IT was with great joy that the Genazzano FCJ College
community celebrated its 125th Anniversary Mass at St Patrick’s
Cathedral on Thursday 27 February. Archbishop Denis Hart and concelebrants Fr
Brendan Reed, College chaplain, and Fs Tom Renshaw SJ and Werner Utri led the
congregation, comprising 1100 students, staff, FCJ sisters, family, friends and
alumnae in a Eucharistic thanksgiving for all that the school has been in its
long and heralded contribution to Catholic education in the Archdiocese of
Principal Mrs Patricia Cowling spoke of the legacy
of the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus under whose vision the school was
founded in 1889. The college theme for 2014 is 125 years: Faithful to Our Charism Today and Beyond. This theme encapsulates
the importance of the spiritual inheritance handed on by the Venerable Marie
Madeleine D’houët who founded the Society in France in 1820. This special
charism is to be found in the four gifts of poverty, humility, obedience and
gentleness which are the hallmarks of the Society. The strength of the FCJ
charism is what the College looks to as it continues to educate young women in
the Ignatian tradition; those very young women who will build the next
generation of the Church and who acknowledge their debt to all those who have
gone before them. Mrs Cowling reminded those present of the special link between
Genazzano and St Patrick’s Cathedral, both of which were designed by the Gothic
revivalist architect, William Wilkinson Wardell.
In his homily, Archbishop Hart revisited the history
of colonial education and the call to Europe by the Jesuits for the FCJ Sisters
to educate young Catholics. The first twelve sisters arrived in 1882 and the
establishment that would become Genazzano was founded in 1889 in the lush
countryside of Kew. He reminded the students that they must think about who
they can become. The archbishop spoke of how young people can make the world
anew if they use their gifts with integrity and in the service of others. He
spoke of the enriching model of servant leadership which can be seen in the
activity and demeanour of Pope Francis. The archbishop congratulated and
thanked the FCJ sisters and their lay collaborators for their ongoing spirit of
endeavour in education. He referred to the school motto Fidelis, a reminder of being faithful to God, to others, and to
oneself. He gently exhorted the students not to be afraid and that they should
take up the challenges of the future, to live out the joy of the gospel and
acclaim “the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
Sr Judith Routier FCJ, Province Leader of Asia-Australia,
responded graciously to the archbishop. Sr Judith reminded the congregation of
the importance of the continuation of Marie Madeline’s D’houët’s charism and
the special collaboration with the laity to carry on her vision and mission.
She echoed the archbishop’s sentiments when she quoted the foundress who, when
referring to a young girl wrote: ‘how
much I want her to become all that she could be’. Sr Judith thanked all
those families over the years who had entrusted the education of their
daughters, and sons, to the sisters and lay staff. She reminded us of the love
of Gen that spans the generations.
a faith community, such milestone liturgical celebrations are reminders of our
tradition and our continuity as a people of God. As the Genazzano community
continues this year to celebrate its FCJ history and to reach out in new ways
to a changing world we are reminded to look for the blessings of growth and
knowledge and an awareness of God’s presence in our lives. The recessional
hymn, We are Called, summed up the
sentiments of those committed to the Christian call.
We are called to act with justice,
We are called to love tenderly,
We are called to serve one another,
To walk humbly with God!
those present proudly acknowledged the wide reach and influence of the
Genazzano community and its ongoing contribution to Catholic life and witness
Rennie is a teacher at Genazzano FCJ College, Kew.