As we celebrate Christmas in 2021, the Sisters of Saint Joseph give thanks for the many gifts that have been shared during this special Year of Saint Joseph. We were delighted to receive a blessing and letter from Pope Francis acknowledging this special year.

As Sisters, we treasure the gift of Joseph in our story – his humble, obedient, tender and courageous presence in our lives. As we come to Christmas, let us ponder the place of Joseph within the Christmas story.

As I looked at the crib, I was drawn to consider what the characters of the Christmas story might offer us during this season. Ultimately, the Christmas story is a story of Encounter. Joseph and Mary are betrothed to each other – each treasuring the gift of the other. As you look at the images of Mary and Joseph, reflect on the significant relationships in your life.

On arrival in Bethlehem, Joseph encounters the innkeeper who has no room in the inn. As you reflect on the innkeeper, you might think of those times during the year when there was no room for your ideas, or you let anxiety prevent you from moving ahead with courage. The innkeeper could not provide what is needed but he does provide an alternative – a stable.

We recall that Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem and the story of the Sisters of Saint Joseph begins in a stable in Penola, South Australia. The stable teaches us that from small things, big things grow. As you look at the stable, call to mind those people whose lives have been changed by the small beginnings of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and their Incorporated Works.

The shepherds come from the hillside living in oneness with creation around them. As you pause to consider their role in the Christmas story, may it draw you to ponder the invitation of Pope Francis to care for our common home. Their presence reminds us of the Josephite commitment to people living in rural areas. As you look at the shepherds in the Crib scene, reflect on someone in a rural community who has been struggling through natural disasters impacted by the effect of climate change.

The visit of the wise men represents the many donors and benefactors who come bearing gifts to support the various mission projects of the Josephites.

As you are drawn to the image of the infant child lying in the manger, we marvel that our God has chosen to become one of us. In every newborn child, we see the gift of the Sacred calling us to celebrate this gift of new life.

As you gather around a crib or read the Christmas story, remember, at the heart of all life, God is drawing us deeper and deeper into the communion with God, neighbour and creation.

As each one spends time pondering the nativity scene this Christmas, let us give thanks for the many blessings that have been ours during 2021.

In the words of Mary MacKillop (7.12.1899):

Wherever this may find you, I with all my heart, wish you a very happy Christmas and a bright and happy New Year.
Though many of us will be far apart, we can be united in spirt, and pray for each other at the Crib.  Rest assured I shall not forget any of you – you will not forget me either, will you?

May the light of the Christmas star guide you to that place where your love, peace, joy and hope are most needed.

Sr Monica Cavanagh
Congregational Leader