis and in solidarity with people throughout the world, the FCJ Center celebrated creation on 3 September.  The day began with a parade around the places where we work.  People from the different areas represented the four elements, for water they wore blue, for earth green, for air white and for fire red.  They carried banners with slogans and with pictures of the earth being upheld by the hands of people of all races.  When we arrived in the basketball court there was an opening prayer followed by an interpretive dance by the KABASI youth group.  Then four young women representing the four elements performed a beautiful ritual.  After that the “Ten Commandments of Care for the Earth” which had been composed by local people were proclaimed.  People were invited to make a commitment to carrying them out and symbolically they wrote their names on papers which were stuck on ribbons.  One of the staff had made a large papier mache globe to which the ribbons were attached.  The globe was then raised high as we all sang “Heal the World”.  It was a very moving moment.  Approximately 300 people took part in the prayer and many more watched from the sidelines.  Please God this simple celebration will help us all to better care for the earth and for one another.

FCJ Center Manila

August 2016

Faith in Action

One afternoon I joined a faith sharing session in one of the families here in the Barrio. While on my way I saw a tree covered in pink flowers. I thought it was a cherry tree but no, it is called Durazno (Peach), so delicate and  pretty.

Later that night after the Mass, I was invited by one of the parishioners to join a novena prayer for "VIRGEN URKUPIÑA" originally from Bolivia. There were a few rituals before the prayer started. First, the owner of the house “the couple” lit the incense; spread its smoke to the statues, passing the incense to the next nine persons to do the same.

As we prayed the " GOZOS" a fifteen stanzas song, a candle was passed on to fifteen different persons to lead the Hail Mary and whoever was the last person to pray the Hail Mary received a rose to take home and Paula received the rose.

While singing a closing song “Virgen de Urkupiña” a woman took a bag of pink petals to offer to Mary and a man distributed a handful of coca leaves and a stick of cigar which was offered to Mary after separating out the perfect shapes; those leaves with cuts and crumpled are considered imperfect. I heard that the  imperfect leaves represent the imperfections of human beings.

Finally, those persons who were part of the rituals were blessed with the same pink petals that were offered to Mary.

On the third Sunday of this month of August, many individual families brought their Statue of the Virgen de Urkupiña to the church to be blessed and had their procession in the Barrio. The photo below is one of the groups at Mass yesterday.

By Bing fcJ

“Let the children come to Me,” Jesus said

Children give me great energy.  With children I feel happiness and joy. On Tuesday we held Sunday school for children in our BEC. Their smile, laughter, and enthusiasm in sharing the Gospel, their desire to know more about Jesus, to be close to and to love Jesus, motivates me to keep taking part in sharing the Good News especially with the children. Sunday school is an opportunity for children to learn about relationships, for working together and playing games with their friends and sharing. The simple questions from us help them to know more about the figures and the stories in the Gospel. When the question is given, they jump up to answer with confidence. At the last meeting we gave them a summary and a short message to take home. May their smile, laughter, and enthusiasm to know more, to be close to and to love Jesus be felt by the children around the world who are suffering and lonely.  Jesus said, ‘let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ 

By Lina, novice fcJ

Come and See

We had a ‘Come and See’ program on 6 August 2016 at our FCJ Community  Centre in Myanmar, with the theme ‘The Purpose of Life’. We enjoyed our activities of games, input, reflection and sharing together. One of the participants is Hien, who is from Vietnam and had some experience of ‘living in’ for two weeks in our FCJ Community. Some of the  women shared their many goals but they felt they still needed to involve God in their lives in order to know more about the purpose of life. It was great to be able to share part of our Ignatian Spirituality with those young women as well as it being a privilege to listen to their experiences and hopes for future.

by Narni fcJ

Destination: Rio!
The staff at St. Catherine’s Aged Care facility in Balwyn, where FCJ Sisters Joyce Stewart and Peter Wilson are resident, have used much creative imagination and energy in making the Olympic Games in Rio come alive for their residents.  For some weeks they decorated the passages and social rooms with notices, flags, maps and colourful photographs giving a glimpse of Rio and Brazilian life.  They organised a virtual sea voyage from Melbourne to Rio, with days of preparation for the journey, familiarisation with the life and layout of the liner on which the travellers sailed, and descriptive accounts of all the places travelled to en route; special food treats were offered, and a colourful ‘cocktail bar’ was a decoration for a social area.  Each resident was issued with a ‘passport’ and in the lead-up days, each was given the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch and to be photographed with it.  In the process of preparation, Brazilian music was enjoyed, travel documentaries viewed and discussed, handcraft classes made Rio souvenirs (pencil cases, paper weights, etc), and the various sports of the Games were admired and publicised.  Staff dressed up in special Olympic garb and a DVD of Peter Allen singing “I go to Rio” became a ‘Karaoke’ special.

By Frances fcJ

Image: Sr Peter Wilson, with the torch

Celebrations in Ende: Spreading Joy and Harmony

Eight days ago Lina, Audrey and I moved from Yogyakarta to Ende.  We are here for four months – an extended community experience.  Since arriving not only have we had the joy of building community with Hartini and Tyas we have also had the good fortune to attend several lovely celebrations.  Last Saturday we spent much of the day at the school where Hartini is a teacher.  It was the anniversary of the school’s founding and also the 25th Anniversary of profession of one of the brothers who teaches in the school.  The day began with Mass.  The singing was led by a choir, as good as any I have ever heard in my life.  This group of young people aged between thirteen and eighteen must have raised the sky itself with the beauty of their singing.  Two days ago we attended the final vow ceremony of four SVD brothers.  It was inspiring to witness the dedication and enthusiasm with which those young men offered their lives in service of God and others.  Today, 17 August, is Indonesian Independence Day.  We went to a very lively Mass and greeted all manner of people as we walked home.  Today is a day to celebrate harmony, to greet people and to spread good will.  I am sure that celebrations like these permeate our world with love and goodness.  Imagine, all over the world there are people celebrating for a whole variety of reasons.  Let us celebrate the joy, love and goodness we all contribute to our world.                                                 

Clare fcJ 

Celebrating Freedom
In these past two weeks I celebrated two independence days: that of Singapore on 9 August and Indonesia on 17 August. In different ways, our two nations remembered that special moment in history when our forebears hailed the end of colonialism and the beginning of a new era, with joyful shouts of ‘Merdeka!’ (which means ‘freedom’ in both our national languages). Our countries' struggle for freedom still goes on until each citizen enjoys the dignity of the children of God. Looking back at this milestone gives us hope for the future. In our own struggles for interior freedom, might it not also help to stop for a while and celebrate the ways we have already grown?

Audrey, novice fcJ                                                         


June 2016

Reconciliation Week at FCJ College, Benalla

During ‘Reconciliation Week’ FCJ College Benalla staff and students came together as a community on Friday 3 June to show their respect for the traditional owners of the land, past and present, by raising the Aboriginal flag at FCJ College for the first time.  The flag was flown alongside the Australian and College flags as a symbol of unity and support for their aboriginal sisters and brothers. The College is committed to acknowledging the rich history and connectedness to the land of the traditional owners and will continue to educate its students about the importance of understanding and respecting those aboriginal traditions.  After the ceremony a group of students attended an informative walk & talk of the Benalla indigenous gardens with an aboriginal elder.

(Excerpt taken from the FCJ College newsletter)

May 2016

FCJ Education Leadership and Governance Forum in Melbourne, 21st May 2016

Theme: FCJ Education: Gift and Call

Thirty four people involved in FCJ Education in Australia gathered on May 21st for a day of excellent input given by David Hutton, the past director of Catholic Education in Queensland.

The day developed around three themes:

  • What makes a school Catholic?
  • Governance and Leadership in Catholic Education
  • A Spirituality for Leadership

There was something for everyone who was present, for the participants were the leadership teams from FCJ College, Benalla and Genazzano FCJ Colleges, members of the two College Councils, FCJ Education Board members and the FCJ Province Council.

The opening session set the broad context for our mission in education: Global and Cultural Issues; Political/Legal and Economic Issues; the Gift and Challenge of Technology; and Religious belief in today’s Australia. In the light of the issues outlined above, the second session explored the meaning of leadership and governance in Catholic education. The third and final session, a broad introduction to spirituality, encouraged all those present to develop and nurture an active spiritual life and highlighted the importance of discernment in decision making.

This all led to lively discussion at the tables and in the general question times, so it was an inspiring and helpful day for all of us.

By Clare Hand fcJ

April 2016

Summer Youth Camp, Yangon

The youth of the Archdiocese of Yangon had their summer camp (11-18 April 2016) at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Nyaung Lay Pin, Myanmar. There were about 600 young people from different zones and parishes within the diocese. They gathered for input sessions that included catechism, scriptures, youth life, human trafficking, Christian marriage and vocations. They also had the opportunity for sports, games and cultural appreciation. Though the temperature was super hot, the youth seemed to show enthusiasm and appreciation in the programs. The annual youth camp in Myanmar becomes the opportunity for faith formation as well as self-development which they rarely get at school.

Sr Sisca at the Summer Youth Camp, Yangon, April 2016

A Summer Outing in Manila

On April 2, twenty local children, who live near to us went for an outing to Quezon City Circle Park for some team-building activities.  Our college scholars organized a few games, with the intention of developing leadership among the children, who were all so happy to play outside of their usual area, while enjoying the space and fresh air the park offered. The children also participated in chocolate making, and to their excitement and satisfaction, they made two lollipops each; one to eat and one to bring home. We were brought home safely by the barangay council car which was offered to us free. It was a fun and joyous time, as seen in the big smiles on the faces of these little children!

By Elvisa Camilion fcJ

Sr Elvisa with local children in Manila, 2016

Welcome Sr Alicia from the Province of the Americas

We are delighted to welcome Alicia Perez fcJ from the Province of the Americas who will be staying in Manila for two months. Alicia joins us to teach three courses to groups of computer students at the FCJ Centre: website and blog creation, animation and Introduction to Programming. It is great to have Alicia in community with us, and we hope she will enjoy her stay. The students are enjoying the courses very much and we are very grateful to Alicia for offering this wonderful opportunity to young people here.


March 2016

In March 2016, Sr Mary O'Shannessy fcJ composed an original poem inspired by Pope Francis' apostolic letter, Misericordiae Vultus, which we share with you here. Mary is a formidable witness and integral member of the Kew community in Melbourne.


(Inspired by Pope Francis’ Apostolic letter, Misericordiae Vultus)

God has made us in his image and has called each one to be
Living icons of his mercy and to love abundantly.
In a world of violent conflict where poverty is rife
We are called to show his mercy and offer endless life.
Mercy, mercy, mercy, let us act without delay.
In forgiveness and repentance let us show a different way.

In the corporal works of mercy let us open wide our heart
So that no one is outsider or is made to feel apart.
Each of us has special talents, and we all have special needs.
In our common human sharing it is oft the poor who lead.
Mercy, mercy, mercy, to the hungry and the poor,
To the naked and the captive and the stranger at the door.

Leave behind severe chastisement, take a remedy instead.
God’s omnipotence is shown in the breaking of the bread.
Spirit pouring out of mercy calls each one of us to be
Active missionaries of goodness to set all people free.
Mercy, mercy, mercy, counsel, comfort and endure,
Pray, instruct, correct, encourage, keeping heart and
                                                         motive pure.

In the Church, the world, the cosmos we are called to
                                                        spread God’s care,
Counter selfishness and malice, plant the love seeds
We are all connected beings within the cosmic span.
Giving and receiving is part of God’s big plan.
Mercy, mercy, mercy, indifference must die
We must listen to all creatures, harken to their painful cry.

Mary, model of kind mercy as she sings her song of praise
In her joyful contemplation she lives mercy all her days.
Justice calls us to right living, and mercy soothes and heals.
Mother of divine mercy to our age has strong appeal.
Mercy, mercy, mercy. Let anger be refined
Till its energy is channelled to be merciful and kind.

Original composition by Mary O'Shannessy fcJ

February 2016

Celebrating Seven Years in Myanmar

Celebrating 7 Years in Myanmar, 2016

On 27 February, we welcomed friends, colleagues and collaborators to celebrate seven years of our life and ministry in Myanmar. The joyful celebration was the result of community team work and the presence of our faithful friends, colleagues and collaborators. Our early life in Myanmar was gently guided by God through the companionship, support and presence of the local people, for which we are grateful. This theme of gratitude permeated the celebration. The closing hymn chosen for the prayer read: "Show me Your way, Your truth. All my hope is found in You. I trust in You..." which encouraged us to keep trusting and to put our hope in God as we walk in to the future here in the Golden Land.

By Sisca Setiati fcJ

Sr Peter Wilson fcJ, colouring in

A Special Holiday

Late in February, Vicki, our Health Care Coordinator took Srs Anne Cooney, Joyce Stewart and Peter Wilson to Sorrento for a week's holiday. Joyce enjoyed sitting on the front verandah reading a book, Peter appreciated a wonderful colouring book, while Anne liked to snooze, storing up energy to celebrate her 90th birthday on 22 April. In between times there were drives to the surrounding beauty spots including a meal down beside the back beach amphitheatre. Catherine Flynn, Maureen Merlo and Rosemary Crowe joined the holiday party.

By Rosemary Crowe fcJ

Induction of New Principals

Induction of New Principals, 2016
From L-R: Karen Jebb, Shirley Yau, Joanne Rock, Pat Fitzgerald, Shirley Gauci, Marie Emmitt

Our two FCJ Colleges in Australia, Genazzano and Benalla, have new principals this year - Karen Jebb and Joanne Rock. Initial induction into FCJ Education was provided during a weekend in our holiday house in Sorrento by a team of educationalists. We had the special privilege of two past principals, Pat Fitzgerald and Shirley Yau, sharing experiences and wisdom, and their love of Marie Madeleine. Then Marie Emmitt, the Chair of our FCJ Education Board, and Shirley Gauci, the Executive Officer, covered important induction topics for the governance of the colleges. This is an exciting time for the principals as they begin their new roles and for our colleges, and so we support them all with our prayer.

By Judith Routier fcJ

January 2016

Blessing of the Church of the Holy Infant of Prague, Myanmar

On 17 January 2015, we rejoiced with the parishioners of The Holy Infant of Prague, Hlaing Hta Yar, Yangon in celebrating the building of their new church. Initially a small chapel was built in the same area in July 1990. Since then the parishioners have grown in number and need a bigger space. The new church fulfilled their longing for a place to pray and to build community. Cardinal Charles Bo was the main celebrant at the Mass and at the Homily he affirmed that the presence of the new church has answered the spiritual need of the locals. However, it also enables the building of a good relationship with the nearby Buddhist community. The Holy Infant of Prague is currently run by the Salesians and it is one among three parishes in Yangon run by religious priests.

By Sisca Setiati fcJ