‘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.
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.
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.
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.
Sr Veronica CSC