Welcoming Companions in Mission in London

This autumn the South East England group of FCJ Companions in Mission welcomed two new companions, Lucia and Anne, in two moving and joyful commitment ceremonies. The first took place on 23rd September at Gumley House, the beautiful historic building and landscaped gardens in Isleworth, bought for the FCJ by its foundress Marie Madeleine d’Houët. Sr Rita (local FCJ Co-ordinator) was joined by CiM International Co-ordinator Sue Cawley and CiM Local Co-ordinator Maureen Francis who had organised the formation programme for Lucia and Anne.

They were accompanied on the day by fellow CiM Charm and FCJ sisters Bonnie, Ruth, Judith, and Anouska. Sr Anouska delivered an inspiring and thought-provoking reflection as she received Lucia on behalf of the FCJ Society, in a ceremony of beautiful scripture, music, visuals, prayer and companionship – followed, of course, by plenty of food, drink, and laughter. You can read Anouska’s reflection below.

A month later, on the 21st of October, the CiM in the South East of England group gathered together again for the commitment ceremony of Anne, this time at the FCJ Community in Somers Town.

Lucia, CiM, writes: The noise and bustle of central London somehow just melt away at the door to FCJ House, an oasis of calm and the perfect space for sharing, reflection, and togetherness. In the absence of Sr. Patricia Binchy (Area Leader of Europe), it was Sr Rita who received Anne on behalf of the FCJs. The highly personalised and intimate reflection she offered to Anne gave testament to the power and beauty of active listening and accompaniment. FCJ sisters Bernie and Margarita joined in this joyful occasion, together with Harriet from Poplar, London, who is about to begin her CiM formation journey. We wish her the joy we have been so blessed to experience.

Charm, CiM, writes: [Anne’s first Commitment] turned out to be a wonderful day of blessings for all of us at the South East England Group as Anne made her commitment and was received by Sr. Rita in the beautifully decorated chapel at Somers Town. The service reflected Anne’s life and mission with personal reading, reflections and music. The ceremony was held in the presence of Sister Margarita and Sister Bernie, Sue, Maureen, Lucia, Charm and Harriet who has just joined the group in formation. Following the ceremony we all celebrated with a delicious shared lunch.


Reflection offered by Sr Anouska

As I was reflecting on what to say today, I was remembering my international year in Canada.  At one point there was a Vocations Fair in the university chaplaincy and we, the sisters were having a stall.  We set it up and had FCJ leaflets etc.  Suddenly one of the FCJs who was there said, ’oh, we should have brought the CiM leaflets too.’  It might seem strange but it was only at that moment that I understood for the first time that being a Companion in Mission is also a vocational choice, a way of deepening the grace received in baptism.

You are here today in response to the call of God who has been working in your lives from the very beginning.  God works slowly and oftentimes in unseen ways, oftentimes writing straight with crooked lines, but we know that like the seed growing in the dark earth, even when we cannot see it, it grows.  As your opening hymn says you have been drawn by a dream, that perhaps has taken a while to unfold, but one that has always been sustained by the love of God.

As pilgrim companions you have been drawn together to this time and place and in a short time will say ‘yes’ to God’s call to be Companions in Mission in association with the sisters, the Faithful Companions of Jesus.  Thank you for your ‘yes’.  May your witness to the work of God in your life give us all reason to proclaim anew, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’.

As the Gospel reminds us there are many things that we can worry about, some big, some small.  St Matthew challenges us however, to not worry and to trust.  Each of us here will have things that cause us to worry, some carried in the depths of our heart, some shared with companions along the way.  Inspired by the example of Marie Madeleine, who trusted in the still small voice of calm, even when outside of herself there was chaos, we pray for the grace of Elijah, to always be aware of the voice of God who continues to call us to ‘get up and continue the journey’ even when times or circumstances are hard either for ourselves, our loved ones or our wider world.

As you make your commitment today, you continue on your journey as a Companion in Mission. Your initial formation is ended but your journey of ongoing formation as a CiM continues, with each other and your whole group.  As you gather together for your meetings, nurture your relationship with Jesus and let him teach you how to be the Companion in Mission he calls you to be.  This is not always easy, we can easily fall into the habit of wanting to do things our way, unwilling or unable to risk letting go.   In busy lives it is easy to be pulled in one direction, then another.   With regular use of the examen, my prayer for you is that you will begin to recognise the things that can get in the way, and with that new awareness, always have the courage and confidence to get up and continue the journey again.  As formed CiM may you continue to feed what was planted and has taken root during your time of formation. May you grow in companionship of Jesus, and your fellow CiM, both here, across the Area of Europe and the world.