Final Profession of Vows - MaryAnne Francalanza fcJ - Liverpool, England
10th April 2012
The University Chaplaincy Church of St Philip Neri in Catherine Street in Liverpool was full to capacity when on Tuesday 10th April Sister MaryAnne Francalanza fcJ pronounced her vows. Members of MaryAnne’s family including her parents had come from Malta while other family members had travelled from Australia and Canada. FCJ sisters had come from England, Ireland and from places as far afield as Romania, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Other visitors included Fr Simon Bishop SJ from Oxford University, Fr Matthew Power SJ from Loyola Hall, Fr Aiden Prescott PP and Fr Ian McParland, Liverpool University Chaplain. In addition, there were friends from various universities and from MaryAnne’s youth ministries as well as some local parishioners. Staff, students and Governors from Bellerive FCJ Catholic College where Sister MaryAnne teaches Mathematics and from Upton Hall School FCJ were well represented. The General Superior of the Sisters FCJ, Sister Katherine Mary O’Flynn fcJ, who had just returned from Canada was also present at the ceremony.
MaryAnne was born in Malta and comes from a strong Catholic background and a close knit community. She studied Mathematics and Physics at the University of Malta where she gained an MSc in Maths. It was while she was at university that she encountered Ignatian (Jesuit) spirituality and wanted to live her life in this way. As she says, ‘I did what people of my generation do to get information – I searched the internet for Ignatian women and found the FCJ Sisters (Faithful Companions of Jesus – www.fcjsisters.org).’ She adds, ‘This was the reason that I moved to the UK. Once I had met the community I knew I was at home with this group.’ Since then MaryAnne has taught for a number of years at Bellerive FCJ Catholic College, she has spent a year in the Philippines working with very poor people in Manila and recently she has completed her Masters in Christian Theology at Heythrop College, London.
The vow ceremony at St Philip Neri's church took place during the celebration of a special Mass of Perpetual Profession. MaryAnne’s father read the epistle in Maltese and it was very moving to hear her and her sister Christine sing together the Magnificat with its lovely refrain, ‘All that I am sings of the God that brings new life to birth in me’. Sister Afra Primadiana fcJ from Indonesia was responsible for the music. The celebrant was Father Pawlu SJ a friend of MaryAnne’s from Malta. In his homily, on the Resurrection story, Father Pawlu, dwelt on the important part played by women in early Christianity and the important part they still play today.
The church of St Philip Neri made a perfect setting for our celebration with its wonderful, dominantly gold mosaic decor and the several saints who smile their welcome from its colourful walls. Musically, these visual images were echoed in the litany of the saints sung during the Mass, with the recurring response, ‘Saints of God in Glory, be with us, rejoice with us . . . pray with us now.’ It was after this reflection that others before us have dedicated their lives to the service of God and that the dream of doing this is indeed possible, that MaryAnne pronounced her vows. She began with these words:
Loving and eternal God. . . I make forever to you
the vows of religious chastity,
in the Society of the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus.
These are simple but powerful words. They were followed by Sister Katherine Mary, in her capacity as General superior, proclaiming a solemn consecration of MaryAnne in which she prayed among other things that by keeping her own heart free, she may free from care the hearts of others. Sister Katherine Mary also prayed that:
Today it is right that your house should echo
with a new song of thanksgiving,
for MaryAnne, our sister,who has heard your voice
and offered herself to your holy service
After Mass there was an opportunity to let the ‘house echo with a new song of thanksgiving’ as people enjoyed the excellent meal provided at Bellerive FCJ Catholic College, Liverpool where MaryAnne works as a teacher and where the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus have served as Catholic educators since 1844.
The Diocese of Shrewsbury featured news of Mary Anne's vows on its website.