Tag: Sisters of the Church

Christian Care Centre

News from the Christian Care Centre

This year at the Christian Care Centre we have Sister Ruth Hope, as the coordinator, Sisters Daisy, Sister Mary, and Sister Aneath are the new members of staff. There are also three Sisters from the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia, who are also part of the staff. Shortly the centre will be led by Sr Rosa Catherine from CSC.

Monthly the centre receives an average of 230 women and girls who are survivors of all forms of violence. Young babies and children accompany their mothers to the centre and grandmothers come to stay with their granddaughters during their stay at the centre. Clients and staff attend classes on life skills and work-related sessions with the Sisters.

VISITORS

The High Commissioner for Australia came to visit and to unveil a plaque for our Solar Lighting which has really helped us with the cost of purchasing diesel and having lights on all night. We acknowledge our pastoral visitors from the Catholic Seminary who come monthly to celebrate mass.  Rev Sister Veronica who comes weekly to visit and to celebrate Holy Communion when she is available and provides counselling for our mothers and young girls and staff besides her monthly schedule as rostered.

Rev Sister Veronica always bring with her one or two Postulants and Novices from TNK to come out for a day to assist the staff at the centre when and if there is a need for extra hands and for this we are very thankful.

TRAINING

The Sisters at CCC also attend trainings at the Centre which are taught by an Associate who is a member of the staff at the Centre. Sisters and Novices from TNK or Patteson House are also invited to attend these trainings at the centre by our support networks. Recently there was a training session on kastom gardening and also on gender awareness. Another very important training session was held in August from a women’s organisation who came to talk about women’s health.

Students doing studies on Social Work and Gender at the local USP centre and an organisation in Fiji are doing attachments at the centre and the Sisters are very grateful for extra hands to help and also teach sisters and clients craft skills.

COVID-19

CCC has a preparedness plan where we have taken some strategic measures for keeping our clients at the centre updated with information weekly. We have an Emergency Plan and a possible lock down at the confirmation of a first positive case of COVID-19. We will not admit anyone unless they are of very high risk of being harmed, and have tested negative for COVID. To date Solomon Islands has 13 positive case of the virus, but they are in isolation and contained.

16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM

For 16 Days of Activism 2020 we are planning to do awareness sessions with communities around our centre and to raise awareness on how to report domestic violence to the police and to refer clients to us for counselling.

Sisters at the CCC thank the Sisters at Henderson and TNK for their garden produce for our clients at CCC.

Thank you to all our Sisters, Associates and friends, Mothers’ Union members worldwide and locally for your support and prayers.

Mrs Ethel Suri
Christian care Centre

Melanesian Brotherhood

The Arrival of Anglican Religious Orders in Melanesia

This year SSF and CSC were due to hold services to celebrate 50 years working in Melanesia. Postponed due to COVID-19, it is hoped to have these events in 2021. In the meantime, MMUK’s Archivist Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne, looks at the history of the religious orders in the region.

The earliest Religious Order to arrive in the Solomon Islands was the Order of Friars Minor or Franciscan Brothers who came with the first Spanish exploratory expeditions in the 16th century. They however did not stay. Other Roman Catholic Orders came in the mid-19th century. The Pope had asked the newly founded Society or Mary or Marist Fathers, with its Headquarters in France, to undertake work in the central, southern and western Pacific islands, including New Zealand. They tried to establish themselves in the Solomon Islands, but their bishop was killed on Santa Isabel and others had a difficult time on the island of Makira (San Cristoval), so they withdraw for a while. However, they returned in the late 19th century and have been working there ever since. The Dominican Order later arrived to work in the Western Solomons. The Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM) arrived as well.

The first Anglican religious community was established by Mother Margaret and Sister Gwen in 1930, and they called it the Community of the Cross. They had previously worked with Indian Orthodox Sisters in India and had been invited by the Bishop of Melanesia to come and establish a Community, which Melanesian girls could join. They established their base at Siota on Gela, and then moved to Bungana island in the Gela group. After disagreements with two subsequent Bishops, Mother Margaret joined the Roman Catholic Church with most of the Sisters, and some of the Solomon Islander and New Hebridean Sisters joined the RC Daughters of Mary Immaculate, a Community of ‘native’ Sisters founded by the SMSM.

When Bishop John Chisholm became Bishop of Melanesia in 1967, he was determined to ask two Communities to come to the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the Friars and Sisters of First Order of the Society of St Francis. He had seen the work of the Friars in Papua New Guinea and wanted them to work in urban areas in his new diocese as well. The Franciscan Sisters said that they did not have enough Sisters to answer his call, so instead he turned to the Community of the Sisters of the Church, which had been established in London in the 19th century to do social work, but had later extended its work to Australia, where the Bishop came from. They were now looking for new work, having decided to give up their educational work among girls in Australia.

The Melanesian Brotherhood had been established by Brother Ini Kopuria of Guadalcanal island in 1925, and there was some speculation about how the white Brothers and Sisters of the two other Orders would be received when they arrived in 1970. However, these Orders now have many professed members and novices in their Solomon Island Provinces, all indigenous. Later, Nester Tiboe of Guadalcanal, a woman catechist, became convinced that there should be a Community of Sisters along the same lines as the Melanesian Brotherhood, whose members do not usually take life vows, which the members of those other two Communities do. There are therefore now four communities working in the Solomon Islands, and the Melanesian Brotherhood and the Sisters of Melanesia also have houses in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. The four Communities work together in many ways, and also co-operate when appropriate with the Roman Catholic Orders.  Some members of the Brotherhood also work in the Philippines and Australia.

Religious Life Sunday in The Solomon Islands
Religious Life – Sunday in The Solomon Islands
Melanesian Religious Orders
Melanesian Religious Orders

The Anglican Church of Melanesia has more members of Religious Orders compared with the overall membership of the Church than any other part of the Anglican Communion, and they do key work in evangelism, social and pastoral work, and community education. They need and desire our prayers and support.

Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne
Melanesian Mission Archivist

If you want to find out more about the four orders and their work, watch our films on the religious orders here – www.mmuk.net/films. If you would like to support the Brothers and Sisters, do consider becoming an Associate or Companion. Groups across the UK meet to pray for the communities, consider how best to support them in prayer and giving, and gather for services and pilgrimages.

UK Companions on their Yearly Pilgrimage to Holy Island
UK Companions on their yearly pilgrimage to Holy Island
AGM & Festival 2020 Zoom Gallery

AGM & Festival 2020

AGM & Festival 2020 Banner

On Monday 21st September, the Melanesian Mission held its first online AGM and Festival, with over 70 attendees from across the UK, Australia and Melanesia.


The event was due to have taken place in London in July with all the Bishops from Melanesia, just before they were to attend the Lambeth Conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and postponed Lambeth Conference, plans were changed and the event went online.

The evening began with worship led by Trustees Canon Daphne Jordan from the Diocese of Blackburn and the Ven Mike Gilbertson, Archdeacon of Chester. A recording of the congregation at Tabalia singing the Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm 23) hymn was played, and the collect for Patteson Day read.

At the Annual General Meeting, the charity presented and approved the end of year accounts from 2019 – 2020, appointed Thomas Westcott Accountants as independent examiners for 2020 – 2021 and approved the Review of the Year.

The Ven Mike Gilbertson was re-elected as a Trustee for three years, and Canon Jane Brooke from Chester Cathedral was elected as a Trustee for three years. Mr Andrew Cartwright stepped down as Trustee and was thanked for his many years of service.

At the Festival there were presentations from MMUK Trustee Kate Pwaisiho on ‘village life and climate change’ and from Sam Rylands who stayed with the Melanesian Brothers in March. There was also an opportunity to hear from Revd Sr Veronica CSC, joining the meeting from Honiara, and Revd Br Nelson MBH who is training in Fiji. In a pre-recorded address, the Archbishop of Melanesia thanked members for their ‘unwavering support to Melanesia’.

The Archbishop went on to speak about the current COVID-19 situation in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, the importance of climate research in the region and his church’s priorities for mission, including the reintroduction of ‘health ministry’.

Archbishop Leonard ended his address by saying: “I wish you all God’s blessing on your work and our partnership for the Kingdom of God. It is good to talk to you. Though we missed out a lot on the face-to-face communication, may I assure you that ACoM holds you and your families and the work you do to heart. And most especially during this time of extraordinary uncertainty and fear. May God bless all the Trustees, supporters, your families, and our partnership in mission. Thank you.”

Read the full Archbishop of Melanesia’s AGM & Festival 2020 Address.

The Rt Revd Mark Rylands, Chair of MMUK, finished the evening by sharing the charity’s priorities for the year ahead, recognising that events and visits in both directions will probably be impossible. The charity will continue to facilitate climate change research in the region, and review how it communicates with supporters, and create more online resources and events, including online coffee mornings.  

Finally, the date and venue of the 2021 AGM and Festival was announced. It will be on Saturday 18th September at Exeter Cathedral, where the charity will celebrate the life and ministry of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, first Bishop of Melanesia, on the 150th anniversary of his martyrdom.

Hear more from Sam Rylands in our Summer 2020 Magazine on his time spent with the Melanesian Brothers;

Honiara School Children

The Side Effects of COVID-19 in The Solomon Islands

Revd Sr Veronic VasetheRevd Sr Veronica reports on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in the region.

School children

The most affected victims of COVID-19 in the Solomon Islands are the students in Honiara and on Guadalcanal. Their education has been disturbed, because schools are closed down and the government moved them to their respective islands. Most of them do not know what to do in their villages, as there is no access to any learning facilities. Now the schools are opened but the students from remote islands could not make it back in time. Boats travelling to remote islands like Temotu are rare, because of the great distance and the boats have to be seaworthy. Furthermore, parents of the students do not have the money to pay for their return fares. Most of the students have outstanding school fees and COVID-19 added another burden to the parents.

The Ministry of Education provide lessons for the Students through the Solomon Island Broadcasting (SIBC), but the network is very poor in the remote islands.

Parents with little income

Most parents depend very much on the sale of the crops they grow to meet the needs of their family, especially school fees. COVID-19 had a huge impact on such people as most markets in Honiara are closed down. Many people have asked the Prime Minister to re-open the small markets in Honiara. However, the government has to protect the people from the virus and stand firm against the market vendors.

The Economy of the country is badly affected

The Economy of this country is affected both locally and internationally, and the resources are no longer sustainable to keep up in the world market. These resources are badly affected; Agriculture, Fisheries, Mining, and Tourism. Last year, tourism was picking up in this country after been affected by the Ethnic Tension. However, COVID-19 puts tourism back on its knees. The hospitals and clinics are also affected, and rural clinics badly need new supplies, but nothing is being provided and this causes great risk to our peoples’ lives.

People working for the government had to be repatriated to their home islands, and so most offices are closed. These people too found it hard to sustain their families as they returned home without jobs. Some people lost their jobs, especially those who are working in hotels, due to lack of customers. People are encouraged to work from home, but this is a huge challenge, as most houses are crowded and have a lack of privacy.

Pastoral Ministries are affected

Social distancing is one of the challenges in the field of Pastoral Ministries and Church Services. Fortunately church services are not closed in the Solomons, because this is the very heart of the people. People are more committed to attend church services and more connected with their neighbours and are kind to them at this time. Although the government, through the Leaders of the Churches, discourage big gatherings and conferences, Christian people are really committed to their faith and belief.

Religious Communities’ pastoral ministries are scaling down and this is another challenge for the Sisters and Brothers. Although, we’ve minimised visiting villages and communities, we still attend to visitors coming to our doors. People are desperate to hear the good news and be encouraged to stand firm in their faith.

Revd Sr Veronica

Litany of Environmental Lament Header

Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia

Minister General for the Society of St Francis Br Christopher John, was recently asked by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network to ask Franciscans in Melanesia to write a litany of environmental repentance. Br Chris expanded the brief and held a short workshop for all four of the Orders in Melanesia to write the piece for Ash Wednesday. The below is taken from the original, Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia, and is free for further distribution.

God of the whole human race.
You have given us responsibility to care for each other. But we have exploited and hated each other by our wickedness.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to look to you and care for each other.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

O God of creation.
You have created land for us to make our gardens and for trees, animals and all living creatures on the earth.
Forgive us for our destruction of the land by logging and poisonous chemicals.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.

Help us O Lord to care for the land that you have given us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the universe, the ocean and of love.
You have given us the ocean for fish, shells, reefs, whales, waves, corals, and for ships and boats.

We have destroyed the ocean and everything in it, and not cared for it.
We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to care for the ocean, and to recognise that it is your blessing for us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the forest, in which all living things survive and engage their life and move peacefully.
You have given us wisdom, knowledge and understanding to use our resources well in a manageable manner.

We have been careless, short-sighted, and selfish and failed to share with other people throughout the world.

We turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Please help us to think positively of your goodness and loving kindness. Please help us  to see the needs of others as you have Litany of Environmental Lament and Repentance From Melanesia seen us living in your beautiful forest.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God of the universe, the God who created the atmosphere. By your power of creation you made the sky so beautiful, the sun to give us light during the day and the moon and the stars to give light during the night. You have given us clouds to bring rain and give life to your creatures.

Lord, we turn to you with a penitent heart for all the destructions we have caused to the atmosphere.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Merciful God, God of love and everything in this world. You have created the rain, winds, storms, cyclones, earthquakes, volcanoes and floods to renew your creation. Help us to understand their existence in your world.

We turn to you in sorrow and repentance. Please, Father, forgive us for the human activities which have overpowered the weather and caused destruction of our environment.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

God you are our creator, the source of all wisdom and power. You have created humans and animals and you have appointed us humans to be responsible for them.

Forgive us who destroy your creatures. We turn to you in sorrow and repentance. Help us Lord to love and to care for them as you care for us.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Written by members of the four Religious Orders in the Anglican Church of Melanesia.
Melanesian Brotherhood, Society of St Francis, Community of the Sisters of the Church, Community of the Sisters of Melanesia.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia includes 9 dioceses in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It is one of the areas of the world most vulnerable to climate change  due to sea level rise

To find out more about the impacts of climate change
https://abcnews.go.com/International/solomon-islands-disappear-pacific-ocean-result-climate-change/story?id=38985469

Anglican Communion Environmental Network Logo

Litany of Environmental Lament Footer

Welcome at Chester Rest House

A chance to see : The Solomon Islands

A chance to see : The Solomon Islands
A chance to meet : Melanesians
A chance to learn : The life and faith, challenges and hopes of the people of these islands

Two weeks in Guadalcanal and Nggela Islands.

Visiting : Four Religious Communities in their households (Melanesian Brothers and Sisters; Franciscan Brothers, Sisters of the Church), villages, schools and local sites.

Tuesday September 15th to Thursday October 1st 2020.

For many this may be a ‘once in a lifetime’ visit to the far side of the world, so we are suggesting everyone makes their own way to and from Honiara (via Brisbane, Port Moresby or Nadi) – you may wish to visit India, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, China , Philippines, USA, New Zealand en route. The choice is yours! (We will certainly help search for flights if you wish!).

Accommodation : Chester Rest House in Honiara, Religious Communities’ and Mothers’ Union Guest Houses.

Travel : Public Transport in Honiara district is by mini-bus and ship.

  • The Religious Communities have their own ‘trucks’ which may not be very comfortable, but very memorable.
  • The Church of Melanesia owns the ‘Southern Cross’ ship, which it may be possible for us to use, depending on its September schedules.
  • 15-seater Mini-bus if and when needed.

Cost : Depending on your route, you should be able to get to Brisbane and back for around £750. The Air Fare from Brisbane to Honiara is about £400 return.

Travel costs around the Solomons are impossible to calculate. A Self-drive 15-seater would cost about £150 per day + fuel.

Tony and Alison Sparham spent two years in Melanesia in 1998/99 working at Kohimarama Theological College. They have agreed to lead this proposed group.

At present, we would like to know who is interested – we can arrange a meeting(s) to go over more details in the New Year.

Be warned!! Anyone who has visited the Solomons Islands has become very committed to developing relationships with them. The people and the places grow on you – life will never be the same again!

Please contact MMUK to receive more information. Numbers will be limited.

Tony Sparham

Sister Veronica and Sister Kristy

Community of the Sisters of the Church – December 2019 Update

We have had a busy time since the beginning of September when we welcomed back our Sister Kristy who spent six months in the UK. We were invited to the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Melanesia and then had our Provincial Chapter beginning with the welcoming of our new Mother Superior, Sister Marguerite Mae, to the Province.

Tetete Ni Kolivuti [TNK] - Hill of Prayer
Tetete Ni Kolivuti [TNK] – Hill of Prayer
In October, Marguerite and Veronica were invited to lead a workshop on Empowering Women. Ironically Veronica was not permitted to celebrate the Eucharist or preach as the women had hoped. We had the blessing of Sister Emily into her third term as Assistant Provincial on All Saints’ Day. We have had the Men’s Fellowship for a weekend at TNK recently and will have the electoral board for the new diocesan bishop of Temotu later this month.

Our Sisters and Associates are fully engaged with preparations and fundraising for the celebrations next September.

We had hoped to complete the dining hall and kitchen of the Retreat House which was blessed in April this year. Unfortunately, we have had some unexpected expenses. Our novitiate dormitory has started to shift on its foundations and serious cracks have started to appear. We are afraid that if there is an earthquake before we can repair the building it may collapse. We are hoping to start work on it as soon as possible. We estimate that it may cost $200,000 SBD or more. The architect and builder are doing the final estimates for repairs now. Our old generator broke down completely during Chapter and we have been without power since then. With the electoral board coming, we needed to replace the generator which is $90,000 SBD. Fortunately, half the cost has been met by St Andrew’s, Ham. Our solar water pump has been out of commission because of oil contamination of the ground water. We have obtained estimates of $44, 400 SBD for the re-routing of the controls and cabling to enable us to use the solar power with the other bore hole.

Next year we will be having two life professions, 3 more Junior Sisters, 2 novices and 2 new women coming to join the Community.

On 6 June 2020 the Community of the Sisters of the Church will be celebrating 150 years since its foundation in April 1870. Then in September we will be having our General Chapter at TNK and celebrating 50 years of CSC in the Solomon Islands.

Mother Emily founded the Community of the Sisters of the Church in 1870. Read more about this international community.

Mother Emily - Founder of the CSC
Mother Emily – Founder of the CSC

Community of the Sisters of the Church
Picture Credit – Community of the Sisters of the Church

Daphne Jordan, His Excellency Sir David Vunagi, Lady Mary Vunagi and Cate Edmonds

General Report of Melanesian Trip September 2019

After a long journey it was great to be greeted by Father Rayner in Port Villa. After settling into our hotel, we were visited by Karen Bell the new High Commissioner for Vanuatu. Karen explained her new role as there hasn’t been a HC in Vanuatu for fourteen years. It was interesting to note that with Brexit looming the British Government were setting up fourteen new High Commissions in the South Pacific, the West Indies and in Africa. Karen explained that she had three main roles; Working with the Government on issues of democracy, World relations and especially trade with Britain, and Climate Change. We introduced her to the work of MMUK and the schools and links programme as well as promoting the Article One project. Karen has a limited budget for projects but would be interested in a proposal from Article One. She was also interested in being introduced to Bishop James and I have forwarded his contact details. She saw that the three important and leading groups in the Vanuatu life were the Government, the Chiefs and the Church.

Cate Edmonds, Rt Rev James Tama Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and Daphne Jordon
Cate Edmonds, Rt Rev James Tama Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and Daphne Jordan

The next day we departed early for Espiritu Santo where we were met by old friends Joses, Diocesan Secretary, though recently retitled Operations Manager and Augustine, Director of Education. We later met with Bishop James and his staff at the Diocesan offices. We were able to explain a little about ourselves, they were shocked that as a Rural Dean I had responsibility for oversight of 32 parishes, and our project. The next few days were spent visiting school and a report has already been made.

We were invited to a special service at the Cathedral on the Sunday for a Mother’s Union Service where 10 new members were admitted by Bishop James. It was a wonderful, joyous service and an honour to be present.

Before leaving Santo, we visited a Rural Training Centre which had been relocated from Ambae, they were struggling in the limited facilities. They we pleased to receive visitors but looked forward to returning to Ambae.

Finally, we met with members of the Mothers’ Union who explained their work. We were particularly interested in their work around gender-based violence. Much good work is being carried out by the MU.
Leaving Vanuatu, we departed for the next leg of the project to Honiara to start the school visits etc. a separate report is available.

We were honoured to be part of the Enthronement of Archbishop Leonard and took the greetings from Bishop Robert and the Diocese of Exeter as well as greetings from ASM associates and people of Feniton. Following the 4-hour service and speeches we were invited to lunch, presentations and entertainment.

Cate Edmonds at Archbishop Leonard Dawea’s Enthronement
The highlight of the afternoon was the Cathedral Sunday School’s presentation of a worship song by dance and drama. They were inspirational and certainly raised the roof.

Cathedral Sunday School worship song by dance

The next day Rev Cate travelled out to Verana’aso to visit the Sisters, see separate report and Daphne spent time in the Education Office. The Sisters are struggling to raise funds for a new chapel as theirs is unsafe. Sadly, it feels that the Sisters are the “poor relation” and receive little support and guidance.

During our stay in Honiara we also visited the Mother’s Union Headquarters and received updates on their work. They were preparing for a grand celebration of 100 years of Mother’s Union later that month.

We also visited the Christian Care Centre, at present there are 40 residents including children and many of these residents were teenage girls who had escaped their abusive homes. The Sisters of the Church and the Melanesian Sisters work together at the CCC to provide a safe and homely environment. We were very impressed by the facilities in a beautiful setting. On arrival we met Sister Veronica who was visiting as well. Most residents are only there for a couple of weeks before they return home if it is felt safe. Sadly, many return again later.

During our stay we made a courtesy visit to David Ward the British High Commissioner to explain our project. It was interesting to meet up with him before he departs for Samoa and to hear more about the political situation in the Islands.

After negotiation we were invited to tea at Government House to meet Sir David and Lady Mary Vunagi, the recently appointed Governor General of the Solomon Islands. It was lovely to meet up with old friends, who certainly were having to get used to a very different way of life.

Eventually it was time to return home. It had been an exhausting but interesting and enjoyable 3 weeks. We hoped that we have made some significant contributions in education and relationship building. We thank MMUK for all their support and look forward to further engagement.

Rev Canon Cate Edmonds 

Women On The Frontline Training

Women On The Frontline For Reconciliation And Restoration – Retreat And Training Report

The theme of the retreat & training was “Women on the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration”.

The aim was to empower women leaders in ACoM, especially Bishops’ and Clergy wives and women lay leaders to be equipped to become peacemakers, and to have courage to make steps to be at the frontline to become ambassadors of peace.

Mrs Caroline Welby the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury and three staff from the Lambeth Palace, Mrs Sarah Snyder, Mrs Jane Namurye and Mrs Keren Lewis convened the retreat and training.

When Archbishop Justin Welby became the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mrs Welby had a vision to visit all Bishops’ wives within the Anglican Communion to encourage them in their role as they share the same calling and challenges.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia was the third province the team had visited to conduct the retreat and training.

The retreat was conducted for Bishops’ wives for two and half days and the second part of the programme was the training which included clergy wives and women leaders in ACoM. A total of twenty-eight women attended the training.

In his opening address, the Most Reverend George Takeli, Archbishop of the Province of Melanesia said this is the era of renewal and restoration in our society, and women must be in the frontline to lead. He views the training of women as a priority and is taking steps to make it happen. This includes:

  • Increasing the enrolment of girls in ACoM Schools
  • Increasing the number of women in the 2020 General Synod and Executive Council
  • Awarding of scholarships for women in theological training

The Importance of Retreat and Training:

The programme was unique, in that all participants were able to freely share and talk about their experiences and challenges. The method used at both the retreat and training was unique and of a high level with each session based on scripture, in which participants either used imaginary creative art or role-played characters from the chosen texts. These activities allowed participants to make connections to real life situations.

Participants who felt touched by what was being delivered and shared, were given opportunities to pray and share individually with Mrs Welby and her team. An opportunity was also given for anyone to have time with Sr. Veronica, the Sister Provincial and the only ordained woman in Melanesia. Seeing women queuing at the Sisters’ chapel to have their turn, speaks a lot on the Ordination of Women. Women share freely with women. Peace of Christ in our hearts was experienced by most of the women that attended this programme.

The programme was very effective like no other, because of the simplicity of Mrs Welby and her team and the process in the delivery method. Above all, the encouragement given in prayer life for the journeys we make in life.

What Next?

“How are we going to make steps forward in the implementation of what we have acquired?”, was the question at the last day.

Participants were divided into three groups to discuss what will happen next after this training. They resolved to take steps to be ambassadors of peace in their families, communities and country:

  • Bishops’ wives to meet once every year
  • Awareness to be carried out in each diocese
  • Diocese of Central Melanesia to be a pilot diocese to carry out training
  • Revise the position of Women’s Desk at the ACoM Headquarters by a six-member committee
  • A follow up visit by Mrs Welby and Team in the future

Acknowledgements:

  • First of all, we thank God for his grace given to women to be at the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration
  • We give thanks to God for calling Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs Welby to shepherd the Anglican Communion
  • The love and passion that has brought Mrs Welby and her team to share with us and the humility and simplicity to be able to adjust to the life style so different from theirs. Also, for their commitment to prayer and encouragement to pray as a tool really stood out
  • For Archbishop George and Mrs June Takeli making this possible through their invitation to Mrs Welby to visit Melanesia
  • For the General Secretary and ACoM Administration for the support rendered
  • The Committee through the Provincial Mothers’ Union Office, who facilitated the visit in consultation with Archbishop George and Mrs Takeli
  • Sr. Veronica for celebrating for us daily and the love and care the sisters at Tete-Nikoli-Vuti (TNK), we couldn’t have chosen a better place. Just the right place for the Retreat and Training

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

A Christmas Message

Community of the Sisters of the Church – Christmas Letter

‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6-7.

A Merry Christmas to you all from the Community of the Sisters of the Church. It is a great joy for me to share with you the ministry and the mission of this Holy Child given to us over this year. I will share with you the significant events that have happened this year.

On 14th – 15th January 2018, I led a Retreat for the Provincial Mothers Union in the Solomon Islands. It is a privilege to work closely with this large organisation that has many members and they are in every single village in the country. The new year begins with people seeking the Holy Child to lead them to what is ahead. The Sisters of the Church and the Mothers Union work closely in the Anglican Church of Melanesia in many ways.

From 9th – 11th February 2018, the Sisters of the Church hosted the Religious Life Sunday at Tetete Ni Kolivuti (TNK). It is a moving event for Sisters and Brothers who live in the Religious Life to share, pray, celebrate and to learn from one another. We are partners in Mission although we approach ministry differently. This diversity as well as what we have in common among us brings richness to ACOM. We were grateful to Br Christopher John, the SSF Minister General who joined us. It makes a lot of difference when a worldwide leader is present among us.

On 28th July 2018, the land where St Scholastica House is located in the Diocese of Ysabel is now owned by the Community. For the past 12 years, we lived illegally on unregistered land and the landowners were wondering whether or not, the Community would ever do the traditional ceremony. Yes, after having several meetings with the landowners, the Associates and the Community finally registered the land under CSC. The Associates in the Diocese of Ysabel advised us on what items to prepare and led us in the ceremony. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their commitment and dedication to the Community.

Women on the Front Line Programme
Women on the Front Line Programme

From 9th – 14th September, we had the honour to host the Women on the Front Line programme. Mrs Caroline Welby, Mrs Jane Namurye, Mrs Karen Lewis and Canon Sarah Snyder from Lambeth facilitated this programme for the Bishops’ spouses, the Mothers’ Union and the female Religious Communities in Melanesia. Mrs Welby and her team were invited by his Grace, Archbishop George Takeli of the ACOM. It was the first time in our history that such a distinguished team has come to the Solomon Islands.

Blessing of late Sr Kathleen Kapei’s Headstone
Blessing of late Sr Kathleen Kapei’s Headstone

On 30th September 2018, two weeks later after the women programme, we had the blessing of late Sr Kathleen Kapei’s headstone, as well as celebrating Michaelmas. TNK was bursting with thousands of people, but everybody worked together and so the preparation went smoothly. That day many groups from different Parishes, Schools and people living in the planation came with their entertainment and we all enjoyed the celebration so much that we forgot when to stop. However, it was 5:30 pm and we were still sitting under the trees in the feasting area. I suggested we had Evensong at that spot, before everybody went home. That day we began the Service in the Chapel and then ended the day with an Evensong under the trees.

On 20th October at Evensong, we had the Acceptance of Jacklyn, Noelyn, Naomi and Yvon as Junior Sisters. Then on 21st October 2018 we had the Life Profession of Sr Mary Gladys. One of the moving moments at the Service was when her family escorted her into the chapel to pronounce her vows. They danced a Tikopian traditional dance and chant as they led her up to the altar, and then handed her over to me to be presented to the Bishop Visitor. That day was so lovely and a great blessing as we learned more about Tikopian culture. Again, the Evensong took place at the same spot under the trees before the crowd dispersed to their homes.

Retreat House at TNK
Retreat House at TNK

We have now completed the first part of the Retreat House at TNK. We will be doing more fundraising to complete the rest. Although this part will be blessed, at present there is no dining room, nor kitchen and no office yet. Retreatants will still join in the Community for meals in the refectory.

Mother Emily’s kindergarten is doing well and progressing. However, they have been disturbed a number of times, as we needed TNK to be quiet and silent. When groups come during the week for retreat, we asked the teachers to cancel the classes which was not right for the children’s education. The teachers are always annoyed with us regarding this issue. However, we are thinking of moving the School a little further from the Retreat House, so there will be no interruption to the school.

Please remember our Sisters on mission to Lord Howe islands during this Christmas Season. They are spending Christmas with our Christian people there, doing teaching, dramas, singing choruses and Christmas Carols, taking part in Worship and the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Sr Emily and I are in Canada as I write this letter. We came here to attend the Blessing of our new Mother Superior Sr Marguerite Mae and then the Provincials’ Meeting. It is good to be here and to have space before going back to our busy life in the Solomons.

‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’

May I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2019.

God Bless.

Sr Veronica CSC