Eve’s Wishes for Christmas


It is early morning on Christmas eve, and for me as I am sure, for many, there is still so much to do. Let us not forget the reason for all our activity.


Merry Christmas to you all. Thank you for your support over this past year. May the New Year that awaits us be another of divine unfolding as we walk together, as faithful companions.

Vale Sr Margaret Mary (Peter) Wilson fcJ

peterwilsonfcj.jpgToday, 20 December 2016, the FCJ Sisters in Australia, together with all the Sisters of the Society linked through prayer, and their friends, farewelled Sr Peter Wilson fcJ at the Genazzano College Chapel.

Sr Peter was most recently a resident at St. Catherine’s Aged Care Facility, where she continued, despite the frailty of age, to bring joy and companionship to those around her. True to her profession and calling, Sr Peter remarked: “What brings me joy as an FCJ Sister is when we gather as a community or at larger FCJ occasions, there exists beautiful bonding which is our companionship with Jesus and with others.” I learned at the Vigil held yesterday on 19 November for Peter, a few outstanding things about her. One was that putting others’ needs ahead of her own was something she did so naturally right til the end. Another was her beautiful sense of joie-de-vivre and fun, which her family and fellow-FCJs so readily recounted with fondness.

It is always a sad time when a life ends, and I express my sympathies to the family of Peter, as well as to the FCJ Sisters, but as we remember during this Advent time in the lead up to Christmas, God is with us, and it is for that I am so thankful and certain of Peter’s peace and delight.

Sr Peter Wilson fcJ was born, Margaret Mary Wilson in June 1932. She made her First Profession on 4 September 1953. In her long life, she was missioned to the Indigenous people in Broome, WA; Norwood in Adelaide, SA; Frankston, VIC and Shepparton, VIC. She was reunited with God on Wednesday 14 December 2016.


From the Archives: Awaiting the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Feast of Easter

If you will allow me, I have written here a personal reflection. It is 6 pm local time and in a little while, I will make my way to the church to celebrate Holy Thursday. Those who are acquainted with the FCJ story will know that Holy Thursday is an especially significant feast, marking the foundation of the Society.

It was last year that I did the Nineteenth Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, a grace of the Spirit and a fruit that my work with the Sisters of the Asia-Australia Province has brought. It was during the Third Week that I had made a profound personal connection in the reading (prayer) material.

In the gospel passage for Holy Thursday, we hear that Jesus “took off his outer robe” (NRSV). He then picks up the towel and begins to wash the feet of his disciples. (John 13:4) My experience with biblical exegesis is basic at best, but what I did pick up on was that the word in the original Koine Greek is the same word that John the evangelist uses in his discourse on the Good Shepherd in chapter 10. Please note that I have yet to recover the sources from which I gathered the information that lead to such a conclusion, but significant enough for now is what it means to me. When Jesus lays down his outer garment, it is symbolic (as John’s gospel likes to be!) of his coming death, where he would lay his life down on the Cross. Jesus, after all, is the Good Shepherd, which by the way, is another section of our faith tradition that is found only in John’s gospel!

Fast-forward then, to the present moment. Something was stirring inside of me – I could not (cannot) let go of that connection between Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (the role of the servant) and laying his life down for us. From this perspective, they are both one and the same. What’s more is that Jesus calls us to do the same: ‘”So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also out to wash one another’s feet.”‘ (John 13:14)

But still the stirring would not go away. I did what any person of my generation would do these days when I wanted to do some research: I googled it. I typed in “Jesus takes off his outer robe”, and sure enough, I came upon a reflection by L’Arche founder Jean Vanier.

I have included the following section and have highlighted what spoke to me as I read it, bearing in mind that there are only hours in the Easter Triduum, only hours between one feast to the next. Only hours between celebrating the institution of the Eucharist with a living, breathing, foot-washing Jesus, and the one who we will crucify (as is traditional among the congregation to voice the role of the crowd in the Good Friday service). It is only hours from that horrific and disturbing account of death and when we celebrate new life on Easter morning!

So here is Jean Vanier, with layers and layers of wisdom and depth:

We had also welcomed into that house, Eric. Eric had lived for 12 years in the psychiatric hospital. He was blind, he was deaf, he couldn’t walk, and he couldn’t feed himself. He was a man with an immense amount of anguish — a man who wanted to die. In the psychiatric hospital the nurses rather avoided him because he wasn’t gratifying, he could do nothing.

He came to our community, and in him there was this terrible desire to die. He vomited everything that he ate. He was just in immense anguish and immense pain. (I mentioned this afternoon Moses with his pain.) But with Eric it was even more painful. His anguish and his desire to die were evident.

I said that, for us in L’Arche or in Faith and Light, our mission in welcoming Eric is to help him to move from the desire to die to a desire to live. We want him to move from a feeling of being no good to a sense of his value and his worth — from a feeling of guilt to a feeling of trust.

I said this afternoon that the only way…[is through] the transforming power of love. Through that love which reveals that you are beautiful; love that understands your pain and your needs; love which celebrates; love which empowers and calls you to be and to be yourself; and a love that forgives.

But for Eric, how will this be revealed to him? He is blind and he is deaf. So the only way of communication with Eric is through our hands. These are the incredible hands that we have been given by Jesus — hands that give security; hands that give peace; hands that manifest love. But hands that also can hurt; can take; can abuse.

I had the privilege of giving Eric his bath every morning. … This was a fragile little man of 16. And through our hands (because it was not just me, but those of our community together) we revealed to him that he is beautiful.

We are to touch people with a deep respect — to touch them with tenderness. Our hands, and not just our voices, may become vehicles of the love of Jesus. The Word became flesh, that our flesh may become word. Our flesh, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can reveal to people their value — that they are cherished and loved by God.

Our hands are, in some mysterious way, a source of revelation of communion. Jesus, as he knelt down in front of the feet of his disciples, knows that tomorrow he will be dead. But he wants to have with each disciple a moment. Not just to say goodbye.

Up until now he has just talked with the group. When you talk with a whole group you don’t have that individual contact with each person. Jesus wants that contact with each one of these people. He wants to touch them — to touch their feet; to touch their bodies; to touch them with tenderness and love. Maybe to each one he says a word; maybe looks each one in the eye. There is a moment of communion.

So there is communion through the Body of Christ, where Jesus says “do this in memory of me.” But there is also this communion as he kneels at their feet. And later he will say “I have done this as an example for you. And what I have done to you, you must do one to another.” So this is a gesture of communion, of tenderness.

For the full article, please click here. And as we move into Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, let us remember that wherever we are, whoever we are and however we are, we are to touch people (and let people touch us) with deep respect and reverence, the same kind of reverence shown to the body that is then laid in the tomb.

G. Anderson, 2013.


Editor’s note: I wrote the above reflection last year, but it remained unpublished. Here it is now, as it was then, for your consideration. All viewpoints are strictly my own.

Blessings for your journey into Easter, from all of us at Keeping Company and the FCJ Mission and Identity Team.

Accompanying the Novices with Anne Morrison fcJ

So much seems to be happening in recent times! The FCJ General Chapter (See #FCJGeneralChapter for Twitter users!) has been well underway, and we continue to pray for the Sisters and others involved, especially with regards to the discernment process, that will decide on positions of leadership for the next few years.

Somewhat closer to home, a few of our Sisters have been to Indonesia and back to provide input for the three novices in formation. Here is what Anne Morrison fcJ had to say about her time in province of Jogjakarta:

I really enjoyed the time with the novices as well as with the community of Soropadan and Baciro. I went twice there, the first time for a meal, followed by Taize prayer. The second time I presented a session with the community at Baciro and stayed for the evening meal. The postulant from Ende is spending a few weeks there during the chapter.

With the novices I presented various sessions on ecology, cosmology and a few other themes, as well as giving a talk to the community and the novices on the theology of the cosmos. | Sr Anne Morrison fcJ

Keeping-Company.com, FCJ Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus Asia-Australia

Sr Anne Morrison fcJ with our novices in Indonesia. October 2013.

One of Sr Anne Morrison fcJ‘s passions lie in the area of ecology and cosmology. She is a member of the EarthSong Council in Parkville (VIC), which regularly publishes a journal on various issues within the domain of ecology, cosmology and spirituality.

Editor’s Note: Since Anne’s return, Maureen Merlo fcJ has been in Indonesia working with the novices as well. What an example of service and dedication these Sisters in Melbourne have for their counterparts in Asia!

We continue to wish all travellers safe passages, and grace-filled joy for our novices. We thank God for the energy and vitality of the Order, of the mission to spread the gospel, and for the opportunities to do so peacefully.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Hidden, yet Alive

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the model on which we ought to base our lives. As part of the celebrations for the Feast of the Sacred Heart hosted by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (Blackburn, VIC), Heart of Life Spirituality Centre (Box Hill, VIC) and St Thomas Apostle Church, Blackburn, Sr Angela Reed RSM was invited to speak during Mass, about one of the pressing justice issues that haunt our society: human trafficking, and in particular, the sexual trafficking of women and children. She spoke of the ‘hiddenness’ of the issue, since unlike poverty or mental health for example, human trafficking is often far less visible. Thankfully there is an increasing awareness on these issues, through organisations such as ACRATH (in which the FCJ Sisters are active), which explains that:

Trafficking does not require an illegal border crossing, nor is it necessarily transnational, such as in cases of internal trafficking, whereas people smuggling always involves an illegal border crossing.

Such is the example of Lani, whose story Sr Angela shared with us.

Lani’s Story: The Suffering and Survival of Humanity

It was after her first client that Lani wondered about her fate: was she to be forever bound to the feelings of shame, anger, guilt, confusion, sorrow, fear and helplessness? She had first known these feelings when she was raped by her own father in their home in Mindanao, Philippines. Her mother had gone to Cebu City in the north to work and was only home a few times a year.

As a teenager Lani worked from 1 to 5 o’clock in the morning as a vegetable vendor, and from 6 o’clock readied herself for school. What was abandonment drove her and her younger sister, to flee Mindanao in search of their mother in Cebu. It was at the entry point that she was approached by a woman who offered them work, food and lodging. Little did they know that this woman was forcing them into the corrupt world of sex trafficking.

Where was God in that?

Lani and her sister eventually found refuge at the Good Shepherd Welcome House, an organization in Cebu City that looks after the women and children victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. On regaining her wellbeing, Lani expressed that she was proud of herself for seeking out help. She remarked on the generosity of the staff at the Welcome House, who cared for these women, even by giving up their own comforts for those to whom they ministered. Lani realized that despite the ordeals she went through, her dignity was still intact, and she was able to experience the love of God in a new way.

Lani’s story reminds us of the deep-set brokenness that exists in our human community; of so many people’s great thirst for justice, compassion and recognition. So much suffering occurs, but as expressed in the Second Reading, in the Letter to the Romans:

Hope does not disappoint us for
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.

It is the love of God, ‘poured out into our hearts’ that reaches farther and deeper than any evil can. In the ministries of those who care for the helpless, in the tireless efforts of people who tell others about this important work, God’s love abides and pierces through the dark hiddenness.

MSC Provincial Superior and celebrant, Fr John Mulrooney described the Feast as “one of the most important feasts”, because we celebrate the humanity of Jesus. Quoting St Teresa of Avila, Fr Mulrooney reminded us of our part that is essentially missionary:

Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

The Sacred Heart therefore, by the humanity of Christ also lives in our hearts. To help those in need, to work for justice and attend to the suffering of those around us is part of living the gospel. In the sharing of Jesus’ heart that is the seat of compassion, we too are called to live for others, in the service of God.

This, Marie Madeleine d’Houët knew and lived so well and so intimately throughout her entire life. In her mystical experience on the Feast of the Sacred Heart that gave her initial direction, the words of Jesus, “I thirst”, would ultimately become the foundation of her mission. For Marie Madeleine, to be in the midst of the reality of human suffering and turmoil was God’s desire for her, her own mission of faithful companionship.

We bear the name of Jesus and from the cross have received the gift of His Heart and the outpouring of His Spirit…We unceasingly seek, in the spirit of our foundress, to make known and loved the name of Jesus, His Spirit, His Heart and His Mother. (FCJ Constitutions 6)

Indeed the Feast of the Sacred Heart is a feast for all humanity. It burns with the love of God and radiates through our core. Compassion then, and justice and peace, to be authentic, needs to come from our own hearts, grounded in God. By living our lives as upholders of justice, liberators of the oppressed and friends of the lonely, we make known the heart of God on earth, across every nation, culture and barrier. Far from a devotion of the past, the Sacred Heart is alive within us:

We will welcome all your people without favour, without fear
We will ease the heavy burdens, and attend to every tear
We will draw with bonds of kindness, we will see the last are first
In our loving, in our living, we will be your heart on earth.

Your Heart on Earth (James Maher MSC)

Geralyn Tan

FCJ Mission and Identity Promotion (Province of Asia-Australia)


  • More information about how you can help and raise awareness of human trafficking can be found on the ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) website at: www.acrath.org.au
  • For more information about the work of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ Sisters), please visit: www.fcjsisters.org.au