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Thursday, 18 September 2014 08:57

Janssen Spirituality Centre - joyful collaboration for SVD and SSpS

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Janssen-Centre2014The Janssen Spirituality Centre in Boronia, Victoria, is enjoying a rebirth as a place for contemplative living and prayer, thanks to the collaborative efforts of members of the Divine Word Missionaries and the Holy Spirit Sisters.

A key focus of the Centre is the desire to create a place to nurture inter-religious dialogue and cross cultural activities.

Fr Nick de Groot is Director of the Janssen Spirituality Centre and Sr Elisabeth Hariyanti SSpS has been appointed Assistant Director. Also living in their community is Fr Aloysius Nato SVD, chaplain to the Cantonese-speaking or Hong Kong Chinese Catholic community in Melbourne.

The Divine Word Missionaries and the Holy Spirit Sisters are both religious congregations founded by St Arnold Janssen in Holland in the late 1800’s. The SSpS are celebrating their 125th jubilee this year.

Fr Nick says that after a period in which the Centre was used to house asylum seekers awaiting the outcome of visa applications, the JSC is now returning to its former purpose of providing a space for people to come, reflect and deepen their spirituality.

“We have a broad range of spirituality programs, including regular prayer group sessions of Lectio Divina, Centring prayer, Thomas Merton Bridges program, Little Rock Scripture Studies and meetings of the Men Alive group,” he says.

“And a new innovation is a small group who engage in Christian reflection and spiritual sharing on the various sections of the Koran. It involves contemplative prayer, followed by further sharing. Twice we have had Islamic scholars attend these studies and they were both very appreciative and positive.”

The JSC has become a popular venue for people wishing to attend the regular e-Conferences hosted by the Broken Bay Institute and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and is also a popular venue for retreats and gatherings of various cultural groups.

“Apart from hosting retreats for people including the National Centring Prayer Group, Corpus Christi College seminarians, the Mercy Sisters’ Ethos group, the Brigidine Sisters, the Missionary Sisters of Service and an Anglican church group, we were also the venue for a Buddhist weekend retreat and some cultural group meetings and days of prayer with the Chinese and Indonesian Catholics,” Fr Nick says.

“Individual and private retreatants have also made use of our Centre.”
Sr Elisabeth helps with the administration of the centre, with special responsibility for the accommodation and care of guests and the roster for volunteers.

Janssen-Centre---JohannaElisabethNick---350“Over the years we have been blessed with wonderful volunteers from the local community, and in particular the local parish of St Joseph’s, Boronia, who helped us with various tasks, whether in the garden, cooking in the kitchen or doing the laundry and making beds,” Sr Elisabeth says.

“We are so thankful to all who come and help us in different ways and, as we re-build the retreat function of the centre again, we are always looking for more people who might help us in this way.”

Both Fr Nick and Sr Elisabeth say it is a joy for the Divine Word Missionaries and Holy Spirit Sisters to be collaborating in the running of the JSC.

“As part of the ‘Arnoldus’ missionary family, we share a common heritage and a common spirituality and charism and so it is always a wonderful experience when we can work together in ministry,” Sr Elisabeth says.

“And that shared charism expresses itself in a commitment to allowing the Word of God, prayer and contemplation to form the base for inter-religious dialogue and cross cultural activities that are so important to our lives as missionaries,” says Fr Nick.

This story was first published in the monthly e-news "In the Word" of Australian Province of the Society of the Divine Word.

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