Archive for the ‘An FCJ Vocation’ Category
REFLECTIONS ON NOVITIATE BY ROWENA JAMBARO NOV FCJNovitiate is a great invitation and it is the most challenging phase of the journey of my life so far. For me it is a precious time in which I am so much closer to God. It’s a school of new beginnings made up of many elements: welcoming; learning; growing; exercising; living; deepening and letting go.I am learning so many things during this special time: how to grow the love of Jesus in my heart; how to live with Jesus as the centre of my life; how to know myself better; how to stretch myself more in love for others; how to be a woman at the foot of the cross and go beyond it; how to be a contemplative in action, particularly in my daily living.I have valued and enjoyed my apostolic ministries: visiting and accompanying the sick; teaching children and working with youth. I have been inspired and helped by all those I have worked with and for.Lots of questions come into my mind to ponder??? How to give myself fully to Jesus? How to love him faithfully, to follow him tenderly and serve him lovingly? It is not always easy but bit by bit and through prayer I am aware of how to respond and I go on learning day by day. Throughout this pilgrimage of my life Jesus is indeed my faithful companion. It is his everlasting love that strengthens my faith, hope and love.I have been helped by the unconditional love and endless support of our novice director throughout this journey. She has helped me and directed me as I have been moulded and shaped through God’s love. I am grateful too to the many companions who have loved and supported me in so many ways. God’s grace is always there for me. Thanks be to God for love always in all things. United in mind, heart and prayer with all those who read this. God bless each one of you.
Taking the first step of articulating an interest in religious life can be exciting, challenging, bewildering … we may feel we are not ‘up to the task’ or that people will think we are crazy. Perhaps it is a long held dream and we know people will support us. Whatever our initial feeling, taking that first step is a pretty significant time!
Another thing that can be difficult is to know where to look – there are literally hundreds of different communities and so it can seem overwhelming, and yet in my experience taking the first step is what is important – God seems to be already there helping you to discern what is right as soon as you make a step.
Audrey is an FCJ postulant from Singapore, she currently lives in Manila . She writes about taking that first step in finding which congregation she felt called to:
There is a joke that goes, “What are 3 things that the Pope doesn’t know? First, how much money the Franciscans have; second, what the Jesuits will do next; and third, how many women’s congregations there are in the world.”
When I first starting thinking about religious life, the sheer number of possibilities was bewildering. If I were a man, I thought, it would be so much easier – I would go to the Jesuits! But looking around on the internet, I discovered that there were also women’s congregations practising Ignatian spirituality. The FCJs were the first to reply my email enquiry, and invited me to visit them in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. After three days with them, I knew I had found what I was looking for. The sisters completely upended my stereotype of nuns – they were smart and talented and loving and funny, and they rode motorbikes!
Over the next year, I kept in touch by email, discerned further with a spiritual director, visited Yogya for another week, and then applied for postulancy. Now I am in Manila, learning to love a culture completely different from my own! God surely delights in surprises.
I work in a non-church based environment and often when people realise I am a nun they are quite fascinated. One of their first questions is “How do you become a nun?”
Over the next couple of weeks we are going to look at some different aspects of FCJ Formation – how people go about making the decision to become a ‘nun’, what the steps are in joining a community, and what sort of training or formation they go through both before and after their final vows.
First of all you might want to have a bit of an overview. You will notice this is NOT a quick process – it takes a long time!
Initial discernment – usually when a woman begins to consider religious life she is accompanied by an FCJ Sister for a period of about a year.
Postulancy – this often involves living with the community for between 6 months and 2 years
Novitiate – a two year period of study, prayer and reflection spent in community
First Profession – First vows are made for a period of three years.
Renewal of Vows – for between three and six years.
Final Profession – Final vows are made for life – usually somewhere between nine and twelve years after the person first moved into community.
Tertianship – About ten years after final vows, with significant experience of living a vowed life, sisters are invited to another year of formation!
(All comments and insights gratefully received)
One of my favourite passages of scripture is the first reading of today’s liturgy: Isaiah 58:1-9
“Shout for all you are worth, do not hold back, raise your voice like a trumpet. To my people proclaim their rebellious acts, to the House of Jacob, their sins.They seek for me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that has acted uprightly and not forsaken the law of its God. They ask me for laws that are upright, they long to be near God:’Why have we fasted, if you do not see, why mortify ourselves if you never notice?’ Look, you seek your own pleasure on your fastdays and you exploit all your workmen;look, the only purpose of your fasting is to quarrel and squabble and strike viciously with your fist. Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high.Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a day when a person inflicts pain on himself? Hanging your head like a reed, spreading out sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to Yahweh?
Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me: to break unjust fetters, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break all yokes?.Is it not sharing your food with the hungry, and sheltering the homeless poor; if you see someone lacking clothes, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own kin?.Then your light will blaze out like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. Saving justice will go ahead of you and Yahweh’s glory come behind you.Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he will say, ‘I am here.'”
My ministry is vocations accompaniment and university chaplaincy (as well as basement digging as previously explained!). I find myself wondering how I am actually involved in ‘breaking unjust fetters’ or ‘sharing my bread’, ‘sheltering the homeless poor’. There is a big part of me that feels pulled in this – I would love to be in a more ‘hands on’ ministry and yet I also believe that where I am missioned is where I am called to be at this point in time. So how do I make sense of it all? How best to live with the tension between the desire to somehow be MORE involved and the demands of my current ministry?
By 10.55am we were lined up in the entrance procession and enjoying the choir as they sang a few hymns to set the atmosphere. To our relief nearly all of our guests were in their seats. Our main room was looking nicely filled with a few empty seats wisely placed for latecomers. Tyas’ family and friends were seated in the front left rows and FCJs to the right with FCJ Companions in Mission, friends and colleagues taking up most of the other available seating. As the choir sang out the first words of the Entrance Hymn we began to process in and we were drawn into the ceremony moment by beautiful moment. Tyas looked lovely. She was so composed and sure of herself. As Tyas pronounced her vows her voice resounded loud and clear. There was a glow of joy about her – which is still with her! The ceremony was followed by a delicious lunch. The food was just right, it tasted good and there was plenty of it without it being too luxurious. At 6pm the FCJs gathered together for Tyas’ missioning. We had a simple meal together as we shared our memories of the day. It was lovely to be FCJs together at the end of such a special day for all of us – and especially for Tyas. Thank you for keeping us in your prayer…I assure you of ours…
At 5am this morning I walked around our house enjoying the cool air and the silence that pervaded everything. The main room of our house looked lovely – like a chapel – all set up for the vows. Gradually other FCJs appeared and continued their part of the final preparations. At this stage no further instructions are needed – we work as one body with one heart and one mind – helping each other in a true experience of companionship. Tyas meanwhile – is radiant – she’s ready…This is a happy day for all – for FCJs, for Tyas’ family and friends, for our Church and World…You all are included in our prayers of intercession…Thank you for your prayers…
This evening – the “eve” of her first vows – Tyas was welcomed into the FCJ Society. We had a a beautiful prayer service during which we all blessed Tyas and her future life as a professed FCJ. The prayer was followed by a lovely meal together. We then all changed into “work clothes” and finished preparing our house for the actual vows. The vows take place at 11am tomorrow…Please keep on praying…We pray for you too…
We have had a busy few days preparing for Tyas’ vows and now there are just two days to go! Everything is just about ready – so all that remains is to enjoy these final few hours as we put the finishing touches to everything. Tyas is looking more and more happy by the moment…Please keep Tyas especially in your prayers at this very special moment in her life…
In just a week Tyas will be making first vows. She has already made her pre-vow retreat and is now having a few days of quiet before her special day dawns…This is such a big moment for Tyas and for all of us – when a new FCJ makes her vows it a joy and a blessing for all of us. Please keep Tyas in your thoughts and prayers…as we keep you in ours.