In June 2018 ten Mary Ward women met for a weekend in Tagaytay, a town overlooking a volcanic lake about an hour and a half south of Manila. Of course, we began our journey from CUBAO, in Quezon City to the north of Metro-Manila, so our journey via van was close to three and a half hours! The scenery and cooler weather on arrival helped to sooth jangled nerves.
The meeting was for the newer members of the Australian Province, who are in the period of temporary vows. For six years after the end of their two year Novitiate, newer members renew their vows for shorter periods as they confirm that the reality of this life – prayer, study, ministry and community, is that to which God is calling them.
In this province we are blessed to have two sisters in this group in Vietnam, one in Timor Leste, and one in Australia. Two more senior sisters share the responsibility for this scattered little flock, one lives in Vietnam and one in Manila, and they were augmented by the presence of another formator from Australia. We had not met as a group, so decided to meet in The Philippines. This enabled our group to be joined by one IBVM from USA, and two from the other half of Mary Ward’s Institute, now called Congregation of Jesus, one from Korea and one from China. These three “extras” live in Mary Ward House in Manila as they pursue theology studies. Their presence continued the growing relationship that is being woven between our two congregations.
The agenda grew from their questions and reflections on their experience of community, living the vows, new ministries and grappling with day to day and more significant issues which call them deeper into their relationship with God. Drawing these discussions into dialogue with Volume II of our Constitutions underscored that their experiences are linked to the deeper story of Jesus and of Mary Ward, and helped by showing they are not alone in their journey. There were also inputs on professional standards and intercultural living, which is emerging as an integral part of the future of our religious life.
We all hope this opportunity to meet together will not be a once only event!
Chris Burke ibvm