Skype Interview with Sister Jane

On Tuesday three other students and I participated in a video call to Sister Jane Livesey, the English Superior-General of the Congregation of Jesus, who was also a headmistress at St Mary’s for thirteen years. We were each asked to come up with some questions to ask Sister Jane, mainly focusing on her international work of leading an organisation of 1,700 sisters, working throughout the world (particularly in India) empowering women and girls through education. We discussed in depth the difficulty of working in countries where Christians are persecuted today, and asked how the principles and values of Mary Ward were reflected in the work that her order does.

Sister Jane told us about her work, not only educating girls but also protecting women from slavery and trafficking. Thousands of women in eastern countries to this day are being forced into modern slavery and are being trafficked unknowingly across continents, the Congregation of Jesus fights to not only prevent this but also to draw attention to it.

When asked if the principles of Mary Ward would be as accessible and relevant to future generations as they are today, Sister Jane explained to us that Mary Ward’s values were timeless and are as easy to comprehend today as they were four hundred years ago. To illustrate this, she drew attention to one of Mary Ward’s sayings: “Be such as you appear and appear such as you are”-  a reminder of the importance of integrity.

We also posed to her the question of vocation. Sister Jane, in previous interviews, has stated that the recent fall in vocations did not worry her, as there were other roles for modern women to play in society. Mary Ward stated that “half women are not made for these times” and that “we are in want of good ones.” Sister Jane highlighted to us that a vocation needed the strength of strong women.

There are many difficulties working in an international organisation, most basic of which is language, but the spirit of Mary Ward appears to transcend, somewhat, the language barriers, and bravely Sister Jane manages. She is currently based in Rome and will be stationed there until 2020, all the while trying to improve her Italian- and we were treated to her command of this beautiful language. Last autumn she visited the sisters, and their ministries, in Chile and El Salvador, immersing herself briefly in a different language and culture, and then spent five weeks in India, undertaking further missionary activity.

Sister Jane is constantly following the inspiration of Mary Ward ensuring that virtue led educational opportunities are being offered to girls all over the world. We thank Sister Jane for spending time with us and giving us a real insight into vocation today, and through the explanation of her life and work, we came to appreciate the Mary Ward saying that, “Women should and can provide something more than ordinary”.  Sister Jane certainly has.

By Annunziata C