The Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart first came to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1880 to Whanganui and then another foundation in 1883 at Temuka in the South Island.
The following is the story of the second foundation at Temuka.
Three Sisters arrived in his parish of Temuka, South Canterbury on 1 November 1883 and thus began the continuing presence of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in this country.
By 1894, the year of Mary MacKillop’s first visit to New Zealand, there were four communities in the North Island, (Remuera and Grey Lynn in Auckland; Meeanee near Napier; Matata in the Bay of Plenty) and four in the South Island (Temuka, Kerrytown and Waimate in South Canterbury and Rangiora in North Canterbury). By this time New Zealand women had joined the sisterhood.
The number of sisters grew steadily over the years peaking in the 1950’s and 60’s when there were over 200. These sisters were engaged in education in all of the then four dioceses of the country. Since Vatican II, with its call to a return to the spirit which motivated the founders and pioneers of religious orders, there has been much diversification in the ministries undertaken by the sisters in New Zealand. This has led them into areas such as parish ministry, spiritual direction, social service ministries, nursing, while some have continued in education at all levels.
By the close of the twentieth Century 95% of the Sisters were no longer in the classroom. The number of Sisters had dropped to 100, but all were engaged in relieving the wants of the poor, working for justice, and sharing the charism of Mary MacKillop.
In the new Millenium the Congregation invited us to “a vision for the appointed time.” Leading up to the Canonisation of our Foundress there was a significant movement guide by the Spirit towards connectedness and inclusion bringing about “Strengthening our Josephite Unity.”
On 7 October 2012 the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Nazareth formally requested a merger with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. This was celebrated on 24 August 2013 and has brought about a deeper richness to our Aotearoa New Zealand Community. The Whanganui Congregation have brought with them a wealth of Maoritanga and commitment to biculturism.
A significant move towards Congregational governance took place after the 25th General Chapter, when the decision was made to group the Local Communities into five Regions across the Congregation. The implementation began on 19 March 2013.
New Zealand was grouped with Queensland and Peru to form TransPacifico Region. This was a challenge bringing together three different countries with their different culture and legislative government.