Source: FCJ Sisters
Hundreds of school students in the UK and across the globe will this month take part in a collective 'Day of Kindness' to launch the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the founding of a religious congregation, the Faithful Companions of Jesus. On September 20th, pupils in schools founded by the Congregation will be invited to go out of their way to show kindness in their school and home. This will include tea parties for the elderly, random acts of kindness and a variety of charity work. FCJ schools in Britain are located in Liverpool, the Wirral, Middlesex and London. Students in schools in Jersey, Ireland, France, Australia, Canada and the United States of America will also be taking part in creating a wave of kindness encompassing the globe.
In addition, this historical anniversary will be marked by action targeting a very modern problem: the climate crisis. Globally, the Congregation has made care of the environment a priority for mission, and in response to the climate emergency, 10 trees will be planted by each FCJ community group in their local areas. Individual sisters will make efforts to divest of single-use plastics and encourage their colleagues and friends to do so as well. The Congregation will also contribute financial support for an alternative energy project.
The Congregation of the Faithful Companions of Jesus was founded in France in 1820 and September 21st marks the birthday of the foundress, Marie Madeleine d'Houët. The bicentenary celebrations will run from the 21st September 2019 until the Feast of Christ the King in November 2020.
There will be a host of events to celebrate this Bicentenary Year:
- A Day of Kindness to launch the Bicentenary Year of Celebration.
- The staging of a theatre production based on the life of Marie Madeleine and the expansion of the Society she founded; the play has been commissioned from RISE THEATRE and will be performed in the UK, Ireland and other English-speaking locations where FCJs and their Companions in Mission live and work.
- Various internal celebrations in FCJ Schools and Spirituality Centres.
- Local radio interviews and presentations in different parts of the world.
- A commemorative painting is in preparation and will be published online.
- A new song will be composed for use in FCJ schools and in parishes where FCJs and their Companions in Mission live and work.
- Liturgical and para-liturgical celebrations in the locations where FCJ sisters live or have ministered in the past.
- Planting trees around the world. The sisters in Europe have committed to planting 10 trees for each community group in the bicentenary year.
- New materials on the Foundress and the history of the Faithful Companions of Jesus have been made available.
- Unpublished material from FCJ archives will be available online.
- The General Superior of the FCJ Society, Sr Mary Claire Sykes fcJ wrote to sisters saying: "May the celebrations be a source of new life and strengthened hope."
Marie Madeleine de Bengy was born in the small town of Chȃteauroux, near Bourges in Central France, in 1781 and was brought up in the social and religious turmoil that followed the French Revolution. She married Joseph de Bonnault d'Houët in 1804, but a year later, the marriage came to an untimely end when Joseph died of typhoid; their son Eugène was born three months after his father's death. A young, grieving widow, Marie Madeleine was reluctant at first to believe that God was calling her to a radical life of prayer and service in the Church and world of her time. Gradually, with God's help and the guidance of her Jesuit spiritual directors, she began to discern the path ahead more clearly. Finally, in 1820, at the age of 38, having attended to her son's education and future, she opened a school in Amiens, thus marking the foundation of the Society of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. 'My name is Magdalen', she said. 'I will follow my patron saint, who so loved Jesus as to accompany him in his journeys and his labours, ministering to him even at the foot of the Cross with the other holy women who did not abandon him but proved to be his faithful companions'. Before her death in 1858, Marie Madeleine founded schools and orphanages not only in France, but also in England, Switzerland, Italy and Ireland. Since then the Society of the Faithful Companions of Jesus has continued to spread, with foundations in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Scotland, USA, the Channel Islands, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Indonesia, Philippines, Romania and Myanmar.
FCJ Europe Bicentenary Commitment
1820 - 2020
We, FCJ Sisters and FCJ Companions in Mission in Europe, responding to the Climate Emergency and acknowledging the integral link between the theology of Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home, our relationship with the Earth and the demand for social justice,
- to celebrate the beauty of creation and make a positive contribution to our local environment. We will plant 10 trees per community and/or group in 2020.
- to endeavour to divest all our FCJ communities and homes of single-use plastics, growing in our awareness and supporting each other in our resolve.
- to publicly acknowledge the impact of climate change on the poorest people in Society, raising awareness of issues locally, nationally and internationally, and becoming involved in advocacy where possible.
Twitter: @fcjsisters #FCJ200
Facebook: Marie Madeleine D'Houët (Foundress of the FCJ Sisters) www.facebook.com/FaithfulCompanionsofJesus/