Marists host international guest speaker, Lisa Hendey
Marist communities, parishes and movements were blessed to welcome Lisa Hendey to Australia in August for a two week speaking tour in Sydney and Canberra. Lisa is an international speaker, author of 13 books, and founder of the website CatholicMom.com which has over 100 bloggers writing about family, faith and ministry with young people in the US.
The speaking tour was an initiative of Matthew Hutchison, Headmaster of Marist College Canberra, and part of the College’s 50th Jubilee celebrations.
“It was important to provide an opportunity to celebrate and deepen our faith through this Jubilee year, which honours the deep spiritual heritage inherited from the Marist Brothers,” Mr Hutchison said.
Following in the footsteps of the early Marists in Canberra, Mr Hutchison was keen to share the Lisa’s knowledge as broadly as possible, and extended the invitation to Marist families, Catholic principals, Catholic Education Office staff, and parishioners.
Over the fortnight, Lisa spoke to hundreds of parents, teachers and students. During her time in Canberra, Lisa facilitated sessions with Junior School classes, parents, Religious Education teachers and Catholic Principals and leaders.
A highlight of the week in Canberra was the Mothers’ Retreat. Lisa led with openness, love and compassion.
“I was blessed to be able to attend the parent evening, Mother’s Retreat and the Sisterhood event where Lisa spoke,” Attendee Anne Hartwell said.
“Lisa shared her faith in Jesus in a real and accessible way. She is a creative and generous person, and very genuine in the way she reminded and revealed to us the incredible gift of our faith in God. Life is too busy – Lisa’s profound wisdom to families is to reclaim Sunday Mass as the focus and most important highlight of our week.
“Lisa brought to life the Pope’s call for all of us to become holy – right where we are – to become saints for the kingdom. Thank you for the wisdom and generosity of Matthew to bring Lisa to our community and to Nathan for all his hard work. The blessings of her visit will continue to flow. Having Lisa here was so encouraging – an injection of hope, peace and joy!”
Tribute to Mary McKillop
Lisa paid tribute to the example of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop as a woman of strength and resolve in times of adversity and change. The College’s Religious Education staff enjoyed the opportunity to discuss, share and respond to prayer with Lisa. It was insightful and refreshing which in turn allowed growth of their own spirituality. Teachers noted Lisa’s spiritual maturity and were grateful for the many ways she presented to bring dynamic prayer to the boys.
One teacher commented, “It was a truly amazing experience to listen to Lisa’s insights on faith, and how each of us can live holy lives as parents, educators, students and families in the modern world of busyness, social media and the everyday challenges of life”.
The art of storytelling was a common thread of Lisa’s presentations as she encouraged participants to write their own stories and become Missionary Disciples, sharing the great story of Jesus’s love in their homes, classrooms and parishes. Students at Marist College Canberra, St Francis Xavier College and Girls Grammar also had the chance to spend time with Lisa during her time in Canberra.
Students at Marist commented, “Lisa came to visit our class and we learnt that we are being saints by helping the environment, being kind and helpful. By being kind and helpful we are being good role models to other people. We found it inspiring the way Mrs Hendey urged us to live our lives. She told us we are all called to be saints and that made us think we should really strive to live our best lives. Mrs Hendey really connected with us; she didn’t just give us information. She had a positive attitude and a good sense of humour”.
Lisa offered practical advice to parents and principals on how to manage the sacred balancing act of deepening the spirituality of young people whilst caring for their own spiritual needs. This included the importance of role-modelling, teaching the skills of conversation, engaging with parish and providing accompaniment to families.
Lisa explained that families are not after an app or a book, rather, they want to connect and the school is both a place for evangelisation and a wonderful bridge between the domestic church and the Parish community.
Practical and spiritual advice
Daniel Ang, Director of the Office for Evangelisation in the Diocese of Broken Bay said, “It was a delight to welcome Lisa for a day with their families. Lisa shared tremendous encouragement as well as practical tips for women, families and married couples to not only sustain their engagement with the life of the Church, but to also deepen it.
Lisa was able to speak into the lives of the 60 participants and affirmed the holy significance of the everyday and the domestic church, the sacred ground on which the mission of our Church depends. We were so grateful to have Lisa with us during her visit to Australia and we thank the Marist community for their generosity in sharing her gifts with us”.
In between sightseeing on the north shores of Sydney and petting kangaroos, Lisa also visited Parousia Media and conducted interviews with Catholic Weekly. A highlight for Lisa was joining Marist Association members for the Feast of the Assumption Mass at St Patricks in the Rocks.
Lisa Hendey offered the following reflection on her time in Australia:
“The words “grateful” and “blessed” don’t begin to describe the feelings in my heart as I return home from my first-ever journey to Australia. While I came to your country to serve, I departed you filled with an awesome sense of the Universal Church in her wholeness. Especially at a time when our Church in the United States is undergoing such a time of difficulty, the Missionary Disciples I encountered in Australia left me inspired, uplifted and anxious to find new ways to continue our international dialogue on the role of every person of faith at this time in our Church’s history.
“From the Year 4 students who reminded me that we are each called to be a ‘saint-in-the-making’ to the great-grandmother who reminded me to claim my role as a servant leader, every person I met along my path has become part of a beautiful quilt of spiritual memories that wrapped me in such a warm and loving welcome.
I am anxious to see how the seeds that were sewn by so many who participated in my events during my visit will continue to blossom and flourish in your communities. I want to thank in a special way the entire family at Marist College Canberra, especially Headmaster Matthew Hutchison and Director of Faith Formation Nathan Ahearne, for your warm hospitality and the glowing example of “Fiat” in today’s world”.
We are so grateful for the wisdom, energy and faith that Lisa brought to each of her encounters, and wish her all the best as she continues in her ministry which is reaching thousands of people every day.