News 2017

October 2017

Inter-faith Prayer in Yangon

Agnes and Beta joined St Augustine Parish’s group to attend an inter-faith prayer for peace  on October 10, 2017.  It was held at Aung San   Stadium Yangon.  This event was nationwide. Yangon Region Chief Minister lit a candle to begin the ceremony.  The religious leaders of  Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians gave some speeches before praying.  The stadium was packed with participants.  It was very moving to see so many people gather, regardless of age, race and religion, to pray for peace.  Let us spread God’s peace in whatever we are doing.   

Beta fcJ

Companions on the Journey           

On the weekend of 6-8 October 2017, a voluntary group of eight FCJs, part of a more numerous group who entered the Society from the 1950s onwards, and are known as the ‘Companions on the Journey (CoJ)’, gathered at Sorrento to share on matters of spirituality and to relax together as some of the group have done annually since 1986.  Our sessions were ably led by Frances Kennedy fcJ.  We had a full agenda which included among other topics, prayer together, addressing the General Chapter Directives and discussing the ‘5 key concepts’ from the Province Assembly held at the end of 2016.  In our evaluation one person shared a poem by Mary  Oliver:  ‘When I am Among Trees’.  The simplicity of the message of the poem captured much of our experience of our sharing and reflection during those days.                                                                                                                                                                       

Denise Mulcahy fcJ

September 2017

Companions in Mission Recommitment

On the 24th of September eight Companions in Mission, Julie Chamberlin, Margaret Cosgrave, Peter Cosgrave, Pat Fitzgerald, Margaret Kennedy, Eve Provan,  Shirley Yau and Danielle Maugueret renewed their commitment at Genazzano FCJ Chapel.  The ceremony was well attended by the FCJ Sisters, Companions in Mission, family and friends.  We thank everyone for their support and great companionship on the day.  A special thank you to Sr Catherine Flynn fcJ who officially welcomed and accepted us on behalf of the Society of the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus

Danielle Maugueret CiM

Sr Myrna’s Second Anniversary

On Saturday 30 September a good number of Sr Myrna’s ‘daughters’ again organised an anniversary Mass to which the sisters and Myrna’s family were invited.  There were many other members of the Vietnamese community present, some were parents of the girls who came as part of the family reunion program.  These also were assisted by Myrna.  Also present were children of the ‘daughters’.  A very generous lunch was provided by the Vietnamese.          

Margaret Claver Hayes fcJ

St. Paul’s Annual Social

Last night I attended the annual St. Paul’s College Social.  This annual event is hosted by Burke Hall, Xavier College with the boys acting as hosts for the night.  Our children, many of whom are on the  autistic spectrum, thoroughly enjoy the music and the dancing, and the parents can see how a truly caring  community can support both them and their children.  Siblings were welcomed and joined in the activities and fun.  The theme this year was “Be a star”, and photos were taken of people sitting on the crescent moon with stars as a backdrop.      

Mary O’Shannessy fcJ

August 2017

Soropadan's Got Talent! - With Potatoes

In celebration of Indonesia's Independence Day, the young people in our neighbourhood organised a variety of friendly competitions. Cecilia, Maria and Audrey joined the cooking competition for ladies, in which all participants had to make snacks from potatoes. We were given a limited budget, prepared the snacks in our own houses, and decorated them in the neighbourhood hall along with nine other teams. We made filled jacket potatoes, which we called "boats of hope", and arranged them in a display representing the Indonesian people on their shared journey toward unity in diversity. Each team made a presentation to the judges.  Audrey spoke for our team. She said “I was a bundle of nerves, with my limited Indonesian and surrounded by rather more accomplished and confident cooks!” We were happy to share this moment with the neighbours, make them laugh, and in our own little way advance unity and diversity in the neighbourhood. May God bless the Indonesian people in their shared hopes and journey!

Cecilia, Maria & Audrey

Happy Jubilarians

On Sunday 27 August family, friends, FCJ Sisters and Companions in Mission joined Annunciata O’Connor and Maureen Merlo to celebrate seventy and fifty years respectively as Faithful Companions of Jesus.  A concelebrated Mass in the Genazzano chapel marked the occasion and this was followed by afternoon tea and opportunity to spend time with a large group of people.

Kathleen Mary Ride celebrated her seventy years of Profession earlier at the Mary MacKillop Aged Care facility with a group of FCJ Sisters present. A lovely afternoon tea was shared by all.

Aileen fcJ

July 2017

Proficiat, Romo Big John

On Sunday 30th July, Srs Margaret O'Donohue, Margaret Claver Hayes and Maryrose Dennehy had the joy and privilege of attending the Golden Jubilee Eucharist of Fr John O'Doherty OMI. (Oblate of Mary Immaculate)  Fr John lived and worked in Indonesia from 1982- 2011; for most of that time, he was a very good friend of all the FCJ sisters who also lived and worked in Yogyakarta for varying lengths of time.  Immediately before going to Indonesia, Fr John was the parish priest of Rosebud, a seaside town in Victoria, Australia, from 1979-1982, where he is still remembered fondly by many people.

Fr John's Jubilee Eucharist was celebrated at St John Vianney's Church, an OMI parish in Springvale, Melbourne. This Eucharist was specially arranged after the parish Masses, at 11:30 am.  Fr John personally welcomed each group of relations or friends, as they arrived at the Church.  He was very pleased to see  three FCJ sisters present.

Six fellow OMI priests con-celebrated with Fr John, who gave the homily, speaking with gratitude and sincerity of his many blessings during his fifty years of priesthood.  We felt that we represented many FCJs who had profited from Fr John's kindness, good humour and priestly apostolate.

After mass everyone present was invited to a carefully-prepared, delicious and lavish luncheon in the well-appointed parish hall.  Fr John now lives in Dernancourt, an OMI parish in South Australia.

Congratulations Fr John!

Maryrose Dennehy fcJ

Support Education in Romania and the Philippines through Christmas Cakes

The traditional Christmas Cake is a must for many families in Australia. Since 1998 a group of women have been making and selling Christmas Cakes in Melbourne with the funds going to support the tertiary education of young people in The Philippines and Romania in Eastern Europe.

The women are ably supported each year by senior secondary students from neighbouring schools including Genazzano FCJ College, MLC, and Xavier College. The students sign on during their term holidays for two or more days and they seem to enjoy the experience of preparing the ingredients for the cooks, washing the tins, lining the tins and more. Then for the artistic there is a chance to work at the gift packaging tables and making the bows. We are grateful to the women from the FCJ Learning and Development Center in Manila who make 1,000 bows for us each year. Another job popular with the students is the packing of the orders and carrying boxes and crates to the cars for our buyers.

Without the students’ assistance we would not make the usual profit of around $45,000 each year.

All are invited to join in the effort by clicking on to our website, and learn of the different ways in which you could obtain a cake or two, if you live in Melbourne, as postage would be prohibitive.

Julie Chamberlin, Co-ordinator, Friends of Romania and The Philippines

June 2017

Birthing Kits

On 25 June a group of 28 sisters, Companions in Mission and other volunteers met at Genazzano FCJ College and packed 403 individual birthing kits for distribution to women in countries in South East Asia and Africa. Each kit contained a plastic sheet and basic necessities for a mother giving birth. The birthing kit project which is an annual event was financed by donations and managed by Ann Rennie CIM. The volunteers enjoyed the work they were doing and had a very pleasant day.

The kits are important for women in third world countries as few women have access to the type of medical treatment we take for granted. Many mothers lack the basic items such as the plastic sheet included in the birthing kit and are forced to give birth on earthen floors.

Hopefully, the present program of sending the kits will expand and more mothers will have access to items vital for the safe delivery of babies.

Margaret Mary Kennedy, CIM

Celebrating with Sr Joyce Stewart fcJ

On Sunday 11 June 2017, FCJs, family and friends joined in a party to celebrate Joyce’s 90th birthday.  Joyce radiated joy as she sat amongst her guests, flanked by several balloons, including two enormous golden helium balloons.  Before the cutting of the cake, Joan Cartlidge fcJ led us in a prayer of thanksgiving for Joyce, followed by a blessing on her.  Pauline Stewart, her sister in law spoke beautifully of the love and admiration the family has for Joyce.  Rosemary Crowe fcJ recalled for us that Joyce, along with Catherine Moore and Loretta Byrne (RIP) and herself, entered religious life on the same day.   Wendy Prendergast spoke on behalf of past students of Vaucluse and said that they owe their love of music to the music appreciation lessons which Sr Joyce had given them when they were students.   Joyce’s response to these words emphasised her joy and gratitude on this special occasion. 

Joyce then stood up and in a clear voice expressed her joy at having so many present, thanked for her gifts, and said what happiness it brought to her to know that she had been able to impart a love of music to her students.   After the cutting of the cake, and the singing of happy birthday, the remainder of the afternoon passed by in an atmosphere of love and joy.

Denise fcJ

News from Epping North

Our house in Epping North is being used for Asylum seekers under the care of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP).  Since it was made available there have normally been two small families living in the house. It is being used as emergency accommodation for these families until they are able to move into a flat.

One of the families which was there for several months is now receiving Centrelink support and has moved into a flat in St. Albans.

An Iranian woman and her 16 year old daughter have moved in while waiting for Centrelink. support. They will stay for three months.

An Ethiopian mother and her two children have also moved into the house.

Libby, who is responsible for housing for BASP, tells us that the Asylum Seekers don't know what they would have done without the house in Epping being available to them.

They are extremely grateful to the FCJs for the use of the house.

Anne Morrison FCJ

The Sister Philomena FCJ “See and Smile” Project

The people of St Joseph’s Parish, Hartlepool recently made a very generous donation to the FCJ Center in Manila in memory of Sister Philomena O’Grady fcJ who had ministered there for many years and was much loved.  The parishioners wanted to support a specific project and we decided to call it “See and Smile”. 


Many people in the area where we work have sight problems.  Once a month there is an Eye Clinic in the FCJ Center where the people can have an eye test and avail of inexpensive glasses.  However, some people cannot afford the glasses so they have the eye test and go away again.  The project would enable the poorest people to receive the glasses that they need.


Because of inadequate nutrition or lack of dental care a number of people in the community have lost their teeth.  This is particularly the case for  many women.  Because they have no teeth they often lack confidence, they do not speak much, and when they do they cover their mouths.  There are also young people who have lost their teeth and because of this they find it hard to get a job. If these people could have dentures it would make a big difference to their lives and wellbeing.   A local dentist is willing to work with us to provide inexpensive dentures. 

We hope Sister Philomena will SEE this from her place in heaven, and that she will SMILE!

FCJ Center, Manila

Temporary Professed meeting in Bandungan, Indonesia

It was a precious opportunity to be together with all Temporary Professed (TP) sisters in our Province from 28 June – 2 July 2017.  Hartini, Mei, Meita, Tyas, Rowena, and I had the gathering at “Shalom” Retreat House, in Bandungan (three hours from Yogyakarta) facilitated by Agnes Samosir.   The place was very cold but was filled with beautiful flowers and cute dogs.  We started with a creative prayer and sharing about our experiences of our ministry and community followed by a session on ‘Welcome and Good bye’.  We were blessed to receive excellent input and to experience deep sharing and companionship.  We were fortunate to have a skype conversation on ‘Cross Cultural Understanding and Sensitivity’ with Michelle, the only TP sister from the Province of the Americas.  It became more special as we could  also talk with her community companions: Pat Halpin and Liz Poilievre.We endeavoured to speak English most of the time for the five days! On the last day we went to “Gedong Songo” where there are nine temples on the  hills with a beautiful view.  This was my first TP meeting and enabled me to experience acceptance and openness to new things and to let go gently.

Karolina Lipat Tolok, fcJ

Farewell to Lila McInerney

On Thursday, 8 June, 2017 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Deepdene, over 300 members of the Genazzano FCJ College community, along with five priests, gathered to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving in recognition of Lila McInerney’s eleven and a half years’ service to the life of our College. When news spread that Lila would be departing Genazzano following her appointment to the position of Principal of Mercy College Coburg, it was decided that the appropriate recognition of Lila’s service was to celebrate Eucharist together, followed by a celebration supper!

A moving moment in the liturgy occurred after communion, when our celebrant Father Chris Middleton SJ invited Lila and the FCJ sisters to the sanctuary while the choir sang John Rutter’s ‘Blessing’ upon her … “The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, To shine upon you and be gracious, and be gracious unto you.”

The College owes an immense debt of gratitude to Lila for her faithful companionship of families, students and staff and for her faith and religious leadership. We wish her God’s blessing in her Principalship of Mercy College Coburg. May the spirit of Marie Madeleine d’Houet continue to animate her and may the vision of Catherine McAuley now inspire her.

Maryrose Dennehy fcJ

Don't Stop Me Now (Queen) Lip Sync

As part of the "Let's Find our Voice" project, this fun clip was produced by Christine Walters, with the students and residents of FCJ College Benalla and Cooinda Benalla Aged Care. Enjoy!

May 2017

Celebrating Lina's First Vows in Ende

It was a milestone for the FCJ Society in Indonesia when Karolina Lipat Tolok (Lina) made her first profession on in Ende on 27 May. A native of Ende, she is our first professed sister from Flores, Indonesia. Here is Clare Hand fcJ's description of the event:

The joy of Lina's vows in Ende was enhanced by the fact that FCJs from Yogyakarta; Beta from tertianship; Meita from Manila; Judith (our Provincial), and Riska, our Muslim friend, were present. At 11am on Friday 26 May we gathered in the chapel for a combined Welcoming and Missioning Ceremony. When Judith gave Lina her new mission, she pinned her letter to a specially woven Selendang (traditional Ende stole). We also pinned blessings to it later in the prayer. The Vows Ceremony took place early on the morning of 27 May. It was delightful to welcome Lina's family, our neighbours and friends. Lina looked radiant, calm and composed. Lina's vows were received by Judith and witnessed by Dewi and Clare. The celebrant, Fr Hermann Sina SVD spoke of the way God was weaving Lina's life with a thread of love. After the ceremony we enjoyed a delicious meal of home cooked food. We joined the guests in two big groups for the "Gawi", a traditional celebratory dance. Later in the day Lina enjoyed opening her cards and gifts and reading greetings from FCJs all around the Society. Thank God for the great day of Lina's vows!

Clare Hand fcJ 

April 2017

Quality Living Groups (Abridged version)

Recently I have volunteered to be part of a Quality Living Group at Vision Australia. People who have lost significant amounts of sight are invited to come together to share their stories, explore their reactions to sight loss and gain information on how to do things differently. A staff member who has a severe vision impairment facilitates the group, supported by a peer volunteer and another sighted volunteer who opens up and provides tea and coffee, welcomes participants and generally supports the program.

I have acted in the role of peer volunteer for a group of seven clients, and we meet for six weeks on a Saturday morning.

Sharing information on eye conditions and their impact on daily living was the agenda for the first meeting. Often other members can offer solutions to problems, empowering members to move forward, to think creatively and thus to overcome much of the depression which can accompany severe disability.

It is wonderful to see the difference in participants as they begin to experience hope in their ability to live a meaningful life. These groups are a blessing for both participants and supporters.

Mary O'Shannessy fcJ

Justice and Peace

In the past few months there have been several justice issues that give us great cause for concern; the extra-judicial killing of suspected drug users and dealers (nearly 8,000 since July 2016), and the plan to restore the death penalty.  Religious and some Bishops are speaking out in protest and are trying to emphasize the need to respect human rights and to honour the rule of law.  In our small way we have joined in this endeavor whenever we could.  We joined the “Walk for Life” which was held at 4 am on 18th February and on 25th February we took part in the Mass and celebration of EDSA Day which commemorates People Power which overthrew the Marcos Regime in 1986.

Ciony takes an active part in the JPICC – AMRSP Group.  It was the FCJs turn to host the meeting on 14th March.  Ciony and Afra presented a power point showing our efforts as a community to promote Justice and Peace.

FCJ Manila Community

Rubbish into useful products

Caring for the environment is a practical way in which we can and ought to work for justice. Maria, one of our novices in Myanmar, is doing just that in a creative and inventive way. Here is what she says to say about that:

I am collecting plastics which come from our rubbish and creating useful products for our community. I am also designing different products for our neighbours so that when we visit we can leave the products as gifts. While sewing is not my passion, this helps me to develop my creativity and gives me an opportunity to help save the environment. I hope that through giving away my products, I can raise awareness about recycling plastic and encourage others to care for the environment.

Maria Khaing Nyein Aye (Novice FCJ)

Maria Khaing Nyein Aye (novice fcJ)

February 2017

Mass for Religious, Family and Friends

On Saturday, 4 February, Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne, celebrated the annual Mass for Religious. A small choir conducted by Sr Denise Mulcahy fcJ led the singing throughout the Mass. Many religious orders of men and women were represented, including fifteen fcJs. It was well timed for our visiting members from the Generalate, Srs Claire Sykes and Trish Binchy fcj, who were able to attend before leaving to begin the visitation in Benalla. The Archbishop was very encouraging and supportive of the contribution of the religious orders to the archdiocese of Melbourne, but also asked for prayerful support as the Catholic Wrap up begins next week. This is the final stage of the Royal Commission into the abuse of children in the church’s institutions. Sr Veronica Hoey sgs gave a vote of thanks to many people at the end of Mass, and then we all made our way to the Hall for light refreshments and a chance to catch up with old friends.

Mary O’Shannessy fcJ