Melbourne Companions 2019Print
Sr Elizabeth Costigan surveys the Melbourne Companions of the Sisters of Charity…
Our Melbourne group of Companions continues to be alive and well. We have 25 names on our list. Also eight Sisters of Charity occasionally come to the gatherings and provide wonderful support and encouragement to the Companions.
The group is composed of ex-students and staff members both past and present of our two colleges, St. Columba’s Essendon and Catholic Ladies College, Eltham.
Our health services are well-represented both by present and past staff from St Vincent’s Public and Private Hospitals.
We have also welcomed parishioners from St Therese’s Essendon who joined as a result of their association with the Sisters of Charity living in the Parish.
The idea of establishing RSC Companions arose at the 2002 Chapter of the Sisters of Charity and was approved at the 2008 Chapter.
Margaret Dwyer was asked to lead the ongoing development of the idea here in Melbourne. She was helped by Sisters Margaret Laffan, Elizabeth Costigan and a group of colleagues from our Health and Education ministries.
We worked in conjunction with the Sydney Group through teleconferences and face to face meetings.
In August 2008, we gathered a group of co-workers/colleagues and asked them why they would be interested in becoming an RSC Companion. Some of the reasons they suggested were:
- The RSC charism inspires us and we want to be part of this when it is offered
- RSC Values resonate with our own
- Companions would bring like-minded people together where our spirituality and personal values would be nurtured
During 2009, the following vision statement was composed:
As RSC Companions we are inspired by the spirit, dream and life of Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the Sisters of charity, and the unfolding of this dream over two centuries.
We support one another by friendship, prayer and our endeavour to show Christ’s compassion to all, ever aware of, and responsive to the changing needs of the times.’
Over the past 11 years the Companions have met for four gathering, a year, on a Sunday afternoon 2.00-4.00. We met at various venues especially at ‘Currajeen’ our retreat centre at Doreen. For the last couple of years we have met at PACE, St Therese’s, Essendon.
Each year we have a retreat day on one of the Sundays from 10.30-3.00. Lunch is provided for the participants.
Themes at the Gatherings
We have covered many themes over these 11 years including:
- The Mary Akenhead Story
- Ignatian Spirituality
- St Paul, the man, the Mission, the message, a DVD from Broken bay Diocese- speakers included Fr Brendan Byrne SJ, Sister Michele Connolly RSJ and Father Richard Leonard SJ
- Praying with Pope Francis
- Pope Francis: modelling the ministry of St. Peter. A DVD presentation from the broken bay Diocese – speakers included Archbishop Timothy Costello, Sister Monica Cavanagh RSJ and Father Noel Connelly, a Columban Priest.
- Pope Francis showing the new way of exercising the Papacy
- The Year of Mercy: Pope Francis Call
- Letters of Mary Aikenhead
- Mary Aikenhead as a communicator
- The Field Hospital – the Australian Army Nursing service
- ‘The Round Table’- MAM Document. Each Companion has a copy of this Document which is used as a basis for reflections.
A survey with companions was led by Deirdre O’Donnell using the following questions:
- What attracts you?
- Scripture, Image or Story
- How can the Spirit live on?
- How could we bring these ideas into reality?
- Sisters Margaret Beirne, Linda Ferrington, and Elizabeth Dodds gave valuable input on Ignatian Spirituality and The Cause of Mary Aikenhead
- Sisters Margaret Dwyer RIP, Margaret Laffan RIP, Liz Costigan, Maryanne Confoy, Regina Millard with Shaun Dowling, Deirdre O’Donnell, Margaret Rankin have all led reflections at our gatherings
- In 2018, Bernadette Mundy, the manager of Briar Terrace together with Shaun Dowling, a companion and a member of the pastoral Care Staff at St Vincent’s public hospital gave a wonderful PowerPoint presentation titled Briar terrace – the round table. Bernadette took over the manager position of Briar Terrace from Sr margaret Laffan who was the founder of the facility
- On our retreat day in 2019, we welcomed four Year 11 students, with a staff member, from St Columba’s College Essendon. These young women gave an inspiring reflection on the Lucan Gospel Understanding of Love.
- At the October Gathering this year, Sr Regina Millard led us in a reflection on Presence
For the last four years in November, our companions have joined with the Sisters for prayer and lunch as we celebrate the Sisters in Melbourne who have had a jubilee of their religious Profession during the year. In 2013, the Companions also participated in the liturgy when the Sisters celebrated 175 years.
Information about the Companions can be found on the Sisters of Charity Website https://www.sistersofcharity.org.au/?s=companions
Also from Co-ordinators
- Elizabeth Costigan RSC at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Margaret Rankin email@example.com
- Shaun Dowling-Horgan firstname.lastname@example.org
Image 1: Reflection, from Unsplash; 2: Melbourne Conmapnions (left to right) Shaun Dowling-Horgan, Margaret Rankin, and Elizabeth Costigan RSC