As a girl who grew up in country Queensland, I was delighted to be invited recently to visit the communities of Blackwater and Emerald as one of the team from the Faber Centre. Mary Robson, our Director was excited to see this part of Queensland for the first time, and Min Wullems was our very experienced driver who was familiar with the area because his daughter had taught in the region. It took the first day to drive almost 900 kilometres, then we worked for 2 days, returning on the 4th day. The countryside was interesting and at times spectacular (we were privileged to see Isla Gorge which is on the A5 highway), and we had plenty of time to chat and have the satisfaction of getting to know one another.
Blackwater is a coalmining community which is transient in nature. It is very dependent, it seems, on two inspiring Sisters, Colleen and Carmel, who are the face of the Christian church in town. They work hard to nourish the community with liturgies of the Word, sacramental programs for the children, Friday night youth group, Christian adult education, funerals not requiring a Requiem Mass, and endless pastoral care.
They love to invite others to share spiritual conversation with their people, and the community appreciate these opportunities, including with a church historian. The larger centre of Emerald is 80 kms to the west, and the Priest travels from here two Sundays a month for Mass and connection with the community of Blackwater. We gave three sessions in Blackwater and one morning session, starting with Mass, in Emerald.
The Faber Centre was invited to enable those from the Blackwater and Emerald communities to get a taste of Ignatian Spirituality, such as First Spiritual Exercises, Field Hospital Exercises, Imaginative Contemplation, Discernment and the Examen. Because of Min’s expertise in IT, we were able to include a brief video of James Martin speaking on Ignatian Spirituality, as well as a couple of beautiful music videos. Community members noted that the Ignatian way of praying was noticeably quieter for them, but that in the short time they had with us, they got to know each other in different, meaningful ways.
Christine Webb, Spiritual Director and Giver of the Exercises at JISA-Faber, QLD
In this Ignatian Year, teams of Spiritual Directors and Retreat Givers from Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia are available to visit your parish or offer an online retreat for your community. This is an opportunity to spend some time learning about prayer, Ignatian spirituality, spiritual conversation and sharing faith. Contact JISA to discuss your desires. Please don’t let cost be an off-putting factor in your decision, we can meet you where you are. Contact us to discuss what you would like: email@example.com or 1300-392-636.