The Sisters of Saint Joseph gathered on 3 September to honour 16 Golden Jubilarians at Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel at North Sydney. The Sisters arrived from Timor-Leste, Peru, Halls Creek in the Kimberley, Perth, Adelaide, Penola, Melbourne, Launceston, Brisbane and Sydney.
The Sisters had made their first profession 50 years ago at Baulkham Hills, Sydney, Goulburn and Hobart. Following the fusion of the Federation Sisters with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the expanded group came together to renew their vows before a congregation of Sisters of Saint Joseph, family and friends including former Sisters.
Congregational Leader, Sister Monica Cavanagh, in her welcome reflected that as young Sisters, the Golden Jubilarians had in the words of Pope Francis, “bought a pair of walking shoes and set out on unchartered paths”. Their mission had called them to take risks and to move into unfamiliar territory. Their ministry totalled 800 years and those years included education at all levels, social justice, parish pastoral involvement, chaplaincy and pastoral care in various settings, music and liturgy as well roles of congregational leadership.
In concluding Sister Monica thanked the Jubilarians “for the women you have become and for sharing your gifts and lives with us. We are proud of you, and we love you”.
In her vote of thanks Sister Loreto O’Connor chose the theme from the hymn by Kathy Sherman “Í am with you on the journey and I will never leave you. I am with you, always with you”. She thanked those who had journeyed with the Jubilarians in the various communities in which they had lived and all those who had encouraged and challenged them along the way. Sister Loreto reflected that in giving thanks for the ministries in which the sisters had been involved that they had learnt so much and no doubt received more than they gave.
Mass was celebrated by Father Denis Crameri, brother of Sister Carmel Crameri who was celebrating her Golden Jubilee. The Jubilee cake was cut by the youngest of the group, Sister Carmel Jones and the oldest member Sister Ann Fleming.
On the first day of the week-long celebrations the group gathered for a ritual to remember Sister Anne Derwin, former Congregational Leader, who had been a member of the Jubilarian group.
Former Sisters, who were invited by the Jubilarians expressed their delight in being able to share in the festivities.
Coming together provided time to reflect on the momentous events of the last 50 years as well as looking forward to the future. It was prayerful time where thanks and gratitude were given for the challenges and the blessings along the journey.
At the conclusion of the celebration all the Jubilarians returned to their current ministries throughout all states of Australia from the cities to outback regions as well as with Indigenous peoples in the Kimberly, in Peru and Timor-Leste.
Encouraged and supported by God’s unconditional love the Jubilarians continue in the footsteps of our Congregation’s co-founders Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods.
Jo Brady rsj
Acknowledgement of Country & Welcome
Renewal of Vows