This event gathered together 125 friends of Mary Ward from every continent and from twenty-five difference countries: Albania, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Kenya, Korea, Mauritius, Nepal, Peru, Romania, ‘Rome’, South, Africa, Spain, Tanzania, United Kingdom, USA, and Zimbabwe.
Four Mary Ward Friends from Albania, Sara Capaliku, Manushaqe Cypi, Gazmir Memaj and Pjeter Tanushaj joined this event. Sr Imelda Poole (IBVM), was one of three keynote speakers at this conference, which also included Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ (Heythrop College, University of London), and Dr Elaine McDonald (Dublin City University).
We were delighted that both General Superiors, Srs Jane Livesey CJ and Noelle Corscadden IBVM were able to be present and both gave very inspiring speeches.
After the keynote addresses we had time for group discussions, sharing across national groupings and deciding what and how we would take the experience of the week back home with us.
During the conference we spent part of each day visiting Mary Ward places. These included: Ripley Castle where Mary Ward stayed with her Ingleby cousins as a child; Ripon Cathedral, where her siblings were baptised; Mulwith, where she was born and raised; Bishop Thornton, a recusant church which contained a stain glass window of Mary Ward; Mount Grace and the Lady Chapel in Osmotherly, where she prayed in thanksgiving for recovery from a serious illness and Osbaldwick, where she was buried.
It was a great pleasure and honor to meet and share our experience with many Friends of Mary Ward from all over the world.
We were inspired by our excellent keynote speakers, we were taken through ways in which Mary Ward was prophetic in her own times.
Srs Jane and Noelle focused on the encounter with Mary Ward we had experienced together; on the reality of our ‘oneness’ as the Family of Mary Ward. They spoke of the need to live out of this experience rather than out of categories of CJ or IBVM, religious or lay, by which we have traditionally identified ourselves. We were encouraged to ‘cherish God’s vocation in each other’ and as family members to start looking up our ‘long lost relatives’ of the Mary Ward family.
The Friends of Mary Ward in Albania meet monthly to reflect on the life and spirituality of Mary Ward. During our joyful gatherings, we pray, reflect, share and sing together. The group also organizes days out and short retreats.
The last retreat day took place in a Jesuits center in Vaqarr, on 16th July. The Friends of Mary Ward dream to develop the mission in this spirituality centre in Vaqarr, when we can gather, pray and reflect together and draw more people into prayer through the Ignatian ways of praying.
On this day, we prayed, discerned and reflected together about the future of our group, its identity and mission. Friends of Mary Ward is a spiritual group with a Christian and Gospel base, with common leadership and social action lead. We all agreed that MWL’s mission is praying and reflecting together as a spiritual group and having a mini project, doing voluntary work, and doing concrete things. We are very happy to invite more people to join our team, we meet very month and we will work in teams and each of the teams will address different issues and lead the monthly meeting.
The last meetings, which took place in October and December, we joined in the IBVM dialogue within the circles of faith deliberations on participative leadership. These were sent to the UK to contribute to the Province reflections. We discussed and reflected on some important questions such as: How/Who/In which way Friends of Mary Ward in Albania have impact in IBVM/CJ community?