Day 8: 30 January 2022

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‘Would that all were here.’ (Mary Ward)

‘Time is the most precious of all things.’ (Teresa Ball)

‘What have I done for Christ, what am I doing for Christ, what will I do for Christ?’ – words from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola which must have been frequently on the lips of both Mary Ward and Teresa Ball. For all of us, these words bring different challenges, different dangers perhaps, and will require different skills as we try to live our lives in different parts of the world.

During my life I have had the wonderful experience of working in various African countries. I met several IBVM sisters at meetings as I worked for the Irish charity Concern. I first met Sr. Noelle in a refugee camp in Tanzania where she was with the Jesuit Refugee service. I visited houses where the sisters lived and was delighted to see a portrait of Mary Ward. Here were places where I felt at home and we were as one.

We remember Mary Ward’s saying ‘God hath His times for all’. The time is now for us to be ONE and what a rich tapestry will be created as we become one.

Sr Pat Robb CJ – English Province

In the first published [Dublin 1879] biography of Teresa Ball, the author Rev. William Hutch D.D. writes of Teresa Ball: “She never wearied repeating to them [her sisters] the words of the Psalmist: ‘How good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to live together in unity’.”

At first sight, this could apply to life in the community, but Teresa Ball may also have been thinking of the houses she had founded in Ireland and abroad who were withdrawing from unity with Rathfarnham, and the painful schism between Loreto Convent St Stephen’s Green and Rathfarnham.

There have always been struggles about unity and Becoming One in both parts of Mary Ward’s Institute, beginning with Sister Praxedes and her supporters in Liège in 1619, who tried to subvert Mary Ward’s vision for her Institute. Problems touching Becoming One have gone on through the centuries to our own day. Many of our sisters at all times have yearned and worked for Becoming One. We can consider them: ‘a cloud of witnesses’ surrounding us, as we run ‘the race that is set before us’ [Heb. 12.1] namely Becoming One.

Sr Magdalen O’Neill IBVM – English Province

What can I bring to the process of Becoming One, what gifts, what talents, what experiences?

Esther Finis