“WITH JOY I PROCLAIM THE LORD!”
A TRIPLE FINAL VOWS CEREMONY – THREE REASONS TO CELEBRATE!
January 2nd and 3rd, 2010, Yogyakarta
The weekend of 2nd and 3rd of January 2010 was a truly one historic for the FCJs. For the first time in a good number of years three of our sisters made final vows at the same time. This is the very first time in Indonesia that we have had a triple vow ceremony of any nature, let alone a final vow ceremony.
The whole weekend, the product of several months of planning and preparation, was simply beautiful. Twenty FCJs were present for the entire occasion. All FCJs currently missioned to Indonesia were present plus three sisters from Australia: Srs Barbara Brown Graham (Provincial), Ann Mary Connolly and Helen Mary Langlands and one sister from the Philippines: Sr Elvisa Camilion. We were delighted to be joined by Julie Chamberlain, Companion in Mission, who came from Australia to join in this special occasion. Several other close friends and coworkers stayed with us for the weekend: Merelie Baga and Ma. Charo Poligrates from the Philippines, Tyas our good friend from Ambarawa and two RSCJ sisters: Lulut and Tencia.
We all gathered in Soropadan at 5pm on Saturday 2nd of January for a Thanksgiving Prayer. During this prayer we gave thanks for our three sisters Beta, Inez and Wina, for their lives and vocations as FCJs and for all those who have been instrumental in bringing them to the point of final vows.
At one point in the prayer Beta, Inez and Wina shared on their call as FCJs and on people to whom they were especially grateful. We gave thanks for their families and friends, for all those they have ministered with and ministered to.
We gave thanks for all FCJ Sisters and Companions in Mission beginning with Marie Madeleine, our founder.
“Thank you for the supreme grace of knowing Jesus your Son and the desire to follow him.
Purify and strengthen in us our FCJ charism.
May we live our companionship with Jesus ever more deeply and faithfully,
so that others may desire to receive this same gift as FCJ sisters or Companions in Mission.”
The Thanksgiving Prayer was followed by a delicious meal during which we had the opportunity to spend several hours together in good companionship. The atmosphere was joyful, the house was full of lively conversation, much laughter and a spirit of great playfulness. The evening gave us the opportunity to celebrate and share together. This was important as our focus on Sunday needed to be on making our many invited guests feel welcome and fully a part of our celebration.
Sunday dawned, a beautiful clear morning. It was clear that our prayers for good weather had been answered (it is the rainy season). The sky was bright blue and we could see Merapi the volcano standing out majestically against the horizon, it was as if even the mountain was dressed in its best attire for the occasion!
The ceremony was due to begin at 11 am. It would take place in the University Chapel, named in honour of St Robert Bellarminus SJ. From 9.30 am onwards different groups of FCJs made their way to the chapel. We went earlier or a little later depending on our assigned tasks for the day. By 10.30 am all FCJs were in their places and our invited guests were arriving. Beta, Inez and Wina had each invited a good number of personal guests: family and friends. In addition the FCJs had invited a variety of people: members of our parishes, Companions in Mission, Magis members, co workers, neighbours, students and colleagues. The chapel was full to capacity, there were even some people sitting on benches outside. True to our name those who had come to celebrate with us were those with whom we shared companionship.
Precisely at 11am the choir began to sing and Beta, Inez and Wina processed in with Barbara, who would receive the vows, Afra and Irene who would witness them and Fr Andre OMI who was to celebrate the Mass. The theme of the Mass was “With Joy I Proclaim the Lord” and from the very outset the sense of joy and thanksgiving was so tangible. Automatically we found ourselves relaxing and smiling. The readings were taken from The Song of Songs 8: 6-8; 1 John 4:8b – 19 and John20: 11- 18. They highlighted the greatness of God’s love, a love which calls us to give all to others for the sake of the Reign of God. Fr Andre reminded our three sisters that the love they gave to others was first given to them by God. This love would lead them to give their all to God, it would lead them to the cross. It was touching to note how well Fr Andre picked up such an essential aspect of our charism in his homily.
At 11.40am the Religious Profession began. As we prayed for the power of the Holy Spirit to fill our sisters we could feel the Spirit’s presence with us. At the Litany of the Saints we asked the prayers of Marie Madeleine and all FCJ sisters who have gone before us. At exactly 11.55 our sisters began to pronounce their vows, one by one. The atmosphere was deeply solemn and charged with emotion. Many of us shed tears at this point…Tears of love, of pride, of deep joy. As the words of the Magnificat filled the chapel the FCJs stepped forward to greet our newest finally professed sisters. What a joyful moment!
After the Mass the congregation queued to congratulate Beta, Inez, and Wina, their families and the FCJs and then made their way into the University building where a lovely lunch was awaiting them. There was a plentiful supply of chicken, omelet, vegetables and rice followed by traditional Javanese ice-cream. We were all very glad of the plentiful supply of tea, water and orange syrup on such a hot, hot day.
Later that day we gathered once more at Soropadan to enjoy watching our three sisters open their cards and gifts. There were greetings from FCJs and Companions in Mission from every part of the Society. We ended this truly wonderful day with a hymn to Our Lady. We have much to give thanks to God for!