'Black Joeys' to meet in Hunter Valley
About 35 leaders from the five branches of the diocesan-based Federation of Sisters of St Joseph will converge on Lochinvar NSW this weekend for an annual meeting that aims to strengthen bonds between the juridically independent orders.
The Federation Sisters of St Joseph comprises five branches - Perthville [Bathurst], Goulburn, Tasmania, Whanganui New Zealand and Lochinvar - which are separate congregations. They are commonly known as the Black Josephites, and are distinct from the Brown Josephites, who report to Rome rather than the local bishop. The division resulted from a difference in vision between Josephite co-founders Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods. The Brown Josephites look first to MacKillop, while the Black Josephites identify primarily with Woods.
Sr Patricia Egan, Congregational Leader of the Lochinvar Sisters of St Joseph, said that the Federation Meeting is important because it brings together Sisters from the five branches, who share a common Constitution as well as a common commitment to continue the mission of Jesus Christ in our world.
"We come together on a regular basis to discuss issues of concern to all of us as we face increasing pastoral challenges in today's world, as well as declining numbers in our own ranks," she said.
"We hope it will give to us, and to the members of our Congregations, a renewed sense of commitment to our mission in the world, as well as encouragement, hope, optimism and confidence that, despite the difficulties facing us today, our Sisters do have a great deal to offer our world.
"They have the faith commitment, the gifts, the educational skills and the experience to continue what the Church has always tried to do, namely to bring the Good News to all peoples."
Discussion topics over the three days will range from justice issues and the promotion of theological reflection groups, to the development of websites and the reconfiguration of the Federation to meet the needs of the times and statistical changes in each of the congregations.
Catholic Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, the Most Reverend Michael Malone, will also participate in some of the sessions.
The Federation of Sisters of St Joseph began in 1967 and met every three years at that stage, then every two years and now every year in keeping with the need to adapt to change. The sisters live by the same book of constitutions but face different needs in their localities.
Pictured: Sisters who attended the Australian-New Zealand Federation of Sisters of St Joseph 17th General Meeting held April 2004 at St Joseph's Convent North Goulburn NSW.
Australian and New Zealand Josephite Sisters to Gather at Lochinvar (Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle 14/4/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian-New Zealand Federation of Sisters of St Joseph (Black Josephites)
Sisters of St Joseph (Brown Josephites)
Fr Peter Brock: Mary MacKillop and the Clergy of Australia and New Zealand (auspriest.org)
15 Apr 2005