The Monica Family Group members came to Invercargill to attend further education opportunities at the Southland Institute of Technology (SIT). The family group is made up of peoples from the Indonesia region. This group consists of married couples and their children and young single people who have met through both their faith and education. They took their name Monica because they first came together after meeting together to see what the Passionist Family Group (PFG) movement was all about and this meeting was held on the feast of St Monica.

The leader of the group is Sugi and his wife Mariani and Sugi is also a member of the St Mary’s Choir led by Dr White.

The group meet, support and pray the Rosary together regularly and decided they wanted to sing together with Sugi’s help and encouragement and began by learning Christmas Carols and offering to perform to elderly rest home residents. The group includes musicians and children.

The first concert was at the Rowena Jackson rest home to residents in the dementia wing. This was chosen as one of the family group members works there and daughter is in the choir. We were in attendance and sort of eased into the choir. Some residents joined in singing, clapping, tapping feet or napping.

The second concert was at Bupa and again to residents in the dementia wing. Attended by some care givers who visibly moved expressing the joy felt as a resident who had forgotten to smile, smiled at the children both as they sang and later shook hands and wished a “Happy Christmas” to all present. We were present in a support role this time having arrived a little late. One resident had been a music teacher and was so taken back with the presence of children singing.

The last concert was at Vickery Court rest home in the general lounge and this time my husband Neill Rumble and I became very much part of the choir as being on a week day were short of members absent due to work commitments. No solos were asked of us, the children had their parts as at times did the women and men sing separately and beautifully coming together in perfect harmony. Sugi sang “Oh Holy Night” to a near perfect silence. At one point we thought we were being transported back in time as a donkey and a small miniature horse paraded in front of us. Later the group were introduced to cherries shared so generously by one of the residents: Such wonderment and enjoyment evident.
After each of these concerts all members went to each resident and staff member gave their name, shook hands and wished Christmas Blessings. Repeat invitations were offered to “come back again anytime”.

For us both Neill and myself it was a most poignant time, a special time, a Blessing time and a reminder that Christmas Joy is found not in the giving of things but in the giving of self, reminding ourselves that Christmas Carols are timeless and those memories of times passed rising to consciousness are precious.
The Passionist Family Group movement is about a family for all and a great way to build community.

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For further information contact
Dot Wilson and Neill Rumble 032174269 or 0272846355 or email dotwilson@xtra.co.nz

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