Mary Ward Week: Reflection – 28 January

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The painting of Mary Ward and her first companions (PL 22), at first glance, shows women of common interest gathered together. But this image goes beyond togetherness, as the open circle they have formed beckons one to ‘come and see’. Mary Ward’s open circle invitation and the impact of her life and spirituality leave a deep sense of wonder and awe, an unease/dis-ease, like a ‘what if’ feeling. The purpose of Mary Ward Open Circle (MWOC) is to embrace and embody her vision and values in today’s world. Our call is to be, as Mary Ward said, “wholly God’s”, “to be strong and apt for all such good works as are in this world to be done” (MW Retreat notes 1619).

Reflecting on an ‘open circle’, one imagines a place of companionship of like-minded people that is welcoming, open to others with new and fresh ideas that add and enrich this circle and that challenges us to ‘see beyond’ – where the meetings/gatherings are like a WELL where we come for nourishment, for support and companionship, where we are challenged and enriched, where we can relax and be refreshed and blessed as we go about our various activities/ministries. It is like an Upper Room where we can celebrate, can be ourselves – a place of confidence, challenge, trust, energy and strength.

Where is your Well?
Who do you bless?
Who blesses you?
Where is your Upper Room?

Considering how in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic, a ‘circle of friends’ might look now – and from now on – we need only to look at that critical time and “the lemon juice letters”. They kept Mary Ward’s circle of friends steadfast in their determination to keep the Institute alive and together.

Physical distancing or isolation cannot be a deterrent to continue living our dream. Technology has opened new and resourceful ways of keeping us connected ‘together’. Our Mary Ward Open Circle of the 21st Century is a space where we meet and share ideas, make plans and strengthen each other.

Esther Finis