Towards the end of a long period of discussion and discernment between the Provinces of Australia and Great Britain, and when the decision was made to integrate these two Provinces, the Sisters were consulted about a name for the new Province. Sr Marie Raw, General Councillor, was present with us on the 11th of March 2020 in London and remarked: “One of the most exciting things of this integration was the adoption of a new name. Choosing a person as patron signifies and heralds a whole new identity and impetus.” So, what person was chosen? Our Sister – Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity on fire with love for the poor.
Prior to this, Sr Marie Raw, Sr Ellen Flynn, Visitatrice, Fr Paul Roche CM, Director, along with four Sisters from Great Britain set off for Australia in February 2020, where the integration process began in Sydney. During a gathering of two days with all the Sisters, there was time to celebrate the past, look forward to the future, and plant a Eucalyptus tree in the grounds at Marsfield. Soon after this group returned to London, five Australian Sisters, accompanied by Fr Phil Robson CM, arrived in the Provincial House, Mill Hill. Two days of celebrations culminated with the official integration which was livestreamed around the Province from the Vincentian parish in Mill Hill. Following a celebratory meal all returned to the Provincial House garden where a second Eucalyptus tree was planted.
We all looked forward to the Provincial Assembly within a few months that would give the first opportunity to get to know each other. However, we all know what happened next! The Covid 19 virus that knows no frontiers, and which has affected us all, kept and is keeping us physically apart in both areas of the Province.
With the great efforts and ingenuity of Sr Ellen, the Council and three facilitators, our Provincial Assembly was quickly re-arranged to allow us to participate on ZOOM. We had training beforehand, at times we despaired at our continued mistakes but when as delegates we sat in front of our individual appliances there were no major problems! We were amazed at the synergy and connectedness. Living in two different hemispheres with a time difference, depending on the season, of 9 or 11 hours, is challenging!
We continue to use this medium of Zoom for meetings, to share information, to present our Communities and services to each other, as well as to celebrate and have fun together. Our newly formed communications team keeps us well informed with news and events, campaigns that we can be involved in from our armchairs and uses social media platforms to share our story more widely.
Our last Provincial gathering on zoom was for the installation of a new Councillor, on 21st January. Sr Marie Raw was present from her office in the Mother House, Communities in Great Britain and Australia joined online and the Provincial House Community, together with Sr Ellen, Visitatrice, Sr Kathleen Kennedy, outgoing Councillor, gathered to welcome Sr Maureen Tinkler.
We will soon arrive at our first anniversary. A year that we could never have envisaged. In the prologue of a recent book written by Pope Francis “LET US DREAM: The Path to a Better Future, he says, “This crisis has called forth some new courage and compassion. Some have been sifted and have responded with the desire to reimage our world; others have come to the aid of those in need in concrete ways that can transform our neighbour’s suffering. That fills me with hope that we might come out of this crisis better. But we have to see clearly, choose well, and act rightly.”
Together we go forward in hope, to dare to dream of a better future – something new for all humanity and our common home.
Sr. Liz Ferrie, Daughter of Charity