Sisters Jill Dance and Anna Durkin at the Josephite Mission and History Centre holding the Fusion decree.

On 19 March 2012, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Tasmania, received authorisation from the Vatican for fusion with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

“Fusion” is a scientific term to describe the coming together of two atoms to create something new and, in the process, releasing a huge burst of energy. The energy of our sun is the result of this process of nuclear fusion.

The fusion of these two congregations created a new entity whose members continue to grow, with new energy, as we “press on into each age as it unfolds in a spirit of daring, strong in our commitment to love, confronting the world of the future fearlessly.” [1]

As a member of the former Tasmanian group, fusion meant singing a new song, one very much in harmony with the one we were singing before 2012, but now with a new richness and depth to the tune. Now the orchestra has expanded and the song has become a symphony. New music, new words, new beginnings, a new communion. Connectedness, interrelatedness, surrender and flow bring new energy to the Josephite response within the mission of God.

Perhaps because of our isolation as an island state and certainly because of the enduring vision of our leaders and prophets through the years, for a long time the Tasmanian sisters held a dream of being more deeply connected with our beginnings in Penola in 1866. We rejoiced when the five diocesan Josephite congregations came together as a Federation in 1967 and then explored further possibilities such as journeying for three years with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Goulburn. However, personal and communal prayer and discernment led us to realise that our deepest longing was still towards stronger formal re-connection with our origins. Tasmanian Sisters today continue to be uplifted with the new life that we have experienced since our new beginning in 2012.

Sister Anna, who celebrates her 75th Jubilee of religious profession in 2022 says:

I believe Fusion is a gift of the Spirit. It has given me a richness of friendship and connection with so many Sisters through meetings, gatherings and shared prayer. I feel great joy that we are reconnected with our beginnings and that the words of Fr Julian have been realised: “I think the time will come when all St Joseph’s children will be brought back together again and be what they were in the beginning.” [2]

Sister Jill, who was the Tasmanian Congregational Leader in 2012, says:

As I reflect on the 10 years since the Tasmanian Sisters of Saint Joseph fused with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, I can’t help but think of the parable of the seed which grows mysteriously in the dark (Mk 4:26). The ‘Fusion seed’ was planted as we celebrated our 125 years of ministry amongst the people of Tasmania on 24 May 2012. Since then, the growth has continued imperceptibly. Today, I have a sense that the unity, for which we all yearn, is continuing to deepen and grow stronger.

Fusion has been, and continues to be, a moment of grace.

Carmel Jones rsj

[1] Dominic Morris cp – from First Draft, Federation Constitutions 1969
[2] Letter Fr Julian Tenison Woods to Sr Francis McCarthy August 1887