Across the Province, Sisters have found communion in isolation and been challenged to look outward in our prayer and action. As one sister reported recently, ‘This seems to be a time when physical isolation can either build a sense of being one with each other and with the wider, even world-wide community, or weaken it so that we can become, in fact, socially isolated.’
InGari-uai, Timor-Leste, one of our sisters has been making protective face masks for local community members with proceeds from their sales contributing towards the provision of food for those in need. Sr Aithien, the Director of the Pre-School at Gariuai, and her staff have prepared resources for at-home learning for their young students.
In Vietnam, the community has had to stop their external ministries and the tertiary students from our St Mary’s Hostel in Ho Chi Minh City have had to return home during lockdown. Community members are busy studying online, praying and helping their neighbours. Recently our Vietnamese Sisters participated in a Zoom meeting with the Province Leadership Team here in Australia.Studies for our IBVM Candidates in the Philippines have been suspended. At home the candidates are continuing their spiritual studies, improving their English, learning to touch type, gardening and keeping fit.
Australian Sisters have responded creatively to find new ways to pray and reflect together, drawing inspiration from the Liturgy of the Word. Justice responses have included letter-writingcampaigns in support of refugees and migrant workers and, in the weeks ahead, our focus turns to National Reconciliation Week (27 May-3 June) and World Environment Day (June 5). Some Sisters have responded to an invitation from our Province Archivist to assist with the transcription of historical documents, many others have been pro-active in caring for the sick and elderly.
Two of our Sydney Sisters have been involved in the purchase and distribution of goods to recently arrived families through the House of Welcome and in Melbourne, we are providing food vouchers to an asylum seekers medical hub where one of our Sisters works.
The Province, Loreto Ministries and Mary Ward International Australia staff have been working remotely for months, utilising online networking platforms to connect and collaborate. Staff from these entities gather regularly for prayer, updates and discussion. We have been moved by the continued and creative efforts of our schools to promote faith and mission during this pandemic with beautiful online Holy Week and East liturgies and moving ANZAC Day services. Our UN intern, Francesca, hosted an excellent webinar on gender equality recently and student leaders from a number of our schools participated in a TwitterChatexploring street harassment. Support of Mary Ward International Australia and Loreto Vietnam assumes an urgency across this time and we are so grateful to our schools and benefactors who continue to give generously in the midst of much hardship.
A current province focus is to ‘create the oneness that moves us beyond boundaries’. It is heartening that across these days of chaos, deep communion can be experienced and community shaped anew.
Images: Sr Aithien in Gari-uai making facing masks for locals | Srs Janet Palafox ibvm and Libby Rogerson ibvm delivering goods to the House of Welcome.