Preparation for Final Vows at Syantikara Retreat House, Indonesia
October to December 2011
We FCJ Sisters preparing for final vows were deeply grateful for the prayer and support of Sisters throughout the Society.
During these privileged three months, the theme of our time together was: Pilgrim Quest: Mystical Service
We participated in input sessions from FCJ Sisters and other resource people:
- Margaret O’Donohue fcJ led us in our reflections on our FCJ charism and identity
- Rachel Duffy fcJ encouraged us to appreciate Pope John Pauls’s encyclical Vita Consecrata’
- Marion Dooley fcJ led us to reflect on our faith journey using Judy Cannato’s inspiring book, Field of Compassion as well as courses on Vowed to Mission, The Gift of Companionship and Personal Vocation
- Wina fcJ presented to us Adult Attachment Styles
- Barbara Brown-Graham fcJ shared with us Psychosexual Development and Integrity in Ministry
- Clare Hand fcJ gave us input on the vows and discussed with us John Foley’s Stepping into the River
- Yuni fcJ led us in sacred movement as a way to integrate our life’s experience and the input we have received
- Tyas, a psychologist from Jakarta, led us in a course on personal development that leads to inner freedom
- Inez fcJ gave us input on celibacy and the Theology of the Body using Richard Sipe’s Celibacy and Living the Celibate Life
- Ibu Nunuk, an Indonesian woman theologian generously shared her expertise about the Church in Asia and how to do theology as women in the context of Asia.
We were also very happy and privileged to have Mary Campion FCJ whose expertise in our FCJ Constitutions and the life of Marie Madeleine sparked our enthusiasm into a flame. Her love for the Society, her giftedness in teaching has made the study of the Constitution and pilgrimage with Marie Madeleine enjoyable and meaningful.
On Saturdays we went to different places for Mystical Service; Narni and Yustin went to homes for the elderly, one run by the state and the other by a Christian Fellowship Group, Van Van worked in the kitchen of Panti Rapih Hospital, and Sisca helped children with special needs at a school for the blind.
We had the privilege of having personal direction with Marion Dooley fcJ on a weekly basis. It was a time of integration and affirmation and we are grateful for her listening heart, love and support.
Inez facilitated an input on pilgrimage. Each of us had the experience of walking 55km and begging for food and accommodation. We reflected on this treasured experience.
A six-day guided retreat followed immediately and we are grateful to Marion, Clare and Barbara who accompanied us. At the end of the retreat, we were able to share the fruit of our reflection.
Today at Hellen Keller Indonesia (HKI), I took Imam by the hand, Imam has no sight since he was born and unlike any other day, today he could not walk with his friends, his left leg was a bit sore, so I could see he was grinning from ear to ear when someone took his hand to guide his steps.
Imam and the other kids, with their special needs have taught me a very important lesson, to really feel something …since having no sight, nor hearing, nor speech, they feel with their hands and touch. It is fascinating the way they touch others or things just to recognize the person or thing she/he is touching. They never cling to anyone.
My pilgrimage experience to Goa Maria “Rosa Mystica” Delik Tuntang, Salatiga (Central Java) was wonderful. I walked with Van as a companion on the journey and it was a good opportunity to recognize and be more aware of God’s presence in everyone and everything along the journey.
One of God’s invitations is to be more open to many kinds of surprises. The attitude of “letting go” of everything that is not helpful to me spiritually, made me aware of the companion attitude of “let it come” for everything that God will give me in my life.
May I grow into building and nurturing companionship with others too. Thanks be to God for all the blessings … and the blisters!!
One of the moving experiences in my pilgrimage was when I walked from Semanu to Pracimantoro located in the boarder of the Province of Yogyakarta and Central Java. This area is all rocky hills and dry with no fountains or waterfalls. Dry ‘jati’ (teak) trees are along the road and houses are rare there. An interesting thing I discovered during my pilgrimage was the grass or ‘ilalang’ as locals call it, growing between the rocks. The reality is that in the dryness, there is life and that reminds me of my own life experience.
There are ups and downs in my life also but even so, God always gives me an oases which makes me able to persevere in the dryness and helps me to keep growing. Here, I hear God’s call and challenge to have life and live it fully. God does not let me die in the dryness.
Before setting off for the 3-day pilgrimage, there were things that made me nervous; bodily strength and asking for food and a place to sleep. I also brought in my heart the theme that Narni and I chose for our pilgrimage, ‘Courage and Confidence.’ Narni and I met people who were very generous in giving us food, water and shelter. God provided all that we needed on the three day journey.
The beauty of nature was also remarkable. I enjoyed every bit of the trees, vegetation, mountains and hills. Narni and I named a red rose as ‘Courage’, a butterfly as ‘Faith’, a strawberry as ‘Confidence’ and a small white wild flower as ‘Faithfulness’. This naming of things really helped me to continue the difficult yet meaningful journey. All is GIFT.
May I always be grateful for the surprises that will come along my way.
As our time together came to a close:
Clare fcJ invited us to have in-depth exploration on the vow formula.
We had group sharing on community living led by Marion and Barbara. We discussed what gives life, what challenges us, what gives us joy as well as what drains the community. We all recognized that each of us has a personal responsibility on how to build community and nurture it.
On the last day of our course, we had a beautiful prayer service led by Marion. Each of us shared on the treasures we found during the three months journey. The theme for our group presentation was ‘Starting Afresh - FCJ Pilgrims on Mission’ which truly captured our experience. We all felt moments of enrichment, deepening and strengthening of our call as FCJs. We are all Companions on the journey.