The purpose of the Housekeeper/Cleaner is to provide effective and timely housekeeping services to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the presbytery household.
Sister Kylie Maria Fowler is a religious sister from Bendigo, Victoria and is currently serving in Tivoli, Italy. She recently visited our parish community. (Cover photo: Helen Fowler [Sr Kylie's mother], Fr Junjun PP, Sr Kylie Fowler)
Hello everybody, Fr. Adi invited me to write a short reflection about my recent visit to Australia, my vocation and a little bit about my consecrated family.
About my visit
I was blessed to make a visit to my home town of Bendigo and the parishes of Shepparton and Wodonga between the 26th of December and the 9th of January 2023. This was my second time home in the last four years. Prior to these visits, as a result of entering into consecrated life in Italy, during the year 2000, I had not returned to Bendigo for 19 years. For this reason, during my “recent visits” I was deeply moved to find myself emerged in my natural social and cultural environment, where I was able to connect with family, friends and our local Catholic communities. These simple experiences, founded in true Christian love, sharing, joy and liturgical celebration, provoked in me sentiments of gratitude and revived in me a deep sense of belonging. In reflecting upon this experience, I now understand that it is fruit of the Holy Spirit who according to God’s loving plan, creates in us, this deep connection with family, community and our wider culture. For this reason, I was touched by the joyful, generous and sincere welcome which was extended to me in the parish communities of Bendigo, Wodonga and Shepparton. I give thanks to our Lord for these little sanctuaries of Christian life, service, communion, love and friendship and thank the Priests, religious and lay people who welcomed me.
It was also very special, for me to see and live amongst the Australian bush and country side, to hear sounds of birds which are distinctively Australian and be embraced by the vast and powerful silence of our land.
In relation to my vocation, as mentioned, I entered into Consecrated life within our Spiritual Family- The Franciscan Family of Mary Immaculate in Rome in the year 2000. This new beginning for me came at the conclusion of a long journey of human and spiritual searching, which had left me with the desire to discover my Catholic Christian spiritual roots and the foundations of Christian prayer life.
It was actually in India in the year of 1999 when I was 27 years old that I underwent a deep conversion, facilitated by a return to the sacraments and through living with some local Christian communities. Upon departing from India, I arrived quickly in Turkey where divine providence enabled me to meet the first sisters of our consecrated family at Mary’s house at Ephesus. This community of sisters, welcomed me with unconditional love and attention and upon listening to my story, they invited me to move onto Rome where I meet my Italian born mother Foundress – Maria Elisabeth Patrizi – on the Feast Day of Saint Maximillian Kolbe 14 august 2000. I was able to make a variety of experiences with our sisters in the months of July and August in that year and at their conclusion, I decided to remain in Italy so as to continue to discover the project that the Lord has always desired for me and was at that time revealing. These last 23 years have truly been a divine adventure.
Spirituality of our Consecrated Family
The spirituality of the Franciscan Family of Mary Immaculate which embraces sisters, brother and lay people, is deeply Marian and inspired in a particular way by Saint Maximillian Kolbe and Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Drawing on both the Franciscan and Carmelite Spiritual traditions our spirituality is deeply contemplative whilst at the same time lived actively in the world. We have not one specific apostolate activity but are open to the variety of apostolate expressions which Mary herself calls us to. This is because, apart from making the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, we also profess a fourth vow of total consecration to Mary Immaculate. This vow invites us follow Mary’s example of docility to the Holy Spirit and to be loving instruments of her maternity. One of the first names given to our family by our mother foundress was “Universal sisters and brothers”, this was because together with Saint Maximillian Kolbe she desired ardently that our charism be expressed in all parts of the world so that Mary could guide all human beings to an experience of God’s love and the true happiness and peace that stems from this. Our charism is directed to the conversion and sanctification of all.
It anybody is interested in making contact or knowing more about our Spiritual family or charism I invite you to please contact me. Sr. Kylie Fowler through Wodonga Catholic Parish.
United in prayer with Mary,
“Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” [Luke 2:15]
Each one of us has a ‘Bethlehem’ story, the place or moment where Jesus is so real and alive for us. This is our own Christmas story, our own Bethlehem.
But what does Christmas mean to us? To know this is to find our own Bethlehem.
For some, it is writing and sending Christmas cards and messages out to their loved ones. For some, it means Christmas shopping for parties and for presents. While for others, it is enjoying time with family and friends at Christmas dinners.
But Christmas is not just about giving a space in our minds and hearts for our brothers and sisters.
It is first and foremost giving a space to someone who makes us brothers and sisters in the first place- Jesus Christ, the reason for this season.
For the shepherds in the nativity story, it is not just listening to ‘the news of great joy’ but going out to see for themselves this wonderful news.
For the wise men from the East, it is not just to remain pondering on the beauty of the stars, but going out to seek the newborn king of the Jews to pay him rightful homage.
For Joseph, it is not just a dream. He has to get up and work to make that dream a reality.
For Mary, it is receiving the divine message with humility, being obedient to God’s will and treasuring these things in her heart.
In other words, Christmas is looking up to Christ.
Furthermore, Christmas is celebrating Christ not just as Emmanuel (God-with-us), but as God-within-us.
So Christmas is also doing something for Christ and on behalf of Christ for others.
If Christ is God-within-us, we are to be God’s presence and present to one another.
As a present to one another, what kind of present are we? Are we a present that is worth treasuring in somebody’s heart?
As a Christmas message to one another, what message would we bring? Is it a message of joy, peace, hope, love?
Christmas is also a time of thanksgiving to God. Let us thank God for his amazing gift for us, the gift that never loses its value and significance to us- his only Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
As a way of gratitude to God, let us think of the many figures of the newborn Christ around us today. He is present in the last, the least and the lost. We need to be Christ-in-action for them.
As Mary and Joseph struggled to find an inn, there are many today who are homeless, because of the lack of affordable housing, or because of natural disasters, like floods, fire, earthquake, or those in war-torn countries. Let us support them with our prayers and in any way we can.
Like the child in the manger who is helpless, vulnerable and voiceless, there are many of our brothers and sisters who need our help, who need our personal care in their vulnerabilities and who need us to speak on their behalf, for they are not being heard or their voice is considered unimportant. Let us stay with Jesus for he knows so well the language of the helpless, the needy and the poor.
Finally, let us pray for ourselves that during this Christmas, we may find our true Bethlehem, by experiencing God’s personal care and love for us, by ourselves- being the presence of Christ and present that brings peace, joy, hope and love to others, especially to those in need.
Thanks to all of you in the parish who together journeyed and helped us get through another year in our Christian journey towards our eternal Bethlehem.
With peace and blessings from the Most High, Fr Uday and Fr Adi and I, we wish you all a blessed and a solemn Christmas celebrations.
And may we look back the past year with gratitude, celebrate the new year with joy and enthusiasm and look to the future with hope and optimism. Merry Christmas one and all!
Header image: Triptych of the Adoration of the Magi (1470 - 1472). Oil on panel. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
About 50 faithful from Wodonga and beyond gathered at St. Augustine’s Church this morning to pray the Holy Rosary for the nation.
The 15 October Public Rosary is an an international campaign to pray the rosary together in commemoration of the last apparition of Our Lady (October 13, 1917) at Fatima. In Australia, this project is spearheaded by Australia Needs Fatima, an on-going project to bring the Message of Fatima to all Australians.
In 1917, Our Lady appeared to three children, Lucia dos Santos, Francisco Marto, and Jacinta Marto. At the time, the children were ten, nine and seven years of age respectively. All three lived in Aljustrel, a village in the parish of Fatima, Portugal. The apparitions took place on a small plot of land belonging to Lucia’s parents called the Cova da Iria, where the children used to graze their sheep (from Australia Needs Fatima website).
We are grateful to God and to Our Lady for the opportunity to come together in prayer. A parishioner commented about the Rosary today, “Amazing service today filled with love.”
Bishop Shane Mackinlay celebrated the Farewell Mass at St Francis Church, Bethanga on Saturday 20 August. Wodonga priests, Fr Junjun Amaya PP, Fr Uday Marneni AP and Fr Adi Indra AP concelebrated at this final Mass in Bethanga, which Fr Junjun described as bittersweet.
In his Homily, Bishop Shane said the Mass was a day to celebrate and acknowledge the faith and tradition of those who had worshipped in St Francis over the last 140 years.