The Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart (also known as Josephites) is a religious congregation which was founded in Penola, South Australia in 1866, by an Australian woman, Mary MacKillop, and an English priest, Reverend Julian E Tenison Woods.
The Sisters were a uniquely Australian group of women, who had been drawn from all levels of colonial society to meet a wide variety of needs. These included the education of children in outback areas, and the provision of homes for orphaned children, care for unmarried mothers and shelter for aged and homeless people.
The Sisters of St Joseph were significantly different from other groups of nuns living in Australia during the late nineteenth century. They went out in small groups of two or three to country areas where there was often no established Catholic Church structure. They continue to live among the people, sharing their daily lives and responding to today’s needs.
Today there are more than 800 Sisters of Saint Joseph living in communities in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Peru, East Timor, Scotland and Brazil, El Salvador.
These Sisters are engaged in pastoral work as well as in professional roles which include teaching, administration, social services, law, psychology, nursing, aged care, community development, adult education and support for new arrivals in Australia and New Zealand.
Page last updated July 2016