Photo by Daniel Seßler.

Josephite Companion, Janette Dobson, shares her insight on the recent Josephite Companions Conference and the ongoing influence it has had on her life, and reflects on the wonderful opportunity Advent gives us.

Last September, Josephite Companions engaged in an encounter with Companions from different continents, including Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Timor-Leste and Peru.

This was the fulfillment of a dream visioned earlier by the former International Josephite Associates Leadership Team (IJALT) and brought to fruition by the current leadership team JColt (Josephite Companions Leadership Team) as the Companions movement evolved.

The conference titled Be Courageous and Full of Hope, was held on 4 September 2021. Originally planned for Adelaide 2020, the conference reverted to a virtual format as pandemic travel restrictions intervened. In hindsight, this proved to be a very astute move enabling a larger number of Companions to be involved via the digital format than would have been possible in person.

Congregational Leader, Sr Monica Cavanagh, provided a comprehensive and challenging input based on the theme “Be Courageous and Full of Hope”. She identified Companions as being “an authentic pathway for living the Gospel with a Josephite Heart”, affirming that we intrinsically share the call to live life in the same Josephite charism and, therefore, need to imbue the same courage and hope that sustained Mary MacKillop, Father Julian Tenison Woods and the sisters.

Sr Monica further identified other aspects of Josephite spirituality, including “being grounded in the reality of everyday life”, “its homespun quality” and “being in mission with a humble heart”. The aspect that has had the most impact on me since then is that “Josephite spirituality is incarnational: the God in me meets the God in you”. Although this is not a new concept, the ability to speak with other Companions and to share in their lives, even for a brief time, has exposed us to a much wider dimension of our shared mission.

We heard the pain and sadness of those who have not been able to come together at the Eucharistic Table and be sustained in their daily lives due to pandemic lockdowns. We shared the successes of those who have been able to stretch the boundaries of their outreach and make a difference in their communities. We also felt the goodwill that abounded, even though culture, distance and language separated us.

Advent gives us a wonderful opportunity to fine-tune ourselves ready to accept, welcome and embrace the Christ who became incarnate “God-made-flesh” for us and our world.

We can continue living life on the surface with scarcely a ripple beneath, or we can take Christ literally and open ourselves up to all that following more deeply entails. It may mean moving out of our comfort zone, seeing with new eyes, becoming more aware of our world and of each other. It may mean responding to situations we would rather avoid or going that extra mile when we would prefer to take the short cut. It may not be comfortable, but we may find ourselves changing gradually. We may meet the God in others that surprises us and disturbs us. Discipleship was never promoted as being easy, but there was the promise that the burden would never be too heavy or the yoke too onerous.

Can we truly walk in the footsteps of the One who became human for us, who suffered and died for us, and who assures us of always being there with us. This Advent are you ready and willing to accept Christ?

Janette Dobson
Josephite Companion