Point of View ... Meet the delegates ... Read their point of view

Katherine Mary O'Flynn fcJ            Kathryn Lennon fcJ                        Denise Mulcahy fcJ
           General Superior                           General Bursar                               General Secretary
Katherine Mary O'Flynn, fcJ.              Kathryn Lennon, fcJ.              Denise Mulcahy, fcJ.

 

Jane Galvin fcJ,                              Barbara Brown-Graham fcJ          Maryrose Dennehy, fcJ
 Province of the Americas               Province of Asia-Australia             Province of Asia-Australia
Jane Galvin, fcJ.              Barbara Brown-Graham, fcJ.              Maryrose Dennehy fcJ.

 

Paola Terroni fcJ,                           Margarita Byron fcJ,                      Lynne Baron fcJ,
 Province of Asia-Australia                British Province                              British Province
Paola Terroni fcJ.              Margarita Byron, fcJ.              Lynne Baron, fcJ.

 

Bernadette Coughlin fcJ,               Jo Grainger fcJ,                              Joan McGeough, fcJ
 British Province                              British Province                              British Province
Bernadette Coughlin, fcJ.              Jo Grainger, fcJ.              Joan McGeough, fcJ.

 

Brenda Wallace fcJ,                       Mary Fitzpatrick fcJ,                       Ruth Casey fcJ,
 British Province                              Continental Province                      Continental Province
Brenda Wallace, fcJ.              Mary Fitzpatrick, fcJ.              Ruth Casey, fcJ.

 

Veronika Schreiner fcJ,                  Gerardine Curran fcJ,                     Elizabeth Ryan fcJ,
 Continental Province                      Irish Province                                Irish ProvinceVeronika Schreiner, fcJ.             Gerardine Curran, fcJ.              Elizabeth Ryan, fcJ.

 

Frances Kennedy fcJ.Frances Kennedy fcJ, General Assistant

Of work there has been plenty, but the beautiful surroundings of Bon Pasteur have added a distinctive dimension to the richness of the Chapter experience. On one particular wall, mid-way in the extensive gardens, a virginia creeper is draped like a colourful cloak. The days of Chapter have given opportunity to watch a transformation from red and russet streaks on a greenish background to a blazing wall of colour and then to increasing bareness and a narrow carpet of fallen leaves. The spectacle offered much matter for reflection on the abundant generosity of God in nature, the wonder of colour and the the importance of the present moment.
Patricia Binchy, fcJ.

 

Patricia Binchy fcJ, Province of the Americas

This Chapter experience is a time of journeying to the heart of who we are as FCJs and exploring how the life and energy of our charism and spirituality can best be released to the Church and world of today. It has been a faith-stretching experience, trusting that the Spirit is alive and well within us.

Judith Routier fcJ.Judith Routier fcJ, Province of Asia-Australia

The first image that came to me on being asked to write something about my chapter experience, was of the beautiful flowing river across the road from Bon Secour. I have enjoyed many walks there reflecting on the various situations and questions before us as capitulars. It only takes two minutes on leaving the Chapter room to be standing at the water's edge, or walking north or south along peaceful paths. It is there that I have brought my companions each morning, noon and evening, and have prayed for the day's process. It is there, in the knowledge of God's love and concern for this beautiful world, that I have felt ever more strongly God's desire for us to bring His gentle peace to all situations of life.

 

 

Paula Mullen fcJ.Paula Mullen fcJ, Province of the Americas (newly elected General Assistant)

This Chapter is truly an experience of union of minds and heawrts. I feel renewed in spirit and energized.

 

Clare Hand fcJ.Clare Hand fcJ, Province of Asia-Australia

My experience during the course of this Chapter has been a truly wonderful one.
I loved the way that we as Chapter members moved from being individuals who belonged to a Province, or to Central Community, to being a single body representing the Society.  I have enjoyed the actual “process” of the Chapter – the process of working through the agenda.  I liked working in small table groups, however, I especially enjoyed those times when work took place in the large group and we had the opportunity to hear the opinions, thoughts, wisdom and knowledge of as many of us who wanted to speak.  I feel at peace at the way we have dealt with the various kinds of material submitted to the Chapter – we have really tried to listen to the “voice” of the Society and to respond as the Spirit has led us.   Hopefully, the documents that come out of the Chapter will lead us all into the next five years and help us to be even more responsive to the needs we see in so many places.   

 

Lois Anne Bordowitz fcJ.Lois Anne Bordowitz fcJ, Canadian Province

I have experienced much joy in being part of this General Chapter.  More than ever, I have a sense of the internationality of our Society, which though small in numbers, is vibrantly alive with the passion of Marie Madeleine.

I am in awe of the creativity of my sisters, who can use their gifts through song, dance, words and the new technology.  Being in the land of Marie Madeleine, in an ancient city, has put me more in touch with our roots and the continuity of the spirit of Marie Madeleine who in her life time traveled much and opened many new houses. 

Once again, I thank God for calling me to be a part of this great group of women, afire with zeal for the mission of bring Good News to the poor.

 

Claire Sykes fcJ.Claire Sykes fcJ, General Assistant

This morning we had an extended period of reflection time and I went for a long walk through a nature  reserve  that is near to Bon Pasteur where we are staying.  The morning light was still gentle, the dew heavy.  Joggers passed me on the paths and in the distance I could hear the traffic along the autoroute.  Despite this there was a deep stillness.  My path took me along the banks of the Maine river which flows gently,  imperceptibly.    The only visible movement on the water were the ripples from  the swans and when a heron swooped. 

My heart was filled with gratitude for the beauty of life, for its wonderful pattern of interconnectedness, for its glorious sights and myriad sounds.  I felt deep gratitude again for the experience of this chapter.   There have been several moments when new small insight has  opened  unexpected  layers of meaning to me and helped me  glimpse what sometimes seems impossible

Abraham Heschel writes that awe ‘is a way of being in rapport with the mystery of reality.  Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal’.

May all of us, FCJ Sisters and Companions in Mission, be graced to sense in the small things the beginnings of infinite significance.  May the eventual outcomes of our Chapter help us sense the ultimate in the common and the simple.

 

Agnes Samosir fcJ.Agnes Samosir fcJ, Indonesia

One Monday morning, at prayer, a gentle song was played, "Let me hear, let me hear what you will speak to me, when I turn to you in my heart." The melody was flowing, bring peace ... inviting each one of us to ope the ears of our hearts. Somehow the song moved my spirit to dance gently and softly. Through the eyes of faith, I saw all of us dancing in the harmony of open and listening hearts. To my surprise, I saw our four Companions, Humility, Obedience, Poverty and Gentleness dancing with us ... smiling ... and giving their blessings to each one of us.

Wow! I was amazing and powerful! I was blessed and felt grateful being surrounded by God's peace and faithful love which empowered me to put my trust in God alone ... to let go of what I need to let go and to welcome God's call to us today.

"Dear God, help us to be the valley of the universe ... to be able to hold gently and compassionately the Thirst of the World and to quench it with your water of love and peace.

I would like to thank my dear Companions in Asia-Australia Province who have put trust and confidence in me. Thanks to my dear Sisters and friends around the world who have given me tremendous support and prayers during the Chapter.

 

Maria Dunne fcJ.Maria Dunne fcJ, Irish Province

I find it a very graced experience to be participating in this Chapter and have a real sense of the Holy Spirit presiding over and guiding our decisions. There is a great sense of companionship both from within the Chapter group and from the Society as a whole as we read the Chapter scroll blessings and other communications.

There is great creativity, honesty and listening with the heart as we look to the future through the open door. We are blessed to have a very wise and experienced facilitator to lead us through the various processes of the Chapter.

 

Alicia Pérez fcJ.Alicia Pérez fcJ, Province of the Americas

Sunday, October 5th, saw us reflecting, praying and discussing on the question: What is God asking of us as a Society with regard to our mission directions and priorities for the next five years? Actually, in a sense all of us in the Society have been doing this throughout the sifting process that started last year. I feel privileged and honored to be part of this particular step of the process, striving to have a discerning heart that listens to the Holy Spirit and to the cries of our world / universe today.

 

Eileen Foley fcJ.Eileen Foley fcJ, Irish Province

We spent most of today (October 5th) discussing in table groups, trying to focus our direction — taking up the considerations of the previous days, as well as of the recommendations submitted to the Chapter. My sense of this day was that there was energy and life as we were challenged into trying to formulate, in an inspirational way, our desire to be good companions to those with whom we are involved and to those with whom we wish to be involved. The discussion in table groups, followed each time by open forum, and finally by some quiet reflection, gave each of us an opportunity to submit our own written suggestions for the three synthesisers to glean. The process of facilitation in this enabled good participation from each person.

There were lighter moments during the day, which gave a us a chance to view a powerpoint prepared by a Companion in Mission in Canada, sharing his own call to be a CiM inspired by Marie Madeleine. Another powerpoint on the life of Marie Madeleine presented by Claire Sykes fcJ was a fitting close to our day's work. This was uplifting and beautiful in both its images and in its texts. We also enjoyed some interesting archival shots of Stella Maris and the Foreland from years gone by.

Another full day of listening with the ear of the heart, sharing wisdom, prayerful reflection and beginning to find direction for our mission priorities for the next five years!

 

Susan Donohue fcJ.Susan Donohue fcJ, General Assistant

The chorus in the hymn for morning prayer on 3rd October 2008 set the tone for the presentations on Province Perspectives. To be in your presence is all I desire; To be in your presence and feel your fire of love burning in my heart; Love that ignites, spreading hope on a hurting world. (Kathy Sherman CSJ)

My heart was filled with gratitude to God for the rich sharing by each of the provinces and the European Network on their life, mission and context. There was a sense of honesty in claiming the strengths and a realism in facing the limitations and challenges. The energy in the chapter room was palpable. I marvelled at the creativity shown in both the presentations themselves and in the responses from table groups. Marlette had invited us to use a song, poem, bumper sticker or make a noise to express how we felt at the end of each presentation. The day flew by and I could only marvel at the wonders that God has worked through our Society. God's fidelity and our sisters' deep desire to be united in mind and heart as we strive to offer compassionate love to our thirsting world give me great hope.

 

Christine Anderson fcJChristine Anderson fcJ, British Province

Amazement, graced, delighted, humbled……….just some of the words I would use today as we looked at the province reports of this energetic group of apostolic women. It is a privilege to be here at this Chapter and to get a sense of the whole FCJ Society. This is the last day of gathering data as we continue to discern the directions we need to take for the next five years. 

 

Madeleine Gregg fcJ.Madeleine Gregg fcJ, Province of the Americas

In this day, as I watched wonderfully creative and deeply thoughtful Province presentations, I remembered how Sr. Camilla Burns, SND de N, began her talk, "I've hear that the FCJs are a small group, but they have a huge impact wherever they minister." The presentation and responses to them put flesh aon the bare bones of the statement for me. I was moved to tears more than once and can only echo Mary's Magnificat:

"God who is mighty has done great things in us, with us and for us. Holy is God's name."

 

Rita McLoughlin fcJRita McLoughlin fcJ, Continental Province

The General Chapter is a time when we 'enter in a special way into the Paschal Mystery'. Over the past nine days, however, I have been more conscious of the moments of resurrection and of Chapter as 'the celebration of the life of the Society'. I have been inspired by the FCJ women with whom I have been working, reflecting and sharing these days. They seem to me to be so alive, so committed and so wholeheartedly trying to to see where God is beckoning us.

But I have also known a few of those darker moments of the Paschal Mystery when we were struggling to come to a common understanding or wanted conclusion NOW!

A peak moment of these days for me was the presentation of Sr. Katherine Mary's report. It was wonderfully creative, comprehensive, realistic and definitely challenging. I have been impressed by the complementarity of gifts among us, the variety in the process and the impact of the visual images, displays, powerpoint presentations, liturgical movement which have lifeted my spirits and clarified my thinking.

For all these experiences I say a heartfelt thank you to God and my companions.

 

Lorenza fcJ.Lorenza Magagnin fcJ, Continental Province

Prime impressioni sul Capitolo Generale 2008:

Partecipare ad un Capitolo Generale è sempre un’esperienza nuova – non ha importanza il numero di Capitoli ai quali si è già partecipato - e la si può vivere a diversi livelli. Sono arrivata ad Angers animata da sentimenti contrastanti; da una parte gioia causata dalla possibilità d’incontrare persone conosciute, desiderio di fare nuove conoscenze e tessere nuovi legami, dall’altra apprensione e un po’ di paura, poichè la responsabilità è grande.

La direzione che la Società prenderà nei prossimi cinque anni dipende dal discernimento che come gruppo faremo, dunque non è cosa da prendere alla leggera. La preparazione fatta antecedentemente ci aiuta a restare nel concreto, le nostre sorelle che portano avanti la Missione della Società mentre noi riflettiamo sul suo futuro, sono presenti tramite la riflessione fatta nel corso del Capitolo provinciale ed altri incontri.

I diversi interventi sono stati molto belli e ricchi d’ispirazione. Momenti di preghiera e di riflessione personale alternano le discussioni (che si svolgono in piccoli gruppi o nel grande gruppo secondo l’argomento). Rispetto ed ascolto le une delle altre sono caratteristiche di questi scambi. Delle belle liturgie ci accompagnano.

Da due giorni siamo entrate nel Capitolo vero e proprio e i diversi resoconti ci fanno toccare con mano le meraviglie che il Signore fa nel nostro mondo tramite la Società. Sono soprafatta dall’emozione quando sento quanto bene le nostre sorelle fanno, quanto dolore alleviano, quanta speranza seminano. È certo, un Capitolo Generale è un posto privilegiato per mettersi in contatto con la realtà (positiva e negativa) della nostra Società, con le sue speranze, le sue preoccupazioni, i suoi sogni.

Che sarà il nostro avvenire? Per il momento non lo sappiamo. Esso ci sarà svelato poco a poco con il procedere del Capitolo. Lo Spirito è certamente all’opera ed ognuna presente è uno strumento nelle sue mani, come Marie Madeleine e tante delle nostre sorelle che ci hanno preceduto, lo sono stato.

« Le Bon Dieu a tout conduit lui-même » diceva Marie Madeleine e sono certa che continuerà a farlo. Dobbiamo avere coraggio e fiducia, ma soprattutto una grande fiducia.

Bonnie Moser, fcJBonnie Moser fcJ, Province of the Americas

The General Superior’s Report presented a wonderful, visual overview of the very diverse realities we are living as FCJs across the world.  Katherine Mary’s report is keeping alive the question:  ‘What is God asking of us now?

 

Afra Primadiana fcJAfra Primadiana fcJ, Province of Asia-Australia

I was very touched by the honesty of the report. It shows our light and darkness, our joy, sorrow and hope as the Society, Faithful Companions of Jesus. We are in the footsteps of, and walk with, Jesus and Marie Madeleine and those before us through this Pascal mystery of life, death and resurrection.

 

Beatrice Molyneux fcJ.Beatrice Molyneux fcJ, Irish Province

On October 1st we experienced the General Superior’s report.  During the opening ritual, which began in the garden, I was asked to carry the Chapter Candle leading the capitulars across the threshold, through the open door and into the Chapter Room.  What was to follow proved to be a most beautiful and thorough account of the five years since our last Chapter in Calgary in 2003.  It evoked in me a deeper appreciation of our living FCJ charism.  I was profoundly moved by the music and images of the power point presentation and in particular by the photographs of our beloved sisters and old friends who have died most recently.  May they rest in peace.  The pictures of our newer members filled me with hope for the future and inspired me to resolve to pray and work more earnestly, by all means in my power, to further the continued growth of our little Society.

Sr Katherine Mary’s strong and gentle leadership became increasingly evident as the morning proceeded.  So much has been achieved in Jesus’ name.  With the help of her three General Assistants: Srs Frances Kennedy, Claire Sykes and Susan Donohue and also through the symbolic visit of Marie Madeleine (Sr Kathryn Lennon) and Mother Josephine Petit (Sr Denise Mulcahy) Katherine Mary varied delightfully the pace and content of her presentation.  It was a most excellent account of the stewardship of Central Government and of Katherine Mary’s own mandate as our tenth General Superior. 

My prayers of deep gratitude and affection are with and for Katherine Mary as she moves into the next five years of her mandate as General Superior.

“Le Bon Dieu a tout conduit lui – meme.” (Marie Madeleine)

 

Marion Dooley fcJ.Marion Dooley fcJ, Province of Asia-Australia

I found our FCJ pilgrimage to Sainte Anne d’ Auray particularly moving. Prior to Our Lady’s apparition in Lourdes, Sainte Anne d’Auray, in Brittany was the most popular place of pilgrimage in France honouring St. Anne, mother of Mary. It was here, in 1825 that Marie Madeleine, foundress of the Faithful Companions of Jesus began a small community. What touched me so much was the fact that this property was home to numerous FCJ’s for over a 100 years. Having suffered religious persecution the house eventually closed in 1929. Very little is known of these women who lived lives of hidden fidelity here. I could sense their presence, their struggles and their joys. I felt connected to them. Perfection and the achievement of good works was not their legacy to me on this beautiful Autumn day of September 28th 2008. Rather, I was moved by their faithfulness and the hidden manner in which they lived out the commitment of their lives to God. As individuals, they are largely forgotten, but as a group of faithful women their presence was palpable and their legacy lives on. I felt the power of the following words:
                   I am standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me.
                   I am stronger for their courage. I am wiser for their words.
                   I am lifted by their longing for a fair and brighter future.
                   I am grateful for their vision, for their toiling on this earth.

I wondered what legacy I / we would leave the next generation of FCJ’s?  I can only hope and pray that we too will create strong bonds of faithfulness, love and compassion and that future generations will be nourished by the choices we make.

 

Mary Campion McCarren, fcJMary Campion McCarren fcJ, British Province

My Impressions of Ste Anne d’Auray?

Light and beauty, warmth and welcome; smiles and prayers; people and trees… joy, sadness and consolation … a place of homecoming, a place of memory, with a great welcome from the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and a sense too of FCJ spirits hovering in the garden, in the Chapel, on the old wooden staircase and above all in the cemetery.

It was Ferdinand Jeantier who named the three little bridges over the now dried-up stream, Louise Legrand who planned and planted the first Park…  it was here that Josephine Petit courageously finalised plans to send Sisters to Australia and Canada; … it was from here, under political pressure, that Magdalen Harding organised the removal to the Channel Islands, a voyage very different in cause and emotion from those to new missionary foundations …  and here, for hundreds of novices, the Vow Bell  rang… and we rang it again  for Vows recently made, for Vows being celebrated… and hopefully for Vows yet to be made…

How many had walked here before us with their hopes and dreams, their pain and disappointments, their bafflements and tears! The Paschal Mystery… We were encountering discernment lived out, one step at a time, and seeing that if that step didn’t  work– we try another…

It was a wonderful way for FCJ capitulars to spend their last preparation day – touching into the past, into history and pondering the mystery

 

Ann McGill fcJAnn McGill fcJ, Province of the Americas

I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Ste. Anne d'Auray, not only because it is a special place of pilgrimage in honor of Ste. Anne, my patron, but also because of its significance in our early FCJ history.  A most helpful guide/prayer booklet had been prepared for each of us which added greatly to the benefit we derived from our visit.

It was most moving and inspiring to learn more about the experiences, both joyful and painful, of our early FCJ Sisters.  We were most warmly welcomed by the Holy Spirit Sisters who now own what was once our property.  In small groups we visited in turn the chapel, the garden, the cemetery, and the vow bell.  The latter was rung apparently each time a group of novices professed their vows, and our history tells us that some time they had two or three groups in a year.   Our group renewed our vows around the bell and rang one peal of the bell in celebration of all who had professed their vows at Ste. Anne d'Auray and in celebration of our own vocation.

Since I had just recently moved from St. Philomena Convent, Portsmouth, I remembered especially in prayer before the statue of St. Philomena in the garden, all associated with St.Philomena convent and School.  Deo Gratias.

Le Bon Dieu a tout conduit lui-même ... Marie Madeleine