It never ceases to amaze me how unexpected, mysterious yet gracious are God’s ways of bringing about his purposes. We are celebrating over twenty five years of lived experience of the rich charism with which God has gifted us as Missionaries of God’s Love. So above all we want to honour the creative work of the Spirit, drawing, calling, shaping us in a particular gracing for the work of the kingdom of God, in and for our world today.
In November 1985 God let us know the desire of his heart to call women into the charismatic shaping of religious life that was an embryonic stirring in Fr. Ken’s heart. My own call at that time while on retreat at Douglas Park was like a clarion call into the night of God’s new creativity, shrouded in mystery, and not without anguish. It seemed to me that it was by stepping-stones of darkness that God chose to bring forth the beautiful work and gracing of the MGL Sisters.
For twenty one years I had very happily and fruitfully lived my life as a Franciscan Missionary of Mary. God however had other plans for me. While at the Australian National University studying anthropology, I became involved with the St. Francis of Assisi youth group, a diocesan youth group in Canberra that had become charismatic. Fr. Ken Barker was the director of the youth ministry.
It was through my contact with this group that I personally experienced the “release of the Holy Spirit,” and everything that God had already been doing in my life and prayer took off. It was a deep and intimate coming of the Holy Spirit in a new and totally loving way. This experience of grace in 1984 was the beginning (unknown to me) of my own call for the sisters. I have no doubt that this movement of the Holy Spirit in us was the first and sustaining impetus for the emergence of Missionaries of God’s Love. Young people from the St. Francis Youth Group were the first members of MGL.
In my years in MGL, in Canberra, Adelaide, Darwin, PNG outreach, and now back in Canberra, it seems that I am called to be a ‘frontier’ person, to be with Jesus on the faith and culture boundaries of our society. The radar of the Spirit is out, picking up the invitation to the Spirit’s creativity to draw people especially to know God’s personal claim of love for them. Through spirituality work I am able to help people to tap into the contemplative dimension within them, to become more aware of just how God comes to them, and to grow in freedom in choosing to respond to God.
This has meant designing opportunities especially for those who find themselves in some way “on the margins,’ mothers of young families, indigenous people, youth, seniors, men, defence force personnel – anyone in fact, with a hunger for God.
From 2009 to 2013 I was called back into leadership of the Sisters. A daunting privilege, one of attending to the gentle, strong and profound stirrings of the Spirit within us. We never know what God has in store or where he may lead us, but it is certainly not without adventure and joy.