31 March 2012
The Kimi Ora Faith and Light community in North Taranaki celebrated the international movement’s 40th anniversary in January with a pilgrimage to Hiruharama.
Hiruharama, or Jerusalem, on the Whanganui River, is the birthplace of the Sisters of Compassion founded by Suzanne Aubert whose cause for canonisation is being prayed for throughout New Zealand.
Faith and Light’s founder, Jean Vanier, describes the special qualities of its members.
‘People who are vulnerable because of disabilities help those around them – their entourage – to discover that another world exists beyond the world of competition, money, and material pleasures.
‘In their very weakness, people with disabilities awaken tenderness, loyalty, the ability to listen, and faith.’
Come Saturday January 28, 17 community members with parents and friends boarded a bus in Waitara for the four-hour trip to Hiruharama.
In the spirit of pilgrimage, the group disembarked at the foot of the hill and carried the banner up to the old convent.
After lunch outside accompanied by the song of the bellbird, everyone went on a nature walk and a treasure hunt done in pairs for which each was awarded a medal.
The story of the beginning of Faith and Light was the subject of a mime. Members played the parts of Camile and Gerard and their two severely disabled sons, Loic and Thaddee. They had to act out the family’s plight at being rejected from the pilgrimage at Lourdes.
Their story had come to the attention of Jean Vanier and Marie-Helene Mathieu which led to the first Faith and Light pilgrimage at Easter, 1971.
After tea the group shared a Taize Prayer followed by Night Prayers in the chapel and a sung Irish blessing.
On the Sunday morning, Sr Patricia led a Liturgy of the Word with Communion. The theme of the ceremony of blessing with oil was ‘the Joy of Meekness’.
The group was then able to learn a great deal about the life of Suzanne Aubert from watching a DVD on the history of the Sisters.
After a rest in the Prayer Garden, and lunch the group boarded the bus for the homeward journey, pausing at Patea for a welcome ice-cream.
Everyone was full of praise for the bus driver who joined in all the activities as well as shepherding the group safely along the windy road to and from Hiruharama.
Sisters Mina and Lusiana were also much appreciated for their hospitality and the whole weekend will be much cherished in years to come.
For more about Faith and Light and Jean Vanier, visit www.jean-vanier.org/info/en