Thursday, 17 November 2011

Arundel & Brighton Woman Heads Relgious Order

Sister Jane Livesey CJ
Sister Jane Livesey CJ has been elected worldwide leader of the Congregation of Jesus, the religious order founded by Ven. Mary Ward in 1609. Sister Jane, a member of Our Lady of the Assumption parish, Englefield Green in the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton before she entered the novitiate, is the first British woman to hold the office of general superior since the eighteenth century. Over 60 members of the congregation gathered for the election in the sanctuary dedicated to St. Ignatius Loyola in Spain.

Sisters represented countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe, including recent foundations in Mongolia and Cuba. The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto) sisters also count Mary Ward as their founder. Both orders together number nearly 3,000 sisters worldwide. Yorkshire woman Mary Ward (1585-1645) took her first step towards sainthood when she was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI, a former pupil of a Mary Ward school in Germany, during the recent 400th anniversary of her order’s founding. 2,000 people gathered to celebrate the anniversary which began with a Mass in York Minster celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and ended with a Mass at Westminster Cathedral attended by Bishop Kieran.

Sister Jane, formerly head of St. Mary's School, Shaftesbury from 1985-1998, will move to the order’s headquarters in Rome. With new vocations to the order beginning to emerge, the sisters recently reopened their novitiate in the historic Bar Convent, York, alongside its flourishing conference and pastoral centres.

Sister Jane’s election coincided with the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, celebrated by sisters from the three provinces of Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, which re-emerged from the former Soviet Union after decades of Communist persecution.

In Spain congregation delegates continue to discuss their plans and priorities for their worldwide mission and ministry in the coming years. 'These are exciting times for us', says Sister Jane, 'with challenging opportunities opening up in far-flung parts of the world as they once did here. With vocations beginning to pick up in Mary Ward's own country as well, it feels good to be part of a religious life that is open to the needs of today and tomorrow'.

Many congratulations to Sister Jane

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