Historic meeting of separated Josephites
"Black" and "brown" Josephites joined together at a meeting in the NSW Central West at the end of last month that sought to understand the differences that drew them apart, with a view to working closely together in the future.
The gathering of the Sisters of St Joseph at Perthville in NSW, facilitated by Sr Anne Lane, was entitled "Understanding Our Past. Moulding Our Future".
Participants at the conferences included the Leadership Teams of the five diocesan branches of the Federation of Sisters of St Joseph together with the Congregational and NSW Provincial Leadership Teams of Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, and two representatives of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration also founded by Fr Julian Tenison Woods.
According to a Josephite statement, the gathering had many reminders of the original group of Josephite, founded in South Australia by Mary MacKillop and Fr Woods and influenced by Bishop Matthew Quinn.
It was at Perthville in the Diocese of Bathurst that Mary MacKillop in 1872 established the first Josephite community in NSW and it was there four years later that the first diocesan congregation was formed.
In her welcoming address, Sr Mary Comer, Leader of the Perthville Congregation, noted that Perthville is "a unique site for Australian Josephites".
"It is a place that represents unity, separation, diversity, hardship, struggle, discernment, decisions, a missionary spirit, the birth, growth and maturing of rural Australian religious life," she said.
"It represents connection, disconnection, reconciliation, reconnections. It is the link site of Australian Josephites."
Sr Carmel Moore, President of the Federation said: "This has been a wonderful occasion enriched by conversation about our common origins."
"Our original separation or diversification was a difficult time in our history", said Sr Katrina Brill, Congregational Leader of the Central group. "These days have reminded us again to learn from the patterns of the past."
"While we recognise Mary and Julian as our founders, our congregations would not have grown and developed without the hard work and commitment of our pioneering women," she said.
The group of Leaders is planning ongoing meetings to consolidate common approaches to coming events such as World Youth Day, and to develop closer connections amongst all Josephite members in Australia and New Zealand.
Historic gathering of Josephites at "link Site" (Sisters of St Joseph 8/5/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart
Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar
Sisters of St Joseph, Perthville
9 May 2006