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Two Historical Happenings for the Sisters of St Joseph

March 19, 2013

Two historical happenings for the Sisters of St Joseph will occur on the feast of St Joseph this year:

 
Congregational Leader - Anne Derwin rsj

The celebration of the fusion approved by the Holy See in October last year in which the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph Goulburn will merge with the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

Change to the internal organisation of the Congregation which means that our local communities will be grouped into Regions rather than Provinces and we take up a fresh way of governance in the local areas of the Congregation.

Our next e-news will tell more about the first of these events, the merger of the Goulburn Josephite Congregation. Today, International Women’s Day, I would like to share with you what the changes to the internal organisation of the Congregation mean.

Once the Congregation in the early days began to move beyond South Australia and spread across the colonies, including New Zealand, Mary MacKillop began appointing Provincials to care for the Sisters and their work in places where she could not be continually present herself. Over the years Provinces have been established, closed and amalgamated for the sake of mission, numbering nineteen in all. For the past thirty years six Provinces have served the mission.

The 2007 General Chapter of the Congregation, aware of the changing context of the Congregation, invited Sisters to look at the current reality and ‘envision fresh ways of governance that would free the gifts and safeguard and direct the mission entrusted to us.’

The exploring over these years has led to the decision to organise the Congregation into 5 Regions:

  • Aotearoa New Zealand, Queensland and Peru
  • South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory
  • New South Wales and East Timor
  • Victoria and Tasmania
  • Ireland and Scotland

The 5 Regional Leaders, Sisters Colleen Keeble, Marion Gambin, Mary Quinlan, Josephine Dubiel and Margaret O’Sullivan, with the assistance of their teams and in close collaboration with the Sisters of the Region, will be responsible for the life, ministry, governance of the Congregation in their Region.

As ministerial women religious we are always on the move responding as needs change.

Mary MacKillop instilled this way of being into the Congregation from the very beginning.

Such flexibility and mobility has called us once more to respond to the Congregation as it is now:

  • a congregation spread across seven countries enabling us to have a greater world view than we had in earlier times
  • an ageing Congregation yet a Congregation of vital women who, regardless of age, continue to be God's love for so many people and to receive God's love so graciously through others
  • a Congregation not so mobile anymore, not opening new places and ministries at the rate of the founding years and the years of large numbers of active women yet a Congregation finding new ways to respond to new needs
  • a Congregation in which very few Sisters can respond to calls to be sent to minister in rural or isolated places or among the poorest and most vulnerable peoples in our cities and countries today, yet a Congregation where those who can go, do so with great generosity
  • a Congregation enriched by the merging of the Tasmanian and Goulburn Josephite Congregations and hopefully the Whanganui Josephite Congregation if the Holy See approves this merger
  • and a Congregation in awe of the God who graces others with the charism and so is open to relationship, mutual nourishment and sharing of resources with these women and men of our wider Josephite family

As we move into the change to Regions, a fresh way of governance for the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, we take heart from our Founders.

‘Do not be troubled about the future of the Institute.
I am not. God whose work it is will take care of it.’
Mary MacKillop to Sr Annette Henschke on 1st December 1898

‘It is Gods’ own calm, quiet work and let us do it in God’s own calm, quiet way.’
Julian Tension Wood to Mary MacKillop 10 March 1873 

Sr Anne Derwin - Congregational Leader, Sisters of St Joseph