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Sr. Margaret O'Brien, facilitator

Consultative Meeting 2007
Portsmouth, RI, USA
18-29 July, 2007

This year’s meeting was at St Philomena’s in Rhode Island, USA. This annual meeting is an opportunity for consultation, updating, mutual sharing of views and wisdom between the General superior, her Council and the provincials. The meeting differs from an Extended General Council Meeting which some congregations hold and which, as its name suggests, is decision-making in nature.

We were blessed to have use of the recently constructed Activity Centre of St. Philomena School with its convenient facilities, including the air-conditioning which was most welcome in the warmth and humidity of the summer weather.  We appreciated the warmth and hospitality of friends of our FCJ sisters and some relaxing time together on our free days.  The facilitator for our meeting was Margaret O’Brien OSU and our theme was “Anchored in Hope”.  We had chosen the theme without realising that St. Philomena School has an anchor as its school symbol and that the state of Rhode Island’s official flag has an anchor with the word “Hope” written underneath.  Many of us had the opportunity of crossing Mount Hope Bridge in our comings and goings, so we felt a great affirmation of the message of our theme.

Our meeting gave opportunity to speak of the planning for the General Chapter 2008 and the preparation for it that is linked with Provincial Chapters.  Our agenda included a wide range of topics, including mission effectiveness, our Mandate for Mission and the responses to it across the Society, formation and communication, and on the 2008 celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the death of Marie Madeleine. 

Fr. Howard Gray SJ.One of the highlights of this meeting was the day with Fr. Howard Gray SJ on “Mission Effectiveness”. Howard shared many insights with us and his wisdom and experience were appreciated by all. He spoke of the importance of developing and nurturing our imagination as this is a God-given gift which can empower us. When we find ourselves lacking what we need or unsure as to what to do, our imagination will help us to think of possibilities. Remember the old saying “necessity is the mother of invention”. 

He suggested that the “experiences” which Ignatius asked of the novices were chosen in order to develop their imaginations for greater mission effectiveness.  Applying this to our reality today when we see so many needs to which we would love to respond or we find ourselves stretched to the limits in our community responsibilities, we can see the importance of asking ourselves, “what are the other possibilities in this situation?”  We may find that by allowing our imagination some scope, we can come up with possibilities we never dreamed of!  It is important that we encourage imagination in ourselves and in others.  Sometimes we may need to distance ourselves from the rush and demands of a situation in order to have that wider vision of what may be possible, hence the importance of taking time for prayerful reflection and solitude.

Local Portsmouth FCJ Community and helpers.

Our grateful thanks go to the local FCJ community who with several FCJ and lay helpers provided us with wonderful hospitality.

It was a consolation to be with the community, some Companions in Mission, faculty members and many friends for the farewell to Sr. Teresa Connolly who died on Saturday 7 July, just after our arrival, and whose funeral some of us were able to attend on 10 July. We marvelled at Teresa’s courage in moving from Bunclody, Ireland aged 67 and giving herself totally to life and mission at St. Philomena! It was lovely that Maria Dunne and Mary Fitzpatrick who had known Teresa in their school days were pall bearers at the funeral Mass. Both remembered Teresa with great affection. After the burial, we wandered among the FCJ graves in the cemetery, calling to mind those who rest there. May they rest in peace

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Ang among Kapunungan naningkamot diha
     sa pagdayeg sa kasing-kasing ni Hesus
           inubanan sa Iyang panabang    (Marie Madeleine)