Hundreds of school students in the UK and across the globe will this month take part in a collective Day of Kindness to launch the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the founding of a religious congregation, the Faithful Companions of Jesus. On September 20th, pupils in schools founded by the Congregation will be invited to go out of their way to show kindness in their school and home. This will include tea parties for the elderly, random acts of kindness and a variety of charity work. FCJ schools in Britain are located in Liverpool, the Wirral, Middlesex and London. Students in schools in Jersey, Ireland, France, Australia, Canada and the United States of America will also be taking part in creating a wave of kindness encompassing the globe.
In addition, this historical anniversary will be marked by action targeting a very modern problem: the climate crisis. Globally, the Congregation has made care of the environment a priority for mission, and in response to the climate emergency, 10 trees will be planted by each FCJ community group in their local areas. Individual sisters will make efforts to divest of single-use plastics and encourage their colleagues and friends to do so as well. The Congregation will also contribute financial support for an alternative energy project.
The Congregation of the Faithful Companions of Jesus was founded in France in 1820 and September 21st marks the birthday of the foundress, Marie Madeleine d’Houët. The bicentenary celebrations will run from the 21st September 2019 until the Feast of Christ the King in November 2020.
There will be a host of events to celebrate this Bicentenary Year:
- A Day of Kindness to launch the Bicentenary Year of Celebration.
- The staging of a theatre production based on the life of Marie Madeleine and the expansion of the Society she founded; the play has been commissioned from Rise Theatre and will be performed in the UK, Ireland and other English-speaking locations where FCJs and their Companions in Mission live and work.
- Various internal celebrations in FCJ Schools and Spirituality Centres.
- Local radio interviews and presentations in different parts of the world.
- A commemorative painting is in preparation and will be published online.
- A new song will be composed for use in FCJ schools and in parishes where FCJs and their Companions in Mission live and work.
- Liturgical and para-liturgical celebrations in the locations where FCJ sisters live or have ministered in the past.
- Planting trees around the world. The sisters in Europe have committed to planting 10 trees for each community group in the bicentenary year.
- New materials on the Foundress and the history of the Faithful Companions of Jesus have been made available.
- Unpublished material from FCJ archives will be available online.
May the celebrations be a source of new life and strengthened hope.
General Superior of the FCJ Society, Sr Mary Claire Sykes fcJ