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Mother Foundress’ Day 2021
Ahuva Good Shepherd – Small Group Care (AGS-SGC) celebrated Foundress Day on the 21st of April 2021. It was the second year, our overall social service, Marymount Centre celebrated Foundress Day during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite having to adhere to the strict safe measure managements during this period, we tried our best to celebrate this special day with our colleagues and residential program participants. The staff, most of whom has worked less than one year with the organisation, spent time discussing and preparing for the celebration under the guidance of senior staff to spice up the place for the celebration.
We started the celebration with our guests from Good Shepherd Student Care at Marymount Convent School sharing the work they do at the Student Care, and their experience working there in relation to the values and mission of Marymount Centre. After the sharing by Ms Chaung Lu Lu, the Student Care Manager, and Ms Dewina, a staff from the student care, I had a better understanding of the work at the student care and their young program participants and parents they encountered. Their touching experiences with the parents and the program participants were left embedded in their memory. Their sharing has made me realise that though our ministry may seem mundane and like obligatory duties, it can become meaningful interactions with the individuals we encounter every day, by living out our vision of touching lives, building hope. Furthermore, these experiences make our ministry more rewarding and enriching, which is something money cannot buy.
Next, one of our newer staff, Ms Audrey gave an introduction on our Mother Foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia through an interactive video, including how the Good Shepherd mission perpetuated throughout the world. This knowledge helped new staff to have a better understanding of what shaped Mother Foundress into the inspiring and honourable woman she is recognised for today. Using information technology, Ms Audrey conducted a quiz session through the use of Kahoot! – staff had to key in our answers on our handphones and our responses were shown immediately after everyone keyed in their answers! It was very thrilling and somewhat stressful for me as I aimed to get all the answers right!
My role in the celebration was to share about St Mary Euphrasia’s famous quotes and values through PowerPoint. The four quotes and values I decided to highlight in my presentation were intentionally chosen as they resonated with my experience working in Ahuva Good Shepherd – Small Group Care (ASG-SGC) in the past 10 months. I paired one quote and one value that would link to one another and shared a short story of how the mission of St Mary Euphrasia reflected the particular quote and value. In addition, I supplemented the meaningful quotes and values with my personal experience working in AGS-SGC. I shared my favourite quote, “Keep alive within you and bring under wise control that courage which makes you long to undertake great works, which others might consider it folly to attempt” and linked it to the value of ‘Zeal’. I also shared the story of St Nicholas Abbey and how St Mary Euphrasia carried out a meaningful mission to house children who required love and care, albeit the obstacles and challenges she had to overcome. She carried out her mission with utmost determination, zeal, resilience and faith. By sharing the short stories of St Mary Euphrasia’s mission and her experience at carrying out the mission, I believe it will help us to understand better her resilience and influential role at establishing 110 Good Shepherd convents in 6 continents across the world in her life time. Lastly, it is through these stories about her and her mission that might have made me find the personal connection with her as we share similar values in the course of my ministry.
After my presentation, it was Reflection Time. The question papers were printed on pink, red and white papers to represent the colours of roses as St Mary Euphrasia’s birth name was Rose Virginie Pelletier. The staff were given time to reflect on the values and pen down their personal thoughts, followed by sharing their reflections. The sharing was meaningful and telling when many shared words of affirmation as a way of expressing their appreciation for one an other. Such acknowledgements were a welcome to hear from their colleagues as well. It was linked to St Mary Euphrasia’s and Marymount Centre’s value of respect and compassion for one another.
The last segment was a hands-on session of creative flower arrangement. In honour of St Mary Euphrasia’s birth name, Rose Virginie Pelletier. Ms Kamala and Ms Hui Wen led the session by demonstrating and teaching the staff how to use flowers and Pandan leaves of the beautiful plants from our garden to use their creativity in making floral arrangements for our Mother Foundress. They also proudly presented beautiful vases of roses and plants outside the chapel to commemorate Foundress Day.
We ended the celebration with a spread of French delicacy ordered from Delifrance for lunch. This is to honour the birth country of St Mary Euphrasia – France. To comply with Covid-19 safe measure managements, we ordered for every attending staff a set meal which comprises a croissant sandwich, two fruit tarts and a bottle of orange juice.
Celebration with the program participants
The young program participants were introduced to Saint Mary Euphrasia through a video and then participated in a quiz. With their child-like competitive spirit, all of them paid attention to the video and participated enthusiastically in the quiz, all wanting to be the winner of the quiz! The staff were pleasantly surprised that they could remember the details about our Foundress through the video and answered the questions positively. As part of our Trauma-Informed care, we conduct daily emotional regulation drills to help the program participants to be equipped with the skills to regulate their emotions. We incorporated one of the drills, “Inspiration”, as part of the Foundress Day activity. They were asked the aspects of Saint Mary Euphrasia’s life that stood out for them, and inspired them. Though the video emphasised on the mission of Saint Mary Euphrasia and little about her mother, what caught the program participants’ attention was how our Foundress coped with her mother’s death. Most of them mentioned that they felt sad that Saint Mary Euphrasia could not see her mother when she passed on. But I believed what caught their attention was the pain of missing a loved one, something that they resonated with deeply. We highlighted how Mother Foundress still found hope even though it was a time of grief and loss. She knew what it was like to be away from someone she loved, and she understood the deep pain of grief. But that did not stop her from looking out for others and finding the light that still flickered even in darkness. We pray that this will be true for our young program participants too as they draw inspiration from our Foundress.