Provincial Chapter 2008: January 29 to February 5


The Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus came to Canada in 1883, to the> USA in 1920, to Argentina in 1984, to Bolivia in 1988 and to Mexico in 2007, and sisters from all of these countries are gathering at the FCJ Christian Life Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The year 2008 is special for FCJ sisters as it markes the 150th anniversary of the death of our Foundress, Marie Madeleine and 125 years of FCJ presence in the Americas

January 29

The Provincial Chapter began with a beautiful prayer ritual that brought together in dance the five countries where we live.  Each person had the opportunity of being blessed by the four elements of water, fire, earth and air.

 Photos of the opening ceremony.

Sr. Patricia Binchy then shared with us the second part of her report in which she encouraged us to ponder Marie Madeleine’s tenacious and single-minded response to the “I thirst” and to realize the choice that we have, to live out our vision from a stance of abundance, claiming the gifts God has given us, or from a position in which we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by diminishment. 

In the afternoon Sr. Bonnie Moser gave us a creative and concise financial report that called us to reflect on the values from which we live trying to “walk lightly upon the earth.”

Photos:  Sr. Patricia gave the second part of her report and Sr. Bonnie gave the financial report.

January 30

We began the morning and afternoon sessions with ten minutes of silence in which people took turns knitting what will eventually be a prayer shawl for someone who is sick.

 Photos of Sisters knitting.

Sr. Marcella Bresnihan led us in a prayer before we began our reflection on "Through God's Grace", a Society document that looks at the past twenty five years.

In groups of three we used our imaginations to respond to the document as if it were being read in 2083 by an older sister who knew some of us who are living the charism to day, by a new postulant and by a graduate student who was studying the influence of Vatican II on religious communities of women.

Photos of table group discussions.

In the afternoon we shared our insights on how we can release the energy in our charism which is so relevant to the needs of the world and church today.

Photos of table group discussions.

January 31

The knitting project continued as it will do each day.  Then Sr. Alice Daly lit the Chapter candle and Sr. Margarita Byron fcJ led us in a prayer about God's indwelling presence in us and in our universe. 

Two Companions in Mission from Edmonton, Doug and Laura Krefting, and Mary Robertson, Cathy Heaton, Pauline Greener and Pat Molesky from Calgary joined us for Margarita's inspiring presentation on beauty as the divine attribute by which the world will be saved. 

Photos of table group discussions.

Before lunch Margarita helped us to ponder some parts of the Mass from a cosmic dimension.  In the afternoon we gathered in chapel where Margarita and Sr. Marilyn Matz read the text of Teilhard de Chardin's "Mass on the World" while Srs. Cecilia Connolly, Joanna Walsh, Pat Desnoyers and Ely Peralta danced beautifully to a medley of music.

Ritual praying with Teilhard's 'Mass on the World'.

More photos of the ritual.

Photos from the Mavericks of Alberta exhibition.The final presentation of the day was a consideration of some links between the Spiritual Exercises, our Constitutions and eco-spirituality.

In the evening, many of the chapter members visited the Mavericks of Alberta Exhibition at the Glenbow Museum., where M. Mary Greene fcJ (one of the first FCJs to come to Canada) is featured.

Photos of presentation by FCJs from Mexico.

Finally, to end the day, we heard from our Sisters who have been missioned to form a new community in Mexico … their struggles and the joy they have found there.

February 1

Sr. Mary Leahy guided us in a meditative prayer before we began the work of the morning.  We read the summary of our responses to questions about "Through God's Grace", a reflective document describiing our lived reality overr the last twenty-five years, and clarified a number of points. 

More photos of group work.

Srs. Paula and Ely play for Mass.Fr. Max Oliva, SJ, was the celebrant for Mass at 11:30. He said Mass in Spanish and Fr. Freddie Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Parish in Calgary had led us in a bilingual celebration of the Eucharist yesterday.

We have enjoyed the richness of both languages in the hymns used and the variety of musicians who have added to our celebration.

In the afternoon we used all of the information we had received in preparation for the Chapter to answer the question: "What do we need to do within our own Province to integrate and deepen our understanding of what we have received, of who we are and of what we are called to as a result?"

Preparing for the circle dance.City skyline from the windows of the FCJ Centre.Sr. Ita Connery led us in a circle dance
in honour of St. Brigid
whose feast it was today. 


The skyline of Calgary by night.

In the evening, Sr. Margarita Byron fcJ gave a presentation on the "Cosmic Walk" which about 40 invited guests enjoyed with us.  A sale of crafts from some of our missions and a social took place after the presentation.

Photos taken during Sr. Margarita's presentation.

Sale of handicrafts for the mission areas.

February 2

Today, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, we celebrated the light passed from Marie Madeleine to the Sisters who came to Canada 125 years ago.  Sr. Lucy, who had spoken to us in our prayer of Tuesday morning, told us today that M. Mary Greene had been one of the first FCJs in this land.  M. Mary Greene spoke of her life and then passed the light onto Sr. Anna Rodinyak who shared some of her story before passing the lamp to one of her students.

Sr. Patricia Binchy had introduced the theme of light and gratitude before Srs. Paula Mullen, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Mary Kelly and Terry Smith took on the roles of the women mentioned above. Sisters presenting FCJs from the past.

Photo of Chapter Room.The business of the day involved clarification of responses to "Through God's Grace" and discussion of some recommendations for the General Chapter. 

A Sarah's Circle with Ruby and five of the Chapter members was the focus for the first part of the afternoon.  Each Sister spoke of her experience of this Chapter; other Sisters replaced them so that many of us had the opportunity to share our Chapter experience thus far.

The chapel prepared for the double anniversary celebration.

A Double Anniversary Celebration

Bishop Henry was our celebrant for the Vigil Mass of Sunday.  In his homily he commented on how perfect the readings from Zephaniah and I Corinthians were for us FCJs who were celebrating two special anniversaries: 150 years since the death of Marie Madeleine, our foundress, and 125 years since the first 8 FCJ Sisters arrived in The Americas, coming first to Canada. 

He shared some of the story of the FCJ's ten day journey to Edmonton! pointing out how faith-filled and practical they were!  The bishop joined us afterwards for a social.

Sr. Rosaline fcJ, Sr. Ely fcJ and Bishop Henry cut the Anniversary Cake.
Sr. Rosaline fcJ, Sr. Ely fcJ and Bishop Henry cut the Anniversary Cake.

Sr. Alice fcJ and Sr. Silvana fcJ propose a toast to Marie Madeleine.Sr. Alice fcJ and Sr. Silvana fcJ propose a toast to Marie Madeleine.

Photos taken during the celebration.

More photos from the celebration.

February 3 - A Free Day!

We were all glad to have a free day ... and we took advantage of the opportunity in many different ways; many went to the mountains, some went for a city walk, others to a film. There was opportunity to shop and to share a meal out together.

Pictures in the mountains.

Further pictures in the mountains.


While the Chapter members were having a break, our Companions in Mission and the FCJs who could not be present with us were working hard on our behalf. They had received by email our draft documents and sent us their prayerful reflections.

Photos of Alicia's presentation.In the evening, Alicia Pérez, fcJ made a presentation on a summer experience she had had with young people interested in Ignatian Spirituality.

It took place at Jesùs Maria, a town in the province of Còrdoba, Argentina.

Alicia's presentation was excellent and her enthusiasm was contagious!

February 4

Saying thank you to Margarita.This morning, Sr. Ellen McCarthy fcJ led us in a prayer that was supported by a video of Melissa Etheridge singing "I Need to Wake Up" that expressed our desire and need to awake to the needs of creation. 

Sr. Margarita Byron fcJ then spoke to us of our image of God and how our ecological insights may have changed our image. 

Secondly we considered where God is and then what kind of power is God's. A quote that Margarita shared from Goethe was "Love does not dominate; it cultivates."   

Sr. Anne Morrison fcJ thanked Margarita on our behalf.

In the last part of the morning we raised names of possible General Chapter delegates in prayerful circles of discernment.


In the afternoon we received the talk-back responses from our Sisters who cannot be with us and from our Companions in Mission. We are very grateful for the trouble that people at a distance took over the weekend to participate.

Throughout the afternoon, we studied their responses and made adjustments to the documents we had prepared, commenting on "Through God's Grace", our calls to General Chapter and  the awarenesses and invitations to be offered to our Province.  We also reviewed three proposals for the General Chapter.

In the evening we prepared for and had a party, a Mardi Gras, which traditionally is the last day of Carnival (Goodbye to meat!) before the observance of Lent began. This day is often known as Shrove or Pancake Tuesday.

Making masks for our 'Mardi Gras' party.Photos at the party.More photos at the party.More photos of the party.More photos of the party.

Morning prayer ritual on our last day.


February 5 - Moving Outward

As our day began, Sr. Pat Desnoyers fcJ led us in a ritual which invited us to reflect on the earth, on growth and on how we nurture growth in ourselves and in our world.

We spent the morning finalizing our work for General Chapter and committing ourselves, individually and as a Provincial Chapter Group to the awarenesses and invitations we had named for our Province:

Chapter call.

Fr. Rupe McLellan, a faithful and dear friend, celebrated our final Eucharist with us. Once again, we sang in Spanish and in English, finishing with a rousing and moving rendition of Dolly Bramley's Magnificat.

After Mass, we had a group picture (Chapter members, our facilitator, Ruby Cribbin, and FCJ Sisters from the Sacred Heart community who had not been Chapter members.)

Group picture.

Photos from the 'Mardi Gras' celebration.At lunch, Sr. Pat Halpin fcJ thanked the staff of the FCJ Centre, as well as Sr. Imelda and the community of Sacred Heart Convent for all that they had done to make our meeting so comfortable and successful.

This afternoon began with evaluation of our Chapter experience. Then Sr. Patricia thanked Ruby Cribbin, our superb facilitator; Sr. Stephanie fcJ thanked Sr. Trish; Sr. Darlene fcJ thanked Sr. Bonnie for her financial report and stewardship on our behalf; Sr. Donna Marie fcJ thanked the Planning Committee, as well as thanking Alicia for her simultaneous translation. Sr. Mary fcJ thanked the Committee and Sr. Ann fcJ thanked each one here, as well as the FCJs and CiMs who had supported us from a distance.

Sr. Patricia thanks the faciliator; Sr. Stephanie thanks Patricia.

Photos of 'thank yous'.

In the context of a beautiful closing ritual, Sr Trish thanked everyone for their participation and support of her leadership and encouraged us to respond to the invitations which we had named.

Photos of closing ritual.

Tierra Sagrada - Tengo sed

Sacred Earth - I thirst