The day finally arrived on Saturday 21st October 2017 for the friends and Associates of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth to join the Sisters for a day trip from Sydney to Canberra to meet the Associates and their friends for a special gathering to celebrate the 30th Anniversary from the commencement of the Association in Canberra, which in later years branched out into Sydney with gatherings being held in Castle Hill and Marayong.
It was an early start boarding the luxury coach from Marayong. We were blessed with a bright and beautiful morning, the day after a rainy day which cleared the air, following a record-breaking four-month dry spell in 110 years (according to the news on TV). The journey was most pleasant, enhanced with intervals of hymn singing and guitar playing by Sr Bogumila.
On arriving at St John the Apostle Catholic Church in Kippax, the welcoming Canberra Associates greeted us with morning tea in the tastefully arranged Parish hall. They often attend our bi-monthly gathering in Sydney and it was good to meet them on their home ground this time. Some of the Associates present at this gathering, travelled even as far as Victoria.
Sr. Lucyna Fraczek – Provincial Leader, opened the meeting by introducing and acknowledging the presence of the both veteran and much younger Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Sr Lucyna then followed with a brief history of the Congregation in Australia and of the founding of the Association in Canberra 30 years ago.
The reflection was delivered by Fr Dominic Gleeson MSC, a Spiritual Director at St Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre in Douglas Park, NSW who is almost a regular at the Associates gatherings. In reflecting on Psalm 139, Fr Gleeson explored the depth of God’s love for us and how He completely knows each one of us even from before we were formed. This Psalm gives a wonderful awareness of our self-worth. Fr Dominic then explained about God’s Covenant with us, which unlike a ‘contract’ which needs both parties to comply with the terms, a covenant shows the unconditional love of God for us whether we are good or evil.
An example he gave was of us as infants looking into our mothers’ eyes for the first time and receiving her tender care even if we did not yet know how to love her back. Isaiah 43: 1-7 and other similar texts demonstrated this intimacy with our Creator.
It was then time for Mass celebrated by Fr Dominic at the Parish Church of St John the Apostle, where he also served for four years in the late nineties. In his sermon, Fr Dominic explained six points to follow as a guide to reaching holiness in our lives. This was to bless, pray, be truthful, encourage others, listening to God in silence, and to be grateful.
A scrumptious lunch prepared by our friends in Canberra, concluded this special Associates gathering where new friendships were made, and others rekindled. It was time for our return trip to Sydney feeling refreshed and serene. All Associates are grateful to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth for this opportunity for prayerful reflection and to the Canberra Associates for hosting this event.