‘Rejoice!’ was the theme of Flame Ministries International’s [FMI] 34th annual Congress,
which was presented at John XXIII College from 13 to 15 January.
Mt Lawley Parish Priest Fr Tim Deeter was the keynote speaker for the Congress and in addition to chief celebrant of Mass on Sunday 15 January.
FMI member Cheryle Douglas travelled from Adelaide to speak at the Congress and FMI Senior Directors Kaye Rollings and Cyrus D’Souza also presented talks.
Archbishop Costelloe delivered the opening address for the Congress on Friday 13 January, highlighting the importance of Mary’s selfless submission and her joyful acceptance of God’s will in becoming the mother of Jesus.
The angel Gabriel’s greeting, ‘Hail Mary,’ translated from the original Greek, means ‘Rejoice Mary’, Archbishop Costelloe explained.
Fr Tim’s focus for his talks over the weekend was the joyful nature of ‘The power of one’ and how each one of us has been gifted with something we can share with others.
Fr Tim concentrated on speaking about the example of St Camillus, who was a quarrelsome, aggressive gambler, but was invited to change his life with support from friends at the local Capuchin friary where he worked.
St Camillus subsequently experienced a conversion and spent the remainder of his life helping the sick, and together with members of his order wore a red cross on their tunics while helping wounded on the battlefield.
Fr Tim explained that God prepares us for our future, and someone leads us – to church, baptism, to this moment.
Christ, Fr Tim emphasised, came into the world to save sinners.
“We know we can’t get through life on our own,” Fr Tim continued, “God wants us to be evidence of his presence in the world.”
“We are called to be apostles, reaching out to others,” Fr Tim said.
“We can always do more for God and it’s important we invite people to church. God is counting on us to evangelise. The other person must be most important; not ‘It is I,’ but ‘It is you’,” he said.
Fr Tim continued by saying that our job is to be absorbed into the mystical body of Christ.
Questioning Congress attendees, Fr Tim questioned, ‘How do we condition ourselves to pray?’
“We’re very good at asking, but we must let God know how precious he is to us,” Fr Tim said.
“How do we condition ourselves for the Eucharist? Do we come to Mass with space for the
Lord to fill?”
“Through words of the Mass such as ‘Glory to you, O Lord’ and ‘Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ,’ we are reminded that we are establishing a relationship. ‘Lord, it is you.’”
Fr Tim reminded delegates that faith makes a difference.
“If it is used regularly, it helps us develop loving relationships with others, including God.
“Love for the sake of love. We have to be subsumed into God, become one with Him. Love God first, others second, ourselves last. If we do that, we will be first.”
FMI Senior Director Kaye Rollings went onto to speak about the Sermon on the Mount [Matt chapters 5 – 7], explaining how we are the people joyfully absorbing the blessings Jesus conferred in
the Beatitudes. [Matt 5: 1-12]
Following her opening up of the 7th beatitude, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God,’ Kaye asked the delegates to suggest a focus for prayer, then led the Assembly in a powerful time of intercessory prayer for peace in war torn areas of the world.
FMI Leader Cheryle Douglas spoke of how the joy of the Lord is our strength, even in adverse circumstances.
Using the example of Silas and St Paul in prison, [Acts 16] and a powerful personal witness, Cheryle said that when our faith is tested, it becomes stronger through perseverance.
When we trust God, Cheryle explained, there is no room for fear.
Cheryle also spoke about the example of Isaiah [60:2] ‘…thick clouds cover the people, but the Lord’s glory appears over us.’
Only the light of Jesus, Cheryle continued, can penetrate that darkness and we are to be his lights in the world. It’s our job to bring people to him for they will be attracted to the light of Jesus within us.
FMI Senior Director Cyrus D’Souza spoke of how the message of the Gospel brings joy into our lives, and this joy gives us freedom.
“When we experience this joy, it is natural that we rejoice and seek to share it with others,” Cyrus said.
Referring to Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is the health of the body”, Cyrus spoke of how we need to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and in context of the theme, to stir the gift of joy within us.
“We need to seek this joy in difficult circumstances, he likened it to one seeking medication for their ailments.
Speaking on the joy of the father in the parable of the prodigal son, Cyrus spoke of how God rejoices each time we turn to him, and we encounter this joy when we turn to him through repentance, faith, and prayer.
Cyrus concluded by summarising that we need to encounter this true joy and share it with the world.