These three days spent with 3,000 young people were filled with moments of prayer and communion. It was a time of meeting with believers and with God. I was greatly comforted by the attitude of the young people who could spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament, because Adoration lasted all night. I was particularly touched by two moments: The first was the Day of Recollection. The cathedral was full to overflowing, 60 priests sat in the confessionals in front of which were long lines of people waiting to go for confession, a priest holding the monstrance circulated among the young people who were praying … in every sigh, in every gesture, one could feel that Jesus was among us, blessing them. The second was the closing of the Congress when these 3,000 people came out as a crowd into the narrow streets of the beautiful town of Salzburg, when the tourists joined us … and we moved ahead towards the banks of the River Salzach. Sailing on the Salzach was a boat on which we saw some priests among whom was the auxiliary bishop Mgr. Andreas Laun, holding Jesus in the monstrance, blessing the faithful and the town. We went back to our houses, our schools, and our towns and villages with God’s blessing, carrying within us a new fire, a new enthusiasm, which had inflamed our hearts during these days. In a year’s time there will be another rendez-vous at Salzburg. Krystyna Olszewska, fmm
England - FMM Leadership course
Our Province has been actively involved in this world wide formation programme involving all the Provinces in our Institute. The Core Team Srs Margaret Taylor, Jorgina Duvane and Mary Rose Pulikottil worked to prepare the content and finalising the programme. Following a six week intensive programme of ‘Personal Formation for Leadership’ at St. Anselm’s Institute in Clifftonville, seventeen FMM’s from various countries, after a few days of rest in FMM communities throughout London made their way to Cold Ash Centre in Berkshire, to take part in a programme which would enable them to animate the programme in their own Provinces. This programme was designed to meet the General Chapter’s request to work towards “narrowing the gap between what we say and what we do”. Although we realise that a gap will always exist in our ‘actual and desired self’ it was thought that an Institute Formation Programme addressed essentially to initial formation may help this journey of growth. St. Anselm’s focused on emotional intelligence, and Cold Ash built on this personal awareness deepening our rootedness within God’s salvation story, our personal journey, and our lived FMM Charism. As a group we worked together learning from the wisdom of each sister. We connected with our ‘roots’, spiritual, cultural, heightening awareness of what creates ‘Gaps’ within ourselves, between us and in the mission we are called to live today. We also explored and shared together how God acts in and through the ‘ups and downs’ of our daily life, reclaiming at a deeper level our self-esteem and our universal vocation as life-givers and lovers. Margaret Taylor, fmm January - February 2011
Taiwan - World Mission Sunday 2010 in Taiwan
For us Franciscan “Missionaries” of Mary spread over the five continents in the world, Pope Benedict XVI’s Mission Message has a special echo. It resonates in our hearts during the month of October - month of the Rosary – the song of awareness of our vocation as missionaries and as “missionaries of Mary”. By praying the Rosary we learn from Mary to contemplate the Father’s plan for humanity. The signs of the times show us disturbing forms of loneliness and indifference which give rise to a frightening number of suicides. So to help us strive to make the planet a home for all peoples, Fr. Felice Chech, Camilian, Director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies for the Propagation of Faith, built a huge World Mission Rosary encircling the globe and organized liturgical activities in various parts of the country to help people to offer signs of hope and become universal brethren as well. Fr. Felice comes to say Mass for us sisters at Regina Mundi in Taipei every alternate week. During his week of service he brought the huge Mission Rosary which frightened us a little for we reckoned our chapel is too small for it to be exposed. However, talented Sr. Maria for decorations, managed to arrange it beautifully Standing: Srs. Koleta, Maria Wei, Clare Nie and Fr. Felice close to the chapel opposite the glass First raw: Srs.Rosa Chen, Anna Chen, and Maria Chen panel. Every day when we pray the Rosary, the Mission Rosary reminds us to remember the specified continent according to the color. The five decades are represented respectively: Green – for Africa, Red – for the Americas, White – for Europe, Blue – for Australia, Oceania, and Yellow for Asia. It is, thus, not only a beautiful Rosary with varied vivid colors but rich in symbolism. It enables our prayer to reach beyond the boundaries of our local concerns, one of which is the shortage of religious vocations. According to the 2009 Statistics there are 327 native Priests, 33 native Brothers, and 775 native Sisters in the population of 32 million with 7 dioceses in Taiwan. Other continents have certainly their problems and praying the World Mission Rosary helps us to be united with the entire Church. Clare Mary Nie, fmm
Scotland - Four days we will never forget
The Papal Visit to Scotland and England, 16th – 19th September 2010. I had the privilege of attending the Papal Mass in Bellahouston Park Glasgow, along with 70,000 others. Sr. Carmel and I were invited by our former parish priest to join the parishioners in one of the two coaches setting out from Galston on the morning of 16th September. What excitement as we set out at 11.30 that morning! The two Church of Scotland ministers from Hurlford and Galston came along with us. Armed with our bright yellow pilgrim packs we duly joined up with the vast throng of people walking to the Park. What a mixture of young and old, People from further afield; the remote islands of the outer Hebrides, the highlands of Scotland, Ireland, and parishes from the north of England were all represented too. All happy to be part of 10
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the celebration and of being Church community together. The climax of the day was the arrival of the Holy Father and the Mass. When his famous Pope mobile was seen, the cheers from the crowd could be heard miles away as they greeted the Pope enthusiastically. The yellow and white papal flags, the blue and white Scottish saltier and the banners with the official message of the occasion “Heart speaks to Heart” were flapping widely about in the strong north wind as the Pope mobile made its way among the crowds. We were quite a distance away from the altar but could see everything very clearly on the huge screens erected on either side of the altar. As the 400 priests, all in white vestments made their way in procession to the altar, the crowd grew silent and the opening hymn of the Mass began, ‘Be thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart’. I think the moment of reflection after the reading of the Gospel was what impressed me most. For some minutes that huge crowd remained completely silent in prayer along with the Holy Father. It was really awe inspiring, not another sound could be heard except the flapping of banners in the wind. The strong faith of the pilgrims during the Mass was evident. Earlier in the day the Pope, who was on a state visit to the UK, met the Queen at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, and along with Cardinal O’Brien in the Pope mobile, had followed the St. Ninian’s Day pageant along the streets of the capital. Scotland is a Protestant country but people from all faiths backgrounds and none, lined the streets to welcome him and show him respect and true Scottish hospitality. I was so proud of my country that day.
The pilgrims on their way
Sr. Carmel reflecting back on the whole experience said, “His Holiness comes across to me as a very humble, compassionate, deeply spiritual and fully committed person. His message aimed at reaching all members of society, irrespective of creed, political stance, age group, ethnic background, and the wounded. Being present at Bellahouston Park celebrating Eucharist with the Pope, hundreds of priests and 70,000 people, has left me with a profound sense of gratitude to God for the whole visit, and for me personally it was the high point of my Golden Jubilee year.” Those were four days we will never forget. Kay Brennan, fmm
India, Kolkatta - The Birth Centenary Celebration of Mother Teresa of Kolkata
The year-long birth centenary celebrations of Mother Teresa began on 26th August 2010 with a solemn Mass presided over by Cardinal Telesphore Toppo at the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity generally known as the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. The Mass was attended by over thousands of nuns, priests and friends of Mother Teresa. Cardinal Toppo, in his homily, said that Mother Teresa's life was driven by a passion for the poor, the sick and the abandoned, to build their lives through forgiveness, healing and caring, giving them respect and dignity and making them true human beings in the image and likeness of God. After the Mass the dignitaries came down to the ground floor where an extremely simple rectangular threefeet-high cement tomb of Mother Teresa stood; on this day fully covered with flowers of all sorts. A series of January - February 2011
events on the life and works of Mother Teresa followed. A cinematic tribute to her screened 18 films on her life and works; had about 65 screenings in four Government owned theatres all given free to the organizers – an expression of Government’s gratitude to Mother Teresa for converting this city of squalor to a City of Joy through her work among the poor, old, infirm and the dying – her work of accomplishing something beautiful for God. 45,000 viewers including thousands of physically challenged were privileged to enjoy the several films on their beloved Mother. Another unique expression of this recognition was an exhibition train, a tribute from the Indian Railways, showcasing the life and philanthropic deeds of Mother Teresa, opened for public viewing at an extremely busy railway Station of the city. Christened "Mother
Express", the train will travel to different stations of the country over the next six months. It comprises three air-conditioned coaches in which photographs and write-ups on Mother Teresa are exhibited to project her life, work and message. Besides these, on 28th of August the President of India, released a commemorative Rs. 5 coin in New Delhi.
The Birth Centenary celebrations will continue throughout the year and throughout the country. Special prayer meetings beyond the boundaries of religion, cultural programmes, paintings, quiz, symposiums are all on line to highlight and honor the virtues of this simple woman who made Kolkata her home and epicenter of her charitable works. Our students from Providence Convent, participated in the cultural programme and the exhibition train. Celine Xavier, fmm
Austria - The Living Rosary around Vienna
"Continue to write the Acts of the Apostles by your life", proclaimed Benedict XVI in Mariazell. "If these are silent, the stones will shout". "Lebendiger Rozenkranz", a Living Rosary - is a pilgrimage of the rosary around Vienna. This has been done eight times already since we confided Vienna, Austria, the peoples of Europe and the world, to God’s Mercy. From the 11th April, that is to say, from Divine Mercy Sunday, for five consecutive Sundays and sometimes on Saturdays, we walked around Vienna, literally surrounding it with the rosary. On the route of each step which was about 25 kms., we always celebrated Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a church or a chapel, or in a predetermined place, and, of course, we meditated on the Mysteries of the Rosary with Mary. Our community consisted of all ages and was more or less big at different places, the average number being 150 people. A special moment during our walk was the moment of intercessory prayers; at some spot on the hill from where we could see the whole of Vienna – the capital of Central Europe as if it were its heart – we prayed “Jesus, enlighten and fill the earth with the glory of the Father, ever flowing Spring, fill all nations with your 12
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grace. Spirit, burn, set fire to hearts. Send your word that we may have light.” At that moment, one of the priests gave a blessing with the Blessed Sacrament. Like Moses, we cried out: with our hands raised: “Lord, have mercy on us, give us your grace and show us your mercy, send your Spirit, renew us, give us a heart of flesh, Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us”. This Living Rosary is a fervent and constant prayer so that Mary may envelop us, our neighbours, our families, our communities, the Church, with the mantle of her protection – this is, confiding to Mary our brothers and sisters who are near, those
Elżbieta Święciak, fmm
who have abandoned God and those who do not know Him.We recited the Divine Mercy Rosary in our different languages. The organisers – the team of Radio Maria in Austria – had prepared many intentions for the participants: for bishops, priests, parishes, the pastoral ministry, for those who are involved in occult practices, for those in desperate conditions and for hundreds of others.In this common walk, we strengthened our faith through the wonderful testimonies of people who love God and the Church with all their heart. On the way, priests administered the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. For me, personally, it was a beautiful experience, for the Living Church, of the faith, hope and love of her children. Elżbieta Święciak, fmm
FMM Material Available The Communications Service realised this film in 2010, in Perumalmalai, Ch ennai Province, in the fmm commun ity.
(House of Blessing)
“Asir Bhavan”. It de als with the life and mission of our sis ters; it has many elements of th e FMM charism; it is reflecti ve and is very thoughtfully presented Language: English . Time: 15’ System: PAL
If you desire a copy, please contact the Communications Service: [email protected]
January - February 2011
The Scent of Saint Mary’s Girls High School Three fmm sisters who are working in school as subject teachers: Sr. Veronica CHOI Nam Joo for chemistry, Sr. Agnes KO Eun Hee for religion, and Sr. Stella LEE Young Joo for English, share their experience of working with the youth in the field of education.
as Mother Foundress always longed for throughout her life.
From left: Sr. Stell LEE, Sr. Agnes KO, Sr. Veronica CHOI
It has been fifty-two years since the FMM started in Korea, and Saint Mary Girls’ High School was one of their early apostolic works. The school was founded on 1964 in Busan, the southern coastal city, which is now the second largest city in Korea. The sisters arrived in Busan three years after the Korean War. That time medical and educational help were most urgent for the people. This need led the sisters to open a school primarily for the education of women. First, they opened a middle school for girls in 1962 and later, a high school in 1964. However, in 1974 they could not help but close the middle school and kept only the high school which has continued until today. The school motto is “From Truth to Charity” 14
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“I have been teaching English for five years.” Sr. Stella says. “There is a severe educational fever in this country. Most students are suffering from the pressure that they must get good grades in the entrance exam for college. English is one of the most important subjects for them. Since I am working as an English teacher, my main job is to help the students get interested in English and to do well in the entrance exam for college. However, as a catholic sister, my primary goal is to make them know that I am here to be their friend just like Jesus came to this world to be our friend. Showing Jesus’ Smile through my presence is my essential mission, I reckon.”
Sr. Stella also shares the experience that she had from September, 2009 to February, 2010. It was a Teachers-Exchange Program between Busan and Temecula, California, USA. Since there is no fmm community in California she had no choice but live in a home-stay. She recounted: “During the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, I visited the fmm communities in New York City and El Paso, Texas. The sisters warmly welcomed me and they shared with me their time. Language was not a barrier. I strongly felt that we were connected by the same charism. The community in El Paso inspired me a lot. It was a blessing to see sisters fully living our
experience the charism. They agony of growtook me to the ing up as they places where journey towards they are workmaturity. ing: the detenHelping them to tion center for find who they illegal immiare and to dream grants and the of a bright hospital. Their future, is the joy sacrifice and of my mission. I devotion is a thank God for consolation for His work that the people in has been done need.Having through me. It is been sponsored beautiful to see by the Korean the students government,I look for God was able to take Students at Mass and desire to be a trip to some baptized as His daughters. Although this world is marvelous places such as Grand Canyon, San possessed by the power of darkness, it cannot overFrancisco, and Mohave Dessert. However, there was power the Light, (Jn. 1, 5) as I can see through my nothing more worthwhile than the days that I spent students.” Smiling with twinkling eyes, Sr. Agnes with my sisters. That was the most precious time throughout my whole program. While staying with looks so happy to be with her students. them, I was so proud of being an fmm. It was just like “It is a little bit sad that we don’t’ manage this school a journey of re-discovering my identity.” anymore,” Sr. Veronica CHOI mentioned. “We handSr. Agnes KO, teaching religion for eight years, is ed it over to the Busan Diocese in 1979. On the other now actively counseling students who have difficul- hand, it gave us opportunity to work as employees. I ties in school life or in the academic field. She have three or six classes every day, besides catechism recalled: “I began my school work with some feel- and extra-curricular activities. In addition to these ings of discomfort and hesitancy. It was because, classes, I have to give my time to the students who looking back to my own school days, I realized that I need me. They come to me and ask for help because I am a sister. This encourages me to start each day with a new heart and to dedicate myself to the school. Whenever I meet the students who have come to this school, I strongly believe that our presence makes them think of God and true life as well.”
did not have happy or positive memories of them. Rather, I had negative impressions about ‘school’. Moreover, I was not close to students due to my lack of understanding of their needs and mentalities.” But as time went by, Sr. Agnes slowly figured out and understood each of her students’ unique characteristics, and this deepened her love for them. “They
Less than five percent of the students are Catholics when they enter the school. Most of the freshmen have never met catholic sisters in person. But as they came to know God’s Love through the sisters’ life witness, encouragement and help, they are transformed into what God has planned for them. “From Truth to Charity: that’s what we are longing for. Trying to spread the scent of Saint Mary,” the three sisters said with smile. Veronica CHOI, Agnes KO, Stella LEE, fmm
January - February 2011
“Whatever you do to the least of these children…” It is very rewarding to realize that there are no children begging in the streets of Coimbatore. This became possible because, one sister was deeply moved by the scene of disparity she viewed one evening. The person is not named, but it was a challenge taken up by one of the FMM sisters.
An-evening-with-the-drop-outs It was four O’clock in the evening. Children from that posh school poured on to the road outside the school, some getting into their chauffeured cars and others into waiting mini buses that are specially hired for these children. On that same side of the road stood another category of children, with unkempt hair, dirty dresses and out stretched hands begging from these children. This scene made a deep and sad impression in the heart of an fmm who was watching the scene from the first floor of the convent. She was determined to make a difference in the lives of those street children. In her mind she saw these street children transform into school going children and growing up with hope for a better future. Her vision gave birth to the Street Children programme which started as a tiny trickle in St. Francis Convent in Coimbatore. The prophetic Words of Jesus, “Whatever you do to the least of these children, you do for me”, became the motivating force to launch into the programme for street children. Poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, rejection, unemployment drive many children to the 16
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street. Their pathetic cry for existence and survival seek our special attention. With Coimbatore becoming an industrial hub, the overflowing migrant population increases the numbers inhabiting the existing slums. Hence there is a growing need in Coimbatore to find an alternative to address the plight of children in the slum areas. We wanted to restore the dignity of these children and to give a future for them.
As poet H.L.G.Mistral, has rightly said “Many things wait, children cannot. To them we cannot say – tomorrow. Their name today” we cannot wait for tomorrow to help these children. Therefore, we had started a project for the street children, dropouts and slum children in 1994. Initially the Street children were invited to play in our campus and spend some time for recreational activities. Slowly they were given coaching classes to read and write. Some of the interested girls were placed in our regular schools and boarding in Ooty, Ketti, Kotagiri and Coimbatore while the boys were placed in Anbu Illam run by the Salesian Fathers. We provided them with school fees, notebooks, uniforms etc. During the Summer Holidays they were encouraged to attend the Camps which were planned for them. We concentrated also on Health and Hygiene, Personality Development, Character formation, Skill development, Yoga, Counselling and the like. After some time, a good number of the street children have