In January 2024 FCJ Sisters gathered with friends in Bucharest and Galați to celebrate and give thanks for thirty years of presence and mission in Romania. They write:
What a wonderful few days we have had remembering and celebrating the beginnings of our mission in Romania!
Following the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, it seemed only right to see what the needs were behind the “iron curtain” where people had been denied the practice of their faith for so long. Research on the needs began in 1990, resulting in Srs Imelda and Maeve being sent on a fact-finding mission to Eastern Europe from September 1992 to February 1993. Romania was the first country they visited, of the eight countries shown on the map.
Imagine their surprise when they went to Mass in the new Catholic church in Bucuresti Noi, and caught sight of the tabernacle, donated from FCJ Bunclody, Ireland, that had once been in The Hollies school, Manchester. Maeve said, “We were deeply moved by this experience. It was as if the Lord were saying: ‘See, I go before you.'” Following their report, it was decided to send sisters to Romania.
Sisters Margaret from Australia, Mary from Canada and Imelda from Italy left London for Bucharest on 12 January 1994! Srs Maeve from Ireland and Sr Mary from England joined them after a few months.
Some of the Sisters collaborated with JRS, taught English, and shared our Ignatian spirituality, in Bucharest and offered hospitality to students who lived with the Sisters in their apartments on Calea 13 Septembrie. Other Sisters engaged in educational and pastoral activities in a university and an orphanage in the town of Galați, a port on the river Danube. Our FCJ charism and our companioning with people in their material and spiritual needs has always been much appreciated.
Our thirty anniversary celebrations began on 12 January 2024 with a Mass of thanksgiving in Bucharest. Archbishop Aurel Perca concelebrated the Mass in the FCJ community chapel, with Fr Eduard, our former parish priest and friend, who now is working in the Cathedral, and with Fr, Luc SJ, a good Jesuit friend of ours from Belgium who arrived in Romania in 1992 and began JRS, where he worked many years with Sr Maeve. After the Mass, we showed a presentation with pictures of these thirty years, including the vow ceremonies of Srs Gabriela and Cornelia in 2017, and Sr Ramona’s First Vows in 2022. There were also photos of our FCJ Companions in Mission renewing their commitments both in Bucharest and Galați. Sarmale and other Romanian delicacies were enjoyed by all in the agape afterwards.
Similar festivities happened in Galați during the following weekend 13-14 January with Mass in the parish church, agape, dancing, renewal of friendships, and appreciation of our FCJ spirituality.
We were delighted that Srs Imelda and Ruth were with us in person for the celebrations. We also remembered with gratitude those Sisters who have “gone before us”, Margaret and Olive R.I.P., and also Sisters Maeve and Mary Kelly who were unable to be with us.
May our good God continue to bless our FCJ mission in Romania, and call many generous young women to serve in the apostolic religious life. AMDG