Author Archive

THAI CAVE RESCUE – A TRIBUTE TO THE POWER OF INTERNATIONAL UNITY

July 10, 2018

Like millions of others around the world I have been following the news of the twelve Thai boys and their football coach trapped in a cave deep below ground. It was the stuff of nightmares except it was all too real. How amazing that against all the odds they have all been rescued. One very brave and generous man, Samam Gunan, gave his life in the process. The divers repeatedly risked their lives for the good of others. As well as pray for the successful outcome of the rescue mission I have been reflecting on how powerful we all become when we put aside those things that divide us and work together. In recent weeks we have been reminded of how much unites us in this world and we have witnessed the sheer beauty of the human spirit.

A NIGHT AS A FLOOR DWELLER IN SINGAPORE AIRPORT

July 6, 2018

Some days ago I needed to make a quick trip out of Indonesia in order to renew my visa and so decided to stay overnight in Singapore Airport. I used my time to good effect. I spent considerable time walking between the various terminals before choosing a good spot to settle down and sleep. My night was an interesting one. I was impressed by the level of friendliness I experienced among the good number of people who, like me, were spending the night on a comfy bit of floor. I was lucky…I was in a place where I was free and safe to sleep. I thought about those who sleep on the streets and who know what it is to be cold and afraid. I thought about those who cry themselves to sleep because of being separated from their loved ones or because tomorrow promises only suffering and pain. May we all do what we can so that no one has to sleep on the street or alone in detention centres or in dread of what tomorrow will bring.

SHARING THE JOY OF A LOVELY FEAST

June 18, 2018

Recent days here in Yogyakarta have been so lovely. We have all been blessed by the celebration of Idul Fitri, the day that marks the end of Ramadan. The day before Idul Fitri we gave out parcels to our neighbours. That evening prayers rang out from the mosque turning all of our thoughts to God. It was touching to hear the voices of children from time to time. We spent Friday morning walking round the village wishing our neighbours a happy Idul Fitri and making mutual apologies for any mistakes made in the last year. A beautiful atmosphere of peace and calm has pervaded the village for the last four days.  How lovely to celebrate this special feast with our Muslim neighbours.

THE JOY OF REUNION…

June 13, 2018

Several days ago I travelled back to Yogyakarta by plane. Most of the travellers were women who worked abroad and were coming home to celebrate Idul Fitri with their families. It was touching to hear some of their stories. Some of the women hadn’t been home for several years and were longing to see their loved ones again. Many tears were shed as the women met their families. It was so good to be there and to witness the beauty of family love so vividly expressed in the excitement and joy of families newly reunited.

PRAYING THE ROSARY WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS

June 3, 2018

Recently in our Basic Ecclesial Community we closed the month of May in great style. It was the last of the nightly rosaries that had taken place in a different family each evening. There were forty of us, including seven children. The children led us through the rosary. One of them led the prayers and the others took turns to read an introduction to each mystery. Following the prayer we had a delicious supper together. It was simply beautiful – a lovely way of being part of the Universal Church.

FOREVER: CELEBRATING MEITA AND HARTINI’S FINAL VOWS

May 24, 2018

On the weekend of 18th May we celebrated Hartini and Meita’s final vows. The theme of their vows was based on an ideal given to the FCJ Society through Marie Madeleine “…to be ever in [God’s} presence as an empty vessel, ready to receive all that God might put into it.” They had chosen readings and hymns that expressed their desire to be vessels bringing the ‘living water’ of Christ to others. Seventeen FCJs from various parts of Asia-Australia were present to celebrate this happy occasion.

We began with a prayer of thanksgiving on the evening of Friday 18th May.  During this prayer Meita and Hartini shared how they hoped to serve others in their future lives as FCJs. The following day dawned bright and clear. Family members, friends and colleagues and representatives of local church groups streamed into Sarasvita FCJ Centre, some two hundred guests in all. The choir began to sing beautifully and we were carried along by the joyful atmosphere. The Eucharist was celebrated by Fr. Andrianus Sulistiyono MSF, Meita’s nephew. He preached brilliantly. At several points in the homily we laughed out loud, yet the points made were clear: only God can give us the grace to live the commitments we make and because of this we must never let our prayer run dry. Hartini and Meita made their vows in the presence of Judith FCJ; their witnesses were FCJ Sisters Paola and Clare; and Irene and Yustin. After the Mass we enjoyed a delicious lunch of traditional food served from food stalls in the grounds of Sarasvita.

The FCJs had an informal gathering that evening to look back on the day and enjoy watching Meita and Hartini open their cards and gifts.  How lovely to celebrate the final vows in this way.

 

 

FAITH LEADERS RESPOND TO THE BOMBING IN SURABAYA

May 14, 2018

Sunday 13th May was a sad and disturbing day for all of us in Indonesia, regardless of religion.  Fourteen people died and forty one were injured when bombs ripped through three churches in Surabaya. I was deeply impressed by the response quickly given by Faith Leaders: stay calm, do not make rash judgments of others, stay at peace with your neighbours and pray for all those involved in these tragic events. We are all quietly alert, reflective and prayerful. Our Muslim neighbours begin their long fast on Wednesday and we will support them in prayer while giving thanks for their faith and commitment. These are times when all people of faith and good will are called to stand together in the name of peace.

THERE IS NO PRIEST FOR MY PARISH I WONDER WHY?

April 26, 2018

I had a lovely experience on Sunday in my small local parish here in England. I arrived early and was able to enjoy listening to the organ as I waited for Mass to begin. The choir led the congregation in enthusiastic singing. The Mass was beautiful, the priest preached well and made his point with a good smattering of humour. I really liked the sign of peace.  We turned to greet one another and strong northern handshakes accompanied the words “peace be with you”. After Mass there was a coffee morning and some of us spent a little more time with each other over cups of tea or coffee. Every Sunday this friendly little church welcomes some five hundred people: adults, children and young people.

Sadly, this church is now partly closed because the diocese cannot provide a parish priest. Yet on the weekdays when there is no Mass a group of people still gather in the church to pray the Rosary. Parishoners still come every week to clean the church and do the flowers. The people are committed, friendly and kind.  The church looks as if it is loved and cared for. It is bright and clean.

There is no priest to live and minister full time in this parish. I wonder why? I wonder why this vibrant parish and faithful people must face an uncertain future? I wonder why it is not possible to find new ways of understanding ordained priesthood in our Church? I live in hope of new answers to my wonderings and questions.

POPE FRANCIS AND HOLINESS…

April 18, 2018

When I bought a copy of Pope Francis’s latest Apostolic Exhortation ‘Rejoice and be Glad’ it was so new it wasn’t even logged into the computer of the bookshop. As I read it I am filled with hope that Francis is recognising the holiness in each one of us. To me it is a new telling of Vatican II and a reminder of the innate holiness of all God’s people…If only we touch into it. I am rejoicing that we all are God’s holy people. Let’s fill our struggling world with hope!

PRAYING FOR YOU THIS EASTER

March 31, 2018

I have kept all of you very much in my thoughts and prayer these days as we have spent time reflecting deeply on the death and resurrection of Jesus. The last few days have offered much time for thinking of those we love and care for. It has been my practice in recent years to pray, really pray, for all those who have ever been in my life in any way. I also pray as widely as I can for the ever growing needs of our world and indeed for the whole cosmos. I include in my prayer all those who have ever read this blog. I pray for you. Wishing you a happy Easter.