Extensive research was undertaken on where to establish the first FCJ foundations in Asia which included China, South Korea, Japan and India. The decision was made to begin in Indonesia and the Philippines.
The first Faithful Companion of Jesus arrived in Yogyakarta, Central Java on December 16th 1987. Ten months later a second FCJ joined her and the first FCJ community was established in a small rented house just before Christmas 1988. The sisters taught English and engaged in pastoral work in Sanata Dharma University which is run by the Jesuits.
On 29th September 1991 two Indonesian postulants were accepted. Further postulants and novices have entered the Society in subsequent years. The sisters moved into their newly built house in August 1992. Since then a number of FCJ sisters from around the Society have been missioned to Indonesia. A second house was opened in Yogyakarta in September 1998 and on November 1st 2005, a new community was established in Ende, Flores.
There were FCJ communities in Kupang, West Timor (1993 – 1997) and Purwokerto (2002 – 2005). The sisters who lived in Kupang taught in the Catholic University and in the Major Seminary and those in Purwokerto were engaged in parish work.
A milestone for the FCJ ministry in Yogyakarta was the completion and opening of Sarasvita in October 2017. The word Sarasvita, living water, comes from Sanskrit. Situated adjacent to Soropadan community house, the Sarasvita Centre for Spirituality and Human Development is a centre for spiritual direction and counselling, for retreats and conferences; it is a place for nurturing spiritual and human development.
The sisters missioned to Indonesia have engaged in a diversity of ministries including: teaching, nursing, promoting natural family planning, parish work, pastoral and social work, counselling and therapy, spiritual direction, retreat giving, ministry to women and young people, inter-faith dialogue and development work.
In the Philippines
In 1988, six FCJ sisters went to the Philippines. Two communities were established; one in Naga (a rural area in Zamboanga Del Sur on the island of Mindanao), and one in Quezon City (which is part of Metro Manila, the National Capital Region).
In Naga, the sisters made social and human development in the context of faith their explicit focus: they worked with young people, initiated an ecology project and opened credit unions and cooperatives. They also offered their support in the local Church and took on various other educational, social, pastoral and spiritual ministries. The FCJ ministry in Naga was deeply appreciated by the local people, who sadly said goodbye to the sisters when, due to security concerns and the feeling that the Society had given the people a good enough start for them to be able to continue on their own, the sisters left in 2000 to start another house in Maasin, Southern Leyte, another Cebuano-speaking region of the Philippines. Here, the sisters worked closely with the Bishop in parish and community building, in catechetics, and in work with the youth and those in prison. St. Joseph’s Boys’ Home for street boys was established in 2005, and when the FCJ sisters left Maasin in 2010, this was handed over to the Diocese.
In Quezon City, the first small community actively supported various educational and health care projects and eventually established the FCJ Learning and Development Center, serving the people living adjacent to the Payatas dumpsite. In addition, with financial help from FCJ schools and associates in different parts of the world, they also offered annual scholarships to cover college fees for the tertiary studies of young people from the area, a practice that continues today. They also continue to provide weekend tutoring sessions for children from nearby squatter districts. The aim of our sisters working with poor people in the Philippines has always been to work alongside them, to learn from them, and to share skills and expertise with them. People are encouraged to develop their own ways to a deeper faith, to a better standard of living, and to building a more just and caring society.
The first Philippine candidates joined the Society in 1994. We are desirous to share our FCJ charism with the Filipino people. Our sisters are zealous in making our charism known by any means, particularly with young people.
The Province of Asia-Australia
In 2002, the Sisters from Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines united to form a new province of the FCJ Society – the Province of Asia-Australia. In 2009 a community in Myanmar was added to the province.
Sharing our companionship….
The first FCJ community was established in early 2009. Two FCJ sisters arrived in Yangon on 9th January and were joined by a third sister the following month. They went to Myanmar at the suggestion of the Jesuits and with the support of the local clergy. The FCJs were attracted by the potential for ministry with the Myanmarese people. After years of exploration and research and many short visits to the country they were attracted by the beauty of the people, their hospitality, simplicity and gentleness, their compassion and hope.
The community lived in three different rented houses since first arriving in 2009. By 2017 the mission had developed to such an extent that it was discerned it was a good time to buy the third rented house, located in Kamayut Township, Yangon. It made a huge difference to the ministry of the FCJs to have their own building. The house quickly became a place where all people were welcome, a place of hospitality and companionship.
The 27th November 2017 was a special moment when the sisters joined the crowds welcoming Pope Francis on his visit to Myanmar.
Since arriving in Yangon the sisters have engaged in various ministries including teaching English and Indonesian in several schools and places of higher education; chaplaincy work; youth work; working to empower women; retreat giving and spiritual accompaniment.
On the 8th December, 2018 the first two Myanmarese FCJs, made their first profession. This joyful occasion was held at St Augustine’s Parish Church, Yangon and was well attended by FCJs, family members and friends of the community.
God’s Faithful Instrument, by Patricia Grogan, fcJ,
were used on this page.