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Election of General Assistants

Newlly elected assistants with Sr. Mary Claire.After further discernment and prayer and in light of the good of the whole Society, the Chapter has elected three general assistants, persons of experience, discretion and zeal for the good of the Society, that they may assist the general superior... (Constitutions 336)

These Sisters will work closely with Sr. Mary Claire Sykes and form our General Council.

Following the election Sr Katherine Mary O'Flynn formally asked each of the newly elected General Assistants, Sr Patricia Binchy, Sr Barbara Brown-Graham and Sr Joanna Walsh, if they accepted the election and were willing to take on the role of General Assistant.

Kstherine Mary asks the newly elected assistants if they accepted their election.

Each gave her personal response and then they were presented with flowers and the members of the Chapter had an opportunity to greet them.

We are grateful to Claire, Barbara, Joanna and Patricia for their generosity in accepting God's call. We are grateful too to the FCJs around the world, our Companions in Mission, our families, friends and colleagues for the support of their prayer.  Thank you one and all!

Deo Gratias!

Following this we had a short prayer ritual in which we prayed a blessing for each of the newly elected sisters. The opening song was Jubilate Deo and the reading was from Exodus 33:12-17.

Shawls were given to the elected Sisters while we sang Weave One Heart (Marty Haugen & Joe Camacho 1996):

Weave one heart from the many strands,
E haku I ka pu’u wai         (Weave one heart)
God be praised through our working hands.
O kahaku o ka pu’u wai    (to the Lord of the heart)

Weave us as ohana.    (O kahaku o ka pu’u wai) 
Weave us as one family, 
Weave our gifts and talents.
Weave our dreams and visions.

Hands that work for justice, Hands that show your mercy.
Hands of love and welcome, Hands that show your gospel.

The three provincial leaders place a shawls over the shoulders of the newly elected general assistants.

In the Society we are companions
faithful to the Lord and to each other. 
At the centre is the general superior
who, aided by her council,
governs the Society.

The love descending
from the Divine Goodness
unites head and members
in the body of the Society.

                                 (FCJ Constitutions 14)

The blessings were adapted from John O' Donohue:

May this new calling excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind a creativity
To journey beyond the old limits...
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call....

The closing song was 'We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us' by Joyce Johnson Rouse.

Soon after the prayer we were present at Eucharist. After Mass we continued our celebrations with a meal and social evening together.

At the social.

At the social.

At the social.


A little about Barbara, Joanna and Patricia

Sr. Barbara Brown-Graham fcJ

Photo of Sr. Barbara.Born in Kyabram, Australia the daughter of Peg and George, close family values and rural life shaped Barbara’s faith and vocation. She was educated by the Brigidine Sisters at St Joseph’s College, Echuca and by the FCJs at Genazzano College, Kew where she entered the Society in 1964.

Barbara attained a BA from The University of Melbourne and a Dip.Ed from Monash University.  Her teaching experience has been at Stella Maris FCJ College, Frankston, FCJ College Benalla and Vaucluse FCJ College in Richmond; she was also Principal of the Benalla and Richmond colleges.

The FCJ presence in Indonesia began in 1987 when Barbara was missioned to Yogyakarta, Central Java. She taught at Sanata Dharma Jesuit University, Yogyakarta and has been involved in formation of new members over these years.

In 2002 Barbara was appointed as the first Provincial Superior of the newly established Province of Asia –Australia and lived in Manila and then Melbourne during these 8 years, returning to Indonesia after her term of office.

“It is a privilege to be called to this role of service and to have the opportunity to share with others the riches of my experience and all that I have been offered through my FCJ life. To God be the glory!”


Photo of Sr. Patricia.Sr Patricia Binchy

Patricia originates from Charleville, Co Cork, Ireland.  She was educated at Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ Limerick and entered the Society in 1973.

Patricia attained BA (Hons) Irish and French from University College Dublin, MA in Educational Administration from Colombia  University, NY, USA and an MA in Pastoral Studies from Heythrop College, London UK

Having taught in FCJ Secondary School Bunclody, Patricia went on to become Principal of Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ. She had experience in Bolivia before being missioned to Argentina where she was engaged in pastoral and social ministry, as well as retreats and spiritual direction.

She has served in various leadership roles within the Society including local superior, area leader and Provincial of the Province of the Americas.

“The Chapter has been a graced experience. I feel honoured by the trust my sisters have placed in me and I look forward to supporting Claire as General Superior. As all of us share the richness of our varied FCJ life experiences, I am sure we will generate creative ideas and possibilities!”


Sr Joanna Walsh

Photo of Sr. Joanna.Joanna was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She was educated by the FCJs at Blessed Sacrament School and St. Patrick's High School. When she entered the Society in 1965, her two older sisters were already FCJs, and one had been her high school principal!.

Joanna attained a BA from Dublin and an MTS from Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley California. She taught Junior High and High School for a number of years before becoming the first Pastoral Assistant for Adult Education at Blessed Sacrament Parish. Following her MTS she became the Associate Director for Catholic Campus Ministry on the interfaith team at Duke University, North Carolina.

During her time at Duke University Joanna became involved in the formation of seminarians at Duke Divinity School, especially in the field of spiritual formation and pastoral care. She has been involved in this ministry for a number of years.

Joanna is also involved in spiritual direction and trains people in this ministry. One formative experience for her has been her co-leadership of the “Pastor as Spiritual Guide” program where she collaborated with Larry Williams a retired Baptist Pastor. “This was an experience of true collaboration in which we encouraged each other to use our gifts to the full – I would hope to draw on the riches of this experience in my new ministry of General Assistant.”

“The experience of the Chapter and of the election process has touched me profoundly as I have become more deeply aware of the calibre of women who are my companions. It gives me great hope for the future of religious life.”