by Mary Rose Webb – printed in Tongues of Fire, 1988
Dove moves into 1988 with a Mass of Dedication on 22 March at St Joseph’s. As we come before the Lord and ask His blessing to be with us, we also come in thanksgiving for what has been.
As the founding President of Dove Fellowship, it is an opportunity for me to spend a little time in looking back to our beginnings and to share our vision for the Future.
Early in 1983 in a tiny CCR office (our first) in St Benedict’s Priory, Barbara Hines (who shared with me responsibility for the running of the Centre), talked about our interest in a women’s fellowship within the Renewal. Not long afterwards, Father Paul Shannahan invited us and other women who had been in leadership in ‘Women’s Aglow Fellowship” (an ecumenical group for Spirit-filled women)to come together to discuss our experiences and to express any needs. These meetings were very beautiful as we listened, prayed and ministered to one another. The Holy Spirit seemed to be nudging us to be more generous with His blessings and be available to give them to the wider body of women in the Church. We all had stories to share of the hurts and brokenness of many of the women we knew and of the great desire we had to bring them to know Jesus Christ in a vital, life changing way. We began our ministry with a Seminar Day in February 1984. The response was wonderful and from that day we have continued to meet for monthly morning meetings and many full day seminars throughout the years.
The past four years have seen many women touched and healed by God. Others have been welcomed lovingly back to our Catholic family of God, and still others to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. These years have seen women of God grow in His love and in leadership qualities. We have, with the Holy Spirit, created an environment where we can praise and worship God and in turn experience a great outpouring of His love for His women.
Now, in 1988. the Spirit has a new challenge for us. Dove has been called to fly abroad from Auckland, In June a new Dove Fellowship will hold its first meeting in West Auckland. We have also received enquiries from many parts of NewZealand. Because of this, a National Dove Committee has been prayerfully discerned and is now in existence to oversee and guard the vision for Dove and to help in the setting up of new Dove Fellowships. We are in awe of the way in which the Holy Spirit has gone ahead and so gently prepared the way for us. For me, what have these last four years meant? It is difficult to know where to begin.
There are so many deep and precious ways I have experienced God through Dove, I’ve touched His heart through the love of my sisters in Christ; always there to encourage and support me in happy times as well as sad. I’ve known the joy and laughter of God in the moments we, as women, have just enjoyed being together as friends, I’ve felt the compassion of God as I’ve been able to pray and minister with the Holy Spirit to the brokenness of God’s women, then know the power of HisResurrection as He has healed them. I’ve known the pain and excitement of growth as the Father continues to teach this not so bright student, and finally I’ve felt Gods longing for His people as I try in my own quiet way to bring others to know Him. My testimony is by no means unique but one that many of those involved with Dove would share. What is my vision for the future?
I’d like to share a picture that came to Dove Committee during our recent Retreat Eucharist, It was the figure of Christ, robed in richness as a bridegroom, standing on a high place with arms outstretched. From Him came shafts of light along which were flying doves, coming back to Him as well as away. They were singing in constant communication with Jesus, I see many new Doves forming, being in constant touch with Jesus, listening for direction and in obedience and joy responding. The shafts of light are the paths we are to take, never straying from the Will of God. The significance of the richness of Christ’s robes – a reminder that He is preparing His bride the Church to be presented to the Father and we are part of that preparation.
My beloved lifts up his voice,
He says to me…
“Come then my love,
My lovely one come.
For see the winter is past.
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth.
The season of glad songs has come,
the cooing of the turtle dove is heard in our land
(Song of Songs 2:10-12)
Mary Rose Webb